Deuteronomy 4:35

You have been shown these things that you might know the Lord is God besides him there is no other.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My First Baby

 My first baby is growing up too fast.
 She is an incredible young woman.
 She hates to be photographed, but I had her cooperation the other night so I took and took and took pictures of her.
 The garden was as beautiful as the young ladies I captured, and it was so fun to see them all dressed up.
 The littles didn't mind jumping in for a few shots.
 These frames were so fun!
 I am so grateful to have the chance to parent this young woman.  God is so very good to have blessed me so with this child of mine whose face matches her daddy's to a tee. I know these moments together are fleeting, and I long to sit and soak her in as long as I can.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

DIY Lightbox Play

Have I mentioned how much I love to play?
I am planning a little learning unit all about the moon to do with my little girls this month because of the mid autumn moon festival, and I knew this kind of light box would compliment our unit perfectly.  It was a rainy night when I introduced it for the first time.  Thank goodness I had it finished because rainy nights can be a killer as we are stuck inside.
 I set out some translucent jars and bouncy balls on the box initially.  The girls moved the jars, unscrewed the lids, rolled the balls, and put the balls inside the jars for a long, long time while the light shined through.
 Then I remembered an old transparency set I had from my teaching days, and set out the shapes for them to explore.  Anna "wrote" her name.
 They had great fun exploring the shapes and colors.
 Is she not so cute?
 The glow of the light made creating so much more fun!
 Before long, houses were being created, and shapes were being named.
Jilly even came down off her trapeze bar that is mounted to the ceiling in our playroom to join in.
Making this box was so easy, and we have continued to play with it.  I took a 60 quart clear under bed clear storage container that I had laying around to make our box.  Then I bought a 16 ft string of rope lights that I also purchased at Walmart for $12.00.  To assemble the box, I had to drill a hole in the side of the storage container so that the light cord could come out the side in order to plug it in.  Once the hole was drilled, I strung the lights throughout the box, put the cord through the hole, and plugged it in.  I used some "spider web" Halloween decorations on top of my light in the box to diffuse the lights.  You could use colored tissue paper, parchment paper, or a number of things to change the light if you want to experiment.  I just had this webbing on hand, and so I threw it in there.  This project cost less than $15 to make because I had many of the items on hand, and the container stores easily under the couch in our playroom. I love it and so did the girls!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Ayi For a Day

 Recently, I hooked up with the Sparrow Fund to support their "Ayi For a Day" project by ordering a kit.  Ayi is the Mandarin word for nanny.  The box arrived and I started to plan our day in regards to how/when to use the box.  The kit was full of hands on goodies that made this day real for the girls.  There were Chinese snacks, green tea, a newspaper, sleeve covers, shoe covers, a small toy, and a typical schedule for a ayi included in the kit.  Because my girls are so young, the hard spiritual truths in this kit were beyond them, but it was very real to this momma's heart as I read about the daily schedule of these women, whom cared for my precious Chinese babes while they waited for me.  I can only imagine what it is like to care for so many babes at one time with so few resources in a land that doesn't value these little, abandoned lives, knowing that you must say goodbye day after day never to see their faces again.  This kit gave me a small glimpse into what a day might look like for them, and it prompted us to pray for them.  Honestly, this kit changed me as I watched my darling babes interact with it.  I have spent little time dwelling on the hands/hearts who have loved my babes before I did.  It certainly led me to pray for these women who do so much to care for the least of these in a place that is so beyond hard to be.
For my babes, this day was pure fun.  They acted out Ayi For a Day in pure preschool fashion.  When I introduced the kit, I presented dress up uniform pieces, gathered toys to play out nanny, and introduced the sacrifices, as well as my daughters personal stories and experiences, as they could handle it.  Anna LOVED this day.  She loves all things baby so this was right up her alley.
She gathered all her supplies, and cared for her dolls all day long.  She did open the door for me to share some photos of her with her ayis in China, and, as always with my very verbally princess, she had lots of thoughts and questions.
For our littlest babe, home only four months now, this role playing is so fresh in her mind.  She, like Anna Mei, did love playing with the babies, and caring for them because she does EVERYTHING her sister does.
I must say that it is so sweet to see her loving her dolls exactly as I love her.  She babbles words that sound similar to those I speak over her while I rock her.  She strokes their head, and kisses them just as I do her.  If you doubted the impact of a momma's love, you couldn't deny that it is so very crucial when you see my littlest babe act it out with her dolls.  God made babies to be loved in families for sure, but I am so thankful for the many who have loved and cared for each of my girls before I could.
The kit included a recipe for a typical congee.  It is stew-soup with rice.  It is likely that my babes ate this stuff every single day.
For Molly, this life is so fresh and new that it was very comforting to her to be eating it.
She ate her weight in the stuff asking for more and more.
The typical schedule included in the kit had feeding times, and I imagined feeding so many babies at once with such limited resources would be heart breaking.  As I watched my littlest gobble up her lunch, I am so very thankful that we access to so much here.  I can't imagine having to choose who is fed, and watching some go hungry as I am sure Ayis must have this scenario play out before them daily.
Anna Mei was full of ideas about how to care for her babies.  She changed diapers, fed them, changed their clothes, and gave them baths.  This passionate, loving, little one of mine is going to change the world for the least if she is willing to give her life to the Lord as she grows.  She is very, very special.  I am so thankful for this day, and our experience with it.  It is wonderful to take time to reflect on the girls past, and those still living in it.  I pray this day impacts them as they grow, and they will be moved by my prayers for these women who care for orphans everyday in their homeland.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Church Don't Miss This

I had another long appointment with my beautiful Jilly at the U the other day.  I wish, somehow, I could describe the immense privilege I feel to walk alongside her during these hours at the hospital.  Honestly, watching her get her blood pressure taken as she signs "squeeze" to me makes me bawl my eyes out.  It is so beyond anything that I could have ever fathomed that she can now handle an afternoon like she did at the hospital this week.  It really is beyond any words that I could type the level of trust for me that she displays and how she is able to stay calm and control her terror is just something I never dreamed she would be able to do during the first year home with her when everything..everything..was so incredibly hard.  I left that appointment, as I do every other, carrying that 43 pound six year old like an infant all the way to the car speaking my love over her.  I just can't believe that I have been able to experience the blessing of this girl. Some people live their entire life running emptily around wondering about their purpose or if there is a God at all, and because of this girl God has allowed me such incredible blessing, fulfillment, and a purpose beyond my wildest dreams.  Hear me when I say this..caring for my daughters from China is the hardest thing I have ever done, but it is also the most blessed.  I have had the blessing of experiencing God more each day as I have loved them.  I just wept the whole way home because we ought to be breaking down the doors of the orphanages to get these children home.  We ought to, but millions wait because we are all too worried about how it might change our lives, how we will pay for it, how it will affect our bio kids, worrying about our children not having their own room, and on and on and on.  Church don't miss this.  Don't let Satan rob you of the blessing of loving these amazing children.   Don't listen to the lies he fills your head with.  Go.  Do. Be Jesus to the least.  You will know Jesus more.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Language Development

Our newest treasure is such a tremendous blessing.  She is finally getting comfortable enough to test limits, and she is beginning to babble up a storm.  She is modeling everything, and is even beginning to get some sounds that mean words to her.  It is always so exciting to watch language coming in.  This is also one of my favorite times of development so I love, love, love everything about her right now.

 She willingly engages in most every activity with great joy, babbling away, and modeling so many of our sounds.  We were painting glue on an apple form so we could put torn tissue paper on it when she decided the paintbrush should be a microphone, and started singing away.  
While her big sis works on writing her name, she is also working on finding a picture of herself to glue on her projects.  She is a smart, little lady, and I am enjoying all my time getting to know her.  I do wish she would stop growing so fast.  She has grown 2 inches and gained 6 pounds in the 15 weeks that I have had her home.  I can't wait to see how far she comes in the next year, but I also want to savor the here and now as I know she will be grown up way too soon.

Monday, September 14, 2015

More Messy Fun

 We are having so much fun learning all about apples right now.  So to extend our little apple learning unit, I set out some applesauce trays for the girls to dig in.  Anna Mei had to dig letter tiles to spell her name out of her tray.
Molly Kate just used various utensils, and her hands, to explore the texture because I was afraid she would try to eat letter tiles. :)  I will have get some edible alphabet cereal for next time so that her tray can have treasure to dig out too.
 This one wasn't shy about getting in it with her hands.
 The baby, however, preferred to mostly use the tools to dig and swoosh.
 She did eventually get in there with her hands for just a bit though.
There were many, many smiles and giggles coming from our kitchen as we played which led me to send a quick text to thank my man for working so hard for providing for our family so that I can be home playing in applesauce with our babes.  I am so truly, truly blessed to be able to focus so much on these beautiful treasures, and to have a husband who believes it is important for me to be able to care for them full time.  They are growing and changing so fast that I just want to savor each and every moment because these are the moments that matter most.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Messy Play

 Recently, I set up a messy play station in the back yard.  We made homemade cloud dough and altered the recipe to include baking soda.  Then, I set out squirty jars of vinegar, and let the girls squirt away.  Squirting is such a good fine motor activity to build Molly Kate's palm strength, and was one of the main reasons I chose to do this activity.  It was a little hard for her to squeeze, but the chemical reaction of the baking soda and vinegar sure motivated her to try!
 My Jilly LOVED this activity.  She loves anything messy.  She used nearly a gallon of vinegar.  No trouble squirting for her as she squirted away!
 Anna Mei was amazed by the science behind this experiment, but also loved the simple fun it provided!  She made her cloud dough orange which is her favorite color.
 The girls played outside all morning.  They were so happy.  I watched this precious, little one being chased by her daddy with a water house running and squealing.  As she was playing, I was overcome with JOY that this little peanut is mine.
 Just three months ago, we added her to our family, and it has been so easy!  She fits right in.  She has come to feel so safe and so secure so very quickly.
 She is such a tremendous JOY!
 Jill was pretty ruined by the time we were down playing, but life is too short to discourage messes.  I love watching her smile, and explore.
 As the chemical reactions subsided, because we ran out of baking soda and vinegar, the girls started exploring with water.
 They hatched up some pretty wonderful cooperative play activities, and I loved watching them work together.
It was an amazing time.  A cheap and super, fun way to spend the morning.  They played with this stuff for a good four hours.  We have noticed that the large amounts of vinegar killed the grass where we were playing. OOPS!  Oh Well, who needs a nice lawn anyway when you can have happy, messy kids?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Rainbow Spaghetti Play

I have a confession to make..I love to play.  Really, I love to play.  I love it so much that we have been doing a lot of sensory playing lately.  It has been so much fun!
 Anna Mei is working on writing her name.  This spaghetti was the perfect medium for practice.
 My sweet babe mostly loved scooping and dumping.  She isn't overly crazy about her hands being dirty so she took some convincing, but enjoyed playing for a good while.
 This bigger girl of mine is so much fun!  She is learning and growing so much.  It is just a blast to watch her play.  She invented so many activities with this spaghetti.  She requested icing bags to squirt out the spaghetti, and extended this play so much farther than I could have ever dreamed.
 She ate some too.
 She is so easy to engage as she loves everything.  I think I could put out a paper bag for play ,and, as long as I was next to her, she would enjoy doing it.

These two are so amazing together.  They fit perfectly.  I am so very thankful they will have each other to walk alongside in this life.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Two Weeks In..

It is hard to believe that school started two weeks ago.  It is so good to be in our routine again, but I miss my girls.  I love having them home.  Here is a glimpse of our first day..

Molly is enjoying her days at home.  She is very, very busy, and I love having her to myself.  She loves exploring, dumping, and modeling everything these days.
 First Grade..She is such a big, big girl.  She is very happy to be back in her school routine.  She isn't always working so hard for her patient teachers, but she loves them.  She is inventive, beautiful, and always dirty.  The girl loves her some dirt.
 Junior year is here.  Incredible to think I have only one more year with this girl under my roof.  How?  How did we get here so fast?  She is smart, sarcastic like her daddy, and tall.  She is taller than I am.

PreK four.  She LOVES life.  Mostly, she comes home from school to report behavior, shoving, and other offenses commited against her from various friends.  Her PreK teacher deserves an award.  She is spunky, creative, and larger than life.

Blessed beyond measure to call this clan mine.  My days are full, and my heart is overflowing with love and joy.  I am also tired.  Truth be told, I fall into bed with my clothes still on most days, but life is so very good!