Six months ago today our family became complete. It is hard to believe it has only been six months. I am still amazed at the events and God-moments that led up to January 8, 2013. I pray that Tim and I have done a good job telling our story to people, as it is such a testimony to the power and love of our God. In fact, I feel a huge burden to talk about how God formed our family because I want to share the love of Christ with anyone who will listen. Unfortunately I feel like some people who need to hear it the most have distanced themselves from us in the last year. It is on my mind so often that I know God is talking to me about it for a reason. Having a large family is exactly what God prepared us for and I feel so blessed every day for each one of my six kids. I know that to some it may seem that the chaos, penny-pinching, and exhausting nature of such a big family is crazy. But I say that I wouldn’t have it any other way! I truly believe if we hadn’t answered God’s call to adopt we would be spiritually broken. We would be searching for happiness and joy in all the wrong places. But because we did follow God’s plan, our hearts our filled with a joy only Christ can fill. At the Women of Joy conference in April, one of the speakers talked about this and gave the analogy of filling a “Jesus” cup up with water and visualizing that part of your heart that was made to be filled with Him. Since then I have had my little glass in my kitchen window and I fill it up and pray that I can keep listening to Him.
All that being said, I don’t want to pretend that our life is perfect and we are smiling all the time! We have had our rough days and our moments of frustration for sure! I still get very angry about the August trip to China and the money that was lost because our agency wasn’t honest with us. I cringe at the debt we have and the impossibility of paying it off any time soon. The problems with the adoption world, especially the waiting and cost, weighs on my mind, and I wish I could find a way to advocate for other families. We are definitely done adopting, but I want to stay involved with orphan care and adoption. We have some friends that are waiting to travel to adopt their little girl from Thailand and the wait has been excruciating. They should have traveled in June, but keep getting delayed for no apparent reason. My heart aches for them, especially since Lauren is turning two this month and isn’t home to celebrate. We all know that God’s timing is perfect, so all we can do is keep praying for them and for Lauren. It will be a huge relief when they finally get the call that they have their First Approval. I wish I had the magic words to comfort them while they wait, but I know that nothing but God can take away that empty feeling of missing a child you have never met. Our church has so many adoptive families and I want to continue to build our Adoption Ministry. Tim and I have so many ideas, but lately, so little time! I know there are big things in store and I have to have the patience and remember that this season in my life is short and I need to devote attention to my family to make sure I am being the best mommy and wife I can be. There is a very delicate balancing act going on in my life!
Okay, enough about me… my little ones have changed so much in 6 months! Ethan is so healthy, you would never know he had all those problems with his heart. He acts like a two year old boy, and I have discovered that boys really are different than girls! He is rough and tough, but sweet, too. He can be very stubborn, but most of the time he is just an awesome little Momma’s boy! He doesn’t sleep very well and most nights we are up with him at least once. I don’t know if he has bad dreams or just wants someone in with him. I stay with him in his room until he falls asleep, but I try to make the most of that quiet time and read my bible. I try to have patience with this, but after having my girls be such great sleepers, it was hard to come to grips with it. That probably sounds selfish, but I am just being honest. Ethan’s language is improving, but he is still very hard to understand. He has made up some sign language to get his point across and definitely makes us aware of what he wants. He loves to build with any kind of block, I love watching him concentrate on balancing things. He uses his left and right hands equally. He wants to be with me the majority of the time, but he does well at daycare, even when he sees me in my office or with my class. He got to attend summer school in June and his teachers said he did well! He learned to recognize his name on his carpet square and made some super cute crafts that he was really proud of. They made a portfolio of all this work and it is so adorable! He loves his sisters and he has some special times with his daddy, too. He still calls Reese “Mei Mei” and I hope that he always does because it is so cute. They like to water the plants on the porch together. We just got back from Wisconsin where we visited my grandad. This is who we named Ethan after and it was great to finally introduce them! It was a 12 hour trip and went pretty smoothly considering it was our first long car ride with two 2 year olds!
Reese is still our little peanut and is very feisty! She gets in to stuff and does things the other kids never would have thought of doing! She gives us a run for our money but also has us laughing hysterically most of the time. She is a somewhat picky eater, yet she will pick stuff up off the floor and try to eat it no matter what it is. She can be pretty gross, but so stinking cute you just have to laugh. She is talking pretty well and saying a lot of words very clearly. She still jabbers like she is speaking Chinese, too. To say thank you she still says it in Chinese and I hope she never stops because it is so cute. She went to summer school, too, where she “pushed the limits” as her teacher said. I think she makes up for her small size by being a very mighty presence. Most of the naughty things she does are not being mean, just ornery. She has bitten Ethan several times really hard, but so far, no other kids, so at least I don’t have to worry about kicking her out of my daycare! Her attention span is pretty short with toys and she loves to drag toys all over the house and leave them. She is showing a lot of interest in potty-training and is highly motivated by candy! We are proud of her for going on the potty and hoping now that we are back from vacation we can be more diligent with helping her. She does not like to keep her ponytails or hairbows in which drives me crazy! She is a good sleeper except when she falls out of her bed. She also loves her big sisters and her brother. I think she is more of a daddy’s girl but that might be because Ethan gets jealous when she is having mommy time. Sometimes she laughs at herself for no apparent reason and it is really funny, her giggle is contagious and precious. When she knows she is really in trouble, she closes her eyes and pretends we can’t see her anymore. It is very hard to discipline her because she is so hilarious! She is finally outgrowing her size 5 shoes and her 18 months shirts. Both of them have such tiny bottoms that 18 month shorts still fit them.
We have made a lot of special memories as a family in the last 6 months. It has been so awesome to watch the girls bond with Ethan and Reese, each in their own way. To say they have been helpful is an understatement. They amaze me every day with how responsible they are with helping with the little kids and household chores. We have a pretty good system with laundry and cleaning. Isabella, bless her heart, loves to do dishes, so 99.9% of the time she does all of them. She loves things to be neat and tidy, so she does a lot of housework for fun, especially this summer when she is home during the day. The others help, too, but not quite as willingly as Isabella. We just got two kittens for her today. She has wanted a new pet since Justin, the guinea pig, died. We know she will take excellent care of them.
Becca kicked butt in soccer this year! As a freshman, she earned a Varsity letter, the Team Spirit award, and Most Improved award. She also had a trip to the Emergency Room when she was playing goalie in her first Varsity appearance and she sliced her hand open on the goal post. We had left the game because we had no idea she was going to play. It was really disgusting! She ended up with five stitches between her middle and ring finger. This prompted her teammates to hold their hands up in a Star Trek pose all the time to greet her or cheer for her. Although she plays basketball, too, there is nothing better than watching the determination and love she has for the game of soccer. She gives 100% all the time and we were so proud of her for not getting caught up in some of the upperclassmen drama and bad attitudes. We are thrilled that her 8th grade basketball coach is the new head coach for soccer. He is a great guy and coach.
Ryleigh is looking forward to starting junior high. She loved sixth grade with all the extra things like archery and band. She has been going to summer basketball and we are praying that it goes well for her. She got to join the Youth Group at church and she loves it. She is still our worrier, but is also like a second mommy to Ethan and Reese. Ethan calls her “Dah-way”, it is so cute!
Reagan is getting so big all of a sudden! She has changed so much. I think she has had the biggest adjustment of all, but for the most part, she has accepted her role as middle child like a champ! She loves us to compare Ethan and Reese to her, just to make sure that she was adorable and funny when she was their age! She is still shy outside of home and we have noticed that she prefers to be at home rather than out and about. She is still sure that she wants to be a “hair-cutter” when she grows up and spends a lot of time practicing on her Barbie heads.
One of the most difficult things about life right now is not having a lot of time for just Tim and me. We haven’t had a date night in a very long time. We are so exhausted at night and we talk about needing to plan some time for us, but it seems like that gets pushed aside. I am hoping that will change because I don’t want to neglect our marriage.
We continue to feel so blessed by all the friends and family who have loved and supported us, cried and celebrated with us. I love that Ethan and Reese are surrounded by the wonderful people who prayed them home.