Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fun Fall Photos

   I was determined to post some fall pictures before we got too far into the Christmas season!!  Each year our family generally carves a pumpkin sometime toward the end of October.  It's never your "normal" carved pumpkin  with triangle eyes and nose.  Usually anyone who would like to draws a picture, we choose the favorite, and Daddy carves it into the pumpkin with help from everyone else.
 This year, Jonathan was in the middle of the fun.  He wasn't too sure exactly  what was going on, but he decided after a few minutes that he DID like the goopy mess.  At first, he wasn't too sure.

     The younger kids helped Daddy, and the older girls helped me in the kitchen while we tried a new recipe of home made carmel.  After the pumpkin was finished, we sliced apples and had carmel sauce for dipping!

Here is the finished product!
This year it was in honor of one of the much-loved pets around here....

Rachel's beloved bunny, Fudge. 

More fun fall shots:

Jonathan continues to love being outdoors. 

Justin and Daddy on a walk, returning from "The Back 40."  I love that this picture shows Jessie (our dog) right where she is the happiest...  If Dan or any of the kids leave the yard, she is always with them.

Actually, even in the yard, Jessie's always with them.  Here, Justin had raked up a bunch of leaves.  He and Leslie had fun jumping into them, and then he got a good book he'd been reading and read out loud to her until it was too dark to see.  Jessie sat close beside until they had gone indoors.....

Then, SHE took a turn jumping in the leaf pile just to make sure she wasn't missing out on anything!!  It was hilarious.

"It doesn't matter--" or does it???

   Jonathan's English learning can bring up some very funny comments.  The rest of us get to see what phrases we say the most, because those are the ones that he learns the easiest.  It's all about repetition.  One big thing that he hears from me very often is, "It doesn't matter."  The reason for this repeated phrase is that Jonathan is big into comparisons....  you know, "Leslie's piece of cake is bigger than mine..."  or   "Justin's apple is bigger than mine..."  or "Leslie's turn on the swing lasted for 10 minutes and my turn wasn't that long."  Things like that.
   Well, my reply is usually, "Jonathan, it doesn't matter.  Your apple will probably be bigger next time.  It doesn't matter.  Your turn will probably be longer next time."  And, most of the time, it is....  but he doesn't usually remember  those times!!
   In fact, the kids were letting him go first on so many things around here, that he somehow got it in his mind that going first was somehow getting the bad end of the deal.  So, he started saying things like, "You kissed me first last night.  Kiss Justin first tonight...."  or   "I went first in this game yesterday.  Make Leslie go first today..."   So, again, my reply was, "Jonathan, it doesn't matter!!!!   It doesn't matter who is first...  it just doesn't matter!! 
   So, I should not have been surprised in the least when this particular phrase entered his vocabulary!!  It was still VERY funny when he used it the first time!
   We were doing his spelling during school time.  I called out a word, and he misspelled it.  I told him, "Try again.  You've got this word wrong."  He looked at me and said very casually, "It doesn't matter."  Ha Ha!!  Well, ummm, lots of things don't  matter, but this particular one does!
   This has become our family's private joke whenever something doesn't go the way someone thinks it should.  We look at each other with a sarcastic look and say, "It just doesn't matter!!"  :) 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

So Much to be Thankful For!!

   Our first Thanksgiving with Jonathan!!  He loved it, and we had a really great day!  After eating his first piece of pumpkin pie topped with plenty of whipped cream, he told me, "Thank you for Thanksgiving!!" :)
   We had a house full of people....  our family, my parents, my sister and her family, my aunt and uncle, 3 cousins and all of their families.... 30 people in all!  After the kids helped us finish cleaning up and getting the house looking good enough to host all of those people, we looked around and said, "Hey -- the house hasn't looked this good since we had our first social worker visit during our home study!!"  Ha Ha!!  
   I was concerned that Jonathan would be WAY over-stimulated, but he did fine.  He almost seemed a little bit intimidated by all the new faces.  And, honestly, that is NOT a bad thing at all.  Sometimes the new situations bring out behaviors that reveal the lack of good social skills.  I didn't see that much at all today.  I am very thankful for that!
   Another thing that I'm thankful for is that the fund raiser for Jonathan's former orphanage totaled over $2000!!  That is just wonderful!  THANKS to anyone who contributed.  I"ll post pictures at some point in the future when we get to see how the lives of those sweet children still waiting there have been improved by the generosity of people here!
   One other big thing to be grateful for is that one other little cutie will be leaving that orphanage for good and joining her family here in Alabama next week!!  Annikah's mommy leaves tomorrow to go get her little girl!!!  You can follow along with Shelley's blog.
   Just before the kids were heading off to bed tonight, we used the automatic setting on the camera to get a group shot!!

This time last year, our dossier was all set to be sent to Bulgaria! 
I'm very thankful that we are now a family of eight!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

If you want to be blessed............

   Some of you know that Dan and I and our family have been back living in America for four year now... and that for quite a few years prior to that we were in Mongolia.  It was actually in Mongolia that we met, have lived most of our married years, and actually experienced God's first move in our hearts to be touched by orphans.  It was there that my older girls and I first walked through an orphanage's doors, played with the children, and left burdened for all of them that were in need of a family. 
   Now that we've been back in Alabama for these years, it's sometimes easy to feel like an American again.  However, all it takes is one phone conversation with either a Mongolian friend or a former co-worker to make me realize loud and clearly that a large part of my heart is still there, and always will be.
   Today, though, it wasn't a phone conversation, but pictures and a story on the blog of a lady who is THERE right now--playing with the children in that orphanage that we visited, seeing the faces of those children and lots more.  My eyes were full of tears and my heart was wow-ed by all that God has done for them already on their journey. 
   If you want to be blessed by hearing just a little of all that God can do, go HERE and read about their trip.  At least 2 of these ladies are adoptive moms, both having adopted 2 children each from Mongolia themselves, and who have returned (one of them makes an annual trip) to take supplies to the children still waiting in orphanages in that country.  Scroll down to the November 20th post to read first about the miracles that God did to get them there with all their luggage in the first place, and then go back up to the pictures of sweet faces of those precious children!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Time goes on....

  OK-- so I'm not winning the most consistent blogger award, here, am I?  Oh well -- Life moves on... quite quickly, actually!!  :)
  About a month ago, (only 2 or 3 posts ago, though, if you look back!) I mentioned how some things just have to get worse before they can get better.  Well, we're here to say that they did get worse, but that they are getting lots better!! 
  Jonathan has finally accepted our daily routine (one that includes home schooling!) and has become much more cooperative with that part of the day.... both in doing the work that I have for him, as well as not being a hindrance to others accomplishing their work.
  We still try as much as possible to keep things really low-key.  We attempt to keep as regular a schedule as possible to keep Jonathan from being over-stimulated.  I frequently remind myself of all the challenges he has set up against him right now:
  • language stresses -- Jonathan loves to talk.  That goes a long way in language learning!!  Ha!  But, it can be frustrating when you can't communicate all that you want to.  He has honestly gotten so good at his efforts in "charades" that we have to remind him to "use words, Jonathan!" or he would just depend on really good hand signals with some English phrases thrown in here and there.
  • lack of cultural and social understanding -- We are trying to help him learn how to relate to others in ways that are positive and encourage friendship.
  • delays and disabilities -- it will be awhile before we see where one leaves off and the other is left.  So many of the challenges that Joanthan faces are just stemming from normal delays that come with nine long years of living in an institution.  We constantly pray for wisdom in knowing how to discern where to place our expectations for what he can and can't accomplish.  Sometimes there is a lot of room for "cutting him slack."  Other times, Jonathan needs very much to be held to a high standard of behavior because we know that he can do better.  We don't want to be letting him get away with things that he shouldn't, but at the same time, we need to find a really good balance of extending grace to a little boy who has come so far and yet has far to go.