Saturday, June 30, 2012

Prayer Pail

I really LOVED this craft idea I came along on the www.  It is called a prayer pail.  It is designed to help our family pray more specifically and intentionally.  We put our prayer pail on our kitchen table and when we pray at our meals and have our devotion after dinner we pick a stick out of the pail and specifically pray for whomever in on our stick.  The kids love to take turns picking a stick out of the pail and it is helping us teach them to pray.

Now this sweet mother who crafted this idea has a way better looking pail and tutorial but I wanted to be economical and use what I had.  So here's how I did it and how it works:

Gather your supplies:

  • can/bucket/pail (I used the can from our carrots at dinner the other night)
  • scrapbook paper
  • scrapbook stick on letters ( you could just write out Prayer Pail on the scrapbook paper but I used stickers)
  • craft sticks any size any kind (I used what we had on hand)
  • markers
  • glue stick

This is very simple and really does not need much instruction.  Basically you are going to cut out your scrapbook paper to fit around the can.  Stick on the letters to make it say "Prayer Pail."  Get your craft sticks and start adding names of people/places/things  you can pray for i.e family members, friends, missionaries, church leadership, foreign countries.  The list is exhaustive.  The great thing about it is you can change out the sticks as often as you want.  I hope this craft will be beneficial for you as well.  I am praying God will transform our childrens hearts and help them to see how essential prayer is.  

My new workout partner....

She is very serious about watching me and drinking all my water!!!

June Overview...

So this may be a super long post as I try to put a whole month into one post!!!  Sorry!!

  • We started June with a trip to the lake with some great friends!!  This was Linnea's first experience at the lake.  She loved it!! Jumped right in with the boys and had fun on boat rides, jet skiing, canoeing and tubing!!  The boys caught some fish and I think that might have been the highlight of their trip.  Nathan and daddy camped outside in a tent and mommy and everyone else slept inside.  So thankful for dear friends who opened up their home and shared a few days with us!

  • Next on the list for the month was Camp Winshape!!  This was Nathan's first year at camp.  I have to admit I teared up when I was leaving him and he seemed to be fine.  He got a little homesick the first night but after that he was fine.  He said his favorite activity was archery and he can't wait to go back next year.  I am not sure if this mama can take two whole weeks and not talk to him!! We'll see!

pottery class
I think he was exhausted!!
  • Dwarf girls get together = Favorite Things Party.  The past two summers the Dwarf girls have had get togethers with our kiddos.  Sweet Dwarf wife Vicki Maday is always so gracious to host us at her home.  She has a pool and the kids love to swim.  Last year we did a book swap and it was so fun so this year we did a favorite things party.  Each girl had to pick one of their favorite things and bring enough to share with each guest at the party.  The trick was you had to pick a favorite thing that was $5 dollars or under.  This caused us all to get creative and it was lots of fun.  I chose to take my favorite magazine World Magazine  (I HIGHLY recommend this mag!!) and my favorite summer drink and snack vanilla coke zero and white chocolate covered pretzels.  I save all my back issues of World so I just had to buy the snacks and wrap everything up all pretty.  It was lots of fun and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to have a girls get together that is fun and inexpensive.  

  • Our sweet friend Julie had her baby!!  So happy to be able to visit with Chris and Julie and baby Claire!!  Linnea LOVED holding the baby and wasn't really wanting to give her up!!

  • Fathers Day 2012.  This was a special Fathers day as last year this time we were waiting to hear who our newest family member would be.  So fun to have Linnea home with us this year!  We took a few ideas from the internet for gifts for the special dads in our lives.  The kids had a great time helping to put the gifts together.  We are so blessed to have David in our lives.  He is such a Godly father and husband and I couldn't be more grateful. 

  • VBS 2012 A THRILL RIDE through God's Creation!! And what a ride!!  This year I was not as extensively involved in VBS.  It was nice to not have so many responsibilities.  We all had a great week and Linnea did really well.  She did not stay every night as that would have been a bit much but the times she did stay she had a great time.  I think it helped having Ethan with her.  So thankful for our church and the proclamation of the gospel to our children!!  May they all come to know him early on and live passionate lives for Christ and HIS Kingdom!!
craft time!
Linnea and Mayah ... can't wait to have Ruthie and Ling join our picture!!
  • Pool Time - of course we are spending lots of time at the pool.  We are so thankful for such good neighbors and friends who invite us to go swimming often!!  Ethan is the only one who is not a water lover so much but he has come a very long way in this summer.  He now jumps into the pool and actually he has jumped without floaties - but it was purely accidental.  I will close with some pics and a video ... this is the kids doing what they call the "brother jump!!" Hope you are enjoying your summer!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

HaPpY 3 months Linnea!!

So much to report!!  I can hardly believe that we have had Linnea in our arms for 3 months now!!  She is growing so quickly and I am having to take it all in at the same quick pace.  It makes me sad - don't get me wrong I certainly want her to grow and catch up and meet all these milestones - but at the same time can it slow down just a bit - we just got her!!  Because we got her at an older age we missed out on so much of her life I just want time to slow down a wee bit!! She is such a joy and I can't imagine life without her here with us!!  This past week has been so full - she has made so much progress!!  Here are a few things that we have taken note of!
  • Bonding - this will continue to a process and something we will consciously continue to work on but we have seen huge improvements here - she is starting to respond better to DP when he comes home from work and she really is loving her mama!!!  I have even noticed her responding better to the boys - they are slowly but surly becoming her brothers.  She does pretty well in small environments but when she gets in big crowds we can see her nervous habits come out - she likes to be pretty close to mama and this mama is not complaining!!
  • Sleeping - oh how this has been a work in progress - we are on night three of being in her room and hopefully sleeping through the night.  Linnea's sleeping pattern has been really like clock work - she would go to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 and she would go to sleep fine - but in 3-4 hours around 11 - midnight she would wake up EVERY night and then continue to wake every 3-4 hours.  The last two nights she has not woken up at all.  Now she has tonight and I just went in and laid her back down - and calmed her down and she is back to sleep and hopefully for the whole night!
  • Speech - boy have we made some progress here!!  She can now say "uh-oh" on command as well as "ah."  She tries to say "I/eye" as she is pointing to her eyes.  She can also make the "b", "t",  "da", and "p" sounds.  She whispers all of those sounds - but hey I will take any of it!!  When she waves her hand "bye bye" we are having her say the "b" sound and she does it most times!! DP heard her say "daddy" and of course his heart melted.  She has been saying "mama" she generally calls us all that so it is not specific quite yet and I haven't been able to get her to say it on command.  She is still doing very well in her sign language and has been initiating more of it herself lately - which is so exciting!! She truly wants to communicate with us. 
  • She is ALL girl and I LOVE it!!  When we first had our boys DP was determined they would not be "sissy boys" and rightfully so and we have 3 rough and tough hard core boys.  I prayed Linnea would be the prissiest girl around and I so got it!!  I love it!!  She loves to be in the bathroom with me while I get ready and she has to be doing exactly what I am doing.  Here she is getting all "prettied up."

play makeup, sunglasses, necklaces, hairbows - need I say more!! Total GIRL!!!

Today we had our appointment at the ENT.  It went as well as could be expected for her.  Poor girl had a lot of wax in her ear that had to be removed before the Dr. could see anything and she did not enjoy that part of the visit.  She does indeed have a hole in her right ear and a good amount of fluid in her left ear.  She also has pretty big adenoids that are causing the fluid back up in her left ear.  So the plan now is to put a tube in her left ear, recheck the right ear  (she is too young to have the eardrum repaired right now) remove her adenoids and while she is sleeping get a better gauge on her hearing loss. It is possible that she may have a congenital hearing loss and might need some assistance like a hearing aid - but we will know more after the test they do. All this to say - her hearing loss is greatly impacting her speech - and once we get this all squared away - hopefully her speech will improve.  Poor girl just can't hear very well!!  So thankful for good doctors here and that she can get the medical treatment she needs!! 

Well I think is a good start for catching up the blog.  I have so many other things to post and I will in due time but for now - I am going to sleep while I can!!  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Do you know what today is???

Today is Children's Day in China and in America it is National Donut Day.  Who knew so much celebration could take place in one day!!  We celebrated all right!!  First we took a trip to our local Asian market looking specifically for these things.....

These are Linnea's most favorite snacks.  It is like a big giant cheeto puff and comes in a variety of flavors - one being cheese and another of Linnea's favorite cream corn.  Well we brought these home from China and I was thinking I might could find them here but that didn't work out to well.  I haven't given up yet though.  We did find a few of her other favorite snacks and she was quite happy about that.  

After our visit at the market we headed to our local Krispy Kreme where we all enjoyed free donuts for the great occasion of donut day.  Enjoy the pictures - they speak for themselves.  The kids LOVED it!!! 

appointments and other things....

This week Linnea has had two appointments - Tuesday it was with the speech therapist and today it was with the audiologist for a hearing screening.

As I was getting ready this morning Luke asked me where I was going and I told him Linnea had a doctors appointment and his words were "AGAIN??!!" and my reply was "yes again" and later I realized I had  a "missed opportunity" in those moments.   A missed opportunity because I had the perfect moment to teach about being grateful.  Yes lately it seems like we go to a lot of appointments - we do - and I am sure not only is she tired of them but the boys are probably tired of them as well.  However in the grand scheme of things a lot of appointments don't matter!!!  I have four children who are relatively healthy.  The only life threatening disease they have is their sinfulness and we all are born with that and Praise God there is a cure!!  I am so thankful that my boys have stayed healthy and have only had a few minor emergencies - again nothing life threatening.  And while Linnea does have some health related issues they are all treatable and she will go on to live a full life Lord willing.  I am grateful that we live in a place where treatment is provided and we have access to numerous facilities that provide such care.  It is because of that care that we are able to go to food and speech therapies and to have audiologist perform hearing tests like today.   I am thankful that God gently reminded me of this valuable lesson through my son.

Speech went as well as it could have gone at 7:15 in the morning on Tuesday.  That was the only available time slot to get us started so I took it just so I could get our feet in the door - but that is clearly not Linnea's favorite time of the day (mine either).  It took her awhile to warm up to the therapist and she wasn't really as responsive as I know she can be.  Our next appointments are either mid morning or afternoon so I am hoping that will help things along.  It was suggested at her speech eval she have speech twice a week.  Insurance only covers so many visits so we are just going once a week right now and I have contacted the Babies Can't Wait program to see if she would qualify for that.  This program is free and has the therapist come right to your home - they are coming out on June 11 to see if we qualify.  Hopefully this will work out and she will be able to have two sessions a week one from CHOA (children's healthcare of Atlanta) and one from Babies Can't Wait.

She did really well at the audiologist hearing screening today - not too much crying.  We found out that she has a hole in her right ear and some possible fluid back up in her left - resulting in some hearing loss.  She had actually had her hearing tested in China and a friend of mine was able to see from the graphs that she did have hearing loss we just didn't know why or to what extent.  At one of our evaluations when we had the Cantonese interpreter I had her look over Linnea's medical records (which are all in Chinese) and she was able to indicate to us that she had been to the emergency room for an ear infection at one time.  So these results were not a complete surprise to me and as crazy as it sounds I was rather thankful for this diagnosis.  Thankful because while not all of her speech related issues are due to this - some of them are. And maybe the reason she is waking up in the middle of the night every night crying is because she might be in some pain.  I am grateful because while this doesn't explain all things - it at least gives us an answer to some things.  We are scheduled for an appointment with a pediatric ENT June 19.  I am hoping to be able to have that moved up because if she is hurting from her ears I certainly want to get it corrected so she doesn't have that pain.

Overall Linnea is doing well.  We are still concentrating hard on attachment and bonding.  We want her to know that we will care for her forever and she can trust us.  We are seeing her take hold of this truth little bits at a time.  We love this little girl - she is our own.  God chose her for us.  I am consistently in awe of adoption and what it truly means just like God chose her for us he chose us to be His.  It is a beautiful picture of the gospel.  Our friends Wade and Nat (the couple who is in China right now,  the blog I have been reading stalking every chance I get) had a great post and I am going to borrow parts of it here below - hope you don't mind guys (like they have time to be reading my blog to notice - ha)!!  It was a great reminder to me and I hope you enjoy.

 J.I. Packer’s words:

What is a Christian? The richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God as Father. If you want to [know] how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.
To know God as Father and the privilege that such is - is truly mind boggling!  I would encourage you to let this thought sink in for a minute.  Know that your relationship with God is only possible because He has adopted you. God planned to adopt you, He pursued you, and He has paid the price for you to become His child (see Ephesians 1:3-14). This reality, this pleasure should prompt and control every Christian.
This is why Packer goes on to say:
Adoption is the highest privilege that the Gospel offers: higher even than justification. This may cause raising of eyebrows, for justification is the gift of God on which since Luther evangelicals have laid the greatest stress, and we are accustomed to say, almost without thinking, that free justification is God’s supreme blessing to us sinners. Nonetheless, careful thought will show the truth of the statement we have just made.That justification – by which we mean God’s forgiveness of the past together with his acceptance for the future – is the primary and fundamental blessing of the Gospel is not in question. Justification is the primary blessing, because it meets our primary spiritual need. We all stand by nature under God’s judgment. His law convicts us, guilt gnaws at us, making us restless, miserable, and in our lucid moments afraid. We have no peace in ourselves because we have no peace with our Maker. So we need the forgiveness of our sins, and assurance of a restored relationship with God, more than we need anything else in the world. And this the Gospel offers us before it offers us anything else. But this is not to say that justification is the highest blessing of the gospel. Adoption is higher, because of the richer relationship with God that it involves.
To think of it…in Christ, we have not only been declared right before God the Judge (as if that were not enough). But we have also been loved by God the Father.  Indeed, salvation is not about reciting a superstitious prayer; it’s about receiving the position of a son. 
Packer’s words, and the truth of Scripture beckon each of us to ask, “Do we know God as Father?” Not, “Do you read your Bible? Do you go to church? Have you prayed the prayer? Have you made the decision?” But, “Do you know that you are a child of God, and does His reality as your Father prompt and control your entire being—your thinking, your talking, your feeling, your working, dreaming, your spending, your praying, your studying, your loving, and your living?”