Wednesday, September 24, 2014

From behind the class

Anna and Bailey made it to advanced band.  They are so excited!

I stayed at home with potentially sick children who *might* have contracted the chickenpox from an intentional exposure...but the only little red spots I have seen went away overnight, so clearly it was not the chickenpox!

The Cody's brought the older 3 (who are either vaccinated or already had a light case) to our first week of band/choir.

I was able to get. Couple pictures from the back when I came to pick them up.

I was so grateful that Chris' dad was home to stay with littles while I got to pick up the girls. It meant I got to hear all about their first day!

It went really smoothly! Here's looking forward to another ear of choir and band, and a new experience of adding drama, and strings!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dolphin's Tale 2

It is a very rate thing indeed when we find a movie that we feel good, or even OK about bringing our children to. But this one was good!

It is based on a real dolphin in Florida.

We went to the cheap day at our local theater and I wish I could say everyone did great, like I normally can! This was a tough movie theater experience. I felt so sorry for all 5 other people in the theater with us!

But we still managed to have fun!

Shopping With Mom

This is a small family grocery store in Duvall (about half hour away from us), where we get milk. (Getting raw milk is not the easiest or most convenient/cost effective, but it is worth it for the health benefits for the family!  The last place we were going closed down.)


This year has brought us a BOUNTIFUL harvest!  We have really enjoyed our swiss chard, and sugar snap peas, strawberries, lettuce, zucchini, squash, herbs, blueberries, potatoes, kale, beets, and more!
Here are some pictures of Callie and Justice harvesting potatoes with grandma.

This big pan had already been emptied of the first round of harvesting potatoes.

Helpful Littles

I am so thankful for the way that even my littles are willing to step in and help others, especially those littler than they are!

Funny Judah Story

Judah came running into the house, "shee?"
"See what?" I asked.
"Shee dat? Nake.  Baby nake."
"Oh, did you catch that?"
"Yeah! Nake, baby." He said smiling.
I said, "That is a worm."
"Hot!" Judah said, dropping the worm onto the ground.
"No," I said chuckling, "not warm, worm."
Judah shook his head no, and said, "Hot?"
"Right, it is not hot.  This is called a worm."
Judah pics the poor worm up and says, "Nake."
"It looks like a baby snake, but it is actually called a worm."

"And worms like to stay outside.  Can you take it outside?"
"Wrm. out." And with that, Judah ran off to bring his worm back outside.
I love the way that toddlers discover their world, and learn with every little thing they do!  I love having the opportunity to see the world through those young eyes.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Northern Lights *possible* in Washington

We heard of the possibility and found a good place to watch from.

Many thanks to aunt Judi and uncle Gerard for letting us crash their place.

We laughed, we played, we talked...

Then, one by one, everyone fell asleep.

We may not have seen any northern lights, but we did have fun together!

Adoption Set backs

Adoption setbacks are inevitable, unavoidable realities for the VAST MAJORITY of adoptive families.

We have had a relatively easy process so far! 

Our first setback was that the paperwork was not filed correctly with the state, so they did not 'recognize' our marriage!  It was a shock to us - we were not 'legally' married, lol!  (Our pastor said he normally wouldn't say this, but that he was sure we were 'married in God's eyes')  We were able to get the appropriate forms done and signed and figured out by the right people and get the record right as it we are now, officially married, and recognized as being married for more than 15 years!

We have just found our second setback.  Our medical paperwork...and it is kind of an extensive issue!  We will have to start over, after having paid for a notary to come do it incorrectly...we are very grateful for her willingness to help us out though!

1. the notary language was not completely correct on the main template page, and the notary had to write a line in. She did not really like this.
2. The notary wrote the wrong date on one of the commission expiration in one spot.
3. Dr. I signed without he notary, then had to sign again with the notary. My understanding is Colombia won't accept that.
4. Dr. F did not sign the letter of recommendation.
5. Dr. I did not use their letterhead for the main template Colombia wants to see.
6. The letter from Dr. F has no notary language.
7. There is no letter from Dr. I because he understood it needs to be notarized and it had no notary language.
So...we are going to have to make another attempt at the medical paperwork..after being a headache for these poor doctors for almost 2 hours!  I feel so bad about having to go back.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Waiting for chickenpox

Right now, no one is spotted.

Right now, they *might* be contagious...except for Serenity who got over chicken pox last week.

So, we wait. We stay at home so as not to potentially spread what has been touted as a dangerous disease worthy of being vaccinated against. Or is it?

In fact, complications from chickenpox has always been rare. This is the first, and to date only vaccine that was creates for economic reasons...because 7-12 days is simply too long to stay away from work for parents!

But the vaccine itself is not without risk. Bailey ended up with shingles everyime she got a so much as a runny nose for years after the vaccine!

Public opinion of chickenpox has certainly changed though. So here we are at home. Waiting. Keeping everyone occupied. Getting done chores and dossier paperwork that have been neglected for too long...but hey, it gives everyone something else to do for a time while they feel perfectly fine and wait to maybe get sick. This is after all the 4th intentional exposure they have had to chickenpox. At least Serenity actually got it this time!

While we are just waiting at home, my blog posts will be from a couple weeks ago, things I had decided to skip, but will now cover since washing light fixtures and cleaning poultry coops is not overly interesting, lol!

From the intentional exposure, thy have 6 more days to come up with spots. From Serenity having it, everyone has until the 1 of October...3 weeks from when Seren completely scabbed over.

The twins are still going to band and choir, drama, music lessons and strings because they were vaccinated. Ashley is too, because she had a very light case of chickenpox Chen she was little.

Everyone else has been told to just hurry up and get it, lol!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Contemplating the Awesomeness of God

The last few days, we have had a bit of rain. After a long beautiful summer it has been a welcome shift!

We have also started to notice some bright, colorful patches in the trees and bushes. All sure signs that fall is almost upon us.

As I have been thinking through these things, it has occurred to me just how beautiful fall is. And while I have enjoyed this summer, I am ready for fall!

Then I started thinking of how beautiful fall is, then it gives way to the barren trees dark days of winter, which are brightened by Christmas lights.

And then we begin to see the outside world awaken from its cold winter slumber with buds and blossoms...that go right into the hot summer days.

Each season comes at a time that I am ready for a chance, ready to switch up what we are working on and doing. I am glad to have the incredible variety and changes the seasons bring.

What an incredible God we serve!  What awesome creative genius and fabulous diversity He has planned into this creation.

Thank you, God!

Adoption Education Completed

This is another one of those vulnerable and raw emotion kind of posts...sorry in advance!
According to our agency, we are now 'prepared' for our adoption.  We have completed the necessary books and website readings, we have watched dozens of videos and seminars.  We have talked with other adoptive parents.  We have gone through interviews and scenarios.  We have been checked out by a medical doctor, a psychologist, and a social worker.
And all of them have agreed that yes, we are 'qualified' do adopt a sibling group of up to 4 children.  And not just 4 children who understand what love is and what a family is, but 4 children who come from potentially unimaginable situations...abuse, neglect, trauma, starvation, being taken advantage of, lacking in basic necessities of food, clothing, shelter, clean water, access to medical attention, appropriate mental/emotional stimulation and education.
These are children who have been swept aside, hurt.  They have been taught that they are worthless.
And I feel so burdened, and yet underqualified to tell them that not only are they loved by us, their new family, but that the God of creation, the God who created everything we see, from the fist and the birds and the animals and the plants to the stars and the sun and moon, who holds the universe in the span of His hand, created them in His likeness and image, and loves them beyond the love that we can even imagine.
I feel underqualified to show them how to love, because throughout the adoption training, I have seen just how broken I am from my childhood.  I am not sure that *I* know how to love and "fully connect."  I am not sure that I know how to lead them all the way through to a place of healing and letting go of coping mechanisms because I still use those myself!
But I do know that God is bigger than this.  That He can bring them through.  I am so glad that I have had all of this education so that I can work through at least some of these attachment issues that I have, keeping people at a 'comfortable distance' and avoiding eye contact with certain people and/or strangers, staying reserved and emotionally guarded, even from those who it is not appropriate to do so with.  Allowing the Holy Spirit of God to work through me and in me, changing me for His purpose so that I am better equipped to handle the children He is bringing to us...
And yet, part of me knows that I will *never* be prepared.  They will come with their unique hurts and traumas, and their unique perspective on it.  Even 2 children who grow up in the same home will have very different perspectives on their childhoods - for better or worse, each child is an individual.  And we are now looking at bringing up to 4 unique individuals into our home who have had a less than ideal start.  At the very least, adoption MUST START WITH LOSS.  For whatever reason (and please understand that I won't be sharing specifics on my blog for everyone to see, and even for those who know us in real life, know that I won't be sharing my children's story), they have lost their birth family.  They might have had a loving, caring family, who died tragically. They might have never have been wanted, and ended up in care because of abuse and neglect.  Either way, that is loss.  That is tragic.  That is pain, sorrow, hurt, and only the love of God can heal those kinds of wounds.
I pray that God's love would be able to flow through me to my children, biological and adopted, because I cannot do this in my own strength.
I am not the best parent out there.  Not by a long shot!  I do the best that I can, and I get by.  There are so many areas for me to improve in, and my goal over the next year, while we wait to travel and beyond, is to be intentional about those changes.  May God continue the work that He has done in me, and grow me into the wife and mother that He would have me to be, to His glory.
Am I ready?  No.  But by God's grace, I will be able to handle the challenges as they arise!  (Remember, I was the one who said 10 years ago that 'God would never give me a disabled child because I couldn't handle it?"  And now I couldn't imagine life without my Callie Grace!)
God is good, all the time!
(And feel free to keep us in prayer throughout this process and well after our children are home - I am going to need it for sure!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

update on choosing children

As I prayed for this first sibling group we were presented with, I kept feeling like they were not the ones for us.

As I prayed that if God meant for us to parent them, that He would change my heart and prepare it for them.

I prayed that their hearts would be prepared for their new family and vise versa.

I pray for their safety and wellbeing at the orphanage.

And I prayed for a specific sign that God was either opening or closing the door to this sibling group. And God is so faithful! We learned that the orphanage did not send word that they have already been matched. They have a family who is in process to go get them. I can't help but smile and be so thankful and privileged to get to pray for these precious children by name and and having a face that goes with that over the next year as their adoption takes place! I may not know who their family is, bit God does. And I get to be an unknown prayer warrior for their story!

Praise God for this. And for the answered prayer of clear direction. And for the knowledge that He already knows who our children are. And that we can pray for them, even in whatever hardships they are facing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Adoption Thoughts

How do you 'choose' your child(ren)?

How do you say 'this orphan can join my family, but not that one?'

I trust that God has the perfect sibling group for our family.  We are being approved for 4.  I do not know if we will adopt 4, of it God will bring us a sibling set of 3 (though 3 is likely the smallest number we would be able to adopt as they are considered 'special needs' just because of the number of siblings needing to be placed together).

We are hoping to finish our home study within the next 2 weeks.  We are still waiting for 3 referrals to come back.  We are waiting for our passports, and for our psychological report to come back and for our medicals to get done and the paperwork to get back.  It is very exciting to be getting this close!

As we are getting this close, and are starting to look at sibling groups to potentially send a letter of intent of adoption to Colombia for them, I keep going back to the original question:  How DO you choose your children?  When God creates a new life in the womb, there is not a 'choice' in who He has placed there.  I believe that God has the perfect siblings, and that He has called us to adopt.  So I have to keep giving this issue back to Him.

In Colombia, it is often like adopting from the States.  Lots of abuse, and neglect.  Lots of extreme poverty and malnutrition.  Adoption must start with loss.  It starts with a loss of your birth family, often a separation from your siblings, and loss of identity.  It starts with pain and sorrow, and from that, there needs to be healing.

We are currently waiting on the file to arrive from Colombia on a sibling set of 4, 2 boys (oldest and youngest) and 2 girls, who are almost 10, 8, 7 and 5.  I have small bios on them.  They sound wonderful!  They are on track developmentally, healthy, doing well in school, socializing well, all absolutely adorable, enjoy arts and painting and animals.  I keep looking at their pictures and praying for them, for their orphanage, and for all of the other children in their orphanage.  We are praying about them.  We are considering if they would fit into our family.

In all honesty, they look amazing!  The only thing I can say is that I was hoping for overall younger.  Brianna tends to be quite...competitive.  The almost 10 year old boy is 6 months older than she is.  I am not sure how that dynamic would work.  I keep praying and asking God for clear direction, if this wonderful sibling group is who he has for us, or if there is a younger group, or just a different group for us.  Please join me in this prayer, and seeking God's wisdom for what He has for our family.

I am really trying to enjoy this process.  It is likely the only time we will be able to adopt.  And I am enjoying being able to pray for these orphans, and read their stories.  But there is also a heavy weight and burden of responsibility that I feel with it as well.  There is such a need!  And we are only able to help ONE sibling group.

So, how do I go about choosing my children?  By the grace, strength and wisdom of God almighty, through prayer and supplication, and by the direction of the Holy Spirit!

Seeing Spots

A picture is said to be worth a thousand words...

Looks like chicken pox to us!

Our busy September schedule has just been cleared.

Praying everyone gets it, and soon so we do not have to spread our quarantine out!

Lovin' the homeschool life

Here is a pic of a local school sign...

We took advantage of the majority of children being trapped inside on these beautiful, somewhat cooler early falls days, to go to the recently vacated parks!

It is such a blessing to get to spend my days with my children!

Mask making

Because sometimes you just need to do something creative!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Nails, Nails, Nails

Adoption update

We were told this last week that we are about 2 weeks away from finishing our home study! (I suspent closer to 3 as we wait for things to come in, but it is really exciting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!)

Items left to do include:
Our medicals. Blood work is today. A week from Monday our tb tests will be placed, and a week from Wed. we have our appointments.

Items we are waiting for:
- 3 more references to get back to the social worker, including our teacher reference, doctor reference and one personal reference.

- Passports. We filled them on 9/28. Hoping to see them in about 2 more weeks.

- Official psychological profile. Our psychologist has been working very diligently for us, and has been very open and willing to work with our social workers to get the report to meet Colombia's standard and criteria. This is a HUGE blessing!

- Report and letter from our doctors after our exams.

Other than our medicals, we are down to just waiting! Looks like our number is FOUR! We are gadorablepproved for a sibling group of 4.

It looks like we will get started this week on our dossier paperwork and filling our the i800a for customs and immigration. Sounds like this next paperwork step will take us about 2-4 months, too.

The other thing we are able to do now is look at sibling groups and send in a letter of intent to hold our children! This step is both really exciting and a little scary! It seems like a daunting task to look at children and decide that 'these' or 'those' are ours.

The agency did send us one group they fit our official parameters. They look amazingly and fabulously healthy and well adjusted. They are 9, (almost 10), 8, 7, and 5. I think they would fit into our family, and they are exactly what I envisioned... Until I spoke with 2 different families who adopted siblings (one a set of 4, the other a set of 5), whose oldest (in both families) was 7 when they picked them up. To me, that would be ideal. Though, I am also being told it is rare, and may not even be done any more in Colombia. (So, yes, what I would ideally like is younger.)

The question remains, what do we do. If we commit, we are truly committed! We are going to request more information about this sibling group. Please pray for direction. I want what God has for us! They are absolutely adorable, but we do not want to make such a big decision on a whim or emotionally.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A new music year

September. A time of new beginnings. And for is it means time to get our instruments out!

Mrs. Riley had Kennelly Keys bring instruments for us to try.

Bailey is thinking of the cello next year.

Brianna is thinking flute!

Anna is thinking French form, but found the baritone to be fun as well. Both for next year.

For this year, Anna and Bailey tried out for advanced band...and they got in!

Anna will play her sax, bailey her flute for advanced. Anna will play her sax in intermediate, bailey her drum. And will be a helper in beginning, and bailey is picking up the clarinet.

Ashley and Anna will be playing violin in the strings class.

Bailey will be sitting that one out.

All 3 of those older ones will be in drama, too.

Brianna, Justice and Callie will be in choir.

The only class without a Pence in it this year is the older drama class!

Besides this, we plan to participate in daughters of the king/little women  at church.

And those will be out the extra curricular classes this year!

If all goes well with the adoption, all these classes should wrap up before we would travel!

NAET Treatments

I am more and more convinced that everyone has food allergies. Everyone.

Since we have met our deductible, we are trying to get the whole family through their 24 allowable treatments! I am sure it is not going to get anyone DONE, but it will be a great start! We will likely need 3 years to get everyone cleared of all that we would like to...and in time, after we meet our deductible each year, Lord willing, we will keep plugging away at it!

Dr. Brucks uses muscle testing to establish the need for a given treatment.

Brianna had her first acupuncture treatment on Wednesday!

She wanted her picture taken with the needles in, lol!

He has made a very child-friendly waiting, that I am very thankful for!

Part of the treatment is to keep a vial on the skin for 20 minutes after the treatment is done to the back.

Socks work very well for this!

We are hoping to clear a variety of things through these treatments.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Our New Church

Just to be clear, we are going to the same amazing church with the same awesome body of believers, and the same wonderful pastor...but we now have our own building and a new name!

Here is a single view of the sanctuary, in our first meeting there, a daughters of the king and little women gathering.

And here is where I spent my time with the littles!

The outside area is fully fenced. And connected to this inside play room.

We get the start meeting here for Sunday mornings on Oct. 5th!