Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Video of Yolanta Reading


I changed routes and uploaded the video to YouTube.


Have patience as you watch.

As with any new reader there are some moments where you find yourself straining for her to get the word out.


She's so cute! Especially at the very end.


Click here to be directed to the video.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Proud Reader, Proud Mommy

Be prepared to be wowed. I mean really brace yourself.

I've attached a video of my 6 year old daughter (or 20 if you ask her) reading a book!

Okay, keep in mind that when she got here this summer she spoke zero English. Well, I think she could count to 5 and say Thank You. But that's it!

And now my precious little girl is reading...in English...and comprehending what she's reading!

She showed signs of readiness early on, so I suspect she was picking up the concept at the orphanage.

I'm not sure how she was taught by her teacher so when I began teaching her, I started with the basics. It was the right move because learning to read Creole and learning to read English, I think, are very different.

She knew the sounds of the letters, though she didn't necessarily know how to say the NAME of the letter. She knew the sound of the letter 'W' but didn't know how to say 'double-u'.

(In the video she mixes up the letter 'C' for 'S').

The vowels were tricky (still are) as they are all pronounced differently in Creole (and French) and even sound different than they do in English.


So once we got all the names and sounds of the letters worked out, we moved on with the blends:
Ch, Sh, Th, Ph

Then she started sounding out words and before I could say Bob's-My-Uncle (which he really is), she was reading!

I'm so proud of her and am blessed that she has a teachable spirit, a desire to learn and a willingness to try. What did I do to deserve all three of these girls!?

A few things about this 4 minute video:
1. I forgot to have her spit out her gum. A little annoying in this video considering it is all about listening to her mouth.
2. I video taped this on December 30th, not the 29th. But you know me, I'm a fibber.
3. The title of the book is not called "The Pink TuTu" as Yolanta suggests. It's actually called "All Tutu's Should be Pink". You'll hear my skepticism in the video.

4. When I tilted my camera she went straight up and down for me, but on the video, she stays crooked. Sorry. But don't worry, it's only a few seconds of head-tilting.

5. The tutu she is wearing was handmade by my very talented sister-in-law!
6. Yay Yolanta!
{Insert Video Here}
Shoot! After that huge long post, Blogger is being Bratty and won't let me upload the video! I've been trying since 8:00 last night. So I'm going to just post this anyway and as soon as it starts behaving, I'll put up the video and let you know.

Conversation with my 7 year old

ME: Good Morning, Sweety.

Amy: Good morning. May I watch some TV?

ME: Sure, but have you spent any time with the Lord yet today?

Amy: No. But I've spent time with Yolanta getting better at my Crazy 8 skills!


(This picture was taken last week. The snow is gone now.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

December 27th

Happy Birthday to Me!


We just had the Christmas we'd been waiting for for over 2 years.
I've got pictures and stories to tell about it for it surely was absolutely fabulous.


Yolanta and Katie's first Christmas here with their forever family...it was monumental!

And every second was special. I'm thankful we got to be with family despite the snowy weather, for this was one of THE christmas in our lives.
But I haven't posted about that yet! For today is my birthday and I think I'll go back to bed.

Also, Happy Birthday to my Twin Sister! Love you. It's weird, we're twins and she's turning 34 and I'm only turning 24. Shrug.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Multi-lingual

I know I've posted on my daughter's beautiful language abilities before, but I just can't get over how wonderful the child's brain is. Thank you, God, for creating such an intricate brain!

Considering when Yolanta and Katie first got here 5.5 months ago they spoke zero English, it's amazing how far they've come. I mean really, AMAZING (Tiff, that word is for you). Could your brain learn another language fluently in under 6 months? To the point you don't even speak English to your sister who is with you 24/7?

Well guess what, I can speak multiple languages, too.
I speak my daughter's love languages.

Amy’s love language is Time
She and I have always been such great friends and always enjoy each other’s company. I’ve come to realize that this is how she both expresses and receives love. Give that girl your attention and she’s in heaven. She’s a little beyond her years which makes chatting with her so fun. She’s so articulate and will talk non-stop about all that is in her precious mind. She’ll do anything with you if it means being together. And if on any random day I say something like “You sure are special,” she’ll respond with “Thanks, mom. I’m going to stay with you all day long.” If her dad is going to run to Costco or the bank or wherever, she’ll often jump up and say “I’ll go with you!” Being homeschooled I purpose to set her up with play dates and enroll her in extracurricular activities so she can be with friends. And this Christmas her gift to her BFF is the gift of time. They are going to join an archery class together and also pick out craft bags to do crafts together. Together together together. This effort she puts into being with people will serve her well when she’s older. Just being with people is something Jesus does Himself.

Her language is special to me being my first born because I too, long to be with her.

Yolanta’s love language is Affirmation
It must have been so hard for her to be moved out of her country after six years of knowing only Haiti. Poverty. Pain. Creole. Black skin. Lost family. Orphanage. Sure, being brought into a loving environment has proven to be healthy and wonderful for her, but I can tell she’s anxious. Is this permanent? Do we really love her? If she has a gloomy look on her face, she will gladly accept my arms around her, but what really makes her shine is when I speak encouraging words to her. Anything affirming: “I love you.” “Good job on that coloring page!” “I’m so glad you’re my daughter.” “I’ve been thinking about you today.” “You look so pretty in that pink shirt!” “Thank you for helping your little sister carry her dishes.” This makes her feel proud and special. It’s as if those words tell her “you are mine forever.” Then she will show me or tell me about things she has done that she thinks will win my favor just so I will praise her. And when I do (solicited or otherwise) she smiles and giggles and jumps up and down in happiness. It’s not hard for me to remember to give her the affirming words she needs throughout the day because she is indeed a happy, pleasant little girl full of things to positive to say about her. My heart still double thumps when I hear “I love you, too, “ from her lips.

Katie’s love language is Touch
You’ve heard me before call her Saran Wrap baby because she’s always clinging to me. J
If this girl could be carried around on my back like a monkey, or on my front like a panda or even tuck her into my jeans like a kangaroo, she would. That girl forever wants some part of her body wrapped around mine. She doesn’t have anxiety issues to leave me when it’s time to go to Sunday School or Grammy’s house or even if I go upstairs and she is downstairs. Nor does she cry when it’s bedtime (even if she goes to bed before her sisters do). But her preferred method of moving around the house is to follow me holding on. I know this is a security issue and a possible fear of being left again. After all, her mother left her when she died. Her father left her when he dropped her off at the orphanage for two years. I showed up in Haiti for a 4 day visit then left her there for another year and a half. Now she’s here America living in a family environment with a mother and father again. But she’s four years old and has a lot of trauma in her life. Does she KNOW it’s forever? Does she know what forever means? I think her way of ensuring I won’t leave her again is to be holding my leg when we go up the stairs. Pushing her face into mine till it hurts. Hopping in my shower in the mornings. I don’t mind the clinginess because she’s so soft and adorable.

So, I can’t verbally speak multiple languages, but I speak the languages of my home. For there are many and I want my family to know that I care about their needs.
I learn their languages and tell them in their unique ways “I love you.”

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winning picture that breaks my heart.


This picture won first place in the Unicef Photo of the Year contest.
While staring at this photo, I thought to myself: this could have been my daughter.
From the website:
The young Belgian photographer Alice Smeets is the winner of the international photo competition “UNICEF-Photo of the Year”. Her winning picture shows a girl in the largest slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. Although she has to live between dirt and rubbish, the girl is wearing a clean white dress with matching ribbons in her hair whilst walking barefoot through the mud. “The photo shows us the courage and energy of a little girl who is growing up in the face of adversity. Children from the poorest backgrounds often demonstrate great strength” said UNICEF patroness Eva Luise K√∂hler at the award ceremony on Thursday in Berlin. “The UNICEF-Photo of the Year is a plea to heed and support these children”.
For five hundred years misfortune and terror have reigned in Haiti. First it was colonialism and slavery, then came the dictators. After that followed chronic political instability and hurricanes. And throughout all that: hardship, distrust, treachery, poverty, dirt, destruction, illness, tyranny, oppression, persecution, death.

People live unprotected in stinking and burning waste, without work, without reliable sources of energy, without drinkable water, without clean air to breath, without money for their next meal. In the hovels the poorest of the poor resort to eating dirt simply to fill their stomachs. In a setting like this, a little girl in a white dress seems to be a frightened angel that finds itself in the underworld and nevertheless determined to fight for a little bit of beauty.This glimpse of how hell could look, overwhelmed the young Belgian photographer, Alice Smeets, on her first trip to Haiti. The more time she spent in the country, however, the more this feeling eased, to be replaced by compassion and a strong desire to use her photography to raise awareness for the oppressed and humiliated.

Alice Smeets says: “ I am often asked why I always want to keep returning to Haiti instead of discovering new countries. Everyone has a choice in life. Philip Jones Griffith (photographer for the Magnum Agency, who passed away in 2008) taught me something important during my time as his assistant: photographers can either report on a a wide range of situations in a cursory fashion, or they can carry out a deep and intensive examination of just one setting. Both are options, but the latter gives you the opportunity to continuously create visual statements that can hopefully lead to assistance for those suffering."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jesus, Lord at Thy Birth

Someone posted about loving her daughter and it made me emotional. For I love mine with equal gut-wrenching roof-top shouting intensity.
It made me emotional.
Then someone else posted about an adoption.
They had this picture on the sidebar and had Silent Night playing in the background.


It brought me to tears.


Sleep in Heavenly Peace.


In His goodness he chose to make us his own children by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his choice possession. James 1:8

Fibbing is a cute way of saying LYING

So I'm a big fat fibber.
I pumped you all up with dreams of posting alllll the time this merry month of December and I've only posted a total of FIVE time and it's already the 17th.

Well guess what, December is a busy month!
Who knew?

Some of you may be wondering if I've filled in the blanks on my Christmas gift list.
Yes, I have! You were right. It magically gets done.


We took the girls out with us one late afternoon/evening and checked just about every single box left to buy.
We sometimes had to do some trickery to sneak something under my coat in the cart.


"Look girls, I think Gabriella from High School Musical is over there! Oh, it wasn't her? Sorry. Okay, let's go down this isle now. "
Fibber.


All my cards are out.
My shopping list is 98% done.
My grocery shopping is 98% done.

What's left: Wrapping and cooking.
Though we have plans to go to my Aunt's house on EVE and my In-law's house on DAY, we may very well be actually snowed in. It's gorgeous here in the Pacific NW right now. Storms galore.

My kids don't know that most kids are getting a three week Christmas break due to the snow. We still have school over here at our house. But, my kids' school is over in about 2 hours anyway, so it's not like they're missing out on snow days!



Oh, this year will be extra fun (of course). My two newest still believe in Santa Clause. I mean, like REALLY believe in Santa. We got to go to the Costco Employee party and shop after hours (NO LINES) and sit on Santa's lap. When I made a phone call in the car on the way to Costco that night, Yolanta asked


"Mom, were you talking to Santa?"



Another from her:


"Mom, is Santa going to come to our house?
"Yes he is!" I say. (fibber)
"Oh, good! I hope he'll play hide-and-seek with us!"


The magic of believing.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wonderfully Wasted Opportunity

My mother took the kids today. ALL DAY.
10:30 in the morning til 6:30 at night.



They did all the things girls do with their grandma at Christmas time: made cookies, decorated gingerbread men, built gingerbread houses, made crafts, ate chocolate for lunch...

So:

I am generally a fairly organized woman.
I'm not a sinfully procrastinating woman.


However, this year, this Christmas, this December 13th, I still have just about every single line on my Christmas shopping list BLANK. Including the three major ones: My Daughters.



That's right folks, we have under 2 weeks till Christmas, it's the Christmas I've been waiting for for two years now that the girls are home, and I have not bought them anything yet. GASP!

And we've been trying to keep in mind the same things House of Homer is so beautifully blogging about: instilling a joy of christmas giving, not getting, while still delighting in the magic that is Christmas.



So today was the day. Grammy has the kids all day and it's Saturday. My husband and I were to bundle up, grab the list, go downtown Portland and get the list alllllll checked off.



Why is it that we came home at the end of a long day with a bottle of wine for ourselves, 2 bags of peppermint bark for ourselves, and a list no more complete than when we left?





I think it's because we were enjoying each other's company soooo much that we were not staying focused on the important task at hand.



We laughed, we roamed the streets of Portland looking at all the Christmas lights, we laughed, we branched out and ate lunch at a Lebanese restaurant, we talked and talked and talked and laughed and not once did we take anyone potty.



We've forgotten what time spent together without kids is like. It's only been 5 months since the girls have been home so we haven't done the whole babysitter thing yet. And when we do leave the girls with Grammy, it's usually for only 2 hours.



But today was the day. It was a loooooong day away from them and they did GREAT. It helps that they have such an awesome relationship with their grandmother. After all, she even came to Haiti with us when we picked them up. Thank you, Mom!



The important task of Christmas shopping was wasted because the more important task of reconnecting with each other eclipsed it.
I'm glad it did.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Brother Benjamin at the Oregon Zoo Lights

The girls have a little brother named Benjamin who lives just a couple of miles from us. I know, how miraculous is that!? I'd say so.
We keep in touch with them seeing as how his parents are two of the coolest people on the planet anyway. They agree with us that it's mightily important to keep the kids in each others lives. Hallelujah!

I uploaded a ton of pictures of our time with him and his family at the Oregon Zoo for the Zoo Lights celebration.

Amy and Benjamin


Yolanta and Benjamin



Katie and Benjamin



Amy and McKenzie (Benjamin's sister)



Me and Katie (And there's Benjamin's daddy)




Amy, Husband, Yolanta, Katie and Megan (Benjamin's other sister)




Pretty trees at the zoo. These are Purple and Teal. The very colors of my wedding. Hey, it was 1994. What can I say?




Me and Benjamin's mommy. Isn't she gorgeous?




McKenzie and Amy having fun.



All of them together. Benjamin, look this way!



The train that we rode. Way fun!



Amy, Benjamin and McKenzie trying to pet a goat.




Me and mine.





We love you, Brother!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A different kind of party

The neighborhood where we live is fairly new.

When we bought our first house just one mile away from here, this current neighborhood was a big'ol field of nothingness. Not especially lovely, but not a dump, either. Just a ratty field with a broken down barn.



Then 'they' came and bulldozed it and started zoning and housify-ing the place.
We scooped up the bigger corner lot and had a house built on it.


I really like our home and anticipate staying here until we're ready to build the dream house out in the country.



Anyway, funny thing: every single neighbor on my side of the street is Caucasian.
Every single neighbor on the opposite side of the street is Asian.
Actually, one Caucasian neighbor on this side moved out and an Asian family moved in.



I really don't think it was in anyway intentional on anyones part. I mean, really, how could that be? The lots went up for sale, the houses went up for sale...luck of the draw, it has to be.



Asian families tend to live together generationally. There also tends to be visitors galore. I am constantly witnessing many comings and goings across the street.



On Saturday late afternoon early evening, the street was jam packed with cars. TONS of them. Lined the whole street both sides. We figured a Christmas party of some kind. But then the next day, Sunday, same thing. We squeezed our car in just to get to our driveway. And from the corner of their house I could see a big tented canopy type thing erected over their back deck. Completely sealed in with walls and everything (didn't get a picture of it, sorry).



A weekend Christmas party?
There was no loud music.
There were no obnoxious yelling late at night.
No thudding of car doors seemingly lasting forever.





Today is Monday. And I saw this truck. The side of it says Care Medical Equipment.


And I saw a man in scrubs take from the house a mattress. A guard rail. A special toilet. A walker.



I remember now seeing a wheelchair bound grandma being wheeled in and out every now and then. I had no idea she was ailing.








Generational living has the blessing of already being together when someone you love passes away. And whomever this grandma was, she was obviously loved by many people.

I'm glad I didn't have negative thoughts about all the cars this weekend.


I would have offered my driveway had I known.









(And because today is the day, Happy 16th Birthday to my cousin Zoe!)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Long and Short of it is...

Interestingly, several people are curious about my hair. I added that to the list of posts for the upcoming month and a couple of commenters and emailers asked that to be sooner than later.







Well, I'm going to have to disappoint you because I have not done anything with my hair to warrant a super cool post. But I wanted you to know that now so when those whom I know IRL won't think I'm a fibber when they run into me at the store or at church and see that my hair still looks the same. Long. Brown. Boring.






For the most part, I have always had long hair. I did cut it fairly short when my daughter Amy turned One. She's now Seven. And my hair is now back to long. And brown. And still boring. With bits of gray shining through, now. Alllll the more reason to do something, and quick.


I can't decide if I want keep it long and do fun bangs with streaks of auburn and some layers OR cut it super short and be sassy all winter long.
Sorry, folks. That's my big dilemma right now.



My husband likes my hair long, but he's been saying he'd be interested to see what I look like with it really short. He's given me his green light if I want to do it.





I'll bring a photographer along with me when I go get it done so you can see the before and after pictures. Molly, when do you come home from Ireland? :) Take pictures for me.





I wish I had exciting news about my hair but really you are getting a glimpse into my indecisiveness that sometimes rules my life. But thanks for caring about my hair. We're such girls, aren't we?
Oh, hi dad.


If you've done something fun and drastically different to your hair and want to post before and after pictures, that could be a fun thing to go check out. Leave me a comment and I'll go see!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Have you been missing me? Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

I've been reading a few blogs lately of ladies who are going to be taking a break from blogging during this busy year-end.

While that makes perfect sense, and actually is exactly the very thing I should be doing, I am going to attempt the opposite.


I've been delinquent in blogging and have been missing it. Not just to "get something posted" but to journal out my thoughts and expressions.

I also want to keep friends and family updated on the girls since they've been home for only 5 months now (tomorrow the 3rd marks the 5 month mark).


So here I go. Back in business.

Here is a glimpse of some of the things I intend to post this month:


  • Pictures of the girls' first Thanksgiving
  • Pictures of the girls' first Christmas with their new family
  • My review of the book The Shack and why I think it is a dangerous book (you heard me)
  • The difference in bonding with my biological daughter, my 4 year old and my 6 year old (yes, there have been differences)
  • Pictures of Zoo Lights with the girls' brother
  • How the pain of waiting for 2.5 years for the adoption to take place still affects me (even though "they" said it would fade away)
  • Why I think a prayer and accountability partner or group is ultra important for everyone

  • A change in hairstyles for me

  • Other fun stuff that I hope will make you laugh (as you may recall, I like reading funny posts and hope to offer you a bit of humor now and then, too).


So no longer worry that DotBlogger has fallen off the Blog Planet. I know you all check my blog one thousand times a day hoping to get a glimpse into my kooky mind. Well okay, I know most of you use a notifier and only check my blog if google or bloglines tells you to. But I'll take it.


Do these things interest you? Is there anything else you'd like to know about adoption or homeschooling or God or anything else that my opinion is of interest to you? Let me know!