On the Move

Our home life just got a bit crazier. The twins are on the move and decided they’re not going to stop crawling to play until they’ve mapped out our entire main floor. Set the babies down in the living room and they book it, out of the living room, to the kitchen, round the corner, down the hallway, past the stairs, slight pause at the guinea pig’s cage to stare up and wonder what could possibly be in the strange blue box off the ground, before ending up at their final destination- the school room. Here is the source of all joy: Crinkle paper! If by chance there happens to be some abandoned art project, books left awry on the floor or scraps of paper from a school activity left behind by sibling, these two girlies are on it in a hurry. Their first expedition every morning is to see if, by any chance, mom (or child), has left any crinkle paper out in the school room. If there is no crinkle paper in the school room, they move on, usually back to the kitchen to search for the next best thing: Gluten! Bits of bread, crackers, or noodles, anything will do for these two, nine month old, foragers who’ve decided it’s a cruel family indeed who won’t let their babies have any type of gluten before age one. No matter, they’ve found a way around the policy, bits of gluten are nearly always about after mealtime if they can get to them before mom or dad sweeps up. After a meal, it’s a race to get all the crumbs up before these two hurry to the kitchen.The twins have also discovered the source of all food our home- the pantry and the fridge. Perhaps if they split up, they’ll find a way to get into all the glory that lies within…at least for now, they’ve got a few more years to go before they learn how to climb the freezer handles like a ladder to get to the contents of the fridge…phew, thank goodness.

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The cold smacked harsh on my pasty cheeks. Too much time indoors, hiding away this winter. Dealing with hard, one mucky step at a time walking towards healing.

The husband knew it’d been far too long and I think he breathed a sigh of relief when I gave up on laundry and announced my retreat to the woods.

Off I went to the trail, hidden thick, between two staunch rows of evergreens and pines bordering our property. Narnia. Here to reckon and whisper surrender. All the things racing reckless about my mind.School is back in session. Routine restored. Two geese have been ordered to help stave off the hawks haunting our land.

I duck beneath branches, making note to bring something along next time to help clear the path again. The last windstorm brought down a fair share of branches.

Rolls, handmade and risen, went over well the other night. I can bake two trays at a time, two meals made in one. Further into the woods I trudge, listing off all the things brimming over. Tasks mixed with theory mixed with game plans and garden plots. Slowly they all slipped away, surrendered or sorted.

Tracks appear in the snow. I’ve never learned to track. I wondered how hard it could be. I peered into the imprinted snow. Rabbit. Two big feet, two smaller feet, closer together as she hopped. She must have paused here I thought. I ventured further. Coyote. I recognized the location from earlier in the week when I spied a coyote trotting through the far back at dusk. This must be where he came from I mused. His tracks pressed clear in the snow. I followed his path. Militant. Straight. Purposeful. My path his territory.My Narnia ended soon enough and I made my way back to the house, warm lights glowed welcome. Dusk had arrived. Another day nearly done. Crisp air filled my lungs, courage to carry on. The maker is still making. The potter still shaping.

My tracks line the wooded way, heading homeward. Past the garden, along the fence. One foot at a time. My tracks breaking through the fresh snow. Militant. Straight. Purposeful. Mind at rest. Soul at ease. My path His territory.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 

 

Dear Trauma

Dear Trauma,

You suck. I don’t usually go on rants but I’m on one now. You rob. You destroy. You destroy hope and joy and good.

Our son may have needed your coping mechanisms before his adoption. He may have needed to shut down to cope with situations that were too much for him to handle emotionally or physically. He may have needed to act helpless to get the attention he so desperately needed and craved. To feel loved. To feel cared for.

But no more. This ends here. He is chosen. He is loved. He is adopted. He is fearfully and wonderfully made. Knit together with a plan and a purpose. He is capable. He has a mind that can imagine and dream. He doesn’t need you anymore. He has parents to fight for him and with him. To walk next to him and tell him HE IS ABLE and he knows a God who is more than enough to meet his every single need.

We will not stop fighting. Working to overcome all the chains you’ve wrapped around his mind. He may retreat into the far corners of his mind out of habit, but we will name you for what you are. Fear. Bondage. Liar. We will show him love conquers fear. It conquers death. You will not have victory here. You’ve taught him to cower and fall, but love conquers. It heals. It doesn’t fail. It. Doesn’t. Fail. We cling to these promises when you decide to try and reinstate authority. These promises are bought with redemption’s blood. And, redemption walks here. It rules here. We may have lost our footing for a day or two. But our knees hit the ground hard and there is solid rock beneath to carry us through.

“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” (Isaiah 45:2-3)

Planning the New Year

Happy 2019 to everyone!

With the start of the New Year, we are already beginning to plan out this year’s growing season. The twins are going through at least thirty pounds of fruits and vegetables each month. They have discovered the source of all food and community in our home is the kitchen. It’s their favorite room now that they are on the move.twins in kitchen 2Twins in kitchenAll the food we grew this past summer is now gone except for a few jars of pickles and one family sized serving of tomato sauce. We got just a few apples this fall, which was a big disappointment (or, depending on how one looks at it, a welcomed break from all of the work of turning them into applesauce).

We have been moving towards being more self-sufficient the past few years, but the past year and a half was a bit more challenging since we were a bit short on sleep, energy and time from adding four kids to our family. We’ve gotten back into a nice rhythm here and we’ve started to work towards our goals again. If we grow more food ourselves it saves us a tremendous amount of money each year, not to mention the health benefits. We think it is important for our children to know where their food comes from and how to grow it.

We’re planning to expand our garden to ensure higher yields this year. We may try to do a few separate areas for each crop, as opposed to one giant garden like we’ve done in the past. We are going to focus on planting crops this year we know we can preserve to last through the year and dramatically increase our quantities from years past. In prior years we have planted a few extra of crops we knew we wanted to preserve, but we also planted a few different varieties of vegetables we had not grown before, such as pumpkins, various squashes, sweet peas, and so forth to get an idea of yield in order to determine if it would be worth adding to our usual crops.

This year we are sticking with staples. We would like to master growing potatoes and onions. We use a lot of those and they are costly to buy organic in this area. We are also going to triple the amount of tomatoes we grow. Zucchini has been downsized to two plants. Cabbage is back. Green beans are in. Sweet peas are out. The plan is to increase our garden square footage to give us the yields we will need for our family size. This means planning new locations for beds, fencing it in and getting the soil ready for planting.

We may need to get more chickens this spring as well. Our flock is down to around fourteen birds now and we had to buy eggs this week- a sure sign we definitely need more chickens. Before we commit to more chickens we need to figure out a better way to protect our current chickens from a variety of predators. We’ve had a few unwanted visitors this fall including hawks and possums. We even saw a coyote a few days ago as well. We have tried a variety of tactics to get rid of predators, but nothing that’s given us lasting results. The chickens are quite safe if they are locked in their coop. However, we like the chickens to be able to roam so they find food and get lots of exercise. It’s also fun to be able to watch the chickens throughout the day. This fall we haven’t been able to let them roam much because we kept losing them to predators so we need to figure out if we want to extend their current run (it has a roof) so they have more space or come up with some other way to deter predators. If they stay in their coop and in the protected run, they destroy the ground relatively quickly with all their pecking so the grass stops growing and it just isn’t the best way to raise happy chickens (and happy chickens lay lots of eggs!). Of course, the up side to keeping them in the protected run is they are alive, always a good thing. However, the goal is for them to be able to roam on fresh pasture so we’ll see what we come up with. For the time being they’re pretty happy staying in their coop because it’s cold and snowy, but spring is on its way so we’ve got more planning to do.

I’ll end with introducing you to our newest family member. Meet Oreo, the guinea pig. He is the most laid back pet we’ve ever had. He’s already had lots of field trips to see the various sights around our home and he loves sitting on any lap that’s available. IMG_4881Oreo

All Done!

We did it! Twenty-five physical therapy sessions at the rehab hospital. Done. I am so proud of our kiddos. Such rock stars. Every, single one of them.

Each week we’d pile into the van and head out so Joshua could have physical therapy once or, often, twice per week. We’ve never really been in the habit of giving our kids tech gadgets while out and about so to pass the time while Joshua was in physical therapy we’d bring along coloring books and crayons and a snack. The kids would color pictures and often pass them out to folks at the hospital. Other weeks, they’d play games they’d made up or learned, like old-fashioned “telephone”.The last two weeks or so, kids were getting antsy when we’d go. They must have known we only had a few more visits to go before we take some time off (or maybe they just had the Christmas jitters (you know, the ones where kids bounce off the walls the week or two before Christmas…yeah, those ones). The nursing mom’s room (where we usually go) was occupied both visits that week. With just a few visits left to go, I decided it wouldn’t do any harm to finally introduce our kiddos to the world of a hospital cafeteria. You’d think we were at an amusement park when we walked through the sliding doors to the cafeteria “Mom! They have a cafeteria! We didn’t know there was a cafeteria!!!” They exclaimed like I’d been keeping it a huge secret from them (I was…no need to set myself up for endless begging for treats if I didn’t need too…). I ordered a soda for myself from the vending machine (it’s been ages since I’ve had a soda). We ate Oreo pie for $1.80. The kids learned about tray returns. Everybody was happy as could be and tickled silly over their new life experience.Every visit we’d take a picture all together in the elevator. It was pretty tricky getting everyone in the picture…so it became a challenge for the kids to try different ways to make it work so we could get the picture. Here are some of our favorites.And, here is our final picture. We are all done for 2018. Wahoo! We’re taking a bit of a break from therapy at the rehab hospital for the winter. Joshua did a lot of work each visit, he adjusted to his new AFOs (braces for his legs), his new wheelchair is finally done and ready to pick up next week, and we are all looking forward to a season of rest this winter.

Wrapping Up 2018

It’s been a rather eventful few weeks here. We spent Thanksgiving with friends and the grand total of kids between our two families was nineteen. Our contribution to the feast was mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli casserole and salad. There was a lot of peeling and chopping going on here to make enough food for everyone. Ryan smartly organized the kids into an assembly line doing little tasks so they made quick work of it. teamworkAll I had to do was the cooking and blending. By the end of it, we had ten pounds of mashed potatoes, two large trays of sweet potato casserole, one and a half trays of broccoli casserole and one giant salad.

For some reason there was a rumor floating around our home that Christmas was the day after Thanksgiving. The littles were mildly disappointed when we broke the news they still had a month to go till Christmas. They quickly perked up when we told them we could dig out the Christmas decorations. Within minutes the decoration bin was brought up, Christmas music was on and we entered the Christmas season with much falalala-ing. I added four new handprint ornaments to our tree this year. Joshua and Hudson were delighted to add their hands to the tree.By the end of the day the house was decorated, the tree was up and the littles were enchanted with all the lights and glitter of the season.A few days later the excitement continued when their grandparents came for a visit from Virginia. Myla and Elliette had their Christmas piano recital and Hudson and Esther had their Christmas program at church while they were here visiting. Everyone was thrilled Mimi and Grandbob were there to see them perform.img_3882.jpgNot to be outdone, Pippa and Georgina decided they’d share their excitement for the season by waking up at 4:45 a.m. for the foreseeable future. They also both figured out how to scoot across the floor at a rather astonishing pace for their small size.

After Mimi and Grandbob left to go back east, we were off to the Christmas party at our homeschool group. All of our activities are wrapping up for the year and the only things we have left between now and Christmas are four physical therapy appointments, one PT consult, and one final Christmas party. Hot chocolate, fuzzy blankets and good books are calling our name these next few weeks, as we get ready to say good-bye to 2018.

Redemption Walks

“Mom, why are your and daddy’s thumbs bigger than my thumbs?” The question came just after he snuggled next to me on the couch.Hudson and MommyHe’s been part of our family for a year and those snuggles, carefully given, are sweet miracles. Trust, hard earned.

“God made everyone different, Hudson.” I replied. “He gave you extra special thumbs.” He seemed satisfied with that answer and snuggled further into my arms.

God is fashioning a story of redemption in our home. I forget. Far too often. My feet made of clay, get stuck in busy. Stuck in new diagnoses. Stuck trying to come alongside our kids and help them have courage to overcome. I get stuck researching and talking to doctors, therapists, and teachers trying to figure out plans to help. I get stuck in medical bills and meal planning. I get stuck doing. Time and again. But, it’s still there. It’s happening. Those blossoms are blooming and, despite all my busy, I cannot help but stand in awe of what is happening in our home. So many miracles walk here.

This weekend Hudson zipped his jacket all by himself. For a kid with elbows that don’t bend and thumbs half the size they should be, this is a huge accomplishment.Hudson's zipperWhat’s also astounding is that he figured it out all on his own. No one has been working with him on this. He just figured it out. This is a big deal. In the past whenever he’s come up against something he hasn’t been able to do, it’s taken quite a bit of coaching and encouragement to get him to keep trying at something till he gets it.

There are twins learning to crawl in our family. In case you haven’t noticed, we still haven’t wrapped our brains around the whole twin thing…all of the kids adore the twins, particularly their brothers. We have had no issues with anyone being jealous of the babies in any way. If anything, we have an abundance of love and help from all their brothers and sisters.

Joshua, who had no education whatsoever in China, is now reading (and comprehending), writing and doing math at around a first to second grade level. He’s beginning to understand different events and holidays and instead of shutting down from all the newness, he’s been actively participating and interested in learning all about family traditions and holidays. He is rocking new AFOs (braces for his legs) and it’s been another huge adjustment for him. Last year it took months to adjust. This time around he’s already up and walking two weeks in. It’s slow going and it’s taken a lot of prompting and encouragement, but he is doing it.

Redemption walks here. It breathes here. Nearly half of our family should not be under this roof for one reason or another. But, God, the Creator. God, the Author of life, knit our family together. What an honor to bring up all these littles. I don’t know how we got this privilege. It’s tough going a lot of days. Parenting children from hard, hard places will wreck your heart. But there in the pieces oil runs. Healing oil over jagged edges, as God works redemption, smoothing and reshaping the broken into a masterpiece.