Sunday, June 28, 2009

I've Been Pruned

While I would love a long soak in a bathtub, that's not what I mean. Since I am not nearly as good with words as my dear husband (I loved his last post!), this might meander a bit.

I enjoy gardening, but I am definitely an amateur at it. Around our yard we have several spots of wild blackberry bushes, a small strawberry bed, six blueberry bushes, as well as some raised beds and my approximately 20x40 foot garden. I gather from my various readings that there are several essential actions necessary for a good crop: fertilizing, weeding, watering, location, and pruning/thinning.

To me, the hardest part is the pruning and thinning. Why should I pull up a perfectly good green bean plant? And what if I pull up the strong one but leave one that will wilt and die? I really have no grasp of how to properly prune the blueberry bushes, and admit that I have not done it for fear of ruining them.

The Lord knows how to prune though. In John 15 Jesus talks about gardening. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." Yesterday Jamie asked me if we had any strawberries yet. When I told him I had pinched off the blossoms of the newly planted strawberry plants, he asked why. As I was explaining to Jamie about sending out runners to be more productive next year, the verses that Jesus spoke hit me.

We have left the church that Jamie has attended since he was four; the only church that our children have ever really known. This has been very painful for all of us. It has hit me lately how busy the church responsibilities were keeping me...2-3 meetings a month, coordinating the Nursery and Jr. Church, directing VBS for the past 5 years. Now I have none of that. I feel some relief, some sadness, some uselessness, and am left wondering what happened. And then I realized that maybe I am being pruned, and that means I was bearing fruit, and will do so again.

Tonight I thinned my carrots. It was hard to pull many out, but necessary. They were growing so well, two solid rows of them. If I had not thinned them, come harvest-time I would have had two solid rows of very skinny carrots, if any at all. Now, Lord willing, my carrots will grow big and yummy. Maybe it is time learned how to prune my blueberry plants too.

James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything." These are very good verses for my family as we look for a new church community and continue to seek the Lord's will for us.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Knew It!

I have had a suspicion in my mind for many years now. I strongly have suspected that Jesus, Himself, personally sent all of our children to us. This may seem like an odd thing to say, especially of those born to us because you could reply: "Well sure He did, who else would do that?" A fair point, but what about our adopted children? Ten years ago, what were the odds that a child born in Hong Kong or Taiwan would be in our family? Astronomical odds; but the Lord is not limited by the odds. Likelihood is a tough avenue for finding Truth. All of our children were in our family before they were born. They have been ordained to be our children always, regardless of the indirect way they may have arrived here. I am sometimes asked, "Which are your real children?" What? All seven, what kind of question is that? This is my view, but how can you be really sure? You gotta go to the source and ask someone who was most recently in the Presence of God. And here he is.......I was holding Dante the other day and he was as sweet as can be. This child is truly precious (though I won't tick him off either) and while I was holding him and he was smiling at me, I thought again of this question. So I asked him, "Jesus, Himself sent you didn't He?" He sorta looked at me with a smile and his eyes shined. I think I got my answer.
James

Meandering Thoughts

Yesterday I got home from the farm right when I should have been cooking dinner. Thankfully Jamie started dinner, and I went out to sit and watch Amelia and Micah on the playset. Micah wandered over to the zipline, but even though it dips in the middle he couldn't quite reach the handles. Everytime he jumped his hands would bump it, but he could not grab on. Being the wise mom that I am, I decided to watch for some problem solving to kick in. (Translate: I was too lazy to get up off the chair and help my son.) Amelia went over, said "watch" and showed Micah how to jump high enough to catch the bars. So Micah showed his gratitude by grabbing her waist and pushing her up to the starting point, where she was able to zip back down. Then she pulled the handles down for him and pushed him up to the starting point. It was really sweet watching the two of them take turns pushing up to the point where gravity would take over. (Nice problem solving, good thing I'm lazy!)
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Speaking of the farm, I have learned how to milk the cows! Technically, I have learned how to attach the machine to the udder and watch it do the milking. The cows tolerate me, although I am convinced that when in the field they practice twitching their tails just right. Zachary and I are still helping several times a week... Jamie has even gone up a few times; he said today he likes the smell of the silage. Hmmm, would anyone prefer the smell of the muck?? There is something very satisfying about milking a cow and tending to their needs, but I am very thankful Jamie is a teacher and not a farmer. He works 180 days a year. Farmers work ALL day, 365 days a year.
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Speaking of 180 days, our school year is done! I still have to send in something to the school district, but the kids are done. I have already been rearranging to get set for next year. I am turning an alcove area of our living room into a mini "school room" for the little ones. I still need to get a pocket-chart calendar and have ordered a few things, but it is looking good. Amelia, Micah, and Sunny will use it next year.
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Speaking of Sunny, she had quite the tantrum today. Yay!!! This means she is getting comfortable with us enough to show some good emotions. She was mad because when she took a book from Micah, Jamie gave it back to Micah and told her "no". It was quite dramatic to see, but none of us reacted. After a while she realized the crying was getting her nowhere, so got up and started really telling off Micah. I have no idea what she was saying, but it couldn't have been nice based on her body language and tone, so I sat her on my lap and told her not to talk like that. She moved on to something else and was fine. Sunny and Amelia have been playing really well together. Ame even taught her how to hide behind the couch and have a pretend gun fight! Right now they are each up in bed "talking" their way to sleep. Most of Sunny's talk is still in Mandarin, but she and Amelia still seem to understand each other. It is really sweet to see them together.
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This post is getting too long, time to go! I am so thankful for the blessings of being able to help friends, having a husband home for the summer, and amazing kids.
God is good!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Special Olympics


Today Amelia participated in her first ever Special Olympics! Micah, Nikita, and I drove Amelia into Harvard for the games. We parked and rode the (shuttle) bus over to the events. It was a rainy day, or we would have explored more than just her gymnastics competition.
Amelia did really well! She is only 8, so I tried not to feel really competitive on her behalf. I remember from so many of the boy's baseball games thinking the kids would have more fun if the parents would stop making it all about a win.


The kids enjoying some time together while we waited for the Opening Ceremonies.

Amelia posing in front of the mat.


Amelia with her first gold medal!! There were five girls in her class, the events were Bars, Beam, Vault, and Floor Routine. Amelia brought home on Fifth place ribbon, three bronze medals, and one gold medal. That's my girl!
She now has the Summer off, and in the Fall will start working with her team again. It was really neat to see all the athletes enjoying the day.


PS-- My last post was the two sisters and one brother: afterwards, Micah decided he needed a shot- of Zachary's birch beer! Does he look traumatized?





Thursday, June 18, 2009

Two Sisters and Their Brother


Where is the brother? And why are these sisters smiling??

Picture Updates

Sunny has been doing very well acclimating to life as a Lindsay. Here are some pictures of the kids doing various things...


The four youngest watching "Little Bear".

Sunny holding some flowers given to her by a new friend.

Amelia loves Thursday mornings because the grocery circular is in the paper. Here she is teaching Sunny some very important English words-- her favorite foods!
Sunny is beginning to understand English, but has not tried to speak it too much. We had been told she was very behind in her Mandarin speech as well, so I am not surprised. Her favorite word so far? "Dada!!" She lights up when he gets home each afternoon, and Dada is definitely her favorite person.
Amelia and Sunny play together a lot, and language does not seem to be a barrier. Sunny loves Nik's spanial, Pattie. Her adjustment is going much better than I had expected for an older child adoption.
God is good!





Monday, June 15, 2009

Nikita is Thirteen!

Yesterday Nikita turned 13. My oldest daughter is now a teenager. Of course, she has been acting like one for years, so I am not sure what is really going to change now that she really is a teenager.


Here is a picture of Nik with my Dad, probably taken in 1997. She was our first baby girl, so there are tons of pictures of her, just not too many early ones on the computer.
And here she is 12 years later .
Now that I have posted two pictures of my baby girl (she vetoed all the good ones), I'll let Jamie take over with the syrupy sentiments...
In the picture above, Nikita was in Los Angeles winging her way with Kelly and I to Taiwan. It was a privilege to be able to share that unique trip with my eldest daughter. As children grow up they gather so many new interests and concerns and it seems at times that the little girl with her grampa in the first photo is gone to never return. This is partially true, however we can still hold on to and remember the important times in our lives and I daresay that the trip to Taiwan is something she will never forget. Now I can say to her, "Nikita remember the giant Buddha we saw?" "What about all those scooters?" or "Nikita remember when we saw Sunny for the first time? " If I may quote Johnny Cash: "Memories are made of this." Happy Birthday Nikita, no need to rush growing up, you'll be grown up for the rest of your life. Love, Dad-eo

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Zip Line

Two years ago Jamie's parents gave our older kids a zip line for Christmas, as a requested gift. The kids all loved it, but Jamie took it down because we had been expecting several families over for 4th of July and did not want anyone getting hurt on it, and it was never put back up. Last night Zach convinced good old Dad to re-attach it (not an easy task), and he agreed.


Zach, Micah, and Amelia had an absolute blast zipping along on it! Sunny even tried once with Dad running along beside her.


video

Disclaimer: The fussing in the background is not Amelia afraid, it is Micah wanting to ride. And the dog barked and chased, but never touched the kids. None of the kids ever fell off.


We had to come in the house after a bit, because Micah was upset that his turn was not every turn.



I am sure it will get a lot of use this Summer. Thankfully, the little ones cannot reach the zipper without the help of someone much taller. Although it dips fairly low while they are on it, the line pops back up without the weight of a rider.




Friday, June 12, 2009

The Dentist

Wednesday Amelia had a dentist appointment. She used to be terrible at these appointments, or any medical appointment at all. The dentist my teens go to asked us to go somewhere else a few years ago because Amelia screamed and resisted. The place they suggested as being good for special needs kids had an interesting method-- get mom to hold the child down. We only went there once.

I then saw an ad in a newspaper for a children's dentist that had video games in the waiting room, TV's with cartoons in each exam room, and worked hard to get the children comfortable. I took Amelia, and her first time was terrible- as expected, but the hygienist was patient and soothing. We went back 6 months later and she was better...now three years later she walks in, plops in the chair and opens her mouth. I am sure a lot of it is that she is older and more mature, but wow what a difference! On Wednesday she let them x-ray her mouth. She had to stand while this machine circled around her head. We had tried it last December and she freaked, but she did well this time and it was able to be completed.

Amelia does have some cavities, and they do need better x-rays. The dentist wants to use an Operating Room with anesthetic to get Amelia done all at once, but it is expensive. The hygienist also tried to convince me to bring her in every three months so she'll get more comfortable and have cleaner teeth. (She even tried peer pressure on me and said lots of their patients with DS come every three months.) I said no, because of the cost. My insurance does not cover all of the cleanings as it is, and this place is more expensive because their quality of care is higher.

Instead, I have resolved to do better at home brushing her teeth. To that end, I have labeled three cups with "Amelia", "Sunny", and "Micah", stuck their brushes in them, and they are on the windowsill over the kitchen sink. They now each brush their teeth-- with assistance --after each meal. It is a new habit, but I am determined to keep it up.

Speaking of Sunny, Tuesday has been her only down day. Wednesday she was once again living up to her name. Just now she was sitting on my lap as I type, but left me for the twice-baked potato Zach made for her lunch. We walked to the library yesterday and she enjoyed reading books and coloring.

Dante is yanking my arm, and since he pounds the keyboard I need to go to him instead of letting him have a turn on my lap...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Adjustment

The day we picked up Sunny in PingTung, I really was expecting trouble. Unexpectedly, she came with us happily and did not look back.

Until today.

We have been Sunny's family for exactly one week, even if we did not arrive home until three days ago. Even upon arrival and despite the 12 hour time difference she was wonderful, sleeping all night right away, playing with her siblings, even telling off Amelia a time or two in Mandarin. The body language said everything we could not understand-- it was amusing, if not telling of the spitfire our Sunny can be. Last night Amelia and Sunny were put to bed at 9, and I could hear them giggling their way to sleep.

This morning though, Sunny was a different girl. Maybe the jet lag finally hit her. Perhaps the homesickness and reality finally hit her. It could just be the cold rainy New England June day shocked her. I think it is a combination of all three, because she has been one sad, tired little girl today.

While it is heartbreaking to see my little girl sad, I know it means she felt attachment to her previous home, and that she will grow an attachment to us, her new family. That is definitely a good thing! We just all need to have patience with her and each other as we show her our love, and use this opportunity to also teach Sunny of the love of Jesus.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Taiwan Odyssey

After so much anticipation we finally made our trip to Taiwan to pick up our daughter Sunny. I always get a bit uptight before a long journey while I am waiting to begin, but once the wheels are in motion I am more relaxed about it. Although the rest of my family had all been to Asia before, I had never been there or anywhere even close to that far away. It was an incredible experience and I can now see why we are always told that it is important to travel and see how other people live and what is normal for them.

We spent the majority of our time in Taiwan's capital city of Taipei. It is a busy place, like any other city. I enjoyed walking down the street and just mingling with the citizens like I was one of them. I even got caught in a downpour once, which was the best! What struck me almost immediately was the army of scooters flying down the street. Fully half of the vehicles on the road in Taipei are scooters. While you are in a car they are zipping around you as you go down the road. Those on scooters are often accompanied by small children who ride in front of the adults, standing up on the scooter foot rests. The nanny state leftists in America would have a conniption at the sight, but it is done safely and the kids probably have a lot of fun.

Kelly, Nikita and I had to travel the entire length of the country by train to pick up Sunny as she lived in Pingtung in the south. While this may seem inconvenient, I am glad we had to do that, for it gave us a chance to see so much of the country as we rode south. I cannot say enough about railway travel, it is the best way to go anywhere. It is also a chance to mingle with the people who live there, hang out in train stations, and observe their ways of doing things.

We first met Sunny at her school in the middle of her going away party. This was all part of their plan, but I was a little surprised that they did it that way. Then we went to McDonald's (yes, they are everywhere) and had some lunch. She then took the train back with us to Taipei and she has been with us ever since. She went with us without a fuss or a look back at her foster family. She has seamlessly become part of our family, which proves that there had always been a spot waiting at our house for her to get around to coming home and filling it. No child is an accident and the sometimes random feeling adoption can have is a false impression. God knows His will for our family, its the people involved that need to get with the program. Sunny is home with her family now for the first time, blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus without Whom this never would have happened!

James

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saturday 5/31- Saturday 6/6 in Pictures


Above, Nik in Logan Airport, Boston on Saturday
Below, Nik in the Howard Hotel, Taipei Monday morning


Monday on a tour of Taipei and Keelong, in front of the Grand Hotel




Jamie ringing the bell at a Buddhist temple



Meeting Sunny on Tuesday



Enjoying mango ice on Wednesday in Taipei


Thursday it rained; the girls played in the hotel room

Friday morning on the plane


Friday afternoon on the second plane


Saturday morning Sunny playing with Amelia and Zachary


Sunny and Micah playing.


One of the gang already...Sunny and Amelia have been "cooking" together, and are outside right now with Micah and Zachary playing.


God is good!




(I'll post details when we have recovered!)