Wednesday, December 29, 2010

18 Years Ago Today

18 years ago on an icy night - we tied the knot! And 18 years from that night - I am STILL glad we did! We had no idea what a ride we'd be in for - but I would rather be on it with this wonderful man than anyone else!! God's plan is good!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Last Day of Kindermusik for Another Semester

Both girls had Kindermusik parties today - we are, sadly, done for another semester. But hang on until January when we start again!!! :)

Jada LOVES the parachute!!

Dulcimer Expert!
Our resident Dulcimer expert!

Snow Girl
Yes, that is SNOW falling on Jada!!

Jam Session!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Fall Fun

What is better than a warm Fall day!?!?!?
The girls had a ton of fun!!


Leaf Top



Worn Out!

Caught you!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

You've Come a Long Way, Baby!

When Jada brought this home today - I just had to smile.
I am going to be bluntly honest here - there were days when I was not sure if Preschool would even work - there are just some things that do not seem to "stick" with Jada and her learning - she knows things one day and then they are gone the next - I have never seen that before with children and so it can be hard to know how to teach with that.

But we are seeing things in her that I honestly don't know if I ever thought we would. She is becoming quite the humorist - ok, most days I don't like it when she tells me, "No YOU, BABY!!" but hey, she is trying to be funny - and trying to communicate - and while I want to tell her, "We don't call people Baby," I refrain from saying it EVERY time because it is progress. We still struggle to understand every word she says - but we are coming along - we can understand SO much more now and some new words are coming all the time.

What a difference a year makes - so this proud momma had to brag a bit on her aspiring artist - I am not kidding - even the circles are a BIG DEAL here!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gotcha Day

A Year Ago Today...
Our lives were changed forever but so were our hearts. God gave us a blessing - as I've been told a few times - a special one - one that God calls some to be blessed with. She is a blessing - over and over. We Love you Jada!! We are glad you are OURS!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sensory Processing DVD

I am always looking for something new having to do with Sensory Processing issues. I was so excited when I saw this new instructional DVD by Dr. Karyn Purvis:

A Sensory World: Making Sense of Sensory Disorders

You can also read more about it on the Empowered to Connect website.

It did not disappoint - as my husband and I sat and watched this and saw our Jada over and over - we were so glad for the wealth of insight and ideas that Purvis brings to this arena. WELL worth your time and money - I will gladly share mine, but guess you'd have to be in my neck-of-the-woods!!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Our 14 Year Old

14 years ago, we were totally blessed by a little man that stole our hearts from day one! He has continued to steal our hearts....
Our Caleb is an amazing young man that is generous, caring and tender. We praise God for him and what he brings to our family! We love you, Caleb - we pray you continue to become the man God has planned for you.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

First Day of Preschool

It arrived - the first day of preschool - and since this is my first EVER to go to school - it about killed me!! (I'll admit it, the night before I was still wondering if this was the smartest idea in the world!!!) I took her to school and bent down on her level and said, "Jada, Mommy will be back after school is done, ok?" To which she looked at me and said, "Momma Cry?" I said, "Oh no, Momma's not going to cry!" (I was only convincing myself you know!!)

First Day of Preschool
I took her inside the school, showed her her locker, and her teacher. And she spied kids playing on the other side of the room and off she went. She didn't look back - I THINK that's the way we want it, right!?!?!?

Sweet Sisters

Even Chloe didn't want me to take her without her coming with us!! Chloe privately asked me, "Mom, who will talk for her when no one understands??" I didn't admit that I wondered the same thing. Chloe has the uncanny ability to always know what Jada is saying or needing - she is so sweet to Jada.

My Fancy Locker

But I am thrilled she had a good day. I want her to love school and I pray that this year gives her just what she needs - whether it be speech or confidence - whatever it is God knows that she needs.

My Super Sweet Teacher
We are blessed with a wonderful teacher that knows a lot about Jada and is one of her many cheerleaders. God is so good that way - He just continues to bless us with people to love on our little ones.

So when I asked Jada what she did at school she told me, "Draw, Snack, Slide." Sounds like the perfect preschool day to me too!!

Oh, gotta run - the boys just said that it is time for the traditional "after school hugs" and I don't want to miss out on this!!!

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Whole Family at the Park

Yes, sometimes we ALL go to the same place! And that is when it gets a little loud, and a little chaotic, but a WHOLE LOT of fun!!!

Swinging High

Static Hair
Love that "static hair"!!

Even big brothers need pushes.

Middle Guy

Biggest Bro

Lookout Tower
The Lookout Man!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

One Year Ago....

Exactly one year ago we were in agony - literal agony! We knew we needed to travel SOON to go and get Jada or everything in our adoption file would need to be renewed - we were looking at thousands of dollars to renew all of that but if God would move mountains, that would all be forgotten and we could go and get Jada. He did it - we had only a few days notice, but He put it all in place and with just a few days to pack and get everyone in order, we were off.

I have been thinking on that a lot lately - this time last year I was wondering what God was going to do. I was worried about a little girl that had so many "unknowns" to her. I was fearful to leave our four children and travel all the way around the world YET AGAIN to add to our already-busy family. I remember it well - all of the unknowns and fears. And yet, I'd do it again tomorrow if God called me. Has it been easy? Wow - if you read my blog at all, you'll know we've had HUGE hurdles - beginning with my lovely blood clot that formed while in China!! But God has worked in it all - and I pray it's only to bring glory to Him.

What I think on most though is the little girl that I easily could have never gotten to know. The day we got to meet Jada for the first time I remember saying to Joe, "There is nothing in there - she's an empty shell." She didn't talk, she didn't look at us - it was scary. I prayed and asked God for ANYTHING - any sign to tell us to take her home - little did I know that Joe was praying the same thing - and we both felt He showed us nothing. We felt alone - scared - worried - I can hardly put it into words. We felt we had clearly followed His path and yet at the end was a little girl that was so empty that she was almost frightening to us. (This coming from someone that has seen ALL kinds of kids - I have worked with kids for over 20 years - but I had never seen anything like this.) I remember the day we took her back to the government office to sign the papers and we had another family there from the U.S. that was giving their little girl back and saying they could not take her. They were beside themselves - it literally hurt them to say no, but her needs were so far beyond what they could care for that they felt they had to give her back - they could not take her home. My heart broke for them - what horrible pain - and yet, a part of me totally understood - I, too, was given a little girl that seemed FAR WORSE than what I had envisioned. I remember that part of me that thought - it would just be easier right now to say No, and head back home - empty-handed and sad, and yet with far less to worry about.

BUT I am SO glad God intervened - He gave us no reason to NOT take her home - that is what we kept coming back to. We had been called, this little one needed a home, and we could do that. I kept looking for a glimmer in her eye - anything to show that she was "there" - that she was ok. Now, almost a year later, we have seen it. We have seen her "glimmer", there is a little girl in there that only needed to be let out to live. A little girl that makes funny jokes even with very limited speech. A little girl that amazes us with her zest for life after all she has been through. A little girl that is far more resilient than her own mom could ever be! She has taught me so much - about myself, about life, and about God. I am glad God never gives up on me - just like we have never given up on her. I am glad He brought us on this journey to watch our little blossom unfold and bloom. All I can say is "Thank you God, for what you've called us to. Amazing."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Never Underestimate....

I don't think there is even an appropriate intro for this video. Just watch and absorb.

Monday, August 09, 2010

My Better Half

I spend a lot of time at our local hospital - Jada is seen there at least 3 times a week - and that makes for a lot of "waiting time" for mom. Today I saw a dear couple come in - they were also waiting for therapy - it was for the wife. I would say they were in their 80's and I am guessing the wife had had a stroke. Her husband just kept singing her praises - how far she had come, and was even reminiscing with one of the therapists back to when they started therapy - how she couldn't do much at all then. But what got me was after the therapist left, he was talking to her, and she was so confused - she didn't recognize her therapist's name even - and yet he felt she had really come so far. He was so patient with her, so loving and kept encouraging her. I am sure she is a lot of work for him - I see them often in passing when I am there for therapy visits, so I know he stays busy running her for visits. I am sure he didn't plan on this happening to them, and I'm sure he doesn't love it. It isn't how he had hoped to spend those "glory years" with his love. But it made me think - I need to go home tonight and MAKE SURE I tell my husband how much I appreciate him. We just never know what tomorrow holds.

I felt guilty after seeing them - I spend WAY TOO much time focused on the daily frustrations and not as much time on the big picture. It just made me want to encourage others to do the same - we have friends that are choosing divorce over trying to work it out. That is hard - it is hard to see them go through it, it is hard to watch their kids see Mom and Dad split apart - it's hard on so many levels. We have to focus on the positives - are there going to be rough spots - oh man, probably a ton!! Don't ask my kids - they will tell you that Dad and Mom argue often. I was humiliated the day Chloe asked for prayer in Sunday School because Mom and Dad were mad at each other. But what a great eye-opener that was for me. Things were hard at home, we were struggling, but we CAN work through that - we have to make it work.

My parents joke that they were worried that Joe and I may not even get married the night before our wedding day - we are both very strong willed - both first borns - ugh, we have many strikes against us habitating peacefully!! But I wouldn't trade my husband - I am truly blessed. And I am choosing to focus on that - even when I want to feel sorry for myself for having to live with a man with such HORRIBLE habits! (Said in jest!!) Take time to focus on those positive traits - I had a very wise female friend that told me, "Becky, get the notebook out - remember and tell yourself WHY you love this man God gave you." She was absolutely right - I did not marry a perfect man (good thing or he'd be done with me for sure!!!) but I married an amazing one!!

He puts up with my lack of cooking skills - let's face it - that is huge. He comes home from work and often cooks dinner for us - now that might be so that he can eat something that is edible, but hey, he does it. He send me an email every Friday with a menu plan and fun ideas for the weekend. Do you know what that shows? (Well, it could show that he just plain hopes to eat that weekend!!) It shows that he is thinking about us and cares for us. He takes time to plan for us - so that his family knows they are thought of and cared for.

This same man has a spreadsheet - he has kept it for years now, and lists on it ideas for birthdays/Christmas for each child and myself - and not only that, he lists what we ended up purchasing so we have something to compare to for next year. That is a gift- a Dad that cares and takes the time to make his family a priority. He knows my love language - VERA BRADLEY - just kidding, I'll take computer/tech items as well!! :) While I say that in jest - I am really not kidding - he takes the time to KNOW me, he knows that when Mother's Day rolls around - if he brings me a Vera Gift Bag, that will make my day!! The last time he brought one home, he said, "I know you didn't have a summer pattern so I found one for you." WOW - that means a lot! I'm not all that savvy when it comes to fashion, but he took the time to even scope out "summer styles" - how kind is that!?!? Or the camera lens he bought for a holiday - that spoke volumes to me - he knows I enjoy that and would savor that gift. And although the gifts are fun - it's FAR more than that - it's the time and thought behind them that means the most to me.

I could go on and on - he wouldn't like it - but I could. Joe is a gift - I need to realize that more often. After watching this dear couple today, it reminded me that really our time together is SO short - I am grateful for the gift God has given me in my husband. If you needed to hear this reminder today - it's ok, I've been there many days!! But take some time and focus on those positives - they ARE there and you only have to choose to find them.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's That Time Again!!!

Sweet Corn Time!!

Even Jada is getting on board - and that is hard when 1) You don't want to touch the corn cob when you eat it and 2) You have to pick out the kernels from your teeth after each bite! But it must be good if you refuse to eat the BLT but will eat 3 ears of corn instead!!

Sweet Corn Kid!

Corn Girl!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Sensory House

One of the MANY things we are learning on this long road with Jada is that what at first may have looked like Autism, may not necessarily be that - now it still could be, we haven't ruled anything out - but she seems to have many symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder. If you are anything like Joe and I, you hear that and go WHAT!?!? Yep, didn't take me long to find books, websites, and more. We are learning TONS and totally revamping how we work with Jada. If our findings are correct - we need to "talk" to her brain differently. We need to speak to her senses the way they need to be spoken to. When she says "Ow" even when brushing her hair - I am learning that it does really hurt her - that is how her brain processes it - as pain. She says "Ow" when you clip her fingernails. And even winces when you rip paper out of a notebook - her brain says all of those normal, everyday things cause her pain. So we try to work through this - with therapies of all sorts. We have started Auditory Therapy through our Physical Therapist. She listens to carefully-orchestrated music twice a day- there is a set time limit and set CD's - even special headphones - all to hope that her auditory sense can be re-trained or conditioned to different sounds. Along with all of that, we do brushing - yep, all new to us too - but we take plastic soft brushes and literally "scrub" her arms and legs 3-4 times daily. What is amazing is that she LOVES it - when she is most upset, she even brings us the brushes. She knows they help her calm and they are what her sensory system needs.

We have invested in many things that touch her "vestibular" sense - balance - this one is HUGE for her - she is not good with balance - even walking was hard for her when we first got her. So we got a sit n spin; round-bottomed chairs that she sits in and plays, rolls around, etc.(called Bilibo); our friends gave us a slide AND a merry go round - which she LOVES; another friend gave us an exercise trampoline; we found those big bouncy balls with handles that she jumps around on for HOURS; and just recently we purchased a hammock swing.
Swinging Buddies
What I love is that all of things could sure add up dollar-wise, but I just love to grab bargains wherever I can! This Swing is providing HOURS of fun and it was such a deal!! We were going to hang it outside, but I loved Joe's idea of hanging it in the basement so she can use it all year long. (And no, she isn't the only one using it - the boys think they need vestibular therapy as well!!) Even the swing, I was thinking a hammock swing would be so expensive, but at a class I was taking, the instructor mentioned it to me as an aside (she has a nephew who is autistic and she bought one for him). She told me where to find it cheap - I just love that - all the cool ways we hear about things or hear of yet another idea that may help Jada right now. We don't live in a big home - but we are finding creative ways to store them and watch her use them daily. I put this out there hoping these things we are using/finding for Jada may help someone else OR that someone may feel like sharing more ideas. I am getting more and more nervous as we approach preschool - we work on things like colors and numbers daily, but still no retention. We aren't giving up, but we can see that it may be a very long road. I am grateful for the immense support out there - God just keeps providing - sometimes we feel like we are floundering in the dark to do what is best for Jada, but He is good to keep the night light on - He gives us just the light we need to take the next step!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Future Architect

Chloe is building away and stops to put on these lovely glasses. Then she turns to me and says, "In case you are wondering Mom, these help my creative side." I DID NOT MAKE THAT UP!! She just cracks me up!

Future Architect

In case you are wondering what she is building with - we LOVE these!! Honestly, almost every birthday we get another set - we build for hours with these!!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th!

Since we got pictures of Chloe's first 4th of July - we thought Jada needed a turn too.
So here she is - Proud to be an American!!
First 4th!!

Big Sister got in on the action too!!

Sisters on the 4th...
Happy 4th!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Two nights this past week we have had sirens - possible tornadoes - which resulted in the flood of the century to which many of us spent hours shop vac-cing our basements. Last night, no sirens, but it sounded horrible outside - quarter size hail, high winds, you get the picture. Well, maybe you don't until you see these:

Our Backyard - part of it anyway....

Notice the neighbor's tree across the street - you can almost see the path the wind was on!

Joe's poor corn - and he had just said the day before how great it was looking....

Neighbor's tree that fell into our flower bed, bushes, and trees. This was a very tall tree - it was a ton of work to get out of there!

Close up of neighbor's tree.

Neighbor's Mailbox -

Trampoline down the road a block.
All in all - what a mess our city is at the moment - an impressive storm, to say the least.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Journal

This is Chloe's latest thing - she journals EVERYTHING - I mean everything!! If you happen to cross her path on any given day, you may be part of "the journal". It just makes me smile - she takes her journaling seriously - I love that about her.
The Journal-er

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ferris Wheel

During our Tulip Festival - the local paper (Sioux County Democrat) captured this photo and had it in the paper. This is Chloe, and her best friend (as she tells me daily) Caeleigh, along with Caeleigh's Dad, our pastor. I played with the color a bit and ended up with this. Chloe's first Ferris Wheel ride and she LOVED it!!
Ferris Wheel

Monday, June 21, 2010

Birthday Girl

There is a special little girl that brings "summer" to our home every June 21 - our little Chloe turns 6 today. This is a day that brings so many feelings to me - overall I am overwhelmingly grateful for a God that put this all together - how He orchestrated bringing just the right precious girl from China to fit in our home all the way around the world. But I am also grateful for the birthmother that chose to give life - she took the hard road culturally - and for that I am also grateful. The feelings this day always evokes for me are hard to put into words - but our Chloe is a blessing beyond words - she is a gift.
I love being a mom to this little one - she brightens my day constantly through her words and actions. She makes us laugh and reminds us that it is ok to cry;
Never a Dull Moment!
her quick humor never ceases to amaze us; and her love and patience for her sister is a precious gift that the two of them can share.
Happy Birthday Chloe - we are so glad to call you our daughter!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hope is Fading

This is a student project that Allan Rosenow made - as a member of a family with 13 special needs adoptions - this child really knows the meaning of adoption - I was touched by this. Pray you will be too.....

Hope is Fading from Allan Rosenow on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Being a Mom

I am feeling VERY inadequate. There is nothing easy about being a mom - nothing easy about being a mom to five kids - and nothing easy when you throw in one child that needs a lot of extra time and attention. We had no idea that when we brought little Jada home that our world would literally turn upside-down. My time is consumed by Jada and her appointments right now. In a good week, we can have 5-6 different appointments just for Jada and that doesn't include running our boys back and forth to band, running the girls to their weekly Kindermusik, our jobs, church commitments, etc. I have to say that sometimes I literally run from one thing to the next and leave at 9 in the morning and do not get home until 3 or 4 in the afternoon - for this mom that has thrived on tranquility, orderliness, and a routine - this is pushing me to the limit!!! But what I love is how God provides. (I am not trying to complain - I realize TONS of Moms do this regularly, but so far, God has not made this our lifestyle and I have been grateful for that- so when He turned our world and our running began, it took me a bit of "getting used to!")

Today was one of those days - 9:00 speech appt, 11:00 therapist (a half hour away), and 2:00 dentist - all for Jada today - I was, once again, feeling bad that my other kids don't get Mom most of the day. So when I ran home between two appts. and found my boys sitting in the living room playing Pick Up Sticks with Chloe I was nearly brought to tears. I don't know too many 13, 14, and 15 year old boys that would play games with their 5 year old sister. When I praised them and told them how much it meant to me, one of the boys said, "Well Mom, we noticed how you were very busy and we were afraid Chloe might feel kind of left out. So we asked her what games she would like to play to help cheer up her day." I tell you what - I was left speechless. I share it to say that, once again, God fills in the gaps. He leaves me speechless sometimes - where I am weak, He is strong.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

One Million Arrows

When I was sent One Million Arrows to read for a blog tour, I approached it like almost any other read. Boy was I wrong! I got into it just one chapter and stopped - this was one my husband and I HAD to savor together! We read it out loud together crying and saying "Amen" the whole way through. Julie Ferwerda has such a powerful idea with One Million Arrows that my husband and I are STILL talking about it. As directors of ministries to parents and children at our church, this is going to be the first thing we promote next fall to our families AND with our workers - because we are not just raising children, we are sharpening and refining arrows to send out into our world. We were convicted, we were challenged, and we were encouraged. This book not only convinces you that SOMETHING needs to be done to change the way we parent, but it gives you all the tools to do it. What an amazing challenge - it is a MUST read for parents that want to send out their arrows into the world sharpened and ready to be effective. Here is what someone else has said about the book:
Will the world change our children...or will our children change the world? Time
is short and lives are at stake. Right now, God is inviting our families to
become part of a bigger story—a vision that will engage hearts to make a radical
difference. One Million Arrows is an inspirational call to raise our kids to
impact their culture, community, and world for Christ. If we want our kids to
discover their purpose, if we want them to live with passion for the Kingdom, if
we want our family to go down in His-Story, accept the mission...and leave a
mark for eternity.

DO not miss this incredible book - I am thrilled to be a part of this book/blog tour for a book I believe so strongly in!
When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don't go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans and widows. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all you do.
~Deuteronomy 24:19

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