Friday, December 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Through Christmas

We went to visit dear friends for Thanksgiving.  What a feast and reunion.  Our three families have all seen each other separately, but haven't been all together in 5 years.  It was wonderful!

So then, we had sickness and ear drum ruptures, and all kinds of fun.  We all missed Christmas church because only 1/3 of us were healthy.  We've had a few young, brave friends come over to hang out with us, but we've tried hard to keep the germs to ourselves.

The Penguin actually slept next to the tree.

The cat got to come upstairs.

My husband, King of Stockings.  I do not, apparently, understand what qualifies an item to go into a stocking, or how to pack a stocking.  The kids had fun with the 25 crazy things that were wrapped in 4 hours and unwrapped in 4 minutes.

The first time I've ever had to get out the Phillips screwdriver to free a toy.  They don't call him Cranky the Crane for nothing.

The Penguin drew, stuffed, and sewed this pillow for the Bunny.  She also gave me an origami box stuffed with "Be Nice" Cards, which are the best present I've ever gotten.

The Big Present of the Year

This was really the first Christmas that the Panda really understood what was going on.  He's still much too concrete for any deep understanding of God and what Christmas really means, but he's caught on to how to open a present, he ate bites of dinner, and he talks enough to communicate his opinions.  We've enjoyed lots of new board and video games together, watched Christmas movies, and had a great time as a family.  Our pastor set up a church account to access great video series at Right Now Media for our church, and that has been great while we've been sick.  There's a Peacemaker's series that has started great conversation about some of our biggest areas of family conflict.  Our favorite verse from what we've been listening to:

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Family Pictures

We haven't had family pictures made since the Puppy was 2.  Ooops.  A friend from church is fundraising for a missions trip by doing photography, and so here is a big photo post!  Not only did she take some great pictures, she also included super pictures she took when they picked us up at the airport 2 years ago when the Panda came home, and the Bunny's TKD birthday party last year.  Fun!

Panda's Homecoming

 The Bunny's 13th

Family Pictures!

Best Outtakes Ever

Italian talking...

Shampoo Ad....

The Angriest Panda.....

Ninety Minutes into a photo shoot....

Friday, November 15, 2013

Three Months

So, that's not really very long to ignore  your blog, right?   *sheepish*

The biggest reason that I'm back is that Compassion International is asking all of us to call on the Lord together for the people of the Philippines.  My heart and prayers have already been there for a couple weeks, but the more news that we hear, the more it becomes obvious that the needs are desperate and long-term.

My Compassion child, the niece of my heart, is in Cebu, and I haven't heard any news yet.  We've been together for 8 years, and she and the Bunny are about the same age.  Please pray for her, particularly that she and her family will depend on God and bring glory to Him with their attitude and love for others, even now in this very hard situation.  Please donate money as well as prayers!

So, we are 2 1/2 months into homeschool this year with the Bunny and the Puppy.  All is well.  The Bunny has a lot of work.  I can not even say how thankful I am for Teaching Textbooks math, and my friends at our co-op who teach her Spanish, English, and choir.

The Penguin went off to public school for the first time ever this year, and so far, so good!

The Panda is going to preschool 4 days a week.  Since he is obsessed with the song, "The Wheels on the Bus," he is crazy about getting to ride a bus.  A couple of hours of preschool makes me super-sure that I want to homeschool him.  He doesn't really communicate well enough to tell me about his day, and I don't feel secure about him being gone half of his waking hours and not able to tell me about it next year.
If I ask,  "Do you love Miss *Teacher*", he says yes.  I believe this one.  :)

If I ask, "Did you paint today", he says yes.  :)

If I ask, "Did you ride a pony?" he still says yes....  :/

Even so, his communication has improved vastly.  He hauls off with big, complex sentences every now and then now, and he's figuring verbs out really well.  His speech is generally easy for me to understand, but people who don't know him can't always understand him.

He has tried new activities like biting and chewing, although they aren't effective at all yet.  Baby steps...  Feeding is still hard.  We just celebrated the Panda's second Adoption Day!  In two more years, I think these feeding and speech issues will be so much better, but it is going to take a lot of work.

Other adoptive mamas:  I have heard a few people mention that their kids seem to struggle, or get out of sorts, around the time of year that they were adopted.  The Panda was only a little over 2, and it seems impossible that he could remember, but both last year and this year, he had night terrors and strange behaviour all week during his "Gotcha" week.  Coincidence?  I have no doubt that he feels great pain and fear from his past, but to be able to time the big panics and meltdowns to that week (twice!), as young as he is, with no idea about calendars and anniversaries, is really surprising.

I am staggered at how far the Panda has come in two years!

In September, I took a three day trip BY MYSELF!!!! to visit my dear friends and their little ones in MI.  It is hard to live far from your best friends, but the worst part of that is how hard it is to get to know their kids.  We toured the Henry Ford museum, and it was lots of fun!  Kendra's son loves trains, and this one was a WV coal train, so it is my favorite, of course.

The museum also has the very bus where Rosa Parks refused to move to the back.  Without that moment in time, and the revolution that followed here in the US, would I have a child of a different race today?

We did all the birthdays.  The Puppy wanted to go to that big rodent place....  I have to admit, I left that to Matt.  The boys had a good time.  The Penguin wanted to go ice skating.  Once again, Matt saved the day.  Even though he has only ice skated once, he was soon zooming around like a pro, and all the kids started doing pretty well.  Surprisingly fun birthday activity!

The Bunny didn't want a party, and so she brought two special friends home to WV and granddad's house for Autumn Glory.  *excessive number of pictures of leaves and children*

We carved pumpkins.  This almost made me tear up the whole time.  Having Matt here with us, instead of deployed like last year, makes all the difference in the world.

Matt and the Penguin

The Bunny

The Puppy

I just roast the seeds.  ;)

The Puppy and I have started making homemade wheat soft pretzels stuffed with cheese.  They freeze well, reheat in the microwave in one minute, and can be eaten while driving, so they are the perfect food.  We had an exciting moment when my 13 year old Kitchen Aid started pouring smoke.

"Get the Door!"  *running with flaming mixer to a nice concrete area away from the house*  Whew!

Lucky the Puppy listened well.  Apparently Kitchen Aids don't do well with large batches of wheat dough...