About Me

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I am a wife, daughter, mother, bilingual teacher, poet, author, women's Bible study teacher, world traveler, orphan advocate, and an adoptive mother.  Our adoption journey has been filled with a lot of hurt and loss, along with even more hope, grace, and healing.  Through it we have experienced more of God than we ever bargained for and have watched Him miraculously redeem our story when we surrendered all the broken pieces to Him.


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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our thirteen greatest blessings of 2013

Here are our lists of our thirteen greatest blessings of 2013--from four different perspectives:

Mike:  Repeat the list of our greatest challenges.  Each challenge turned into a blessing in the end.

Me:
  1. Receiving our approval from Colombia.
  2. David had the best 5th grade teacher ever, who proved to be an incredible role model for him, someone he will always look up to and have fond memories of.
  3. Traveling to new parts of Colombia and being able to see and reconnect with friends and family there. (Zayde and her family, Mercedes, Julian, and other teachers we had worked with)
  4. COMPLETING Juan David's adoption on July 11th.
  5. The moment the nurse told us that David did NOT have appendicitis.
  6. Making it back from Colombia just in time for David to make it to camp!
  7. David becoming bilingual.
  8. Switching from teaching second grade to teaching PreK.  What an incredible blessing. Plus I developed a really neat relationship with my new aide, a friendship I didn't know I was missing.  
  9. My boys' soccer teams and soccer coaches.  I love watching both of them play.
  10. Building trust and connection as a new family.  It's a challenge, but it's great to look back and see how much we've gained and how far we've come in just five months.   
  11. The newcomer high school for Juan David.  It has its pros and cons, but I think the pros outweigh the cons.  He loves school, has a great group of friends, and his teachers all adore him and speak highly of his abilities. The situation could be so much different.
  12. The Net--our youth/student ministry program at church.  Both boys get to go together every Wednesday evening, and they both love it.  They also have gotten to know the new youth pastor pretty well because of the small atmosphere on Saturday nights, so that's been neat to watch their respect for him grow.  
  13. All of the financial help/blessings that came through right before we left for Colombia and all of the amazing support we received from our Life Group. 
David:
  1. Family
  2. My new Play Station
  3. My school 
  4. My school friends
  5. My soccer team
  6. My bedroom
  7. My house
  8. My Snowflake (the cat)
  9. Mom's Snowball (the other cat)
  10. Dad's Minnie (the dog)
  11. Juan's Mickey (the other dog)
  12. Dad's F-350 
  13. Dad cutting down Mom's tree after the ice storm (it was ugly)     
I'm still grieving the loss of my tree that bloomed pretty white flowers for me once a year on the first day of spring. :(

Juan David:
  1. The adoption and my new family
  2. My new friends
  3. My new church
  4. My school where I am learning English
  5. My soccer team
  6. Winning the soccer tournament
  7. My job that I had in Colombia
  8. Traveling to the United States
  9. The support I have all around me
  10. My new video game
  11. Having a pet
  12. Having a good year
And with that, I guess we'll bring 2013 to a close.  Tomorrow I will see about setting some new goals as a family so we have something specific to strive for in 2014!  

Monday, December 30, 2013

Thirteen greatest challenges of 2013

With two days left this year, I decided to end the year with two specific posts: our thirteen greatest challenges and our thirteen greatest moments/events of 2013. Today will be the challenges.  Mike and I sat down with a cup of coffee together the other night to create this list together.

  1. Waiting on that piece of paper finally declaring our official approval to adopt from Colombia.  The men over our case told us that we were the first family to ever try a second time after being denied, so we knew that piece of paper would change history, not just our own and Juan David's, but possibly for others down the road.  It was no easy feat, though, and they added even more requirements for us than the norm.  God went before us (and all of our paperwork), though, and fought the battle for us.  A picture of that final approval is posted on the right hand side of this blog.
  2. Living through months of the unknown, especially waiting to see if God indeed planned to bring Julian here with Juan David.  The adjustment with Juan David alone has been challenging enough, adding Julian would have been difficult.  However, our hearts and our home will always be open to him if God ever opens the door for him to come to this country.  
  3. Living apart from Mike for our last three and a half weeks in Colombia.  We had friends in Colombia.  Lots of them.  We had Julian and Mercedes, intimate connections to Juan David. We weren't alone. I spoke the language. I thought it wouldn't be so bad.  Ha.  I never want to do that again.  Not without Mike.  Not for that long.
  4. Watching David suffer through such horrible tummy aches in Colombia, the worst one landing him in a little unsanitary clinic far from our living arrangements, far from our apartment in Bogota, far from home, and far from Daddy.  We waited there for nine excruciatingly lonely hours, hoping and praying that it was not appendicitis and that he would not need an emergency surgery in the middle of nowhere. 
  5. Adjusting to a teenager in our home.  One that has lived most of his life without the love, comfort, guidance, and security of a family.  It's a learning experience for all of us, and we just take it a day at a time.  The hardest part is knowing that we never had the chance to teach him and guide him up to this point.  We pray. A lot.  All we can do besides that is model, model, model and hope that he's watching.  
  6. Overcoming the language barrier.  I remember telling Juan David in Colombia that he'd be speaking a lot of English once he was in the States for just a couple months.  The ESL teacher in me knew it could happen because that's how immersion works.  Now almost six months later, it's still a huge struggle to get him to use any English at home.  Instead, he speaks completely in Spanish to David, so David is the one who surprised us by picking up the language almost naturally.  I try to speak mostly English to him, but before I even realize it, he's turned the conversation right back to Spanish.  When I ask him to try to say it in English, he can (or he finds a way).  He just doesn't have any desire to.  Sigh.  I guess there's just been so much change in his life that his language is the one thing he's still holding on to.  We considered pulling him out of the newcomer program and putting him into a regular school so his English would improve. However, after meeting with all of his teachers and his principal, we realized that they are meeting so many more of his unique needs and giving time for the culture to sink in.  The English will eventually come.  I guess in his case, it might take a little longer than the norm.  
  7. Building trust.  Juan David came here expecting so much more than he was given at the start (I guess like having expectations in a marriage and then seeing your actual marriage fall far short of everything you expected).  We don't have a lot of spare money to just go and do or buy on a whim.  We don't have a big house.  We don't have fancy stuff.  We sacrificed more than he'll ever know just to get him here. We also are a Christian family who operates on Biblical values.  There are many things we've never allowed David to do, and it's never been questioned.  Now Juan David is expecting the same material things and the same privileges as his classmates have in a public school.  Stuff that David always understood why he didn't have or couldn't do. It's been a challenge to get him to understand why the privileges and the material things have to start small.  Trust has to be earned, starting with the little things.  When it's broken over something small, that makes it even harder to earn it for something bigger.  We've stuck to our guns and had some success, but like I said, it's a learning experience for all of us.  We take it a day at a time.
  8. Changing all daily school routines with David.  My baby is a middle-schooler now.  And yes, I am grieving. :(  Not just the changes in his little body and personality (a personality that is identical to mine, so I am getting quite a taste of my own medicine).  I am desperately missing our daily morning commute to school together, when I'd drop him off at his elementary school just a mile away from my own. We would listen to the radio together, sing together, and just talk.  My, the deep conversations we could get into during those fifteen minutes in the car each morning.  I also miss picking him up three days a week after school, seeing his smile each afternoon.  Now I leave an hour before his bus comes and I get home sometimes thirty minutes before his bus drops him off.  It's a HUGE change, and one that this momma isn't liking very much. 
  9. Moving down three grade levels with very little notice before the school year started.  Yes, it has turned out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life this year.  But the initial change was quite overwhelming and challenging. I had to spend two weeks of the summer moving out of one room and into the next, then I completely revamped the entire room in order to make it my own, one where I could feel comfortable teaching. Plus, getting into the mind of a four year old took quite a bit of mental adjustment.
  10. Freak weather cancellations.  Since when do they cancel fall retreats, soccer tournaments, and marathons due to ice storms in Texas? We will not even try to mask our disappointment over Juan David (and David) not getting to participate in what would have been key events in their lives.  Especially the fall retreat with church.  A weekend of solid English hanging out among Christian friends would have done him a world of good.  
  11. David's broken arm.  He still got to play soccer, even with his broken arm.  However, it put a damper on quite a few activities and a pretty big dent on our wallet, especially right before Christmas.  The ironic part about it is that he just fell on his own while trying to kick the soccer ball.  All eyes were on the ball, so nobody even saw him fall.  Nobody knew anything had happened until he came running off the field with his wrist hanging limp. Meanwhile, I was at home in bed with strep throat.  Not one of our finer days.
  12. Wishing we could have traveled up north over Christmas so Juan David could meet more of his new family, specifically on Mike's side.  By spring break, we should have all adoption expenses fully paid off, all medical bills paid from a broken arm, and a tax refund to provide us with the opportunity.  We look forward to it.  
  13. Losing a sweet friend to cancer. We just never know how long we have. She challenged me to live life to the fullest.  To smile whenever I have the chance.  She could light up a room with her beautiful smile and big brown eyes. I'm sure she's smiling at Jesus right now.
I hope tomorrow's post will put a smile on your face as you read about our 13 greatest moments/events of this year.  The boys even made their own lists, too, so I am excited to see the year through their eyes and share it with you.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

From the outside looking in

I know I briefly mentioned this in my last post, but there are many days when I still feel like I'm on the outside looking in.  Since coming home from Colombia, I've almost felt "detached", going through the motions of this new life yet not quite grasping the reality of it all.  The reality that I have two sons.  The reality that Juan David is finally home.  The reality that our reality has completely changed.  Forever.  Some days I still feel like I'm waiting on it to "hit me", to sink in.

I sing songs in church that I used to sing with longing for God to reveal His plan, and now when I sing them, I hear Juan David's voice singing them at my side. Hearing that voice singing those words is proof of God's plan being revealed. Yet somehow I feel like I'm missing the awe and emotion that I should feel over witnessing such a miracle.

I hear David and Juan David carrying on conversations all day completely in Spanish, a Spanish that David once resisted with everything in him, no matter how hard I tried to teach him.  I think the child actually speaks more and better than I did after four years of high school Spanish.  His vocabulary and ability to properly conjugate verbs grow every day.  It's a miracle, and I feel like I am on the outside looking in, not grasping the reality of it. 

I'm constantly throwing stuff away or cleaning out closets and pantries for a Goodwill donation.  Why in the world did I keep those two beautiful blue Christmas stockings after all of the heartache that they represented?  Yet this year Juan David finally got his, a precious reminder that God had a purpose for me loving him as a son way back when.  A miracle.

Ten months after the first adoption pursuit failed, I hung a framed verse on the wall of what would have been Laura's room.  The definition of FAITH, surrounded by pictures of the three of them in their continued life.  I didn't know what God was doing in letting me continue to be a part of their lives via their brother, nor why He connected Julian with me.  I just knew He wouldn't let me let them go.  That framed verse and those pictures around it still occupy that wall, while Juan David has now made the room his own.  After all the years that room remained empty, after all the tears I cried in that very room, I feel like I'm still waiting on that flood of emotion to hit me when I realize that he's actually there. 

I'm not quite sure how to describe what it's like.  Maybe I'm still struggling through a little post-traumatic stress disorder (I will be the first to tell you that getting through that second adoption process was an incredibly traumatic experience).  Maybe I'm struggling with all of the fears associated with raising a teenager, no less a recently adopted one from another country.  I write about all the positive things, but we've definitely had many challenges since bringing him home. I don't know.  I just know that I spend a lot of time wondering why the reality of this adoption miracle doesn't have tears falling down my cheeks more often.  I'm still waiting on the reality of this reality to hit me. 




Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas in a family

 

Everything about Christmas changed this year.  Even David's reactions changed now that he has a sibling.  I will have to say that with all the changes, I felt rather disconnected, almost like I was on the outside just watching.  Maybe that's because I'm constantly observing both of my sons, wondering just what is going on in their minds.
I like simplicity, so we started with the stockings, the "little things", so they, too, could be appreciated.  I wrote a card for both of my boys (and for Mike) and stuck it in their stockings, so it warmed my heart to start off the night seeing them carefully read what I had written to them.  I also tucked in little coupons for them to redeem for some one-on-one time with Mom throughout the next year.
Photo
Back in the early summer of 2009, I found two beautiful blue and white stockings at a local garage sale and purchased them for Juan David and his sister.  I so looked forward to putting them up that Christmas for them.   Though that didn't happen that year, I did get to put Juan David's up and fill it for him this year.  That stocking waited four years for him.  To me, that was a pretty big deal.

Photo: The dogs like their Christmas gifts! 
The other blue stocking held treats for the dogs this year, which you can see they enjoyed and devoured quickly.  By the time the last present was opened, the rawhide candy canes were completely gone!

The boys were very thankful and happy with all of their gifts.  Juan David found a black cross necklace in his stocking that he proudly wore the following day.  They have played their new video game system together non-stop, and so far it's been a good bonding tool for them.  Last night I heard them just giggling away while they played one of the games together.  It warmed my heart.

Mike made the comment back in October that all he wanted for his birthday was to go bowling together as a family.  Then David broke his arm, so we couldn't go.  One night I took David shopping for Mike's Christmas present, and we decided that we'd put our money together to take the family bowling this coming weekend.

Juan David got Mike and David matching shirts that say, "I'm kind of a BIG deal". :)  The boys went together with their allowance money to get me a beautiful silver heart necklace.  David got Juan David a CD with some of his favorite music that he's constantly asking to listen to on You Tube, and we got him a little CD player for his room.  Mike got me a new purple jacket and four fiction books that are all set in Lancaster County, PA.  I finished the first one in a day and am halfway through the second one.  

I've spent more time in the kitchen than I normally do, trying to give Juan David that cozy, "family" feel for Christmas.  I often wonder what's going through his mind, finally being at home rather than just one of a hundred plus kids.  Everything changed for him, too.  He's talked a lot about Christmas traditions in Colombia, but when we got invited to someone's home to practice one of those Colombian traditions, he said he didn't want to go.  He wants to experience and learn the U.S. traditions this year. We don't do and have never done Santa in our home, but the whole concept of Santa in the U.S. has been very interesting to him.  He said that in Colombia, everyone knows that Santa is not real, even the kids.  No one believes that there is really a Santa.  Plus they celebrate Christmas on the night of the 24th, not the 25th.  So, it looks like he's in the right family since we never do Santa and we always celebrate together on Christmas Eve.  

I wish I could say that God gave me all I could have wanted this year by letting Juan David be at home with us finally.  However, we didn't get to talk to Julian on Christmas this year, so I still felt like something was missing.  He and I exchanged some sentimental e-mails, but his phone did not work or his personal computer, so we didn't get to talk at all.  I do miss him and wish he could have connected with his brother.  He finally finished up all his classes and will be starting an "internship" in February to work for six months in his field of study.  I pray that completing these studies will open up a whole new world to him, rather than keeping him trapped in a cycle of poverty.  Though he didn't get to come here with his brother, God has definitely taken care of him and has a unique plan for him.

Today will be another day of rest and reflection, then we will probably attempt to be more active in the coming week.  David could sit at home every day and be happy, but Juan David is not the type of kid that can stay idle for long.  That issue is for another post, another day.




Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmastime

Peaceful. Quiet. Relaxed. Grateful for the little things. No rushing around.  No hustle and bustle. Various nativity scenes and lighted Christmas trees are the only decorations in the house. No trace of Santa or any little elves.

That's how Christmas has been in our home for the last ten years for our little family.  No one ever made a Christmas wish list or ever asked for anything in particular.  We gave each other what we could, and there was always a sense of gratitude. It was fun to shop and fun to give because you didn't feel the pressure of making sure it was what they wanted or asked for. I bought little things all year long so I had plenty to give to others at Christmas and didn't have to struggle financially once December rolled around. We lived for many years with no extra money on hand, then a few years where we lived comfortably enough to splurge on some nice things, then nearly penniless again last year as we scraped our way through Juan David's second adoption process. 

Every aspect of life has changed this year, though, and how it affected the spirit of Christmas took me by surprise.  It's left me feeling disappointed.  Part of me found myself pressured to make everything just right and perfect for Juan David's first Christmas home.  Another part of me felt pressured to make everything just perfect for David because of how much he's given up in the last several years just for us to get Juan David home. 

With only one child, we could give what we could and that was okay.  He appreciated everything.  Now that there's a sibling, there's a constant comparison game going on, so I had to be careful to make sure everything was equal--that both boys got the same amount of things and that they were equal in value and in sentiment.  David actually made a wish list this year, and Juan David said he was going to do the same until I told him all the shopping had already been done.  All of this is new to me as a new mom of two.  I'll have to admit that I don't really like it.  The joy of giving isn't quite the same.

This has also been one of the most financially challenging years yet.  We lived by absolute faith that God would provide every penny for us to finish up Juan David's adoption without having to get a loan.  We ended up having a family help us out in the end, and we're paying them back each month rather than paying back on an official loan.  All time, money, energy, and emotion this year went into that process and then into starting our lives together--so you can imagine that I didn't store up a single gift during the year to hand out to others at Christmastime.  We had to accept that this year is all about family because our family is in a completely new stage.  We're still trying to settle in and adjust after all of the hustle and bustle of getting Juan David home. Maybe we can reach out to others again next year. 

With that said, I am looking forward to our yearly "Kloppmann" tradition of going to the Christmas Eve service, coming home to eat pizza, start a fire, and open our gifts in front of the fireplace.  In a quiet, relaxed, and peaceful atmosphere.  I look forward to seeing David's reaction to Christmas with a sibling and Juan David's reaction to spending Christmas with a family. 




Dressing up

Photo
My sweet niece got married on Sunday, so the Alspaugh's actually decided to dress up in fancy clothes for a change.  (Considering we all dress extremely casual for our Saturday night service at church, it's a very rare occasion for us to actually dress up.)  Someone passed on a suit to us for David several years ago, and he fits right into it now.  He wore it for his fifth grade graduation and then again for his Christmas choir concert last week.  Juan David saw him in it and decided he wanted one, too.  He said he'd never worn one before and he wanted to see how he would look.  Thank goodness for my local thrift store and a son who knows I couldn't afford any other option.  He had to pick out each piece individually throughout the store and try them all on, but we left there with pants, a suit jacket, a vest, a nice purple shirt, and black shoes for about $35.  Then I added a blue shirt for David so they both had a bright, vivid color to wear.  
Juan David has been watching all the new Christmas pictures come in the mail, and he made the comment that our family hadn't made one yet. Since we were all dressed up for the wedding, my sister-in-law's father took our family picture for us.  Now we finally have one to print out.

Photo


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rain or shine

 
After so many freak weather cancellations recently, these boys were determined to run today, rain or shine.  So, despite the pouring down cold rain, they bundled up and ran anyway.  :)  And so, now we have kicked off our winter break.  I've got lots of blog worthy things I've been meaning to write about.  Hopefully these two weeks will grant me just the time to slow down and actually get those thoughts out.
 
 
 
 
 

 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Still going to run



Well, the boys didn't get their chance to run in the Dallas Marathon, but they are still going to run a 5K for a good cause with their team this weekend.  The funds raised through the run go towards helping kids transition from foster care to independent living.  I was glad to hear what their participation would represent because it goes hand in hand to what we attempted to do for Julian.


https://secure.getmeregistered.com/get_information.php?event_id=9447







Sunday, December 8, 2013

Firsts

As a brand new parent of a 16 year old, I will admit that I am a bit heartbroken at times over not having been able to experience many of his "firsts" in life.  I will never know what his first food was, his first word, or when he first learned to walk.  I never got to be the first queen of his heart, like I have been to David for the last twelve years. (Now that there's a girl in the picture, I find that aspect to be a bigger personal struggle than I expected.)

However, since life is all so new to him here in this culture, I am trying to capture as many "firsts" with him as I can.  Here are a few that have happened recently.

Photo 

 Photo

First ice storm, which also included his first school closing, aka "snow day" and even his first time to see church get canceled. He is absolutely fascinated with the ice, never having seen anything like it.

Photo

First time meeting one of his sets of grandparents.  This also meant his first "Kloppmann Christmas" because we always celebrate Christmas with my parents the day after Thanksgiving while they are here.



Photo: Juan David's first Thanksgiving dinner. 

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First Thanksgiving.  My brother and his wife built a table this year that was big enough for the entire family to all sit together for the Thanksgiving meal, kids included.  

Unfortunately, he did not get to experience his first youth retreat, his first time to run in the Dallas Marathon, or participate in his first Tournament of Champions for soccer--all due to icy weather conditions, strangely a very rare occasion for Texas.  Sadly the retreat could not be rescheduled, nor the marathon.  Thankfully the tournament is yet to come, though now we have to wait another two months for it to get here. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

You just never know

Well, I'm thankful that the last five years have taught to me just take things a day at a time.  This coming weekend was supposed to be super busy, then it got a little overwhelmingly busy, and now it looks like we'll be home all weekend drinking coffee, hot chocolate, and eating warm, comfort food. :)

The boys' marathon relay was scheduled for Sunday.  Then we found out that Juan David's coaches had the wrong date for the tournament.  His tournament was also scheduled for this weekend, meaning that if his team made it to the semifinals and finals, he would not have been able to play in the last two games because he was already committed to the marathon.  His coaches were not too happy to hear that, but thankfully Juan David understood the commitment he had to his marathon relay team and did not throw any kind of fit over it.  

However, I went out for coffee with a dear friend on Wednesday, and she said, "Rachelle, with this winter storm coming in, it's all going to be canceled.  You'll all be home by the fire drinking hot chocolate and eating grilled cheese all weekend." I had to laugh when I got these two messages yesterday and today...... 
 
METROPCS DALLAS MARATHON CANCELED



Participants and friends of the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon,
Safety of our participants, as well as our volunteers and spectators, is our primary concern on MetroPCS Dallas Marathon race weekend.
We met this morning with officials from the City of Dallas, Dallas Police Department and the Office of Special Events to assess the situation. Due to current weather conditions, and forecasted conditions for Saturday and Sunday, as of today at 12:40 p.m., the decision has been collaboratively made to cancel the 2013 MetroPCS Dallas Marathon.
We regret that the race will not go on as planned, but are confident this decision is in the best interest of our runners, volunteers, spectators and the general public.


TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

The Tournament has been postponed until February 7 - 9, 2014
 
 
LOL.  So, looks like soccer will just keep going on and on up till the tournament.  I don't mind that because I'd prefer for Juan David to not have to take a break from what he's most passionate about.  We're sad about the marathon being cancelled because they worked so hard in preparing for it.  However, I am grateful for the way God used it to get Juan David connected with our close friends, the Permenter family.  
 
Now I plan to sit back and enjoy the rest of this beautifully cold day off from school with my two boys and Mike.  It's a first for Juan David--experiencing the ice and these cold temperatures.  He couldn't believe how little tolerance his toes have for the cold!  It's a first for David, who had someone to go out and explore with him this morning.  Perfect day for a movie marathon, some more coffee, and something warm.
 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

30 days of thanks, part 4

25. I am thankful for my parents' thoughtful hearts when it comes to spending time with us and giving gifts to all of their grandchildren for birthdays and Christmas.

26.  I am thankful for my writer's group.  I have learned so much about writing and publishing from them.  They inspire me.  I haven't had the time to continue writing as I would like, but I know God is using this group to prepare me to be able to write much more freely perhaps when my kids are grown or just during a different stage of life.

27.  I am thankful for a local Thrift Store where I can find whatever I need at an affordable price.  I am especially thankful for their semi-yearly half off the whole store sales.  We sure do stock up!  I am really liking those $3 boots I got yesterday, as well as all those nice Nike shirts that my 16 year old found for $1 each!

28.  I am thankful that God will always finish a work that He begins.  I am thankful for missing pieces that He fills with himself.

29.  I am thankful for all of my ladies' Bible study groups that I've been able to teach, co-teach, or be a part of.  I am also thankful for all the Bible studies that I've done on my own.  I love how the Bible just comes alive and connects in new ways every time I read it.

30.  Last, but not least, I am thankful for my Keurig. :)  Crazy, I know.  But it's the little things that make life easier.  Every time I've been out of town, it's one of the things I've missed the most.




Friday, November 29, 2013

30 days of thanks (Part 3)

17.  I am thankful that my 12 year old still wants me to read to him at night and still cuddles with me.  Love that kid!

18.  I am thankful that Juan David loves his new cousins and his new aunt and uncle, so much that he doesn't want to ever leave when we are at their house.

19.  I am thankful for technology that allowed us to see and interact with my brother's family out in Pennsylvania on Thanksgiving.

20.  I am thankful that Mike and I both have jobs that we enjoy and provide enough income to live on.

21.  I am thankful for my cozy little home. 

22.  I am thankful for a bank account that has money in it, despite living through all the costs of Juan David's adoption--twice. 

23.  I am thankful for the Wii that has turned into a bonding tool between David and Juan David.  Who knew how much Spanish David would learn to speak just by playing Wii for hours on end with his new brother.

24.  I am thankful for both of my sons' schools, specially catered to both of their specific needs and abilities.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

30 Days of Thanks (Part 2)

9.  Today I am thankful for family.  I am thankful to have a brother that lives close so we can celebrate holidays together.  I am thankful that my parents are able to visit us each year and be a part of our sons' lives.

10.  I am thankful for my husband's handiness, especially as he works on the furnace at this very moment because he noticed it wasn't working properly.

11.  I am thankful for the turkey already cooking in the oven, knowing how many people it will feed today.

12.  I am thankful for Julian, Juan David's biological brother, who we love just as dearly and wish he could be here to celebrate Thanksgiving with us.  I am thankful for the relationship we've built with him and for his determination to reunite us with Juan David.

13.  I am thankful for Mercedes, for loving those boys when they were young and physically and spiritually investing into their lives.  I am thankful to still have her in both of their lives and in mine.  I am thankful for her encouragement, her advice, her love, and for filling in so many missing pieces for us. 

14.  I am thankful for having had the opportunity to travel to Colombia three times so far and for the great friendships we built with so many people there.

15.  I am thankful for the opportunity to study in Argentina while in college.  I am thankful to still be in touch with my host family there and that God never gave me a break from using the Spanish He sent me there to learn. 

16.  I am thankful for Facebook so I can still be in contact with people from all stages of my life.  Childhood friends from Pennsylvania.  High school friends from Indiana.  Missionary friends we met and stayed with in Mexico.  Friends and family in Argentina.  Friends and family in Colombia.  Church friends.  Coworkers.  Bible study friends. Etc. Etc.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

30 Days of Thanks

I never did jump on the bandwagon with many of my friends to list something I'm thankful for each day.  With four days left this month, I guess that means I need to write about 7 or 8 each day.  So here goes: (These are not in any specific order of importance.  I am thankful for all of them equally).

  1. I am thankful for days like today when I can have a long, quiet morning, just me and God. It's amazing the peace and tranquility that can wash over me when I take advantage of these days.
  2. I am thankful to be spending Thanksgiving this year with both of my sons rather than living through the stressful, mind-boggling gamble through a psychologically overwhelming adoption process. 
  3. I am thankful that God directed my principal to choose me to teach Pre-K this year.  I cannot even begin to express what a blessing that has turned out to be for me.  I truly love my job and thoroughly enjoy working with my precious four year olds.  They light up my world and keep me smiling all day long.  
  4. I am thankful for a job that doesn't keep me glued to my computer every night and weekend trying to keep up with grades.  I can focus on being a mom to my tween and being a new parent to my teenager.  I have time to focus on them.
  5. I am thankful for my boys' soccer teams.  They keep us very busy, but I see just how important those teams are for both of my boys' development and character.  They learn about teamwork, commitment, and respect.  They both have a coach that they look up to as a positive role in their lives.  They stay fit and healthy by being so active.  
  6. I am thankful for my level-headed husband.  After being in Colombia for nearly a month without him, I learned just how much we need each other in order to be a functional family.  My emotions (hormones) can get the best of me at times, and his level head keeps everything running calmly and smoothly.
  7. I am thankful for my church and everything it offers.  (My Life Group, my home group, my Bible study groups, Saturday night services, a youth pastor, a godly environment for my tween and teen, a place to serve and be served)
  8. I am thankful for good friends that stand the test of time.  Friends that are always there, even when you don't see each other for a long time.  Friendships that never die.
So, there's my start to 30.  I will try my best to complete my list before the month is over this week.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bummer!

Some things don't always go as planned.  Juan David came home from school on Thursday and immediately started laundry and then packed his little bag for the high school retreat on Friday.  He was really beginning to look forward to the weekend away in Oklahoma, we really looked forward to him having the experience, and David really looked forward to a "break". A quiet house with Mom and Dad all to himself. 

Around 8:30 or so, I finally got out my computer to check my e-mail, only to find that they had to cancel the retreat at the last minute due to predictions of severe winter weather coming our way.  Ugh.  Needless to say, though thankful for a church that seriously considered the students' safety, we were all quite bummed. 

So, we decided to make the best of things.  We turned Friday night into family Wii night.  We bowled, we played tennis.  The boys' golfed for awhile, and then we watched two of our favorite shows on TV.  We turned Saturday into a one-on-one day with both boys, which turned out to be quite special.  I woke David up and took him out for breakfast at IHOP with a birthday coupon.  We had some really good conversation, and I learned a ton about his daily life in middle school.  I told him how much I miss spending the mornings with him taking him to school each day, and he told me he really misses that time, too.  When we were leaving, he said he really enjoyed having breakfast with me and said, "You're the best Mommy in the whole world."  Yes, my heart melted. 

Meanwhile, Mike made Juan David a special breakfast at home and spent time with him at home.  When I got home, I asked Juan David if he liked his breakfast, and he said, "Yes, Dad is very good at making breakfasts." He had already figured out where David and I went because he noticed the coupon suddenly went missing from the desk.

Ten minutes later, our friends called and invited him to go to a kick-boxing practice for the afternoon because their daughter also missed out on the retreat for the weekend.  He and Mike went and spent the next three hours there.  Juan David thoroughly enjoyed it, and Mike said he enjoyed watching him actually get tired.  (The boy is in such incredible physical shape that not much seems to challenge him).  While they were gone, David and I went shopping for a couple things, and David came home with a new video game for the Wii.  We played together for a bit, and then he played alone for awhile, enjoying the quiet house.

As soon as Juan David and Mike came home, Juan David and I went out to eat together.  He chose CiCi's Pizza because he knew that's where he could get the most to eat.  He said that after three solid hours of a hard workout, he was very hungry. While he ate to his heart's content, we had some really good conversation.  We talked about his siblings, more parts about his childhood and experiences he's had that I didn't know about, and we remembered specific conversations we'd had via the phone over the last five years.  Once again, another reminder that not a single moment spent on the phone with him and his sister was lost.  Every word, every conversation mattered.  I still remember them all, and so does he.  We also talked about girls--not sure I'm ready for those conversations, but the boy is sixteen.  Mike and I started dating when I was sixteen, and he knows that, so......

As we left, I told him what David told me about being the best mom in the world. :)  He said he couldn't lie to me and tell me that because he doesn't know if there are better moms out there, but he did say that I'm the best mom he's ever had in his life. I'll take that. :)

We got home, he played David's new game with him for about 45 minutes, and then we headed to church.  The high schoolers were going over to the main campus for a special service planned just for them because their retreat had been cancelled.  But right before they left, we heard that Jason Castro was at the church to lead our worship for the evening.  I was disappointed that Juan David wouldn't be in the service to see him because Jason is also Colombian.  So we had someone take us behind the stage so we could let Juan David meet him.  David enjoyed meeting him, too. :)  Jason Castro's dad was back there with him, so he and Juan David got to converse in Spanish for a little bit.  Their family is also from Bogota, so they found a quick connection.  It turned out to be a neat experience.  Juan David didn't get to be there when he led the worship, but I put one of his CD's in the car after church so he could hear him sing.

The high schoolers left and went to the main campus where they got to hear the speaker from the retreat and then just hang out for awhile.  The main campus has a huge building called Pier 419 that was built specifically for the youth, so I knew Juan David would love it.  Sure enough, they came back at 9:30, and his first comment was, "Oooooooh.  I LIKE this church! It's really big!"  He was almost giddy with excitement.  They planned to take the Sunday morning crew over in the morning, so he asked if he could go back in the morning.  I wasn't sure he'd actually get up in time to go since he cherishes his sleep till almost noon on Sunday mornings, but he excitedly got up this morning to go back.  I just dropped him off and am enjoying a quiet house with David and Mike for the morning, now. :)

Considering how bummed we all were on Thursday night when they canceled the retreat, I think the weekend ended up going quite well.  Two more days, and I get to see my parents. :)  So, so, so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Didn't want yesterday to end :(





Happy 12th birthday to my sweet little guy (who insists that he is not sweet or little).  Being that he is the only child I have ever given birth to, his birthday is one of the most special days of my life.  It's one of my favorite days on the calendar, so I didn't want it to end.  

We began the celebrations on Friday evening with cheesecake and presents after dinner, a night at the movies until almost midnight, another celebration with more cheesecake at midnight, a special breakfast on Saturday morning, a shopping trip late morning with a gift card, a run with his marathon team (and lifetime buddy) in the early afternoon, and then more cheesecake for a midday lunch. 

He asked for boots, so Mike took him to get fitted a few weeks before.  Now he and his daddy have matching cowboy boots. :)  I got him a hat and gloves that he'd been wanting and a cool t-shirt.  Juan David got him some cars and another cool t-shirt.  Juan David could hardly wait to give him his present that he'd gotten for him--it was really sweet.

Now it's November 17th, and our weekly birthday celebrations are over for another year.  (Yes, there's LOTS of cousin birthdays over the next two months, but as far as our immediate family, that's it.) 
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I think we are still busy with activity every weekend between now and Christmas, though.  Next weekend Juan David will be attending the High School Fall retreat with church in Oklahoma.  The following weekend is Thanksgiving with the Kloppmann's--including Juan David's first opportunity to meet his grandparents.  The week after that is the boys' marathon relay in downtown Dallas, and the week after that is Juan David's soccer tournament, the Tournament of Champions.  Lots going on, but I'm learning that it's good to keep an athletic, energetic 16 year old busy.  Not a lot of idle time to get into any trouble.  :)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Live life to the fullest

I went to my sweet friend Stephanie's funeral this week.  I didn't know her family, but I know and love her best friend, so I wanted to be there for her.  I took the morning off of work and went all by myself.  I got there early, so I just sat in the sactuary and watched the all the pictures of her life and her smile.  Tears kept streaming down my cheeks as I kept wondering why God would take her at such a young age.  She would have turned 44 this coming week.

However, the pastor did such a wonderful job with the service, just talking about Heaven and all the reasons we can know and be sure that she is there.  He helped turn the funeral into a celebration of her life.

I know God doesn't take someone until their purpose has been fulfilled or if their purpose will be fulfilled through their death.  I hope that Stephanie's example and impact on the world will be evident for a very long time.  I learned two things from Stephanie.  Every where she went, she always wore a beautiful smile that could light up a room.  Even in the chemo room, her smile was radiant.  She also lived life to the fullest.  She didn't waste her time sitting around.  She was active, running marathons, 5K runs, and biking.  She didn't let cancer stop her.  Life meant something to her, and it wasn't something to waste.  Every day mattered.

I will admit I've been guilty of crossing days off the calendar as if to say I'd made it through a busy month.  Even when it's extra busy, I was reminded to live each day as a gift and embrace each moment of activity.  I need to cherish these moments full of life.  I need to cherish each moment God gives me, especially with my husband and my boys.  Life is not given to us so we can successfully cross each day off the calendar at the end of the day. 

I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that I won't be seeing her around anymore.  I will miss her smile and her huge brown eyes.  I just hope I can live out the lessons she taught me through her life by not letting a single moment slip by.

It just keeps going on and on and on

Both boys played in a soccer tournament this weekend that started on Thursday night and ended this evening.  Both their teams won all of their games by Saturday, which qualified them both for the finals today.  David's team came in second place, losing the final game 0-1.  Juan David's team won the championship for his age group.  Now they get to play in the tournament of champions in a few more weeks.  His coach beamed with pride when they presented the trophy to him.  He said he's never led a team to win the championship before.  The coach gets to keep the trophy for six months, and the boys all get medals to wear and keep.  David's team got second place medals, so I'm happy they both made it so far.  They both still have a game left of the regular season, so they could possibly come home with more trophies.  Currently for the season, Juan David's team is in first place--they are undefeated so far!  David's team is in second place in his division. 









Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A day not meant to be forgotten

11/6/1997--While I was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a baby boy was born in Bogota, Colombia.  His mother named him Juan David...................

11/6/2008--Juan David quietly celebrated his 11th birthday between himself and his two siblings, while Mike and I began our first pursuit to adopt him and his sister.  We looked forward to celebrating his birthday with him the following year after completing their adoption.

11/6/2009-- Not only did we not get to celebrate his 12th birthday with him, but we sadly said goodbye for what we thought was the last time. 

"We only talked for about fifteen minutes.  Mike and David got on the phone to tell him happy birthday, then I told him that I missed him and I loved him.  He responded by saying he missed me and loved me, too.  We said goodbye, but little did I know that that was the last time they would ever pass the phone to him when I called.  That last goodbye really was goodbye  All the hoping, dreaming, and believing that things would be final by his birthday, and final they were.  Just not the final we were hoping for." 
p. 76, From the Mountain...to the Valley...and Back!

11/6/2010-- 
" I sent a message to Camilo (Julian), asking if he would please tell Juan that I hoped he would have a very happy birthday....I found out that Juan had indeed gotten my message, and it meant the world to me to know that he knew I hadn't forgotten his special day.  It had been an entire year since we had last talked, and I never imagined that I'd still be able to wish him a happy birthday the following year.  Truth be told, I didn't think I'd ever be able to communicate with him again.  God was so good to me." 
p. 120, From the Mountain...to the Valley...and Back!

11/6/2011--Juan David was living with another family, but I was able to send him a message online to wish him a happy birthday for his 14th birthday.  I just wanted him to know that I hadn't and wouldn't ever forget his birthday.


11/6/2012--Our case to adopt Juan David had been reopened, and his social worker gave me permission to call him on his 15th birthday.  I called him from David's soccer game, and he still remembers all the background noise from that call.  A week ago we were at that same soccer field together.  I showed him where I stood as I talked to him that day, and he finally got to match the sights and the sounds together from that phone call.

11/6/2013--Today.  We finally get to celebrate our son Juan David's 16th birthday together as a family.  Cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  Early dinner out.  First game of a soccer tournament in the evening (if it's not canceled due to rain).  The boy lives and breathes soccer--what more can he ask for on his first birthday here?  Most importantly, he's home, right where he's always belonged.






Sunday, November 3, 2013

Heaven

I write today's post with a heavy heart after just learning that I lost a dear friend to cancer this week.  She and her best friend were part of the very first Bible study I ever taught, and they've been my dearest friends ever since.  She was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago after running a half marathon.  Chemo worked at first, but sadly, her cancer returned six months later.  I still saw her often at church, and she always displayed such a beautiful smile along with incredible courage.  I heard two weeks ago that she'd been in the hospital for a solid week due to severe pain, but I don't think anybody understood how little time remained.  I couldn't believe it when I heard the news this week.  My heart aches for her husband and 13 year old son, and my heart hurts for her best friend.  Their friendship was amazing, and I'm sure there's a gaping hole in her heart now. I'm stuck grappling with the why again, wondering why God took her while still so young and full of life.  Why some people win the battle against cancer and some don't.  Yet I'm comforted to remember studying Heaven together in Bible study and knowing that she's there, in the presence of Jesus.

On a lighter note, we made some positive memories this week as a family.  Mike celebrated his 37th birthday.  Juan David really enjoyed being part of our small family celebration, as this was his first time to celebrate a dad's birthday.  He'd decided he wanted to start saving the majority of his money from the allowance we give him, but he ended up spending everything he'd saved to get a hat for Mike.  I was really proud of him for making that "sacrifice" for his dad.  This Wednesday will be Juan David's birthday, then David's will follow ten days later. 
 
David finally saw the orthopoedist on Friday.  They decided to cast his arm since he is so active, which means that he can jump right back into soccer.  So, a few hours after getting his new blue cast, he headed straight to soccer practice.  Funny kid. :)  We all signed his cast, and he had his artistic brother draw a big cross on the side for him.  Then he had his soccer team sign the cast, as well.

This soccer season will soon be coming to an end, but not without one last busier than ever week.  Juan David's last regular season game is Tuesday night, but then both boys are in a tournament from Wednesday through Sunday, so we've got at least one game every day.  Saturday we have three games!  Then the following Monday, David has one more regular season game.  Soccer keeps us super busy and can be tiring, but at the same time, I love watching both boys play, they're both incredibly passionate about the game, and I miss it when it's over.  Plus they go stir crazy when they're not busy playing. 

Juan David has been very pleasant to have around lately.  Since it's getting a little colder, he's been letting me drive him to his bus stop every morning, and we wait for his bus together.  It gets me to school a little later, but the extra ten minutes with him each day have been nice.  Considering he's nearly 16 years old, I will cherish every moment that he wants to spend with me.  Sometimes I find myself just staring at him, remembering what a miracle it is that's he's even here. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Pumpkin Parable

I'm so thankful to be part of a church that is intentional about parents being intentional with leading their children spiritually.  We've got a whole bunch of intentional family activities from church to do as a family throughout the holiday season.  Having a new son has gotten me excited about the opportunities we have to teach him all the things we've been so intentional about teaching David since birth. 

Tonight we focused on the pumpkin parable.  We got a big pumpkin to carve, and we used Scripture through each step to show how we are just like that pumpkin.  We are filled with nasty "gunk" on the inside until we let Jesus come in to clean us out.  Once He does, He comes to reside within us so His light can then shine through us. 

I  did the whole fall celebration thing by cutting up apples to dip in hot caramel sauce.  We also had hot apple cider to drink. Tonight was the fall festival at church where Mike has been the driver for the annual hayride.  However, the church built soccer fields this summer where the hayride took place, so this year the hayride was out.  With me still recovering from sickness and David a bit injured, we stayed home this year.  I hope it turned into a memorable night for the boys, though. Mike and I enjoyed it. :)

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Photo: Carved a pumpkin as a family tonight! Fun Family Night!

Not quite the day we had planned

So, yesterday's plans looked a little bit like this:
  • Get up at 8, make breakfast
  • Leave at 10 for a day at the soccer fields
  • Get home at 3:30 to shower, rest, and eat something before church
  • Leave for church at 5:30
  • Come home at 9:00
Instead, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. with a terrible sore throat.  I headed straight to the weekend clinic at 9:00 and tested positive for strep.  Mike got my prescription at SAMS and met me with it, then I headed home and went to bed while he headed out to the soccer fields for the day.  They sent me a picture during their lunch break between the two games, and everyone looked happy. 

The next picture I got was around 4:00, taken in an urgent care clinic with David's arm held up in a makeshift sling that Mike and some other soccer parents rigged up for him. He took a shot for a goal, slipped, and fell right on his wrist.  He said he heard it pop or crack or something, and then it just hung limp.  All we know so far is that it was a buckle fracture, so they put him in a temporary splint.  He's waiting to make an appointment with an orthopoedist hopefully tomorrow or Tuesday. 

They were there till about five o'clock, went back to SAMS to get David's prescription, came home to eat quickly, and then Mike and Juan David headed to church.  David and I cuddled up on the couch to watch church online and then to just chill.

So not what we had planned for the weekend.  Thanks to the antibiotics, I'm feeling much better and am no longer contagious.  David's recovery won't be quite as quick, unfortunately.  He almost made it to the end of the season, with only two soccer games left and a tournament. :(

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Good things come to those who wait.....

Waiting on that call to find out which soccer team he was going to be on was incredibly hard for Juan David.  It got especially harder when David's team started practicing and scrimmaging, and Juan David just got to go to his practices and watch, maybe kick the ball around some.  This boy lives to play soccer!  Well, it looks like the wait paid off because now their team stands undefeated with one game left to play on November 5th. Looks like he might get that first trophy he's been dreaming of, after all. :)

Photo: Juan David Alspaugh's first soccer season picture. They are 9-0 at this point! 
FC GARLAND!!!!

A song that expresses the message of the book

PROactive versus REactive

I'm stuck in bed with strep throat today, missing my boys' soccer games.  However, the rest has definitely been good for me after a busy month of school, soccer, church, and also having 45 individual parent conferencesI didn't realize just how much I craved a day at home alone.  I haven't had the time to put up my official review for Mary DeMuth's book, The Wall Around Your Heart, so today I spent time adding my review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.  Here is my official review of the book.  Being part of this launch team has been a neat experience for this just barely emerging author.  I'm learning a lot.

PROactive versus REactive: I loved Mary's approach and perspective in this book.  We all have walls around our hearts for some reason or another, some that build up and crumble easily, some that are so large and sturdy a bulldozer couldn't even crack them.  Not only is Mary's approach to pray those walls down effective because it follows Jesus' own model of prayer, it's also a proactive approach, helping us see how destructive those walls are and using that same prayer to keep from letting the wall get built again.  Praying Scripture is a win-win situation every time.  Praying like Jesus did can only help us draw closer to Him and know Him in a more intimate way.  I highly recommend this book.
 

THE WALL AROUND YOUR HEART book trailer

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Blind Side

 
 I still remember sitting in the dollar theater with David in the summer of 2010 during one of our movie marathon dates.  We were in the process of rebuilding our life after the adoption failed, and we were finally beginning to heal.  Julian had recently entered our life, though it would be another year before we met him face to face.  
As we sat in the theater watching The Blind Side, I suddenly found tears flooding down my cheeks, with Juan David heavy on my mind. Michael Oher (main character from the movie) had a brand new chance at life, gained a family, and surpassed all odds, becoming a famous football player.  I just kept thinking, "Why, God?  Why couldn't you give Juan David that chance, too? Why didn't you let him come home to us?"
Tonight Juan David came home saying that he needed to watch The Blind Side for a homework assignment.  We found it online and sat down together to watch it.  I had to translate several parts to him.  Parts that were parallel to his own life.  Wow.  What a humbling opportunity, over three years after the first time I watched it, thinking only of him.  Who knows just how God might use his soccer abilities to help him surpass all the odds that have been stacked against him, just like Michael Oher.
All I can say is that watching it with him tonight was quite an emotional experience, especially remembering the emotions and thoughts it evoked in me the first time. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Good stuff

Life is plenty full of activity right now, but writing on Sundays after having time to rest is a good time to reflect over all the good stuff we've been blessed with.  I'm trying to find a balance between rejoicing over another day survived and getting teary-eyed over another day gone by.  I don't want to miss any aspect of my boys' lives.

We're gone pretty much every night of the week for either soccer practice, soccer games, mandatory school events, or church.  Both soccer teams are doing very well, though.  David's team has only had one loss so far, with four games left to go.  Juan David's team is undefeated with only three games left to go.  Both boys have scored several goals for their teams, too.  They sure do love the game, and I sure do love watching them play (even in the rain, as long as I've got enough to bundle up and take cover). When they don't have games during the week, we have three nights of practice between the two of them.

We got a new youth pastor at our church campus this week, and both boys really seem to like him.  David was sad about the other one leaving, but we're eager to see how God plans to use him in their lives in the future.  Juan David said this one talks really fast, but the guy must have inspired him last night because he came out of class very eager to speak some English with anyone who would listen.  He will be going on a high school retreat next month (he doesn't know yet, but he expressed a desire to go).  I think the experience will be really good for him and will give him some of that independence that we're not always eager to give him yet.

My Bible study has two sessions left, and I will be sad to see it come to an end.  (Yet relieved to have a night each week to rest or to spend with Mike).  Since it's about missing pieces in our lives and seeing how God has filled them, I cut a bunch of holes into a blanket on the first night and talked about specific holes that I've encountered in my own life and faith.  (Jennifer Rothschild did the same in the video, I just made it more personal).  I've shared quite a bit of my own testimony and how God has brought me through several trials and filled those missing pieces with more of Him each time.  I didn't realize how much I've talked about praying through the Power of a Praying Wife, but this last week I found out that two ladies felt led to start their own journey of prayer through that book because of discussions we've had in Bible study.  I love it.  I love seeing how God not only uses the study in each woman's life, but He also uses our conversations and discussions to help us learn from each other and encourage each other. 

October is the month to hold a parent conference with the parents of each child in our class.  For me, that meant 46 parent conferences.  It's felt like a marathon of conferences, but they have all gone very well.  The parents are really pleased with how much their children are learning and how enthusiastic they are about school.  I've enjoyed meeting with all of them, too.  My instructional aide has been an immense help in sending little reminder notes with the kids each day to remind their parents of their conference.  Because of her help, every single parent has shown up right on time.  So far I've met with 32 sets of parents and have 14 left to go this week!  I look forward to actually having a lunch time and prep. time after this week is over. 

David is in choir at school this year and is loving it to pieces.  He got to go on a choir field trip to a Ranger's game, he had his first performance on Tuesday evening of this week, and they're going on a field trip to a local football game on Tuesday night this week.  I never would have imagined my little athlete enjoying choir, but I guess it's the serious side of him coming through.  All the little field trips and extra activities help, I'm sure.

Juan David's English is coming along, slowly but surely.  He understands a lot, but he's still very reluctant to speak.  Dinner time is designated as only English time, so that has forced him to try a little bit more.  He admits that the hardest part right now is using verbs, so he often will stop mid-sentence and say he needs to review his list of verbs more. :) 

That's all the good stuff going on in our lives right now.  Our current parenting challenge is getting him to ask permission for things rather than just tell us what he wants or thinks he's going to do.  Sometimes he remembers, other times I have to get on him and remind him of the proper way.  Little by little, day by day, we're all adjusting to the changes in our lives.  Thanks for your prayers.






Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Wall Around Your Heart--Releases October 15th!

http://www.wallaroundyourheart.com/
 
I feel very privileged to be part of my author friend, Mary DeMuth's launch team for one of her newest books, The Wall Around Your Heart.  Being the introvert that I am, I am so guilty of building walls around my heart, keeping everyone at a safe distance.  Until one day I sadly realized just how pitifully lonely I was.  I'd pushed everyone away.  The pain from our first adoption attempt was so much heavier and harder to bear than I had ever imagined it could be.  I guess the wall served a purpose for awhile, keeping me clinging to God for strength for my every step. However, healing didn't come until I let Him use my broken heart to minister to others.  This book helped me to see that the wall gets built one simple brick at a time, and the key is taking our hurts to God immediately rather than even reaching for that first brick.  Check out the website above and consider purchasing a copy of my friend's book.
 
 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Texas State Fair

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We ventured out to the Texas State Fair yesterday since we all had the day off and had free tickets (except for Mike).  Personally, I'm not a big fan of the fair.  I think I'm just too cheap to get much enjoyment out of it, and the things that might interest me don't interest the boys.  However, we felt that Juan David needed to experience the fair, so we went.  We warned him ahead of time that everything was super expensive, but we could have fun taking pictures.  

I gave both boys the same amount of tickets to buy lunch and then enjoy an activity.  I soon remembered how quickly Juan David became overwhelmed when faced with all of the hundreds of lunch choices.  Choices are not easy for him, but he did okay, deciding early on that he wanted chicken. Then choosing an activity was just as hard, since he wanted to go on everything he saw.  We made the round through the midway once, then went back around again so he could choose a ride.  David chose to play a game, and then we spent the rest of our tickets on a funnel cake to share.  We told Juan David that it's just an unwritten rule to get a funnel cake at the fair.  He didn't know what a funnel cake even was, but when we got it, his response was, "I'm going to need to do a lot of exercise tonight." Ha.  At least we only got one to share between the three of us.  
We rode the DART (the only form of public transportation) to the fair and back, but we chose the wrong time to come back because the train was jam-packed.  We rode the entire way home standing on the back step surrounded by a bunch of obnoxious high school kids.  Not a fun ride when you're already tired and drained from a long day in the sun.  It reminded us of our public transportation experiences in Bogota, so Juan David enjoyed the fact that for once we couldn't say the experience was more pleasant here.  

We got a few good pictures out of the day, though.  Hope you enjoyed them.