Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Virtue or preference?

Okay this is a really random subject to blog on but I have no other ideas and I haven't blogged in awhile. It seems like there are lots of things we Christians ascribe virtue to that I wonder, are they REALLY virtuous in and of themselves? Or do we make a personal preference virtuous (and project it on others) to make ourselves feel good?

(I told you it was random!)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Our adoption trip

I just threw together this slideshow of our Ethiopia trip. I'm in awe of how far God has brought my little boys since I first met them a little over a year ago! Enjoy!


(Or something like that. :) )

Well my friends, in unprecedented news,


That's right, we are now the proud owners of a 2006 Toyota Sienna. Did I ever think I'd be so jazzed about having a minivan? No, but that was before I was hauling my kids around in a 1988 Lincoln Towncar the size of Texas!
Our sweet friends Troy and Becky delivered the car to us last night--thanks guys! (That's Troy looking oh-so-cool in the driver's seat.) It's so roomy inside! No more sitting three across in the front seat, Kaitlyn in her carseat in the middle, where the driver has to push her over to steer. No more being stuffed like sardines in a car with a busted air conditioner. No more being known as the couple at church that drives that beat-up old beast of a car. I can now have the guy at Albertsons help me out with my groceries and be able to hold my head up high! No more sitting in the church parking lot and having a woman we don't know come over to us and incredulously ask, "How many kids are you fitting in that car?!"

God is good and we feel very blessed to have gotten a steal of a deal. Check out Web Cars and Trucks, which is a local Christian business we purchased the van from. (We know the owner as well as the manager. It's part of a great non-profit organization mentoring young men.)

So...anybody wanna buy a 1988 Lincoln Towncar? :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Stay tuned...

...for a very exciting announcement tomorrow! You won't want to miss this...perhaps the biggest Heldt Family news EVER. (No we're not pregnant or adopting--that wouldn't really be big news for us now would it?)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Straight talk about our issues in adoption

Are you adopting or thinking about it? People always want to know two things: were our kids healthy when we got them and have they had any behavioral issues? (Sadly I think a lot of people are afraid to adopt/foster a child because of the potential for these things.) SO I'm going to share about what our experience has been. Every experience is different but I think ours is probably pretty typical.

Okay so the health. Our boys were totally healthy by third-world standards. When we got them, both boys had lice and giardia (common parasite.) This meant using lice shampoo and shaving their heads (but not before I got lice too and freaked out and chopped off a bunch of my hair, ugh). Giardia meant changing lots and lots of horrible, stinky, MESSY diapers (quite an adventure on a 30 hour flight home), collecting lots of stool samples, and finally getting them treated for it (oral medicine.) But not before both Kevin and I caught it. Yuck! Biniam had two ear infections when we got him as well. Antibiotics did the trick for getting rid of those. Biniam also had some developmental delay, as he wasn't walking yet. He's totally caught up to Yosef though (on his own, we didn't get him help or anything) and developmentally they're right on track!

Behavior issues? For the first several weeks Yosef would cry mournfully in his sleep. It was the saddest thing. Biniam would also be upset at night, so we'd stick them in bed with us to comfort them. This went away after awhile. (I HIGHLY recommend utilizing attachment-parenting methods for adopted children, like "baby wearing" and co-sleeping, lots of touching, etc). Biniam had some psychological issues with food. If he saw food he'd scream and cry at the top of his lungs until you gave him some--even if he'd just eaten and was full. This could be really frustrating and draining, as he'd see me start making breakfast and become totally inconsolable until it was ready for him to eat. This lasted until oh, about a couple of months ago. (So over a year from when we got him.) He still has some quirks when it comes to food, like if i have something for the boys to share and break it in half, he gets really upset, as if he's not getting enough or something. But he has come SUCH a long way.

Overall that's been our experience. If you're adopting a child from a third-world country, expect that they will have lice and parasites, and remember that bonding and attachment take time. Read up on attachment and get your child in to the doctor within a few days of coming home for a checkup. Basically, going into this with your eyes wide open is key. Whatever you do, DON'T expect things to be picture-perfect, but that God will be faithful.

Now when I look back on those early months with our sons I'm amazed at how far they've come. I also remember the joy we shared in those times and how God sustained us, because it was difficult.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday with the Heldts

So this was the scene at our house this morning. The kids LOVE Saturdays because Saturdays mean that Daddy's home.

The kids love cuddling with Daddy in bed.

Another common scene in our home, Biniam and Yosef about to give Kaitlyn hugs and kisses. (I often reflect on how loved Kaitlyn is! In addition to two parents who love her, she's got a sister and two brothers who can't get enough of her!)

This morning we got up early and got going. We met two dear friends of mine from high school, and one of their husbands, for breakfast (they were in town for a motorcycle show.) One of my friends had her two precious daughters with her, so all in all there were 5 adults and 6 kids! All the kids did great!

After breakfast, they headed off to the fairgrounds for the show and we headed to Sears to get the kids' pictures taken. I think we got some cute ones.

Tonight we're just hanging out at home, and we have church tomor
row. Hope you had a great Saturday!

Friday, May 18, 2007

7 Meme

Okay I, like Lindsey, have no clue what "meme" actually means (or even how you pronounce it. I have done a meme before though.) Nevertheless, I've been tagged by Kristen, who's been leaving comments on everyone's blog telling them they're tagged. (Seriously it cracked me up today, checking each friend's blog only to find Kristen's "You've been tagged, check it out!" message. Heehee!)

Here are 7 random facts about me:

1.) I'm an only child.
2.) I wish I had the guts to get a nose ring. I love them but I'm not sure that I could pull it off. (Maybe this is some sort of pre-cursor to a mid-life crisis.)
3.) I hate scary amusement-park rides and refuse to go on them.
4.) I get a real kick out of "Days of Our Lives" and tune in every now and again. Kristen and I used to get together for lunch and watch it--good times!
5.) I am a complete klutz. For example, I worked at Taco Bell one summer in high school and refused to spend the money to buy special slip-proof shoes. (When water and grease mix it's rather slippery so they require you to buy the shoes). I was picking up the trays from out in the "dining area" and all of a sudden I totally ate it, the trays went flying, I was on my back. YES!
6.) I hope to one day tour a morgue. I'm totally serious.
7.) I can't stand my thick, wavy hair and I pray that someday the chi straightening process will cost less than $500.

I'm supposed to tag 7 people. Sooooo...

True personalities captured

This picture needs no words. It speaks volumes. This is Yosef, and this is Anna. (FYI, that's Anna making her goofy face, not an upset face. Though I do have some photos of that too.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Following the Pied Piper

So I first heard about John Piper a couple years ago. Apparently he's all the rage! I have a few close friends who are big fans, and I think our church is pretty into him. Myself, not as much. I do own an excellent book written by his wife, Noel. I started "Desiring God" but didn't finish, and some of his ideas I admit I'm not too into.

It's funny how there are certain Christian authors/pastors/speakers at any given time that are ultra popular with certain groups. Among some, it's Piper. Among others, it's Brian McLaren and Donald Miller. Still others, Elizabeth George and Beth Moore and James Dobson.

I think it's interesting how we kind of latch onto a school of thought and the spokespeople for that school of thought, or I guess sometimes we do it in the reverse order. Some of these spokespeople are more acceptable in some groups than in others. For example, at my church I'd feel much more comfortable admitting I read "Beautiful in God's Eyes" by Elizabeth George than "The Secret Message of Jesus" by Brian McLaren. At an emergent church, the opposite would probably be true. FYI I've read both books, and enjoyed both of them, and disagreed with aspects of both of them. (There Lara, the McLaren blog-ice has been broken! :) )

My favorite Christian thinker/author of all time is CS Lewis. I first read "Mere Christianity" in college (thanks to Kevin, president of the CS Lewis fan club, for the recommendation and book loan--what a good boyfriend!) and have read a few more of his books since. I love his thoughts on most things, his ability to be content with leaving mystery in the Bible and not having to understand everything, the things God didn't make explicit and that Christians like to argue about. (A great Lewis-ism, referring to the Lord's Supper: "The command, after all, was Take, eat: not Take, understand..." I love that!). Current Christian leaders/authors I really enjoy or admire are Gary Haugen, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, Philip Yancey, Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne, Rick Warren (who's doing some sweet things in Rwanda). No women on here, kind of weird, maybe I should branch out. :) All the people I just listed are big proponents of missional Christianity. Some are tied to the emergent church. Most would be considered "liberal" compared to, say, James Dobson.

I was emailing with my friend (a big Piper fan) who referred to herself as a "bandwaggoner", which I thought was a great term! (Shoutout to Rebekah!) I think that's all of us. We gravitate towards authors/thinkers who read the Bible in such a way that resonates with us, or inspires us, or that just plain makes sense to us. It's interesting how each of our goals as Christians is to live our lives for Jesus, yet that can look so different for each of us, or have a different focus for each of us. I obviously gravitate towards a certain type of book/leader while others enjoy something else. (YES, I am a TOTAL bookworm!)

Whose "bandwagon" are you on? In other words, what type of thing or who inspires/impresses you? Why?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mothers Day, crazy toddlers and neurotic parenting

Sunday was Kaitlyn's baby dedication at church. It was nice to have her prayed for and presented to the congregation. Kevin, me, and the three older kids (plus Kaitlyn of course) all stood up front as Pastor Tim prayed for her and we said we'd raise her to know the Lord, etc.

Anna, Yosef and Biniam all stood very still and quiet during our portion of the dedication. However, at some point during one of the other baby's dedications, they decided they'd had enough and that they wanted to explore the stage. Fortunately they weren't loud, just antsy and UNfortunately, we were outnumbered and poor Kevin was having to hold Kaitlyn too. So finally we just grabbed the kids and bolted for the door. I was SO embarrassed! But you can't yell, give a time-out, or any other form of discipline when you're up in front of a couple hundred people in church! And I think the kids knew this. Bummer. (Plus they were in "Grandma and Grandpa mode", as we'd been staying at their house, so they were tired and nutty.)

It's pretty crazy how you feel like at church everyone's constantly judging you, your kids and your parenting (and I'm sure some people are. But I wish they wouldn't). I remember Mary had a really great blogpost once about how she felt the pressure that anytime she was out, her kids were posterchildren for adoption. I feel that pressure too. Like if my kids aren't perfect, people won't want to adopt, or they'll think we have no business having so many kids so young. "They're going to think my kids are monsters. They'll think I'm a permissive parent. They'll think we're not raising them properly. They'll think we're bad Christians." YUCK! I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm not a perfect mom and my kids are not perfect kids! And at the end of the day, I think our little family is doing alright. My kids are generally polite, good natured, and sweet. They have their "toddler moments" and we do the best we can. We mess up all the time. Praise be to God that He loves me and my kids and you and your kids regardless of our mistakes!

Just another day in the life with a three year old, 2 two year olds, and a two month old I guess...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Nature vs. nurture

Okay this post is by request (if anyone ever has any questions about adoption PLEASE feel free to ask). Lara asked me to blog about how our sons are like us, as opposed to not like us. In other words, will you be able to essentially see yourself in your adopted child?

I definitely think realistically everyone is a little of both. We're born with a temperament but then I also think we're greatly a product of our environment. I look at each of my three older kids and can see ways in which they're like Kevin or I, and different.
Anna for example is easy-going, but stubborn. She gets the stubborn streak from me.
And Biniam TOTALLY reminds me of my dad!!! We always say they must have a genetic link somehow. My dad is the ultimate obsessive compulsive cleaner (ie if you finish your drink and leave your glass for two seconds, it's gauranteed to be sitting in the dishwasher when you come back for it!) Well, guess what, so is Biniam! He loves to straighten rugs, pick things up, I'll barely take my last bite of something before he grabs my plate to take it to the counter! He also likes to walk around with his hands clasped behind his back (we say he likes to "supervise.") This is also just like how my dad stands! It's honestly really eerie. My dad is also probably his favorite person in the world. They have a really special connection, it's priceless.

The two children with the most similar personalities to each other (taking into account gender differences) would probably have to be Biniam and Anna, NOT Biniam and Yosef! Bin and Anna are both independent, not super sensitive, and both seem to have great senses of humor. Yosef is more the happy go lucky, "I'll laugh at everything" type, who also happens to be a bit sensitive. We think as they get older, Anna and Biniam will be making the jokes, and Yosef will be the one laughing. There are definitely major similarities between Yosef and Biniam (they're both much more compliant than Anna, less emotional overall, need less sleep and tend to have this instinct to look out for each other, but some of that is gender related I think. And the instinct to look out for their siblings, I wonder if that is "nurture" from their orphanage days somehow?)

The kids have certain things they say that they pick up from each other. I don't know if this will translate into mannerisms too or not. In all honesty I don't see Anna using mannerisms/expressions that remind me of Kevin and I, nor do I think she looks like us; we always say she is SO her own person! In addition, our desire is for our sons to be able to be "culturally Black." Will they seem less like our sons if they become culturally Black? Honestly, I don't think so. What makes a child feel like your child? Their looks? Their personality? I sure don't think so. I think this is one of the beautiful mysteries of the gift of parenthood. The way God knits your hearts together and grows you as a family. The way He gives you a child to love, whether through birth or adoption, and how that child is truly unique, but at the same time, your child. Many people doubt this (why do you think European adoptions so popular among Whites? Or why Caucasian infants are in such high demand for adoption in this country?) It is a subtle shift but I think it's the difference between seeing a child as a gift vs. a right, as a blessing vs. a given.

This has been really interesting to think through. I will close by saying that having a child not genetically related to you is really pretty amazing. Getting to know them is like unwrapping a wonderful gift. It is so exciting to think about what they'll be good at, what they'll be like, and it's a great reminder that parenting is not about molding a child into your likeness. Our kids are not extensions of us; they are their own individual, unique person, whether born to us or not. I suppose the hope is to take that unique temperament and cherish it and nurture it and guide it so that the child can reach his or her unique, God-given potential.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Talking adoption with my kids

So when it comes to the day to day, my sons' past tends to feel distant and intangible to me. During my daily Bible time with the kids though, I've been praying for Yosef and Biniam's first mommy. The first time I did this, after the prayer, Anna asked about their first mommy, what that meant. Wow! This was the first time she has shown any awareness of/interest in the boys' adoption. (She knows they came from Ethiopia, but I wasn't sure if she knew what that even meant.) SO we had a talk about how Yosef and Biniam grew inside a different mommy, in Ethiopia, who is very sick and therefore can't care for them, so now we have the joy of having them in our family.

Anna totally "gets" it, at least to the degree that a three year old can! Last night she informed Daddy when he came home that Yosef and Biniam grew in a different mommy (when he asked what her name was, Anna was even able to tell him), and that she is sick. Somehow this is all feeling very real to me now, and I even felt a bit emotional about it. I feel like I'm entering a new phase with the kids, in that our boys' adoption is out in the open and something that we talk about. It's making me more aware that their birth mother is a real person who had to make the decision to give her twins away, and it's making me think about their older sister, presumably still with the mother. My heart breaks for this woman and her daughter.

Kaitlyn's birth has been a key part of discussing this, because we talked so much about her growing in Mommy's tummy, and about how Anna also grew in Mommy's tummy. At any rate, it feels like we're entering new territory here. Yosef and Biniam still don't seem aware of any of this, but in time that will come too. I pray that God will give me the right words to say at the right times.

Blood Diamond

Kevin and I just rented this movie (gotta love the Monday $1 new release rentals at Albertsons!) It was excellent, disturbing, heart warming, depressing, well-done and appalling, all at the same time. If you haven't heard of it, it's a story that takes place during Sierra Leone's 1990 civil war, and is about conflict diamonds. The story follows a black African fisherman and a white African diamond smuggler.

The most disturbing aspect of the movie was by far the child soldiers. There's something like 200,000 child soldiers in Africa right now. Rebel groups will abduct children, abuse and essentially brainwash them, hand them a machine gun and force them to kill.

Anyway I'd encourage everyone to see the movie and if you are interested in more information about conflict diamonds, you can check out this website. A sad world we live in to be sure, and hopefully more films like this can be made so that people like you and me can know how to pray and how to help!

Monday, May 07, 2007

A future in the fashion industry?

Today the weather was really warm, and so the kids and I were preparing to go spend our morning in the backyard. After our shower (yes, I showered today with three toddlers), I put on a comfy pair of black shorts and a grey tshirt (don't know about you other moms but when I'm home all day and we're going to be outside, I go for the comfort factor! Plus most of my clothes still don't fit again yet.) After I put my clothes on, Anna said,

"Mommy, your clothes don't match."

"What? Why don't they match?"

"You've got black shorts and a grey shirt. They don't match."

Wow. Only three years old and she's telling me that my clothes are uncool! I thought this didn't happen until your kid was a teenager! (Anna also called me a T-Rex the other day, but I'm pretty sure it was because she was playing pretend. Or at least that's what I've been telling myself!)

Friday, May 04, 2007

The birds and the bees, 3 year old style

A few minutes ago I was changing Kaitlyn's diaper with Anna looking on.

Anna: "I've got one like baby, I've got one like that." (Pulls pants down.) "See?"
Me: "Yes Anna, you have a peepee like baby's."
Anna: "And brothers have a neat string peepee!"

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

My Wednesday

I am really enjoying this warm weather. Today I got most of my housework done in the morning and then the kids and I spent a long time outside. Anna has one of those Red Flyer tricycles from her Grandma and Grandpa Heldt that she and the boys like to play on. We did that for awhile, had granola bars for a snack and then came inside for "Bible time".

I've started doing this each day with the kids and am really excited about it. We all sit down on the floor and read a Bible story out of a children's Bible, sing a couple of Sunday School songs, and pray. Today we read about Jesus healing Bartamaeus, sang "Jesus Loves Me" and "Deep and Wide", and prayed about different things (the kids we sponsor, Yosef and Biniam's first mommy, Kaitlyn's foot, Daddy at work). I asked Anna if there was anything else she wanted to pray about (she'd initiated praying for the foot) and she said, "Andy!" So Mr. Gibson, you were prayed for today.

Then later the kids helped me make chocolate chip cookies for Growth Group tonight (sorry, I know we had cookies last week! Oh and don't worry, the kids didn't directly touch any of it. :) ) They really enjoyed getting to dump the ingredients into the mixing bowl, and of course got to have a little dough as well. (Saving the mixing bowl and beater for Daddy of course!)

It can be really hard being a "purposeful" parent sometimes--I find myself so drained of energy that I don't always make time to do purposeful, structured stuff with my kids. Which stinks because when I do, I so enjoy it!

Looking forward to seeing the Gibsons and Hawkins' tonight. (What are some fun purposeful things you do with your kids????)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Our weekend

Taking a break from my usual random musings on life to share about our weekend. Nothing exciting but it's what we did. Kevin has every other Friday off, and he had this past Friday off, so that day we got stuff done around the house. Saturday morning I made vanilla crepes for breakfast--yum! We had them with powdered sugar and butter and they were super good. (I try to make something fun for breakfast each Saturday; usually it's pancakes but I am branching out a little. Last week was French toast and now this past Saturday crepes.)

Then we headed out to the backyard to enjoy the beautiful sunshine! The weather was wonderful. The kids had a blast drawing with their sidewalk chalk from Grandma and Grandpa Perruzzi, and Kevin organized races for them (the kids love to race!)

Sunday we stayed home from church (shhhh!) because that evening we were going to a church banquet and it would have been a bit much for the kids to go up to SLO twice (they would have had abbreviated naps and that wouldn't have been good!) We read some Bible stories with the kids, sang some songs and just hung out. Got some more housework done and then late afternoon headed up to SLO. At the banquet (I love Madonna Inn cake!) we got to sit with Andy and Jim but no Troy and Becky (they were at another table). Or Jeannett, who remains the sole Santa Maria growth group member who has not attended anything at the Madonna expo. :)
So that's it. What do all of you enjoy doing on the weekends with your kids????

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