Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Four weeks

Believe it or not, we've now been home 4 weeks!! (okay so by the time I got to finish this post it's 4.5 ;) ) It feels like we've only been home a couple weeks, but yet Ukraine seems like so long ago, a distant dream.

In that 4 weeks, the boys have both grown and changed so much. I wish I could come in with new eyes and see them only as they are, sometimes when you are there through the growth and the growth comes gradually, you tend to miss some things. Some of the things we are not missing though are the fact that Josiah now has a personality! He smiles and giggles and laughs, especially when big brother is being reprimanded for hitting/throwing/not obeying for the upteenth time :) Josiah is now a pro at eating by a spoon, he even will chew (with his 3 teeth) and we've only just started feeding him this way and we haven't even worked with him on the chewing! That boy watches everyone do everything. He also has started dancing, just like big brother. He watches Jackson so much and tries to be like him. The funny thing is, Jackson will copy Josiah as well! Funny at times, not so funny at others (like chewing on all toys!) Try telling a 3 year old who doesn't fully understand English that it's okay for brother because he's a baby and teething, but not for him because he's old enough to know better. If you figure out how to do that, please email me!! LOL  And praise God, Josiah gained 2 pounds in the first 3 weeks home :)

Jackson is learning and growing also. He is understanding so much of what we say now, it's just getting him to listen and obey!! LOL  We are starting to catch on, though, when he understands and when he doesn't. See, he tries to fool us by staring at us blankly even when he does understand so he doesn't have to do something like pick up toys. Whew! He is definitely a three year old boy :) He is also learning so many new signs and starting to use them appropriately. It sure makes understanding what he needs/wants so much easier. It's also funny to see him make up signs that he doesn't know yet for words he wants to say. There are some we still haven't figured out. Jackson is also saying so many new words. He now says his name :) And peek-a-boo (which happens to be his new favorite game).

Some of my favorite times of day are when the boys are playing together, when we are all dancing around the living room, and when daddy is playing with his boys. I love being a family!

Please keep us in your prayers. Next week we take both boys to the Down syndrome clinic in Nashville and on the same day (a very LONG day) we also take Jackson to the eye doctor also in Nashville (both at Vanderbilt). Also, Joel may be starting a new job next week. That means momma and the boys will be flying solo during the day :) It also means momma can't hand the boys over to daddy when she smells a stinky diaper ;)  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dying unto one's self....over and over and over again! (by Joel)

I continue to struggle to find time to do everything that I used to have ample time to do!  I was struggling the past couple days, as I've been on the road working!  I kept pushing myself, doing everything I could to get home as quickly as possible....I missed my family!  The stories from Rachel on the growth of the boys, over just a few days, were amazing.  These two little fellas are growing up so quickly, Jackson's personality is becoming more an more apparent and Josiah is continuing to surprise us with what he can do and comprehend.

Something that our pastor has kept saying to us, keeps coming back to my mind tonight.  I think it has finally set in for me, it makes sense now.  He keeps saying that we have been, and will continue to die unto ourselves....and I am finally getting it!  2 Timothy 2:11b states, "if we have died with him, we will also live with him".  A death to our old selves and a life, eternally, with him.  This dying part is now so clear to me!  I used to enjoy the free time I had, the ability to help others whenever they needed it, to work on things at my own pace, to go willy-nilly throughout the day doing as I pleased.  Sleeping in as I felt I needed, staying up late chatting with old friends on facebook, blogging about the craziness of adoption....the list just goes on and on!  But that part of me has been dying lately, my desires have been falling by the wayside (some trying to cling on, necessitating a bit of a shaking or even help from Jackson with a big ole slap to get 'em off).  I was joking with a friend just the other day, how I had wasted so much time before...but doing what, I didn't know!

Now, the crazy part is, I don't miss it at all.  This is a joyous thing, one that doesn't make sense.  One that takes more work and focus, but joyous none the less!  The work comes as I must realize the new role I have as head of this household, supportive husband, provider, and father to two young men who need so much from me and Rachel.  Trying to balance work, household chores, time with the boys (good one on one time, teaching and playing) and also helping out my lovely wife....it is hard work!  Keeping up with a 3 1/2 year old, in and of it's self, is hard work!   I am sure that Jackson has a stash of Red Bull somewhere...and he ain't sharing!  The upkeep on the house is driving me a little nuts too but that is where the focus comes in, I have never had to prioritize so much in my life.  

See, we have been blessed with a tractor to replace the one I had to sell when the whole adoption process started last year.  It started and ran great when I picked it up, but hasn't run since I've got it back to the "ranch".  That is no problem, or at least it wouldn't have been..back in the day!  I love working on anything with a motor and old diesels have my name written on them...but  I now have different priorities.  Just to diagnose the problem took me 4 days, then the help of my brother when he was down (and Jackson, ok..he was in his playpen right beside us working on it)  Then getting the part to fix it took another 4 days, now finding the half a day to fix it....who knows when that will happen!  :)  In the meantime, the yard is starting to take over again and the gravel driveway is turning green.

Dying to self, every day....to be more like Christ!  I have a long way to go, but I am finally starting to see what it means.  Setting aside things of old, focusing, instead, on others (namely, Josiah, Jackson, and Rachel) and trusting God in everything.  For, as verse 12 says, "if we endure, we will reign with Him"  implying that it won't be easy, but most defiantly, worth it!  


I was reminded as I typed this, that as I prayed on what to start teaching the boys for an occupation, I was lead to prepare them for farming and mechanics!  I think this might be a good start for Jackson!  I also think that saturday might bring about another daddy/son tractor fixin' day :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Birthday party fun

Okay so this is a little late :)

Saturday we had a first birthday party for Josiah. For this special occasion, Joel's brother Mike and his wife Melinda came down from Michigan to stay the weekend. This was special to Joel and I because Melinda had done so much to fundraise and bring awareness for the boys through this whole process, and Mike of course supported and helped her. Due to Jackson being overstimulated easily we weren't sure how it would go having them stay here, but it went great!! Jackson LOVES his Uncle Mike and Aunt Melinda! He has even asked for her since she left :) When they first got here he was eating so he pretty much ignored them and I thought, uh-oh, this isn't going to go well. But the boy just had his priorities in order! LOL  As soon as he was done eating he went right to them and never left their sides :) The next morning when they woke up and came downstairs, his face lit up and he said "ohhhh", and went right over for some loving. I thank the Lord that they were able to come and get to know these little men they for which they fought so hard to bring home.

The day of the birthday party came and of course I had not gotten anything ready. I keep thinking I'll have more time tomorrow than I do today....hmmmm I'm thinking now that I may be wrong about that ;) So we cleaned and rearranged furniture and Uncle Mike and Aunt Melinda went and got decorations and decorated for us (thank you!!). We just had a small party but it went very well! I am so thankful the Lanes were able to come. Jackson absolutely loves Ellee Lane! And thanks to Uncle Mike who got some video and pictures for us, we witnessed a sweet kiss between Ellee and Jackson that happened behind where the present unwrapping was going so I would have missed it completely. So cute!!! The boys did pretty good. Josiah didn't understand why I'd hand him a toy and then take it away and hand him another so quickly!! LOL He also didn't really appreciate his Bumbo seat, especially when I put the tray on. Jackson had to go off quietly once or twice to get away from the commotion, oh and he stuck his hand in the salsa bowl! But other than that he did great :) He had a great time playing with the other kids there while the adults were watching Josiah open his gifts. All the other kids there were girls....he's a hit with the little ladies already!

We were so blessed by all those who gave gifts to the boys. We even had some dear friends in MI send down a couple of swings for the boys and a whole tote of clothes!! We got clothes and toys that were very much needed. Oh, and diapers :) and a baby tub for Josiah! What blessings!! We cannot thank everyone enough!

The boys were done in by the end of the party. By 6pm they were both asleep, for what we thought was an hour so they could get up and eat, but they were out for the night. They slept till morning! They woke up smiling and refreshed!! So we tried church. That didn't go so well. They did great while there, but the rest of the afternoon was not so good :(

I know ya'll want to see pictures. We didn't get any on our camera so I'll have those who did get some send them to me so I can get them up on here in the next day or two.

Thank you for all your prayers!! We appreciate them very much! 

Friday, August 5, 2011


They are not related by blood. They did not play together at the orphanage. They only shared mom twice before gotcha day. But these two little boys are truly brothers!!

As I watched on from around the corner, they lay on the floor playing. Jackson is so good about getting right down to Josiah and just talking to him and giving him toys to play with (sometimes gently, sometimes thrown with precision aim directly to the head!). Today as they lay on the floor together, face to face, Jackson said something to Josiah and Josiah started laughing! LAUGHING!! This is the kid we had to wait for weeks to even get a smile from and even now have to work at getting one. So they lay there laughing together and talking and I am just standing there smiling at how God has blessed us, when out from under the couch (his newly found hiding place) comes Jackson's comb. Oh boy, something kind of hard in Jackson's hand which happened to be kind of close to his brother's head....I just stick in here that we are really working with Jackson on his hitting and throwing because he does both, a lot, and with a fierce intensity...so I am preparing myself to go rescue my youngest from his big brother. Boy am I glad I did not say anything like "be nice" or "don't hit" or "gentle". As I watched on anxiously, Jackson took the comb and gently combed his brother's hair :)

I LOVE THAT BOY!!!!!!!!!!!

It melts this Momma's heart as I realize we've only been home, a family, for two weeks and these little guys just know in their hearts that they are brothers, family. Thank you Lord for this wonderful blessing!!!!

**For those wondering, yes Jackson does hit, scold, wag his finger, and throw things at his brother....as all good brothers do :)