Wednesday, March 31, 2010

JJ Update

Well, this is an exciting week for JJ because Friday marks the return of our tournament trip travels!!! If I might remind you at the end of last summer JJ ‘played hotel’ to reenact our travels from the previous season. He still likes to play pretend but the scenario has now progressed into him being a player! First we go into his room where he gets all changed into his uniform, which is one of his many jerseys....

He then proceeds to have his game which involves making shots on the little hoop that hangs over his closet door.

He sort of goes through a play-by-play announcement the entire time. I am responsible for ‘coaching him’ and drawing up plays. :) Then once the game is over (and you know it’s over because he usually yells out “We did it! We won the championship!!!!”) it is time to pack up his little game bag and get changed. He changes into different clothes and puts his uniform, bball shoes, and a few other items into the bag (just like the big kids do) and he puts his sandals on (over his socks, just like the KH hoops players do).

After that we usually take a ride on the couch to go out to eat (usually he picks the Olive Garden) and then we head to the hotel (Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom). We pretend to go to sleep and then wake up when it’s time to head to practice back in JJ’s room. And so the scenario goes! I think he would play this for hours if the rest of us were up for it. The problem is that this scenario is best if someone else is playing along with it, which means he usually has to recruit me, or Daddy, or Sam to play with him! Sam is usually the one that ends up playing the longest!!! :)

JJ is doing really well with his numbers. He likes to count out loud and see how far he can get. I know for sure that he can count to 50, and I think Jake and him have been working on getting to 100. When Jake and JJ were going to the state tournament games a few weeks ago JJ got a hold of the book-sized program with all the teams and players listed in it. He started going through it and finding the players that he knew and memorizing their uniform numbers!!!! Then, this spurred him to want to start memorizing the uniform numbers of the players in Jake’s program that he really likes! Jake’s been working on team rosters at our dining room table, and JJ would sit next to him and spout off his favorite KH players and then he would make Jake tell him their numbers. After a week or so of that JJ would see a number somewhere (like on the clock or on a house address) and then say “#15 that is so and so’s number” and he was always right! It sounds a little crazy, but I guess he has a thing for numbers. Now, when it comes to letters, not so much!!!! He knows his alphabet perfectly, and we have now started working on the sounds that each letter makes, BUT, he is definitely not as interested in this as he is with numbers. He just doesn’t get quite as excited about it. We have also started practicing writing letters and that has been very hard for him. He does not like holding the pen/pencil/marker the correct way (he would rather hold it in his fist) so that is the biggest thing that we are working on.
He can trace letters pretty well , but cannot write them freehand (except for J’s). I’ve also noticed that when I have him write free-hand he writes some letters backwards (like L’s, B’s, and C’s). I bought a little white erase board book that you can trace letters on with a marker, and then wipe and erase and it has been pretty handy. I also bought a letter tracing coloring book which we will take with us to the tournaments, so hopefully we will get some good time to work on it while we sit in the bleachers.

Let’s see other changes are that when we are out at restaurants now JJ often orders a cheeseburger to eat!!!!! I don’t know why I think this is so funny, but it just seems so grown up to me! I am used to him always ordering mac n’ cheese, so to see him hold a cheeseburger and take a big old bite out of it makes me see him as such a big boy!!!! JJ can also FINALLY hold the wii controller by himself and bowl! Up until the past two weeks or so, Jake has always had to help him so that he could get the release right. Jake would have him try to see if he could do it on his own, but he couldn’t ever time it right. Then all of a sudden last week he tried to do it on his own and was able to release it right time and again. So, now he is a big boy and bowls all by himself! JJ has also become quite dramatic in his conversations now and he will say things like, “Are you kidding me?!?!” and “You know what I am talking about, right?” and “I think we need to leave in 20 minutes so that are not late.” It’s just hilarious hearing these things come from a 3 ½ year old! Enjoy some more pictures!

Playing wii bowling all by himself.

"Hi Mom!"

"Bye Mom!"

Swingin like a big boy!!!!

Mowing away the last of the snow!

Sometimes they like to switch cars. :)

Watching practice.

And yes, he's still sportin his blankey!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sam Update

Well, you saw yesterday that our first big purchase for Sam has been a bike!!! And oh boy did he need something to get him around town! This boy is the most social thing that has maybe ever walked the streets of Huxley! :) His personality so craves friendships and things to do. He is not much for sitting around the house. He wants to be outside playing, or going somewhere, or doing something! Over spring break Sam got to spend lots of time with some friends that he has made in our town. The first day of break some of the boys from his school stopped by our house to see if he wanted to go down to the basketball courts. This was pre-bike days so I got him all set up in my old, yet un-used, roller blades to head down to the courts (about ½ mile from our house). I watched him through the window as he tried to get going down the sidewalk and almost wiped out twice so I quickly ran outside and made him take them off! Otherwise I thought that he would for sure end up with a broken hand if I let him try to remember how to skate (he said it had been awhile). Eventually one of his friends let him borrow a bike, and he ended up hanging with the neighborhood guys until sun-down that day. They all couldn’t wait until it got dark so that they could play a game called camouflage which sounded something similar to tag combined with capture the flag but with flashlights. For the rest of spring break he hung out at Jake’s gym a lot, went to a roller skating party, got invited to go to an Iowa Energy game (and caught one of the players headbands that was thrown out after the game which was very exciting for him), stayed the night at two different friend’s houses, and had a friend over to spend the night at our place. Many of Sam’s good school friends are from families that go to our church, so we have already seen them around and know their names. It has been a huge blessing for Sam to have made such great friends already! What an answer to prayer!

Sam is on Jake’s 5th grade Kingdom Hoops team, so that has kept him busy as well. He has practice on Monday and Thursday nights, so Jake picks him up right after school and they head to the gym. He LOVES to stay at the gym after practice to hang out while Jake coaches the older players. I usually bring JJ to the gym on those nights as well, so they have fun bumming around and playing ‘pick-up’ games with the other kids there. The high school teams have started practicing again now too, and the first weekend that Sam got to watch them practice was so exciting for him. He was talking about all the players all the way home, and asking Jake all sorts of questions about them. He is going to love traveling to tournaments and getting to watch the older kids play.

Sam is also keeping me very up-to-date on what songs are ‘in’ for kids these days. We made a c.d. the other night, and this song playing is one of the songs that he had picked out. I just LOVE this song!!!! A couple of other songs that he wanted on the c.d. were Mr. Postman by the Marvelettes and I Feel Good by James Brown. :) I’ve also noticed that Sam can definitely carry a tune....he’s got a good singing voice! Enjoy the pictures!

At practice...

Practicing in the kitchen!

Listening to the new c.d.

Hangin out after school!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fun with Daddy!


Airplane rides will never go out of style around our house!

Jayla loves to wrestle Daddy in the morning.

She thinks that if she hides her eyes then he can't see her. :)

Sometimes even Daddy has to play babies!

And, Daddy bought Sam a new bike!

But guess who had to try it out first?!?!?!

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Full Plate

Do you ever feel like there is a lot being demanded from you?

The other day I read this:

Mark 6:30-34
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

My study guide gave further insight. It mentioned how Jesus had intended to take the disciples away for some time to rest since they had just returned from their mission of going village to village preaching about the kingdom of God and healing the sick. But these verses show that instead of finding some time alone, the crowds followed Jesus and the disciples. A verse in Luke gives further details of Jesus’ reaction to the crowds:

Luke 9: 11
But the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the Kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

Then my study guide posed this thought: Instead of showing impatience at this interruption, Jesus welcomed the people and ministered to their needs. How do you see people who interrupt your schedule – as nuisances, or as the reason for your life and ministry?

Hmmmm……GOOD question! I was VERY challenged by this, and more so by Jesus’ response. I am slowly learning that when God puts people in your life who have needs that you can meet, then you meet them. Even when it isn’t convenient. Even when you would rather rest. Even when you don’t want to meet their needs anymore. About a day or so after I had read all of this in scripture, I also came across this excerpt from the book Jesus Calling:

Walk by faith, not by sight. As you take steps of faith, depending on Me, I will show you how much I can do for you. If you live your life too safely, you will never know the thrill of seeing Me work through you. When I gave you My spirit, I empowered you to live beyond your natural ability and strength. That's why it is so wrong to measure your energy level against the challenges ahead of you. The issue is not your strength but Mine, which is limitless. By walking close to Me, you can accomplish My purposes in My strength.

When I feel like there is a little too much on my plate, or too many needs to meet, or not enough time in the day, or when I am feeling stretched beyond all of my limits, I must remember that God does not ask me to go it alone. These exact moments are the best times for me to truly experience His strength and power!!

Phillipians 4:19
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait!

If you heard any hootin’ and hollerin’ from the Huxley way last week it was because we received the last of the documents that we needed from Kofi to send in our I-600 form!!!!! As of this past Monday afternoon it was all mailed off to await approval from the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services. Whew! I’ve been waiting for this moment for a LONG time. I double, triple and quadruple checked our forms as well as all the other supporting documents that had to go along with it. Then, I said a little prayer that it would make it to its destination as I packaged it all up and sealed the envelope….

What a beautiful sight! It felt so good to get this packet out of my hands and into the hands of the UPS gal. What a relief. Now, everything is done and filled out, and all we have to do is sit and wait some more. :) This packet is now on its way to a sorting/lockbox facility in Dallas, TX and then it will be routed to our local U.S.CIS. office in Des Moines. Per the explanation in the instructions, once the I-600 form has been accepted it is then checked for completeness including submission of all the required ‘evidences’ which are documents such as the adoption decree, Samuel’s birth certificate, death certificate for Samuel’s father, home study report, etc. The approval or non-approval of the I-600 is a determination of whether or not we have established eligibility for our request for the adoption of Samuel. Once the decision is made we will be notified in writing via good ‘ol snail mail. Processing time can take anywhere from 1-3 months.

I am going to be praying that I have everything filled out completely and accurately, and that they will not need to have us send more evidence as this will just delay processing (I submitted all evidences that were required but it does note that they may possibly request more information). I am also going to be praying that we will have our approval in 4 weeks or less. Once we have this approval we then schedule Samuel’s visa exit interview appointment with the Embassy in Ghana by e-mail and then we can book our flights accordingly to coincide with the exit interview! I cannot even possibly imagine how exciting this trip will be to bring Samuel home. I have to keep reminding myself…one step at a time….don’t want to jump too far ahead, but boy is it exciting to think about what those moments will feel like when we are finally off to bring our son home!

I wonder if he’s been practicing? :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


....or as JJ put it our Big Fat Party....was held last week during spring break. It was our second year of gathering up the coaches and their families who were in town for a lil down-home-cookin’ and a lil NCAA basketball. We had to recruit Coach Julian to cook the meal for us again since my fried chicken skills are not quite up to par yet. It was nice to have someone else cook for a change, and I KNOW that our guests LOVED Julian’s food. Sam called it ‘soul food’, that’s how good it was!!!!! Here are some pictures of our fun:

The master chef…Coach Julian

On the menu was fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, spaghetti and my personal favorite….pound cake for dessert!!!!!!!

Lining up for some grub.

Last year we threw this party when Yaw had arrived in the U.S. Hard to believe he’s only been with us 1 year!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seems like he’s always been with us.

The kids watched the newly released Princess & The Frog

Mommy & Sammy

And of course, Jayla had to be the center of Yaw's attention. :)

They played by this window for a long time and Jayla would point outside and ‘talk’ to Yaw about everything that she saw. It was so cute!

Now I have to humble myself and tell you that my brackets are already down the drain!!!!!!!!!!! This is not typical. In fact, may I remind you that last year I was the only one out of our family to pick the NCAA champs! :) But, not this year. Sam, Julian, Jake and I filled out the brackets this year, and all 4 of us had picked Kansas to win. But, for once I don’t mind that my bracket is busted. GO Panthers GO!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This is Us

We are….




The Same







Children of God


Full of lots to say


Missing 1 member



Monday, March 22, 2010

The Path

Each day I have many choices to make. Lately I’ve been picturing my life as a path, and in each decision that I make I see that I am choosing to go one of two ways. I can either make decisions that will keep me on the path that God has paved for me. Or, I can choose to trail off this path to succumb to my own agenda and priorities.

When my alarm goes off at 6:45am for me to get up and spend 20 precious and quiet minutes reading God’s word and in prayer, will I do it? Will I give Him my anxieties and worries and allow His word to align my perspective to where it should be? Will I take this time to find hope in His promises and guidance in His wisdom? Will I sit at the feet of my Savior before the rest of the house wakes up and there is breakfast to be made, and people to get dressed, and blogs to post? Or will I consciously make the decision to roll back into those ever-appealing moments of sleep until my next alarm clock comes 20 minutes later over the baby monitor? Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

When JJ acts out in disobedience and disrespect to me will I discipline him lovingly, with a caring voice and gentle instruction? Or will I give full vent to my anger and yell demands at him because it feels better to get my frustration out? Ephesians 4:29,31 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

When people are rude, shady, and backstabbing to me or my husband will I forgive them, pray for them, and treat them kindly? Or will I harden my heart towards them and hastily think about how good it will feel when they finally get what they deserve? Luke 6:27-28 But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

When my ideas and my husband’s ideas aren’t quite lining up will I choose to respect him and support him and his decisions? Or will I keep score so that when the time is right I can spout off my list of everything that he isn’t doing for me in an effort to showcase that I think I deserve more? Ephesians 5:33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

When I am occasionally asked to pick Sam up from school in the middle of kiddo nap time will I do so with a good attitude? Or will I complain and whine about how nap time is my only time to get anything done and then grudgingly drag my feet all the way thinking I deserve more time to work on my to do list. Ephesians 6:7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.

With each of these choices, will I stop and pray first and ask God to help me to respond in the right way? Or will I act upon my first instinct because it’s easier, quicker, gives momentary fulfillment, and takes less thought? Psalm 25:8-9 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

These are just a few of the choices I am faced with each day. To take God’s path is harder. It means I must submit to Him. I must surrender my desires, agendas, and plans for my life and instead give way for Him to work in me according to His purposes. On His path I can be certain that He will develop my character through trials and joys and hardships and blessings and pain and happiness and sorrow. On God’s path I am told to do everything opposite of what the world tells me. I am told I must deny myself. I can’t divulge myself in the world’s standards that seem to tug at me all day long. Instead I must lose my life in Him. God’s path is clear. It is completely marked out for me in his word, if I choose to read it and pray over it. It is my choice as to whether I will let His words take reign in my heart, and another choice as to whether or not I will put them into practice.

But, on the other hand, my path often looks much more appealing. It looks easier. And more comfortable. I often think that it would feel much better if I could go along with my own agenda. If I could just make decisions off my own thoughts, feelings, and plans then I think everything will still turn out ok. When my desires are filled, it feels good for the moment. And sometimes, that seems to be all that matters. My path is much simpler to take when I am not spending time reading my Bible, because God’s instructions are not on my heart. My only care is my desires. Desires like venting my anger, and getting revenge, and getting more sleep, and more time to myself, and less time meeting other people’s needs and more time spent on getting what I think I deserve. But in reality, something opposite of all this happens when I veer off God’s path. Take for instance when I press the alarm off and go back to sleep without spending time with God before I start my day. What happens is that I regret it because my only chance at time alone with Him is lost to the busyness of the day. Throughout the day God’s wisdom, commands, and perspective are not fresh on my mind, or fresh on my heart like they could be if I only would have gotten up. I feel worry, unrest, and anxiousness instead of peace, joy, and clarity. I respond to situations in a different way than I would have if God’s word was center stage for the day. And all for the pleasure of 20 more minutes of sleep. Definitely not worth it. When I yell in anger and impatience at my kids I am looking for a moment of satisfaction in venting my frustrations. Instead I watch as their faces sink, and I see and feel their hurt at my response. When I keep score with my husband I think I will find reason for not respecting him. But what I find instead is brokenness and distance. And, these are the types of consequences I face when I veer off God’s path and take my own.

But, when I do choose the wrong way, I thankfully find that I serve a God who is rich in grace and mercy. I expect condemnation and pointing fingers. But I find forgiveness. I expect Him to throw up His hands and say ‘What am I going to do with you? Haven’t you learned this yet?” But instead I find open, loving, arms that say ‘Come and sit with me awhile. Let Me give you strength to do better next time.” Yes, I still have to face the consequences of my choices. But, God is not man. He doesn’t give up on me, or shun me, or leave me for lost. He gently guides me onward, leading me back onto this path that He has called me too. “Count the cost,” I hear Him say. And then, “Come follow Me.”

Isaiah 30:21
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Some Beach.....

…somewhere is calling my name. But, I won’t be seeing it this year. :) However, in line with spring break, I am going to be taking a little blogging break the rest of this week to have some time to catch up around the house! No I won’t be sinking my toes into some nice, warm sand, but hopefully I will be walking across some nice and clean living room carpet. I’ll be soaking up some sunshine in the form of 3 bright and shiny faces looking at me and asking what I want to play next! And, I’ll be sipping a wonderful concoction of coffee and creamer while I hopefully use my extra non-blogging time to catch up on my kids’ picture books!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, I am dreaming of this…..

But instead I will have to get my excitement from this.....
(Melted snowman remnants I found while walking through the yard this weekend.) This is proof that SPRING IS COMING!!!!!!!!!! WHOOO HOOOO!

If you are going somewhere warm this week, have fun and I’ll catch up with you next Monday!