Friday, December 31, 2010
...for supernatural protection from this virus that is ravaging my family.
Amanda, then Mike, then Tali, then Tyler and now Christiana. I feel a little run down (imagine that) and a tickle in my throat but I'm hoping it doesn't get full blown. Last year, my neighbor introduced me to Viracillin. It's a supplement that you take just as you start to feel yourself starting to get sick. When I take it as I start to feel a virus attacking, I always stay just on the verge of getting sick. If I let it run out and don't take it, I am miserable. This virus will be the ultimate test.
Now if I could only get some rest...
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Here's the picture and letter we sent out to our friends and family. We hope you have all had a lovely Christmas enjoying your families.
Dear Friends and Family,
What a year…or two… or three! For quite a few years, there weren’t many big changes in our house; we were home schooling the boys, they were playing baseball, Mike was busy managing the lumber yard and we were praying for a baby. That is, until we decided to adopt.
August of 2007, about ten months after starting the adoption process, we were in Texas bringing home a three-week -old baby girl that we named Amanda. Amanda is three now and she has been such a delightful addition to our family. When Amanda turned one, we began the process for a second adoption. Nine months later, we were matched with a mother who was expecting a baby in the middle of July. About three weeks before the baby was due, we found out that I was pregnant.
We were shocked, surprised and delighted but we were concerned it meant we wouldn’t get to adopt the little girl we had been waiting for. However, her birth mom decided that she still wanted us to adopt her baby girl. We knew it would be really challenging for a time, but babies grow up so fast and we knew it would be worth it. Christiana was born on July 8th in Tampa, FL. Mike, Amanda and I met her when she was a day old. She was released into our care the next day and we flew home a week later. Our feisty little Christiana is now seventeen months old.
On February 17, 2010, Little Miss Talitha was born. We pronounce her name like “Tabitha” but with an “L”. Her name is found in Mark 5:41 when Jesus heals a little girl. He says to her, “Talitha cumi!” Which means, “Little girl, arise!” Talitha is a testimony of faith, healing, and new life in our home, and we couldn’t be more thankful. She is now nine months old and is a very happy and easy going baby.
There have been big changes for the men in our house too. Tyler is 16 and is working on getting his driver’s license. Last year he was enrolled in three classes at the public school and this year he is there full-time as a junior. Tyler is very talented on the piano and is mostly self-taught. Tony just turned 14 and is enrolled as a freshman. He is doing very well in school and has wonderful guitar skills. Both boys have adjusted well to the school routine according to their personal strengths. They have accepted the invasion of little girls but prefer to hang out downstairs in the “Man Cave.”
In addition to running the lumber yard, Mike is enrolled online with Ohio Christian University. He is working very hard and has been at the top of his classes. He also continues to play guitar at our church where he is also an elder and treasurer.
My days are spent caring for the little girls, and I do my best to cherish these days because they are fleeting. Life is crazy and busy, but I am always provided with enough grace to get through each day. I post stories, photos and updates on our family blog: www.mikeandkatie1.blogspot.com.
We hope your family has a joyful Christmas and a New Year filled with blessings from above!
Love from: Mike, Katie, Tyler, Tony, Amanda, Christiana and Talitha
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17 ESV)
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Three is such a great age because she is starting to grasp abstract concepts like God, adoption and birth moms. We sat down for the first time and looked through the book Amanda's birth mom made for her. She embraces everything with enthusiasm and curiosity. She loves the little stickers and embellishments. There are pictures of her birth mom holding her in the hospital and when we got to the pictures after her birth mom left the hospital, she said, "Oh no, no! Where did baby Amanda go?" She was very excited to see Mike and I on the next page.
The other day I was making green beans and she said that she didn't want any. I told her that she had to eat some. Of course, she said, "Why?" So I answered, "Because God made them as good food for you to eat and grow up big and strong." Later as I placed the green beans on her plate, she looked at them and said, "I have to thank God for these green beans!" I explained how when we pray before eating, we were thanking God for our food. Ever since then her prayers are no longer gibberish followed by an "Amen," she actually speaks about things she is thankful for. At least, she did until she decided that she really liked the Catholic prayer ritual that we always say when my mom and grandma come to visit. Now she always asks to do that one.
She also enjoys saying the rosary with Grammy when she comes to visit. She loves getting out the special rosaries and participating. She talks about how Jesus died on the cross...and then goes on to say, "I died on the cross, Mama died on the cross, Baby Ana died on the cross, etc..." I decided to just let that one go. She wasn't completely wrong but I thought she was a little young for a discussion explaining propitiation.
I remember when Tony was three. One day, he was sitting at the table declaring, "Jesus is God! Jesus is God!" (Sadly, when I told the story to the senior high students I was teaching at the time, many of them looked me in confusion, "Jesus is God?" These were confirmed Catholic kids.) Anyways, things are different for the boys now.
Mike and I took the boys to the third Narnia movie last Thursday. At the end, Aslan tells Lucy that this is the last time she will be in Narnia. He says that she has seen him for a little while in Narnia so that she can learn to see him in her own world. My boys are at the same point of transition. They are too old to see God in the magical, mysterious way they did when they were younger and now it's time for them to learn to see God in the more mature way that comes with age and experience.
I'm sure glad we have another batch a little ones that we can take to Narnia for a little while.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Have I mentioned how Amanda likes to play puppy? It seems like she always asking to tie a leash around her and then hold onto the leash for a good part of the day. It started out with a short little necklace. That didn't make a very good leash. For almost a month, she walked around attached to me by a retractable leash. That was this summer before Ana was moblie. Of course, Ana copies and asked to be tied up too. Although she doesn't not like actually being tied up. Silly girls.
Lately, Amanda's been asking me to make dog houses for her. The problem has been that they are never big enough or safe from Christiana's grabby hands. One morning last week, Amanda was asking for a dog house and I decided to go all out. I cleared off the table and got out the big quilts. And then I remembered the creative design of our table. When we outgrew our table, Mike made a top for us out of a 4'x8' sheet of plywood. Then he removed the thick butcher-block top from our old table and secured a thinner piece of plywood to the top. Then the large sheet just sets on the smaller top.
What this means is that I can lift the table top and tuck blankets underneath. We can still use the table, Christiana can't pull the blankets down, and the girls have a fabulous little play space. I've spent a couple of afternoons laying on pillows under the table with them. On these chilly winter days, hanging out in a little blanket fort is nice and cozy.
I almost considered taking the fort down today when Tyler had company, but I didn't. I'm going to guess that we will have a fort under our table for quite some time.
Amanda is a pretty neat eater and I don't let the babies self-feed messy foods so I'm not too concerned about the blankets getting dirty. If anything, it keeps the crumbs and such from going all the way under the table and I just need to sweep up under their chairs.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Dress up in snuggly animal costumes of course!!!
The little panda bear outfit was a Christmas gift from my dad. Mike nicknamed Amanda, "Amanda Bear" so it was very fitting. We don't do Halloween but my friend Stacy had the idea of picking up clearance Halloween costumes to have for dress-up play. I've never gotten to those sales but someone handed down the tiger and Eeyore costumes this summer.
*That's in Fahrenheit. It's -26 Celsius.)
Monday, December 13, 2010
Nicole was able to capture some beautiful pictures of our family separately though. She is a very talented photographer and we are very thankful for the work she did for us. Nicole and I have a lot in common; infertility, adoption, induced lactation, we worked with the same adoption agency and social worker, home schooling, dealing with food allergies and when she came to visit us, she was feeling a bit queasy due to a delightfully unexpected pregnancy.
But sadly, on Saturday, their first daughter, Aurora Marie, was born still. Nicole and her family are just heartbroken, of course. And my heart has been with them. While I was pregnant with Tali, the thought was never far from my mind that I could lose her. I could only imagine how devastating that would have been for me and it must be for Nicole.
Now when I look at these photos they remind me again that life is so precious and yet so precarious. We need to cherish every moment because we don't know how many are left.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
He had to wait because they had built a new hospital and were in the middle of moving everything to the new hospital. He was going to be the first heart surgery at the new hospital. It was going to be reported on the news. It was scheduled for Friday.
He called to get my social security number. He was filling out his beneficiary paperwork in case something happened to him. He told me that we should put an addition on our house because that would be the easiest way to deal with our sudden lack of space. He told me he loved me. I told him I loved him too. We said, "Goodbye."
I never spoke to him again. My sister called on Monday to tell me that he had passed away at home in his comfy chair.
I have thought of him many times during the past year. I have often thought of something I wanted to ask him; something about my childhood, our my parent's marriage, or his childhood, and then I realize that I can't just call him for the answer. And that now I'll never know the answer (this side of heaven anyways).
Sometimes I have dreams about him. Usually he's healthy and we're together visiting or traveling or something. But tonight, I dreamed he was very ill. We were all together at some kind of church service. He was in his comfy chair. My sister and I were with him and he told me to find my brother. He wanted us all together to say his "goodbyes." My brother was in the basement playing video games with my boys. My three little girls were sleeping.
And then Amanda was awake and so was I. I never got a chance to say "goodbye." So, here I am thinking about him. One year later.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
She still uses the army crawl to get around but she's pretty fast. She likes to climb up and pillows, blankets, and people who are on the floor. She can get herself into a sitting position and often gets ups and rocks on her hands and knees. She's beginning to pull herself up on us and we help her to stand. She's still pretty wobbly on her legs though. She no longer pleasantly accepts her sisters taking her toys from her hands and often protests loudly, holds on tight and tries to grab the toy back. She's also pretty aggressive about going after the toys she wants even if someone else is holding them.
Tali is very spoiled by her daddy and will squawk if he doesn't pick her up right away and when he puts her down. Usually if I come over and reach for her when he's holding her she will turn away from me and cling to him. It's very sweet and it makes him feel loved. She enjoys her sisters but sometimes they can be a bit smothering. She is often torn between wanting to nurse and wanting to see what they are doing. It's so much fun to hear them all laugh and giggle together.
She's finally starting to grow some hair although I think she'll be sporting a mullet for a while since the sides on front are coming in more slowly than the back. Her little strawberry mark on the top of her head has flattened out and has really started to fade. She's wearing mostly 12 months clothing and size 2-3 shoes. I had to get a picture of her in our favorite yellow dress before she outgrows it. I'm not sure if she'll be able to wear it on her first birthday like Amanda and Christiana did.
Monday, December 6, 2010
If Amanda's whining about bedtime, I start singing the Veggie Tales thankfulness song. If Christiana's squirming during a diaper change, I start singing the diaper changing song from My Smart Hands. If the girls are fighting over a toy, I start singing the Magic Words song from Signing Time. If I'm trying to get the dishes washed quick before church and Amanda and Christiana are pestering each other, I start singing the name song. "Ana, Ana bo-bana, banana-fanana fo-fanana, me my mo mana, Ana!" They were mesmerized by that one! Amanda would shout out the next family member's name and listen intently to hear how the song would turn out.
If Amanda has never heard the song before, she will ask me to repeat it again and again. I used to think this was just one of those annoying toddler quirks, but since we have obliged her request for repeating a book or song, she has shown us that she's trying to memorized them.
Lately we have been listening to some Bible verses set to music. It is a CD created by Heidi Hoilien for the Children Desiring God ministry. We listen to the music and I have printed out the verses and posted them in a couple of places in the house so even when the CD isn't on, seeing the words makes the song pop into my head and I start singing.
It has been a great way for ME to finally memorize some scripture. I have always wanted to be able to pull up verses for my kids as they face issues and behaviors but hadn't committed enough verses to memory. Now, they're in my head and when Tyler started complaining about having to get up and come to the table, I started singing, "Do all things without grumbling or questioning. Do all things without grumbling or questioning. Phillippians 2:14 says, 'Do all things with out grumbling or questioning.'" He may have commented about how I had lost all self-respect for blurting out such a silly tune, but he came to the table and quit complaining.
When I first became I Christian, I learned of the importance of praising God because it keeps our mind focused heavenward and not on our earthly circumstances. During these days when my hands are kept very busy, singing helps to lift me and my littles into the lofty places where God lives. There is no better place to be!
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Hey! There's a good one! Almost. At least they are all smiling. Is it obvious that I had to crop Christiana into the photo? She was so busy and just did not want to sit still. I'm amazed at families with many more children than us who end with a great photo every year. I wonder how many takes it took them to get everyone looking and not blurry.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Snuggled close to me, that's just where she likes to be!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
There are some things that our kids do that makes them very proud of themselves. Those things will be posted on this blog.
Tyler is very proud of his artistic ability.
Tali's big ol' cloth diapered bottom. :)
Tyler is also extremely talented on the piano. I tried to teach him piano using the traditional note-reading method. Mike taught him how to play by learning cords and he learned a lot about the structure of cords in his music theory class last year. Now he can listen to a song and figure out how to play the cords. He is also constantly making up his own music and melodies. It's lovely to hear the music drifting upstairs when he is playing downstairs.
He also proud because he is carrying an "A" in three of his classes and got 100% on his thermodynamics test in Principles of Engineering which is one of his college courses. He's also been working really hard to bring his grades up in his Advanced Algebra and World History classes.
I'm proud of him for those things too.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
That was Mike's response to the question, "What do you think about birth parents?" It was part of our home study questionnaire.
Mike understands the confusing, awkward and painful feelings of children who grow up separated from their birth parents. Mike's birth father separated from his mother when he still a baby and Mike never had any contact with him during his growing years.
Several times, he met his paternal grandparents and they came to his high school graduation. It wasn't until we got married and Tyler was born that Mike really began to get to know his birth father's family. We used to travel to visit them a few times a year and went to a couple Christmas celebrations. But Mike's birth father lived out of the state and was never there.
When Mike's paternal grandmother passed away shortly after Tony was born, Mike and his mom attended the funeral. Mike's birth father was there, but Mike was not interested in a meeting at that point. Afterwards, he wrote Mike a letter. It was the first one Mike had ever received from him. Mike kept the letter for a long time and even wrote a letter in response but I don't think he ever sent it. He was just beginning to get along better with his Dad and I think he felt it would be dishonoring to the man who raised him to try to foster a relationship with his birth father.
After Mike began managing and we moved to North Dakota, it became much more difficult to keep in touch with Mike's extended birth family and we had only seen his paternal grandpa once in the past five years even though he only live an 1 1/2 hr away from us. I think Mike always questioned how he fit into the family. There came a point when I quit sending them Christmas cards because it had been so long since we had seen them or visited. It wasn't until last year that we talked about it and he had assumed I had just kept sending them. Ooops! Needless to say his grandpa got one last year. We also sent them to his aunts and uncles on that side.
This summer was his 80th birthday party. We made plans to go but the little girls caught a stomach bug and we couldn't go. And then last Thursday, Mike's aunt called to let us know that his grandpa had passed away on Monday. Mike let me know that it was important to him that we all should go to the funeral on Saturday. Despite the obvious challenges and potential chaos, we all piled in the van on Saturday and went to say good bye.
It went really well. The girls did fine during the travel and were pretty good during the service. Mike's aunts and uncle were so nice and thankful to see us. One of them (Hi LeAnn!) reads our blog and so it was very easy to connect with her. We were invited to come in with the family during the service but were already seated in the sanctuary and it's quite a production to get our family moved. It was nice to be invited. Mike and I were both curious which man was his birth father as the family came in, but we couldn't pinpoint him and had to ask Mike's aunt afterwards. She told him we were up for meeting him and he approached us while we were waiting to eat.
It was a brief encounter. Pleasantries, introductions and condolences were shared and then we went our separate ways. I felt bad. I wondered if I should have engaged him in more conversation but I was a bit distracted by the hungry vultures circling at my feet.
After we ate we visited briefly with Mike's uncle. They also have an adopted son who is about Tyler's age and a post infertility miracle baby. It woud be nice to stay connected to their family. They seemed to have done a wonderful job navigating the uncertain waters of cross-cultural adoption.
One thing is for certain, when Amanda and Christiana are wondering about their birth parents, Mike will be able to relate with their desire to meet them and know who they are. I pray they have that opportunity to meet at least part of their birth family and bring some closure to the loss they have experienced.
Today at sundown marked the end of hunting season and three weeks of going to church by myself. The first two Sundays, Tyler came with, too, so I had marginal help. Although he was not up early last Sunday to start my van and remove all the snow. But this Sunday, he went up north with Mike and Tony too. So, I was completely on my own.
I really doubted my sanity when I finally got all three girls out the door and then saw that the van was covered in ice. Yikes! I couldn't bear the thought of being stuck at home so I loaded up the girls and prayed that I could find an ice scraper easily. I did and got the important windows cleared. My first job involved driving a flower delivery van and I learned how to drive with my mirrors and limited visibility.
Now, I realized that since my van was covered with ice there was a good chance the roads were covered with ice but I figured if I could make it out of the neighborhood, I should be good. I'm sure I had a bit of supernatural protection on my way to church this morning because God knew how much I wanted to be there. The driving wasn't bad. The stopping was a bit challenging. ;)
I'm proud of myself for getting us there and home safely, but I'll will be very thankful when Mike is home next weekend.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
One of the newest challenges is that Christiana no longer takes a morning nap. That means there isn't that break in the morning where Amanda and I do school, do a project, cook, or catch up on chores. If I'm not directing Amanda in a creative task, she'll come up with one on her own. That usually means a very large mess!
So here's my strategy:
First, I packed up most of the toys into their bins and put them out of reach in my room. Unless I'm sitting on the floor playing with them, they just dump the bins out and ride the bins around like cars or use them as diving platforms. If I need to spend focused time with them I might as well be teaching them how to do a chore.
Second, when I'm nursing Tali, I'll have Amanda sit with me and read me a story or look at books. It's a little tricky because Tali gets distracted, but if Amanda's on my chair, it's easier for me to protect her from Christiana. During that time, Christiana will just wander around and occasionally snuggle with us or stroke Tali's head. It gives her opportunity to play by herself without Amanda's interference.
My third trick is strategic babywearing. After nursing Tali, I can put her down to crawl around and play with a few toys on the floor. I can then wrap Christiana on my back and do some cooking or kitchen clean up. Once Tali goes back to bed I can do a chore, read stories or play with the little girls. Amanda and Christiana fight over who gets to help me unload the dishwasher. Amanda can unload most of the dishwasher by herself. Christiana is just a little to short to reach most of the drawers so she carrys items over to the right locations and I put them up for her.
I have also been known to use my wrap as a leash. Amanda loves to play puppy and be tied to me. She requests to be my puppy almost every day. While it's a bit annoying to have a puppy crawling around after me and between my legs, at least she's not off harassing her sister or making a mess in another part of the house. Christiana also requested to be wrapped up in the leash but did not like the game once I sat down to nurse Tali and she couldn't wander off to see what Amanda was doing. She eventually cheered up and played with the toys that were within her reach.
Finally, I try to get out of the house at least once a day. Usually that just means going for a walk but sometimes we are more adventurous and go to the farm for milk and eggs or some other short errand. I may even venture out for a visit with friends I haven't seen much in the last eighteen months. :) That might be nice!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Mike and I went to conferences together while our neighbor stayed with the girls. It was the first time we have gone out together since Tali was born. Literally, the day Tali was born was the first time Mike and I had spent any time alone together since who knows when. At least nine months, I would guess.
We are very pleased with how the kids have adapted to being in public school. They are doing well in their classes according to their personalities and patterns. Their teachers all had nice things to say about them and their grades look pretty good. It was fun to meet the teachers and see their class rooms.
The thing that struck me the most was how uncomfortable everything felt. Hard, cold, chaotic, distracting. Home is just so nice.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Christiana's giggles when she learned how to do "knuckles*."
Amanda asking a dozen times a day, "Do [insert name of plant, animal or insect] nurse their babies?" Then she offered to nurse potatoes upon hearing that potatoes don't nurse their babies.
*knuckles- like a high five only with your fist closed and you bang your knuckles with the other person.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
4 cups oat flour (I put quick oats in the blender. You could use whole wheat flour too.)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups raw sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt (Low fat or fat free is not recommended)
1 cup chocolate chips or dried fruit
In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking soda. In a large bowl, mix softened butter and sugar together. Add vanilla and yogurt. Mix in flour. Fold in chips or dried fruit. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for 6-8 hours. The yogurt will break down the whole grain and make it stickier.
When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. I use Pampered Chef baking stones and the small batter scoop. We used our fingers to press the batter into cookie shapes. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Allow them to cool about 15 minutes on the stone before moving them to a cooling rack. We got about 4 dozen out of each batch. Many were eaten. Some are still in the freezer.
I made some with cinnamon and raisin. I added about 1 tsp of cinnamon, maybe less, to the butter and sugar mixture and substituted 1 cup of oat flour for 1 cups of oats. I also made some with chocolate chips and then some with chocolate chips and peanut butter. Add 1/2 cup of peanut butter to the butter and sugar mixture and reduce the yogurt by 1/2 cup. You can always add more yogurt a Tbsp at a time if the batter seems too dry. Then I made some with dried cranberries.
By this time I was beginning to feel the effects of too much dairy, and determined to make them dairy-free. I substituted 1/2 cup light olive oil for the butter and soymilk for the yogurt. I just added enough soymilk to wet the batter to the right consistency. They were more crumbly than the yogurt ones but they were still yummy and met my need for something sweet and crunchy and filling.