Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Joys and Failures, Taking it in Stride

Hello Hello to you all and I hope you have enjoyed your OCTOBER that is over (well when I originally wrote this is was almost over, but now it really is)! Really where does the time go? Oh yeah... to being a mom, wife, sister, aunt, daughter, friend, youth pastor, physical therapist, and psychopath...well maybe not the last one but thats what I feel at times hehe. Yes, this has been a super busy month, but I love being busy and especially when its doing things with my kids or teens. I can't say I'm proud of every moment of this month, but we are definitely growing amidst the big ups and little downs. I am still blown away to think that we have been parents for only 10 months! Thats it! Thats it? It seems like a lot longer, but when we remember how little time it has been we are reminded of just how fortunate we are to be in out current position.

October news:
--I turned 30... the BIG 3. 0.  And I'm super ready for it and grateful for all Christ has blessed me with in the first 30 years of my life... here's to the next adventures in life! Annnd I'm so happy that now I can look forward to where these 30 years+ will lead my kids also.
--We are in full force FOOTBALL mode! Go Colts! Waylon has the best team and coaches we could have asked for. They have been super supportive of Waylon's progress through the first part of the school year (which was rough, lets not sugar coat it, 4th grade has been rough), but the coaches have helped push him to be better and to stay accountable for his actions. Not to mention they are undefeated which makes for a very exciting year for our first time football kiddo. He has improved in his technique and plays defense at times and tight end at times... last Saturday he about a 5 yard run with the ball... could. not. have. been. prouder! He was majorly tackled, but is learning to handle it more "like a man"... well a 9 year old man haha!
--Elva is in FLIPPY ROLLY POLLY mode going to gymnastics and learning cartwheels and roundoffs and balance beam and the uneven bars... etc. you name it, she is having a ball! And its the perfect activity for her super energetic lifestyle as she is always bouncing or jumping somewhere. She still needs help on her form for her cartwheels but its so cute to watch her try!
--We are getting into HOLIDAY mode! I decorated the house with all my pumpkins and fall leaves and all Waylon said is," you have too many pumpkins, mom." Never my son, never!!
I can't wait to decorate for Christmas though and let them add their own touches for our family :)
--No my kids did not dress up for Halloween. I'm not going to get into it because I neither judge you for celebrating or not celebrating Halloween, but we have chosen as a family to celebrate our family and being together on that night. So, while others got ready to go door to door... we went with some family and friends to kids paradise- Chuck E Cheese. Oh how I hate that place, haha! But the kids had a great time blowing their minds in games and pizza and candy and then we had ice cream afterwards and it just made the night fun. Plus it wasn't crowded AT ALL! So hate me or agree with me, I don't care, we will probably repeat this tradition each year!
--I have been noticing certain trends with our children. Elva is having more and more difficulties with understanding our explanations for things and quite often is gone in loopsy land, but she ends up doing things she is not supposed to and blames it on loopsy land (I just made that up she doesn't really say loopsy land haha). This may not seem like a big deal, but her reality is a little off and she is thinks she is getting better at excuses. Oh and we have the issue already...already....yes I said already....with boys and the "i like" syndrome. Umm no, I am not ready for this or prepared for what I might do to some innocent boy for breaking my little girls heart so lets just say ummm no!
Waylon has been exercising his right of limit pusher to the max. Things are certainly WAYYY better than they were at the beginning of the year... I mean he was getting some very low grades and coming home with multiple bad remarks or office visits every day... not week... every day. SO we have now been having weeks of no such bad reports, a few corrections here and there, but nothing near as severe as we started. His grades need more prayer as he is just having a hard time with the comprehension work for his grade. He is not far behind, but he is not at grade level and I don't want him to fall behind. We work heavily on multiplication problems and he even has to practice his handwriting because we have noticed he and Elva learned how to write several of their letters wrongly. Like an "e". Its the weirdest thing to watch them write!
But he has been pushing our buttons, so we are trying to keep it in perspective of everything before letting our emotions get too high. It hasn't been a year yet!
--We have started making the CHRISTMAS LIST... dun dun dun. Thank you to you retailers of toys for sending us your picture magazines with all the latest toys that my kids have taken to spending every spare minute looking through and circling their favorites. We had a talk with them the other night about not being demanding or expecting things for Christmas to which Waylon reminded me that this is a season of "giving" and not receiving... so I guess our lectures and lessons are getting through a little bit!

So I realize that this post is called joys and failures, but I don't have much to say about failures because at this point there is no failing... just redirection and trying again! We have had some not so pretty moments, but those moments used to be not so pretty days so I think we are headed in the right direction!

Anywho, please pray for Waylon's grades and Elva's heart to be protected. Because others have asked, Robert and I would like prayer in the decisions we make and the way we are learning to parent together. I desire above all things for these kids to understand God's joy and HIS teachings not our own. I can't believe we just finished month 10 together- and what JOYFUL changes have taken place! Give God the glory for He deserves it all!
Thanks for your prayers again and again!

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Remember to Breathe

And then it was September...
I honestly don't know how we got to this month already. I feel time is flying by... and yet at times that it won't move fast enough haha. I don't want time to go fast by any means, just not to drag on!

So, the Fowlers are settling into our routines: school, church, work, football, piano, church (yes I said it twice bc its important), gymnastics (finally found a place yay!), sleeping, eating, playing, chores, exercise (lets be realistic here), special trips, youth group, etc...
oh, and breathing.
yeah, thats important right?

I'm not complaining... I'm grateful! All the time people tell me they don't want to bother me bc I'm so busy, or that I should relax and not be so busy... why? I am a busy driven person really. I love the times to relax and just do nothing, but honestly whenever those do happen I often find something to fill up the time with bc I just like to be busy. So having two kiddos who are interested in getting involved and being active is right up my alley. I remember praying for our crazy unknown schedules before we got the kids and thinking how exciting it will be to load up the car and go to this thing or that and so on. Call me crazy, but I wouldn't want it any other way... well maybe not so busy, but I have a good time knowing that I can provide my kids the opportunity to do the things they want as my parents did for me when I was younger (gymnastics, piano, church youth group, trips, friends, etc).
 So please don't think you are bothering me... I welcome the fun adventures... although I may complain about it... just ignore me... I don't mean it :)

Kid Update:
Elva- our sweetheart who needs to get enough sleep or she becomes Elvamonster, she is doing quite well in school although the jump in difficulty was hard for her to understand at first but she is adjusting. At home she is of course quite sweet to mom and dad and is always laughing or making us laugh. She did get her first spanking a few weeks ago for waking up with an attitude and slamming her electronic down on our dresser... I won't lie, we laughed privately afterwards bc even in the midst of crying and getting a spanking (it was more of a quick tap, but it hurt her feelings enough that she hasn't forgotten)... she was still quite cute when she came back into join the family and was sniffing. Poor thing, she is just wild sometimes, but the things she says can be so off guard funny! Her tiny voice is just precious for one thing and then her imagination and desire for knowledge just blows my mind. She will ask about anything and everything and you can always see the wheels turning in her head. She does ask too many questions though... I don't know how to stop that, but Waylon is trying to figure out how :) She loves her gymnastics place and is working to perfect her cartwheel (which I can still do pretty darn well) and we are going to be stretching so she can do her splits (ouch!).

Waylon- this little firecracker is my fuzzy headed man. His hair is very black and fuzzy on top right now and I just love to run my hands through it and tickle him like crazy. We have had us some rough days lately, specifically with school. I sigh and put up my hands bc I just don't know what else to do sometimes, but I know God has a plan and I have to surrender this sweet love to my God bc I am not strong enough or big enough to help him. Waylon has been off task, disruptive, and even a little argumentative at school. He landed in the principal's office for a few days and lied to us about it. My heart breaks for these moments bc we have worked so hard to get to where we are in our relationship. Not that I'm saying I don't expect him to ever lie to us, but it seemed that one thing after another brought on more lies and more disappointment. Last week was super rough and I don't care to go back there to that point, but I also want him to learn from it so we can move on and grow. We are implementing punishment in as much a teaching method as we can... pray for guidance and that I don't lose my mind like I almost did on Friday after his parent/teacher conference. We have a long way to go, but I know we can get there. We have already overcome so many mountains!
 I forgot to mention that Waylon also turned the big 9 in August. We had a great birthday party full of boys swimming away! I'm hoping for a more mellow birthday next year, but I'm glad he was happy... thats all I cared about!

Well since this post is long as all mine have been lately (sorry my new blogger friend), I will leave you with these kid updates.
Ok, one more thing. Tonight was my restore my faith in humanity and my kids night... we actually had time after Waylon got home from football, took a shower, elva was showered, there homework was done, reading done, and laundry was already started... to just sit and play. The kids were mad scientists cutting and creating with play-do at the table while Robert worked on some studying and I just walked into the kitchen and stopped. I just took a moment to breathe and take it all in. My family. No matter how busy we get, God has created us into a family. A unit. One, together. Its still only been less than 9 months, but how God truly works is just majestic. This time last year we had just gotten the profile for the kids and were waiting to get to know more about them. And now, we are a family.

Have you stopped to take a breath today and just look around?I recommend it :)

Psalm 150:6
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Let The Parenting Commence

Could someone please tell me where the book is on parenting again? I think we have found ourselves asking that question as of late... I mean really for jumping into the parent roll we feel like we have been thrown into the ocean and are given bits of survival artifacts one at a time... and a tidal wave is a coming! Haha, really we are doing fine, but we are looking to the school year starting in a week and we are already consumed by schedules and the overwhelming sensation that we have absolutely no idea what we are doing. They are registered for school...we have school supplies...they will see the dentist again in October...we have new shoes and outfits galore...Waylon has already gone to football practice and is fully loaded with helmets and pads and bla bla all those things...Elva is still doing piano... haven't found her a gymnastics place yet which gives me a bit of anxiety...and well we know what day is the first day and where to go drop them off! Other than that we are clueless. Found out tonight, for example, that there is meet the teacher next Monday... umm ok how was I supposed to know that! Aaand Waylon needs a physical for football... geeze. When I say we are busy, I honestly mean we are busy... its not like I've neglected to check the school and MISD website or even the football website, I have, I did, but where was the listing for all these other things? What else are we missing I wonder haha!
[And I would like to add that the "busy" part is spent mostly making sure we just spend time with them... again memories, its all about making memories, and I try to make a point to have a special moment with each child everyday... can't get too "busy" with stuff that I forget to give them the love they need and missed out on for so many years!]

Moving On...

The last month has been a crazy, testy blast. Crazy in that we have tried to jam pack as much stuff in their summer as we can without getting too carried away, and testy because... well you can just guess... its been "lets throw a fit" season. I wouldn't say they have been bad. I don't want to call my kids bad. I will say that there has been a bit of the test of authority and respect that has happened, only these kids don't know who they are messing with. I may not know how to juggle school and being a football mom, but I know that standing strong and teaching my kids good morals is vital to their future successes and longevity in life. So we have had a few changes in how we handle things, but for the most part I've been in awe of how God has pulled us together. Its so weird to think back a year... 6 months... even just 3 months ago, how much they have changed. I give the glory for all that to God alone. There is no room for pride in this family bc without God forming us as a unit and allowing us to go through these tough times, we wouldnt be standing here as a family of four.

I do have to share the bittersweetness of today. [Yes that is a run on word but I don't care]. The kids social worker has been cleaning out their file and came across some pictures and letters from their "other" family. I was excited to see the pictures bc I thought this was my chance to get a baby picture of my kids! Well... when I got the package, it just reminded me of the heart break these kids have gone through. How they were so innocent and thought their lives were full and then it was ripped apart from poor decisions and neglect. Yes there is a baby picture or two of them in there... but they all have various faces in the pictures with them. Faces that would only bring up the past and may or may not spark a relapse to the uncertain times in their lives. I don't want to have to fight for my kids to remember who their family is now or to watch them go through those emotions. There will be a day for them to see the pictures... and if God wills it, there will be a day for them to read the letters from their mom. I read them. Why wouldn't I? And it was the hardest thing for me to do not to become so angry at her and think such negative thoughts. I had to remember that this woman needs redemption, and even if every part of my mind screams that she doesn't deserve it, I know what she needs is a relationship with Jesus. I may not ever be ok with her as my kids first mom, but that doesn't mean I should hate her or wish negative things on her. I just simply pray for her and have to leave it at that. There will be a day for us to relive the past, but I know God will prepare us for that day together... as one united family.

So the sweet part of the above paragraph is that we also got in the mail a smaller letter that contained two of the most important pieces of paper I have ever held in my hands. The kids' birth certificates. And under mother, its lists my name. Under father, Robert's name. How sweet it is to see that just as when we become Christian's and accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, that He writes His name over our past... over our sin... ushering in eternal life forever... and in our kids' case, our names have been written over their past, and into their forever. I regard those pieces of paper as very important and highly valuable. Jesus does the same with our lives. Just a thought :)

And now we will commence with the coming of the tidal wave... any other schooling parenting advice about juggling ridiculous sports schedules and all that jazz, we would like to hear it! [and to know we are not the only crazy ones :) ]

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

Friday, July 18, 2014

Silly Giggles and all Things Loud

I'm beyond speechless at how great our God is and how much He loves us enough to care so much for our everything. Life as a forever family of 4 has been wonderful. Thank you all for your prayers and support again, the conglomerate of love and positive vibes coming at us and the kids has truly helped us to strengthen our bond. Peace has etched itself into the hearts of both kids and we are finally able to breath and relax. July has proved to be super busy, but our main objective was to help the kids feel like they are special and to make sure they know how much we love spending time with them.

Waylon is doing wonderful. He is a punk sometimes. But he is also 8, sneaking up on 9, so I know that is to be expected. Nonetheless he has turned a new leaf. Family and friends have noted how he
appears to have a new kind of light in his eyes and I agree. He is more compassionate and more loving and extra silly. He is unfortunatly the same kind of loud he was before, but with more joy behind the noise. He comes to me often and just hugs me. He says in such a quiet voice "I love you mom," and my heart just bursts. It's hard for me not to wonder how things were with his other mom... Did she get these sweet smile hugs? Did she take the time to stop and chase him through the house to hold him down and tickle him? How blessed we are to have this chance. Even when my nerves are frayed from stress and their constant sibling rivalry, I'm still grateful for two kids to get to love.
I believe Waylon still has a hard time wanting to find the best of some situations. For example, church. Working with kids is hard, but working with Waylon in a church setting where the remnants of evil are still trying to fight for his soul is like pulling out your teeth. He is a good kid and has made tremendous progress, but the one thing I want him to know is how to fall in love with the joy of Christ. He already knows life isn't easy, but to teach him how much God wants our everything and gives us satisfaction as a result is somethjng we have to keep working towards.

This sweet boy just wants to be loved and played with. Robert is so great with him. I know when Robert was younger and he saved all his hot wheels (I mean Robert had a bunch and a bunch and a bunch of hot wheels) that he was imagining one day getting to play cars with his little boy. And now he gets to do just that. Waylon always comes up to me and asks me if I can do him a "favor"... This means "mom can you stop what you are doing for a moment and, let me get a 3 second head start, and then come tickle me?" Why yes it would be my joy to spend that time with you :) I think tickling fights are my favorite, especially bc his laugh has changed since day 1 and is now one of the most precious sounds I could ever hear. It's a goofy laugh I'll give him that!

Then there is miss Elva. What can I say except she is a little hyper princess who loves to create and ask a thousand questions. She literally bounces all of the house wanting to know everything about everything and play at the same time. She puts a whole new meaning to loud though. She is also quite the bossy thing but she just so easily gets her feelings hurt and then here comes the tattling. Learning to work through a crisis is something she can't quite comprehend independently yet, but we are getting there. She is very quick to pick up on the mood of someone around her. I was pretty stressed a few days ago with a lot of things going on. As I sat next to her for family time, she just patted my leg and leaned on to give me a soft hug and say "it's alright momma". Yes baby, it is alright. No matter what I have going on, I have her and her sweet hugs and loud, I mean cute, giggles.
I believe Elva hasn't changed as much as Waylon for the reason that she hasn't completely woken up from this dream she is in. Elva had a completely different than reality view of wha happene when they got taken from their mom. She knows she won't see her other family again, but there is still a bit of unsettled business in her heart. She is happy to be with us, loves us, and is trying to follow the house rules and show me she can do her best... But there are a few lights that haven't come on in her mind regarding her past, present, and future. I know she can get there but it may take a few years before she is ready to hear the official truth of why she is here with us.

This silly little girl is very fun and opinionated. She gets away with her cuteness, but can be quite deceiving haha. We are trying to help Elva also know how fun and awesome it is to love God and trust Him. As a typical 7 year old, she thinks prayer is funny, and we are trying to help her understand it's importance. No we are not forcing our religion on these kids, but we know that kids who are exposed to Gods teachings at an earlier age and throughout their childhood have the potential to make better choices later. Their futures are up to God, I'm just doing what I feel He tells me is necessary for their souls.

Overall we are having a good time! Waylon has already planned the theme for his birthday in August and Elva has watched Frozen about 1000 times literally! Since we took the kids to six flags for forever week and we bought season passes, they have been dying to go back! We will go again soon don't worry. I look forward to all the plans we can do for family vacations and fun. Having kids is such a change, but it's a beautiful change!

I'll post more pictures soon, but it's hard to from my phone!

Let all that I am praise the lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. (Psalms 103:1, 2 NLT)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Forever Day!

I can only imagine the stupendous joy a parent experiences when they are first handed their child from the nurse or doctor in the delivery room... The preparation for bringing that child home and the excitement of getting to hold their birth certificate with their precious name on it... And their life with you begins, the crazy late nights and blessed struggle figuring out what cries mean and what schedule works best all leading to the nurturing and development of this child that walks and talks and acts mostly like you.
Yes I can only imagine, but somehow our experience is the same yet of course different.

No words can describe June 25, 2014. Forever Day.
Even as I start to type this all the emotions from that day and the days since come to the surface and just blow me away. Our God is amazing people. Not for a minute would I pat myself on the back for this miracle around us but I give 100% credit to my God. He is the author of this story and will always hold the pen... Permanent ink bc He doesn't make mistakes.

I remember us eating at chick fil A on Abilene for lunch that day. We had stayed overnight in Abilene bc the kids had to see their psychiatrist (they still take meds for ADHD that have to be managed) so some very dear and generous friends allowed is to stay with them for the night before we set off for Wichita Falls the next morning. At chick fil a the kids began asking a lot of questions (this they could win an award for... Asking the most questions in one sitting... Constant chatter boxes) about the adoption and the court and so forth. So we set off, I knew they were excited and nervous, we were dressed in our Sunday best and we knew the address for the courthouse and the time... 230 pm... All we could do was countdown the time as we drove every mile closer.

It's so crazy to remember back on November 8 when we first drove from midland to Wichita Falls to meet the kids for the first time. Oh how nervous we were and how much we had prayed that somehow they could see us as potential parents. I was so nervous worked up that I could hardly eat or sleep, I wanted to be a mom so bad and I know that although this was going against all laws of nature, that God had placed these kids in my path for a reason. My heart hurt and still does for all the ways my kids have had to suffer heartache and disappointment and neglect from not getting to just be kids who are loved. I didn't know at the time what they were feeling or how long it would take for them to warm up to the idea of Robert and I, but God had everything planned out to His perfection.

The days and weeks went by and we visited them as much as we could, took them to Dallas for Thanksgiving to meet our families, and then made plans to welcome them into our home forever. So on December 20th, they arrived with many bags packed of stuff (lots of junk) and we started day one of 6 months of trials and tests and tears and giggles and memories and laughs. I will never say that this was easy, God does not call us to the comfortable and easy road in life, but He does carry us through the fire to get to the beautiful new life on the other side. What I can say is that every tear, every minute and hour of prayer, every second we had to fight for their souls and for their love, it is all worth it. No we are not saints and we don't deserve praise, we simply have chosen to love when no one else was willing to love. We followed Gods call (and His  gentle but firm push) to walk this path to parenthood.

I couldn't have imagined it any other way.

As we approached Wichita Falls we allowed Waylon to call his foster family. They were unable to come to the adoption bc of other arrangements but we wanted him to be able to connect with them before the special hour. We plan to keep the lines of communication open with their foster families, they were, after all, the ones who helped them in the first 18 months of being taken from their mom. They deserve a lot of recognition bc those were hard and tough months.

So we finally arrived to the courthouse. I'll never forget  when we stepped out of the car, their faces could not have been fuller of smiles. Waylon and Elva gathered at the back of the car and wrapped their arms around each other and got nose to nose... Waylon - ok, we are gonna say yes, right? I'm gonna say yes are you?
Elva - right, yes!
It was probably the cutest moment of the day. Their little "yes" huddle :)

After the huddle was over, we walked hand in hand to the front of the courthouse and through the security doors. It took us awhile to maneuver the maze of rooms and hallways and levels and floors before rendezvousing with HollyAnn, and the kids' caseworker. We also had the kids CPS social  worker, Elvas foster dad, and our attorney join us. After we were all gathered and had exchanged
hugs, our attorney pulled us into a private room to run through the court proceedings and to sign our
name on the official adoption decrees.

Then it came time for us to enter the courtroom. Judge Fudge. We couldn't make it up if we wanted to, Judge Fudge, hehe. We filed in the room, all 9 of us, I sat next to Elva and held her little hand, Waylon, Robert and the attorney took the front row of chairs. The judge opened the court, and then the attorney called Robert to the stand. I mean no one said I would have to go to the stand but whatever it took!! Robert raised his right hand and did the swearing to the truth business before sitting down and answering some basic questions about our marriage, our promise to love these kids and care for them, and to state the kids' full names. Then, it was my turn on the stand. I raised my right hand and then kinda had a weird moment where I started overthinking what it was I was supposed to answer the judge with,... Do you swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth... Umm yes , yes sir, yes honorable judge sir... Haha, I minorly panicked but in the end I just said "yes". I only had to answer three questions and then got to take my seat. The funny thing was when the judge went to make his closing remarks and said "I declare this divorce... Wait no haha adoption! Haha" we all took a breath and laughed for a moment. I kept waiting for the moment for the judge to ask to talk to the kids but he never called them up, instead he have his final remark and then the sweetest words ever:

I now declare these children's names be changed to Waylon Gilbert Fowler and Elva Marie Fowler.

Yes, our kids. The past gone, the future ready to begin. I began to let the tears forming in my eyes to fall... Until, Judge Fudge said that he heard the mom (that would be me) was a graduate of Texas A&M... And so he had something for the kids. I walked up to the bench and he handed me two maroon hats with Ole Sarge written on them (it's an Aggie term for the corps of cadets). My tears were gone at this point but instead I was just so excited and overcome with the emotion of everything! No other word to describe it but Joy.

We took many pictures of which the judge requested to have a copy... He was a Texas A&M class of '67 and very happy to be doing an adoption. Yes sir you will get your picture!!

The only thing I noticed after everything was over and we were then to change and head to ft worth for our forever week of fun celebrating as a new family, Waylon was very quiet and reserved. If you know him that is not at all who he is!! Unless he is upset... Uh oh. I pulled him aside and asked what was wrong, he just replied that he didn't like that it was so fast. (I'm thinking that's the best part, but something else had to be wrong). I gathered that he was overwhelmed. I also gathered that maybe,
just maybe, he was upset that he didn't get to say Yes like he and Elva had pep talked about beforehand. This was a big day for him and I could only imagine the emotions he was feeling.

Taken from his mom, put in a home he didn't want to be in, finding out his mom wasn't going to be seeing him again, knowing she signed away her rights to him, knowing she was put in jail, then being put into another home of people who had promised to love and take care of him, being put back in foster care after a simple accident disrupted their potential adoption, fighting the change and resisting authority bc he was so confused and scared, being put in another home away from his sister, then being introduced to these crazy very white people who talked about love and trust, how was he to trust them with all he had been through, he didn't want adoption, he didn't want to be loved, he just wanted to be happy by himself, but they kept calling and kept coming to see him, they spent time with him, he resisted them, he kicked and screamed and shut down, that'll keep them away surely, but there they were, at the end of the phone, in the hotel, at thanksgiving, making promises, would they could they keep them, and no matter how hard he pushed or tried to run they were there, so he moved into their home, he entered their lives, every minute and hour was a test, a trial, a battle, but they always said the same thing, they loved him and they prayed for him, that's when he would resist harder, but they always prayed harder, he didn't know if it was really too good to be true or just a nightmare, so he decided maybe just maybe he could learn to like these people, maybe even let himself learn to love again, but he can't let himself get too open, no he can't give in, he must fight, he must stick up for himself, they set rules and didn't give in, he yelled hate and turned off his emotions, they never went away, they never have him back, they never gave him back, and here it was the chance to make that final decision if he could love these people as a son would love a real mom and dad, the decision to say yes to them, and he wasn't given the opportunity.

No I don't know if that's all he was feeling, probably not till he's older and I can let him read this will I know, but I have a hunch.

Still, we got some ice cream, changed, said our goodbyes to those that came to support us, and began the drive to fun. He snapped out of his gloomy state pretty fast and then it was all hugs and smiles from then.

No we don't expect perfection, we don't expect every moment to be good and great and happy, we expect to be parents and to go through the toughest times to reach the best times. As always is true for these two beautiful creations of Christ, God had them planned for us, we just needed another mom to bring them into the world for us. No matter the route, we have the future and the ending and I can see it now.... It's just breath taking.

Thank you beyond words to our core prayer group, to Addys Hope and HollyAnn, to our family, friends, our church, our teens (you guys seriously rock), and to all of you who helped pray for us in this wonderfully twisted path to parenthood. We pray Gods many blessings and sweet words to fall upon each of you!

This is our Forever Day! We will celebrate for the rest of our lives!

I know some people will ask what now? But I'll have to answer those and some answers to some frequently asked questions in my next blog.
But for now I can post all the fun things we do from our forever point and beyond :) stay tuned!

Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5

Monday, June 9, 2014

The CountDown is ON!!

I have two sweet kids sleeping in the other room right now which is such a good feeling. My kids. My kids... Wow that still doesn't seem real yet to say. I know it has been awhile since I've written and yes lots has happened but I'll find some time to catch up... and if I don't, well then I don't!

The biggest piece of news is... 14 days until the ADOPTION!! I'm truly grateful we are finally here, so close! It seemed like this month would never get here and that we would always be counting down months and months, but now its just days away! Again we could not be more thankful for all of our family and friends who have helped support us with prayer through the last months and year of our journey.

Things are going very well. I would almost say great but I dont want to jinx anything ;) Yes, we still have our moments, but which family doesn't! And especially with an almost 9 year old and a 7 year old... who still miss their old family and foster families and are just days away from the biggest decision of their life... yeah who wouldn't have their off days! What we are loving and rejoicing over is how much our precious children have changed... how God has changed their hearts and helped them to become who they are today.

Some of the moments we have been having in our home just take my breath away... from the questions about how many more days and the look of joy on their faces as the countdown gets lower, to the funny questions, moments of just laughter for no reason, and the little hugs and kisses that greet me at the door... my heart is full and I want to capture every moment and put it in a safe place to keep forever!
Even in the hard moments, the ones that give me a bit of anxiety and stress, are starting to become easier and they always remind me of the progress that has been made. Just the other day I was getting the kids in bed and Waylon flat out did not do something I specifically told him to do 5 minutes earlier... no instead he was laying on his bed playing his harmonica (i hate that thing ps, haha, but he is kinda good with it...). I took one look at the scene and I LET HIM HAVE IT! I mean full out raising my voice and making my point known that he was in trouble for his laziness and he was NOT getting away with it! [Now I interrupt this story to interject that Robert and I have also made alot of progress with not losing our tempers... most of the time... and learning what their triggers are has helped us to avoid unnecessary fits. Thanks for those that prayed this over us!] So, I'm expecting him to just lose it and start crying, screaming I hate you, hiding his face in the pillows, even kicking or yelling no... but he did nothing... except got up from the bed and started doing the chore I had told him to do. Jaw to the floor moment! He gets done and sits on his bed with his mad face. I finished putting Elva to bed [who always prays for bubba to not get into any more trouble hehe] and when I go back to his room he is very quiet. I tell him he had better talk and answer me bc I had some questions for him. He answered every question. He may have been a little mad still, but he climbed under the covers and when I knelt down with Robert to pray with him, it was like nothing ever happened. God is so good.
A few months ago and his fit would have lasted over an hour and it would have been violent screaming with even kicking and biting his pillow. So I would say we have come a long way!

Speaking of progress, I wrote this several days, err uh weeks ago, and I think its appropriate to share now... so as we have gone through the many months of adjustment, Robert and I realized we had gone through several stages. The kids being thrown into a tornado of emotions settled on specific themes that lasted weeks and days at a time. So we came up with our own stages of adoption. I believe that Robert and I, or at least just me, went through a different set of emotions and stages at the same time, but I'll have to write about those another time.

The PHASES of Adoption
(Disclaimer: this can only be generalized to the adoption of older children as the stages may take various different forms for younger children and even so this may not be generalized to anyone else but my kids... Regardless it's just what we've experienced...)

Stage 1: Shock and Excitement
Everything was honky dory, the newness of being in a new home, new family, it was Christmas time, new rooms, new toys, new playmates, new everything!

Stage 2: Fight and Flight
And then came the rebellion. Anything negative that came up they were ready to get out of here. This was the strongest time that we heard that horrible "h" word (hate). While I'm thankful neither of them ever tried to run away or physically leave, we did have some testy moments of them walking off or trying to physically fight us through every decision. I'm so glad we are past this stage bc I think it lasted the longest.

Stage 3: Dealing and Denial
They came to a realization that although there were things we did or said that they didn't like, they still wanted things to work out. This was the time that they were more open about saying I love you and being appreciative of the things we had and were doing... but we did have some nasty fits at this time, some I can still remember only bc they were the days I spent the most in prayer and asking for prayers. They didn't like it, but for some reason they were starting to learn how to adjust.

Stage 4: Settling In
I should have called this the Peace in the storm stage. There was a weird moment in March where is seemed that everything just clicked and the kids were learning to get along with each other, they were arguing less, and the biggest change of all happened... we started to see them care about the choices they made and the consequences associated with those choices. They started trying to control their anger in a more civilized way and, even though it was frustrating and hard for them, we had much fewer fits and arguments. This was a glorious time... but with every moment of peace, the battle is sure to follow...

Stage 5: Battle Continues
And it did. It seemed that we were fighting the same situations day in and day out... We had learned what to say and what things to use as bait or reward for helping the fits not to escalate, but we also had to deal with the fact that we were the parents and we can't just let them get what they wanted... if we wanted them to learn and for this family to work in the long run, we had to go through the battles. I want to say we are definitely stronger bc of this time, but it was so hard coming off the peace stage!

Stage 6: Is This For Real
I believe we are now in this stage. Its almost euphoric at times for us and for them... being so close to forever and yet wanting to be a normal kid and wanting the kids to do their best in everything and trying to not have too high expectations... I can see how they have listened and learned. I can see how they are everyday trying harder to not lose their control and even when they do, handling their frustration in a healthier way. Its by no means perfect or where I want it to be, but for now we can all take a big sigh of relief. I don't know if in the next 14 days we will have another stage, but I'm getting pretty comfortable with the best of all last stage I hope is to come...
Stage 7 (and the last hopefully): FOREVER

Please keep us in your prayers as our plans for Forever Family Week come together! Oh how I will be posting thousands of pictures at that time... there will be 6 months+ to catch up on! Thank you my friends!

Psalm 105:1-5 
 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Just for this moment

It was Monday night, a time where Robert goes to play disc golf and I get the kids to myself. Things were going so typical... They were bickering at each other as siblings do and I was getting on to them as parents do... Then time to wrestle them into the bath and get as many chores done as possible. Both kids were exceptionally tired that night and it was all I could do to keep Elva from falling asleep before she took a bath (lest she drown). Waylon was first and I remember hearing him pull the plug to let the water drain... And then silence... Which is never good. So I slowly open the bathroom door to a nice thud and realize he fell asleep on the bathroom mat. Goofball. Luckily he had draped the towel over himself before he did... So I gently woke him, somehow got him to brush his teeth and then helped guide him to bed. I wanted to lay down with him bc it's just something I try to do as often as I can and he was complaining of his head hurting so I figured he would be extra cuddly. I got Elva in the bath (her hyper kicked in so she was awake and ready to play) and then I went into Waylon's room. He snuggled into my arms and I started rubbing his head. I had some serious talk with him just about some upcoming things to which he acknowledged with a simple grunting but he was somewhat still with me consciously. I tried to pull away at one point to get a closer look at his face and he pulled me even closed to him. He muttered an I love you mom somehow in his garbled sleepiness and I just closed my eyes and got even more comfortable. I was stroking his hair (it's my favorite when it's a little fuzzy but still short) and I suddenly was overcome by a flood of tears.

Tears for the missed moments to hold him and for how I might never hold a baby (and that's ok if it's what God has planned). Tears for how I try so hard to focus on teaching them right and wrong instead of just remembering that they are kids and I need to simply love on them. Tears bc of all the moments with the kids, I didn't want this one to end. Tears bc God is so good and has shown us His precious gift of love so much in their lives. Tears for all the laughter we have been having lately that makes me really see us as a family. Tears for the family that had to break apart in order for me to have mine. Tears for a woman somewhere out there who let her children slip through her fingers without even knowing what was happening. Tears for the hurt and the scars my kids will always have, but tears for how God is covering those everyday with fresh skin and new roots. Tears for how desperately I want them both to know just how much I love them and never ever will let them get away from me. Tears for all the times I could be praying harder for each of them. Tears bc of all the other children who I pass everyday or could be working with or sitting with my kids in class that don't have a good home or even a chance to hear about the hope in Christ. Tears for the families breaking apart as we speak and for how grateful I am that God did not let me get pregnant so I could have these two in my life instead. Tears bc God is always good and is always watching over our family. Tears bc I was so happy, and so overwhelmed, and so heartbroken, and so overjoyed that they just couldn't be contained.

He started twitching which meant he was going into sound asleep mode. As much as I didn't want to get up, there was another little being that I needed to get dried, into her pajamas, teeth brushed and into bed so I could share the same moment with before she too fell asleep.

Everyone keeps saying how special we are for taking them into our home and how lucky the kids are to have us and how we must be pretty strong to withstand The hardship that goes along with this... And I say it's all wrong. God knew who would fill the kid shaped holes of my heart long before I even thought about marriage and babies. Also there's a reason he chose Robert and I, bc we were willing to let our faith be pushed to the limit bc he had established a firm foundation through our dating and early marriage relationship.  And we are not strong, trust me at the end of the day we are burdened and weak, but we don't mind being weak bc we both know that if we even try to act strong without Christ using His strength to the full, then we will fail and fail miserably. With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).  Thank you continually for the prayers. They are being heard.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12 NIV)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

More and More

I know it has been awhile, but its time for an update... well really its time for me to just bear my heart a little. We have been going strong, feeling strong, and bonding in ways that only God could ordain, but tonight my heart is heavy which I'll explain later. First, I want to capture the highlights and joys of the month.

We took a family mini trip to Abilene at the end of March. The kids are still on medicines that warrant management from a psychiatrist and thanks to the busting economy in Midland/Odessa there is no one who would take them as new patients... so to Abilene we went. The trip went greater than expected... we swam in the mini pool, ate at my favorite restaurant, and when the kids appointment was over we went to the zoo. Its not the grandest zoo, but it was fun to see the animals and walk around a bit before getting in the car to drive home (which was NOT fun! Sorry mom and dad for driving yall crazy when I was little haha). We have found that traveling is not the funnest... but the trip was a nice little break from the norm.

The next weekend my friends Tracy and Ashley came to town to meet the kids and get to spend some time with them. Its so cool to see our friends start to have a relationship with our kids and to see how each of them fall in love with their craziness haha... ok, their cuteness and charming demeanor...most of the time... haha, anyways...we had a great time catching up and the kids gained two new "aunts". The kids have had several opportunities to meet some of my close friends and I love how they have latched onto them and have started mentioning them in casual conversation or during prayer time. Yall are loved and are making a difference for these kids. Thank you :)

Easter was a new experience for us all as Waylon was actually grounded for the entire weekend. He told a lie that stretched the entire week and we gave him plenty of opportunities to tell the truth and get out of it but he kept dragging it along... sooo a big grounding is what he got... BUT here is the awesome part.... while he used to hide, scream, shut down, yell mean things, and just plain not care about his punishment for doing something wrong... he now sat upright on the couch and listened and answered questions and said his "yes maams and sirs" and took it like a champ. We still did some fun things, like spend time with each set of grandparents, went to the church egg hunt and picnic, and watched a movie as a family. Easter morning they were quite the ball of out of control energy and bought drove us insane, but we have realized that this will happen more and more on Sundays as the enemy tries to throw off our church day as much as he can... (he will not win though!) Still we chose to give them "Grace Sunday" and although they didnt deserve it, they got some candy, trinket toys (cheap but entertaining), and all their confiscated toys back from our bedroom (we were starting to look like a cheap garage sale with all our kids toys splattered in our closet and by our bed). This was a great opportunity to talk to the kids about God's grace and forgiveness and the cross.

So our first Easter together was just plain awesome... minus the restrictions Waylon had.. and we made the most of it. One of the things I've always imagined with my kids was them learning to fall in love with church and God the way I was brought up. Yes, I was always in church, but I wasn't one of those kids who got burnt out on it... I knew it was good for me and I couldn't imagine myself missing church for anything... so I've always hoped my kids would be the same. . . . well they are not and its something I'm trying to let be in God's hands, but church is still something that is sometimes hard for them since we are up there all the time. They do the best they can I guess and I'm beyond thankful for the teachers and volunteers who work with them, and for our youth group for showing their love to them especially when they are super hyper and crazy. If you are praying for us, please pray that they will be able to feel comfortable in church and that God will show them the excitement in learning about His word.

So its April now and May is almost here, and we are going to be super busy. I'm a little nervous as we have several small and long trips to make in the next few weeks and the kids don't travel well... not like a dog or anything... but they get super bored. I guess thats something every parent has to figure out is how to get their kids to get along and be occupied during a road trip... and we are now in that boat! Hopefully they will become better travelers :) (pray for that too!)

Ok now for some deep thought stuff which is totally random... remember I'm not a good writer!
This past week there were several instances that occurred that were a hard cold hammer to my heart reminding me that the kids aren't "legally" mine yet and that they are not "biologically" mine. I love getting to tell people I meet that these are my kids, or getting to see old friends and introduce them, and I have even let myself get so caught up in the "mommy" role that I forget the technicalities of our situation. One thing is that I forget how much I am fighting for their love and affection as much as they are in need of mine. They didn't just automatically love us and accept us as their parents, we had to essentially win over their hearts and we are still striving to do this each day. I may get mad at my mom at times but she is my mom and I love her. They get mad at me and in their minds they can just replace me with someone else. Of course things are better than when we started and they are trying their hardest to do whats right and to express their love for us, but in the end the scary part of this is that we could be replaced if they say no. God has given me alot of peace about this, but still... if you jump into my shoes... the thought will make your heart rate increase and can make you quite sad.
Both the kids had opportunities with their classes to write books and have them published. I knew what elva's book was about bc lets face it we had to help her write it. Waylon never mentioned he was writing a book so I didn't even know he had one until it came home with him the other day. He was very secretive about showing me the book and this is why... the book (all 3 pages of it... we paid money for that??) was about how "mom is annoing sometimes and tells me no". Its about me telling him no and him getting in trouble. 3 pages of a total of maybe 15 words... maybe only 12. It made me all sorts of emotions... made, angry, sad, and very confused. I had to remind myself that he wrote is several months ago when things weren't as good as they were now. Still its so hard to be trying to make all these fresh memories and here is a reminder of his point of view of me from a few months back. I'm not depressed over the book, but it is going into the trash can I hate to say... its not a proud thing and I think he understood how much it hurt me and wasn't a good showing of his love. Just a reminder that this is harder than it seems.

A few instances have occurred lately with Elva where she has said how much she likes someone (mostly her school teacher, who is an amazing woman and works so well with Elva), but she has compared me to this person and puts us on the same level of her likeness. "I like her and you the same!" she says. I don't know if this is normal thinking, but it kinda makes you feel worthless when you put all this effort into being super mommy and your child lowers your ranking by putting at the same level of likeness to someone else. The fight for their love and acceptance is never ending and often unnoticed or unappreciated... at least for now and I'm sure it will change... but it didn't help me feel any more loved after reading Waylon's book.

I think the hardest thing right now is forgetting that while I'm comfortable with the kids and have seen them change and gain more control (for the most part) and grow in our relationship... that is not seen by other people yet. I forget how I have to be careful with my choice of words with people bc there are some who just aren't that comfortable around my kids... which is understandable... especially knowing their behaviors beforehand. Its hard for me to not stick up for my kids bc I really can't fault the other party involved... no matter if I feel they are reasonable or not in giving my kids a shot... this situation is just awkward. Its new and no some people just won't embrace it right away. My heart breaks for my kids to have the bonds they could have with other family members and my friends if they would have been biologically mine. How much more would they be accepted and comfortable with their surroundings if I could have given birth to them. I find myself thinking and pondering what they were like as infants and how would they have looked so little. I want those missing pieces, but they won't be there and I have to just accept that and be ok. They are 4 months into being a part of the Fowler family and in the grand scheme of things thats not very long at all and I'm trying to be understanding. I want my kids to develop a strong relationship with those close to us, but its hard for me to accept that it will take time. Its even harder to accept that some people may never get comfortable with them... and that has to be ok too. Adoption may have given me a family, but it also disrupted the stability of every relationship Robert and I had with others. Yes, many have been open and loving, but some need more time. Its just hard to change my attitude when you dream about your kids interaction with people and circumstances, but they turn out less than what you imagined. I'm not saying I'm upset with anyone, I'm just trying to understand, and I want to shed light for others who are or are about to go through this same process that this could happen to you. God has great timing for forming and renewing relationships and I know He is working to strengthen those as we speak. Please know that it makes it hard for this momma.

I can say without a doubt that I'm in love with Waylon and Elva. They are my kids and more and more I am falling in love with their special quirks. Robert and I are having serious talks about parenting issues we never dreamed would come up, but God is truly faithful to our marriage and helping us get stronger through our nearness to Him. Theres no way the enemy will take these kids away in 2 more months. And 6 months seems to be taking forever! I thought we were almost there but 2 more months!!! Oh time please move fast... wait... no, time don't move fast... these are the only moments I'll with them right now and I don't want it to flash before my eyes.
We continue to covet your prayers. Thursdays are no longer our bad days, its just kind of depends now on their entertainment level, sleep deprivation level, hunger level, and overall mood level. I request prayer for Waylon's schooling... he is a smart kid, but just needs to hang on to the end of the semester. The horrendous STAAR test is over, but we pray he passed. Elva is continuing to make great grades (all A's!) and I pray she will be able to be weaned of her ADHD medicine over the next few months/years. She has a hard time being still and contained without it. I pray they both will be medicine free in the near future and (this most of all) that they will continue to have their hearts opened to the fullness of Christ's love for them. Yes I want them to have the fullness of our love, but our love will never be as fulfilling as Christs. Christ first and then us second. I pray spiritual protection over them as the enemy is showing his face again and I don't want him to even get a toe in our house. I also pray God will show us what to do with them during the summer... bc we have a few options but no clear direction and its like a month away- ahh!

Thank you to our prayer warriors and to those who have gone out of their way to love on the kids and help them feel special. It means more than we ever could express :)

Lamentations 3:24-26
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him; 
 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Count your Blessings

Sorry for the lack of updates... I'm trying to Facebook some things that are important along the way, but when it comes down to spending time with the kids or Robert vs posting a blog or fb post... Family wins everytime.

March has been a season of growth in our household. There have been some very bad and testy moments as well as some very good and enjoyable moments. The kids are showing that they are trying to have more manners and to obey more instead of be disciplined. There has been an increase in yes ma'ams and yes sirs, etc... As well as much quieter moments in the home... And believe me these kids are usually just loud so quiet is welcomed!
Waylon may still not be the best kid at school, but his teachers have noted that they are seeing a difference in him. We still get our usual phone calls and emails about his behavior, but again he is trying to do better and that's all that matters. Elva as sweet as she is has tried to test her limits lately but we are finding what works best for her (removing toys from her room)  and we are seeing a big difference in the atmosphere of our home.

I am happy to say that we are moving forward up this mountain. The enemy of this world is still going to be fighting hard for these kids' souls and we have seen that struggle at home and at church. I refuse to give into a spiritual being that will never be superior to my God and no matter what he tries to throw at me, I will choose to love these  children!  Yes, despite the good things happening, I still find myself crying  at ransoms times and random moments... Only now the tears aren't from desperation they are from an overwhelming realization that God is weaving our family together. Perfectly knit from His hands, the things we have dreamed about are coming to life... And that is enough to bring tears to my eyes. I only wish that my grandparents who have gone on to Heaven could meet Elva and Waylon. They would have loved them and have been loved back, but on the other side of Heaven  I know they will get to play and meet under Gods light.

One thing Robert and I are trying to do is talk more about our favorite moments with the kids. If anyone is going through the same thing as us or about to increase their family, I would say take time to look for your favorite moments with each child. I feel that I get so caught up in making sure I have my home and my work and the kids stuff together next to worrying about if they are going to explode into a fit any second... That I forget to just stop and look at all the cute and wonderful things they do.
Waylon is so creative, he just needs a little push to expand his mind and then, woah, watch out bc he will surprise you! I love when he makes things out of mud and wants to give them as gifts to me. I love when he wants to lay by me and have his back rubbed. I love that he will now walk into the kitchen or living room where I am just to give me a hug and say that he loves me. (Melt my heart) I love coming home and jumping on the trampoline with him (although I don't last long bc it's tiring) and he wants to wrestle and laugh and smiles Soo big that no matter how much my legs burn I would stay out there forever for him to laugh. I  love the  way he and Elva make up goofy games at the table... They pick a number that you can't say (like 5) Nd then they take turns counting upwards until someone messes up and says the forbidden number on accident. It's quite amazing  although sometimes annoying haha. I love when Elva sits down at the coffee table with all  her markers, scissors, glue, and paper and begins to create. I love when she lets me hold her, even though she is 7, I just want to hold her to make up for all the times I didn't get to. I love getting to do her hair in the morning and night. I love her loud squeaky laugh. I love when she dances and her legs and arms move a million miles an hour. I love getting to kiss her goodnight and just lay next to her and tell her how precious she is to me. I love when she gets cuddly after she has been in trouble and she just wants to hug me and not let go. I love when she looks up from working on something and she says "momma, I love you." (Melt my heart again!).

I am finally to that place where I feel like I'm earning the title mom... Where they are trusting us enough and opening up more and more about their past and sharing the things that makes them sad... Where they want us to comfort them and they actually don't want to dissappoint us but they still feel conflicted with so many emotions... Where I feel sad and get upset when I have to spend a day away from them for whatever reason... Where Gods blessings are becoming real and thought it is so far from perfect, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I also can't wait till  I can post pictures!! Elva turned 7 in mid March and we had the wonderful disaster of having a party at chuck e cheese. We had a lot of church friends and family join us which was awesome and although it was chaotic and stressful for myself, the kids had fun and that's all that matters. Plus, I may have mentioned to the guy in charge that this was my first birthday party ever... He looked very confused... So I had to explain that we adopted the kids and yada yada... So later when Elva was in the ticket blaster, she didn't grab the 1000 ticket pass... And the guy handed it to her... Her eyes got huge! Haha. She got a lot of artsy craftsy and Barbie things which she adores. And Waylon had a hard time with the fact that he didn't get any presents but we tried to let him have some special privileges.

Spring break was interesting as we didn't have anyone to watch the kids (who we wanted to torture by letting them) so they got really familiar with hanging out at the church with daddy. It was boring most of the time but but we tried to let them have fun at night to make up for it.

Currently I am sitting in a hotel room with Waylon next to me watching animal planet and snuggling while Elva is singing in the shower. It's so cool how things have changed and how much the nerves have been replaced with smiles. We are closer and closer to becoming a family. Thanks to our
prayer warriors, we pray you each are overwhelmed with extra blessings for your generosity of thinking of us. Till next time, count your blessings, everyday!

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with JOY in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11 NIV)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Our New Reality

Disclaimer: this post may have a ton of run on sentences and ... Those things, but again I never claimed to be a writer or an English major. I'm bearing my soul here and in all honesty these words don't even give justice to what's truly in my heart... But somehow the words get jumbled between my heart and my typing fingers.
No matter what you are about to read please know: we are fine. In the worst of the worst moments I pray and then I feel led to write so welcome to my therapy session... This is just my new reality.

So I'm not going to lie that we have had us a hard week at home. The years and effects of bad parenting and poor role modeling seem to be magnified in our faces more and more each week and it's utterly exhausting. Finding and offering healing to these kids can't happen soon enough. Yes, there is evidence of some progress, but every few steps we take forward, we seem to take a giant tumble backwards and then it's slow to regain our steps. It's still weird to be called "mom" and it's weird to talk about my two kids bc it's only been a little over 2 months. I wish everything would snap into place like it would if you have a biological child or adopt a baby... But that's not our reality. My reality is one of severe anxiety (and I literally thought I was having a heart attack the other day bc my anxiety got so bad... But then again we were at a basketball game and I just get roared up)... But anyways, my reality is one of not knowing how each minute or hour is going to turn out, not knowing if I am going to have a smile or tears, of doing my hardest to not cross the line and to follow the instruction that's been given to us about how to deal with behavior, it's about not knowing what to say or do but knowing that you somehow love these children and you want to help them, protect them, care for them. It's bursting into tears at night for no apparent reason except it just feels right and it's the only thing that heals the cracks in your heart from the day. It's dreading Thursdays bc those seem to always be the worst days. It's having so many emotions that you just want to bottle them up but there isn't a container big enough in this world to handle them (except in Gods world but He always seems to get all my junk piled up at once and He so graciously takes it)... It is wanting to have a better answer for people that's a blank state when they ask "how are you and your new family?" It is waking up everyday and praying to the only one who truly understands me and asking Him to fill me with the love I need to carry on and the strength to hold it together. It is wanting and praying for happy moments, hour by hour, and when they are happy times you say a silent prayer of thanks and relief, but when they aren't you fall to your knees again and again and you lay hands on your child and you just have to get out of the way so God can step in. It's taking every opportunity to tell them that you love them, no matter what they do or say, bc they just don't truly believe you yet and they have been hurt so many times before that how can they know you will be different... It's ignoring the hurtful things they say when they are mad. It is wanting to admit that everything is ok when most days things just aren't ok and while that may make you want to give up and say this isn't worth it at all and it's not fair, God keeps reminding you that He has ordained this family and He is redeeming these kids and He is the one who hears all the words and sees all our tears and He is the one who created them and that no matter what... These are my kids and God is working in them.
It's so hard to see that sometimes and it seems that most recently we have entered into this phase of severe rebellion and anger and I can fight it all I want or I can accept that they will have to go through this in order to truly become part of our family.

Just tonight I told Waylon as we were snuggling before bedtime, that I was so glad God gave him to me bc he we meant to be in my family... No matter what and wether he likes us or not... To which he replied," well, not that this will happen, but what if one of us says no?"
I said, " I will fight for you Waylon as long as I love bc you are my son. I will never stop fighting for you and loving you."
I don't say that to brag or show off (bc it's not my words but Gods anyway)... But to say that I know the really long paragraph above with all the run on sentences sounds real negative and depressing, but nothing is going to change my heart from wanting these children. We did after all pray our guts out for these two and we did wait like what seemed an eternity for them... No, I will not give up on them or stop loving them bc of something they do or say of threaten or yada yada. I believe in the end prize... A family covered under Gods love and blessing.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26

Monday, February 24, 2014

Praying Through the Days

I realize it has been awhile since I have written, but if it comes to me spending more time with my kids or with Robert at the end of the day... this will have to take a back seat and for good reasons. I would like to post more as lots has been happening, so just be prepared that this one may be lengthy! And I really do thank you and appreciate you all for your commitment to our family, especially through prayer. As I will explain more later...its the best thing you can give us right now :) So for those of you who are reading on your computer, tablet, iphone, at home, at work, while on the toilet (you know who you are)... here is the latest Fowler family update.

Its been 8 9 weeks since we got the kids in our home... and I only know that bc I went back and counted haha...  (and then counted again bc it took me so long to post this...) I want to say it seems like it has been more than that, but most days it still seems too short. I sometimes find myself thinking of all the memories I never got to have with these two and how I wish they could have just been mine from the start, but I know God will fill the void from those memories with new ones. For now, we are still learning and taking things one day at a time.

I have been trying new things with the kids - as in discipline - bc I want to understand where they are coming from, but still give them some kind of an idea about respect and manners and such. My kids have ADHD which as a medical professional I'm learning more and more about and not just for my patients but now for my kids. I'm learning so much about the things these kids need and how to better relate to them. I can't say the new things are working, but I think things are getting easier on some fronts. I never thought or imagined myself as being the parent of the "problem child" up at school, but it seems we have run into this issue as of late. The teachers this year are great and have been very encouraging for us in our transition time so we are very grateful. Yes, there seems to be a bit more anxiety at the end of the week, usually Thursday is a bad day in our house, as the boy can't seem to go a week where he is not in trouble at school. And it usually happens at the end of the week for him, which just spirals out of control for the weekend. Then its like he gets a reset button for Sunday night and he is fine until Thursday again. Its weird and we are trying to find out if there is a pattern of something going on that we can change or what we can tweak here and there to get a different outcome. Still working on that one, but hopefully it will work itself out bc its exhausting. Elva has her ups and downs all week like a typical child I guess, although her lows are usually very very low and while she is improving, she just seems to have the worst of the worst moments when she has a low. And even more so these lows happen at home. Again, learning lots about these kids and their behaviors as I know we will do for the rest of their lives!

It is hard (and yes I know this is hard for typical parents also) to determine if the kids are just being kids or deliberately undermining our authority or just distracted enough by the elements around them that they really just can't focus. I'm trying to educate my kids that they are wired a little different and, yes, they have a hard time focusing in school and at home. I do this to make sure they don't think they are stupid or dumb, but rather they have to try a little harder to follow the rules. We are also trying to talk through the low situations in order to teach them right from wrong. I think Waylon said it best the other day when we were sitting at the table... he really doesn't hold his fork right and just shovels things into his mouth. We were talking to him about manners and he said," It's not our fault our mom didn't teach us that!"
True true, I can't deny that, but its time for you to learn now.

There is still alot of typical and atypical things that happen in our house (meaning vs a non adopted child) and its hard to communicate that to all you wonderful people who ask how we are doing. The answer is... well... at this moment we may be good but any second we may need some divine intervention. Each day is a new day and each moment is a different moment, as if true of kids, but its magnified on each end for these kids. Through the gracious and loving council of those who have adopted before us... and those who share our beliefs... we have seen some great break throughs in each of the kids. Waylon is very quick to trigger into a spiraling fit by any mention of the word no or any change in his expectations of things. We are figuring out some of these triggers and doing our best to avoid or minimize them. As we learned this past weekend, we have had to lower our expectations for the kids. It is so backwards thinking for me to have to doubly think everything before I can react to something that is done or said. I have to remind myself that these kids maybe A. have never been taught that or exposed to what the "right" response or action is supposed to be... or B. are either hungry, tired, scared, hurt, or just plain irritable about some other factor, usually physical, I mean come on, they were neglected for years from love and physical possessions including food... C. or they just want to be a kid and do what they want. Either way, if I can go through A or B first to fix things before getting to C, we usually have a calmer child. I have had to become quite clever with my words around Waylon so as to help him acknowledge some truth and accept the right course of action. Its super exhausting and I can only attribute the words that come out of my mouth as coming from the Lord himself. Thank you, Lord, without your words I would scream my head off. Love Jen.

And then there is Elva. She is so darn sensitive and over dramatic about everything. Somewhere in her lifetime though, thats how she learned to survive and she was able to get away with these behaviors. She so darn cute too that its hard to not give into her, but her loud screams and whining voice is beyond cute so we usually snap out of it pretty quick. We have had to use alot of timing options with her.. such as lets see how fast you can make your bed... get dressed (oi-ye it takes forever)... brush your teeth (well this has a time minimum of 1-2 minutes)...pick up her toys... yada yada. This does not work for Waylon bc it seems to make him want to act us and pester his sister more... but it works somewhat for her. Gentle words with both kids are helping alot, but again its exhausting to have to be the clever word genius and work through their mind games... but its worth it in the long run!

I have to say there are good things coming up in this post, but I got to get the junk out first... bear with me!

The biggest thing that gets brought up in our home is how much longer till the official adoption. Remember, we have to have the kids for 6 months before we can go to court to officially make it official. AND also remember that the kids will be asked by the judge if they want to live with us forever or not. They have a choice to say no... it is their right to say yes or no.
 Yes, they will ask an 8 and (will be then) 7 year old if they like us enough to stay with us forever... and what they say goes. Talk about anxiety. We are down to a little under 4 months now and while I have all these confident people around me saying that they will definitely fall in love with us and say yes... I have to live in the reality that despite everything we do, if they wake up in a bad spirit that day, they might just say no. This brings me to my biggest point of this post. PRAY. The only thing that gets me through right now is knowing that I have a God who is in charge and knows the outcome even when we may not be certain. PRAY that Waylon and Elva will have the desire (no matter what) to be our children. PRAY that even through the hard times and low moments that they will hear us speaking truth and love to them. PRAY that they will see and know how wide and deep and high is the love of Christ for each of them. PRAY that we can be a family.
The worst thing we hear when they get mad is that they can't wait to say NO and get out of here...(and yes kids will scream and say whatever they want, I do realize that biological kids do this to... but they don't have a choice to be your child or not so it hurts just a little deep down inside each time.) I just want to hold them and squeeze the love juices into them as ferociously as I can when they say that! BUT that would be counterproductive and would push them further away as we have found out. Instead, we have found doing some different tactics that I mentioned above and by doing something I discuss in the next paragraph... pray it out of them.

Just go with me on this... I have become more and more aware of the spiritual fight for my kids. Angels and demons are real and I'm sorry if you want to stop reading right now bc you don't believe in them, but pick up a Bible and read it... better yet, stop and look around bc the battle between Heaven and hell is all around us. I know that there are evil spirits haunting my children... not as in scary movie haunting them, and nothing that needs an exorcism, but the way they act when they are defiant and the way they get triggered into hysteria and the things they say when in a fit would make you want to pray for them also... and even more so, the way they react after I have held their face, looked them in the eyes, and prayed over them... would freak you out. I don't do this to say my kids are bad bc something inside them made them be bad... no, they still have choices, but those little evil spirits do have an influence in their lives and from the moment they got here they have been bombarded with negativity regarding their past and their ability to coincide with our future. God has opened my eyes to this and while its super scary, its also relieving to be able to look them in the eyes and to command the evil out of the room and the light of Heaven to come into them. Waylon has even asked for prayer as he was coming out of a fit or two... he feels different when the prayer is over. Thats not supernatural mumbo jumbo... thats the power of God and the truth.

OK if that was too weird for you, sorry, but all that to say, PRAY for the spiritual health of the kids. It makes a big difference, trust me.


Waylonisms: So this clever child got awesome grades on his report card (A/B honor roll and he was so close to getting just A honor roll). Despite all his trouble at school, he is just plain smart. He has also come to notice how much I like to eat ketchup. He now asks for ketchup on alot of things to be just like me and try things like I do. One day at dinner, we made spaghetti. I put ketchup on spaghetti... bc it tastes better. So I carry the ketchup to the table as we are about ready to say the prayer and he says," Ketchup?! You really need to get a hold of that addiction, mom." LOL, ummm excuse me? Ok well he does have a point! Now whenever we got to restaurants he always checks the ketchup bottles and determines if we will have enough or not. Got to love him :)
My favorite moments with him are jumping on the trampoline when I get home from work. No matter how tired I may be, it is so worth it to wrestle and make up games with him... not only for the exercise... but for the fun too. I also love getting to watch him play legos and build me little ships and things as well as watching him try to come up with magic card tricks. But my all time favorite thing to do with him is cuddle during family time. He wants me to lay right next to him and either rub his back or play with his hair while we are read to from our devotional book. He does complain about the length of daddys prayers... but its so cute to hear him whisper, " Yes, thank you God," or "I love you God," under his breath while we pray. He may not know that I notice, but its good to know maybe something is clicking for him.
Too bad the kid does stink haha... oh wait so does Robert... well I guess thats fine then :)
Waylon is also showing us some random acts of kindness and surprising us on many days when he chooses to not get mad at someone or to walk away from a bad situation with a friend or to help his sister calm down when she becomes upset. He is a good kid... he just processes some things differently. And I love him for all his goofiness and stinkiness too. (oh I forgot he is also playing basketball if I haven't already said... and while it has been a struggle for us all with some behavior adjustments, he is very good at this sport and I hope he can see that to push himself for more).

Elvaisms: She is so cute I just love to hold her down and tickle her... well you don't have to tickle her really, just threaten to and she goes berserk laughing uncontrollably. Its awesome to hear her laugh and how freakishly it sounds like mine. She is playing the piano thanks to my mom for teaching her. No she doesn't like to practice, but we have worked up a system of 3-4 songs a day which doesn't take too long. She keeps saying she wants to win trophies and awards and make lots of money playing the piano. And I like that it helps her coordination and focus ;)
Elva is picking up on our phrases like how much I say "OMG" that I didn't realize until she say it in the truck the other day. I was shocked when Robert told me that she got that phrase from me... hehe oops :) I love to hear her sing and make up songs to everything possible. And while she takes forever to do her chores and daily tasks, she is always the quickest to say I'm sorry and thank you.
My favorite moments are tickling her, watching her draw and create things... even if she makes a huge mess and asks me for an entire roll of scotch tape, seeing her ride her bike and run... its just cute and funny, same thing goes with dancing or playing the wii... she wiggles, hugging her at the end of the day... we have a special kiss sequence we do to each other followed by a big hug.... and then I have to kiss her monkey and her penguin flashlight friend but I don't mind :), and then there are the moments she just wants to crawl into your lap or by your side and lays her head down and you just melt bc you want this moment forever with her.
No matter her out of control attitude, she is a joy. She has alot more to learn about God and his promises for her life, but I know the time will come when she will be able to fully understand.

I am grateful to have this opportunity to be a mom. God has granted us so much and I'm just blown away by it all. Yes, the hard days leave me in tears and I just want to run away from the hurt... but in the end, they are what really matters and I'm here to do His work, not my own and not by my strength but his. Thanks for reading. Keep praying!

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. Matthew 18:5

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Better Days Ahead

No we have not dropped off the face of the planet, just going through life is all and haven't had time (or energy) to sit down and write.
Currently, I am sitting on the bench at the end of my bed while my daughter is jumping on packing bubbles that came in a package today. Her laughter is hilarious and her smile is the darn cutest you've ever seen. My son is running around with some neighborhood kids, jumping on the trampoline, and playing in the dirt. He loves to be active and he loves to be with people. We have been seeing some better days this week (week 6 OMG!) which is honestly a big sigh of relief. While the weekends seem to be variable with each child having 2-3 fits, the week days seem to be leveling out. Of course these fits and the days depend on typical child behavior and responses to things (hungry, tired, bored, etc) but we are learning more and more about how to avoid some fits and how to break them faster from their anger. I wish I could say there have been no problems at school, but Waylon seems to find one instance each week to blow it. Elva is of course an angel in school bc she likes her teacher and she gets to be creative (which drives her passion) so we don't have any issues with her in her schooling. Waylon is the "victim" of his mouth alot and as smart as he is, he still struggles with showing respect to his teachers and not trying to pick on any kids.

They are getting there. As slow as a snail (and not Turbo bc hes fast, haha my kids love that movie), and as fast as the leaves change color each season, they are getting there. I can see Waylon trying to control himself when he gets upset and for all its worth he is able to calm down way faster than Elva. His behavior is changing in some ways that are not so good, but at least he is showing that he is trying to use the right coping mechanisms (go to his room and chill without yelling, throwing things, slamming doors, or mouthing off). Elva just can't seem to shake herself to reality when she gets mad. I mean the slightest thing (mostly when her brother makes her mad) just gets her in such a frizzle that she would probably stay mad at the world forever unless we "break" her of her stupor. Her fits seem to get longer and her screams louder, but I can again tell that she slowly learning how things go and how she doesn't want the consequences that come following her fits. While both of them have yelled that they hate it here and they hate us while they are mad, they are both quicker to take it back as soon as they come off their emotional high. Our goal each fit is to instruct in healthier ways to release their feelings and to reassure them that we love them, no matter what they say or do.

The best moments have been just having normalcy moments. Elva's hilarious child like vocabulary (she puts extra syllables of things) and how she says "thing majiger" for everything. Waylon's wild imagination and silly laughter. Giggling together at the dinner table (most of the time), listening to them try to learn the words to the songs on the Christian radio, quietly snickering while they say the most bizarre but cute prayers, giving nose kisses, teaching them Bible verses and rejoicing when they get them right, trying to figure out their reasoning for things and then they get confused themselves and we just laugh out loud, reading our devotional book and hearing them maybe, just maybe figuring out this love of Christ, and watching movies with them snuggled up against us... and then squirming and moving to this couch and getting a drink and getting a pillow and getting a blanket and getting bored and wanting this and wanting that and always always moving! Oh yes, those moments are wonderful and I hope will just continue to increase in number. The best best moments are getting to hear them say I love you and when they just want you to be near enough to hug them or hold them. Oh I forgot tickling... hahaha yes tickling is always a good moment! Waylon has one spot (on his sides) where he is ticklish and Elva starts to laugh when you get close to her and just say the word tickle. The kids have been participating in kids Bible quizzing at our church. They had a competition kind of thing on Saturday and believe it or not they each got 4th place in their age divisions... we were quite proud and impressed! Something is getting through to them! (and its all God really)

I wish some days I didn't wake up and have a hard time telling myself to love them, but I really wouldn't be human at this point if this wasnt a hard transition. Its still in an unnatural state for us to *poof* be parents and by all means why would I even begin to expect that I have it all together. An untraumatized child is able to get over an upset in 2-3 minutes give or take less or more... mine takes 15-30 minutes give or take. My child is unable to chemically process why they get upset and mad and how to calm down... whereas any other child might have regret or feel sorry for the wrong they had done. A natural child knows they can trust their parents and will confide in them when hurting... mine have been let down so many times that trust is scary and foreign to them and why would they come running to someone for help when they still have to make the choice everyday as well to love us back. A mom of biological kids has years and years to develop a special bond with their child, we are making up for lost years and damaged years. Its ok for me to not feel connected to them some days and its ok for me to not know how I'm going to handle one more fit or upset in the day. Its ok that I shed a few tears for my sanity. Bc through it all, its not really me. My God knows the desires of my heart and He knows the hurts and pains and He knows whats best for these two blessings. Its not me, I'm too weak. Its God, He is my strength. And only a God so loving and magnificant could put this family together the way He did. So if we have a hard day, its all part of God's process and He is the one standing beside them, whispering to them, whispering and leading us.

I wouldn't trade this journey for anything... I would love more happy days in the future, but even if there are only hard days we will survive bc of God's grace and mercy. I can't truly express how freeing and beautiful it is when I fall to my knees before Christ and confess every fear and thankful joy and hurt. And how His sweet strong arms just pick me up, set me on my feet, and carry me to another day. Its so beautiful to fall apart with Christ. I want to be broken and put back together everyday by Him if thats what it takes for me to be the mom and the christian He has called me to be. Better days are still ahead. Its just taking things one day at a time. And that is ok.

How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.    Psalm 31:19

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What Makes It All Worth It

As we head into week 4 of parenthood all I can say is alot has changed. Some for the better and definitely some for the not so better.

If you are a parent and you read this please do not be offended or laugh too hard or jump to conclusions... this again is my experience spilling out for the hopes that somewhere someone may be touched or encouraged by these words... I am in no way an expert (haha that is even funny to think) and I do not want to overlook parenthood in general that it is hard and an ever changing blessing... this is just our experience. OK that being said I'll continue...

The first two weeks of having our children were a sweet little blur... the "honeymoon" period as some have put it... we had lots of time with the kids to just bond with them since neither Rob or I went into work, so we rode bikes, went to the park (even in the 30 degree weather all bundled up), went fishing at the park by our house, went to the movies, played games, had Christmas (eek), and cleaned up Christmas and then had New Years and wow it was just alot of fun each day. I think we did our best to provide different activities for the kids to help them feel more at home and to set down some rules. Oh rules... I think every kid comes with a gene that says "ignore rules set by your parents" just for the fun of it! Anyways, we were living a blissful time with little argument and disagreement from the kids. I honestly was surprised by their responses to our overwhelming introductions to family and friends as well as their ability to acclimate to our home environment.

And then we spent the later part of the 2nd week preparing for school to start and trying to set schedules as best we could. Then on Monday the 6th, Rob and I took them into their first day of school... and our first day of school also. It was weird getting them up, feeding them breakfast (cereal for Elva and Poptarts for Waylon literally everyday), helping them pick their outfits and doing Elva's hair and putting the backpacks together (which were quite empty bc we didn't know what they needed) and making their lunches and then grabbing the mountain of paperwork that needed to go to the school and heading out the door! We arrived just before 7:30 (as I was told bc of the paperwork) and we headed to the office...which I had only been in their school once and that was to drop off their original enrollment forms the day we got the kids... so I knew basically where the office was and that was it. We were greeted with smiling faces and it was funny how when we were asked questions about the kids or who we were that the kids would answer "we are adopted!" As if everyone needed to know that, but at least they are proud of it right? So we were escorted to their new teachers (who are awesome!), were able to introduce ourselves and explain a little about each child to their teacher and then we hugged them and walked out. No I didn't cry... I was too excited and nervous and happy that we were finally at the point in our lives where we could say "we just dropped off our kids at school!"

School really is going great for the kids, they each have some friends and are getting good reports everyday by their teachers... or at least we have heard no bad news so thats good right?! Well since school was the beginning of week 3 I guess the kids decided that the "honeymoon" was over and that they had some boundaries they wanted to push. [Remember parents I asked you not to laugh too much... most people have years to ease into this part of their lives, we were thrust down the rebellion hole from the get go and its been quire a struggle] So while they behaved during the day, would come home and do their homework mostly without a fuss... it seemed the evenings began to turn sour. I firmly believe in demons and angels and although I can't say for sure, I'm most certain a heavy negative spirit rested in our house beginning on Tuesday. Our sweet Elva, who was always quick to apologize and do what she needed to do and was so helpful... became full of rage, anger, and so many emotions that it scared me at first. She was quick to become upset and defy whatever command we had just given. The time out couch was unfortunately her friend quite often and we saw some pretty scary emotions leak from her tiny body. I understand kids can be mad and will lose their tempers at some point in time, but this was beyond being prepared for. Waylon was pretty good at calming himself down and staying away from time out except for a few times when he really just let us have it. And I mean let us have it... the worst possible thing your child could ever say to you has been said to us multiple times in their deepest upset. It may be just words, but it still stings.

I don't share this to put my kids down, there is a light at the end of the tunnel that we are racing for... and at times that Rob and I are dragging the kids towards, but we are going to get there with God's help if it kills us... But I do share it bc I feel like I am called to, I feel like I can't skip over the details and just say everything is good, working on a few adjustments, but everything is good... bc who really believes that. We all have stuff going on, and if sharing my stuff can you deal with your stuff than please read about my stuff and I will gladly share.

I don't wish upon any parent to have to endure some of the things we have had to go through. No we aren't in any way martyrs for what has happened in our parenting moments, but please understand me when I say that these new experiences for us are sometimes beyond what anyone can prepare you for. To have your child become so upset that you have no physical way of calming them down is very scary for anyone. To then lay by that child's bed for an hour, praying for their healing, for comfort, for the right words... as they are yelling they hate you, as they are telling you that you are not their real parent and that they can't wait to be rid of this place and so on... no I don't wish that upon anyone. Kids (and adults too) will say whatever they can when they are mad just to get a reaction and try to control the situation. One of our kids will choose to keep their lips sealed in anger and the other one will yell anything that comes to mind. Again I realize this is normal for kids, especially ones who have gone through so much instability as ours have, but to have to sit through their rantings is quite painful and takes alot of faith. What makes it even more scary is to think "in 5 months will they still want to say yes to us or will they say no." They have a choice and on the hardest days I always pray that we haven't undone the progress we are trying so hard to make each day. I always reassure the kids when they have calmed down that nothing they ever say or do will cause me to give them back... bc let me tell you a little piece of their story... they were adopted once before and given back. As sad as that sounds, it happens more often than you think in adoption... EXCEPT it won't happen with our kids. I refuse to let myself even think of things getting so bad that we would give them back.... no that will never happen. So I always end each rough time with asserting our love for them.

I don't want to highlight just the negative things bc really for a family that was thrust together one month ago, comprised of two adults who have no idea what they are doing except that they want to follow Christ and two kids who have had enough heart ache beyond what some adults can stand in a lifetime, we are doing quite well. Each day is now lived in a moment to moment situation, and yes the limits are being tested daily by each child, but we are also learning certain things about them... for the good and the bad.

Elva: She is the pickiest eater alive and the slowest eater at that. But don't mention that to her or you will get a full on meltdown and then she will never finish her cereal! haha. She is scared of automatic flushing toilets and is a very sore loser (well I was too at her age). She will draw on any scrap piece of paper or solid paper like surface that she can get her hands on and any scrap piece of string, stick, rock, confetti, bla bla etc. is fair game for an art project. She has the same laugh as me which is totally weird and funny and she loves learning the piano (although not to practice which is also like me at her age). She would rather have a candy cane for a snack or dessert than chocolate and loves to work on spelling words (shes a cute nerd). Elva also loves to ride her bike and collect things for art projects outside (which drives us nuts, but its creativity). She is quick to pester her brother but just as quick to cry when things turn against her will. She says some of the cutest things and while she struggles so much with understanding about God and why she is not with her family anymore and what the definition of a mom is... she has such an innocence about her that I hope she never loses.

Waylon: He is a typical smelly, gross, play in the dirt, get sweaty, be rough kind of boy. He has a hard time letting his imagination come through, but when he gets a crazy idea we let him run with it and he starts to show his creativity. He wants to do good and stay out of time out so bad (and I want him to also). Waylon loves beyond all things to hunt and shoot things with guns (animals not people). He will walk all over the house asking people to "put their hands up" or be shot with one of many nerf guns. He is only ticklish on the sides of his tummy, and he loves to cuddle with momma at the end of the day (oh how I love those moments). He has a growing belly even though we are very strict with his diet and he will do ANYTHING for chocolate or dessert. Funny thing is he chipped his tooth this past week in the exact spot Robert has a chip in his tooth. So now they smile just alike. Waylon loves to be around other kids he can play with and even though his attention span is very short he likes to fish. Waylon has started to embrace his new family members (as in grandparents and aunts/uncles) and doesn't really talk about his old family much. He likes to say how much he is glad to be in our home (well when he is happy he says that haha).

Both of the kids do still have time to talk to their foster parents bc they miss them and for good reasons too. We don't ever want to break those relationships that they had, their foster families were the ones who had to go through the roughest moments with them to reach the point they are at today. We are grateful for them. That being said, I don't know if I've shared this about the kids that they weren't in the same foster home when we got them. For various reasons they have been apart from each other for about 6 months so learning to be brother and sister again has been a struggle. Its hard to teach Elva that her brother is going to be mean and play rough instead of being her protector and provider like he was growing up. And its hard to teach Waylon that his sister is sensitive bc of their past and how much she hasn't yet come to understand. And its hard for us to know when to step in and when to let things go! I'm not going to lie that I get very nervous when they start playing together bc I know it more often than not (and at this point we are at 99% of the time) it will end in a blow up. This will change with time I know as will everything, but still its just one of those not normal situations we are having to learn to handle along with our own adjustments.

I leave you with some of my favorite moments so far... bc no matter how hard the rough moments are, the good ones are what makes it all worth it... and in the end thats what we have to remind ourselves... they are worth it.
Fave moment with Waylon:  When he randomly comes up to each of us multiple times during the day just because he hasn't had a hug in a little while. He might be sinisterly trying to get something, but I will take all the hugs and kisses I can get from him bc I know the time is coming when he will feel too cool for all that... and unfortunately thats not too far away from the age he is. But I'm hoping to have many more of his random hugs :)
Fave moment with Elva: One night Elva was having a hard time getting settled in bed (missing her other mom) so I talked with her and ran my fingers over her face and through her hair, but nothing was really getting that sad look out of her eye. So I asked her if I could sing her a song. My mom used to sing me a song when she put me to bed at night, and even sang it to each other as I got older (like in my 20s) whenever I would stay at their house before I got married. I had always dreamed of singing it to my little girl as she grew up and not until this one night did I think about it. So I sang it to her and saw the sad eyes turn to happy sleepy little eyes. That was a good night :)

Thank you all again for your prayers. I won't lie that at the end of the day I just lay in Robert's arms and just pray for God's understanding and sometimes I cry bc there just seems nothing else to do but cry and sometimes I just smile and am so thankful. But thank you for your prayers. They are still needed very much. Thank you.I cannot stress enough how much God is in this and how much I daily must fall on my knees and ask for His guidance and His strength and His wisdom through it all. God is what makes this all worth it :)

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.