Sunday, August 29, 2010


happy two year anniversary, Alex. in just two short years we have already had many adventures, including climbing a mountain, moving cross-country, traveling to south america, standing together to endure persecution for our beliefs, and taking in four children. i can truly say that i have loved every moment with you. i hope that this is only the beginning of many more adventures to come!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

overcome by exhaustion

i have been tired since we got the first two kiddos, but absolute exhaustion has characterized my past few days.  i dont even remember my day at work today.  i was literally delirious.

fortunately, my mom is with us now to help for the next two weeks.

by God's grace i have been pretty ok with a lack of time for myself, but i do miss getting to read the bible and to a lesser extent getting to go running.

remembering this quote has been a bit of an encouragement to me (thanks to my friend joe for sharing it with me)

Martyn Lloyd-Jones once spoke with a group of medical students who complained that in the midst of their training and the ferocious work hours they really didn’t even have time to read the Bible and have their devotions and so on. He bristled and said, “I am a doctor. I have been where you are. You have time for what you want to do.” After a long pause he said, “I make only one exception: the mother of preschool-aged children does not have time and emotional resources.”
It is important to recognize, too, that there are stages of life where you really don’t have time to do much, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Children will sap you. If you have three children under the age of six, forget serious reading unless you have the money for a nanny. When our youngest finally went off to kindergarten, we celebrated that day—I took my wife out for lunch. Only then could she get back into reading again. It’s the way life is. You have to be realistic.

i really miss reading.  but i am trusting God to bring me through until it can be a reality in my life again.

please pray that i could get some solid sleep.   the lack thereof is really really catching up to me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

random life updates

i am giving myself 5 minutes to write an update, and then i need to feed lovely girl, take the boys to the potty and head to bed!

*we have secured a house!!!!!!!!!!! PRAISE GOD!  i was starting to get a teeny bit nervous.  it is 3 bedrooms and a bathroom with a garage that we can convert into a little apartment for my mom when she moves here.  it has a lemon tree in the backyard!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (i have always wanted a house with a fruit tree).  also i will be allowed to plant a vegetable/herb garden (UPDATE: God is good!  it actually came with an herb garden!  they forgot to show it to us when they showed us the house).  i am hoping because of the good weather here that i can start at least some small things soon, and i wont have to wait until next spring.  i am so excited to have a washer and dryer, a yard for the kiddos and a larger place to have people over.  i am also VERY excited to not have a baby in our bedroom any more!!!  and to separate the brothers so that the littlest man can get back on a better sleep schedule (his brothers keep him up at night).

*the past few days have been much better with the kiddos.  the past two afternoons we have spent at an awesome little park by us, and they were laughing almost the whole time.  it warms my heart just to even think about it :)

*have started some informal preschooling with the oldest boy.  even since we have gotten him, i have noticed big improvements in his ability to identify colors and count!  my next goal is to work on letters.

*we have been SUPER blessed to have people coming over frequently to help out.  i am grateful beyond words. it is also super humbling.  more on that in a future post?

5 minutes is up.  more another night!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

i'm being watched

last night i had a very scary dream.  i dreamed that our social worker came over to our house and discovered that i accidentally left a knife out on one of our kitchen counters!!

as a foster mom, i cant shake this feeling of constantly being watched.  during our home study, every bit of my life was examined and scrutinized to determine if i would a worthy mother.  now that we have kids in the home,  i feel as though my every parenting action is scrutinized.

and this isn't too far from the truth.  we get feedback about every interaction we have with the kids in front of the social workers.  last week, we were criticized for letting the door almost close on one of the kids after leaving our agency's building.  i was questioned for letting our kids walk down our apartment hallway steps by themselves, without monitoring them closely enough.  they have suggested multiple times that we get kid leashes for them and often ask how well we are doing at handling all of them when we are out in public.  and yes, it was also pointed out to us the other day when we left a knife and a pair of scissors out on the counter.

furthermore, i have to report every bruise, cut and scrape that appears on their bodies (i have 3 boys under age 4... they get a LOT of minor injuries like this).  each time i feel guilty like i am doing something wrong... but it is because i take them to the park almost every day and i don't let them sit and watch movies all day like they used to!

i do understand why the social workers have to do all this.  but it still doesn't help me shake the feeling of being watched all day and all night.

one particular thing you can pray for is an observation that the county social worker (aka the one that doesn't like us) will be doing possibly sometime this week.  she is going to come over and literally determine whether or not she thinks i can handle 4 children at once.  if the answer is no, then they will take the older two boys away from us.

[don't get me started on the fact that doing this observation makes it seem as if alex is a non-existent parent.]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

update: life with 4 kiddos

today was awful.

literally one of the hardest, most stressful and wearing days i have ever had.

i was going to write a long blog about how awful it has been, but then i read one of alex's recent posts and decided not to be so negative (i have a sinful tendency toward negativity).  but upon thinking about it more, i do want to be honest about where i am at with things.

things have been rough since getting the other two boys.  it feels like i barely have any time to enjoy them (let alone get housework done!) amidst their fighting and bickering.  today i said that it feels like 75% of my time when they are awake is spent preventing them from hitting one another, mediating fights, teaching them to share or sitting with them in time out after they fight/hit.

maybe this will change, because alex told me tonight that i need to loosen up on my discipline.  but i'm not sure if it actually will change because i dont even correct them every time i see them fighting, because that i would probably require me to spend nearly 100% of my awake time correcting, teaching to share and not fight/hit.

today was especially hard because our social worker visited. she observed at least 10 minutes of me (unsuccessfully) trying to get them not to jump on the bed (they were particularly rowdy right then, i think because they knew that she was there to take my attention away from them).  that was really hard but then the oldest boy thought it would be funny to pick up his baby sister by the feet and drag her across the room.

i could share some more stories, but its getting late and i really want to get some sleep.  i will leave you with a request to pray for us.  or maybe just for me, because alex seems to be fine.  i feel completely overwhelmed, even though one of my best friends has been here for the past week and constantly helping.

i need wisdom in parenting.  i need sleep.  i need joy, patience and love.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

a peak at God's provision

God is sovereign.

this means that he rules above all, and every single thing that happens is according to his will.

today i was reflecting a little on God's purpose for my job (i work as a behavioral interventionist for children with autism) and how it prepared me in a big way for our current foster/adoption situation.

when we came to california, i needed a job.  any job.  unfortunately, my major (psychology) did not really lend itself to any job in particular.  i applied to receptionist positions, coffee shop jobs and hospital jobs.  there was one job that i applied to that would actually use my degree.  turns out, that was also the only place that wanted to hire me.  so less than two weeks after we moved here, i was a behavioral interventionist.

like i said, they were the only company who offered me a job, which is the main reason that i took it.  however, God has used my job to teach and influence me in numerous ways that have been a blessing and helpful to foster-parenthood.

1) my job has helped me become comfortable with kids  if you have known me for a while, you know the irony in me having four kids right now:  a year and a half ago, i would have nothing to do with kids.  last spring (as in 2009), God changed that in me and made me open to being a mother.  but i still didn't know how to relate to kids.  that is why God gave me the job he did.

2) my job has made me more understanding of and less afraid of children with special needs  two of our foster children are suspected to possibly have fetal alcohol syndrome.  if so, this will significantly impact their emotional, academic and social capabilities.  a year ago, this would have freaked me out.  today, i know it will be a challenge if that is truly the case, but it is not something foreign and scary.

3) my job has given me an understanding of developmental steps for kids i have a fairly good idea of the developmental stages for kids in regards to speech, fine and gross motor skills and independence.  when i interact with our kids, i can see where they are at with these things, and what their next step for development should be.

4) my job taught me about the importance of positive reinforcement  positive reinforcement is the idea that children will learn a behavior when they are positively reinforced (ie rewarded) for doing the right behavior.  some studies suggest that a behavior is learned better by positively reinforcing a positive behavior than by punishing a negative behavior (though i will say that i most definitely think that there is a time and place for punishment).  my job is 100% positive reinforcement all day, all the time.  we are told to pretty much never be negative, only be positive about all the good things a child is doing.  this has been hard for me to learn, because i tend to just focus on what is wrong.  however, God has used this to help me try to focus on what someone is doing right.

with our kiddos, i give them hugs, high-5's, kisses and verbal praise all day for everything i notice that they do right.  i really believe they need this way more than typical kiddos, because of the fact that they probably rarely got this in the home they grew up in.

5) my job taught me how to have fun with kids kids are sooooo easy to entertain.  the key is to make everything into either a game or a song.  i didn't know this before i started my job, but now i try to make every moment of interaction fun and silly.  when we wash our hands i sing a song.  when i change a diaper i give their feet and tummies raspberries.  i give lots of tickles. 

[the best part about singing songs to kids is that they don't know or care that you are totally making up the song on the spot, they still love it!!]

6) my job taught me to tolerate crying i have one girl that i have worked with since i started with my company.  when i started with her, it would not be unusual for her to tantrum for 20-30 minutes of our 1 1/2 session.  this was so stressful!  i would be sweating and shaking and doing anything i could to make her stop.

eventually i learned that crying is a natual thing, and children have to learn to calm themselves, and our role is to assist in that.  but sometimes when we place challanging demands on children, they will cry and we just have to be ok with that.

our kiddos cry a lot. and why not?  first they were neglected, and then they were torn from the only familiar thing that they had (and the older boys have been torn twice).  fortunately, my job has prepared me for lots of crying (although, it still sets me on edge when the crying is very loud or prolonged).

[sidenote: i have found it helps me to stay calm if i sing to them when they cry, though it doesn't necessarily seem to help them much]

5) my job has taught me how to use every moment to teach and train a child in effect, my job is to do things the parents really should be doing in the lives of these children with autism (i am not saying that the parents are bad and i have to take over for them, merely that my role is very similar to what the parent should be or is alreadying doing in the life of that child)

one of those things is to use everyday moments to teach and develop.  for example, today we went on a walk.  during the walk, we named the colors of all the flowers we saw.  at the beginning i had to give them almost all of the answers.  but by the end (we were walking for almost an hour, so plenty of time to practice!) they were able to name a few all on their own!

another example is taking them to the park frequently.  this is helping to make them healthy and to develop their gross motor skills.

6) my job has taught me the importance of teaching incremental independence to children there is no way that i could expect our kids to cook their own meals or do their own laundry right now.  but there are a few small things they can learn how to do right now, like put on their velcro shoes, wash their hands, and put their bibs in the right place after dinner.  it is taking me much longer each day to teach them how to do these things than if i just did it all myself, but it is like an investment.  not only is this giving them confidence to be able to do things by themselves, it will also save me time in the long run when they are learning how to take care of themselves in small (and increasingly larger) ways.

all i can say is praise God for how he has used my job to help me parent.

[the only other thing i can say is Lord have mercy on me, because i have no idea how to be a parent.]

Friday, August 13, 2010

an emotional day and whole chickens

i should be writing about how today was one of the most stressful and emotional days that i have had in a long, long time (i will even admit that i cried a little today... and i cant remember the last time i cried. it was probably soon after we moved to cali).  but alex already wrote about that, and i don't know if i could add much to what he said.

for some reason i feel inspired to write a blog about why i have chosen to switch to start using whole chickens.  maybe it because of despite everything that happened today, at the end of the day i am a mom, and being a mom i have to think about things like preparing chicken for my family.

"she rises while it is yet night
   and provides food for her household" proverbs 31:15

after everyone went to bed, i was up late de-boning a chicken, and thinking about how happy i have been with the decision that i made several months ago to only buy whole chickens from now on (rather than individual cuts).

i want to share with you my reasons here, and i hope that you too might make this decision that i see as very wise.

1) because its frugal.  after doing a lot of research recently, i am firmly convinced that the best decision i can make as the household manager for my family is to buy organic meat.  in my view, it is much more important to get organic meat than to get organic produce.

unfortunately, organic meat is very expensive.  especially the cuts that are in higher demand, such as the boneless skinless breast meat, which goes for about $6.99/lb here.  i pay just $2.50/lb for a whole chicken.  fortunately, i am now convinced that the whole chicken is actually more nutritious than just the breast meat, which works out to our favor financially as well.

2) because it is more nutritious. i used to be a 100% boneless skinless chicken breast gal.  but we definitely cant afford that now that we are eating organic.  however, after doing more research i am not as afraid of animal fat as i once was, and i even view it as a healthy part of our diet.  so, fortunately for me, since most americans are still scared of animal fat, i benefit because i get the fattier cuts (ie everything that is included with a whole chicken besides the breasts) for much cheaper.  furthermore, i get the added nutrition of the whole chicken.

i make bone broth with my leftover bones (which is cooking right now, after i de-boned the chicken earlier), which is very, very nutritious.  in fact, i am sad for all of those years that i avoided the bones, because i was missing out on a lot of good stuff.  bone broth is very high in calcium.  it also has nutrients that are good for joints.  in addition, it contains essential amino acids that help the body use the protein in the chicken more effectively.

furthermore, whole chickens come with the organ meat, which contains much higher levels of nutrients than the other parts of the chicken.  i just mix this in with the other meat when i make soups and stir fries and it is not even noticeable. 

3) because it is greener. (and as i have posted before, i believe that doing things that are good for the environment honors God).  chickens have been bred to have abnormally large amounts of breast meat, to the point that many adult chickens on a non-organic chicken farm cannot even walk because their breasts are so big. this is unnatural and not right to make chickens live this way (and yes, i believe that it is biblical to care about the well-being of animals: proverbs 12:10 "whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast")

furthermore, the best thing for the environment is to use all of the products we take from it.  formerly, when i would only eat chicken breasts, i was requiring that many chickens be killed in order to satisfy my need.  this meant that lots of other parts of the chicken went to waste, so to say, since i only wanted one part (ok, i know that the other parts were sold for cheaper prices to encourage people to buy them in our market economy, and that people would end up buying and eating the other parts.  but still the point remains that overall, more chickens have to be produced to satisfy the demand for that once specific cut).  i am glad to now be using most of the chicken that i require to be killed for my need.

update: i forgot to include in my original post  that whole chickens also require less packaging, which is also greener.

4.) because it is delicious.  since we have switched to organic, i have had to buy conventional chicken here and there when the budget is tight.  i definitely notice a difference in taste, which surprised me!  i really didn't think i would notice a difference.  in fact, conventional chicken makes my stomach turn a little, but i manage to eat it.

furthermore, i have discovered that using meat from all parts of a chicken makes the flavor of the dish more complex and tasty.  our meals taste so much better now that i use whole chickens!

next time you are at the store, i challenge you to buy a whole organic chicken!  i bet you will be instantly hooked, as i was.  :)

[ N.B.: its late and i am tired, so i didn't bother to link to all the websites that i could about why organic meat is more important than organic produce, and the nutrition in whole chickens, etc.  but if you are interested to read the things that i did in my research, send me a message and i am more than happy to point you there. ]

if you are a mother of young children like me...

then you may benefit from this.  and if you aren't a mother (or father) of young children yet, you will still benefit to learn for the future.

important things to keep in mind as a busy mother:

1.    Preach the gospel to yourself (pt. one and two)
2.    Prize your husband (pt. one and two)
3.    Parent all the time (pt. one, two and three)
4.    Pay attention (pt. one, two and three)
5.    Pursue help in parenting.

[HT: girltalk]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

are you humble enough to be carefree?

this is probably my favorite john piper sermon ever, and definitely in my top 3 sermons of all time.

i needed to re-listen to it again today.  and i commend it to you as well.

are you humble enough to be carefree? by john piper

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

i dont have much time to post these days. and i am ok with that.

if you aren't aware, my husband and i have been pursuing adoption for a while. three weeks ago tomorrow, we got two amazingly beautiful kiddos, whom i will refer to as lovely girl (if you know her, you know why she has this nickname!) and little man.  they are 6 months old and 18 months old, respectively.  two weeks ago, we decided to also take in their two older brothers, who are 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 years old (they will come to live with us on friday).

life has been crazy.  i have barely been able do anything fun or relaxing, as my days have been taken up with loving on the kiddos, taking them to their million and one appointments, looking for a new place to live and managing our household (laundry, dishes, cooking, etc).  it seems that it was good timing that God reminded me of a good quote two days before we got the kids: "when christ calls a man, he bids him come and die"

God is using this to help me die to myself.  in some ways it is painful.  in some ways it is enjoyable.

some days i am amazed at the patience he gives me (the thing that usually tries my patience the most is the fact that our little man cries a lot. almost any time you are not giving him direct attention.  and also many times you are giving him direct attention.  however, this is getting better slowly).  other days, i am grieved by how little patience i have.

some days i marvel over the fact that i get to cook and clean and develop my kiddos with the best hours of my day (all things that i highly enjoy).  other days, i feel like i cant wake up tomorrow and repeat the whole process again.

some days i am joyful, and wonder that God would let us be a part of such a ministry.  other days i am prideful, and sinfully feel sorry for myself.

some days i am amazed at God's provision, and other days, i cannot calm the anxiety over that which he has chosen not to provide yet.

as you read this, i implore you to look away from your computer and pray for me and for us.  we are in desperate need of God's grace right now. i dont think i have ever been more aware of that fact as i have been in the past few weeks.  many people have told us we are crazy to take on the other two boys (some even told us that taking two in the first place way pretty bold!).  yes, it is crazy if we are doing it on our own.  but we cant do it on our own, and that is why i ask for your prayers for us.  you can join us in praying:

*that God's spirit would control us and fill us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

*that he would provide us with a place to rent with a yard, enough room for 7 (possibly 8) people, and within our price range.

*that jesus would be our firm foundation in the midst of much instability and change (new job for alex, new family, moving to a new house, etc).

*that Alex's and my relationship would stay rock solid in the midst of all of this.

*that we would have the wisdom to be good parents to these children, and love them as our Father loves us.

*for lots of energy! (i usually hate naps, but i have wanted one every day since we got the kids.  and i haven't taken one yet.)

*that He would raise up people to come over on a regular basis help us out (i have found that two hands are not enough to manage two kids.  i don't even want to think about how hard its going to be with four!).

thank you!