Monday, June 25, 2007

Letter to my eldest daughter

Dear Anna,

This morning when you ran into the house from the backyard, and were about to run back outside, Mommy noticed you had a piece of toilet paper clutched in your fingers. When I asked you why, you said it was "nothing", with a gleam in your eye. Mommy kept asking, but you wouldn't tell her why, and that's when Mommy noticed something red on the toilet paper. Mommy needed to find out what it was, but you refused, elevating your hand high above your head, and even started to cry when I chased after you.

Sweet Anna, if you cut your finger on the big plant outside, PLEASE tell Mommy. I know you enjoy doing things all by yourself, and apparently now this includes secretly treating your own wounds, but Mommy should know so that we can use some Neosporin and a Sesame Street bandaid.

Love, Mommy

P.S. It is always an adventure raising such an independent little girl!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Just some complaining

Could I have picked a WORSE day to come down with a fever?!

--My friends just had a baby early this morning--and now I don't get to go see him. :(
--Kevin's family is coming into town this Tuesday night. I've got stuff to do!
--Some great friends that we don't get to see near enough were coming over tomorrow.

But here I sit at home on the couch, all achy and chilled. Good thing I've got a great husband picking up the slack, and newly released Season 8 of Seinfeld. Oh and four sweet kids that all wanted to cuddle with me for a lot of the day!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Fire destroys The Simple Way

I know some of you out there have been touched and moved by Shane Claiborne's Irresistable Revolution. Two days ago a warehouse fire in Philadelphia destroyed the Simple Way community center (home to the after school program, tshirt microbusiness and community arts center) and at least 8 families living in that neighborhood have also lost their homes. Shane and the other Simple Way member living at the Simple Way house lost everything as well.

If you can, check out the website and consider giving a donation that will not only help The Simple Way but also the 8 families who lost their homes. Let's keep Shane and his ministry in our prayers!

Five years ago today...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Answering Lindsey's questions :)

Lindsey posted some questions on her blog and I'm playing along. Feel free to copy and paste to your own blog, to play!

1. favorite candy peanut m&ms, toffee
2. favorite ice cream peppermint!!!!!!!! and anything at coldstone...
3.favorite book "there is no me without you" by melissa faye green, "irresistible revolution" by shane claiborne, "the good news about injustice" by gary haugen, "too small to ignore" by wess stafford, "the hiding place" by corrie ten boom. (wow what a nerd, but i love to read!)
4. favorite magazine martha stewart living, real simple
5. favorite memory from childhood times spent with friends laughing and being silly. lazy summer days spent at the community pool (shoutout to creston) with friends.
6. quality you most admire in your spouse and/ or friends kevin--his kind heart and acceptance of people. friends--when they can make me laugh, love on my kids, and are genuine
7. favorite way to spend your day around the house with the family, time with just kevin or with good friends
8. how may meals you eat out each week 0-1
9. how many kids you'd like to have lots, not sure exactly
10. how many traffic tickets you've had 1
11. best date ever basically anytime kevin and i are alone and i don't have to cook, whether it's having chinese food delivered after the kids go to bed and watching a movie, or going out.
12. favorite local eatery Rosa's, Firestone (and i don't even remember the last time i went either of those places!)
13. suggestions for a free, fun, family day beach, or feeding the ducks
14. one place you'd like to visit nazret, ethiopia (where my boys were born). i loved ethiopia and can't wait to go back.
15. favorite drink soda: dr pepper or root beer, water, adult beverage haha: midori sour, mudslide

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Conversations with Anna

Riding in the car, listening to a Tom Petty CD:

Anna: I can't sing.
Mommy: Anna, Mommy loves when you sing! You can totally sing!
Anna: Not like Tom Petty!

Then sitting at the dinner table last night, Kevin was singing "The Muffin Man" song to the kids, which was getting on my nerves, so I sang my own version to Kevin about how I wanted to kill the muffin man. Apparently Anna heard me because she said, "Don't kill the Muffin Man! He's a nice muffin man! " Then later in the bathtub I heard her singing "Please don't kill the Muffin Man..."

Kids! Gotta love 'em!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Large (ish) families: part 3

So a big part of parenting is training your children to behave appropriately. We do this through teaching them proper behavior, and discipline when necessary. I've found that having four kids so young has its pros and cons in this regard.

For example, today me and the kids were in Albertsons. Yosef was upset that Biniam and Anna started out in the fun "car" part of the kids cart, so he was crying his head off throughout much of the store--which is totally not okay. Had it just been me, him and say one other kid, I would have immediately left my cart, taken everyone out to the van and disciplined him. But that wouldn't work because the kid carts are not allowed out of the store. SO, I resorted to very sternly informing him that not only would he NOT get a turn today at the steering wheel, once we got to the car he would be in trouble.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and disappointed with how having this many so young can prevent me from doing what I want to do discipline-wise. I feel like maybe my kids would be better behaved in certain ways if there weren't so many of them in the toddler phase. So we do the best we can.

On the other hand, I see my kids learning stuff that might be harder to learn if they didn't have so many siblings. These kids look out for each other like you wouldn't believe. Biniam is always rounding up the sippy cups and doling them out to his brother and sister. Anna loves serving her brothers their dinner at the table. And just the other day during (what was supposed to be) naptime, I overheard this conversation coming from the boys' room:

(Biniam crying because apparently Yosef did something to make him mad)

Yosef: "I'm sorry Biniam, I'm sorry."
Biniam: (tearfully) "Thanks."
Yosef: "Can I give you a kiss?"
(Kissing sound)
Biniam: "Thanks."

SO, while I find some things are trickier, some things are better. The kids are able to learn first-hand what it means to care about each other, how to serve one another, etc., and hopefully these lessons will lead to kind hearts that love and serve the Lord!

Father's Day

Yesterday we went to Sunday School and church--and we were EARLY. This is a first for the Heldts! We relaxed at home afterwards and then went out to pizza (Playland Round Table) for dinner. The kids had a blast eating pizza and playing on the stinky play equipment.

I'm so happy my kids have such a good daddy. We found out we were expecting Anna when I was 21 and Kevin was 22--pretty young, and we'd only been married a year. From the moment he found out about the baby he was excited and eager to accept this profound blessing from the Lord. What a blessing to have him be such a source of support and joy during that time. Then a little later he boldly followed God's call and became the proud daddy of two 16 month old boys. Not too long after that he found out he was going to be the father of another baby girl!

I'm so grateful for all the diaper changing, tooth brushing, toy fixing, rough-housing, story-telling, cuddling and laughing he does with our kiddos. I'm well aware that being away from home 12.5 hours per day, and riding over an hour each way to work, is a lot. But he's a good provider, a good husband, and loves our kids "to bits." (Anna's favorite expression.) And he keeps me sane, and smiling. Raising our family is such a team-effort and I love that. Thanks Kev for everthing you do for our family!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Be still my heart!!!!

The Bangles are coming to the California Mid-State Fair. The concert is FREE. I am THERE.

Who's with me??????

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Beach day!

Yesterday the kids and I trekked to Avila to meet some friends--fun! It's a bit of an effort to get four kids ready for a day at the beach, but they had a blast. Digging in the sand, sticking toes in the water, and chasing birds make for a fun time if you're 2 or 3 years old! (As usual Kaitlyn was a great sport, dividing her time between being in the front carrier with Mommy or reclining in the jogging stroller.) After a long day in the sun we packed up, headed home, and my oldest three took a warm bubblebath. It's great to be a kid in the summertime!

I love how even in a huge group of kids, I'll sometimes look up to find my three choosing to play together!

Biniam is standing here with Claire and Sadie. I've been friends with their mommy (Rebekah) since THIRD GRADE! She is a total "forever friend" and my kids love playing with her girls.

This is Anna (on the left) with Claire.

"Just tagging along on another outing with my brothers and my sister. At least I get to wear a cute outfit."

Yosef digging away.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Me and my girl, and viva la mexico

So can I just say, I love this kid??? Anna is hilarious and zany, sweet and sassy, and tons of fun. Here she wouldn't stop giving me hugs and telling me she loved me, it was priceless!

Last night Kevin, me and the kids went to a Mexican restaurant here in town. Last month I'd been lamenting to our pediatrician (shoutout to Dr. Nunez) that we hadn't really found a good one in Santa Maria, and he said to stay away from the ones on Broadway because they serve "White people Mexican food", but that there were two on Blosser that are authentic and good. We pulled into the dirt parking lot and entered a smallish restaurant filled with people, mostly Mexican, and you could tell a lot of the men had just gotten off work and were hanging out. You should have seen it, people were falling all over themselves to say hi to our kids, it was awesome! The food WAS authentic and very good, and the atmosphere was great--really loud, everyone loved children and when we left, everyone called goodbye, etc. It felt like we were old friends! (Plus there was a big picture hanging on the wall of the restaurant's owner, George W. Bush, and my old boss Abel Maldonado--I figure if this place is good enough for the president, it's good enough for me! Incidentally I shook Bush's hand on that particular visit of his to the Central Coast.)

Any time I'm surrounded by some other culture I'm reminded of God's vastness and beauty. Isn't it amazing how we can all be so different and yet all be created in God's image? There is so much beauty in every culture if only we have eyes to see.

(This picture's of me and the kids reading some books this evening. Today was brutal, Anna wouldn't nap, no one wanted to share their toys. Grrrrrr.)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Large (ish) families: part 2

Okay so the reason I use the term "large-ish." Before becoming a part of the adoptive parents community (which is truly an honor btw), I thought a big family was 4 kids, and a huge family was 8 kids. No one had more than 8 kids, right????? (And the families with 8 kids were either Mormon or Catholic and usually homeschooled. Oh the joys of stereotyping.)

WELL may I just say that I now know a couple of families with more than 20 children? Nope, not a typo. The founder/head of our adoption agency for example has three birth children and adopted (I believe, I could be a little off) 18 children over the years. This woman is an all-around inspiration to me.

Anyway, now you can see why I don't feel really worthy of calling my family of four kids a large family, but most in our society probably consider that to be a lot of kids (and most days it feels like it is!)

I wanted to talk about my biggest fear in having a bunch of kids (besides the fear of losing my mind, which I probably already have!). I occasionally worry about not having enough love/attention to give each of my children as they get older. I don't want a child feeling like, Mom and Dad don't have time for me, don't care about me, etc. I want our family to feel close and I want to enjoy unique, individual relationships with each child. On the other hand I grew up an only child with parents who gave me plenty of attention, yet I remember those times as a teenager when you feel like nobody cares. So I don't think that is unique to kids in big families.

Maybe you already wonder how it's possible to properly love/parent/nurture so many so young at a time. How does it work? First, we don't do it perfectly. :) Second, we live a pretty darn simple life. The kids and I are home most of the time during the week (none of them go to preschool). Our simple outings are to Costco or Grandma's house or the nearby park. This summer Anna will be part of a weekly, 30 minute library program which I'm totally excited about. My kids play together and generally have a ball. I honestly don't get bored and I also feel like they do well with the structure and consistency that comes with the default of us being home, as opposed to living out of our car running lots of errands, eating fastfood and going to nonstop activities all the time.

(We do plan to send them to public school, so we won't be homeschooling. I used to want to homeschool and part of me still does, but I don't think so. I suppose that's another blog topic in and of itself!)

When Kaitlyn was born I mused that she was born into a completely different home than Anna was: Anna was born into a peaceful, calm environment, just her and Mom and Dad. Kaitlyn on the other hand was born into lots of noise, activity, and has to "share" us. BUT, then I saw how Biniam gently rocked her in her carseat when she was crying, saying "Shhh Kaitlyn, shhhh", or how Yosef kept attacking her with hugs, or the way Anna would pray every single meal/bedtime that Kaitlyn's foot would heal (she still does!), and insist on giving Kaitlyn a hug and kiss goodnight each night. And it occurred to me that little Kaitlyn was born to not just two loving parents but THREE adoring, doting siblings who think the world of her. What a lucky little girl!

(Will write some more about this whole big family thing.)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A large (ish) family: part 1

So it's no secret that not only do we have FOUR children, we anticipate having even MORE children. Oh, I know what you're thinking. Why do you want so many kids? Do you have a death wish? Who does that?!

I am an only child, so growing up, if a family had more than about three kids, it seemed huge to me!

And originally my little life-plan was to marry Kevin, finish college, give birth to a few kids after about five years, and call it a day. HA! God intervened with those plans in a major way when I got pregnant with Anna 11 months after our wedding. (This was a happy thing, we were thrilled, and someone as precious and "fearfully and wonderfully made" as Anna will NEVER be called an "accident"!!!!) After having Anna we thought, heck, being a parent is so amazing and this little baby such a gift, let's have a whole slew of them!

By this point Gary Haugen (I always give this guy shoutouts) and his work on behalf of the oppressed had so touched and impacted us that when Anna was a little over a year old, God pretty much told us, if Jesus cares about the orphans, why don't we? So we pursued the adoption of 16-month-old twins Yosef and Biniam, our Ethiopian sons. Four months after going to Ethiopia, God blessed us with another pregnancy, and sweet Kaitlyn is 3 months old today. Whew! Four kids in three years!

Okay so why would we want a bunch of kids? Adoption and childbirth are miraculous and sacred. Motherhood, priceless. God never promises (or even advocates) an easy, convenient life. He DOES however say I should care for orphans, love my family, be busy at home, that children are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. How many kids do we want? I don't know, but so long as there are children around the world needing mommies and daddies, I'll have a hard time saying, definitively, "we're done."

For right now though I like to say we're "at capacity" with our four: the older three need a lot of my energy/attention, and a three month old is a bit of work too (though totally easy compared to three rambunctious toddlers!) Plus we have some major life decisions to make at some point(read: the husband is tired of commuting.) But we know we are not done growing our family. I think about AHOPE (not a day goes by where I don't), or God's call on my life (how should my life look being a follower of Christ? How is it radically different?), or go to my adoptive friends' websites (Shana, Shelley, Mary, Avery and Heather, and the rest of you!), and find myself eagerly anticipating a return to Ethiopia for another child (or children.)

Anyway I thought I'd take a few posts to share our dreams, hopes, concerns, and thoughts on our "large-ish" family (and why that term is so relative!) Hopefully this'll help you know us Heldts better, and what we're all about.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Generous Orthodoxy

Currently reading this book by Brian McLaren. I love the way he writes and makes me think. He wrote this in regards to redefining Calvinism's TULIP (in favor of, as the title of the book says, a more generous orthodoxy):

To be chosen means to be "blessed to be a blessing", to be healed to heal, to be chosen to serve, to be enriched to enrich, to be taught to teach.

I love that! What a beautiful, humbling way to describe one of (to me) the most profound mysteries of God. I pray God will use me in loving and remaking this broken world.

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