Thursday, October 31, 2013

First Trick or Treat;)

I have mixed feelings about Halloween.  I do every year.  I will save you from a full rant on how horrible it is that we put little kids in Jack the Ripper costumes and then act surprised when they shoot each other in schools.  We serve them bread sticks disguised as bloody fingers and eye balls in their punch and then are stunned when they act violent.  We make horrible gore and crime "cute" and then act appalled when it happens in reality.  I could go on and on and on...this is the part of Halloween that truly enrages me.  Still, I love that all the neighbors are out, I love cute kids dressed as animals or princesses who woke up at the crack of dawn and have been counting down every minute until they start hitting candy jack pot.  I love how excited they get when the candy they are given is "awesome" and how good they can be at manners when sweets are involved.  Every year as the gory decorations come out or someone posts some creepy picture of their child acting like Jeffery Dahmer, I want to puke and move to a different county, but every year I try to block it out and remember the good things- community actually at play, the joy of elderly persons' faces when a toddler rings their doorbell with a "twick or tweet", how adorable little puffy costume kids are, candy, candy corn, happy pumpkins with warm glowing lights . We do it, cuz they good outweighs the bad.  We skip the houses that glorify the grotesque and we celebrate life, community, and innocence.

I had great aspirations of homemade costumes, but alas we picked stuff out from the dress up closet in the basement about an hour before Trick or Treating was to begin.
You think some one's a bit excited?:)

 We have hulk, a turtle, peacock princess, and a cat princess.

 I mentioned earlier on facebook, I have the cutest kids on the block;)

During dinner, Phin spotted a rainbow- it was vibrant and gorgeous and a little gift from God in the midst of this dreary day.

First stop- the neighbors:)  Christian quickly realized "This is AWESOME" and got the hang of Trick or Treat in about two houses:) 

Umbrellas made it a bit hard to maneuver around doors and each other;)

Christian really liked getting the candy, but wasn't so fond of having to put it in his bag:) and quickly the water got the best of our spirits. 

We came home to plan B...trick or treating inside our house.  I had the kids go door to door in the house;)
Ar first they were like, "Why do we have to knock on your bedroom?"

Once candy is involved, it doesn't take them long to get into the fun;)

They were giggling as I ran ahead from room to room...I think this may have been the best part of the day;)

A certain little guy, may have a few "adoption issues"  he was not about to let anyone else handle his candy.  He was clinging to each piece for dear life.  He's never seen such bounty;)  He did finally let me put it in the bag, when I gave him two open pieces, one for each hand;)

In the final room, I gave them Glow in the Dark silly string I had stored away for a special occasion...

 It was worth getting back out in the wet for a little Silly String fun;)

My kids were ill behaved due to sugar high and we didn't get very many Trick or Treaters so my plan to have the best candy on the street has become, "what is the world do I do with a hundred full size candy bars?" but it was a good day nonetheless...memories, laughter, and a rainbow to boot;)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


This is my son picking up poop from under our playset.  The problem?  We do not have a dog; it is HIS poop.  He developed a love of peeing outside this summer and I've been trying to get him not to do it, but still see him sneak behind the trees from time to time.  Today I looked outside to see Chloe standing with her pants around her ankles.  Immediately, I opened the window and said, "What are you doing?!"  She said, "I am going to go poop."  To which I replied, "You most certainly are not.  Pull up your pants rignt now.We poop in toilets."  She started crying and said, "Phin gets to poop outside."  When I said "he does not."  She informed me, "he just pooped by the picnic table." Sure enough, the smirk on his face told me she was correct.  I made him pick it up and take it to the toilet.  This is in the world I am going to survive TWO boys?!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Five Year Old Phin

When Phin was five months  I reached one of the lowest breaking points of my life.  He still wasn't sleeping (I don't think I'd gotten more than an hour of sleep at a time more than a handful of times), he had milk protein intolerance, breathing issues, etc.  I was exhausted and literally hit a point where I knew I could not do it one more day.  We called in a sleep specialist and she worked with me over the phone.  Phin is now 5 YEARS old and that 5 month thing is a distant memory.  He is a GREAT kid.  He is full of energy and enthusiasm.  He is very observant and really good at directions, puzzles, and detail.  He is by far my tidiest child and just a really pleasant, good natured kid.  He has had a hard year in some ways- we've dealt with multiple staph infections, a huge, stressful move, and getting a brother.  He deals with it all with a positive attitude and a shrug of the shoulders, even our couple late night ER visits with staph (which is very painful) were met with resignation and an attempt at seeing the bright side ("maybe they'll give me a cool sticker when I am done").  He surprisingly (because we are his parents) does not like to be the center of attention- he now wants his curls cut off because he doesn't like the attention it brings, and though he is a leader in his preschool class, he doesn't like it when that becomes noticeable.  He is developing a softer heart and is a very kind sibling much of the time.  He still is our pickiest eater, but he's getting better at trying new things.  He has grown a lot physically and is developing some athleticism.

This year, because of our transitions, I booked his party through our swim school.  Phin LOVES the water and though I hated the loss of birthday party fun, it was a good decision to leave that in someone elses hands for now.  All we had to do was show up on a Saturday and bring treat bags and drinks for the parents.  They had tons of pool toys, cupcakes, and juice boxes.  Easiest Party I've ever thrown (and it was good for this year, but I missed my planning ways;)

 (Can I just say, we LOVE living by my family;)

Phin's actual birthday was on a Tuesday and he requested an Angry Birds silly supper;)  I was more than happy to oblige;) 

Phin doesn't like frosting and request brownies instead of cake.  Since PartyCity makes Angry Birds candles, I had a pretty simple task for this one;)

Our fare- Angry birds summer sausage and cheese on a bagel, a kiwi pig (the frosting got a bit wacked, but the kids didn't mind:), Angry birds cookies, and "angry pigs in a blanket"- thanks again to pinterest:)

We loved the masks but the kids realized pretty quickly it was hard to eat while wearing them;)

Phin loves a good party blower.


A giant tube of classic legos.  We love the sets, but he likes to just make his own creations too.

A Mario and Sonic Wii game was the hit of the day...and we thoroughly enjoyed playing it all evening as a family;)

Marc's especially loved when Ava picked the event "Rythmic Gymnastics"....Hey, honey, remember in the parking lot at sweet tomatoes when you honked the horn at a car stopped behind our parking spot and when, horrified, I pointed out that it was stopped to let an elderly woman out,  you rolled down your window and said, "I am so sorry that was my wife that just honked the horn."  Remember that?  This is called payback.  Love you;)

FIVE WEEKS! Where does time go?!

We're five weeks into parenting four children and it continues to go well.  I won't deny, we are TIRED!  Having four kiddos is no joke;)  Some days I feel like I am drowning in laundry and dishes;)  But we also have lots of laughs, mischief and fun.  AND I GET TO DO IT ALL WITH THIS GUY:)

Hannah has left and we are doing just fine, but definitely miss the help some days.  And the company during the day.  She's a good friend and we love her;)

While we are tired,  in many ways I feel we are thriving and I am so thankful, but we just don't have a great deal of margin.  I just haven't had a lot of extra energy to blog and I am thankful that I haven't felt pressured to do so for anyone but myself.  I do want a record of these days, this one might just be more bullet point and pictorial that narrative;)

-We had a really hard moment.  A gut wrenching, heart breaking moment that still literally causes an ache in my chest to think about.  Christian has had major digestive issues.  He came home with Dysentery.  He was asymptomatic but because we have other kids and it is contagious, we had to treat it.  Giardia requires HEAVY duty antibiotics that are really hard on a little kid and though we didn't have diarrhea before, we've had it for three weeks since finishing the antibiotics and getting the all clear that the bacteria is gone!  He has to eat a certain diet and take probiotics cuz we need to get his gut back in order.  He doesn't really get this.  Food is some days a battle I HAVE to pick and we've had some wars.  I've always won...cuz a) he needs me to get out of his booster seat and b)I have chocolate as a reward and google translate to explain.  So while it's been tiring, it's felt productive in lots of ways cuz he's learned he has to do what I say even if what I am saying is simply "Finish your banana".  But one day, he decided he didn't want his probiotic.  He takes medicine like a champ, so it shouldn't be a big deal, but he's two and he decided he didn't want do I said, simply because I said I put it in a syringe and gave it like the nurse that I am.  (I laid him down and put it in the pocket in the back of his cheek which forces you to swallow it.)  He cried and that I expected cuz he wanted to go back in forth in battle and I completely took away his control in about 45 seconds...but he didn't just cry.  No he did not JUST cry, he WAILED and  He called out for Imelda (his nanny) over and over.  My heart was ripped out of my chest.  I felt horrible, helpless, abusive, etc.  His first two nights home he cried going to sleep and we wondered if what he was saying while crying was "Imelda".  I am now 100% positive it was.  He hasn't done it since....until this and I cannot explain how much it pained me to see his vulnerability.  His grief is there, it is so deep and I hurt for him.  I longed for him to know I was trying to help him, instead of the fear and utter helplessness I obviously induced.  I'll never know if he understood.  He did let me hold him and bounced back to his happy self after a bit and we've been fine ever since.  But in that vulnerable moment, the fear, the grief that is under the surface was exposed and it is something that is hard to articulate witnessing as a parent.  My poor boy.  I am still recovering from guilt and wish I'd handled it differently.  He's doing so well, it's easy to forget how new this all is to his precious heart.  How I wished I'd just waited and tried again an hour later or something!

-We have really funny moments too...truthfully, most of our moments are really fun.  When I am trying to tell him I am serious and he needs to obey, I guess I raise my eyebrows.  He LOVEs to make mischief and try to get me to laugh instead of do what I say and recently he has begun to give me the look right back like this...and I try so hard to be serious, but I often fail miserable and end up tickling him, he's just so cute!

(Context, he was going to leave the table with his snack and we have a snacks only at the table rule.  He DEFINITELY understands the rule and is constantly laughing trying to sneak away with his food.  I saw him starting to get down and I gave him the look...he gave it right back:)

-Phin had a birthday, which will be it's own blogpost;)  but at the said birthday, Christian had his first swim and LOVED IT!

-Someone asked me this week what it's like to have a black child and the question caught me off guard.  I do know Christian is black, of course, and that having white parents will affect him in society and I won't always understand what he will endure, but on a day to day basis, I don't even think about having a black child.  His skin is drier that my other kids, so we put on more lotion, but he's just my kid.  It's sort of like, Chloe has curly hairy so we have to wet it and spray detangler every morning.  To me he isn't "black", he's Christian.  That's how I think of him.  He just feels part of our family, just like each of my other kids.  There TRULY is no distinction in my head so I have to figure out a better answer to this question to open dialogue while protecting the fact that he is my SON.  I know I will be asked again and it was definitely NOT asked in ill intent.  I don't even remember my response, actually, I hope I was gracious.  I think I said, "like have a son".

For the record, as an adoptive parent I'll tell you it REALLY rubs adoptive parents the wrong way when you call bio kids my "own" making a distinction from the adopted child...Christian is my own too and when you say this, even though, I know it isn't of ill intent, inside I sort of feel like I want to punch you in the throat.  I KNOW I have said it myself not meaning anything other than biological, but then I went through this little miracle and my heart makes ZERO distinction between bio and adopted. SO...even if you don't understand, please refrain from using such terminology or saying "what a sacrifice" to an adoptive parent...cuz inside it makes us FURIOUS.  We are kind of constantly walking this type rope of remembering that NO harm is meant, but calming the Mama bear instinct that rises up.

Simultaneously, when I look at pictures like this, I DO think he has the most beautiful chocolate skin in the world!

-Christian IS adjusting to the cold...mostly cuz the boy loves accessories so he likes to wear his coat and hat.  In fact, he hates to take them off when we come inside;)

-He also LOVES to put on other people's shoes, which has snowballed into all the kids taking Marc's and my shoes ALL the time.  Someone is certain to sprain and ankle, but they sure are cute;)

-Finally, we just finished a crazy busy weekend and I am totally exhausted but so filled!  On Friday, we drove to Kenosha to witness our "nephew" Anthony's final adoption. After over two long years of having the distinction "foster son", he is now a Steinke.  I still cry thinking about it.  Steinke's are dear, dear covenant friends and just like family.  It was a day covered in pray in so many ways- a painful and joyous day for many reasons and I am so thankful Christian is doing so well and we were able to attend!

-Saturday was a wonderful "Sheboygan" day;)  Some good friends, Jeff and Summar stopped through on their way back from Michigan.  It was out of the way for them to come to the western burbs, but they came.  My kids were ecstatic to see them.  Christian seemed to sense their love and hugged them immediately.  Summar read to the kids, played with them, etc. Then we got to have some nice heart to hearts.  She is a reservoir of ideas and one of the women that just constantly encourages me to love and enjoy my kids in every moment.

THEN I got to drive to Rockford to have dinner with some of my Sheboygan small group girls on their way back from a Beth Moore conference.  I love these women.  We have a special, deep, heart connection.  Just seeing them was like balm to my soul.

I think God knew that seeing dear friends might make us feel a little down the next day, so in his sovereignty, we hosted our first small group HERE in Saint Charles on Sunday.  I am so excited to get to know these folks.  They are super great peeps, and I know our hearts will soon be bonded in friendship here, as well.

God is good.  It was a lot of busyness and we were prepared to cancel any of it if Christian seemed razzled.  He's done great.  He shows great signs of attachment like hugging someone new,but coming right back to us to be held or playing with other kids, but continually coming back to me to check in.  He continues to show us he has a great sense of adventure.  He is cautious but THRILLED to experience new things.  He may cling to us at first as he surveys the surroundings, but slowly he wants to explore and is usually delighted by what he finds and who he meets.  He is not ready to be left alone, of course, but as long as we are nearby and he knows it- he loves to check out the new world around him!

Thanks for continued prayers.  Today is a Monday and I woke just filled with joy.  We are so even as I start to chip away at the weekends laundry and dishes, I find myself joyful instead of down...cuz friends poured into us this weekend.  We're so thankful.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Three Weeks In and all is well

Alright, so some of you sweetly have actually been anticipating my blog updates.  I remain humbled at every one's interest.  I almost want to fabricate some amazing blog post just to meet expectations;)  The truth is, we had a pretty normal week.  Not very exciting, for which we are THANKFUL.

I have learned a couple things for those of you praying for me.

Mondays are HARD days for me right now.  At least the last two Mondays since Christian has been home.  I find my self feeling down and grumpy.  I find myself wishing for a break.  The first Monday I was able to pull myself up by my boot straps pretty quickly.  Last Monday I found myself repeatedly having to pray that God would help me change my perspective and attitude.  I think the biggest issue is that weekends aren't really a break right now so when Marc returns to work, I just feel sad that the grind never seems to let up much. I have been fine the rest of the week.

Second, I am still trying to shake this sinus thing.  I am feeling A LOT better, but not 100%.  I am using Sudafed and my trusty Nedipot and it's helping, but I am having a lot of congestion at night and sleeping very fitfully.  Christian hadn't been sleeping great due to his antibiotics, but we are done with all that and his tummy seems happier and he's sleeping a bit better- sometimes through the night, sometimes waking about 4 am.  I just need sleep, I don't do well on limited amounts of it.

(The prayer requests would be, for my heart on Mondays, that it would rest in contentment.  I have been trying to meditate on the following statement by Andrew Murray:

In times of trouble, say, "First, he brought me here.  It is by his will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest."  Next, "He will keep me here in his love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as his child."  Then say, "He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons he intends me to learn, and working in me the grace he means to bestow." And last say, "In his good time he can bring me out again.  How and when, he knows."  Therefore, say, "I am here (1) by God's appointment, (2) in his keeping, (3) under his training, (4) for his time."

Second, please pray for full healing and for rest for us all.

Now, on to what you REALLY came here to see pictures:

Marc traveled for the first time post Christian and was gone Wed- Fri.  We wanted to be sure to Skype before bed every night.  The kids loved it...but let me assure you, it was pure chaos and I almost needed a glass of wine afterwards;)

Hannah could not stand my neglected garden any longer;)  She and Chloe picked a ton of sage and put it in the dehydrator.  I now have enough sage to last a lifetime;)  Chloe LOVED it.

Christian LOVES our Jack in the Box and apparently thinks he's become one himself;)

Marc took the boys to Sports Clips for haircuts- Christian's first in the states.  He's obviously used to the buzzer.  He was quite serious, but completely unrattled.  The hairdresser was uber impressed.

We're breakin' more post adoption rules.  We took the kids to a movie.  Christian loved the first ten minutes and then he slept through the rest;) 

 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs...I love movies, but this one could wait for DVD in my opinion.

We call this look "The Celo Green"

He just digs the pink glasses, folks.  And he's so cute, he can totally pull it off;)

So this happened today....

Poor Phin was CRYING, I could not stop laughing, and Marc had to stop to take a picture.  We then got him out...almost had to get out the butter, but we managed without it.

 Finally, self indulgent cute pictures of my kids playing outside this afternoon...Knowing I am biased, I must declare I have the cutest children in the world;)

These boys don't care that this jeep is Purple and says "Barbie" on has four wheels and a motor....we have little hope that they will be cautious drivers after seeing them whip around in this thing;)

Chloe and "my Hannah"

Ava decided it was time to make a leaf pile...

Is there anything better than jumping in a leaf pile in the fall?

 We propose, "no"...It's the best

Christian is not the greatest driver, to put it mildly so when Phin was done, we took the battery out and let him sit in the jeep.  He was bound and determined to make it move- so he got out and pushed it;)

And that, dear friends, is our week three.  A normal life with four kiddos.  It really is "normal" normal, in fact, when Hannah and I were in the nursery today I was noticing how big Christian seemed next to a little boy, who we were told was two (though I later found out he's just one:).  I said to Hannah, "Christian seems huge, but makes sense I guess.  Neither Marc or I are tiny and his mom is as petite as they come."  She looked at me strange and it took me a minute to realize how silly this statement was as I was attributing his physique to Marc's and my genetics.  Made me laugh and then doubt my heart has fully embraced him as mine.