Monday, July 16, 2012

Laina is Two!

Our sweet Laina turned two on Saturday! While her party is still a few days off (so that Nona and Nan can be here), we did have some celebrating to do. After all, you only turn two once!


 Silly brothers:

"Pizza-pie," her favorite. With candles, thanks to the boys.

Like last year, we lit a candle in honor of Laina's birth family.

After dinner, I took her outside for a two-year-old photo shoot. She was telling me about birds. And then the camera battery died. But how cute is she, telling me about birds?

We also spent the day trying to teach Laina that when we say, "How old are you?" the correct response is "two." Every time, she says, "I'm five." Every time. She also hasn't figured out how to hold up two fingers, so she holds out her hand to me and says, "Dingers, Mama," and I make her "dingers" into the proper position. It's so stinkin' cute.

Laina has an incredible vocabulary. She knows the names of just about everything we ask her about. She asks questions all the time (has to keep up with the boys!) and a few weeks ago started asking "why?" Yesterday, we were watching part of Blue Planet and every time a fish would come on, she'd hold her hands out to show the size of it and say, "It's big, Mama?" or "It's small, Mama?" and I'd tell her, and she'd reply with a very serious, "Ohhh."

She also has really started playing with her doll Anna a lot. This morning, she laid Anna on the changing pad and tried to put a diaper on her. She likes to push her around the house in the grocery cart, too. Girls are SO different from boys. :)

Laina, we love you. You are smart, funny, sweet, absolutely adorable, snuggly, and you've got some good dance moves, too! We are forever thankful you are ours. Happy birthday, sweet girl!

Laina, age nine months:

Laina on her first birthday:

And on her second birthday:

Friday, July 13, 2012

First Week of School 2012

Well, today wrapped up our first week of homeschooling for 2012. Yes, I know it's July. No, I'm not a mean mama, making my kids forgo summer break. Actually, we love cool fall weather and don't love this crazy 100-degree heat we've been feeling. So being in the AC during the summer afternoons and trading some free days in fall? Good deal. 

Plus, when Baby Number Four gets here (soon, please!!!), this gives us flexibility to take some time off. 

We're doing most of our school in the afternoons, leaving the mornings free for summer fun. Case in point: on the first morning of the first day of school, what were the chickens doing? Blowing bubbles.

Curriculum this year:
Iain, first grade (what!?!): Sonlight Core A, Singapore Primary Math 1, A Reason for Handwriting 1, Explode the Code 1, Sonlight Science A. So far, he's loving it. And I'm loving hearing cheers when I say it's time for school.

Handsomest First Grader around!

Iain says his favorite thing about school is the experiments. Cory calls them "experience." And today at dinner, Cory rattled off the definition of what he calls a "hy-pop-asis: an idea you can test." (But in all honesty, he got that from watching Dinosaur Train this afternoon, not from our science experiments from today. In fact, when he got the Sonlight definition of "hy-pop-asis," he corrected it. And actually, Dinosaur Train's is better.

Cory's in preschool again (technically). He's been doing Core A with us, though I'm not requiring him to. Handwriting Without Tears Get Set for School. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Random math book from B&N. Sonlight Science. He's really quite good at math. He listens in on Iain's lessons and tries to answer first (often getting it right!), so I think I need to find some real math for him. He's also doing GREAT at reading.

He says his favorite thing about school is handwriting. And math.

And he's funny.

Laina is...making things interesting. Sometimes she listens in when I'm reading aloud. More often she yells, and we try to read anyway. I made her a bunch of busy bags, which work well some days and not on others. But the show must go on!

We're also doing Timothy again, but Iain's the only one who gets fall classes, thanks to some new rules (no preschoolers!). He's taking a cool science for boys class, and I can't remember what the other one is. Great. It starts mid-August.

In keeping with the tradition we started last year, here are our beginning-of-the-year school pictures. Laina cooperated this year, so she gets one too.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Story

I'm linking up with Gypsy Mama today to make myself write when I don't feel like it...I mean, to enjoy writing a five-minute, no-editing piece. Today's topic: story.


I think in terms of story a lot. When I hear about an interesting story on the news, I think about how I'd like to know more about the story, and that maybe the more is what others want to know too. And maybe I can write that more, and make it into something good. When I did Nanowrimo the first time, that's how I came up with a story idea: a news article that left out too many details. So after talking it through with Jeremy several times, changing the details but keeping the basic conflict the same, a plot was born. And it was so much fun to write.

All the time, I think about stories I'd like to read and then ask myself if I could write them. So far, I've done it twice, this writing a novel about a story I want to know. The first time, the results were pretty good. The second time, they were horrible--but completion was the goal that time. 

In Donald Miller's book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, he talks about our lives as a story. I want mine to be one that God delights to read. Yes, He is the Author. But He's also the Audience of One. I want to live such an on-purpose life that He loves the story.



Thursday, July 05, 2012

Adoption Is...

...a miracle. Jeremy and I have both been thinking a lot lately about how incredible it is that Laina is here with us. Here. Home. The more we see and learn about international adoption, the more miraculous it seems that Laina is here with us. So many things could have gone differently.

...heartbreaking. It's the result of a broken world, and while the adoptive family is rejoicing, the birth mother is mourning, sick, in poverty, or worse. And while the adopted child is blessed with a family who loves her, she also lost her first family. Joy and grief.

...intense. The waiting, the crazy roller coaster, all the unknowns that come along with when will my baby be in my arms? More intense than anything I've been through and more intense than anything I hope to encounter for a long time.

...expensive. We're still fund-raising. Total, we have $10,000 in loans and $7000 (!!!!) in free-and-clear fundraising money. We applied for a matching grant and a regular grant and hope to hear some positive responses soon. We're doing a massive garage sale in late July. Our puzzle is over 1/4 of the way done, and if people sponsor the whole thing, we'd be so close to what we need. Which, as it turns out, is more than we thought we'd need: closer to $25-30k. Yikes. HOWEVER: God provided before. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He will provide again. And it's so, so, so worth it.

...incredible. Recently, the chickens and I (yes, I call them chickens. Affectionately.) headed over to the house of a friend who had just gotten home with her three children from Uganda. My boys played with her four-year-old twins, and Laina and my friend's sweet daughter Jovia played too. Laina and Jovia are only a few months apart in age, and oh my word it was so cute seeing them play. The incredible thing, to me anyway: I met these three kids when I was in Uganda. I held that sweet girl and played with those awesome boys. I took pictures for their waiting mama. And now they live close to us and my kids and hers play. Incredible.

...hard. We have been so blessed that attachment happened for us. We had no problem attaching to our daughter, and she attached to us as well. But not all families have the walk in the park we did. Some parents struggle (it actually has a name: post adoption depression). Some kids struggle (it's got a name too: attachment disorder). I admire so much the families who work at this. Attachment parenting is a lot of work when everything goes well (we know it well--we did a lot of learning about it beforehand, and it's the reason for some of our goofy rules. More on that in another post.). But when the road is full of bumps, potholes...the work is so intense. If you know families who are struggling this way, please support them. Care for them. Pray for them.

...beautiful. It's a beautiful way to build a family. It's a beautiful way to respond to God's call to care for the orphans of the world. It led us to the beautiful girl sleeping in the room down the hall. It will (I have faith!!) lead us to a beautiful baby being placed in my waiting arms.