Sunday, September 22, 2013

September 23--ASHER birthday post

September 23, 2013

Happy birthday, Asher Saran!

You are THREE years old today.  I’m so happy that we get to celebrate WITH you.  I know we only missed one birthday of yours, but I think I will always be a little sad about that first one.  For some reason that missed birthday also reminds me of the months and months of longing for you to be home, the hundreds--HUNDREDS--of times I would stare at your picture and pray for you and cry a little or a lot.  But this second birthday home also makes me so grateful we get to celebrate ALL the rest with you!  This year we celebrated a little early at family camp.  Many of your friends and family were able to be there and we had monkey cupcakes just for you! 

Right now you are really into trains and cars…pretty typical for a 3 year old boy, I guess!  You especially are drawn to any remote control toy, and you run it in a straight line until it hits a wall or a foot, and then you laugh and laugh like you are playing some crazy trick on the toy (or the owner of the foot).  Another favorite past-time is one you picked up from your big sister.  You love cutting paper.  Cut, cut, cut all day long.  Of course, this is a tricky hobby, as there are papers you are allowed to cut and papers you are not, and that distinction is clear to everyone BUT you.  ;)  But when Sydney is doing something crafty at the table, you are content to sit with a stack of scratch paper and your scissors, making a huge mess, but tuning those fine motor skills!

Everyone you meet confirms what we already know about you: you are a ball of energy!  Even when you are doing very mundane things, like waiting for me to get you a glass of milk, or walking to the school to pick up your siblings, you can’t stand still or walk.  You have to be hopping  or bopping or swaying or dipping or jerking or bowing.  It is not uncommon for you to run 100 circles around me in the few minutes we wait outside of Carson’s school for him to come out!  You have two speeds, buddy: 100 mph or asleep.  Coincidentally, you also have 2 volumes: LOUD or asleep.   You, my dear, are all boy!  But I tell you what everyone ALSO says about you: you are a charmer!  You have a smile and a hug that could melt ice, and a laugh that is insanely contagious.

My favorite thing that is happening for you in the last few months is your language development.  You are still playing catch up to most kids your age…you had never even heard English until you were 22 months old!  I love when you say a word that I’m sure I’ve never heard come out of your mouth before.  For instance, the other morning when I went to get you out of bed, you said “Daddy go bye-bye ALREADY?”  You usually just say “Daddy go bye-bye?”  It’s those little victories that encourage us and make us so proud of the hard work you are doing to communicate.  You also worked really hard to form the “F” sound last week, so that I knew you were saying “My fffffffriend Sam” instead of “My ten Sam.”   Being able to understand each other is a reward in itself for both of us!

This summer you had a HUGE success at swim camp!  Oh buddy, I was so hopeful for you, but I admit I had my doubts.   They usually want kids to be three years old and they need to be able to listen and sit still and obey, which are not often strengths of a 2 year old boy.  But you? WERE AMAZING!  You have absolutely NO fear of the water.  I told your teacher this, and she admitted afterwards that she’d heard that before, but didn't really believe.  But she said she'd never seen a young child so eager to fling his body into the depths of the water with his eyes and mouth wide open!  Teacher Karen was wonderfully patient with you and you responded so well to her.  You listened!  And obeyed!  And sat still until your turn!  (Uh, most of the time.) And more than once you looked over at me and yelled “I DIDIT!  I DIDIT!”   I am so proud of your brave spirit and your determination.

I think summer is going to end up being your favorite season.  You were made to be an outside child.  The happiest days you’ve had in the last several months are when we’ve been camping, at the beach or just outside for hours and hours.  I wonder if it’s because you spent so much of your infancy and toddlerhood toddling around outdoors in Thailand with your foster siblings.  I wish we had a little more sun for you around here!

 On a kid’s birthday, moms usually think about the day they were born.  I do think a lot about the day you were born, even though I wasn’t there.  I have a feeling your birth mom is thinking about you a lot today too.  Even now, 3 years later, she is still a teenager, and my prayer is that she feels a great peace in her young heart about her sacrifice, her choice not to raise you.  I’m thanking God for you today, but I’m praying for her too.  I’m grateful for all the information we have about her and about your birth!  You were born at 7:39 am and you weighed 6 lbs and 12 oz.  You were born on a Thursday--did you know BOTH your brother and sister were also born on a Thursday?!  You like to tell people all the time (including us many times a week) that you were born in Thailand!  I hope you will always have great pride in being born in such a beautiful country.  And that you will have pride in the brave mama who loved you enough to give you the best care possible for a few short days, then surrendered you to another life.  I am eternally grateful for her, because through her?  I have YOU. 

I wonder if your birthday and other special days like Mother’s Day or Thai holidays that we celebrate as a family will some years cause your heart to feel unsettled.  I wonder if you will struggle with forming your identity around a Thai heritage and an American family.  My instinct is to protect my kids from pain and loss…but you, my son, have already experienced such deep loss in your short life: loss of your birth family and your native country; loss of a foster family who loved you dearly.  I know that we cannot make that loss disappear just by loving you.  However, we promise to continue to love you fiercely in every new stage of processing these losses and how you feel about them.   We won’t be able to heal the wounds or answer all the questions, but we will be right by your side every step of the way.

We love celebrating your Gotcha Day in June, but today is a far bigger celebration!  We are celebrating not just your entrance into our family, but your LIFE!  Celebrating YOU! We love you, sweet boy, just the way you are: your crazy cute smile, your happy wrecking-ball of a personality, your laugh, your songs, your DANCING (which is outstandingly awesome), your sense of humor—everything that makes you uniquely Asher.  We know God has great plans for your life, and we are just grateful to be a part of it.  Thank you for being such a brave boy.  I am so very glad that you are mine.

Happy birthday, my son!

Love, love, love,


Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 22--birthday post

September, 22, 2013

How is it your birthday again already?!  You just turned 7, like, a week ago! 

 I’ve just been reading over my birthday letters to you over the last several years, and there are some significant patterns.   Your personality began to take shape early in life, bursting onto the scene with attitude and energy to fuel it, and your life’s trajectory of filling every room you are in continues on course.

These are some of the ways I could describe you that are consistent with past years:

      *You are funny and smart   I recently found a bunch of old quotes from you that I’ve written down.  One was from December of ’09, when you were 4 years old.  You were sitting next to me drinking pretend coffee while I was drinking real coffee and you sipped, sighed and said “Aaaah.  This is a good cup of joe.” ?!?!  What 4 year old knows to say that?  It makes me laugh just thinking about it.
       Your mind seeks and collects information at an alarming rate for a second grader.  You are not very willing to read fiction for long periods of time right now, but you are completely enthralled with non-fiction books about animals, especially National Geographic almanacs.  You also get a huge kick out of the Guinness Book of World Records.  The other night you were giving me attitude about having to read your 20 minutes out loud, and you kept trying to read r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y in dramatic protest.  But after a few sentences, you would speed up and then get interested and make a comment about the many types of bears—then you’d remember you were pouting and slow down again.  You didn’t fool me.  You may not like to be forced to read out loud, but you are a natural learner and a great reader.

        A friend recently pointed out how many random (and unnecessary) details you can recall with no effort.  For instance, directions to just about anywhere we go, the dates of certain events, multiplication tables,  movie and TV quotes from things we saw months ago, and the usual Sonic happy hour order for all five members of our family.   My favorite thing about your awesome memory is hearing you sing worship songs word for word.  Right now your current favorite (and Asher’s) is Nothing But the Blood.  You guys request it every day in the car and sing it at the top of your lungs!  We even had a talk about what it meant when it says “Nothing can for sin atone—nothing but the blood of Jesus.”  I LOVE having deep talks with you, because you listen and consider and ponder and ask some more.

      *You are strong willed.    Oh, mister.  I had no idea what those words meant until I met you!  You who would never stay in time out without trying to break down the bedroom door.  The one time I thought you had decided to be submissive to my discipline, you had actually pushed out your screen and jumped 6 feet out your bedroom window just to walk in the back door and down the hall to where I was standing so you could taunt me.  You who made me LITERALLY DRAG you through the linoleum floors of your school last year because you did not want to be there that day. 

        From the beginning, I prayed this over you:  that your iron will would bring honor to God.  That when God is done using it to refine me as a person and a mother that he would use it and use you to CHANGE THE WORLD, baby!  And I’m starting to see glimpses of that.  When you had a friend over a few weeks ago, he was using words we don’t allow.  Nothing illicit, just not permitted.  You firmly said, “We don’t say that word in our house.  Please stop it.”  I can tell you right now that even as a teenager I would have never had the guts to say that to a friend.  You are confident in who you are, you know right from wrong, and the Holy Spirit is working in your heart—I can see it!

       *You have changed me for the better.  You were my game changer, kid.  From the day you were born exactly 8 years ago, you’ve done things your own way.  You’ve challenged what I expected from life and from parenting.   There is no option of taking the easy way out with you, bud.  You keep me on my toes and always learning and growing—as a person and as a mom.  At night, your favorite song for me to sing is from a musical, and the repetitive lyrics say: “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”  And almost every stinking night I get choked up at that part, and I change the words to “because I know you.”  Because I KNOW YOU.  And you in your 8 years of life have spurred me on to be such a better version of myself than I was before you were my son.  Each day you challenge me to raise my game—in every way.   I love that about you.

Those are things that are similar to past years.  But there are a few things in your life that have been unique to this last year.  Some changes in our life and your life.  Here’s some fun facts about Carson Michael at 8 years old:

                *You decided to play flag football this fall instead of soccer.  It’s different and fun and we LOVE to watch you play.  Each game is different, the opponents change, the weather changes, but one thing remains: you play HARD each time.  You’ve scored some touchdowns and I’ve screamed my lungs out for you!  But you know what’s interesting about you?  You love playing defense.  You’d rather haul your buns across the field and snag someone’s flag then be the one to score.  You are a great teammate. 

              * We saved our pennies to let you attend several different camps this summer, and you THRIVE when you are active and stimulated.  You did swim camp three times, geo cache camp, lego robotics, golf camp and VBS.  It was a great summer for all of us, and it was especially fun to watch you trying new things.

                *You have lots of friends who are boys and girls.  You have figured out how to play well with both genders, and consider anyone a possible friend.  When I asked you to name your closest friends at school, you listed 2 girls and one boy.  J  It’s not necessarily that I desire for you to have female influences in your life, but your choice of friends is a HUGE deal to me.  I pray so often that you would have wisdom and discernment as you choose whom to spend your time with, and I’m grateful for the boys and girls that are in your life right now. 

                *There are 2 people in your life for whom you reserve you most sensitive, tender and loving side.  Those two lucky people are your mom and your little brother!  (Also your cousin, Baby Ellie, but we don't see her on a daily basis.)  Something changed in our relationship this year, and I could not be more blessed!  There was a season in 2012 when we were at odds 90% of the time.  We still have plenty of very heated arguments (I’m still me and you’re still you!), but overall our interactions are so much more peaceful and affectionate.  You ask me at least once or twice a day if we can snuggle on the couch, and you usually like to have your arm around me when we talk.  You like to play with my hair. You still want me to walk you to class each day, and give me a big bear hug in front of all your friends when I say goodbye.  I know this will not last forever, and I cherish every gentle word, every quiet conversation, every loving touch.  I mean CHERISH.

                You also are AMAZINGLY patient and kind with Asher.  What makes it amazing is that he’s not known for being gentle.  J  He’s a bit of a happy wrecking ball, and you forgive him immediately and consistently.  You stayed the night away from the house once this summer, and it made Ash very sad.  He often cries for you when he goes to sleep, and if you are home, you go into his room and put your hand through the slats in his crib and rub his arm and say sweet and tender words to him.  It always calms him.  You guys wrestle HARD and give each other bruises and wet willies and hurt one another often, but very rarely are there unkind intentions or exchanges between the two of you.  Your brother and you are exactly five years and one day apart in age, and you like to say you are twins.  Seeing your unconditional love for your brother fills my heart with overwhelming gratitude and pride.  I hope you never lose this special spot in your heart for him.  Now, if you could find a spot in there for your little sister…

Every year I remind you about the life verse I’ve chosen to pray over you—even though I know you don’t really understand all the words yet.  It’s Philippians 1:9-11. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

I want you to hear something loud and clear:  neither you nor I will ever be completely pure and blameless.  We're human, and we’re going to mess up.  A lot.  Sometimes we do and we will make horrible mistakes and decisions.   THANK GOD FOR HIS GRACE!  But what I love about this verse is that  we are to learn and GROW more in knowledge and depth of insight.  My prayer is that you will learn from your mistakes and that you will be able to DISCERN what is best.  That word?  That’s the reason I knew this was your verse.  It’s a word that I’ve prayed over you since you were an infant.  To be able to discern what is best is not always the choice between what is right and what is wrong.  It is often a choice between what is good and what is best.  What is acceptable and what is Christ-like.   I’m SO PROUD OF YOU, my precious first born.  And I see the fruits of righteousness in you all the time.  I see you growing in love and knowledge.  I see my prayers being answered in your life.  And that?  On your birthday, is MY gift.

Happy birthday, sweetness.  Go change the world.

Love, love, love,


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Polish my trophy!

Oh you guys.  This is so embarrassing, I simply MUST share it with the world.

Today I had a major mommy fail moment.  It was so ridiculous it was laughable.

First, I need you to understand or remember (depending on your season of life) what it is like to have a child who is BARELY potty trained.  As in, the entire family of five are complete slaves to this child's bladder.  When he has to go--we GO.  Doesn't matter when or where.  We drop everything and find a bathroom or else we have a puddle and, I'm telling you straight up, the Spiderman flip-flops will never, EVER smell the same again.

On Thursdays we take the big kids to school at 9:00ish, walk in, drop off, come back out, go straight to Bible study for 2 hours.  I didn't take Asher to the bathroom before study, and I don't think he went while in the childcare room.  Then, right when study is over, I rush upstairs and grab him, put him in the car and we race back to our side of town to wait for the kindergarten bus and get Sydney.

We were standing at the bus stop at 11:51, and Asher said he had to pee.  And I believed him, because he hadn't peed since about 8:30, which is a really long time in Barelypottytrained World.  But the bus comes around 11:54.  And it's a good 7 minute walk from our house.  And they don't let kinders off the bus if the parents aren't standing there.

Where we stand and wait is on a busy road, on a sidewalk next to a long fence. No bushes, trees, nothing.  Not ideal, but I did what any desperate mother of boys would do.  I told him he could pee by the fence.

And OF STINKING COURSE as soon as he gets his pants down and starts leaning against the fence (at, like, a 50 degree angle.  It's all very awkward at this stage), the bus comes around the corner. For some reason, I decided to COMPLETELY PRETEND like there was no half-naked toddler next to me in plain view.  I just waved to the bus and smiled at Sydney as she made her way to the door.  But the minute she got to the bus steps, her mouth dropped in confused horror.  "WHY is Asher showing everyone his privates?!?!"

Reminder: in Barelypottytrained World, the children can't really get their own unders and pants up and down without assistance.  As I turned to see what Syd was looking at (like I didn't know?!?) I realized that all the kids on the bus were also lined up at the windows pointing and laughing.  And behind me? There's Asher, underpants around those Spiderman flip-flops, facing us all and waving at Sydney in a state of undress for all the world to see...including all the cars now lining up behind the bus.  He even tried to shuffle over to her for a hug.

I quickly ran over and pulled the pants up and led the kids away, ignoring the chuckling drivers in the cars.  The crazy thing is, the episode barely phased the kids, while I was left to wondering when my Mother of the Year trophy will be delivered.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

July photo dump part 1

I can't fit all of July in one post.  It was a month packed with adventures and fun pics. 
These red headphones were gift for Trent for Christmas.  However, "someone" whose name I will not write, but the nickname is "Smasher," snapped them after about 3 days, so they don't stay on anyone's head.  However, the sound works great, as long as you can figure out a way to keep them on.  Solution?  Knit hat in the middle of summer.

This is a great moment of imaginative play between the sibs with the Doc McStuffins medical kit.

Most of my July pics are all from one weekend, but it's THE weekend!  Every fourth of July we have a big camping trip with my whole side of the family and then some.  FROG LAKE is our destination and our tradition.  We bring a sickening amount of gear and toys, and get completely filthy and eat junk food and smell like campfire, and it's a blast.  Each year as the kids get older, it gets more and more fun, and less and less exhausting.  Of course, the success of the weekend truly hinges on the weather, and we scored AMAZING sunshine this year!

My mom made t-shirts for all the kids this year, and it was a HUGE hit!  Some of them were worn for 3 days straight.  Plus, we could spot them easily through the trees.

To get to Frog Lake (and yes! there are a ton of frogs and tadpoles) we walk through this sometimes marshy field and put the rafts in the water.

Sometimes it's hard to wait your turn to go in the boat.

And sometimes Trent likes to wear "youth" life jackets to set a good example.  Safety first!

The lake is murky, but very shallow.  Even Carson could touch WAY out in the middle!

Self-explanatory, mandatory camping activity.

My dad bought a junior sized bow and arrow and let some of the kids try it out.  They loved it!

In case you aren't completely fawning over this picture, please be sure to notice Sydney's t-shirt.  Not planned, I swear!

Good times, Frog Lake.  Good times.