Monday, May 30, 2011

A Bit About Josiah

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Josiah spends every Sunday evening volunteering his time at The Mosaic Centre. The Mosaic Centre is a place for people to go for a hot meal, a conversation, access to the Internet and fellowship.

Our friends Arnie and Rebekah have taken Josiah under their wing and have become mentors to him, and I am so thankful to them for doing this! I love that he has found somewhere to give back. Josiah is very sensitive, has a huge heart and much compassion for others. He is seeing things here that most kids don't see or even know exist. Josiah helps out wherever he can. He helps in the kitchen, he plays games with people, he helps people on the computer.

I believe this experience is shaping Josiah to become an amazing man. A couple of weeks ago, Josiah and Arnie hit the streets looking for children to invite for a Kid's Night, these are some of the kids that they found. He said it was the best night yet and they had so much fun!

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"But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish." Psalm 9:18

I have been thinking lately about how blessed we are when we feel so strongly called to do something by God, that we can only obey, and because of that obedience we are abundantly blessed.

This is a prayer for each of my children... that they will find their calling and be blessed for it.


Romans 12:3-16

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer Flowers

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Today, we went to our local greenhouse to buy our plants for the summer.

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The girls loved it. Zoe ran around laughing and they both loved walking through all the puddles.

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They found some lovely dandelions and thought they were the prettiest flowers there... I did have to encourage them not to pick any of the other flowers.

If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn. ~Andrew Mason

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Lilah was very excited to help me plant the flowers...

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To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat. ~Beverly Nichols

Friday, May 27, 2011

Meeting a bloggy friend

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Today, I got to meet one of my bloggy friends. Kim and Addison came over for a visit and playdate this morning and we definitely had a lot to talk about.

Addison is in town to meet a specialist to see what needs to be done regarding her liver. She is one beautiful and sweet little girl!

I have so many great bloggy friends who have been there for me throughout our adoptions. These friends are some of the most cherished. What a blessing to meet Kim in person!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two years with Lilah

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It is said that an adopted child takes the same amount of time that they spent NOT in your family, to become completely comfortable in your family. That for Lilah, would be today. We got Lilah a week after she turned two and that was two years ago.

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Lilah is completely comfortable in our family. She belongs here and she remembers nothing of her foster family and time living in China.

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May 25, 2009 was a day of many changes in our lives. We were in such a comfortable spot. Our family was suppose to be complete and yet God called us very clearly to adopt. After two years of paperwork and waiting and switching programs, we finally travelled to meet this little girl that we had fallen in love with just by looking at a photo. We had no idea what to expect. And no idea how she would turn our lives around and upside down.

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Lilah hated me and refused to come to me. She would cling to Tim in terror when I came near. She cried and mourned for days and even months. She suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. She was hyper vigilant and would wake up every 20 minutes to make sure we hadn't left and her world hadn't shifted once again. She begged to go back to her "mama". Over the next 2 weeks, she slowly settled in and opened up and that glazed over, shocked, traumatic look, finally started to disappear.

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To be honest, Lilah has been a struggle from day one and 24 months later, everyday is still a struggle with her. I often wondered why God gave me Eli, who is stubborn and difficult and has a entitled personality. I now know why. Because Lilah is the exact same way, and if I hadn't had Eli, I would be at a complete emotional loss. I recently read this post and could relate to everything this mother said. This is Lilah.

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Personality:

Lilah has an entitled personality. We believe that she was very spoiled (and we know very loved) in foster care. She ate what she wanted, she was carried around and doted on by the five adults in her life, she co-slept with her foster mother. I believe that her personality was shaped by these experiences and that also it is largely her personality. Eli wasn't coddled, spoiled, etc. and he is the same way... the only difference that can make this hard, is that I was attached to Eli from day one, Lilah came into our lives at two years old, and I loved her from day one, but I don't always like her. Lilah is tiny and cute and demands attention where ever she is. The minute someone pays attention to her she plays it up big time. And she does expect this from everyone. She is really very mature in a lot of ways (she is one smart kid) and yet she loves to be completely babied.

Lilah is very controlling and becomes more so the older she gets. I understand her need for control in her life. But she is one of those very bossy little girls that is going to struggle with friendships. She needs to know what the outline for each day is, what we need to buy when we are shopping, the itinerary for our daily errands, she even wants to know exactly what day it is and what time it is. She needs to know when the meals are and what they will be. She often tries to be a parent, especially to Zoe. She tries to be self sufficient, she does not like to ask for help. I do know that she will be a very strong adult and a very successful adult because of her personality type.

Food:

The biggest issue. Lilah would spit anything out she didn't want to eat. She only wanted crackers, rice, noodles and meat. She hated fruits and vegetables. She still does. We gave into her for awhile and then slowly started changing the rules about nutrition. Lilah was very tiny, very skinny and undernourished. Her hair was unhealthy and her energy was low. We had to try many different routes to get her to eat what was expected. She would sit in her chair for 3-4 hours and refuse to eat her fruits and veggies. We would often start our next meal, while she was still finishing her previous meal. We then told her she had to eat the fruit and veggies first, before she could have the meat, rice, etc. She would still sit for hours and refuse to eat or eat so slowly... We then had to start setting a timer and put her in time outs until she was ready to cooperate. This was affecting our whole family. We could not all sit around for hours waiting for Lilah to eat, we have things to do. (This is a recurring theme with Lilah -- her time lines and dramatic behaviors affecting the whole family). Eventually, she decided to give in and start eating fruits and vegetables more quickly. She still hates it and still has moments when she will try to eat the other stuff first, if I am not looking, or she will decide that she is going to take her time today. She is still often the last one sitting at the table. I try to be careful, as I don't want this to cause any sort of eating disorders in her future, but I will say that she is much healthier.

Another issue we have had to deal with is that Lilah just expects things. If another child asks for a snack or a drink, Lilah will run to the kitchen and just sit there and stare at me, expecting me to just give her one too. She doesn't ask... just expects. If ANYONE has a snack in their hands, she would go over and stand by them and stare at them, waiting for them to give her some. We nipped this in the bud very quickly, but even now, she will still try it. We have to convince her on a daily basis to USE HER WORDS. A lady gave her a cracker at the pool the other day and when I turned around a few minutes later, Lilah was leaning across the chair staring at her.

Lilah is a tiny 24lbs. 4lbs more than she was when we got her. She has grown 4 3/4 inches.

Bringing Zoe home has been a huge help in this area. Zoe eats everything and loves fruits and vegetables. It has become a bit of a competition to see who can be done faster.

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Sleep:

This one only took a few months, but at the time felt like forever. The first few days, Lilah slept on Tim's chest. Then she slept beside him. She slept with us for the first while when we got home. We then moved her into her own room and crib. She hated it. It would take hours to get her to bed and she would wake up constantly. It was exhausting. She didn't want any comfort items. Not even a blanket touching her. After a few months, she started sleeping through the night, with a blanket and stuffies. She is a very good sleeper.

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Behavior:

Everyday brought new challenges with Lilah. We would feel like we finally overcame one issue and then she would decide to start with something else. Everyday, she would scream many times. If she didn't get her way. If she had a timeout (she still does this every time). If we gave her food she didn't want. If we told her she had to do something she didn't want to do. If we brushed her teeth or washed her hair. It was exhausting and started to drag our entire family down. I took her drama very personally. She made me feel like the worst mother ever. After about 18 months, I finally realized that I am not the worst mother ever and that I wasn't going to allow her to dictate over this family or me anymore. We were at a point where we didn't even want to go out in public for fear that she would lose it over something trivial.... because the way that she reacted and cried and carried on, you would think we had tortured her! We have a zero tolerance policy with her... there are no warnings, only obedience. Screaming over every little thing is now unacceptable and will not be tolerated. If it means the rest of the family gets to go out and have fun and she has to stay home (with me of course) then so be it. As soon as she realized how serious we were, it improved dramatically and even though she still tries to pull it off every once and awhile, she quickly realizes it doesn't work. She has five seconds to stop crying when it is inappropriate and she does.

I am sure in her head she thinks her life is the roughest and that she is the only one who is punished in these ways, she takes it all very personally. This is the way Eli often feels, he is at an age now where he can vocalize these things... Thank goodness I have gone through this once before and know that these reactions will slowly diminish as she grows up. I can already see it changing.

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Communication and Affection:

After we brought Zoe home, we realized how unaffectionate Lilah really is. Lilah loves to be carried and coddled and held, but we realized that she never reciprocated these actions. She never gave out hugs, she never wrapped her arms around you and squeezed, she never gave kisses in return. We had to start teaching her how to give affection in return. We had to tell her to squeeze and wrap her arms around us. We had to ask for kisses. This is still a work in progress...

Lilah will go to her daddy and siblings EVERY TIME, before she will come to me for ANYTHING. There are some deep underlying issues in her subconscious that need to be worked on, and are being worked on slowly. If Lilah was punished or scolded, she would go to her siblings for comfort, not her parents who she was mad at. We have had to explain this situation to the older kids and they work with us, when we give them a "look" they know to back off and not be the comforters for her. Every once in awhile we still have to regress in this area and have the kids completely back off. She would rather go with no affection, then take it from someone she is angry at. We try to get our cuddle time in at bedtime... rocking and reading. That is about all she is willing to give.

If Lilah doesn't want to talk, she won't. She will stand and stare at you and refuse to answer. This drives us crazy, as we expect all of our children to be respectful and to speak when spoken too. We often see Lilah shut down when we go off on our tangents, too many words... and she hears nothing. She often shuts down even with the simplest messages... we started saying to her TALK. LISTEN. OBEY. Just three simple words. She gets it, but at times can't even repeat it.

Two Years Later:

There are still struggles everyday. If we back off even slightly, she will take advantage of that. When Tim and I aren't around, she behaves totally different with her siblings... there are no manners, she is bossy, she whines and demands and refuses to obey. She still doesn't understand why we would punish her for anything and takes it very personally.

Lilah is beautiful and very sweet. Like Eli, she is one extreme or the other. She is full of joy and happiness most of the time. You just never know when to expect one of her outbursts. She is very smart and remembers things you would never expect her to remember. She is the strongest little girl I know, has dealt (and has yet to deal) with so much in her four years. We wouldn't trade her for anything!

I do pray that our relationship as mother and daughter, will become stronger and more affectionate. I work on this everyday. I am a very guarded person, who likes her walls, sometimes it is hard to let Lilah in to cause more pain... but she is my daughter and I try to let her in even though she may reject me again. She has told me outright that she loves me, but she loves daddy more.

Adoption can be hard. Adoption can be easy. But it is always worth it and it is always wonderful and breathtaking.

If anyone has any experiences or tips... please share.

On a side note:

We have a tentative surgery date for July 7th. The Opthamoligist has to rearrange his schedule a bit to get this date to work, so hopefully he can, and we can get this first surgery out of the way. It will be about a 2 1/2 hour surgery and she should only be in for one night.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Working hard for what you want.

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Eli has been working very hard for days. He has been bugging me for an ipod touch for the past year and I have been telling him that he is too young and it is too much money.

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He started pestering me again a couple of days ago and I had a little brainwave... I have had so many little annoying jobs that have needed to get done in my house and I never seem to find the time to do them. They always just continued to hang over my head, driving me crazy! I decided that Eli could do them and EARN the money he desired to get his ipod touch.

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The thing about Eli is that he is willing to work really, really hard. Especially if there is something he wants at the end of it. He always does a good job and will do things that his older siblings aren't willing to even try doing. Eli worked ALL DAY yesterday and ALL DAY today. He organized and cleaned my kitchen and bathroom cabinets. He scrubbed the deck and put out patio furniture. He cleaned the inside of the suburban. He folded laundry. He organized our furnace room and storage room. He helped Tim clean the garage. The list goes on...

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All my little jobs are now done, thanks to his help and if it cost me the price of an ipod and made Eli happy... then I am estatic.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Disney Store and a doctor update

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We almost didn't make it to the Disney Store on Lilah's birthday... due to one of her stubborn streaks that morning. Eventually, she decided to cooperate and we headed out. Lilah chose this princess sundress and a very large and loud singing Ariel doll.

Yesterday, we saw the plastic surgeon for a check up. The fills are done! He now wants her tissue expander to sit there for eight weeks and we should be hearing about a surgery date soon. We do know that everything will not be done at once, so there will be a few surgeries.

The first surgery should improve her looks as the Opthamologist fixes her eye and the Plastic Surgeon fills some of the sunken area with fat and tissue.

They want to fix her nose on the right side as well and this will likely be the most difficult area to fix. They take some of the cartilage from her ear to do this and right now the cartilage is just too soft, she needs to be a little bit older. Also, the craniofacial surgeon will want to do a bone graft in her facial cleft at some point, but right now feels that she is too small.

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Zoe loves to dress up. Her favorite pick from her shopping trip at the Disney Store was these shoes. She wears them all day, everyday and begs to wear them out of the house. They even have a little heel. She also got this veil for her birthday and wears it all the time... she even tried to wear it to church.

You can always tell when Zoe is feeling pretty. She will twirl around, put her hands on her hips and pose. You would think she is a runway model.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lilah is Four!

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Today, Lilah is four years old! After having Zoe's birthday, Abby's birthday and Josiah's birthday, this has been a long wait for her.

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Once again... we will head to the Disney Store at West Edmonton Mall and having a little shopping spree just for her!

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Lilah is such a sweet little girl. She is quite mature for her age and often surprises me by speaking like a little adult. She is one smart girl and amazes everyone around her! She loves to sing and sings right on key. She is very brave and has overcome many issues in her young life.

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Lilah has been in our lives for almost two years (we just missed her second birthday when we went to get her) and we can't imagine life without her.

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Lilah's verse on her new doll - the verse given to me the day we received her referral.

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." -- 1 Samuel 16:7

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Pinkalicious Party

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Today was Zoe and Lilah's Pinkalicious birthday party.

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Tim read the girls the books Pinkalicious and Goldilicious. He is much better at this type of thing! Pinkalicious eats too many pink cupcakes and turns pink. The only way to get back to normal is to eat a lot of green vegetables. Goldilicious is her imaginary friend the Unicorn.

The girls ate lots of pink cupcakes.

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They pulled open a cupcake pinata.

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They made tiaras and wands, just like Pinkalicious. And colored Pinkalicious coloring sheets.

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They all made their very own REAL Goldilicious...

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They played pin the cherry on the cupcake. And my girls opened many many gifts.

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The boys were a lot of help!

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All the girls came dressed up in pink, pink, pink!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Oh Brothers...

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I am entering this weeks I Heart Faces challenge.