Monday, October 15, 2012

Walt Disney World!

Soooo, we went to Disney World in late July. I knew that this would either be the worst idea we've ever had or a good one. When we went to Disney World in college we often saw the crying kids that were just miserable (and so were the parents) so I was always hesitant at the thought of taking kids until they were old enough to appreciate Disney World. Despite all of that, I'm pleased to say it was a great experience!

At Magic Kingdom we hopped on the train and took it to Fantasy Land where we rode the Barnstormer (a small roller- coaster).  I had originally planned our day to start with slower rides & work our way to this one but it was RIGHT THERE. The kids LOVED it and giggled the whole time on the ride! All we heard after that was "More rice peas!" interpreted to mean: more rides please.


My Minnie Mouse


Brother/Sister love

  
Malakai stole the hearts of some pretty ladies! 

We did a lot of reading on other blogs before we went. We had only been as college students or adults and it was so much fun to plan it for a different perspective! We debated taking a stroller (ours isn't very good) but after ready a lot and remembering how MASSIVE the parks are and how much walking was involved, we decided to take it. It was also nice to throw a bottled water or 2 in the bottom and carry around some necessities! The other best advice we read was to observe a rest time in the middle of the day. We went back to the resort for lunch and nap time and we were set for the rest of the night with some happy kids! The following day we stayed around the resort and had fun and then went back to the parks on day 3. 

I love Disney World and can't wait to go back as they get a little older. It was great to be all together as a family and we could see the difference in the kids. They seemed so happy (and held hands a lot), we really didn't have any major melt downs or whining. It was just as magical to be all together as it was to be at Disney! I can only hope that all of our future family vacations will be so much fun!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

immeasurable love

My favorite verse has been Psalms 139:14 since middle school. It has always been a great reminder for me that God created me unique (and different) just like He made everyone else unique and different. Over the last few years, the verses surrounding vs. 14 have also become favorites for me and an awesome reminder of God's sovereign power and love for each and every one of us. We may not understand why we were created a certain way, I think we all have things (physical/health) that we wish we could change, but God created us in our mother's womb before she ever knew we were there!

Psalms 139: 13-16
13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.




Our Adoption "process" took approximately 9 months. Today, we have been home for 9 months. The amount of time a woman is pregnant! It's crazy how fast time has flown. While our children are 4 years old, we are still back tracking and trying to make up for all the bonding that a mother and child begin at birth. There's days it just wears me to pieces and I want to sleep for the next 24 hours before I have to do it again. Most of the time I'm just blown away at the blessing these 2 kids have been in our lives! I never dreamed that being a parent could be this awesome (although I do miss sleeping in until noon on the occasional Saturday)!
There are times that we sit together snuggled up on the couch or rock them like a baby and I just can't help but wonder what it must have felt like to be pregnant with these 2 (energetic) babies, did their birth mother have any idea that they'd be so amazing, that they would change a family's life half way around the world?




I can't fathom how God knows and loves each of us so perfectly. Even as we struggled to communicate, it was amazing to me how similar Malakai is to Wes & Amiya is to me. I'm thankful for how He has knit our family together, I never imagined I could love anyone this much. How much more does our Father love us?
     
    "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
(Romans 5:6-8 ESV)
  
"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time."
    (1 Timothy 2:5-6 ESV)

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Yes/No Dilemma

I had 2 light-bulb moments this week and I can't believe it took me this long to catch on!

1. Malakai has been answering almost all of my questions with a shake of the head-up & down and then side to side. I'm just thinking which is it, yes or no?! I finally realized I'm just asking him 2 questions and to him he's answering both of them! For instance when it comes to a drink: "Malakai, do you want water or do you want milk?"He'll shake his head no then yes. Makes total sense now. On the other hand Amiya wants a choice and will verbalize her answer. 2 kids, 2 ways of asking questions.

2. My other light-bulb moment included this scene from Toy Story.
I walked into the room one night when this scene was playing. at the very end Woody yells "YOU ARE A TOY" and throws his hands backwards and kind of hunches over. That's when the light bulb went off. Amiya has been trowing her hands backwards & yelling "WHAT. YOU. TALK. ABOUT!!" while she got the laughing and oh that's cute comments at first, it just didn't look that kind and wasn't the way we want her to respond to things. No more Toy Story for a while!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

4th Birthday

It's been just over a month since we celebrated Malakai & Amiya's 4th birthday. It's hard to believe that they're already 4 years old and it also marked 6 months at home together! 

Since there's been a LOT of new in their lives, and ours, we decided to keep things somewhat simple and close to home. On January 16, Wes & I stayed up late blowing up 80+ balloons and filled their room with all the balloons. We put streamers coming down from the dining room doorway and everything on the table was Toy Story themed. They loved playing with the balloons and a couple days later loved helping Wes pop every single one of them! 



For dinner they got their favorite, Peanut Butter & Jelly and wore some very special hats that they couldn't decide if they wanted to keep on their heads or on the table.
  On Saturday, Wes' mom (Gigi), aunt, sister (Aunt Kelly) & cousin Zach came to visit so we celebrated with them along with our friends Aunt Melissa, Uncle Michael & Cohen. We made some strawberry cupcakes that the kids seemed to enjoy













Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Forgotten Initiative

Listen in as Jen Young, Forgotten Advocate, shares the impact one 'journey bag' had on a precious foster care child,
"A caseworker called to say thank you for the journey bags we delivered. She described one story of a child that came into care with a sibling from a horrible situation that involved a death of a parent. Caseworkers tried to keep the two brothers together, but could not, which was very difficult for the boys.  The caseworker said that when she gave them a journey bag, their eyes lit up. She expressed how excited they were to have their own bag and the joy it brought the kids really touched the caseworker as well. 
I couldn't help but tell this caseworker about the 500 bags we received from a church that put each of these bags together.  I told her that while we're glad the bags are appreciated, needed and useful, God cares about this child and took care of the details. His hand was upon this situation and He knew just what this child needed!"
The "Journey Bag Project" is just one way The Forgotten Initiative, partnering with Lifesong for Orphans, seeks to bring joy and purpose to the foster care community. 
To see how you can be involved or to learn more, please visit their website.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Playgrounds & headlocks

I feel I may be destined to adorn the following bumper sticker:


...with a PINK background.


Last week it felt like we had turned a new corner, there was so much more laughter and less disciplining, it was great.

THEN, Amiya put another kid in a headlock on the playground! Let me back up some. Another little girl pushed Malakai down on the playground. She obviously gets in trouble. The next thing we know, Amiya has her in a headlock! Not sure if the other girl was having a bad day or if Amiya was acting in retribution! We got her home and talked about the incident. It went a little something like this: 

Me: Amiya, did another girl push you on the playground? 
Amiya: No
Me: Amiya, did you put a little girl in a headlock?
Amiya: Yes
Me: Did you get in trouble?
Amiya: Yes
Me: Did she hurt you?
Amiya: No
Me: Amiya, did Malakai fall down? 
Amiya: girl push Malakai down, he fall down
Me: Did you push the little girl down?
Amiya: No
Me: Did you put her in a headlock because she hurt Malakai? 
Amiya: Yes. girl push Malakai down

I have to be honest, part of me was proud of her for sticking up for her brother but I realize that's probably not the way to solve it! Let's be honest, that little girl isn't going to mess with either of them anytime soon. But, I have this internal battle going on. On one hand I'm glad to know she's going to stick up for herself & her brother. On the other hand, putting another kid in a headlock probably isn't the best way to solve the problem. And yet the other argument is- even if you tell an adult what happened, how are they to know who is telling the truth! We've all probably been punished for a lie that someone else told!

Anyhow, that's the latest, kind of funny, kind of not!









Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Clowning around

I often feel like we have 2 clowns running around here. It's crazy how much their personalities have come out in just the last 5 months. Here's some of my favorite things that have made me laugh.

Amiya & Armpits
One day shortly after we arrive home, Amiya runs into our bedroom and a couple minutes later comes streaking back out. I asked her to get her clothes and she obediently did and I put them back on.  A couple hours later, I notice what looks like deodorant marks on her shirt. She doesn't know what it's called so I picked her arm up and sniffed her armpit. Sure enough, she had put on Wes' deodorant and we learned the word "Armpit"!

Malakai & funny faces
It was pretty clear early on that Malakai was going to be a little clown. Anytime he tried something new, he would make this face...




And with each new food, the facial expressions seem to get more & more dramatic. For instance, here's some pictures after he barely sunk his teeth into a jalapeno pepper (but didn't eat it)...


Amiya's Style 
Amiya loves all things girly and often wants to put more & more girly stuff on...sometimes I really worry about her sense of style...


 Malakai-"Sooo Handsome"
Amiya is such a girl, anytime she gets to wear a dress she jumps up and down excited. With all the emotions of being a girl, I wanted to make sure I instilled a good self-confidence in her so I was always saying "Amiya, you're soooo pretty." Malakai started saying he looked sooo pretty too so we had to quickly adjust that and more frequently say "Malakai, you are soooo HANDSOME." They both have picked up on that and when they know a girl or boy, they also associate so pretty or so handsome with the correct gender...make sense!? Anyway, one morning I was getting them dressed and Malakai told me he needed to go potty so I halted the getting dressed and told him to go to the bathroom. He said "No, I wanna [be] so handsome fuwst (first)"

Daddy & Animal Sounds

Wes definitely contributes to the clowning around. For Halloween I found a monkey & giraffe costume. When we were trying them on, we kept asking Malakai what sound a monkey makes and then realized Amiya needed a sound for her giraffe costume. We asked Amiya what sound a giraffe makes but since this wasn't one of the animals we worked on, she wasn't helping so Wes just yells "look-a look-a look-a." I don't think Amiya believed us, it was a good month after Halloween before she would make the giraffe sound.


Potty training and public bathrooms
The kids were basically potty trained before we got them but there was, as expected, some regression (and a language barrier and parents trying to figure out how to take care of kids). Anytime they told us they needed to potty and actually went in the potty there was a huge celebration. And since we're also dealing with chronic constipation issues with one, there's a HUGE celebration when he goes #2 in the potty. What I wasn't prepared for was the enthusiasm for bathrooms. Anytime we were in a public place, the kids needed to go potty so we'd all 3 go in and sometimes mom had to go too. (I never understood when mom's talk about wanting to go to the bathroom ALONE...now I do!) So, if I went, they would yell really loud "Yay, mommy went tee tee, good job mommy!" My new favorite is they want to help so "mommy, don't fall down drain!"

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Christmas

 
  Christmas was a great adventure. We knew it would be exciting, over-stimulating and possibly overwhelming and indeed it was all 3! 
We started our Christmas festivities at Thanksgiving with Wes' family since we would be driving to Kansas City for Christmas. 
Amiya got a princess dress, shoes & matching doll


Malakai got a truck that talks & moves...I think it's almost dead

 
and then they got a couple guitars!

For Christmas, we drove to my (Danielle) parent's house in Kansas City. It's a 12 hour drive with just 2 adults and we knew we would be extending that when we add in 2 energetic 3 year olds! We decided to take the trip up in 2 days and stayed overnight in Memphis. 

The kids did great (I still don't think anything could be worse then us trying to get [toddlers who have never had boundaries] through all the lines and security in Uganda). I only brought a few quiet toys for the car ride and didn't even think about once it gets dark they won't be able to see anything. Some friends let us borrow their portable dvd player but the power converter started smoking so we decided we shouldn't use it! The kids started getting pretty antsy the last 2 hours of the trip but then fell asleep.

 
 They slept on an air mattress together in my old bedroom and did great. We brought our video monitor and that was huge too. The more they discovered how bouncy an air mattress could be, the harder it was to convince them not to bounce/jump.  They loved walking or "running" -which was closer to a bounce
We went to the Christmas Eve service at the church where I grew up. We used to always go to the 11pm service and this year decided on the 5pm for obvious reasons! We had originally planned to go to the Christmas morning service but after...well...loosing a pair of underwear at the Christmas Eve service and a few other behaviors that we were noticing we realized some anxiety and stress that the kids were feeling so decided to stick close to the house. 


Once we got to opening presents, it was stimulation overload! It only took opening 1 gift for them to be all about these presents and they were ready & willing to help everyone else open their gifts as well. They got some great gifts and noisemakers that mom & dad are LOVING ;)
 One gift they got was this "jeep" as you can see from the awesome faces: Malakai is so excited & Amiya is not so excited about sharing...but doing better at it

One thing I always look forward to when I come home to KC is getting together with friends. There's a group of girls from High School who get together every Thanksgiving/Christmas. Wish our travel schedules would have allowed more of us to get together at the same time this year.