11.18.2014

Transcript from Panel Discussion

I mentioned that Jason and I took part in a panel discussion on Sunday morning, during our church's Orphan Awareness service.  Here are the four questions we were given...and our answers...











Q: Is there anything God taught you during this time that you want to share with the church?

Joli: To just obey. To trust Him with the details. When we hear Him call us to something….we need to just obey. Even when it is scary. Even when it doesn’t “make sense” from the world’s perspective. He is faithful and He is always right there with us. Obeying doesn’t ensure that things will always work out perfect - and it certainly doesn’t mean things will necessarily be easy or comfortable - but He will always be right there with us, even in the hard parts.

Q: What were financial challenges along the way & how has God been faithful?

Jason: Both of us were finance majors in college, and we know and love numbers. The numbers with our adoptions don’t make sense. That we have been able to adopt 6 times in 10 years just doesn’t make sense. The numbers don’t add up. We call it God Math. He called us…we obeyed…He provided and worked it out. He has provided several grants, gifts from family members, my advancement at work…and probably the biggest help has been the Adoption Tax Credit that is available through our government for every adoption.



Q: You have been faithful to open your home to 5 beautiful children. Why one more? What adjustments have you had to make in order to be available to be used by God in this way?

Jason: The short answer is that God told us to adopt domestically again. Four years ago this month, during an Adoption and Orphan Awareness conference that we helped host…the Lord spoke to both Joli and I separately and told us that we were supposed to adopt two children domestically…African American children specifically.

Joli: Adjustments? We would be coasting right now if we’d stopped adopting with Lily Kay, who is now 8 years old. We were past diapers, and sleepless nights, and potty-training, and teething…and two-year old tantrums. And it absolutely makes me teary-eyed thinking about what we would have missed if we hadn’t adopted our youngest two…if we’d been too scared…or too comfortable to step out. What an absolute blessing they are to us. And to watch our oldest four interact with the two babies is such a blessing…it is priceless what the older four have learned and experienced through these babies also.

Q: Most people are scared of domestic adoption. What is one fear that you had that God turned into a blessing in the end?

Joli: I never wanted to adopt domestically. The Lord planted the seed for adopting from China in my heart back when I was 7 or 8 and saw a documentary about China’s One-Child Policy, and I was so glad to be adopting internationally, and skip any of the potential problems that we hear about with domestic adoptions…parents changing their minds or birth parents wanting an “open adoption.” But the Lord changed our hearts as we stepped out and obeyed and adopted domestically the first time. And with our most recent adoption we have been extremely blessed that we were able to meet with and spend several hours with Abigail’s first mom a couple of times. It was a blessed time that we will forever cherish. The Lord has shattered pre-conceived notions that I held regarding who places children for adoption and why. He took something that I was so scared of, and wanted no part of…and totally blessed us with and through it.




11.17.2014

Miscellany Monday: November 17, 2014


Saturday morning was the last soccer game of the season.


I have a love/hate thing going with soccer.  (This applies to any outside activities, actually.)

I love that my kiddos love it.  I love that they are learning new things - physical and mental - through their involvement with it.  I love the friends that we've made through soccer, that we never would have met otherwise.

I love that my kiddos all love the same activity, and that (by bumping LK and D up an age bracket) they are all on the same team.

I LOVE that Jas was their head coach this season.

I don't love running around...and time away from home.

And since the "loves" far outweigh the "don't loves"...we'll continue to play soccer.



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The eight of us hit the stores this week.  The children each had a "shoe box" to fill for Operation Christmas Child.





This has become a wonderful tradition for us every November, and I love how much the children love to participate.


As the children have gotten older, they are much more involved in picking out the items...and packing them.  We had quite the packing party last night!

D is smiling like this on purpose....where does G get his weird smiles from?


























We pray that the Lord would use each of these boxes to bring light and joy into the the life of a child...



....and use this small gift in a powerful way, as only He can.



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Yesterday our church celebrated Orphan Awareness Sunday.  Jas and I were were blessed to be asked to be on a panel to discuss Orphans and Adoption.

We jumped at the chance.   They were able to drag us up there because we were going to be able to talk about our precious kiddos...and brag on our amazing God.


G and A got to come up with us during the first service, since there is no child care available in that service.
G wanted to get his hot little hands on the microphone SO BAD!



























I checked with the older children before we agreed, to see how they felt about us talking about them and their adoptions...wanting to always be sensitive to their feelings.  They told us to go for it.

It was a neat panel discussion, in that 4 different households were represented, who have responded to the orphan epidemic in different ways...from mission trips to adoption.


Lord, I pray that we would each be sensitive to your leading, and obedient to be Your hands and Your feet in whatever unique way You have planned for each of us.  Amen



11.14.2014

Abigail is 4 Months Old

Our little sissy is 4 months old now.





If she looks like a big, healthy girl in the above photo...it is because she is a big, healthy girl!



I took her to her 4-mo. well-child appointment on Monday, and Abigail is 26.5 inches long and now weighs 18 lbs 1 oz. This is - ahem - more than her big sister Elisabeth weighed when she came home from China at 14 months old.  But Elisabeth was on the little side for her age (still is), and Abigail is on the big side for her age.   To be precise, on the growth chart Abigail is currently 97th percentile for weight and 99th percentile for height.

We had a blood draw on Monday also.  The women (whom we have been to numerous times before and love!), could NOT find a vein to draw blood from.  Turns out that "fluffiness" makes it hard to find your veins.  After feeling around for at least 20 minutes - and one unsuccessful poke - they decided to prick her heel and just squeeze blood from there.  Abigail was a trooper.  She cried a little briefly during the unsuccessful poke, but she just smiled and cooed her way through the feeling and even the prick and squeezing.  



It amazes me how fast this is going.  I'm not new to motherhood, so why am I still surprised by how quickly they grow and change???

I love looking at "before and after" shots.




And this is how she looked in her bouncy seat as a newborn...and a few days ago:




And this is how she fills out her bassinet, then and now:







Yes, it will be time for her to move out of her bassinet, sooner rather than later.  [sniff]

The girls are ready and waiting for A to move into their room with them.  But I don't know if mama is ready for that yet.






Abigail is still drooling.  


Alot.



And it really bothers her for her shirt to be perpetually wet.




Or not.



But it does bother her mama, it looks cold and uncomfortable to me.  So I've taken to putting a bib on her much of the time.  The older children don't like it...but I don't want her to go through 4 outfits a day.




Some new things that Abigail has begun doing:


Trying to sit up - whether in her bouncy seat or her car seat, sissy wants to sit UP and be a big girl!


And she is thisclose to rolling over by herself from her back to her front.  Every time we lay her down on her blanket on the floor, she immediately starts rolling to her side...like this:

Gabriel had to get down there and play with his "sissy girl."



She is no longer content sitting in her bouncy seat watching while we eat supper.  She wants to be sitting in one of our laps, watching all the action from up close.  Can't blame her.


It is so interesting to watch her discover and investigate new things.  Like her hands.  She finds them so enthralling, and just turns them around and stares at them.  Hard.  

I'm also thinking it won't be too much longer that I'll be able to hold her bottle.  Abigail is now holding on to my hands/fingers while I hold the bottle...or else, she is actually holding on to the bottle herself also!  Girlfriend digs her bottle.  


Abigail continues to be a very content and flexible little girl.  Ideally, we would have her down at about 8p.m. every night...but when things come up - like if we have another family over to eat - she may not get down until 10p.m.  No problem.  She usually wakes up in the morning somewhere between 6 and 7a.m.  It was 7 or 8...thankyouverymuch time change.  

She normally will cry out a time or two (or three) during the night, but she doesn't need a bottle...she just wants help getting her paci back in her mouth.

Abigail is still taking 5 bottles a day, with 7 oz of homemade formula per bottle.  And it seems to be agreeing with her.  Dr. D said she looked great and was developing great and seemed to be "advanced" in terms of motor skills.  I may just be a proud mama, but I agree!




I have begun accumulating some new hair products for sissy's beautiful curls.  Her hair is now 2.5" long. 

I recently ordered this book, and am making my way through it.  I've read Rory's blog since G came home, and I'm so glad that she just released this book!

My favorite new hair tool is this Tangle Teezer: 



I've read about the Tangle Teezer for years on this Adoption Skin and Hair Care yahoo group I'm on...but haven't needed one for G-man.



This thing.  THIS thing...is great!

Abigail used to cry when I would use a wide-tooth comb to detangle her hair after I put conditioner in.  




But now she just lays there...acting like a cool cat.



This look is definitely saying: "Ain't no big thang."




You can use the Tangle Teezer on wet and dry hair.  We have fun making her hair into a fro right before her bath...





...and I think it is so interesting how it shrinks so much after her bath.








The quality of these next pictures is not good at all.



But I love them because they show the love/love thing going on between LK and A.



It is really like this with all the bigs kids and both of the little kids.


But for some reason it just really has surprised me with LK.



I guess it is because she is so not a girly-girl.




But this rough and tumble gal has such a soft spot - and a gift, really - with these younger ones.  She is a great big sister...and will make a great mama one day.






Guess who missy is looking up at.



Yep, daddy.




She's a little fond of him.


Just a little.





"I'm tired of holding my head up."

Abigail is just as deprived of attention as G was as an infant:





Gabriel loves his little sis.



He calls her "Sissy Girl"...but it sounds more like "Sissy Gull."







We have had two post-placements visits with our social worker.  Mrs. Sandy is great and we've so enjoyed working with her.  Whenever she's here she drops hints about "when I come back to do the homestudy for your next adoption."  She thinks we need 10 children.  We'll see about that.  






We've been sending in our monthly "share sheets" and pictures to our agency...that they then turn around and share with A's first parents.  




Everything has been progressing as expected with the legal side of the adoption, and our finalization hearing at the courthouse in front of the judge is scheduled for next month.



11.06.2014

Heart Smiles

My mom had hip replacement surgery on Tuesday.  Everything went well and she is doing good, all things considered.  The children and I were headed to the hospital yesterday to visit Lao Lao (Lao Lao is Chinese for "maternal grandmother").




When we are going "out" I want the children to look nice.  When the children (and I) all look nice and presentable I've found that we get more smiles from everyone around us, and are more likely to hear "What a beautiful family you have!" rather than, "You have your hands full!"(said with a look of consternation).  (Oh, if I only had a dollar for every time someone has uttered those words to me, though, Jas could retire!)

But I digress...

Since the children were looking so cute...I decided to take 20 seconds and snap a picture of them before we loaded up in The Silver Bullet.



I took 7 pictures in those approximately 20 seconds.





In every one of them Gabriel is smiling like this.





He seriously is trying to smile.



He was being obedient and smiling for the camera.  This is just the way he smiles on command right now.  [sigh]












All my children have gone through this awkward smile phase, and I know it will pass.





But in the meantime, these pictures make my heart smile.

I love that G is so exuberant (if misguided) about smiling for the camera.

I love that my 9 and 10-year old boys love and think it is cool to match their 2-year old brother.

I love....these children.  "All" these children.  Yes, they are all mine.

Oh, Lord, how I love these children...and thank you for them!


11.04.2014

Cauli Rice

I have always liked cauliflower, but once I realized how wonderful Roasted Cauliflower is...I loved cauliflower!


Cauliflower is a great veggie that we have been able to eat while doing the GAPS protocol...AND I learned a new trick with cauliflower since  doing GAPS.

Cauli "Rice"

No, not exactly like regular rice.  But for this rice-loving family...it is close enough that we have been a very happy bunch to have this versatile veggie available to us!


Start with a head (or two) of cauliflower:





Cut off the leaves, and then cut the "florets" off the main stalk, and wash:



At this point, you could use a blender or cut the florets up by hand...but the easiest route, by far, would be to use the grater attachment on your food processor:




Sending the florets through that grater will result in cauliflower that has been "riced":




At this point, basically all you do is saute the cauli rice in a pot/pan for about 10 minutes or so.  I put a little coconut oil in the bottom of the pot.  You could also saute some diced onion in there first. 




You just stir and heat the cauli rice up for about 10 minutes...and that's it.  You could season the rice as you cook it....but we are always using the rice as a base for something else, so it gets covered with something else that has already been seasoned.  

We like to use this cauli rice with Garam Masala Chicken Curry, or with a chicken stir-fry kind of meal, or with Leftover cut-up steak with just enough broth to make it stew-like....YUM!   If you have some Coconut Aminos to sprinkle on top, BONUS!




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