Walking through life.

Life has been pretty normal here for the last few weeks.  I am sure it is just the calm before the storm.  We are starting a bathroom renovation….totally gutting the bathroom and redoing everything.  Since we know it is going to get busy, we took the last few weeks to hang out as a family.  We went to the zoo where the kids had fun looking at all the animals and then trying to make all of animal sounds.  IMG_3510IMG_3523Ted and I built a little landing out of paver blocks to park our camper for the summer.  While we were busy working on that the kids played in the mud from our sump pump drain.  We now have a few lakes in our yard.  Not too happy about it but the kids had a lot of fun and they let Ted and I get our work done so I guess it is sort of a toss up.   IMG_3541On a few of the cold and rainy days we let our kids play the Wii.  Lately the boys have been into playing frogger.  We finally let the girls play.  They couldn’t believe their luck…they were so excited and scared to play at the same time.  It was hilarious watching them.  IMG_3527Over one of the weekends we went shopping for bathroom supplies.  We made a trip out to one of our favorite state parks.  We had a picnic and went hiking.  IMG_3559IMG_3586I actually took the kids there for a hidden purpose; to spend time together as a family but also to do some of my photography homework.  I am taking a 8 week class on light.  Our weekly assignment for that week was to capture sun flare/glare/rays, something I have tried to do before but never able to.  Well….I was successful on this trip…sort of.  I posted these on facebook too because Ted and I can not stop laughing at the placement of sun rays on Jenna’s picture.  I promised Jenna I would do better next time but we like to call this picture “Beans for Supper”.

IMG_3572This is why we have twins…if I don’t get it right on one, I will get it right on the next.  Well, we are off to start our bathroom remodel…wish us luck.IMG_3581

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Back from the sick

I realize it has been a little over 2 weeks since I last posted.  I have been extremely sick.  On the day that I felt the worse I did not get out of bed, went through a whole box of kleenex by myself and Ted cooked all of the meal.  That right there should tell you something.  Luckily it was only me who got really sick.  Then to make matters worse, right as I was starting to feel better, Ted had to travel for work.  He has been gone for a week but he should be home today.

News around the house, this past year I started giving piano lessons to Ryan because he would rather make up his lesson then actually play something written.  It apparently frustrated piano teachers who are trying to teach a kid how to read music.  I just shake my head and smile.  His favorite thing is to give me dramatic music concerts complete with hands flying in the air and great facial expressions.  Eventually I get Ryan to actually sit down and play the notes actually written on the page.

IMG_3381Right before I got sick, Jason and Doris stopped by on their way home from Florida.  My girls tried to get as much story time as possible.  IMG_3392-2 The girls both had on their “twin sister” necklace on the same day.  They were having fun sticking them together.IMG_3408-2I finally remembered to get my April Fool’s day joke ready this year.  I took their cups put some water and a straw in them and then put them in the freezer.   The kids were really excited to get straws in their cups for supper.  When they went to suck out of them they found that their straws didn’t work because they were frozen in a block of ice.  The boys figured it out right away but the girls gave us a few funny looks not understanding why their straws didn’t work.  I wish I could have gotten their facial expressions when they tried to drink out of them but if I had my camera out, I think my kids would have known something was up. IMG_3453 Here are a few pictures from our Easter celebrations that I managed to take while being sick.IMG_3460 IMG_3468 IMG_3486

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Springtime

Spring is here…well kind of.  Our kids have grown tired of the snow so we were all excited a few weeks ago when all of the snow melted.  We were able to play outside again.  IMG_3360 IMG_3376-2We went to the park .  IMG_3346 IMG_3333And then last Sunday happened.  We got snow again.  Surpisingly the kids were excited, they got to play in snow again….apparently they forgot we just had snow for the last 3 1/2 months.  They have been playing non-stop outside which is fine by me.  At least it is not really cold out.   IMG_3422

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Last 2 weeks in pictures

There has not been too much happening around here that I want to post on my blog so I figured I would just post a few of my favorite pictures from the last couple of weeks just to let everyone know that we are still alive.

I have been trying to work on my food photography.  I have had a little success but there is a long ways to go.  I am to the point where I am ready to buy some props…..just to take pictures of my food.  I know, it sounds a bit crazy but just letting everyone Ted know there might be some random new dishes, trays, boards in our house soon.IMG_3187 IMG_3299 IMG_3319Over the span of a few days, I caught my kids doing their homework so what does a mom do but take their pictures while they are trying to concentrate on learning.  (If you notice there is one kid missing….yeah, that is my kid that only does his homework when he is good and ready to do it not when I ask him to get it done for the day.  Which means, he is doing his homework quickly right before bed when he is supposed to be getting ready for bed or quickly in the morning before he rushes out the door.  Every family has to have 1 like that right?)  IMG_3221Quinn was not happy that I was trying to work on photography when she was trying to count hence the get out of my face pouty lips above.  See how well I listened to her…  Jenna on the other hand seemed oblivious that I was taking her picture.  She apparently sticks her tongue out when she is concentrating really hard.  She fits into the family perfectly because Ryan and Ted do the same thing.
IMG_3208 IMG_3274-2Jenna and Quinn had a great time spring cleaning this past week and I was taking any help I could get.  IMG_3314Luke wanted a picture of his creating the other day so here it is….IMG_3286And I will leave you with one more….little Jenna….She loves getting her picture taken.  She is always asking to “picture me mom.”  So of course, I do.IMG_3278

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Chinese New Year

A few weeks ago China celebrated its New Year.  It is a very important time in the Chinese culture so we have tried to incorporate it into ours.  This year we started a few new traditions.  I set up times in each of my children’s classrooms to read some books about this special time and about how each year got named after the animals.  We also made some red envelopes filled with candy money to hand out to all of the students.  IMG_3108We did our usual huge Chinese feast where we invite a bunch of friends and family and eat supper together.  It takes me the whole day to make all the food and I am usually tired by the time everybody arrives but it is Chinese food and it is well worth it.  IMG_3119This year I had a friend come over and help me cook which was awesome.  We might have talked more than we cooked but we did get the food done before most of the people arrived this year so that is an improvement.  IMG_3139 For our menu, we had Chinese dumplings, shrimp lo mein, garlic broccoli, honey sesame chicken, spicy peanut spring rolls, and fresh-cut fruit.   Chinese culture teaches that each food has a meaning behind it and a reason for eating it.  For example noodles represent longevity so if you want a long life you need to eat these during the celebration.  Seeds like sesame seed will bring fertility (don’t worry I did not use too many of those).  If I remember correctly shrimp means lots of laughter in the coming year.  If you would have asked me the day of the celebration, I probably could have told you what most of the food meant but that was 3 weeks ago.   IMG_3160To finish out the meal I made sheep cupcakes for the year of the sheep.  It is the year both Ted and I were born.   IMG_3130It was a wonderful evening celebrating the New Year with friends and family, people who are willing to surround our girls with love and acceptance of their heritage.  IMG_3169

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Parenting

I know I have our Chinese New Year’s pictures to share but I thought I would discuss something else first.  Something that has been on my mind now for a while.

I know this is a public blog and what I write about today may seem like the wrong place to discuss this… too public…too out in the open but this is as much as a personal journal for me as it is a blog for you all to read.  Ted and I have been pretty open about our lives and our mistakes in hopes that in our failures we can show God’s love shining strong.  We don’t always get it right, God is still working on us.

I was reading an article from Focus on the Family today about disciplining your adoptive child.  I am not going to lie, it cut me like a knife straight to the heart.  Anyone who spends time with me knows that I am constantly talking about my struggles to parent Jenna and Quinn.  When do I push them?  When do I back off?  If I back off will they just give up like they have in the past?  Or will a break today bring success tomorrow?  It is hard because I expect them to be at Luke and Ryan’s level when they were that age but the truth is they are not.  I know, they talk about it during the training sessions that are required before you adopt….but yet I seem to forget it when we’re in battle-mode, during the power struggles between me and Jenna.  I can hear myself defending myself in front of Ted about how Jenna was purposely defying me and how unfortunately I acted out in anger.  After we get through the power struggles we return back to our normal happy selves, she seems happy and content so no worries.   IMG_0063

It is easy to see it that way but what if this article was right…what if Jenna is not trying to defy me, she is just trying to protect her small battered self.  This torn little scared girl in front of me doesn’t want to get hurt again so she tries to push me away so when I (in her mind) leave it won’t hurt as much.  I mean, how many times have I “tested” Ted to see if he was going to leave me too?  Or will he go against the norm these days and fight for me?  Will he stay and show me what unfailing love looks like?  Can he love me the way Jesus wants him to love me?  I can suddenly relate to Jenna when she is looking at me with her quivering lip screaming at me, when she is kicking, biting and hitting me and sadly to say I have not responded with love as God wanted me to…. I responded in anger, I got worked up, caught up in the raw emotions of the battle.   IMG_1391

I know I have made my fair share of mistakes parenting my children, adoptive and biological…nobody is perfect.  I have over-reacted, not had patience when needed, did not show grace and mercy during times when they needed.

I would love to hear Jesus tell me “Well done, good and faithful servant.” just as the master tells his servant in Matthew 25 but will I?  I have a really good friend who always talks about how God has given us our children to guard, to protect, to raise, to teach them His ways.  And every time she says that, I see my mistakes.  I see my failures.  I have prayed for patience more in these last 2 years than ever before.  I know I am getting better because times where I know I would have over-reacted before I am able to show grace.  I know I love my children unconditionally and no matter what happens I will always be there for them …BUT….. do they know that, do my actions show that.  Looking at Jenna’s quivering little lip while her toes are curled and her feet rubbing against each other makes me think she is still “testing” me to see will I act out in anger, push her away, toss her aside for something better/easier or will I go against the norm and react with love as Jesus intended us to do?  I pray that I can and will show this kind of love.  I am sure I will screw up, I won’t get it right every time but in time, I will get better and hopefully with a lot of grace, Jenna and Quinn will learn to trust and feel safe with us.  IMG_9643

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A little sickness, a little boredom

We have not done much the last 2 weeks.  I have been feeling under the weather with a cough, stuffy nose and no energy.  Each kid has taken a day or two where they didn’t feel the best but they are not really sick either so we just have not done much.  We have been playing a lot of board games, music, and frogger on the Wii.  We have done a few things outside like playing a few games of hockey and watching some of the sleigh and cutter festive events.  Our only real news which isn’t really big but we rearranged our basement so that we could play soccer indoors easier…yeah….can you tell our youth group members are huge into soccer….at least nothing has broken yet.  Hopefully we will all start feeling better soon.IMG_3021 IMG_3046 IMG_3048 IMG_3061 IMG_3077 IMG_3091

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