Friday, November 09, 2012

Gratitude Day 9-- Adoption!

The first picture we saw of Ryland, when we met him he had lost his front teeth!
The process of adoption was such a big part of our lives for a couple years, both before and after Ryland being with us. There was so much paperwork and so many appointments. I kept looking forward to when we could simply focus on being a family and be done all the "outside" stuff. And I am thankful to say we are finally there.

I don't think a whole lot about Ryland being adopted anymore. I just think of him as my child. I can't imagine life without him and it  feels like he's always been part of our family.  There are many challenges and ways in which parenting him has been so different than with the first kids, but so many of those things are being resolved with time and patience. I don't feel like I'm guessing all the time like I did at first because I know him now. I am so thankful for his brave and loving heart!          

When I was looking for this picture, I found the "bulletin" we received along with it. It was interesting to go back and read with the viewpoint I have now. Here are a few excerpts:         

     Ryland is a handsome young man with beautiful brown eyes. He is very much a boy and loves all
kinds of outdoor activities. Ryland loves to go camping, biking and swimming. He truly enjoys being
outdoors as often as the weather permits. Ryland loves Spiderman and other action figures.
Ryland is an excellent eater. Some of his favorite foods include cheeseburgers and pizza. He is not
a picky eater but could live without meatloaf.

    Ryland enjoys playing with the dogs that live with the foster parents. He is good with them and likes

different animals.

Ryland loves to show affection regularly and is constantly looking for reassurance. He is very sincere
when he expresses his thoughts and feelings.

Ryland is very excitable. He loves to just be
silly sometimes.    (they got that right!)

Ryland would do well with a family who has some older children that could be role models for him.

Ryland is excited to find stability in his life and have a home and family to call his own.

So thankful we were given this amazing gift!!! 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Gratitude Day 6-- Big Bird's Banana Bread

This is about as political as I'm going to get for my readers. I am thankful to live in a free country and can  participate in a peaceful process of voting. I think we need to show kindness and respect even to people we disagree with or didn't vote for. It breaks my heart that 2.6 billion dollars was spent on campaigning when there are children starving in this world. That when my daughter was in Haiti during Hurricane Issac, most of the headlines were concern on how the storm would affect a political convention in Florida, when there were 400,000 people living in tents in Port-Au-Prince, in the storms path. I think we all need to find ways to "love our neighbors as ourselves" as Jesus told us to, and this county and world would be a better place.

I don't watch TV, but I did hear a lot of buzz at some point about Big Bird, so it reminded me to share a little story and recipe, so in honor of Election Day....

When the kids were little, we made a recipe called Big Bird's Banana Bread for a book they had. It was easy and healthy and they liked it even though they had all quit liking bananas. One day, I was resting and 3 year old Gabriel asked if we could make it. I must have said something to indicate yes, meaning yes, sometime. The next thing I knew I went into the kitchen and he had got out his step stool, and laid 3 bananas, a bowl and a wooden spoon on the counter. It was so cute, of course we had to stop and bake the bread right then!

Here's the recipe:


3 ripe bananas
3/4 c. honey or sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. wheat flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour) 
1/4 c. melted butter or corn oil

Mash bananas with a fork. Add melted butter, flour, and honey. Stir until all ingredients are blended. Pour the mixture into a greased and floured bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour (or a little less).

Here a link I came across showing the book this came from and how it's fun to make with kids.

I can't find a picture of Gabriel quite that little on my computer- I need to scan some-- but here's one-- just to show how irresistibly cute he was!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Gratitude Day 5-- Speech Therapy

Just a quick post tonight to say that I'm very thankful for Ryland's speech therapists. This was a world I knew nothing about and it has been fascinating to see how they evaluate and teach him.  I really like how they design a unique plan just for his needs and include us in it. Both last year's teacher and his new one this year have been so patient with him and found ways to make it fun for him, while still pushing him to work hard.

I went in for a meeting today as they are writing up his IEP (Individual Educational Plan) for the next year. The first thing the teacher asked Ryland and I was, "What are his strengths?" How encouraging to start by recognizing the things he's gifted  at and build his confidence.

Both as teachers and also moms to adopted or special needs children, both of these ladies have been so supportive of us as we give Ryland the time he needs to trust us, to sit still with us and listen to a book, and to be able to respond well to a gentle correction.

Ryland's speech has come a long way, as has his attention span and his interest in reading. Every week, we take his papers from speech and make game out of practicing the sounds and words. It's been great to be a part helping him grow and I'm really thankful for the expertise and kindness of his teachers-- part of our "village it takes to raise a child"!  

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Gratitude Day 4 -- Games

One of Ryland's favorite things to do is play games. We usually play a game in the morning before we do anything else, and more throughout the day with Scott, me or any combination of the older kids he can convince to play. He's very competitive and I love to sit across from him and watch his face as he plays. It's also been a fun way for the older kids to connect with him, a good way to sneak in some educational stuff and make it fun, and provides lots of practice with things like honesty and being a good sport.

Some of our favorites have been Uno, Skipbo, Go Fish, Monopoly Junior, Sorry, Crazy Eights or Memory Match. We have also played Life, Star Wars Life, Pit, and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? We just got 3 new ones that Ryland  really likes-- Fruit Ninja card game, Farkle (dice game) and a Where's Waldo board game (none of these really require much reading). The one we're playing the most right now is Dutch Blitz and it's fast and fierce and fun!

When the older kid were much younger, I was often frustrated when Family Game Night didn't turn out like I planned-- because of fighting or cheating, or age differences,  or even agreeing on a game. It's nice that now everyone's able to participate and have it actually be fun for all of us.

Dutch Blitz

                       Does any one have any good recommendations on games they like?

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Gratitude Day 3-- Our Church

This month a whole bunch of babies were born to families in our church and blessings were prayed for them. A family is flying in a few days to bring home the daughter they are adopting for Eastern Europe with strong support behind them . Yesterday, one of our greatly loved pastors passed away after being diagnosed with a brain tumor just a couple months ago and the church is gathering around his  family. Birth, death and everything in between.. the church should be a family and these are the times we come together in the ways we were meant to.

The things I am grateful for about our church are my group of Wednesday night ladies who are really sweet and really real. The teachers who have loved and gone out of their way to meet Ryland's needs. The other adoptive moms who have simply said, "I've been there" and the grace and patience shown to us during some hard days early on. The college students who Ryland has made friends with who always take a little time with him. The volunteers who show up early and work hard to get everything ready.

 As we remember our pastor and friend, Kambiz, I know I'm not the only one who would say that his greeting on Sunday mornings made us all feel genuinely welcome, and that his generous and kind spirit is an inspiration to all of us. His life story encourages me to reach outside myself more to show care and love to everyone.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Gratitude Day 2-- Big Kids

I was telling someone the other day how much I love having teenagers. I remember being in line at the store and mentioning I was buying things for my oldest's 13th birthday party and how everyone around had something discouraging and negative to say about teenagers. Like all you can expect from them is arguing and laziness. Not saying there are no challenges, but I actually think with each of the older ones that ages 10-12 were the hardest.

 I really like the independent people they are becoming as they get older. I like that they can drive. I like when they fill the house with their friends. I like to see their unique personalities and opinions and dreams. I like how they know about all kinds of things I don't have any idea about. I like how every night is a dish washing dance party in the kitchen.

I'm really thankful and proud of how the big kids have been with Ryland. We knew we were asking them to make a huge adjustment in their lives and they have shown so much patience with him. I was saying to one of them the other day that I knew they had had to make some sacrifices and their response was, " I love Ryland so much. I could never imagine a better little brother!"

I commented to Scott the other day that we currently have kids in the stages of adult, young adult, teenager and kid-- no wonder I feel like my attention is pulled in so many directions! But right now, I am trying to make the most of each moment when they are all living here and filling the house with energy and noise and laughter and love.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Gratitude Day 1 -- The River

Many days find us walking or biking along the beautiful and Willamette River. Every time is different depending on the seasons, wildlife, water level at the time. Over the years I've enjoyed quiet moments alone, chasing kids on the playgrounds, family picnics and family pictures, Bike rides, birthday parties, babies in strollers, early morning talks with my sister, anniversary walks with Scott in the Rose Garden, the kids baptism, and feeding the ducks. I like that our house is only a few blocks to being able to feel miles away from everything. Today, we added another memory when Ryland kicked his soccer ball into the water and I was able to rescue it with a long stick while the little boys cheered from the bank!


Our favorite duck is all green

This summer my sister and I walked early in the morning

Making friends with Ducks and Geese


Kid's Baptism

Friday, January 20, 2012

Adoption Day!

                                                               Christmas Ornament

In March Ryland will have been in our family for a whole year. Today, January 20th, 2012 is his  "signing ceremony" in which all the legal paperwork has been completed and his last name is changed to ours! 

I have been reflecting back on our time with him so far and the adoption process, and I have many things I'd like to take the time to write about. But for today, I just want to say that I am grateful to be his mom, to have the honor of knowing and loving him.

My hope for the first year was simply that we get to know each other and he would begin to attach and trust us. Advancing in other areas would just be a bonus. I truly feel that our prayers were answered--he fits right into both our small and extended family perfectly. He has come to believe that he will stay with us and that we love him unconditionally and he returns that love. 

There have been many challenges-- I am proud of him and every one of us for continuing to persevere through them. I'm so thankful for the  prayers and support for our family, friends, teachers  and Ryland's family members who are still involved in his life. I often remind him how many people love him and it's really true!

It's scary and humbling to become responsible for a little person who has a heart that needs healing. He is teaching me a lot. People say he is lucky to have us, but we are the most blessed to have been chosen for him. 

His smiles and hugs melt my heart every day. He is a boy that is full of energy and curiosity and the desire to be constantly interacting. He is growing in his faith in God's power. He loves to joke and has quite an imagination. He is beginning to trust us to comfort him when he's hurt or scared and help  to handle his anger.   He is having fun making friends and trying new things.

Oh, there are many plans for celebrating in the next few weeks, but today he woke up early, full of excitement. He will have his new name! He will eat pizza and his Grandma will make a cake! He will wear his favorite plaid shirt with a snake on it! He will see some of his other siblings!  (I hope he takes a nap on the drive this afternoon because he hasn't slept much the last two nights)

I have to say I am also very glad to be done with the paperwork and visit for the state--that was a long process!
We love you, Ryland! We are glad to have you as our son and happy to make it official today!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Whipped Syllabub Recipe (New Year's Eve)

When Jessamyn was in 3rd grade, she took a class based on the American Girl books. One day they made several recipes, including this one called Whipped Syllabub. We really liked it and somehow it has become the one tradition we make every New Year's Eve. Otherwise, our tradition is to try a new recipe or activity every year.

Syllabub is from old England, "bub" for bubbles and there are many variations, but most will have some kind of citrus juice, bubbly drinking-either alcoholic or not, sugar and whipped cream folded in.

The following  is the recipe from the American Girl book, but I tend to add a lot more sparkling cider (usually peach) to make it more of a drink than a dessert. Enjoy!

Whipped Syllabub

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup sugar (we added another 1/4 cup or so after initial tasting)
  • 1/4 cup sparkling white grape juice

Beat whipping cream in mixing bowl with whisk until thick (we used the whisk attachment on the stand mixer). Juice the lemons and orange. Add the sugar and grape juice to the lemon and orange juice and stir until blended. Pour the juice mix into the whipped cream. Sir just enough to blend. Should be thick and frothy! Spoon into glasses and enjoy!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A New Year

Our traditional drink of "Whipped Syllabub" on New Year's Eve

The month of  December was full of  family time, games, cooking, crafting, wrapping, keeping secrets, lighting candles, and celebrating. As we turn the calender to a new month and year, I look forward to more simplicity and renewed dedication to the things that are  important, though not as exciting as the holiday season!

This was Ryland's first Christmas with us and we tried to prepare him for each thing that we would be doing. I tried to plan for calm time between his wild happiness and his anxiousness. By Christmas Day he really did settle in and enjoy the day. We kept trying to put ourselves in his place, with everything new--that's a lot to take in.

The girl's had beautiful dance performances in Narnia again. My brother and his wife and baby were here for several days. We had days of crafts and cookies making and tamale making with family. 

One of my favorite moments was on Christmas Eve. We went to church (Scott was playing drums in the band) and the final carol was "Go tell it on the Mountain" which Ryland had learned in his class. He turned and asked to sit on my lap and I was bouncing him while he sang at the top of his lungs and snapped his fingers. All my kids were right around me, happy, together, safe and peaceful.  Jessamyn started clapping and pretty soon the whole crowd was clapping. It was such a moment of  joy in my heart. We walked out into the cold clear night and headed home to light the fire and feast on tamales and dream of "the coziest morning of the year". 

It's been a big year. Adding to our family. Having our oldest overseas. Travelling. Adjusting. I think my word for the year last year was growth and, yes, there was some growing!