Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer Begins!

Week 18

Here's out sweet boy, smiling in the rain.
School is almost over and we are relaxing on a lazy afternoon.

Jake continues to thrive.  He's gaining weight and learning English at a great rate!

The kids have been helping me get ready for VBS (it's in July).  We're working on crafts.  I found a $1 Family Fun book at Target which has been worth much more than $1.  Joy spent about 2 hours working on this paper pizza.  I decided we'd use it as decoration in the snack area at church.

Marta and Sara are loving the hammock now in the backyard.  We had this hanging up in Shane's room prior to Jake moving in.  Tom figured out a way to hang it on the swing set!  Thanks honey!  :)

Our friends are moving back to Mt. Pleasant!  YEAH!!  We are so excited!   This is their youngest son, David, who is celebrating his 14th birthday!

He's dearly loved!

This was the last week of school.  The kindergarten classes did swimming.  Here's Marta waiting on her turn.

She's excited about helping Jake and Joy learn how to swim.  They'll be doing swim lessons once a week while I'm teaching my water aerobics class.

Updating the blog has been harder lately because end of the school year activities.
Now, however, summer is rolling and we've got so many things to do with the kids before school starts back.  

We're now in Week 20 (our half-way point).  The dynamics of our new family are starting to even out.
Overall, I think we are doing pretty well.  I know we'll continue to grow & develop as a family over the summer.  Many positive behaviors are being seen!   We praise God for His goodness and faithfulness!

We're looking forward to summer play dates with our friends and family.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Week 17 Jake Wins!

Top Banana, Week 15
Marta got to bring home Weekend Monkey at the beginning of Week 15.
Weekend Monkey got to do everything with Marta from Fri-Mon morning. 
We took pictures of Marta with Weekend Monkey for the class journal.
Weekend Monkey had such a great time with Marta!   He was happy to learn how to play Candyland.

Shane got a new hat on Fri and he decided he wanted everyone else to be apart of the hat happiness.

Happy Mother's Day, Week 16

First time in a sprinkler at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  Joy wouldn't take off the flip flops.

Yes, they needed an umbrella to play with!

I was so thankful that it was a perfect temperature and full of sun for water play!

I love this picture....all 5 of my kids in one place sitting for a moment!
Look at Shane's face....I made lemonade, but it was weak.  This made me laugh!
The adults got the table in the kitchen.

Thank you so much to Miss Rose and Dottie for giving us puppy love!  Dottie stole Joy's heart.
Joy loves little dogs, but not big ones.  Dottie is the perfect size according to Joy.

Flowers by Jake (he loves to take pictures, especially of flowers)

This is my favorite one...the yellow one.

Jake and Joy really seemed to understand what Mother's Day was about.   We had a wonderful family gathering on Sun.  I got to be with my own mother and Tom got to see his mother.
We are very blessed to have 2 great mothers!

Week 17

May 20th, 2013 -  JAKE WINS 3rd Place! 

He won 3rd place in his age group.  We are so proud of him. 
The picture had to have water in it.
He loves art!  I'm so grateful to his art teacher who entered his picture!
Thank you Miss Jennifer!

He also got $50.00 for 3rd place!  He decided he'd put $10.00 in his wallet & save the rest.
I pray that God will use his talent for His Kingdom!
Thank you to all who continue to pray for us.  The dynamics of our family are starting to mesh together now.  Joy and Marta are getting along much better.

We're a short time away from summer.  The plans now are to swim in the mornings and do school work after lunch.  If you'd like to go to the beach, please call us! 

Many blessings,

Friday, May 3, 2013

Week 14, Rewind

Family Pictures by Anna (rewind back to March)


Thank you to everyone praying for us.  We are hearing more English and less Chinese. 
Thank you Whitesides teachers for your dedication to our children!  You are a blessing!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Week 13, Marta's Gotcha Day

Week 13, Marta's Gotcha Day (GD), April 23rd!

Six years ago, God placed this beautiful little girl into my arms.  I had no idea how she would change my life.  We've been through many ups and downs since April 23rd, 2007.  Marta is now thriving and bloosming into a child who loves the Lord.

She had a foster family when she was in Guatemala for approximately 8 and a half months.  They took such good care of her.  We have a picture of Marta with her birth mother.  She has seen it and sometimes
she carries it to school with her (she keeps it in her backpack).  She's told me that she loves all 3 of her mothers, but she knows that I'm her forever mother.

I'm thankful to God for putting Marta in our family.  I'm thankful to her birthmother who was brave enough to let her go.  I'm thankful to our Pediatrician who discovered her defective heart condition and for her Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon who performed her heart surgery.

We celebrated on Tues (GD), after school with cupcakes and a few small gifts.
It took me over an hour to explain to Jake & Joy what we were celebrating.  Now, they know that they will also have a GD to look forward to in Jan 2014.  Plus, it helped us start working on geography.

Here are some more Marta pictures!  WE LOVE YOU, MARTA!   
The picture below is from a family trip that we took in 2011.  She's 4 years old.

The "Monkey Bars" is her favorite thing to do at the playground!  Grace loved the monkey bars also.

Please continue to pray for Marta.  The "big change" is still happening for her and all of us.  Even though positive changes are now happening with regards to Joy's behavior, Marta is still needing prayers for her spirit and heart.  Please pray specifically Romans 15:5-6 for her:  "God, give Marta and her siblings endurance, encouragement, and a spirit of unity as they follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth they may glorify you, precious Lord." (from Jodie Berndt's book, keep reading) 

This week we found out that Jake has won an award for an art contest.  The art teacher at school entered students into a contest at the local Water Works Department and he won!  On May 20th, we'll go to the presentation of awards to find out what award he'll receive - 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.  The picture below was taken by Joy.

Thank you again to all those who are praying for us.  Bringing Jake and Joy home from China has not been an walk in the park.....and I knew that it wouldn't be.  I thank God everyday for His wisdom, direction, and guidance.  I've started a new prayer journal which has 5 separate sections, one section per child (5-section spiral notebook).  I'm trying everyday to pray specifically for one child in writing.  God provides the 10, 20, or 30 minute time periods here and there so that I can be with Him to pray quietly.  My outside resource is Praying The Scriptures For Your Children, by Jodie Berndt.  She does a nice job in her book of the different prayer categories.  I use her thoughts sometimes in my written prayers.  I even found it at the local library! 

Stay tuned!  Week 14 is now happening.....

Friday, April 19, 2013

Week 12, Postive Changes

Week 12
If you've been praying for our family, thank you! 
God has answered those prayers.
I've seen so many postive changes this week in Joy's attitude.
It's been wonderful.

Joy is now beginning to learn who a mother is and how a mother is there to love and support her.
She is understanding what a family is and how she fits into it.
I'm thankful to our great God who loves this little girl so much and who is transforming her from
the rough child she was into His princess.

She and Marta are getting along much better this week.  Even though they are exactly the same
height, Joy has started to realize that Marta is only six years old.  She is sharing with Marta and
accepting Marta's handmade cards.

She is always the first child to get up in the mornings.  Details about her life in the orphanage are now
starting to come out because the English is improving.  She was able to tell me that all the
children wake up at 5:00am each morning to get ready to go to school.
She said if they didn't get up when they were told, they would hit us. 
They were given breakfast at the orphange and then theywere at school by 7:30am.

Since she is the first up, she enjoys listening to us (Tom & myself) read our devotional together.
She sits with us on the couch and is a part of our prayer after the devotional reading.

This week she has dressed up everyday for school.  Jake decided to do a photo shoot of his sister.
This fashionista knows that we need to get her some different shoes to go with all the dresses.
Her friends at school are being blown away everyday with her new look.

I really don't like getting my picture taken, but Joy was insisting that it was my turn.  This is our box garden
that Tom works so hard in.  He's developing his green thumb.  Right now we have kale and green onions.
And again, I'm including this picture of myself so that you can see that I'm still hanging in there.  People keep saying to me, "I don't see how you're doing it.  I couldn't do it."  Then, I have an open door to share
with them that's it's not my doing, it's God's doing....He's the one who gives me strength.  He's the one who instructs me, even at night while I'm sleeping.  They give me some strange looks, but it's fine with me.

Mom's sweet friend, Miss AA, dropped by this week with some little gifts for the kids. 
Thank you AA for the jewerly, beads and beautiful flowers.
Marta wasn't home, but Jake and Joy made sure to set aside some of the pink
bracelets and necklaces for her! 
I was so proud of them for understanding the concept of sharing and
for thinking of others.

Grace, our oldest, helping Joy get the bracelet on.

Marta, our youngest, is also doing better with having a 2nd big sister.  Please, however, keep her in your
prayers.  Our "big change" is still happening and it will probably continue for at least another 6-9 months.
One thing that Marta and Joy have in common is that they both love Barbie dolls.  This is Marta's
Barbie car.  She decided she needed a car for the girls.  I was really excited to see 1) that she was 
playing by herself and 2) she had decided to use her creative juices.  She has become an inspiration to Jake who now has his own plans for designing his Barbie car.  

Along with her love for Barbie, Marta also has a love for the Splat the Cat.
We've checked out almost all the I Can Read! #1 Splat the Cat books from the Village library.
It's exciting see her figure out the words.  I takes be back to when Grace and Shane were learning how to read.  So again, she is inspiring her new siblings through her love of books.  When they see her reading, they also become interested.  They haven't fallen in love with Splat the Cat, but I know in time
they'll find a character or series that they'll want to hear more about.

And last but not least this week, the report on the boys.  Jake is a helping spirit.  He wants to chop up whatever we need chopping and he wants to "give the flowers a drink" whenever possible.
He has become the translator, sort of.  When Joy can't figure out what to say or how to say what she needs in English, she'll ask him what the word is that she's looking for.  He'll usually be able to assist.  Our handheld translator is now history. 

Shane did well this past Sat in the regional double dutch competition in Florence!  He'll be going to the state meet the first Sat in May!  :)

And we are happy to say that Jake is eating very well.  He's asking for more ice cream after the first bowl is eaten.  The only thing that he doesn't seem to like is quiche.  He's still very skinny, but I know that he's gaining weight.  I can see it in his face.

Many thanks again to those of you who are praying for us.  I'm so thankful that we are almost at the 3 month mark.  It's exciting to know that God is with us each and He'll continue to guide us!