Saturday, January 31, 2015

Five Years Home

January 2010
Right after the earthquake, we were interviewed for a local TV station. At that time we thought the adoption would be delayed even more because our paperwork was buried in the court building.

At Sanford airport. We were so excited to see the kids arrive because we were silly enough to think that meant we'd be taking them home that day. Or even the next day.

Our paperwork had been in process 972 days by then!!
Watching the video of the kids deplaning and trying to pick out the children.
Kids had been at the airport a full day and we hadn't been allowed to see them yet. We all went to the doors to protest.
I'm smiling, but I'd led the group to the doors (where we weren't allowed) to demand to see the children, so I was determined to succeed. And really, we were all sooooo bored. This is a tiny airport with only one small terminal so there was nothing to do but sit and wait.
They let us in. I'd love to say the kids were glad to see us, but in reality they were tired and cranky and had spent all that time attaching to red cross and other workers in the holding area.

When we tried to interact with them, they screamed in our faces. This was Sunday night, and I'd last slept Thursday night. (couldn't sleep in the hotel room Friday night--the night before the kids arrived. I laid there for a long time, finally just drifted off to sleep and someone called, and I couldn't go back to sleep at all after that. So I guess I had about ten minutes sleep that night so don't really count it.)

So this was not a good time for any of us.

They were okay until we were told to pick them up and hold them, and then the screaming started.

And then one of our people started yelling at me because I couldn't calm them down and a person who'd been with them for two days came over and started talking to them.

Our worker yelled at me for allowing someone else to interact with them when I'd been ordered to hold them and bond. She was also yelling at me because I couldn't get them to stop screaming and most of the other kids were calm. Only one other screamer in the group and she'd calmed down. Most of the kids willingly went to their adoptive parents so I was feeling a bit jealous too.  Kayla always took a while to warm up on trips, and Kaleb would follow her lead.

 I asked our worker to remove the person who was trying to interact with the twins while I was holding them. I'd already requested that but naturally the other person wanted to take the twins from me and calm them down.

With no sleep in days, sitting in the airport for over 30 hours and the stress of the situation, it really took A LOT of control for me to not say a whole lot of ugly stuff to our person (who should have been supporting and helping me but wasn't. And yeah, she gotten sleep unlike the rest of us.)

So I walked away and locked myself in the one-person bathroom for a few minutes. By then everything was looking blurry and shades of purple, and I was ready to fall on my head. This was Sunday night. The third day since I'd slept (other than that ten minutes).

Sunday early all the kids going on to Colorado had been put on the plane and flown to CO. They were supposed to leave earlier but the pilot had to sleep. There was a whole large group going to the same community so they were processed there. The rest of us had to stay at Sanford and wait for immigrations. They worked through the night Saturday night processing the paperwork for the CO group.

A really nice lady started calling families one at a time Sunday morning, and it was moving right along for the rest of us. Each family went back for a quick interveiw and to sign paperwork and were sent home with their children. She left around noon and an evil man from you-know-where came. He stopped the whole process and said he needed to read every file to make sure we were suitable parents for these children. That was NOT his job. His only job was to check that the immigration papers were the right ones for each child and that the child was being given to the right parent. Paperwork stopped for about 9 hours.

It turned into a nightmare. He was verbally abusive. He threatened to send all of the children to a group home to be held while he decided if we'd get to take them home or not and so on. People were trying to call congressmen, senators, anyone who would help. There was one who did try to help and that is probably the only reason the kids weren't sent into foster care in FL.

I annoyed the homeland dude by telling him I needed to get home because one of my children (Jasmine) was going to have surgery the next day, and I wanted to see her before she left with Rick for the hospital. So I got to go either last or next to last. Don't remember now. But it was 1:20 a.m. Monday when we finally cleared. So I was up all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday with no sleep. We only drove a little ways (obviously) before getting a hotel. We went to bed at 3:05 a.m. Monday January 25th. 

Leaving the airport.

They woke up in the car, and it was very interesting to watch them. They were loaded on the airplane in Haiti and unloaded at Sanford near Orlando. So really they'd never seen anything but their orphanage and the hotels were  we'd stayed on our visits. Suddenly we Were driving through Orlando at night with all the bright lights on hotels, bars, restaurants etc. Their eyes were so wide trying to take it all in. I'm sure they were totally overwhelmed.
 When we got them to the hotel, we had to bathe them even though it was after 2 a.m. They were filthy, and their names and ours were written all over them in permanent marker. On their arms and back.
The next day.

We didn't wake up until 10:00 so missed the hotel breakfast.

We drove six hours more home with some stops to let them run and got home in the evening. The television reporter was waiting at the house. At least the twins had resigned themselves to being with us and weren't crying!! We carried them in, though, since we weren't sure how they'd react to being in our house with all the kids and the reporter. They interviewed Jessica and I. We were pretty hyper from only the one night of sleep.

One year home

Two years home

Three years home

Four years home

Five years home

I bought the chinese, and Adam bought the rice krispies cake.

You can read our original homecoming post HERE

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Daily Stuff

I mentioned in the last post that we are back in an after-the-holidays routine. School all day, then chores, then extra curricular, circle time and homework. More emphasis on homework this quarter as my three have all become a bit lazy about completing assignments. They have found that if homework is not complete, they will not go to their evening activities this quarter. 

Our evening look like this:
Kayla        basketball practice
Jasmine     Country Christian Youth Choir

nothing so we have more time for circle

Kayla      basketball practice
Jasmine   hip hop

Kayla    gymnastics
Kaleb   gymnastics
Jasmine after school band

nothing = family time or a movie

Kayla plays on a 9-10 year old team. 

She has the potential to be good. Of the twins, she is the athletic one. Kaleb is fast, but not all so talented at team sports. Plus he can't keep focused. They are both going to try baseball in March, though. By them he should be on ADHD meds and we'll see what he can do when he focuses.

I made homemade strawberry shakes one evening.

Jasmine had some issues with the whip cream!

Which led to this.

And this. I don't suppose this ever happens at your house?

The dogs escaped the gate and got into some really stinky muck!

Kaleb and Jasmine worked together to bath the two puppies.

Jessica dropped by at just the right time to bathe her dog.
Next time I'll post pictures of the twin's 5 year homecoming anniversary.

If you don't follow my blog for girls HERE, please consider doing so. Getting a book published is becoming harder and harder and the publishers are looking for authors who already have a following. I'm not a public person, so my blog for girls and my newly created author facebook page HERE are it.

 I do book give aways on the girls blog, post crafts from the books, devotions from the books and such. It's really for the parents as much as the girls most of the time. Today I posted a January give away so check it out.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Circle Time

We are back to a rut, er, routine now that the holidays are several weeks behind us. History fair project is turned in and the second quarter of school has ended. Unfortunately, not very successfully for any of the youngest three. Sigh. Such great kids, such struggles with school. 

So we try to focus on what they can do and who they are apart from what report cards show. Because really, report cards don't really tell you much about a child. If you've read chapter twelve of the book below, you know what I'm talking about. I'm thinking we might read this book in our evening circle time.

(And by the way, I did ask them to consider redoing the book cover because I think having a lone causcasian boy on the cover keeps many people from choosing it)

Circle time was added to our routine in December after I read the book below about how you can have an influence on others around you including your kids.

It's a good book to read. And it prompted circle time at our house. Everyone comes to circle time no matter what kind of day it has been. Two days a week there is no circle time due to schedules and sometimes we only meet for a few minutes because life is crazy. But if we do have circle time, everyone comes. During circle time only positive things can be said. We don't deal with any issues or behaviors. No one can criticize or be rude to another person.

The part of the book that made me start circle time was a story about a father who started a reading time with his daughter after they'd lost other family members and it was only the two of them left. They read at least one chapter of a book every day. They were only going to do it for a set number of days, but ended up continuing it clear until the daughter left for college. They started with The Wizard of Oz. We have a couple different sets of classics so I thought "Certainly we can read a chapter of a book every night." We have done this off and on in the past reading books like The Giver, The Forgotten Door, Number the Stars, Call it Courage and so on.

I chose Heidi to begin with. I thought we could read it and then watch one of the movies based on it. The book I'm reading is from 1924 so the wording is old fashioned. Fun to listen to, but a bit frustrating at times. I find it interesting that a secular classic talks several times about praying to God and asking him for what you want. Then understanding that if it doesn't happen, it's because he has a different plan or he plans to give you what you ask for but at another time. Clara's grandmother tells Heidi this several times. Then later Heidi talks to her grandfather about God and prayer.

Anyway, so we started reading Heidi. And I had everyone start a journal. Since it was near the end of the year, I asked everyone to write down their favorite things from 2014. The next day I asked them to write a wish list for 2015 (I plan to help as many of those happen as are realistic and possible), and then a couple of days later I asked them to write actual goals for 2015. We also watch for interesting or inspiring quotes and share them in circle time and write down the ones we like best. So the journals have a lot of different stuff in them, including notes from the DVD series shown below.

There is no penalty for not writing things down and there is no criticism so that everyone can be vulnerable with their feelings and goals. There are small daily rewards and other rewards like rubber band wrist bands with verses on them for continued good effort (not necessarily results).

We added in watching a DVD series that gives a lot of Bible background, but we can only watch it on the days there are no evening activities. I really recommend this to families who are interested in Bible study. It will give you a better understanding of Bible times and places.

And we've started a character trait of the month. January's trait is Respect. Tonight we went to YouTube for some songs and raps about respect and the three decided to learn a couple of them and perform them on video for me in the next few weeks. It's good to see them excited about working together on this. There is some frustration because one child can act well below age level and annoy the other two. Said child is going in for ADHD testing next week because it has affected school behavior--not being able to stay on task and in the seat long enough to complete a simple assignment or lesson--to the point where repeating a grade has become a real possibility.

So circle time varies every day by what we have time to do and which things we choose to do--read Heidi, talk about goals, talk about respect, and watch the DVD series. Not everything happens everyday. We also need to finish Just for Me: My Family that we started clear back in the summer. We just need to do the last chapter and I think we are going to do the pinata for Valentine's Day. Since each chapter talks about an animal family I promised them a trip to the zoo when we finish the book. That will happen after we do the pinata.

If you have children 5-8, check out the family oriented activities in this book. You can order it HERE.

When we were starting circle time, we were talking a lot about being the light to others and that somewhat became our theme for 2015. 

Be the Light.

Matthew 5:14-16New Living Translation (NLT)

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Taste of Racism

We talk pretty openly about anything and everything in our family. That includes skin color. But we've never made a big deal about it. We kid each other about who's going to burn worse at the beach. Laugh together when people ask me why I sunblock my dark kids since they don't burn--um, yeah they do! Just not as easily. We kid about being white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. 

My kids know what racism is, and like me, they get tired of all these cases in the news where a shooting is blamed on racism. Who's to say it wouldn't still have happened if both people were the same color? White people shoot white people all the time. And black people shoot black people all the time. It just doesn't make national news.

Unfortunately Jasmine got her first taste of racism directed at her at the Frozen sing a long at Disney. The twins too, but they didn't notice. It was one of those occasions where they are trying to get everyone to scoot in to make more room at a show. I don't scoot. But we had a lot of room in the middle of our bench, and I saw a white mom with two white girls about 4 & 7 or 8 looking for a seat. I said, "We have room for all three of you by us." I was on the end, Jasmine was next and then the twins. The mom took a look at my kids and turned her back without saying a word. She had the two girls squish together on the bench right in front of me, and she sat on a tiny bit of bench right in front of them. 

The sing a long hadn't started yet, so Jasmine started singing one of the Frozen songs, and the older girl turned around and joined in. When it was done, the girl looked at me and said, "Do you think anyone heard us?" I said, "I'm sure they did, and they were amazed at how beautiful it was." She had this big smile. 

She and Jasmine started to sing another song, and the mom looked back and saw. She told the girl to stop singing and face forward. She was pretty harsh, and it seemed way out of place for a Disney sing a long! The girl half turned around but kept singing. 

The mom pulled her up off the bench and sent her to sit somewhere toward the front. I'm assuming there was a friend or family member there. Then the little girl started singing, and the mom grabbed her and sat her on her lap.

Jasmine looked at me and said, "What's going on? We're not going to get into trouble for singing at a sing a long even if it hasn't started."

And I told her the truth. It was obvious by the looks the lady had given the twins and was still giving Jasmine. Jasmine was speechless for a couple of second. Finally she said, "Their mom doesn't want them to sing with me because of my color?"

She was a bit shocked but okay, and the show was ready to start, so I just kidded with her. "She must think it's contagious." I rubbed my arm against hers. She hugged up against me and enjoyed the show. In fact, we went a second time despite an extremely long waiting line since it was Christmas week.

We talked about it later, and she'll bring it up once in a while. But it doesn't get her down. She just thinks that mom is "crazy" to think like that. Yeah, me too, Jasmine, me too.

Monday, January 19, 2015

What's Cooking part 2

 The first picture was a group project meal. It came out really well.

Spicy Chicken Bake

1/4c margarine
1 med onion chopped
1 can rotel (mild or spicy depending on how spicy you want it)
2 c. cooked chicken cubed
2 cans cream of chicken soup (it calls for 1 mushroom, 1 chicken originally)
12 corn tortillas torn into bite sized pieces
2 c. shredded cheese

Preheat oven 350. In large saucepan, cook onion in margarine until tender. Add soup, rotel, and chicken. Stir until well blended. In 13"x9" baking pan alternate layers—tortillas, soup mixture and cheese, repeating three layers. Bake 40 min until hot and bubbling.

Jasmine made the chicken pasta that was also in the last post. But this is a couple of months later.

Chicken Pasta
I T vegetable oil
2 lbs boneless chicken breast cubed
2 can (10 ¾ oz) Campbell’s condensed cream of chicken with herb soup
1 c milk
4 T grated Parmesan cheese
2 t chili powder
1 t garlic powder
8 c cooked corkscrew pasta

Heat oil in skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned. Add soup, milk, cheese, chili powder and garlic powder. Heat. Serve over pasta. Serves 6-8

Ty David cooked when he was home at Christmas.

Beef Stir Fry
2 T cornstarch                          2 med carrots thinly sliced
2 t sugar                                   6 oz package frozen pea pods thawed
6 T soy sauce                           2 T chopped onion
¼ c apple juice                         2 T vegetable oil divided
1 lb boneless beef round steak 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts undrained
      cut into strips                hot cooked rice
3 c broccoli florets

In a bowl, combine cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce and apple juice until smooth. Add beef and toss to coat; set aside. In a large skillet, stir-fry broccoli, carrots, pea pods and onion in 1 T oil for one minute. Stir in water chestnuts. Cover and simmer four minutes. Remove and keep warm. In the same skillet, stir-fry beef in remaining oil until meat reaches desired doneness. Return vegetable to pan. Toss. Serve over rice. 

 Our family really likes stir fry--both this beef one and a chicken one that is a bit different.

Kayla is chopping up cream cheese for crock pot potato soup. It's a much easier recipe than the other one we have for crock pot potato soup. She was supposed to cube the cream cheese but didn't know what that meant.

Easy Crock Pot Potato Soup
30 oz frozen diced hash browns
32 oz chicken broth (we make ours from bullion)
10 oz can cream of chicken
8 oz cream cheese (not fat free)
3 oz bacon bits
1 cup shredded cheddar

Put hash browns, broth, cream of chicken and half the bacon in the crock pot on low for 5-6 hours or until the hash browns are tender. An hour before serving the soup, cube the cream cheese and put in the crock pot with the soup. Mix. After an hour, mix in the cream cheese thorough and top with the shredded cheese and rest of the bacon.

The girls made their own foil wrapped taco chicken. Kaleb was doing homework, and Rick was still at work, so they helped with those too.

We got this idea from the One Crowded House blog, and adapted it slightly.

Foil Wrapped Taco Chicken
Boneless chicken breast per person
Taco seasoning
Potatoes peeled and thinly sliced (a half of large or whole small per person)
Shredded Mexican cheese
Sour cream

Preheat oven 400F. Place serving of potato slices on a large piece of foil for each person. Cut the chicken into strips and put one portion on each foil on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle with taco seasoning. (Per individual taste) Add one tablespoon of salsa and shredded cheese to each. Wrap the foil over the chicken mixture. Place on cookie sheet and bake 30-35 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Release steam and let stand five minutes. Serve with sour cream.