Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gotcha Day #5

Five years ago today our life changed forever. December 8, 2004 was the day that we stood in front of a Russian judge and asked that Regina Kupinskya be allowed to become Ana Regina and our second daughter. Looking back it was all quite surreal and it seems as though it were a lifetime ago. I honestly have a hard time remembering daily life before Ana joined our family and as I asked her this morning I think she feels the same way. She told me she knows that she is from Russia but I don't think that she can remember many of the details. Perhaps this is good as her first two and a half years of life were not ideal.

I can't help remembering a little for her our first meeting and the chocolate chip cookie that she inhaled. Or the last day we met with her on our first trip standing in the hallway of the orphanage she had just gotten up from a nap and was so sleepy and just laid her head on my shoulder...I was smitten. I cried so many tears that day when we had to leave her there and I was never so thankful that the time between our trips was only three weeks. Then there was the day we went to get her which was actually the 9th of December. Emma was with us and we were all aware that life was about to change but we were not quite prepared for how. Ana was playing outside when we got to the orphanage and she was not at all happy that they brought her in to us. The look on her face when we took her into the tiny room to get her changed said it all. "Who are you people and why did you interrupt my playtime???" I have seen that same look many times since, she was and continues to be quite a strong willed independant thing. But I think this is probably what allowed her to survive her first two years and I'm grateful that God gave her the spirit that he did.

As we pass this five year mark I thank the Lord that He chose us to parent this child. There have been days and I'm sure there will be many more where I wonder how I will ever be equal to the task, but I trust that He knew what He was doing. I'm grateful for her smile and for her sweet hugs and for her willingness to persevere when things are difficult for her. Happy Adoption Day Sweet Girl we love you so very much!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Blessings

Since we have started going to Phoenix for church our Sundays have been such an amazing blessing. Today was extra special because not only did we have a wonderful time of praise and worship and then fellowship at church but after that we got to spend time celebrating a birthday with some special friends of ours. What a wonderful time of fellowship for each of us I know that it refilled my emotional tank and I believe that it did the same for each of us. I was thinking about this as we were leaving Phoenix and just thanking God for how he has rekindled this friendship with these friends after a long time of being apart. We are sad because they will be moving to Montana in the not so distant future but we rejoice for the time that the Lord has given us to be with them and realize just how much we have in common. We are thrilled for them in this new adventure that they are going to be beginning and we are so thankful to have had so much time with them in the last few months.

We must hold loosely to the relationships that the Lord blesses us with and know that there are seasons when we are together in person and others where we may be separated by great distances, but the relationships remain precious just the same. I think the most wonderful thing for me is to realize that even if I will be separated from some dear friends here on earth I can take comfort to know that we will all be spending eternity together!! How fun to be able to look forward to this as well as treasure the moments that we get to spend together in the here and now. Thank you Lord Jesus for sweet fellowship, we are blessed!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Top 6 from Weeks 7-12...

Hard to believe we are a full twelve weeks into our school year. Time flies and so do the countries we have been studying. It was hard for my older ones to narrow it down because there have been so many interesting things that we have studied but we have tried our best to make the list manageable :).

James has been enthralled with our study of China which we are still in the process of completing. He did one of his extra projects on the Great Wall and even made a presentation on it for his father...gotta keep Dad involved you know! He also mentioned loving our study of Korea and the book Tales of a Korean Grandmother.

Peter seconds the motion and loved the Great Wall as well. He even made a model of it with a whole lot of craft sticks. I think I'm going to have to replenish my supply he used so many of them but it looks fantastic and he did a marvelous job with the design. He also is loving the read aloud book we are finishing up this week called Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze. This was one that I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make it through but it has turned out to be quite engaging for all of us.

Emma dearly loved the Tales of a Korean Grandmother and she was so sad when we finished it. She got so that she didn't want me to read the required amount of pages each day so that it would go on and on. She too is loving our study of China. She has been interested to find out more about Chinese medicine and how it compares with western medicine. Oh how we love homeschooling around here!

Daniel has been loving his new Touch Math. I have not ordered the full program as it is very expensive but I got some samples from their website and I'm modifying his other math using the touch points. So far he is doing much better with this and I'm hopeful that it will give him more of a practical way to do math.

Ana is enjoying her readers. I have to say that even though reading is her biggest struggle she always puts it at the top of her list of things she likes to do. What perseverance she has. She is working now on the Sonlight I Can Read It series...and even though her mother is getting a bit weary of these stories being that this is the fourth time I've gone though them...we are staying the course.

I have to say my favorite thing in this series has been from China as well. But not the books but the FOOD!! Last night we made homemade egg rolls and boy were they yummy. One of James' projects that he chose for the unit was to make this authentic Chinese food. Sunday when we were in Phoenix for church we found an amazing Asian market and bought some egg roll wrappers. The market was a treat in itself and amazingly enough had foods from just about every country that we have been studying who knew such a place existed. I have a feeling we will be going back for more food items as the year progresses. Anyway Robert helped and we had a fun Chinese meal with Chicken Lo Mein with real Chinese noodles and wonderful egg rolls. What a treat!!

So as you can see we are staying busy around here and still loving Core 5. I'm impressed with how much James, Peter and Emma are learning about doing research and what creative ideas they are coming up with for their Choose Your Own Adventure projects. Daniel and Ana are finishing up with their Abeka Phonics and Language and I think I will be making some changes after the holidays as they finish up. Always looking for the best ways to meet their needs and that takes a bit of creativity at times. Stay tuned after the holidays for our coming adventures!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Peanut Butter and the Newsboys...

Whatever do these two things have in common you ask??? Well they just so happen to be two blessings from my day yesterday. The first blessing was the homemade peanut butter that I made in my Vitamix!! Yummy, yummy oh so yummy. My sweet friend Melissa had told me about doing this several weeks ago and I finally made some yesterday. So with that and my homemade peach jam we had some pretty tasty sandwiches...thanks Melissa!!! I know now I just need to make some homemade bread and it would be truly wonderful right??? Even the kids mentioned this, but I'm not there just quite yet...baby steps you know.

The second blessing was the absolute blast that our family had at the Newsboys concert last night. They are the first Christian band to actually come to our town so we were excited to not have to make yet another trek to the Valley! I have to say Michael Tait adds some spice to the band and it was fun to hear not only Newsboys songs but some DC Talk as well. We jammed out and went to bed very late, but what a nice release for all of us. I think we all needed just a little bit of fun. I know this girl did.

So two big blessings in one day...can't beat that right???

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ode to October

I have been pondering the last few days why it has been so hard for me to blog this month. I did so well last month and had so many ideas for posts and this month nothing!! I think that it has to do with my mood lately. I have been having some struggles spiritually and emotionally, I love being a girl sometimes and I think that it has caused me to not be able to think very clearly. Oh and the fact that as I was looking at my calendar today I think I was able to count 10 days during this month that we had some kind of appointment. Mostly doctors and dentists...ugh no wonder I'm a little fried.

The upside to all of this is that over the last week I have been feeling a little better. I think that sometimes you have to have a melt down in order to get out of the funk that you have been in. I think I may have had an official one at the beginning of last week and perhaps it helped a bit. Robert took all of last week off for a hunting adventure and although he didn't get an elk he did get some perspective on life and we had some really great discussions during the week. He listened while I melted and I listened while he shared his heart and together I think we have a better vision of things than we have had in a while.

The Lord is refining us I know that He is we are not sure what the end result will ultimately be but I know that whatever He is doing is for our learning and even when it is painful it is also productive. I have started back in to Bible study studying the book of Esther and I have been reading A.W. Tozer's book on the Holy Spirit which is challenging me and I think those are both positives. Funny how you can get so bogged down with life that you forget sometimes what is truly important and that is just dwelling with the Lord. As October draws to a close and the leaves are all but gone I realize that days have disappeared in rapid succession and I have been hard pressed to keep up. I pray that as November starts that I will be able to slow down a bit and just dwell with Him and listen to what He has for me each day.

Monday, October 5, 2009


God's Purpose or Mine?

By: Oswald Chambers

We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God's purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that god is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.

What is my vision of God's purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish - His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see "Him walking on the sea" with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see "Him walking on the sea" It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.

God's training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself.

God's purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.

This devotion from My Utmost for His Highest has been one that I have continued to meditate on in recent weeks. I tend to be always searching and trying to figure out what God's purpose is for me. What He has been teaching me lately is that the moments of my life that pass by each day, teaching my children, building a strong relationship with my husband, and most importantly spending time with Him are the purpose. I have been having several struggles in my parenting lately with obedience. Not only with my children's obedience but with my obedience. I find things have come up more and more in my children that are so similar to what I'm sure the Lord struggles with in me. The process of parenting, the process of seeing His hand in my children's lives in their victories and their struggles that is my purpose. The moments are what He wants me to remember, the sweet and the sorrowful. They are His purpose for me. I need not look further than the next day to see what His purpose is for me. I need to dwell there and experience each moment to the fullest and be faithful to Him and my relationship with Him. If that is the most important purpose that I have then He will make apparent to me when a change is necessary. As Chambers says, "His purpose is the process itself.". Even when the process is frusterating and sometimes painful it is my purpose!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blessings in Unexpected Places

Last week we had another adventure that we never would have thought we would have, but once again the Lord turned it into a blessing. On Thursday Daniel went to Phoenix Children's to have his feeding tube placed. We had been anticipating this for quite some time. His GI doctor felt that since he has not gained weight in over a year and all the supplements that we have been giving him haven't made a difference it was time to take this step. The procedure is not difficult at all and takes very little time but it is incredibly nerve wracking for the mom and dad. Daniel was a trooper as usual and he came through the procedure just fine. We have incredible doctors that have treated us so well and have truly come along side us to find out what the underlying issues with Daniel's health are. All the staff at the hospital was fantastic as well and he was treated very well.

The amazing unexpected blessing in all of this came from the attending pediatrician. After surgery he came and talked with us in the recovery room and spent a great deal of time getting a full history from us. He wanted to know all about the things that we have already done to help him and what else we are doing currently. I mentioned that we have seen a geneticist and that we were waiting to find out if the insurance company would approve the tests that he ordered. To which he replied, oh we can take care of that we will just order them while he is inpatient and they will be covered automatically! What an amazing answer to prayer this is because I truly didn't believe that they were going to approve the tests since they are quite costly and we have already done so many other things already. Why was I surprised that my Lord would take care of this small detail as He has so many others in the past? But all I could do was thank Him and stand in awe of His many provisions for us. So the next day the doctor spoke with our geneticist and they worked it all out to get the tests ordered and the blood drawn and we will hopefully know something in around three months.

Daniel finished his stay in the hospital and we headed back up the hill on Saturday. What a blessing to know that our other children had been having the time of their lives with their Granny and that everything was well in hand at our house. We are already in a fairly good routine with Daniel's night time feedings through the tube. He has been doing extremely well with it and as the area around the incision heals he is slowly getting his energy and mobility back. He is anxious to get back to full speed, but I must admit it has been kind of nice for him to slow down a bit. Another hidden blessing in all of this, for mom that is :).

As Robert and I sat at the hospital together and tried our best to minister to our son I realized that there is no way that I would have the strength to accomplish any of this without the Lord. He has given both of us abilities that we never thought possible. But He also only gives us what we can handle. Being at the hospital we saw families in much more serious situations than ours and I realized that although Daniel has some issues and probably always will, they are manageable. I also know that even if they were more serious, the One who brought us through this experience would be there to bring us through whatever else might be around the corner. I'm so glad that I'm in His care and so is Daniel!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

36 ÷ 6 = 6 Things We Are Excited About

I was thinking the other day that we have just finished up our 6th week of school out of 36 total weeks. So there are six, six week sections to the year and there are six of us including the kiddos and me so I thought it would be fun to do a blog post every six weeks during the year where we each tell what we are excited about that we have studied so far! That way by the end of the year we will have 36 total things. If that made any sense at all...keep reading.

So far we have visited the Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and we have begun to touch on Japan. We have also discussed Lincoln, People of different World Cultures, Missionary Stories of great intrigue as well as learning addition, language and fiction and non-fiction writing. We are on a roll and are having a blast with all of the new things we are discovering. Each of us has a thing of special interest to share so here goes...

James is excited about his new Teaching Textbooks math curriculum. In it he is reviewing much of what he has learned already, but he is also discovering the world of practical math. The other day he informed me that he will not be buying a car any time soon. To which I said, "Oh?? Why is that?" He replied that according to his math book it would be a poor investment to purchase a car unless you had the cash to do so. You see he is learning about interest payments as well as the depreciation of items. His conclusion is pay cash!! Did I mention I love this math program?? He is also learning about gross vs. net pay and that old Uncle Sam takes more than his fair share of your money when you enter the workforce. I guess working for mom and dad isn't such a bad thing huh James???

Peter is excited about our study of Australia. He learned while studying about the country that it was originally settled by prisoners sent there by Great Britain. Great Britain was looking for a way to get rid of some of the prison population in their country and so they shipped them off Down Under. Until they realized that perhaps they would actually like to live there as well and they stopped shipping convicts and began immigrating themselves. Peter also enjoyed learning more about the aborigines culture and discovering that he is quite good at aboriginal painting.

Emma was enthralled as were we all with our latest read aloud book entitled The Master Puppeteer. This was our first glimpse into the culture of Japan which we will dig deeper into this coming week. It is about a boy who is living in very poor conditions in Japan and ends up moving to the Hanaza Theater where he learns all the ins and outs of puppeteering. The awesome thing about this book that was so different from many books we have read was the mystery involved in the story. It was truly a page turner and we even finished it a week early just so that we could find out the ending.

Daniel even listened in on this particular read aloud and it kept his attention so much that he said it was one of his favorites as well. This is awesome because it was all on his own initiative to come and listen. We are making some progress I think!! His other love has been our brief study in their language book about President Lincoln. He created some very nice sentences describing the former President and he informed me that he was brave as well as honest!!

Ana was the first to come and tell me what she was excited about when I asked each of them to come up with something. She has been excited to learn some safety rules in our health book and what to do and not do when you come across a stranger. She informed me that you do not talk with strangers but it is okay to talk with a police officer and tell him or her where you live and what your phone number is. She has her address, phone number and both her daddy and my names down pat and feels confident she would be able to tell someone if she were ever to get separated from us. This is one of those things that I pray will never be necessary, but I'm thankful that she knows and is excited about remembering!

I have to admit, Peter stole my original idea about Australia :). I learned a lot during that study and the fact that it was settled by convicts was news to me. But I have also enjoyed learning about Antarctica as well. I didn't know that a treaty was signed regarding the continent that states that it can only be used peacefully, for research or tourism and no military presence is allowed there unless it is in a rescue type situation. It was fascinating to read about the different expeditions across the frozen land and to learn about the animals that inhabit it. Only a few animals spend their entire lives on the land of Antarctica. The largest is the wingless midge, a tiny fly that only measures 1/2 inch long. Who knew???

As you can tell we have been quite busy around here. We are marveling at all the possibilities that the year continues to hold in store for us. Stay tuned for the next update after we finish week 12!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Work and Rest

This was a busy weekend in our house and was filled with some new experiences, some necessary tasks and some sweet fellowship. We began the weekend by pulling all the weeds in the easement that goes around our front yard. Not the most thrilling way to start the weekend but a much needed task that was far overdue. Amazing that although it was hard work what a feeling of accomplishment that Robert, James and I felt when the task was complete. How nice it is now to pull into our driveway and not see three foot mammoths as our first greeting. As I was picking up the many piles I was thinking about Adam and Eve and how things were before the fall. What it must have been like to never have to pull any weeds and to just enjoy the sweetness of the garden. But alas no there is sin and therefore we must continue to work at the ground in order to enjoy the beauty.

So with our weeds carefully in the trash we set off for our next adventure to pick up our first Bountiful Basket. I recently joined a fruit and vegetable co-op and Saturday was our first pick up. What fun it was to pick up not only two baskets full of fruits and veggies but also a 32 pound box of fresh peaches. Wow did that ever fill up my counter space! Next Robert and I set about the task of processing the peaches. Having never canned before it was a new adventure in every sense of the word and boy was I ever glad for his help in the process. I would say for our first try we did fairly well...we managed to can 9 jars of jam, 6 jars of sliced peaches, plus I made a peach coffeecake, a peach cobbler and we flash froze two gallon sized bags of sliced peaches for smoothies. Boy were we ever whipped last night but what an awesome feeling to have done work that will bring joy to our tummies and nutrition as well. I am so thankful for all of the canning advice that I have received over the last couple of weeks from some very sweet friends who assured me that I could indeed master this skill. I'm happy to say that I feel I have and I'm excited to see what else we can "put up" for winter in the next few weeks. Robert says apples should definitely be next!!

Today was our day of rest as we travelled to Phoenix to our new church home. For a little over a month we have been visiting a family integrated church in Gilbert. We have felt the conviction for quite some time that we needed to worship together as a family and we were longing for like-minded fellowship. After the homeschool conference Robert especially felt that it was time to order our lives around the convictions that the Lord has placed on us and since there is no FIC church in our area we headed for the Valley. To our delight we have found a group of people at Heritage of Faith that are such a blessing to all of us. And the Lord provided an added bonus in the fact that some friends of ours who live in Phoenix have also begun to attend the same church. We have been so enjoying getting to know these families and not only worshipping but having time each week to truly get to know them during their weekly lunch fellowship time. Today we had a chance to meet with the elders at a question and answer session to find out a bit more about the vision of the church. We were both pleased to hear that their vision lines up so well with what we have purposed to do with our family. They are very focused on fathers leading and discipling their children and assisting them to do this in the most effective way possible. We feel as though the Lord has answered our prayer regarding a church home and we see in our children such a peace as they are beginning to make new friends.

Another blessing is the travel time that it takes to get to church. While this might seem like a hardship, it is really a blessed time of fellowship for Robert and me. We are able to really focus on each other for several hours each Sunday. We have time to share what touched us about the message as well as talk about hopes and dreams for the future. It allows us to have a true Sabbath, as we are not concerned with what is waiting to "do" at home after church since it truly does take up most of our day. We are excited to see how the Lord will use us through this church and we are so thankful for His provision.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Some Days Are Like That

"I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there is gum in my hair..." this begins one of my very favorite books from childhood, Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. I must say that today was one of those days that this book came to mind. Even down to the fact that I know I have the book somewhere but when I went to look for it tonight before coming the write this blog post I couldn't find it.

One of the things that I love about this book is that nothing truly awful happens to Alexander in this book but just the ordinary stuff of life that just isn't exactly the way he would like. That is how my day was today. Nothing truly horrible happened but the day just didn't go as I would have preferred. It was one of those days that I questioned several times just exactly what I was thinking homeschooling. Several of my children who shall remain nameless had less than stellar days at school. It was one of those painful days to watch as they struggled with just about everything that I through at them and it seemed as though we would never be finished with school. Then just when I thought that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, ie: Robert would be home soon, he called to say at 4:30 that he was still in Phoenix and that he wouldn't be home for several more hours. Ugh!!

I think that the Lord gives me these days every so often, well sometimes more often, to remind me that I have no business doing the things that He has called me to do...that is without Him. I realized today that in my own strength I can't do this job. It is only through Him that I have any capabilities at all. What is difficult though is that I try to do things in my own strength all the time. Even when I hear the Lord in my head trying to tell me that I can't and that He is there to help if I would only ask. Why am I so stubborn? Then I look into the eyes of one of my children and see the exact same stubborness and it drives me absolutely crazy. The Lord has a funny sense of humor doesn't He? I see in this child some of my same faults and I know that He is refining me through raising him. Perhaps we can learn to listen and obey Him more together.

Now at the end of the day, things are quiet and Robert is finally home. He even brought me Chipotle which was a super sweet thing to do. As I reflect on the day I realize that sometimes the biggest blessing of some days is when they are in fact complete, and I can look back and breath a sigh of relief that my children are all still alive and well and tucked into their beds. And I can look ahead with hope that tomorrow will be a better day, perhaps if I rely on the Lord more and me less.

As Alexander's mother said, "Some days are like that, even in Australia."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

How "ists" Can Be Blessings

Our lives the last few years have been filled with visits to A LOT of "ists". What is an "ist" you ask?? Well let me explain. We have in the last four and a half years visited: the dermatologist, optometrist, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, endocrinologist, gastroenterologist, pallate specialist, throat specialist, nutritionist, feeding specialist and yesterday the geneticist...wheeew! Robert and I were sitting in the geneticists office yesterday recounting all of the "ists" and what a journey it has been. A few of the early "ists" were for our daughter Ana who had some skin issues and needed glasses as well as James who definitely needed glasses. But the majority of the "ist" visits have been on a quest to understand and help our sweet son Daniel.

Even before we brought him home from Russia we had a feeling that we would have some medical issues to deal with. We had no idea the scope of what we were in for but we knew that the Lord planned for Daniel to be in our family and so we persevered to get him home. Since then we have pealed back the onion and discovered many things, Daniel has several diagnoses but the one that continues to allude us is what is causing him to still be only 36 pounds at the age of almost nine. We have tried liquid supplements, we have tried increasing his calories and nothing is working. So later this month we will be having a "g" tube or feeding tube put in which will hopefully allow him to absorb nutrients more efficiently and thus allow him to gain weight. However that does not answer the burning question of what is causing all of this in the first place. This is how we wound up at the geneticist's office. We were blessed to find a man who was very kind and spent almost two hours discussing with us Daniel's unique history and also doing a thorough physical exam. One of the kindest things though was that this man talked mostly to Daniel. He engaged him in conversation in part to find out his capabilities but he did it in such a way that Daniel felt important and that we were not just sitting there talking about him but that he was involved. Funny how something that could seem scary and unknown could turn out to be a blessing. God meets us where we are in every situation and pours out blessings. The doctor has some ideas about what might be causing his difficulties but we will have to wait for approval from the insurance company for genetic testing to see if he is correct in his assessment. For now we wait but with a new hope that we might get some answers concerning Daniel's condition.

The next blessing of the day was that my mom and her husband Brad met us there and watched the other children in the waiting room while we were in with the doctor. Being homeschoolers is a blessing in that you can go to appointments when you need to, but it is also challenging to have to have seven people trekking through various doctors offices. We are like a passing parade and it is not always easy. However in this instance it was a blessing. The children got to tell their grandparents all about their recent adventures to Disneyland. The grandparents got to spend time with the grandchildren and we got to focus on the doctor and Daniel. Everyone was blessed!

The final blessing of the day came after we came home last night. I figured after a day in very hot Phoenix going from place to place and doing not so enjoyable things perhaps we should have some fun. So we headed for the YMCA for a little swimming to end our day. While we were there I took Daniel down the water slide as I try to do whenever I'm swimming with them. He has almost drowned in the past coming out the end of the slide because he was too small to stand up. However last night when we went down together I tried to let him go a bit and see how he would do. He did okay so after we had gone down a few times and we were resting a bit he said to me. "Mom when I'm big I'm going to go down that slide by myself!" To which I responded why not try tonight?? He was a bit amazed that I would be so cavalier but he said..."Really??". I spoke with a kind lifeguard and he allowed me to stand at the bottom of the slide to see if he could do it. Well suffice it to say Daniel has learned a new skill! He did just fine and he must have worn out the path up the stairs and down the slide by the time we went home last night. Once again God blessed me with a glimpes of the fact that although Daniel is different from my other children and he is behind in his growth and may always be, he is making progress. God's timing is not our timing and His ways are not our ways but they are the BEST! I'm so thrilled that He chose me to be the mom of this special child and revel in whatever He chooses to do with his life.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

By the Numbers

The Lord is a keeper of time. He has been impressing this fact on my heart lately by bringing to mind significant numbers in my life.

The first number is 20. This fall it will be 20 years that Robert and I have been a couple. We began our relationship at the age of 16 and eventhough we went through a lot of rough times in those first few years of our relationship we always stayed together. This is one of the things in my life that I am most proud of. I can't imagine walking this journey with any other man. Even though we were not walking with the Lord at the time I know in my heart that He meant for us to be together.

The next number is 10. This is not only the number of years that we have been parents but it is also the number that signifies the number of years that it has been since the Lord took hold of my heart. I began my journey towards following Him when I was pregnant with Emma. And though my faith journey has grown and changed over the 10 year period I feel as though I have been on His path for 10 years.

13 and 7 are the next numbers. These are the numbers that I sometimes have the hardest time getting my head around. Thirteen is the age of my son James and eventhough I have only been his mom for almost four years and he was nine when he came home there is just something that won't let me believe that I am the parent of a teenager. He is a young 13 which helps a bit knowing that I still do have time and that he probably won't leave the nest at the typical age however it is sobering to know that in just a few short years he could. Seven is the age of my youngest child Ana. This sometimes gets me more than the 13 because it all seems to be going so fast. Ana joined our family at age 2 and it just doesn't seem possible that she could already be a busy 1st grader and come up with such funny sayings and be getting soooooo very tall.

Then there comes the number 5 which is the number of years since we started our wild ride of adopting four of our five children. It seems like the blink of an eye some days and other days it seems as though that these four treasures have been with us all along. I ponder sometimes what it would have been like to have them each from birth and it saddens me that I missed so much of their early lives. But it is also a reminder of just how precious each and every day has been since they have been with us. How much we have all grown and changed in the last five years. How many things I have learned about myself and what God has allowed me to walk through. There are so many things that I would have never experienced if they had not been here. Some amazing like riding roller coasters at Disneyland with my three sons. Ones that the girls didn't want anything to do with. Or seeing them all learn to swim this summer at the YMCA and then use the skills that they have learned to swim in the Pacific. How much more fun it is to have five than just one and the adventures that are so much more exciting when they can share them with one another. Then there are the not so fun things that I've learned like fighting with insurance companies to get my son Daniel to the doctors that he needs to go to. Or the fact that I could probably be a pharmacist with all the medications that I have dispensed over the last five years. Or the scary thought of having to learn how to feed Daniel with a feeding tube that will be put in later in the month...and praying that it will help him to grow. Even these not so fun things have been a blessing though. I have done things that I never dreamed I would and seen love grow in this unique family that I am helping to raise. I have laughed and cried and I know that I am not the same person that I was five short years ago and I'm glad for it!

These are the numbers that I have in my heart this week. As I ponder them I know for sure that there will be more significant numbers as the years pass. It helps me know my Lord more when I think about the numbers because I know that just as they are significant to me they are significant to Him. He is a keeper of the vast Kingdom Calendar and my numbers fit into His plan in just the right order. For that I am thankful.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Change of Direction

I desire to blog!! I cannot tell you the number of blog posts and blog ideas that I have hidden in my head. I think of things all the time that I would like to write or post photos about but for the last several months I have been unable to post pictures with any great success here on this blog. This has caused me to not blog or be frustrated with blogging in general. I even started another blog on another site only to be disappointed when I tried to post photos on that blog with no success either. And so my dilemma has been do I give this up all together or do I just not even try to post pictures anymore. Since every single time I do I get frustrated and sad that I can't post what I desire and then I quit. I think I have come to the conclusion that I will just have to have a photo-less blog for now. I still feel like I have some things to share and even if no one but a very few of my closest friends read this and comment (you know who you are) I feel that it is somewhat therapeutic to record some of my thoughts as well as some of the everyday blessings that occur in our family. So I am starting anew in a sense. I'm changing the title of this blog to Everyday Blessings and I am going to do my best to post more often. Even if it is just a few words about my day or the blessings that the Lord has brought to me in my quiet time or something small my children have done or said that blesses my heart. I am not going to worry about photos although I do have many I would love to share but perhaps I'll find another format in which to do that.

My blessing for this day was the bit of time that I spent this evening with my daughter Emma. Robert and I have been making an effort to meet with our three older children each week for some more focused discipleship. Emma has amazed me with her thirst for this time and the effort that she has put into the assignments that I have given her. This past week she has been working on looking up references for different wives in the Bible. We have been doing the Polished Cornerstones book from Doorposts. She looked up each of the wives some very good and some not so good ie: Abigail vs. Jezebel and wrote on a chart what things she gleaned from her readings and what the consequences of their actions righteous or not were. What a blessing for me to see her responses. Some very simple and some cute in their wording. I realized how blessed I am to have a daughter that thirsts after righteousness and is so focused on becoming the woman that God desires for her to be. We are also reading Beautiful Girlhood together and tonight's reading was on character. What a good reminder to me about my awesome responsibility of being an example to this ever growing young lady. I know that I have many flaws but it gives me a greater incentive to watch my tongue and try to teach she and the rest of my children what it means to be a Godly wife and mother. I'm thankful for this path that the Lord has me on and the gentle reminders that He so often gives me through my growing children.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Box Day!!

One of the best days of our whole homeschool year is Box Day!! AKA the day our new books arrive from Sonlight. For people who don't homeschool this may strike you as a little weird but for us it has become a tradition that we all look forward to, especially me. I don't know what it is about getting new books that makes my heart so happy but boy does it ever. Probably because I'm the biggest bibliophile known to man. This year was not disappointing. We are going to be studying Core 5 this year which is Eastern Hemisphere. Much of the year will be devoted to studying countries in the 10/40 window which is one of the most unreached parts of the world for Christ. Going through the curriculum this afternoon was a bit overwhelming and I'm glad I got it early because it is going to take some studying to prepare a schedule and figure out how to accomplish all that I hope to this year. As the children will soon find out this core is a huge step up from what we have been doing in recent years and will require a lot more effort on their part. As their dad put it...playtime is officially over.

I'm excited though to study a new section of the world and know that I am learning so much right along with my five children. What a blessing homeschooling truly is. As I pray for this new year I'm excited to see what the Lord will do in my children this 2009/2010 school year and I look forward to the many new nuggets of wisdom that we all gain in the process.
My math wiz James is excited to start his new math program. As am I, it will be more self directed and all the lessons are right there for him on the computer!
Books...books...and more books

Peter was eager to get the books out of the box so that he could cut it apart to make the castle. Who ever said you need expensive toys to keep children occupied??

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Projects, Projects, Projects

Summer projects abound at our house this year. We are using the time to build and create new things and finish projects that have been in the works for quite some time. The weather here this summer has been ideal and so much cooler than normal. The Lord has blessed us with early summer rains that have made the landscape greener than our typical brown. It blesses my heart to see His hands at work all around us.

Peter has been doing what he loves most this summer and building all things crafty. He created a garage of his own using popcicle sticks and a lot of glue. It took him several days of hard work but the result is quite good and very sturdy too. It is a joy to watch his mind work to create fun art. So very unlike myself I marval at the creative side of my children and their passion for artsy things.

My project along with some help from Miss Emma has been to get some more flowers growing in our front flower bed. We are working on growing some begonias as well as moss roses and a couple other new types of flowers. We were pleased to see that even after the cold winter many of our annuals were still alive and kicking which is very rare indeed especially for us!! The snapdragons and even some of the petunias are still going strong. We are still not master gardeners by any stretch but we are enjoying the color of the flowers and the process of keeping them flourishing.

Robert's garage is continuing to take shape. The outside is ready for paint and the inside is completely finished yippee!! The last major thing to do will be to get power to the building which will require taking our small shed down and moving all the contents into the new garage so that the wire can be run to the panel on the house. We also still have to string new fence around the building and take down our now quite dilapidated temporary fence. It has been a long hard struggle and we have learned a lot about ourselves and working together through this project. I can't deny that I will rejoice when it is finally complete and we can move on to other things. But as I look at it I realize how much has been accomplished in its building. Not only the building itself but the relationships involved while creating it. What a blessing to have summer days to be fruitful but in a more relaxed way than during the hectic months of the school year.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Renovations

Well I finally was able to get a couple of photos to load on my blog!! I don't know what I did or why it worked but thank you Lord for making it work!! A few weeks ago we decided to go to Ikea to get some bookshelves for the living room. Robert heard my heart and helped me figure out a way to get a small library together until we can get our garage converted to a room which I hope to then have one whole wall devoted to shelves for all my books. But this is a wonderful fix for the moment. We were able to move all of the books out of the kid's rooms and bring them all to one place in the living room. We are all loving it so much. I was also able to leave a shelf open for my next Sonlight Core which will be arriving very soon for the fall. I love the fact that we use a curriculum that allows us to have such a wonderful library. But it is also very frusterating not to have the space to have them all out where the children can actually get to them!! So this is our solution for now, what a blessing.

While we were browsing Ikea we decided to look at some new dressers for the kid's rooms. They were within the budget so we ended up getting two for the girl's room and two for the boy's room. They were all in need of new ones that have a larger capacity than what we had. Funny how as kids grow so do their clothes :). The girls also decided that they wanted to split their bunk beds apart and so the next day we set about revamp the rooms. The result was just perfect. The girls are so thrilled with the way the room looks and the space that they have for their things. I'm thrilled because it looks more homey and not so junky. I will also say they have done a remarkable job keeping it clean and neat and it is such a nice place to be. The boys have two new dressers and their clothes actually fit in the drawers and the drawers even close now! Mom is a happy camper. Funny how small changes can change the whole mood of a house. We have become masters at working with small spaces!

I would love to share some more pics but these are the only two that would load for now. Hopefully I can get some of our other adventures to load in future posts!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Decade Old

How can it be that my sweet daugher Emma is already ten?? She had this momentous birthday back in April and I think that part of me didn't blog about it back then because I still couldn't quite get my head around it. I know that I have two children older than she is but because they came into our family when they were nine and almost eight I guess it doesn't seem the same. But with Emma I can't quite figure out where the time went. Why just a minute ago I was feeding her baby food with a tiny spoon and chasing after her as she was toddling around getting into mischief. Now she is wearing a size seven ladies shoe and teaching her younger brother and sister about Christ as well as reading all the books I read to her to them. She is independant and stubborn at times and I see my faults in her so clearly sometimes. But two of the most amazing things about her are her simple love for Jesus and what an amazing big sister she has turned out to be. I was watching her the other day at the YMCA pool. She spent most of her time in the small activity pool with Daniel and Ana playing and playing with them. Either helping to teach Daniel to not fear the water or following Ana down the slide laughing and giggling with glee. She is still a little girl at heart but I see a maturity in her that sometimes scares me. I know that there are so many things that will happen with her in the next ten years and part of me just wants to slow down time just a little so that I don't miss any of it.

There have been so many blessings that have come from adopting our children from Russia. But one of the most unexpected ones is the person that Emma has become because of her brothers and her sister. She is much more adventurous than I believe she would have been with no brothers and she is far more giving and compassionate. God has blessed us so greatly with this loving and faithful daughter and I am one thankful mom to have her in my life.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Snow Adventures, Puppy Adventures, Zoo, Garage and Grand Adventures

Time flies when you are having so many adventures!! We have had our share over the past couple of months. In February we had our first real snow since the boys have been home. Wouldn't you know it, it was when Robert was in Phoenix for a conference so he missed all the fun. But it was a doozie of a storm that left us with more than a couple inches of snow and enough for even us homeschoolers to call a snow day. The kids had a blast playing and throwing snow balls. Then they joined me inside for a relaxing day of movies and hot chocolate...no school allowed.

James was especially thrilled. He has been waiting for a good snow since he arrived from Siberia three years ago. This is his wonderful snow man that he worked all morning to get just right. He was so proud and was sad to watch him melt which happened before days end. Such is life in Arizona where the snow doesn't stay long!!
Our next adventure began around the same time as the snow. This is our precious new chocolate lab Hershey. He is curious, fun loving and all puppy for sure. And he loves to give Hershey kisses :) He joined the gang in February as well and has become part of the family very quickly. One thing about having five pairs of eyes to watch over a puppy he doesn't get away with much. He has trained very quickly and loves all his people. The only down fall to this dog so far is that he is a morning dog. When the sun comes up he thinks it is time to PLAY! Which doesn't go over so well with this non-morning girl. But we are working on it!! Hopefully I can get him to come around to my way of thinking...sleeping in is good Hershey!!

The beginning of March found us off to the Phoenix Zoo on a homeschool field trip. Our dear friends hopped in the silver streak with us and we made a day of it. The kiddos had a blast and us moms got some exercise. We even took a side trip out for an awesome lunch and a trip to Fashion Square. Why waste a perfectly good trip to Phoenix I say!!

My man has been hard at work on his adventure in his new garage. In the last few months he has put on the trusses (thank you friends that helped), had our friend from church roof it (in a day...yippee), get all the electrical done, and hang almost all the drywall on the ceiling. He has done an awesome job and I'm so proud of him. The boys have been fantastic helpers as well and are learning so much from their dad.

Our latest adventure was truly Grand!! Our friends who we visited in Virginia last year and who will be moving there permanently this week invited us to tour the Grand Canyon with them. It was a special day to celebrate their son's birthday and just have sweet fellowship. We will miss them terribly when they go but are looking forward to future adventures with them. Who knows all the things we have yet to see!!
As spring approaches we realize once again how blessed we are. The Lord has allowed us to have so much fun together in 2009, enjoying the beauty of His creation.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Eleven Already!!

There are times that I can still hardly believe that I have an eleven year old son...not to mention a 12 year old son!!! When you get them already half grown it seems like time passes all the more quickly and you have to be careful to catch the moments quick because you blink and three years have passed. I am posting these photos of Mr. Peter's birthday several weeks late but I wanted to share some of the fun we had during his party. Having your birthday on December 28th has its challenges. Especially when you are the mom :) but we did our best this year to let Peter know he is loved and such a special part of our family. Peter is my little imp, we knew from the moment we saw his photo that this would be his personality. He is so very creative, loves anything to do with the military, can build just about anything and is a budding artist. He keeps me on my toes everyday but his smile makes my heart melt. His theme this year was Army stuff and between Christmas and his birthday he managed to get just about everything a boy could want or need to "do battle" including a real Army phone, a full camo outfit, army shovel and ruck sack. He loves to suit up in all of it and head to the back yard to dig trenches and battle with his brothers. Here are some of the photos from his party at the Hampton Inn. We had fun having "camo" cake and then heading to the indoor pool for fun swimming with friends.

The Whole Gang after swimming...they all slept well
I think this picture says it all!

Mr. Peter with his camo cake!

My Little Imp!!
P.S. When I first posted this the photos didn't load right and this time they are not in the right order, but I'm choosing to just leave them and move on :)