A place to be real about a life of chaos, with eight beautiful children, homeschooling, special needs, adoption, sanity or the lack thereof.........a rubber hits the road sort of journey that I thankfully do NOT walk alone!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Road Trip!!

Things are never dull around here!

I knew my passport would come in handy! I recently had to "get" a passport in order to deliver my two oldest daughters to the Buffalo airport to head off on a missions trip for two weeks in Siguatapeque, Honduras. I haven't had a passport since 1984 when I travelled to Australia at the age of 17 to live for a whole year as a Rotary Exchange Student!

Mom and Dad had travelled down to the states to have some furniture upgraded in their "new to them" RV and the plan was that when it was finished two and a half days later they would simply head on home...with it!! Well, we have come to expect,in most things...plans are good as a general guideline only. It turned out the RV was delayed for a few more days and with Mom not fully back to "ready to run a race" after some emergency surgery and truly not alot to do while waiting they headed home a day early. Dad was due to strike out again within a day to make the trek all the way back and then home again in 24 hours...Didn't strike me as making alot of sense nor did it seem a "safe" option after the last little adventure of grabbing a "wee" nap while keeping the RV between the lines!!! Just to clarify....no one was hurt and it was a micro second but something I'm sure we won't let him forget :)

So...I offered to go with him and drive there and he could drive the RV home! ROAD TRIP!

Off to........

The drive down was rather uneventful. Mom had packed us some water bottles and snacks for along the way and off we went. I love to drive and so with Dad as co pilot we had a blast. He managed to read through the satellite radio manual and actually figure out how to use it...properly, grab a little nap (while NOT driving haha) and feed me the odd chocolate chip cookie to keep me alert! We managed the trip with only a couple of stops, one for gas and one to purchase his "frequent flyer" gas card so Mom and Dad could benefit from some discounts while dropping a few sheckles on gas to fill the "beast". The perk to the whole deal was that I spent some great one on one time with my Dad! I don't think I've likely done that in over 20 years!

We arrived in Elkhart, Indiana around 8pm and began the mission of finding him a good steak. He had a craving and we were both hungry. We passed a few restaurants minutes from the hotel we were staying at for the night and many other interesting stores. As I sat at a red light, I glanced to my left and read the sign over the adjacent store. The sign read "Low Bob's Discount Mart" but either I had been driving too long or perhaps my blood sugar was low but I read "Low Boobs Discount Mart"....I laughed till I cried and so did he when I could catch my breath long enough to share what was so humourous....this was the best of many laughs we had along the way.

This was where we landed for supper and I have only one thing to say..... YUM!

Back to the hotel just after 10 and not too long after that off to bed. I slept fitfully between the loud snoring, sneezing and gasping for air coming from the bed next to me....Mom tried to warn me! LOL....

The next morning we were on our way with new furniture on board a tummy still full from the night before and renewed energy for the long ride home.

Only one heartstopping moment when we rounded a corner on the highway going 65 mph to face traffic at a complete stop! Good grief....lots of white knuckles and holding of breath and we stopped with only inches to spare and after having given the brakes and the brake buddy in the towed vehicle a thorough testing! My Dad is a great driver and this little heart stopping moment was no exception!!

Home sweet home by 8 pm...It was a whirlwind trip but a ton of fun and aside from paying huge HST on the purchase at the border even it was rather uneventful....

Thanks for the memories Dad....so glad we had this time together!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Parenting Tween Boys....AARRGGG

"I don't suffer from stress...but I'm a carrier"!!

Ok....maybe stress is a small part of my day...
(LOVE this cartoon!! Haha!)

This quote I found more than aptly applies to my life as a Mom to eight but more importantly a Mom to three almost four teenagers!

Nothing and I mean NOTHING prepared me for this season of parenting. I think we'd all like to think of ourselves as "teen" experts simply because we lived through it. I would like to acknowledge at this stage that I am #1 not an expert just cause I've been there done that and #2 I was never a teenage boy!

What planet are they from ???

He is the first "almost but close enough" teen boy I have the privilege of parenting. He would call it squelching, preventing, confining, bossing, restricting, "what the heck", "whatever", as opposed to guiding, loving, setting boundaries, etc.

It cannot be a fence sitting, wishy washy adventure this parenting of boys! I find myself having to justify my choices with no words...?.... what's up with this no communication tactic of "communicating"! This is a language I'm still a LONG way from having mastered!

Today his life "sucks" (his words not mine) and I am a stretch away from not taking this personally!!

So....as any good mother would, I've stewed on it and tried to dissect the reasons. Suddenly it dawned on me....as far as he has come since he joined our family five years ago...he has so far yet to go. His confidence and self esteem that had taken a serious beating for many years is still limping along trying to catch up with his quickly growing body! (Do all boys eat this much and grow several inches every couple of months?)

I recently read the following about children with healthy self esteem:

•Act on their own and show independence
•Assume responsibility for their actions
•Take pride in accomplishments
•Take responsibility for mistakes
•Tolerate frustration and stress
•Handle positive and negative emotions
•Attempt to do new things and will try again and again

I realized after reading this list that we are still on a long journey in this regard. I hadn't identified some of the challenges to indicate low self esteem but it all seems a bit clearer now.

The same article mentioned these opposing character traits as typical for a child struggling with positive self worth:

•Be very dependant, almost clingy
•Blame others for mistakes or problems
•Be incapable of tolerating change or normal frustration
•Not be able to try new things
•Sometimes shut down and appear lazy
•Be easily influenced by peers and negative behaviors
•Not be able to take a compliment and will consistently put himself down

Parenting is a job I take very seriously. I realize that with seven of eight children adopted at varying ages, and from many challenging life experiences that it is perhaps a different journey than most. But with that said...the importance of me feeding into this young man's life a steady flow of encouragement and love that will help to nurture his value of himself has today become suddenly more important. I won't beat myself up over missing this cue but I will actively change how I "deal". Behaviours that I may have previously viewed as disrespectful or attention grabbing should be assessed first to see if they fit this category.

I daily strive to incorporate the importance of his faith and leaning hard on Jesus for support and guidance as he makes decisions.....his confidence and self worth can be defined by how he "feels" based on previous life experience or by a new gauge of worth based on affirmation and encouragement I can nourish each day.

Perhaps he's not from a planet that far away that I can't at least visit now and then :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How Beautiful it is.....

I had a woman say to me today...."I just can't wait for the kids to get back to school!"

She went on to say things like, " the kids are driving me totally crazy!", "I can't stand the whining and fighting and complaining!", "They are constantly complaining about being bored!", "I'll give them something to do !!!!"...........

We've all had conversations like this and I would be lying if I didn't honestly say that I've even uttered all of the above words; perhaps in the last week while I'm being open here! :) But....even on those days when formal "education" that occurs outside these walls we call home sounds like a super option, if I'm honest with myself it's not what would be best for us.

Summer certainly provides different challenges when the children in this house that are so dependent on routine and "knowns" are forced to "hang loose" at little, go with the flow! It sometimes means there are more temper tantrums, a lot less listening, more grumbling perhaps but the lack of structure only serves as a reminder to me how important having them home during the school year is. It's in these moments of heightened emotions and expressed "opinion" that I am most challenged as a Mom and secretly as I wade through the moments and come to a resolution I am strengthened in my resolve....

Pull you hair out moments like this......

are quickly replaced by individual quiet moments like these.....

See....They are capable of amusing themselves in gentle, quiet, NON violent ways....sometimes it's a ratio thing....

Today a friend offered to have two of my kids over for play dates with two of hers. Don't get me wrong here, the two that went aren't necessarily trouble makers....well ok one of them is...but often, winning the battle is all about switching it up a bit, changing the options, perhaps providing fewer options!! As a result those that remained didn't have the usual playmates perhaps...it resulted in quite a great, peaceful day. (Side note---we have had many "great, peaceful days" with the said two missing children home with us! )

I am struggling a bit with some personal stress right now and believe you me....I will take peace however it is served!

So today...some windows got washed, several loads of laundry, some movies watched, a nap or two had by even the oldest of my kids, some painting, crafting, playing in the dirt (it was thankfully bath night!), raking and bouncing on the trampoline.

As the day was coming to an end my nine year old excitedly called me to the sunroom to see what I would describe as an ugly large moth flapping vigorously up against the window. He stood there in awe and finally said, "Isn't it just beautiful Mom?...It looks so happy!" I suppose it takes a child to remind me....even in the midst of flailing around in the stresses and strains of what life sometimes looks like, with all the whining and perceived "boredom" and never ending chores ...even when others are "driving me a little crazy", if I just stop long enough to observe in awe the many, many blessings I am surrounded by I will realize just how beautiful it is!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Simple Blessings

Saturday was a day of odd jobs around here....gardening, laundry, cutting the grass...you know all the odds and ends that we all leave until the weekend. Let's face it, it has been so dry the only thing growing is the weeds anyway!

The kids were all being fairly helpful although like most times some required a little more "encouragement" than others. I was helping the boys weed the little shade garden along the fence.....

This is when they first planted it in early June....they were so proud of themselves...

Anyway....Saturday, Daddy was cutting the lawn and heading up the hill towards us when one of the boys starts jumping up and down yelling, "stop Dad, the bunny"!!!

and this....is what we found...well we originally found it hiding in the grass right in the path of the lawn mower but funny thing...when six children anxiously arrived to "catch" the bunny to save it ... she made her escape to under the boys play hut....and this is the best picture we could get. It's hard to see how small she is but I would guess about 5 inches from bum to nose! Very tiny and so very sweet! God's Creation is soooooo cool!

We left her to find her Momma despite the pleas and promises to take very good care of her!...

Tonight as I tucked the boys in and asked what their favourite part of the weekend was...I wasn't surprised to hear this little bunny had made quite an impression. Thank you for the simple blessing of the excitement of my boys ... Life is pretty good!

Friday, August 12, 2011


"Life is Awesome...."

There really aren't words to express my feelings in regards to the baptism of my first child.
It wasn't something she took lightly and I know she had thought alot about it. It was simply ... time.

Please find here a copy of the letter I sent via email to her youth pastor to be read at her baptism in the Caribbean Sea in Tela, Honduras on the heels of a two week life changing missions trip with 32 other students.


When I received the email from "-----" telling me you had asked to be baptised I was not at all surprised. I know this was on your heart before you left for Honduras and I imagine these past two weeks have only deepened your commitment to Jesus.

Today you will declare amongst your friends that this commitment to Christ and the inward changes that have already occurred in you, are your “new life”. Indeed the “old you” will be buried in this symbolic act of baptism.

This life journey you are on will continue after today and I encourage you to seek God in every aspect of your life. As I have often said, God made you for a unique and very special purpose but it is your job to lean hard into Him to discover what that purpose is. God has been known to use the weak and those willing to lean on Him for great things. I believe there is greatness ahead for you!

Proverbs 2:1-5 says
“My son (daughter), if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.”

One of the notes I sent with you on this trip included a quote by an anonymous author…it applies to today and the rest of your life.
“Make time for the quiet moments, as God whispers and the world is loud.”

"-----"…continue to find the peace of God in the chaos of life…whether it be our crazy busy house or the world you are in… not of…Continue to surrender, sacrifice, submit and serve as you “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

We are so proud of you! Not there in body but you know we are right there with you! Celebrating your life today!!

We Love you,
Mom and Dad

By all accounts this trip was an experience of a lifetime...

A first flight...two weeks away from home and ALL of the family...a week of hard manual labour at a school in Siguatepeque...week long VBS at the same school...zip-lining and cliff jumping at some waterfalls...VBS in the community at a public school...delivering stoves to villagers in the rural community of Balibrea...overwhelming cultural and language adjustments...two days in Tela at the beach...baptism!

Tip of the iceberg really....the stories are still coming....she hasn't stopped smiling and the best thing she's said since she came home ..... "Life is awesome! Just sayin'..."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Who said it was terrible 2's!?

3 years old already!!

I can hardly believe my "baby" is three! This adorable face will keep me young ... or make me old prematurely!

The adventure began from the very beginning and hasn't let up since...I suppose I shouldn't be surprised he keeps me on my toes. His adoption story is best saved for a post all to itself...it's well documented believe me! Suffice it to say he is one "fought for" little boy.

He is also....our last...although I hesitate to say that since I think I've said it a few times before and no doubt one of my family or friends will remind me of my "eaten words"!

What a joy he is! A little boy born into this world almost 12 weeks early, with many risks and potential diagnoses....He is a blessing and the road that lies ahead will be travelled with the One who blessed us with him and continues to show much grace and mercy. I'm up for it!!

Terrible twos weren't worth his time! He thought waiting till three so he could have more to say about it, you know more attitude and the ability to express his disdain with every little circumstance that didn't go his way would be more "impacting"....THAT it is!!

He is tiny but mighty and makes me laugh every single day! By the way... the shirt doesn't begin to do it justice!

He is currently in love with Elmo ... well Elmo and Alphie! "I wuv Alphie Momma, I wuv him!"

And I Love him!! No bigger joy could come in a smaller feistier package!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Steps of Faith...

Tomorrow the girls are home after two weeks in Honduras.

I have no doubt there has been some serious impact on both of their lives. Their experiences, although together, will no doubt be vastly different. I am so excited to hear what God has done in their lives and the lives of people they touched while away.

I have seen some pictures and read the blog but I need to see their faces to know that something far deeper than words can express has ... changed.

They will need some time to decompress and reacclimate themselves I'm sure. I'm ready....

I have spent the last couple of days attacking their room to prepare it for their return. They are two teenage girls in the smallest bedroom of the house and doing their best. Perhaps some perspective will make this room seem not so bad now....

Either way it needed a hurricane of organization so with the help of the younger girls we did just that! The kids are excited for their return and have got the poster paper ready for the sign they will work on tomorrow to welcome them home. Funny how the absence of a sibling they thought was too bossy or perhaps too demanding or worse yet too much like me!....... was enough to make them want them back!! HA!

Today I received word from the youth pastor that my oldest (17) had asked to be baptised while they were in Tela, Honduras on their final day. He promised if we agreed he would video tape it and asked if I wanted to prepare a message to be read to her with some scripture. I was thrilled and not totally surprised.... I knew she had this on her heart before travelling and I knew this trip had to have impacted her enough to ask to be baptised before they came home!

My children are such a blessing to me and how proud I am of them as I watch them grow in their own faith and step into obedience!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gratitude "Gernal"

I found these pictures today....

Back in the spring I decided to have my children write gratitude journals as part of their school day. I had begun one myself and was amazed at how the simplest things came quickly to mind every day as I entered what I was grateful for. I was sure this would be some kind of life lesson launch pad for the tribe so I asked that they daily list even one thing that they were thankful for.

This is what my nine year old offered on the first day!

Suffice it to say this young man has been a bit challenging of late. Sometimes a diagnosis can seem like a life sentence. But...when I read these words from his heart only a few months ago, I was reminded what his heart was... and that the daily struggles, are just that....temporary...

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." John 16:33 NLT

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

JOY will always follow!

It's hard to believe that my girls have been gone for almost two weeks! It just seems like yesterday we were submitting application forms for this mission trip. I have spent the last week and a half checking the blog and searching facebook for any new pictures that may have been posted. I was encouraged by the posts I was reading...the youth all seemed to be adopting a new "perspective" on not only their lives but their surroundings.

We have so much to be thankful for...

Perspective can bring such clarity....

One of the common threads through the student's blog posts was that of "JOY" and the Honduran people, regardless of what material possessions they have, are full of joy.

This little guy has little, but smiles "much".

If I'm honest, I find myself struggling with my own children who have so much more than most. I am careful to remind them when I feel they have a heart of discontent, redirecting them in their day. Don't misunderstand me when I say my kids can be ungrateful! They are really good kids that ususally have a handle on how lucky they are but... Shocker I know....they are indeed "typical" children...despite the reminders it is a daily struggle and somehow I thought it was my job to rid them completely of this desire for more. Not so.

Last night as I sat quietly alone I thought on this and realized I too struggle with this desire for more...perhaps for me it isn't the material stuff but ....control.

Now before all of my family and friends send me texts, facebook posts or emails saying... "YOU THINK?" ... this is not news to me~!

Couldn't we all stand to redirect our hearts to Him who IS in control? The joyful Honduran people may just be on to something....perhaps the relinquishing of control would bring a peace that results from not feeling the constant stress of trying to have it! Slowing down and taking life at a pace that really isn't bound by continual time constraints and neat and tidy schedules would be refreshing.

Am I guilty of not doing activities with the children that may cause too much mess or take too much time? Am I walking the talk ... as parents you know the one....the one you're careful to ensure your own children hear ... guilty.

Perspective...not mine...God wants me to see the world through Him!

Joy will follow every single time if I just allow that to happen.

I am not so naive as to think the people of Honduras have rationally chosen to recognize they are not in control of their circumstances. Like any people I'm sure they have hopes and dreams and want more for their children...but maybe, just maybe the knowledge of providing the best they can as opposed to "the best", brings a peace amidst the turmoil.

So....my job....give it to Him and then give Him the credit.....whew.....that's a load off!

Simple and also simply my biggest struggle! I am comforted in knowing I can't rid my children or myself of all struggles but I can be a constant example of turning to God not only in the obviously joyful times but in times of turmoil and challenge. JOY will surely follow!!

Thanks Kate...I "borrowed" some of your awesome pictures!