We truly are a family redefined. We are husband, wife, son, daughter, step children, biological and adopted children and most importantly, Children of God.

A friend pointed out that I needed to update my blog header. After our adoption from Ethiopia, I had updated it stating how the adoption of Sara Joy completed our family. Well... the journey continues. After much prayer, we have decided to follow what we feel is God's calling for us...we went to Ghana with the intention of adopting a four year old girl, Isabella Hope. Little did we know that she would be the catalyst to bringing home not only her, but her half brother and sister. We will now be adding not only Isabella Hope to our family, but also Mary Grace (9) and Gilbert (6) who we will transition to the name Nathaniel Timothy. The shock is wearing off and the JOY and EXCITEMENT are overwhelming. Now truly, our family is complete. The great part of journeying with God, is that it's always an adventure. He knows where we are going, and for us it is all a marvelous surprise. Looking forward to sharing our family adventures as we walk daily through life and as we venture off to Ghana to bring home Mary, Nate and Isabella! It's always an adventure redefining our family!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Introducing Mocha and Shadow

Tim and I have been tossing around the idea of a cat.  Not sure why, but we thought it would be something good for Anna.  We decided to wait until we hit a milestone with her, in terms of school, and then we would allow the kids to pick out a kitten.  Well, we did some research and decided on a persian kitten.  Not only are they wonderful with children, they are very social cats, they typically do well with other animals and they are just so stinkin' cute. 

So, we made the decision... then we just had to find the right kitten.  So, yesterday we were looking up some kitten places on the internet.  We found one in SC - but we would have to drive over 2 hours to see it.  So, what do we do?  We pick the kids up from school a bit early and take a drive.  This individual had two kittens... two little sisters.  On the way there we were discussing how we were only getting ONE kitten.  We had decided on the little gray one after the individual sent us pictures of them.  I was dead set on coming home with only one kitten.  I began to worry though how we would choose.... how would we leave just ONE behind.. all. by. itself?

Tim apparently has a heart of stone - or so he thinks, because he said he is not emotionally attached to either cat based on a picture, so he has no problem leaving one behind.  Yeah, until we get there and he sees them, and he becomes instantly emotionally attached.  I was determined to come home with one cat... but the kids saw the crack in the wall.  The weak link... and it was Tim.  Oh how Tim was torn.  Oh how could we leave just one.  What if no one wanted her?  They have ever only had each other (there were only two kittens in the litter).  My biggest problem was we had only chosen ONE name.  The kids divided and conquered.  If they couldn't decide on one together, then maybe chances were better that they would get both.... They figured this all out through body language and eye contact.  So, Tim... which ONE do you want?  Oh, he couldn't choose... they were BOTH so cute (and they were), they were BOTH so lovable (and they were)... so Tim made the executive decision to get both.  I'm kinda glad we did, because they didn't make a peep the entire way home.  They just kept each other company. 

Still my biggest problem was ONLY ONE NAME.  We had only chosen Mocha as a name.  The entire way home we discussed names.  I finally came up with Shadow and we all agreed.  So, without further adeu....


and Shadow

And the two sisters together

In Christ,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So far, so good.

Thank you to everyone who has supported our family (especially our Anna) both on and off this blog as we learn to deal with ADHD.  I apprecaite every comment - from those who have been through it, to those who have taught children with it, those who have a family member, those who just know how to support us in what for us, has been a very difficult time.  I will say that I know so many others who are dealing with so much more, and I am SO VERY THANKFUL that I don't have more that I am having to deal with, with regard to Anna - but for us this has been difficult as well.  Seeing Anna struggle has probably been the hardest part.

There have been times when Anna could not get a green ticket at school to save her life.  I would drop her off at the door in the morning with a routine "Remember:  Love God and Love others.  Treat others how you would want to be treated.  Treat people with kindness.  Do not speak out of turn.  Hands are for hugging.  Kind words should come out of your mouth".  It was one constant reminder after another.

Then we'd get to work and the phone would ring.  If it was the school, I knew it was bad.  If it was Tim, I wondered if he was calling me to tell me the school called him.  For awhile I would get upset if he called me for a work question because I lived in fear that he was calling because he got called about Anna.

I fear even writing this, because surely my world will fall in around me just for writing it... but yesterday Anna celebrated getting her 15th (yes, 15!!!!) green ticket in a row.  She has not only gotten green tickets, but has mostly come home with green tickets with a tootsie roll taped to it.  "Green ticket with a tootsie-roll" means that you did not even have to be reminded once throughout the day about your behavior or how to treat people.  This is the Anna that I KNEW was always there.  I can't remember the last time Anna got two green ticket in a row let alone 15!!!  Not only am I happy for me... it makes coming to work and having the phone ring a lot less stressful :) but I'm more happy for Anna.  This is the child I'm sure she has wanted to be.  You could see the frustration in her before.  You could see her sadness in not being able to achieve like the others.  She has a different "pep" in her step.  Her smile is bigger, her eyes brighter, her laughter comes more readily - because she is not constantly suffering consequences. 

I'm keeping a calendar of her progress - both in terms of behavior at school and in terms of any side effects of the medication that we notice.  At first it was a decreased appetite, she was unable to sleep through the night and she was more weepy than I have ever seen her.  These are for the most part gone though.  The only thing that still remains is somewhat less of an appetite than she had before, but nothing to be concerned about. 

It's actually interesting to see the things she gravitates to now... she is still a rough player.  Anna has always been a kid that plays and plays hard.  At the same time, she has colored me picture after picture.  She has never been able to really sit still for extended periods and color a full picture.  She would move onto something else half way through.  Now, not only does she color a full picture in one sitting, but she might color more than one.  She is also a great writer. She enjoys writing letters - I have so many little love notes from Anna saying "I luv you mom"  (She sounds out love and to her it is spelled that way).  She also just likes letter formation - she has sat down and copied parts of the bible... now what mother in their right mind would stop their child from doing that???  :)  Copy away my dear Anna!  Copy away.

One of her after school child care workers, I'll call her Ms. "H" - she'll know who she is if she reads this - is such the cheerleader for Anna.  She has always loved my Anna, but she is quick to notice the difference in her as well.  Every day I walk in, she tells me what an EXCELLENT day Anna has had.  One day, I went to pick the kids up from school and Cameron want out to the car with Tim and I went and got Anna.  She was in the office.  I thought "oh no - this didn't last very long".  She came skipping out of the office with Ms. H.  Because she was having such a great behavior day, she was allowed to go to the child care office and help with some things in there. She was THRILLED.  The smile on her face was huge.  You could always see it on her face when her brother had the opportunity to do these things, but she never did.  They got to put together snack bags for a special kids treat, or things like that - even things like putting announcements in envelopes for the parents.  The kids who are behaving have an opportunity to help and they all enjoy that.  Anna had her turn.  All by herself and the smile on her beaming little face as she was skipping down the hall was priceless!

I worried about how the medication would change Anna's personality... would she just sit there and do nothing?  Anna has always reminded me of a little hummingbird - flitting all over, bringing people joy wherever she went.  (ok, when she was not misbehaving).  But seriously, that was her personality.  I did not want to see that changed, and thankfully, it has not.  I really have not noticed anything, other than a less frustrated, more compliant child!  Praise God for that!

On the adoption... no news.  We've been waiting over three months now and anticipate waiting quite a bit longer.  Wish I had more to share in that regard!

Thank you all again, for all of your support!

In Christ,

Friday, March 12, 2010

Answers - Warning... LONG!

Have you ever been waiting for answers?  So anxious for the response that you are more concerned about getting some answers than the nature of the response?  Well, that is where I have been.

Today, we have answers.

I have had you all praying for my Anna.  She is my sweet child and I seriously could not imagine life without her.  We have had some struggles with her though, and finally today, I think we have some answers.  With answers seem to come more questions though... questions, doubt and regret.  I'll explain it all.

Anna has been having some pretty big discipline issues at school. She has had them for several years.  I have always known my Anna to be a strong-willed child, in fact I have said it on this blog many times.  She is a very strong-willed child.  But I have also known my Anna to be extremely sweet... willing to share anything she has, a leader amongst her friends and a very smart little girl.  She is funny, and always ready with a smile.  She is silly and giggly.  She is also very active.  Always on the go, ready to play anything from football, riding her bike, catch with her dad, playing on the trampoline - just a fun loving kid.

Her attitude at school for the past few years has startled me.  First I thought it was just about her age.  She would grow out of it.  Then I thought I could work on her heart... memorize bible verses, etc.  Well, it has been three years of working, behavior modification, trying new things, consequences, correction - and for me... tears, fear and worry.  Well, finally after having tried everything else over the course of many years, we finally took Anna to the doctor where she was evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD. 

If you don't believe in ADHD, please don't tell me about it.  If you think I am a lazy mom who just needs to spend more time working with her child... please keep that comment to yourself.  I have tried and tried with Anna.  I'm not sure I believed in ADHD myself until I experienced this with Anna. I'm a chemist and I work for a pharmaceutical company... however, I seek God first.  First needed to be the work on Anna's heart.  I tried that.  I have come to find out that ADHD is real, and in some cases, the child needs medical assistance.  I'm not sure how I could have questioned ADHD but I did.   I see Anna though and I see her struggle... I see her trying and being frustrated for not being able to get the green ticket in school she so desperately wants.  I see her wanting to get the praise and recognition like the other children who are able to sit still and who do not talk out of turn.  I also see the faces of the parents who have experienced Anna's misbehavior.  It makes me sad to have anyone think anything but positive thoughts about my daughter.  She is such a blessing to me and to our family. 

Her doctor was wonderful in dealing with us.  He answered all of my questions and believe me.... I had many.  Initially we had to fill out multiple questionaires and so did individuals from the school.  We had three different reports from the school along with my/Tim's evaluation and they all said nearly the exact same thing.  The doctor had no question.  It was clear to him what Anna's problem was.  So, along with some coaching for us as her parents on how to assist her and make things easier for her, he started her on some medication.  Now, I don't give my children medication easily.  I need to be convinced that it is the right thing for them.  But after three years of struggling and seeing as how a medical professional was in agreement, we are trying it.  Not only that, but Anna has struggled enough.  I understand it will take some time to evaluate the medication and the appropriate dosage for her, but we are willing to work though that to get Anna where she needs to be. 

My regrets.... the past three years.  I look back on all the times I have disciplined Anna or gave her consequences.  She has several times even told me that she tried to do the right thing, but that she couldn't help it.  I had to take that time though to make sure I wasn't just trying to fix the problem to make it easier for me by giving her medication.  I needed to make sure I was doing the right thing for ANNA.  Giving her medication is not the right thing until I'm sure I have exhausted all other options.  It took me that long to get to this point.

My fear.... what would Anna have become in China?  She would have been overlooked.  She would have had no opportunity.  She would have just been a "bad kid".  Her potential would have been lost.  Her chance at becoming successful... slim.  I'm so thankful that my Anna is here with us and we went through this with her and have found a way to hopefully be able to help her.  While it has truly been a struggle, she has been loved by us through the entire struggle.  Every time I got a call at work to come to school, yes, it was frustrating and exhausing, but Anna is more important than my job.  My daughter and helping her through this issue is more important.  I am a mom before I am an employee.  No offense to my work, but my family comes first.  One day while we were struggling through this, and it had been an extremely difficult day, I took a step back... at this point in time I had considered the fact that Anna could have ADHD - we hadn't seeked a professional advice yet, but it was in the back of my mind.  At that point, I decided, until I knew for sure what was going on, I had to give Anna the benefit of the doubt.  Rather than going through the consequences again, I explained to her how her behavior was wrong and how she made a wrong choice (which I think remains important so not to give the child an excuse), but then I wrapped my arms around her and I told her that I truly believed that she wanted to do the right things.  I asked her if that was true, and she said yes.  I told her that no matter what it took, we would work together to get it figured out and I would do anything I could to help her make the right choices.  She just melted in my arms.  You would think that a 6 year old would not understand that, but she heard my words that what she did was wrong, but I was going to help her.  She felt my love and I felt her trust.

I hesitated to even talk about this, because I really don't want anyone to think Anna is just a "bad kid".  I also know that there are so many people who don't believe in ADHD... they really do think if a parent just took more of an active role in their children's lives, that they could work out the issue on their own.  I felt somewhat like a failure as Anna's mom... first for waiting so long to take care of it (which the Dr. said they actually would not have addressed it sooner) and then for the years I made her live with it and the consequences that were given in trying to help her make right choices. 

Medication is not the final answer.  Anna will struggle constantly - well into adulthood with this issue.  ADHD is not something that you grow out of, but it is something that as an adult (or older teen) you can learn to develop coping mechanisms.  Anna will always be "disorganized".  She will always have a purse full of little nonsense junk.  She will always have to fight her tendency to "figet" and she will likely struggle with being talkative.  But she will be fine.  She will be successful.  She is a smart little kid with SO much going for her.


Thank you to all of you who have prayed with me through this.  I do apprecaite it.

Small adoption update.... rumor has it that the laws in Ethiopia are changing and we will have to make TWO trips to Ethiopia once we get our referral... one for court and the other for the embassy appointment.  Not the most ideal situation for us, but one we can manage.  I think it is good for everyone involved to have it this way anyway.  Now.... BRING ON THE REFERRAL!!!

In Christ,

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Waiting for answers

Life right now seems to be all about "waiting".  I'm not a good "waiter", so things have been difficult for me lately. 

Adoption:  Still waiting.  We have been waiting for over 2 1/2 months now.  I know, in terms of the adoption world, that is not very long, but as I said.... for me, waiting is difficult.  We anticipate having to wait quite a bit longer, so it will be a long spring and summer.

For those of you who have read my previous posts and have been praying for our family, thank you.  A great big, HUGE thank you.  I always ask people to tell me how God has answered their prayres, so I will tell you how God has answered ours (and yours if you have been praying for our family).  If you have been praying specifically for Anna, again, Thank You!  God has heard our pleas and has answered in remarkable ways (I'll tell you a bit more about that later).  We are on our way to getting some answers.  In due time, I will tell this story.  Right now, I want to make sure we are doing the right things and making the right choices before we share.  I will say though, that we are on our way.  Not sure where we are going yet, but we are moving, which is what I needed.  It's what we all needed.  If you have prayed for me and Tim during this situation, Thank You again.  I personally have struggled.  I have beaten myself up over the whole ordeal.  I have questioned my ability as a mother to make the right choices for my children.  I have been physically sick over the whole thing.  I have cried more tears than one can imagine.  Some were tears of regret.  Some were tears of frustration.  Some were tears of not knowing what to do next.  I have prayed that God show us the way.  I have prayed that God give me some comfort - - - that I have tried to do the right thing all along.  I think that has come.  I'm still scared for moving forward, but I have peace that we are making the right choices.  Again, I'll tell the story, but not until we get through it.

Continue to pray for little Anna.  Yesterday, (Saturday) I had to go into work.  I moved into a new office the end of last week and I needed to get the final move done.  So, I went in yesterday and finished.  While I was there, I got a phone call from Tim.  He said Anna was going to have a black eye.  Not that I don't believe Tim, but sometimes he thinks things might be a bit worse than they are.  This was NOT one of those times.  He was playing in the yard with Anna and Pearl.  If he threw it to Anna, and she didn't get it, Pearl was sure to run and get it.  Well, one time Anna told Tim to throw the ball at her.  Of-course he didn't throw it "at:" her, but threw it in her direction.  She didn't catch it, but wanted to get to it before Pearl did.  Tim said the whole thing happened in slow motion and there was nothing he could do to stop it.  He was about 20 feet away from Anna and Pearl and they both went for the ball.  Well, Pearl was running full out and when she got to the ball, Anna got there too.  Pearl's head ran into the side of Anna's face, right at her eye.  She has a huge black eye and it is really swollen.  Her cute little almond shaped eye is now nothing but a little slit.  I kept an eye on her last night and she had ice packs and ibuprophen to help witth the swelling.  This morning it is still swollen.  If the swelling doesn't go down, I may run her to the emergency room to make sure there was no damage done around her eye.  She is saying it doesn't hurt all that much though, only to touch it.  So hopefully it just looks worse than it is. 

On Tuesday, March 2nd, Anna came home from school and told me that during childcare she asked God to forgive her sins and she asked Jesus to come live in her heart!!!  She said that I am now her "sister" and her dad is her "brother".  Tears streamed down my face.  My immediate family is safe for eternity.  We will all be together again some day.  I was so thrilled.  And the best part is... she tells EVERYONE she sees.  She does not care who it is or what they might think.  She just says "You know what I did?"  And then she tells them.  It is so wonderful!  Nothing can make a mom happier than to know that their children are saved.  Anna has a lot to learn, and I'm sure she will grow closer and move further away from God.  But the thing that just THRILLS me is that she can never get too far away from Him.  No distance is too far.  Her name is in the book and it can not be erased!

For those who are wondering how my biking experience is going... it's wonderful.  While I was at work yesterday Tim picked me up some clipless pedals and when he came out to pick me up from work, he brought my bike out.  About half way home he dropped me off and I rode my bike the rest of the way back.  If you have ever ridden with clipless pedals, you know what a challenge they can be at first.  I was guaranteed by two of my friends that I would stop, forget I had to take my foot out of the pedal and end up falling over.  They don't know me too well though.  I have a bit of an obsessive disorder.  If you say I can't do it, I will prove you wrong.  The challenge was more getting my foot back into the pedal after stopping.  But, I made it all the way home without issue.  Ok, to tell the truth I was a bit nervous of the pedals, but I had a point to prove, and I proved it :)  Some might say that my determination boarderlines on stupidity... and maybe it does, but it's just part of my personality.  Not much I can do about that!

In Christ,

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Castle

So, here are the long awaited (yeah, right) castle pictures.  The kids had a really great time making it, and I enjoyed getting to know one of Cameron's good friends.  Tim I think had fun with it as well.  I've also thrown in a few snow pictures (since we don't see much of it around here) and maybe a few other odds and ends. 

Cameron and Cody out in the snow

Cameron and Anna - before church

Cody and Cameron

The beginning of a castle

Pearl - enjoying the warm sunshine (the previous weekend before the snow)

The castle walls go up

Future Engineers?

Cameron with the finished product

Project Manager and Project owner (one of them)

Standing guard on top of the castle

The drawbridge invasion (notice the alligators in the moat?)

The battle on the bridge

Snow on the tree

Pearl - not real impressed with any of it.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. 

Please continue to keep our family in your prayers.  We are struggling with a very difficult issue right now, and I would appreciate the continued prayers.  We got the ball rolling today to try to find some answers.  I pray they come quickly.

In Christ,