Saturday, December 27, 2008


Sorry for disappearing...I just KNOW all of you have spent your Christmas thinking about my blog and wondering why I haven't been posting...:)

Anyway, we are in California again, spending precious time with dear family and friends.  It's been 8 months since we left, and coming back has been a little surreal.  This doesn't feel like "home" anymore...though I'm not sure Denver does either...hmmm.  Anyway, we're so happy to be here and are about to head out to hang out and play games with Mike and Kristen!  (Boys, Kristen and I will NOT be beat at Pepper.  We will not.  I am sure of it.)

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas.  I'm sure I'll share more about our time here once we get home!   

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Number of the day

I am so, so excited to share that today's number of the day corresponds to...the number of children we have! Because we're having a baby!

I'm about 8 weeks pregnant. I had an ultrasound yesterday and got to see the sweet little baby, and the heartbeat pounding away. Everything looked good, though the baby was measuring small (interestingly so did Anna, and by about the same amount), and apparently I have a subchorionic hemorrhage. Bummer. Usually they resolve on their own without causing a problem, though sometimes not, so of course we're praying that everything will be fine. The doctor DID say she wouldn't expect the baby (SHE used the word "fetus", but I will say baby) to have such a good strong heartbeat if something was amiss, so that is good I guess.

So far this has been the easiest of my pregnancies, although I am SO TIRED and pretty emotional too. Thankfully I'm not sick, but the exhaustion and grouchiness are no picnic either. :)

Normally we wouldn't share our news until later (for various reasons that maybe I'll blog about later), but I am seriously showing (and gaining weight, ugh) already--as in by about 10 a.m., I look 7 months pregnant. And my mom, who must have radar when it comes to such things, was suspicious when she called yesterday only to have Kevin answer the phone and say I was at the doctor's. :)

Anyway, we're so excited about this latest blessing! Please pray with us for this sweet little one!

Monday, December 15, 2008


A friend of mine just posted this on her blog. I love what Dawn has to say about creativity and independence. (And her kids are really cute! :) )

The degree to which I care about how people see me affects how I parent. And I think it is so wise to give kids the freedom to express themselves in this way. ALL FOUR of my kids are SO different from one another...including my twin sons...and I want my home to encourage and enhance their individual personalities and differences, not suppress them. I don't want four little Heldt clones running around! Kevin and I decided really early on that our goal as parents is NOT to mold our children into who WE think they should be, or into people just like us. Instead we want to take who Jesus made them to be and train them up to be the best they can be. Anyway, I just really loved what this post had to say and thought I would share!

Here are a few pictures of some "interesting" getups that Anna has come up with over the past few years (I suppose this is more in the category of "dress-up" as opposed to choosing an outfit for the day...but you get the picture. :) ):

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sweet success

Well today went SO much better than any day in recent history, nap-wise and kid-wise. For TWO FULL HOURS my home was quiet. And peaceful. I celebrated by having some eggnog and cookies all by myself in the middle of the day. And then I went and cleaned my kitchen. :)

Tonight is "TV night" in our household--meaning it's the one night during the week where we watch a half-hour TV show. I heart "The Office"!

So yeah, in case you missed it,

quiet kids + seasonal sugary delights + sparkling countertops = a great day!

An Oprah moment?

I love when Michael Scott refers to something as "an Oprah moment."

Anyway, I think I may have just had one. Lately I have really felt overwhelmed and discouraged by the fact that my three older kids don't really nap anymore. (Biniam WILL nap, but not in his room with his brother). I really needed that couple of hours in my day where my home was quiet and I was off-duty in terms of mediating squabbles and fielding the requests of small children.

Add to the lack of napping the fact that my kids have not been getting along too well lately. :( Anyway, I was im'ing about this with my sweet, wise friend Angela yesterday and she had some great ideas!!! (Angela has four little ones too!)

So this morning, I directed each of the older three kids to choose some toys and go play in their own spot. Anna and Yosef each went to a different bedroom, and Biniam ran around with Kaitlyn. SO nice, my home was actually fight-free and I felt like I could breathe. And starting today, I'm reinventing naptime around here. It will now be called "quiet time" and I will set a timer for 2 hours. Biniam will nap in my room, Kaitlyn will nap in the girls' room, Yosef can play/look at books quietly in the boys' room, and Anna can play/look at books quietly in the main room of the basement. When the timer goes off, they can get up, but not until then.

We'll see how it works. Thank you SO MUCH Angela for the wisdom and for contributing towards my Oprah Moment!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jesus and the stranger at the library

Today the kids and I were checking out books from the library (after digging our van out from under large amounts of snow and ice). As we turned to leave, a woman behind us also checking out books literally scoffed at me and said, "Boy you've got your hands full." Now I've heard this (millions of times) before, but the scoff and hostility were new. I think the unspoken words were, "How could you be such an idiot--you're really in for it."

So I just kept walking, pasted a smile on my face and called over my shoulder, "Actually, they're blessings and a lot of fun." Really, what do you say? I wanted to ask her why it mattered and why she was so worked up about it, but of course I didn't. (I bought the paint, people. This is who I am.)

Apart from the invasion of privacy/distaste for strangers scoffing at me, I think what really bothers me about this is the fact that my little boys had no family to take care of real future. It's sad but true. If all of us adoptive parents had said, you know what, our lives will be too


so let's NOT adopt, my goodness, where would these children be?! Where would we be? Who would be caring for the orphans? Most adoptive parents are not independently wealthy or otherwise childless. Most are busy, many have larger-than-average families, many (if not most) are single-income households. They're just regular people who love children and on some level care about "the least of these" that Jesus talks about.

And so when someone is visibly upset by me having my hands full, I want to sit them down...tell them about Ethiopia...what I saw...what my sons lost...why I and so many others don't count the cost that way. I want to say that Yosef and Biniam are worth it. You might not know it, but God knows it. And I know it, because I'm their mom. I wonder if the woman today knows that she is of inestimable value to Jesus.

Maybe, maybe someday I'll actually have the guts to initiate a conversation about Jesus' plan for my life, and His love for the world, right on the spot with a stranger. But for now, I say a few words and thank the Lord that by His grace I am living a life more exciting/challenging/fulfilling than I could ever have imagined. And I thank Him that He has given me four precious children to love. A huge responsibility, yes. But it is extraordinary. And I want people to know.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Walmart: 1, Me: 0

Sunday night. Englewood WalMart.

About to get in line, I realize now would be a good time to pick out a new paint color for Yosef and Biniam's room. I choose a fun turqouise-ish blue.

Then I stand around the paint counter waiting for someone to come by. Finally, I'm able to snag an employee...who says she can help me. I ask for a gallon of the paint in eggshell. She takes the paint chip, heads back to where all the other paint chips are and starts hunting around. Huh. Then she heads back to the counter and pulls out two huge binders. Starts looking through them...mutters/asks something about eggshell...says she needs help. Calls for assistance.

I stand at the counter waiting...and waiting...and waiting. Finally a man shows up. Asks what the problem is. More muttering about eggshell. He asks me what I want. I say a gallon in eggshell. He proceeds to tell the woman that paint comes in different finishes. Ummm...???

Then he can't figure out how to get paint to come out of the tubes. They keep trying...can't figure it out...he mentions he's a carpenter and not a paint mixer. Ummm...???

Finally they get it to work. Mix it up. The paint is a pastel version of what I want. Way too light. The lady tells me the people who are supposed to be working at the counter are somewhere else. The man says the people who normally work in the paint department never mess paint up. WHAT?!

Then the man ASKS ME HOW TO MAKE IT DARKER. I shrug and say, "I don't know" through a smile and clenched teeth. He announces that he's going to add more blue. He adds it. Mixes it. I tell him it still looks too light. He says nope, it's good, and hands me the gallon.

Fuming, and wondering if it's just my imagination that it's too light, I walk away. Typical me doubting myself. And I bought.the.paint. HELLO?! I am sooooooooo frustrated with myself. At home Kevin looked at it and agreed that it was much, much lighter than the sample. Needless to say, I'll be returning it. And giving the manager an earful about random employees mixing paint that have no business using the machine or assisting customers. I just could not believe it.

So yeah. WalMart kicked my butt. My head hangs in defeat. The end.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

In which he is observant about gender roles.

Biniam, to me: You're a lady, because you make breakfast all the time and stuff.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Maybe my life's NOT that chaotic...

I'm sure most of you have heard of this family before. My sister-in-law recently emailed me the link to their website--I'd seen them on TV but didn't know a whole lot about them. Wow. They amaze and inspire me. I am so intrigued by their lifestyle and cannot imagine having so many children so close in age.

Because on a typical day I usually feel stretched pretty thin. I tire of the daily grind of preparing meals, keeping up on the dishes, changing diapers and breaking up arguments. Sometimes I (gasp!) feel sorry for myself and wonder, why is motherhood so hard? I'm realizing that I used to really rest in knowing that in the middle of the day, every day, I'd have a good two hours or so all to myself. Now that my older three don't nap anymore, I'm having to really adjust my expectations. We still observe "naptime", but they get antsy, and truly, even when they don't, it's just not the same. I'm embarrassed to admit that this alone has made life hard lately. I definitely have an entitlement mentality when it comes to naptime! (Am I REALLY considering homeschooling? I'm starting to wonder...)

Being a work in progress, while I know what I BELIEVE about life and kids, it can be terribly hard LIVING in light of it all! I'm blessed with four amazing, precious gifts from the Lord, I'm married to my best friend, and my life is ridiculously easy compared to most women in the world. It's probably time to start trusting and seeking God more, and start thinking about me, myself and I less.

It might FEEL like I'm always doing laundry and that there are untold numbers of children tugging on my sleeves...but let's face it, we Heldts are no Duggars. :) And with that, I'm off to go take a shower and get out of my 4:00 in the afternoon. Ah, the glamorous life of a frazzled-SAHM-to-four!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thursday thoughts

It's 17 degrees outside at my house right now. It's snowing. And windy. And I love it.

I just recently finished A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I loved The Kite Runner, and I loved this. SO tragic and beautiful all at the same time. How does he do it? I am terribly picky about modern fiction (and therefore rarely read it), and I adore this man's books. He writes the human condition and the complexity of relationships so, so well. And Middle Eastern culture and history is positively fascinating. I have developed such a heart for the Afghan people after having read these books.

Speaking of modern fiction, I have yet to see Twilight. You may not believe this, but the last film I saw in the theater was...wait for it...The Passion of the Christ. Remember that one? It came out in the spring of 2004. (I had four kids in Don't judge.) Now that we are finally sinus-infection-free in our household, maybe I can sneak away to see it. (Jennifer, did you end up seeing it yet? If not, wanna go?)

Last night I went to a jewelry party at my sister-in-law's home. SO fun! I am really loving living near the Mike-and-Rachel-Heldts. I got a big hug from my little niece when I showed up! My kids are still talking about "Aunt Rachel's pumpkin pie" and the other day Kaitlyn saw a picture on Rachel's blog and and yelled out, "AUBREY!" She knows her cousins!

Okay, that's all I think. It's still 17 degrees out, still snowing, and probably a good thing that I'm a natural homebody because I can't imagine going out into the elements today! Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Does it get any better than cookies and eggnog in the morning? I didn't think so.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


December 1st was World AIDS Day. I didn't do a post about it yesterday because I couldn't think of anything to write.

I do have two kids whose lives have been forever changed by the AIDS pandemic. Because of the HIV virus, my sons have lost their mother, father, sister, extended family, birth country, the list goes on. To say this is a tragedy is an understatement.

And to think that even amidst such horrible loss, my sons are technically, sort-of, some of the "luckier ones." They weren't born with HIV, they didn't starve to death, they weren't relegated to a short life of begging on the streets or living in the sewers. Instead they found a family.

International adoption isn't the solution to the AIDS crisis. What happened to Yosef and Biniam's family just shouldn't happen. Period. I'm so, so incredibly blessed to have them as my children and yet I know there is another woman out there who wishes she could have kept her splintered family together. Who knows her daughter will not grow up with her younger brothers. Who would surely give anything for her husband to be alive to take care of them. How different her life would be!

Yet God is just. He will make all things right. Maybe not in my lifetime, but it will happen. There is hope. He wants you and me to be part of it...we can live out our lives in such a way that we are showing mercy, love, and justice to those who need it the most. Here are some simple (yes, I said simple) ways to take action:

Educate yourself about what HIV is and isn't, then spread the word
Sponsor an HIV+ orphan at AHOPE
Consider adopting an orphan that is waiting for a family
Contribute towards another family's adoption of an HIV+ child through From HIV to Home

And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly
and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Monday, December 01, 2008

One of those days

Yeah, that was today. Life felt overwhelming and frustrating. Nothing in particular happened to make it feel that way, it just did. I was impatient with my kids, was not overly productive, and had to go out this evening to make some exchanges at KMart. I'd put some homemade burritos (that I'd previously frozen) in the oven before I left, overestimating how long they'd take to cook. And came home to find them burnt. We ate them anyway.

Meanwhile I'm blowing off my bookstudy tonight because I don't feel up to making the drive, and I'm still recovering from having sick kids and being sick myself. I forgot to tell people I wouldn't be making it. Shoot.

I guess at least I'm not alone? Poor Kevin went out at the end of the workday to find that his car battery had died, and then when he finally made it home, he stepped in dog poop ON OUR LAWN on his way into the house. And no, we don't have a dog. In part, because we don't want poop on our lawn.

Let's just say that in about ten minutes you will be able to find both of us watching old episodes of The Office in our pajamas, consuming large amounts of ice cream. (My word verification is "bolis." Doesn't that sound like a disease or something? So I guess instead of being disgruntled, I should just be glad I don't have bolis!)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's a Thanksgiving MIRacle!

Bonus points to anyone who can identify that quote.

After I got up this morning, I began peeling apples for an apple pie...and all of a sudden I could SMELL THE APPLES. I have my sense of taste and smell back, people!!! JUST in time for Thanksgiving! I was SO thrilled that I danced around and shouted to everyone that I can indeed smell and taste again. If you think I'm weird and overreacting, well, I haven't been able to taste my food in over.a.week. So yeah. I'm rather pleased.

This morning we had a fun breakfast of cinnamon rolls, an omelet, and fruit--in the family room while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which my kids are loving (and my husband is hating.)

Later this afternoon the plan is to head down to Castle Rock to Mike and Rachel's house for Thanksgiving dinner (health allowing. Although, now that I can taste again, it'll take a lot to keep me home! I'm on antibiotics--my doctor confirmed yesterday that yes, my sinuses are quite infected. Ugh. My head and face are still pounding, but whatever. I can taste. And I had chocolate milk this morning to celebrate.)

I am bringing mashed potatoes and apple pie this afternoon. So back to the kitchen I go! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Doctor time

Yesterday afternoon I took Anna and Kaitlyn to the doctor, our first time going here. A friend from church had recommended this particular office, which is a group of doctors who practice both traditional and homeopathic medicine. I was so hopeful when we moved here that we could get into a great practice...our situation in Santa Maria was not the best, and we literally only had one option that was covered by our insurance. The doctor himself was good, but the office was HORRIBLE and it definitely affected the kids' care, IMO.

So how was the appointment? Well, we got there in the afternoon...and didn't leave until darktime. The doctor was with us for SO LONG! I couldn't believe it, it was GREAT! I've NEVER had a more thorough or relaxed appointment for my kids, ever. He spent time just chatting with the girls, investigated every little concern I had (even though some of them had nothing to do with the reason for the visit, such as Kaitlyn's pigeon-toed-ness), it was fantastic. He didn't just dole out prescriptions without really looking into the issues. That is huge for me.

All of that to say, my daughters and I--yes, all three of us-- have sinus infections. Lovely! Anna's on antibiotics for hers, Kaitlyn is not, and they're both taking some extra Vitamin C and Zinc. I'm calling my own doctor today. Because I'm tired of feeling like I have a migraine on my face, not tasting my food, and feeling downright awful. If I cannot taste stuffing tomorrow, I will cry. I will literally cry.

Anyway, so glad to have such a great doctor's visit. AND that my girls are on the mend! Oh and the above picture shows how the girls passed the time waiting for the doctor to come in. They look pretty happy considering they were both running fevers at the time!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Are big families hip?

Check out this article. Pretty interesting.

I can't imagine living in a time/place where large-ish sized families are "in". Mainstream American culture is definitely not oriented that way, though certain segments of the population may be (Roman Catholics, Mormons, certain groups of Christians.) I'm not a part of any of those groups. (Although I think I'd make for a decent Catholic. No, I'm not converting, I like the Protestant, Reformed Christian church I go to just fine. I'm just sayin'...)

The author talked about how and why her reasoning for having a big family differed from what one might expect. I loved reading her reasons, so now I want to know...why do YOU have a large family?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sister time

With all the colds around here, the girls were resting and looking at magazines together. SO sweet! (Shortly after we moved Kaitlyn into Anna's room on her crib mattress, Kaitlyn apparently decided that wasn't good enough for her, and now either shares, or completely takes over, Anna's bed! Fortunately the big sister doesn't seem to mind!

Tomorrow I'm taking them to their new pediatrician's office, as they've been sick for well over a week. I'm SO thrilled about these doctors we'll be seeing--it's a group that practices both traditional AND homeopathic medicine. YAY!!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

We're getting senile

Kevin recently got us a DVD to watch from the library, Oliver Stone's movie about 9/11. I saw it when he brought it home and said, oh, that looks good! We turned it on last night, and about thirty seconds into it we both looked at each other and said, "Haven't we seen this?!"

Ha! We HAD seen it, maybe about a year ago. But apparently didn't remember. Wow, we must be getting old! (Needless to say we turned it off and watched National Treasure 2 instead!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Some questions on a Friday

Jerry Springer: Real-life guests, or staged actors?

Organics: Worth the money, or total rip-off?

Twilight series: Great fiction, or over-hyped?

Libraries: Useful resources, or too much trouble?

Babysitting: Easy way to earn some cash, or equivalent to torture?

High school: So much fun, or a necessary evil?

Big yearly vacations: Definite musts, or costly extravagances?

Regular date nights: Essential for a good marriage, or impractical and overrated?

Church: Kids worshipping with you, or in Sunday School the whole time?

Sesame Street: Educational, or ridiculous?

Jim and Pam: Should definitely get married, or getting married will ruin the show?

Donuts: Sugary delights, or fatty stomach-ache-inducers?

Caffeine: A must in the morning, or something you avoid?

Feel free to share an answer or two, or you can answer them all! Yay for about-to-start weekends!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Better Living Through TV...

Unfortunately, when I'm sick, I rarely want to read. Normally I LOVE to read, but when my head's pounding and I don't feel well, I much prefer to watch TV. So this week I've been getting caught up.

Too bad there's never anything good on! We don't have cable or satellite, though we DO have a little antenna so we pull in some stations, like the major networks, FOX, the CW, and PBS.

I think I'm maybe just not a TV person in general. There are certain stations I know I could get really into, like HGTV and probably some news/history-type channels, but other than that...yeah, not so much. There are apparently all these shows on the networks that I literally have NO clue about. Are people watching them? I'm only 27 and I have no idea what's popular. Basically I'm totally caught in the '90s when it comes to TV. The only current show I watch is The Office. I also love some of the old shows, like "I Love Lucy" and yes, "The Honeymooners." (Laughing out loud picturing Ralph, as the "chef of the future" and Ed doing their live infomercial..."Yes, it can core a apple"...that's what that picture is from. And the only one I could find had lame writing on it, oh well!)

And really, what on earth is the deal with these flashy, mind-numbing Inside Edition and Extra-type shows? The other night I wanted to crawl through the TV and ask Miley Cyrus, who the heck IS Hannah Montana anyway (an alter ego? fictional character? result of a multiple personality disorder?), and why is it that every time I see you I can't get "Achy Breaky Heart" out of my head?!

The older I get, the more I realize I am a big, huge nerd. Pop culture drives me crazy. I am going to be that really un-cool mom that has no idea what my kids' friends are talking about. (Okay, I probably already am, since I have no idea about popular kids' shows either.) I'm like a grouchy 80-year-old in a 27-year-old's body! Maybe I need to locate my Abnormal Psychology textbook and make some sort of diagnosis....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Random haps

My mom and dad (in California) send the kids packages of goodies from time to time. Here are the kids with the latest bounty: Anna got princess undies, and the boys and Kaitlyn got shirts. Anna SQUEALED with delight over her gift, and Yosef apparently loved his shirt so much that the next time we went somewhere, he brought it along for the car ride!

Nothing is new around here. We're STILL fighting these colds. Think lots of coughing, fevers, nose-blowing, and TV.

I'm reading a GREAT book right now, How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture by Francis Schaeffer. It's great! I'm learning about history and art and it's also making me think more about what I want to teach my kids. (Like, history and art. Other things too though.)

About a week and a half ago, Mike (Kevin's brother) and Rachel came over with their cute girls Aubrey and Ainsley. They brought wonderful birthday gifts for Yosef and Biniam--who are obviously loving them! Sadly, this was the first time Rachel has seen our house! I am hopelessly neurotic when it comes to showing people my house when it's so unfinished and not particularly clean, because why would you clean when people are coming in to do flooring etc. etc. I AM SO VAIN! Really, who cares? We are so blessed to have a roof over our head and food to eat. We are also so happy to have bought this house, in this neighborhood, in this city. A home can become such a status symbol and I think this is maybe worth a blogpost all its own. Hmmm. :)

Okay, I think that's it. Now back to The View!

Monday, November 17, 2008


I had so much fun reading all of your guesses! I'm so excited to report however that we now have our answer, left as a comment on this post, from a very reliable source :) :

It's a clay figure, made by an elementary-age student, of a flightless bird made famous by a book whose title begins with the words, "Mr. Popper's ______s."The child who made the figure is now an adult, a mommy, and the person who shot the photo! :-)

John at Sonlight

Thank you John for clearing this up!!! Now I can get back to my daily life and return to a sense of normalcy. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Right there, on the left. Do you see it? (Click on the picture to see it bigger.) I think it may be a disfigured hand. Which of course is fine, but so strange that it's randomly in the photo!


Do any of you have the 2008 Sonlight Curriculum catalog? If so, what is in the picture, on the left-hand side of the books, on page 5? I can't figure it out and it's driving me crazy. I think it's maybe a hand, but I'm not sure.

Thank you for your assistance in this regard. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

...and Saturday night

Four sick kids
Snow White playing
I'm sick too
But Kevin is healthy
So he got to go to a party tonight.
But life is still good, because I beat Kevin at Tekken twice today. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday night

Kids are asleep
I just beat Kevin at a card game
Now I'm off to try to beat him at Tekken
Life is good

Let it snow let it snow let it snow!

We woke up this morning to SNOW! And it's still coming down! Needless to say we have four VERY excited kids (and two very excited adults) around here!

(If you live in a snowy climate and and are wondering what all the excitement is about, we just moved here from California. :) )

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quality control

We finally got our dining room chairs last Friday. They required assembly, and as you can see, Kaitlyn was intent on supervising.

One thing is for sure: this girl loves her daddy! For a kid who was basically attached to me for the first several months of life, she sure gets excited when Kevin comes through the door at night! She adores him. And has a hard time leaving him alone when he's home! (I don't think he minds.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This too shall pass

Lest you think parenting is easy...

The last four months or so have been really difficult for Biniam. He seemingly woke up one morning a different child--trading in his typically sweet and easygoing heart for an unhappy and somewhat rebellious one. We struggled and struggled, remained consistent with discipline, but it all seemed to be in vain. We just could not figure it out and felt so frustrated. It made daily life really hard.

One morning at my church's moms' group he got TWO TIME-OUTS from the babysitters there for not sharing, and fighting over toys. WHAT?! He was even having a hard time at home getting along with his siblings--including Kaitlyn, who he adores. Meanwhile I spent a lot of time feeling like a horrible mother and feeling guilty for the frustration I'd feel towards him and the situation.

At some point I decided to try a different approach. I was reading Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers at the time--SO timely. While remaining consistent with discipline, I would spend lots of time cuddling with him. We'd put him down for bed and naps in our bed. I felt he had some sort of heart issues going on--whether it was attachment related or not, I don't know, but I figured it wouldn't hurt. He was obviously going through a tough time. He was either being difficult, or when he wasn't, we were too wiped out to proactively engage him. So I hoped doing a few extra things would help.

And then at some point a few weeks ago, he went back to being his normal, wonderful self! I am so, so happy. It had really worn us down. I don't know if our reaching out to him and really making an effort in the area of physical closeness made a difference, but I'm just so glad that phase is over! At my moms group this past Monday he didn't have any timeouts and seemed happy to be there. He's loving on his baby sister again, full of smiles, and has a genuine desire to please.

I'm sharing this with you in case anyone out there is feeling discouraged like I did, questioning your parenting and wondering if things will get better. I just kept thinking, he's such a sweet, good kid, what is going on?! When will I have my son back? I know children test sometimes. I also know that Biniam's first year and a half of life was so far from optimal. (Being relinquished by his mother, illness, hospitalization, moving between three different orphanages and then between two different sets of adoptive parents.) I've never used that as an excuse or a reason not to discipline (children need structure and boundaries), but from time to time I DO wonder if some behavior might be the result of deeper heart issues that stem from insecurity and loss. Obviously he was working through something.

All of that to say, as a mom I want to not simply modify behavior, but ultimately reach my child's heart. If it means staying in our pjs all day and cuddling on the couch reading books, so be it. I also want to say I don't share any of this with the intent of disparaging my child. He has a beautiful heart, he's sharp as a tack, and I love him to pieces! Mostly I feel sad that he was going through something so difficult and wasn't able to express what it was. And sad that my impatience and frustration so often ruled the day.

Have any of you experienced tough phases with a child? How did you deal with it?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Telling their story

Tonight I will be giving a short talk and sitting on a panel at CU Boulder, for an event called "Hear Their Cry." I'll be sharing about AHOPE for Children (check out their new website!) and the work they do, in addition to giving my personal story about my sons. It's always an honor to represent AHOPE, but also a bit nervewracking too. I wrote up some talking points, and am now working on putting some photos together.

If you think about it, please pray that peoples' hearts will be moved for these children, as we seek to be part of the solution to the world-wide orphan crisis. The story of the HIV+ orphan will be told, and heard, tonight. Praise the Lord!

Monday, November 10, 2008


My day had started off like this (and yes I use that much cream in my coffee--don't you?!):

But then it got a little better with some of this:

And it's hard not to feel festive when your street looks like this:

So in spite of illness, we did indeed make it out trick-or-treating on Halloween. We had Snow White, a pirate, a fireman (who kept telling people he was a policeman), and a gorilla. :)

And my wonderful husband was indeed able to locate It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, so we were able to top off the Halloween festivities like this:

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A woman's place (or, Joy's can of worms)

My wonderful friend Joy asked in a comment what I thought about women staying home with their children. Apparently during the course of the past election, John Piper made this statement in a video regarding Sarah Palin's candidacy for Vice President:

I personally think that it would have been better for her to stay at home with her disabled child, both for the good of the family and as a model for moms... I don't think, Biblically, that a woman should be commander in chief.

First off I need to tell you that I don't agree with all of his views on gender and the Bible. He teaches that there are some vocations outside of the church that women should not have, period. Based on his above qoute, the President of the United States is one of them. I strongly disagree. God raised up women in the Bible as leaders (Deborah and Esther come to mind) who had great strength and influence over men. Anyway, we have to realize that John Piper holds a very conservative view on womanhood and gender roles, that extends beyond the church. Personally, I find some of his teachings in this area to be demeaning towards women. (He has a book he wrote with Wayne Grudem called Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.)

(I also take issue with his need to qualify that Palin's baby is disabled. I'm not sure why that bothers me, but it does.)

ANYway, in thinking about womanhood and motherhood, I love Psalm 127:3-5:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,

the fruit of the womb a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior

are the children of one's youth.

Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!

I do believe that God's general desire is for us women to raise our children. Some argue that women can do it all, but SHOULD they do it all? I do have many friends who work outside the home and they are FANTASTIC mothers. How can I judge what is God's specific will for their life in this area? I think it is first and foremost a heart-issue: are we believing that motherhood is a gift? Do we treat our children like burdens? Or blessings? Do we engage with them? Are we being good stewards of these blessings from God (when it comes to nutrition, training them, shaping their minds)? Do we care more about prestige or the pursuit of the American dream than we do about the role God has given us? I'm sure there are at-home moms who don't hold to these values, and many "working moms" who do.

I know without a doubt that I am called to be home with my children. I believe this is honoring to the Lord. I CAN'T decisively say what anyone else is called to do. As for a woman with children, working in government, again, I think it goes back to those heart issues. There are pictures all over the web of Palin going to meetings wearing (or nursing) her baby. Her husband's supposedly home a lot. According to them they have a huge support network of family who help out too. I don't know these people personally, but I DO think it is POSSIBLE for God to call a mother to public service. Of course, this whole discussion doesn't really speak to John Piper's criticisms because the root belief there is that women should not be in these governmental positions at all.

As for Piper's idea that Sarah Palin, in running for office, was not a good model for moms, I find her to be, in many ways, a refreshing model for women in general: unapologetically prolife, and living that out by giving birth to a child with Downs Syndrome at age 44, when roughly 80% of the population would have terminated the pregnancy. No matter what you think of her or her ability to lead, the lady is living out her beliefs. I would much prefer to point to her as a role model for my daughters than to, say, Hannah Montana. If we, as John Piper seems to be suggesting, keep women out of most visible leadership positions, I think we'll be missing out on some of the depth and perspective of God's creation. Men AND women are made in God's image, not just men. And we women ought to see other women pursuing their passions and living out their convictions.

Lastly, in reference to that Piper video (and what he said about voting as if you're NOT voting), I would argue that while certainly we shouldn't be in utter despair over an election, God DOES want us doing justice here on Earth, bringing about His kingdom. Brian McLaren has, in my opinion, done a good job of making the case that we need to be concerned with justice and peace and mercy in the here and now. While embracing an eternal perspective, we need to make sure we're not neglecting the state of the world today. (The hungry, the poor, the lost, the unborn, etc.) If we as believers throw up our hands and do not speak out for these groups, who will? If we cease to passionately pursue justice in the name of Christ, who will? To me, that means caring about the election--no matter which way you vote. We should be concerned about who leads our nation and the ideologies they espouse. Just look around the world at various leaders and how they negatively/positively impact their citizens. At any rate, I hope whether you voted for Barack Obama or John McCain, whether you even liked either of them, that you felt passionately about an issue or two that you believe is near to God's heart.

Okay Joy, there is my long, sure-to-invite-controversy answer. The can is open. What do YOU think???? :)

Friday, November 07, 2008

You go girl

I mentioned in my previous post that Monday night, we attended a Sarah Palin rally down in Colorado Springs. SO FUN. Something you should know about me: I am fascinated by politics. When I was 14 my mom and I went to see Bob Dole give a speech. Before getting married I worked for three years for a California legislator. (LOVED it.) In September of 2000, I went to a George W. Bush rally and shook his hand. I took a ton of Political Science classes in college. (It's okay, you can say it: I'm a nerd.) I REALLY wish I had been able to attend some of the Denver rallies (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Michelle Obama have all been in our area recently. But, my kids have also been sick recently. And there was the mono. Bummer!)

So, Sarah Palin. We drove to some airport, to be directed to a parking space by an old guy dressed in red, white and blue. And his fly was down. Oh yeah. All.the.way. Soooooooo hilarious. I would've taken a picture, but Kevin said it would be too obvious. Darn.

By the time we made it through security Sarah's plane had just landed. It was awesome! A few minutes later she and Todd emerged from the plane door waving. (This picture is of me and Kaitlyn with her plane in the background.)

Mrs. Palin was very articulate. I got to hear her say "Joe Biden" live, with that accent she has. Which about made my day, because ever since that Tina Fey skit (of the debate), we have pronounced his name that way, it's just so funny.

Mostly I loved, loved, loved her talking about wanting to have a culture of life in Washington. About how individuals with special needs have been pushed aside, and about how every innocent life should count. She referred to children as blessings, and yeah, it was great.

It's no secret, I love what Sarah stands for. Not everyone does, and that's fine. But she is who she is, and she has more kids than me. So yeah. She was great.
Oh, and these guys were hanging out on top of the buildings. You know, just in case.

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