Monday, December 17, 2012

The sass is strong with this one

The sleeping situation in our itty bitty house has been a bit of fruit basket-upset over the last 6 months.  Currently Asher is sleeping in his crib in Sydney's room, her bed is empty, and she is sleeping on the bottom bunk in "the boys" room, which we still call Carson's room.  This leads to all kinds of confusing titles as "your room" and "your bed" are not straightforward, especially for the younger two.  But Ashman is a pretty noisy sleeper (and waker), so we need him to sleep alone, but definitely also need him confined to a lovely crib, as he's a bit of a flight risk.  The bunk bed sitch has been good for the big sibs I think.  It's some forced bonding.  Instead of a nightlight, we strung an bunch of colored Christmas lights around the room, and it gives it a very cheery glow that they both love.

For some reason, a few nights ago, Sydney was unusually teary and scared to go to sleep.  (Unrelated and prior to any national news that might make children teary and scared.)  I was trying to calm her with my wise mommy moves, telling her that a)her big brother is 2 feet away, b)her parents are in the next room and c) God will never leave her, and he is stronger than Carson AND Daddy.  I got very spiritual and told her God knows just what is scaring her and how to help her feel calm.  I told her that God knows everything about her, including how many red hairs are on that head.  I started to look around the room, and I said God knows exactly how many Christmas lights are in this room, thinking that would really impress her.

Then, from the previously silent top bunk, a deep little voice says "Uh, even I know that: two hundred.  One hundred in each box."  He didn't actually vocalize the "DUH" but it was strongly inferred by his tone of voice.  As was the eye roll.

I swear that kid sleighs me.

Also, on the night of the horrors in CT, I crawled up into the top bunk with C, loving on him and getting teary.  He didn't seem to know anything was up, so I didn't offer any information, but I just told him that if he ever had any questions about ANYTHING, that he could ask me and I would always tell him the truth.  He kind of nodded.  I told him how much I loved him.  He nodded.  I thought he was looking sad.  But then his eyes got wide and he said, "Whoa!  I just threw up in my mouth a little bit! Weird!"

So, okay.  We're good?  Mkay. 

Oh, thank you Lord for my sassy, disgusting, distractable, smarty-pants boy.

Friday, December 14, 2012


I remember watching the news about the Columbine shootings from my college dorm room.  I was so sad.  So very sad.  But hearing the news about the school shooting today--in an elementary school, many of the victims being from the same kindergarten--I felt a stabbing grief that was unlike anything I've experienced.  I can only assume it is because now I'm a mommy, I have a child who was in kindergarten last year and one next year.  Because I know the way my stomach drops when I see I'm getting a call from the school during class hours and I worry that my child has broken an arm or puked in class.  I'm sure like many of us, just as I was able to distract myself from the horror, a wave of it would wash over me.  I found myself just sobbing, SOBBING as I thought of the fear of those kids and teachers, and the parents.  OH, Lord.  The parents.  Racing through town, only to be kept away from the school while they waited the most agonizing minutes of their lives, wanting to know of their child was in the room where "the classroom is unaccounted for."  I couldn't stop crying today.

In fact, I was feeling so overwhelmed by my vicarious grief that I was reminded of a story I heard recently by Lysa Terquerst.  She said she was speaking at a women's conference and her staff came to get her back stage to comfort a woman out in the lobby who was upset.  Upset was an understatement.  This sweet grandma had just received news that her two precious grandchildren had burned to death in a fire that morning, a fire it seems was set by their mother's boyfriend.  The kids had been with her the week before, and she had wanted to keep them, but for whatever reason, could not, and had to put them on a plane back to their mother.  And now they were gone.  This women, rightfully so, was OVERCOME with grief and sorrow.  She was inconsolable, and Lysa said she had no idea how to even begin to comfort her.  Lysa, a wise author and speaker, had no words.

So she just cried with the woman and started saying the name of Jesus.  Over and over.  "Jesus.   Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus.  Oh, Jesus." And soon the woman, through her sobs, starting saying it with her.  It did not take her grief away.  It did not make it all better.  But it gave her a life raft when she was drowning.  It gave her a glimmer of hope when she had NONE.  If it did not give her immediate peace, it pointed her in the direction of the Prince of Peace.

I will never forget this story, and I've found myself coming back to it on days like this.  I know it might sound silly if you don't know Jesus in the same way I do.  But all I can tell you is this: there is POWER in that name. When I don't know what to do.  When I don't know what to say. When my heart is overwhelmed and broken.  When I can't explain or understand this broken world.  When so much innocent blood was shed.  When evil seems to have won.  When I need a life raft because I feel like I'm drowning in the messed up place that is NOT MY HOME.





Oh, Jesus, be near.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Dress Up

I don't know if there are any blog readers who did not see these pictures on f@cebook, but I wanted to post them here just in case, because they are super fun.  I honestly don't love halloween, but we do enjoy dressing up.  It's just fun, darn it. 
In the morning, Sydney's school had a party, but to keep things safe and appropriate, they kids could only come dressed as farmers, cowboys or animals.  Sydney chose to be a cowgirl and put this outfit together herself!  That vest was Trent's when he was a little boy!

Carson's school also has a no-costume policy, but they have a "Crazy hair or hat" day.  Carson chose red hair spray and he was quite excited about it.  I love when $4 can make my son's day.

Then later in the day we got the real costumes on.  This was the happiest our little Thai Yoda was in his costume.  The neck strap on those green ears were not his favorite, but he looked pretty adorable running after the other kids from house to house in his white bathrobe!

Pretty stinkin cute, no?

This costume moment was months in the making.  For her birthday in June, a few aunties/friends went in on this very nice Merida costume, from the movie BRAVE.  Of course ever since the previews last year, we have talked about how much Sydney looks like Princess Merida.  I loved that we had a perfect costume all ready to go!  Aunt Tara graciously added the bow and arrow, or "shooty thing" as Sydney calls it.

The curls are 85% natural and we added a few to the top.

Beautiful, no?

We've also been waiting for the full costume effect to post a picture of this AWESOME movie poster that is in Sydney's room.  Our Auntie Carol somehow got this treasure from her local movie theater, and Sydny LOVES it.  She protects it passionately from the curious hands of her little brother.

Carson also loved his costume, another Star Wars character.  I believe it is Jengo Fett, but I understand there are a couple Fetts and I can never keep them straight. 

This pose cracks me up.  Very manly.

Thank you for enduring our slide show of halloween 2012.  See you next year for more Star Wars and Princess themed holidays.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Ashman Update

I know I've been pretty honest in previous posts that transitioning to a family of five is challenging.  But I want to give Asher a fun update like his siblings.  (Carson's was here, Sydney's, here. )  It's not always about adoption related stuff, not always difficult.  Much of the time, he's just a normal little boy doing boy stuff!  I will say: life is never, ever boring around this place, thanks to this crazy kid!  He is two years old and into everything.  And I mean?  EVERYTHING. His curiosity knows no boundaries.  This makes it really fun to take him to new places.  (I don't say that with sarcasm.  I love experiencing new things with him!)
Sydney's preschool class went on their annual pumpkin patch, so Asher and I went along.  He was very unsure about the rain boots...but was a huge fan of the puddles!  It was a typical fall day here in the NW--sunny for patches, then cold and overcast, then rainy.

"Why am I wearing this?"
The kids were really cute as they listened to the farmer talk about the apples.  Sydney and Asher are developing quite a sibling bond.  They are the ones home with me for most days while Carson is at school, and they play and fight like they've been at it for years.  Asher has settled into a very clear and distinct name for his sis, and it is "Nonny."  When she is at preschool, he asks about her frequently.  He calls his brother "Car-car."  Lots of times when we are driving around town, just him and me, he likes to list through the names of people he knows and I will answer where they are.  "Daddy?"  "Daddy is at work."  "Nonny?"  "Sydney is at school."  "Car-car?"  "Car-car is at school too."  "Tata?"  "Tata is at her house."  And on and on it goes.  I like that he wants to keep tabs on the people important to him.

Asher, like many toddlers, swings the pendulum from dangerously brave to very scared.  Climbing to high places, eating strange objects, running into traffic?  None of those phase him.  Animals, doctors and loud trucks?  Very scared.  This day I was trying to get a picture of the kids in front of the goat, but Asher would not turn his back to the goat!  Gotta keep your eye on the enemy, people.

(I had to thow in a picture of the Birdie, since it was HER field trip. Cousin Krista made that hat.  Isn't it amazing?)

I love fall, but I'm sad we'll be losing a lot of outdoor time.  Asher loves playing outside.  This picture cracks me up.  Safety first here in the T household.  Please don't show this table to the social worker.  ;)  He's working intently on some rocks he brought over to the table.

Asher got some fun toys for his birthday that are really age-appropriate.  This tower is light-weight and very fun to stack.  Even more fun to knock over. He does really well interacting with toys and playing, especially if he doesn't have to share.  :)  He's still not that into anything on a screen (which is great!) but yesterday he sat on the couch and looked at the black TV screen and said "George."  So maybe he's being converted to our American ways.

This crouching position is one of his go-to moves.

 I found a bunch of pics on my ipod that are completely out of order and not related to this update at all.  But I wanted to post them on the blog so you could see them! 

This was the first day the kids went to school and we had some Asher & mommy time.  Often it turns into errand-running time (why go shopping with three when you can go with one?).  But morning is a good time for him.  He is *usually* pretty good at sitting in a cart and gets a big kick out of little games I play, like making the cart go really fast or pushing it away and pretending I can't catch up to it.  He also likes to grab and pull anything on the shelves around him, or random women's backsides.  Nope, not making that up.  Grabby Grabberson here.  He also likes to talk LOUDLY and says "HI" to all the people in the store.

This pic was in the backyard when Asher was playing with Carson and Syd.  I think there is nothing he loves more than running around and being wild with his big siblings.  He mimics EVERYTHING they do and say, watching them intently, especially in closed situations like the dinner table.  If they laugh, he laughs.  If they put a noodle on their finger, he puts a noodle on his finger.  Of course they think it's hilarious and will have him do crazy or naughty things just for a laugh.  He'll also parrot them, so they'll say things like "Asher, say 'Carson is best.'"  Or "Asher, say "I love Sydney.'"  I think one of the best things that has come from this little addition to our family is to see these three kids interact with such love.  Don't get me wrong, he annoys the crap out of them often, but there is quick forgiveness, and then they seem to forget and let him back into their inner circle again.
One thing we love about Asher is that he loves books!  When he first came home, he wasn't interested in them at all.  He wouldn't even sit in our laps long enough to read 2 pages, and he tore more than he listened.  But now he'll often bring them to us and sit through entire books listening and pointing at the pages.  This morning I made a wonderful discovery...Asher was ready to get up before I was ready for him to do so, and I put three board books in his bed.  He stopped whining and sat happily flipping the pages!  It was so cute (and made this mommy's tired heart happy!).

I have to say that at his core, Asher is a really happy kid.  Yes, we're still struggling with behavior and attachment issues--the challenges vary by day.  His grief and anxiety are present, and we still ache to help feel more secure with us.  But in his element, he seems very content and easy-going.  He loves to laugh, and is learning how to be silly.  He is totally game to get right into the dance parties with C and S.  He even has this amazingly hilarious move where he pretends to be singing--but no noise is coming out.  It's like he's lip syncing to opera.  He squints his eyes and opens his mouth and shakes his head back and forth while holding out his hand.  I tried to get it on video, but I was laughing so hard the camera was shaking!  I will try to get it again.  Just for you people, b/c you must see it.  

One thing I'm so grateful for is that Asher is a pretty good sleeper.  He usually is good for about 11-12 hours at night and most often a 2 hour nap.  That is a lifesaver for this mama, b/c my son has two speeds:  100mph and asleep.

We are seeing that he can have a very gentle side.  When he hears another child crying, he perks his ears up and makes a sad face and makes the sign for "sad."   When one of us gets hurt, he very tenderly kisses our owies.  I have a bad ear infection right now and have to put drops in. He asks about it ofen and saids "Ear? Owie?"  and then he'll give me the most tender little kiss right on my ear.

Life is still full of lots of challenges and frustrations as we all continue form our bond with one another, but we sure have lots of fun with this busy little man.  Next?  We're gearing up for his first Christmas at home!  Woohoo!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sydster update

Four years old is such an interesting and fun age.  It's another one of those ages where your kid is kind of straddling two worlds.  Right now Syd has one food in little girl and one food in big girl.  She still sucks her fingers and needs her special lovey, but also wants to be independent and walk to the neighbor's house alone to deliver a can of tomatoes.  She wants to be making more of her own decisions, but often is crippled by the task of actually DECIDING.  Some days she cares very deeply about her look--from her hairstyle down to her shoes.  I mean, VERY DEEPLY.  It's about a 50/50 chance that getting dressed and out the door in the morning will result in a phase 10 meltdown.  Syd has some of the same sensory issues that Carson did/does.  Socks, shoes and tags on clothing are a daily struggle.  So much so that our household shuts down until we can find a compromise.  (Flip-flops and princess nightgowns are not an acceptable solution in the winter.  Sorry, girl.)
 For the most part, this little Bird has a pretty mild personality.  Of all three kids, she is definitely the most likely to obey quickly and be compliant, the one who wants to snuggle the most.  She's picked up some things from watching her older brother in karate and SHE often says to me "YES, MOM!" and gives me a little bow.  In fact, the times when she gets herself into trouble the most are when she is being bossy with her siblings.  Or she's physically man-handling Asher.  This big sister business is a full-time job, people. 

 This summer I feel like we saw a new side of our middle child.  A more self-confident side.  She tried several new things and did not hesitate.  She took a regular swimming class for the first time, and surprised us by making great strides. I mean, at that age it's lots of bubbles and kicking; however, for this shy girl, the strides were walking confidently away from us towards her teacher, feeling very comfortable in the water, and listening and obeying during class.  Then sometimes she'd smile and wave to us.  We've had our share of peeling her off of our legs when we take her to a new situation (or even not new!) so this experience was so encouraging!
 Syd also tried some roller skates!  It was a short-lived hobby.
 I think we really saw this new side of Sydney at camp over labor day weekend.  At our camp there are 2 water slides and one really big dry slide.  She quickly tackled all three and went back and back and back and back!  Smiling and skipping and waving to us the whole time.  Of course she also wanted to be the one to help Asher go down the small slide for the first time.
She was rocking that life jacket, complete with the buckle that kept riding up her bum.
Yes, I realize this is not Sydney.  I wanted to try to give you an idea of how big this slide is. 
For some reason, I only got this one photo of Syd on the big dry slide, even though she literally went on it over and over again for hours that weekend.  It was such fun just watching HER have fun.  Plus, going up that huge ramp and then three flights of stairs so many times really wore her out.  She slept well!

Sydney is in preschool for the second year.  She goes 3 times a week, and has the same teacher and many of the same friends from last year.  

Another fun thing about this age is that she is starting to make her own friends...not friends because they are children of OUR friends, or siblings of CARSON's friends, but her own friends!  The two she talks about most from school are K and E, who are twins.  The school had a special "twin" day, so these girls decided to dress as triplets!  Sydney was SO tickled to do something special with them.

Speaking of Sydney being excited, the absolute highlight of this fall has been the birth of her cousin, Baby Ellie.  Sydney prays for Ellie every night and asks about her almost daily.  "When can we go see baby Eyyie again?"  The times when we have seen her, Sydney doesn't want to stop holding her.  She gets a longer turn than any of us.  She is completely and totally smitten!  (As are the rest of us!)

Some people who only see Sydney in group settings would not believe how crazy and wild she gets in the comfort of her own home.  :)  And let me tell you: she is a TALKER!  Non-stop.
One benefit if our current schedule is that for about 90 minutes in the afternoon, Carson is at school and Asher is sleeping, so Syd and I have time together.  Unfortunately, it's also the only productive time of my day, so often I am getting stuff done while she tags along around the house.  But I try to be sure to sit down with her for a good snuggle each afternoon.  It's a special time for both of us to re-connect. 


I love this picture of Syd and Asher.  This is truly how I picture her--very carefree.  She loves singing to herself and skipping around the house. I read something by Beth Moore, one of my favorite authors, who suffered terrible abuse as a child.  She said her prayer for her own daughter was that "pain would come as it should: a surprise."  I so resonate with this.  Not the abuse, but my heartfelt prayer that the Lord would allow Sydney to ease into the reality and pain of this world.  That her hurt feelings and heartbreak would be mild.  That she would maintain this innocence and excitement for life.  I know I can't protect her from every heartache, every scraped knee, every hurtful comment.  But I pray that I can instill in her such a warm and secure foundation of love and confidence that she will never experience anything that will shake her belief that she is wholly, dearly and unconditionally loved by us and her heavenly Father.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Classic Blog Fodder

Thanks everyone for your encouraging words after my last post.  I heard a story recently about a mom of a newly adopted kiddo who posted online that she was having a hard time, and someone responded "This is what you asked for."  Yikes.  Thank you for having more compassion for me in my honesty than that woman received.  Yes, this is what I asked for, and I'm so grateful for our family of five!  Doesn't mean that it is easy.  I decided to take a few blog posts to go back to the old recipe of basic updates on our family.  This is just for the grandparents and long distance relatives. If you're here for funny stories or adoption related updates, check back in a couple weeks. Also it is for my own memory and posterity.  I'm gonna take a post on each kiddo, otherwise I'll stall in procrastination of such an overwhelming task!  Of course we have to start with the PFB (Precious First Born.)
Carson started first grade this year!  ALL DAY at school. He chose his first day outfit AND the one-shoulder strap back-pack.  He's so cool.
As I mentioned in the birthday post, as far as we can tell, Carson is a very good student. Great reader, good at math, well-behaved.  But this year has been a hard start for him. He gets clingy almost every morning, saying he doesn't want to go to school. None of his good friends from last year are in his class, which is part of the problem. And also, he's at school three times as long! This is not lost on him. He actually counted the hours and informed me. We've casually talked and pointedly interrogated to see if there's something else bothering him. It seems he's just rather be at home. I'm sure lots of kids have a hard time getting used to the all-day thing.   Just last week he told me he "thinks he might" be getting used to his schedule.  Here's hoping that is true.

Carson is also an overly scheduled child right now, because he is playing soccer and doing karate. Karate is a once-in-a-childhood thing that fell into our laps (a friend won a 6 month membership at an auction and decided not to use it, sold it to us for the price of ONE month membership), and although it means another 2x/week commitment, it's awesome and a great thing for Carson. They emphasize respect and discipline and self-confidence and physical fitness. Love it. Trent is coaching the soccer team again, and I'm sure there is a blog post coming about that, b/c friends? Coach Trent takes his role very seriously. If only you could see the spreadsheets, the playtime rotation charts, the practice drill diagrams, the field graphics, the player assessment and improvement scales. What's that? Yes, all the players are five and six years old. ;)
Here's some pics from karate class.  

Money shot!

He even tested and earned an orange belt!

We are pretty proud of this kid, and love seeing him grow in his humor and his understanding of the world around.  We can talk about more grown-up things and share more abstract spiritual concepts with him.  I mean, he's still a 7 year old boy, so mostly we're asking him to stop screaming and running in the house, get his hands out of his pants and not teach his little brother how to make fart noises. 
I'll leave you with 2 quick Carson stories.  This morning I put white socks with purple toes on Asher.  Carson was very concerned.  "Why is Asher wearing GIRL socks?!?" he asked.  "Because he is a little brother and that is his lot in life," I answered.  "He also wears a Hello Kitty bike helmet. Besides, he doesn't even know the difference."  This was not acceptable for Carson.  "Well, it is MY RESPONSIBILITY to teach him the difference!  Asher!  You are wearing GIRL SOCKS!!"  It seems Carson does understand responsibility!

Another wonderful moment happened without me, but Trent replayed the story and it made me smile.  Carson befriended a boy on a playground, and Asher was wanting to tag along.  Trent asked Carson to keep an eye on him.  Carson told the other boy that this was his little brother, and we're not sure what the boy's response was, but Carson, seeming to have a script memorized, said "Are you surprised?  I know he doesn't look like me.  It's because he was adopted from Thailand." The other boy responded by telling Carson that their family is adopting a little sister from China!  It was just a lovely moment to pave the way for other possible conversations about why his brother looks different--may they all go as smoothly. We were proud that HE seemed proud to be Asher's big brother!