Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sunshine is Reading in English!!!

We are rejoicing at our house to see Sunshine read her first book in English! When we met her two months ago we learned that she was already reading in Tigrinya. I knew that teaching her to read in English would be easy if she could already read in her language. I never thought it would happen this quickly.

She is so motivated to learn. I started using "Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons." We are only on lesson 11 as I have only been schooling her for three weeks. I thought I would let her try the first Bob Book. You can see the result. I know that she has just begun to read, but this is where all readers begin.

I cried. I always cry when my kids read their first book. Reading opens the door to any possibility. I am thanking God today that Sunshine already has an amazing love of learning. I have everyone that loved her in Ethiopia to thank for that!
Sweet Momma

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Very Eventful Week

A group shot on M&M's Birthday!

This week started on Sunday morning with Stand-Up Dad in Kansas visiting his parents and me getting 6 kids ready for church all by myself. This may not seem like a big deal, but I had never done it before. Stand-Up Dad is our fabulous Sunday morning chef and I am the hairstylist and such. So we had toast and yogurt and actually got to church early. We have kept the little ones in service with us since they came home rather than putting them in Sunday school. They are doing better every week at sitting quietly and coloring or looking at a book.

Monday we all went to our Homeschool co-op at church. Sunshine and Little Buddy are now taking three pre-school classes. They love them. For fourth and fifth period they hang out with me. On Monday it was sunny and in the mid 50's so I took them outside to play on the playground for the first time. They had been playing for about five minutes when Little Buddy went running across the playground toward the big slide and did not see a metal bar, just his height that is used for flip turns. I didn't see the collision, but I heard the crying. I was holding him within seconds and I looked to see a lump the size of a large grape next to his eye and then I saw that it was bleeding.

I scooped him up and grabbed Sunshine and drove to the nearest Pediatrician. I prayed the whole way that his eye had not been damaged and that God would allow complete healing. My prayers were quickly answered when the doctor informed me that his eye was fine and the lacerations did not need stitches. He looked like he had been in a bad bar fight. I would show a picture, but I couldn't bring myself to take any. As of today, it looks so much better. The swelling is gone and all that remains is a black eye.

Thursday we all went to a new dentist and Sunshine and Little Buddy got their first cleaning. We found a wonderful dentist that will take six children at one visit! I am proud to say that not a cavity was found among them! Sunshine and Little Buddy did great, although Sunshine was a little freaked out by "Mr. Thirsty."=)

Friday was our second pediatric appointment in Seattle. There is a group of doctors at U of W that focus on Adoption Medicine. They know how to treat and look for issues that commonly occur with children who have been adopted from other countries. They also provide Interpreters to make the children more comfortable.

I love our doctor! She is so pleased with their progress. In the past six weeks, since our last visit, they have both grown in height and weight. Stand-Up Dad and I found it interesting that Sunshine would not speak to the Interpreter in Tigrinya. She would respond in English, but never in Tigrinya. I suppose this is all part of the process. They each got three shots. Big tears and mad looks followed. The Interpreter tried to explain why we are giving them shots, but I am not sure they got it.

We ended our day at the Ice Cream Parlor. Stand-Up Dad was concerned that we were going to overwhelm them with too many choices when we got there. I said, "Welcome to America." Isn't that what living here is all about...too many choices. Little Buddy chose vanilla, which made me laugh. He is definitely not a vanilla type kid.

I am hopeful that this next week will be quite dull and uneventful, but I doubt it!
Sweet Momma

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy Birthday M&M!

Yes, it has been a busy week at our house! Two birthdays within six days! On the 16th it was my M&M's 12th birthday! She is so much fun to celebrate with because she absolutely enjoys the whole process of decorating and planning and unwrapping and cake eating etc.

This year she invited a few friends over to scrapbook and eat homemade pizza. She thought her sister's cake looked like fun and decided to have her friends help decorate hers as well. You can see the final product. A little cake with your frosting?=)

My M&M is such a blessing in our home. She is so warm, friendly and loving. She brings fun and life to our family. She will try anything once and will do her best to get you to try it too. She has an incredibly generous heart and truly desires to follow after God and His will for her life. She gets her dimples from me and I see a lot of myself in her as well. She is quick to hug, quick to help and quick to forgive. I can't wait to see what God will do with her now that she is twelve!

On her birthday she was surprised by a visit from Gramma and Poppa. They had not met Sunshine and Little Buddy, so it was a very special time with them. She spent the rest of the day enjoying a High School Musical Marathon. Yes, they watched 1, 2, and 3 in one day! I'm still humming a few of my favorite tunes...."What time is it?"=)
Sweet Momma

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Little Buddy joins in...

Little Buddy in Ethiopia

My sweet Little Buddy prayed his first prayer in English today. Each time I pray with him before bed I ask him if he wants to pray and he says, "No."

Today at nap time I prayed for him and picked him up to put him in bed. He said he wanted to pray. It was such a sweet, short, simple prayer, that it made me cry.

"Thank you God for Mommy, Amen."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And so it begins...

Sunshine in Ethiopia in her favorite dress!

Today, for the first time, Sunshine prayed in English. My heart is sad. I knew this would happen, but I am sad just the same.

I knew before we met these sweet children that we would take them from everything they know and teach them a new language. I have actually wished that the language acquisition would happen even faster than it has. There are things that I really want them to understand. They are amazing! They are learning English at breakneck speed. I am amazed at what they understand already.

And yet, as they acquire English, their Tigrinya must trickle away. I know. I can't have it both ways. I don't speak Tigrinya.

Sunshine said it best today as we were talking and misunderstanding each other again, "Tigrinya hard for you and English hard for me." She is definitely doing better than I am on the language acquisition.

With all of her new English she is daily sharing more and more of her life in Ethiopia with me and I am continually amazed at how strong this little girl of five is. She has been through so many things and is trusting me enough to share her world with me. What a privilege it is to mother her and love her and be freely loved in return.

I guess I can say that our transition is going better than I would have expected. I am so thankful. God is so good.
Sweet Momma

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Sweet Pea!

Sweet Pea with her birthday cake,
decorated by all of her friends at her craft birthday party.

On Sunday my beautiful Sweet Pea turned nine years old! It is amazing to watch her grow and see all the special gifts that God has given her.

She is so kind and loving. She is very tenderhearted, yet she is easy going and often defers to others rather than herself. She is quite a girly-girl, which is so wonderful because her new little sister is too.

For her birthday she received a wooden mailbox. She wanted to be able to send letters to her family. It sits on a ledge upstairs and has already been put to good use. She loves to encourage others with kind words and beautiful pictures.

Her precious spirit has been such an encouragement to me these past nine years. It may seem obvious to say, but I can't imagine my life without her in it.

Happy Birthday Sweet Pea! I adore you!!!
Sweet Momma

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First Day of School!

Sunshine's First Watercolor

Little Buddy's First Watercolor

Elsie is helping to school her little brother and sister. She is in charge of art, games and puzzles.

After a month long break, we started back to school today with two new students. While in Ethiopia, Sunshine attended a local school for half of the day. I was told that there were about 50 children and one teacher. I was not expecting her to know much in the way of letters and numbers, but I was completely surprised when I met her. She was already reading in Tigrinia and knew all of her letters and numbers in English. She is a smart little cookie. So instead of waiting until next fall to start formal school, we started today.

We had an interpreter explain to Sunshine a few weeks back that I was going to be her teacher. She laughed out loud. And then asked if he was serious. Everything in America is new and different.=)

We took both of them to our home-school co-op at church yesterday. I took them into a preschool class to show them what it was like. The teacher was talking about winter. She read a story about winter and then invited the kids to join her in a snowball fight. (We don't have snow here. The "snow" consisted of about 100 white mesh sponges. So soft, but lots of fun!) They threw snowballs for about 10 minutes and it was time to go. I asked them if they wanted to come back next week and the overwhelming answer was, "Yes!!!"

Today we started school with a new schedule. Yes, I am a 'scheduler.' I love a schedule. I don't think I needed one until the fourth baby came along, but they make me happy. I have my homeschool day planned out in 30 minute segments. The book "Managers of Their Homes" by Steve and Terri Maxwell has been very helpful. The schedule is basically a guide to help everyone move through the day and complete most of their work.

I added Sunshine and Little Buddy to the schedule and made adjustments with some of the other kids to fit everything in. I think it went pretty well. Sunshine was quite confused for most of the morning. She explained to me that at school in Ethiopia everyone did the same thing. If the teacher said to write "A", "everyone wrote A." She did not understand why I did some school with her and Little Buddy, and then other school with Sweet Pea and Pumpkin. It was very hard to explain to her that each of her brothers and sisters do different levels of work. I think that this is another area that will be OK in time.

My favorite part of our day was prayer time tonight. I rock each of the little ones in a rocking chair before bed. We sing a song and pray together. I usually pray first and give them an opportunity to pray. Sunshine prays in Tigrinia each night. I love listening to her lift her voice to the Lord in her own language. I love that God hears our prayers in every language on this big planet.

This past week I started praying for Sunshine and Little Buddy's siblings in Ethiopia during our prayer time. I don't know why I had not done this before. I definitely pray for them during my private prayer time. Sunshine was so pleased and I heard the names of her siblings in her prayer as well. Since that day, she has prayed for each one.

Tonight when she began her prayers, I heard my name and Stand-Up Dad and all of her American siblings too. I started to cry. It overwhelmed me. It may seem silly, but I have been praying for this little girl even before I knew her name. Tonight, she prayed for me. God is good!
Sweet Momma

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Our big kids got to stay up and celebrate with New York!=)
So much fun drinking
sparkling cider in real champagne glasses!

I can't believe it is 2010! Wasn't it just yesterday that we were all holding our breath to see what would happen when the clock rolled over to 2000? Amazing!!! I must be getting old, because I am really tempted to make that comment about "time" and how it "flies."

I wanted to give an update on our big kids. I have been sharing so much about our newest blessings that I didn't want to leave out the other four.

It is a true balancing act. We want to give the new ones all the attention that they need, to help with healthy attachment. But the older four are still in need of our guidance, attention and love as well. I would say that Elsie and M&M are enjoying the big sister role once again. They are really noticing all the adorable things that these little ones do and say. I have had to caution M&M to send Little Buddy to me. He is very drawn to her and she adores him. For the time being, I want him to see Stand-Up Dad and I as his first source of comfort and instruction.

I think the transition has been a little challenging for Sweet Pea and Pumpkin. They are the ones that are now sharing a room with new siblings. That by itself is a big change. Then throw language challenges and serious jealousy of all of your things by these new little ones and it can become difficult. They are learning how to handle each situation and now realize that Mom and Dad would really like to step in and help with any tense situations. There will be time later to allow them to work out the normal sibling issues.

Each day is a little better as Sunshine and Little Buddy learn how to live in our family. I was talking to Pumpkin tonight about how it was going with Little Buddy. He said, "I didn't think he would be as goofy as he is." I laughed. Is that a bad thing? He is goofy. He keeps us laughing every day. Sunshine can be quite a goofy girl as well.

God is so good. I am so thankful for this first month and even more thankful that it is behind us. Thank you for your prayers and please continue to lift each of us up in prayer as God weaves our family together.
Sweet Momma

Friday, January 1, 2010

It's Just What You're Used To...

I recently received my first Ethiopian Cookbook in the mail. It is a wonderful cookbook with Ethiopian history and many pictures of Ethiopian food. I am trying to prepare food that will make Sunshine and Little Buddy's tummies happy. I sat down with Sunshine and showed her the pictures and asked her which ones looked yummy. She flipped through the pages slowly and stopped when she got to a page with a recipe for "Genfo." She jumped up and down and hugged me and said, "This one, this one, yummy, yummy!"

As I looked at the recipe I realized that it was an Ethiopian porridge. It is what they would eat for breakfast. She made a big stirring motion to show me how it had been made at the orphanage. I checked the recipe for ingredients and told she and her brother that I could make it for them. The happy dance ensued.

This morning I made my first batch of Genfo and God showed me something in the process.

Genfo is very close to play dough. If you have ever made home made play dough on the stove, you could make Genfo. It has water, flour (I used barley), and salt. It literally becomes the consistency of play dough. It is then placed in an oiled bowl. After taking a spoon and making a crevice in the middle, oil mixed with berbere (an Ethiopian spice similar to chili powder) is poured in the middle of the Genfo.

I looked at Stand-Up Dad and said, "This can't be right. I don't know if they will eat this." I placed it in front of them and they squealed with delight. They ate and giggled happily.

I was amazed. If Genfo had been placed in front of me for breakfast I would have turned up my nose and refused to even try it. I realized that some of the foods we place in front of them must bring the same reaction to their minds. I thought back to all the new foods that they have tried obediently and willingly over the last month and I was humbled and impressed with these two little ones. I will try to remember the Genfo the next time they turn up their nose at something new.

In the end, it is really just what you are used to eating that brings comfort.

My first attempt at Genfo, which my kiddos call "Got."
Happy kiddos! I know Sunshine doesn't look happy, just a bad picture, she ate the whole bowlful!
Sweet Momma