Oct 30, 2012

As the winds blew

"It's dark."
"oh sweet girl.  I know.  Our lights are broken again!"
"can you help me?"

So she ended up crawling into bed with me.  Not having a night light in her room along with the strong winds blowing outside her window was just to much for her.  And honestly....

I was glad to have her there with me.

Sandy hit us full on last night.  You could hear the winds get stronger.  And right when you thought they couldn't get any stronger, they would.  The house vibrated.  It sounded like the windows were going to break.  A little dramatic?  Maybe.  But it was crazy.

The power went out for about ten minutes at 6pm.  Right as we were starting baths.  when the lights came back on we sprang into fast mode getting kids ready for bed.  We knew it was only a matter of time before the lights went back out and knew it would be easier for everyone if the little ones were asleep when that happened.  Around 8pm the lights went back out and this time they stayed out.  After 16 hours without power we finally had light again!  Thankfully some friends were able to get us set up with a generator before lunch today.  So we are good to go!  So thankful for the generator, the power in our area could be down for several days and we did not have enough water or food set aside for that many days without electricity.  So, so thankful for that generator!

We are taking it slow today.  It is very wet outside so we are tucked into the living room playing with matchbox cars.  Thank you all for the prayers!

And can I just say, I have officially survived my first hurricane. ;)

Oct 29, 2012

Sandy is here

And I have never heard wind this bad.  And it will only get worse.

Praying our power continues to hold on...At least until all the kids are soundly asleep.

I can only imagine what people are experiencing closer to the coast.  Stay safe everyone!!

Oct 28, 2012

Ready for Sandy

Water jugs are filled.  Flashlights have been collected.  Outside toys are on the porch.  
Bring on the rain and wind.  We're ready for you Sandy!

We are set to get some rough weather the next couple of days.  Nothing serious.  We are far enough in land that we will miss most of the action.  But we may loose power.  Which would be an adventure.

Praying everyone closer to the coast stays safe...
 and that travel plans for later this week will not be complicated!  
If you don't hear from me for a bit you'll know why! xxx

Oct 26, 2012

my heart is ugly

I am messed up.  I'm impatient.  I'm selfish.  And I figured all that out in about the time period of an hour.  It clicked in my mind when I realized that all my ugly heart wanted to do was yell.  "Stop screaming!  Stop puking! Stop asking questions!  Stop complaining!  Stop breathing!" 

It just hit me like a ton of bricks that the reason my day was going so poorly was because of my attitude.  Not because the children were really acting out more then usual (all though they were not being angels ;) ).  It was mostly in my head and heart.  And it turns out that my head and heart are really ugly places to be recently.  I am not perfect.  I'm not always the calm and fun person I like to think I am.  I don't have all the answers.  I'm not a perfect Christian, not in the least!  That's the truth.  It's OK to admit your going crazy.  But goodness gracious, it's not the end of the world!

I feel like I need to admit that, at least to myself, before I can move forward.  So today I just flat out admitted it.  And I even had a little talk with the baby about it. ;)  And now, it's time to move forward.  To grow.  To learn from my mistakes.  Tomorrow will be a better day.

Oct 25, 2012

I don't always like being away from home

Can I be honest for a moment?  Tonight I want to me home.

Yesterday was my Nieces's first birthday.  I wasn't there.
Today is my mom's birthday.  I wasn't there.
Tomorrow is my parents anniversary.  I won't be there.
Saturday my niece is having a huge first birthday party.  I won't be there.

I love being home.  I'm not a social person who needs to always be out and about.  I'm content just being home with my family.  Leaving home and going on trips is hard for me.  So very hard.  Not only is it the normal physically exhausting (babies do that to you!) but it is emotionally exhausting for me.  And being on the sidelines watching major life events back home slip by with out me is hard.  I don't regret being here for the last 4 weeks.  Not at all.  I love what I do and the experiences and people it brings into my life.  I love PA.  But today I just want to be home.  With my family.  Eating birthday cake.  

Oct 24, 2012

Shaving cream fun

After naps this afternoon some friends came and took the three oldest boys for the afternoon/evening.  That left me with only the three little ones to play with.  Man, can I just say how easy three kids are to entertain after watching all six?  Since it was a super nice day out (hello summer weather once again!) I decided it was a perfect time to break out the shaving cream once again.  We started out on paper plates but quickly abandoned them when the wind picked up.  I was curious what Rachel would do with the shaving cream since she hadn't played with it yet.  Nathan and Rebekah both have played with it in the bath before and liked it.  But Nathan didn't really want to touch it last time.  But surprise, surprise.  This is how our play progressed.
They loved it.  ;)

Middle of the week

Wednesday.  I love it.  Because that means we are half way through the week.
And it's nap time right now.  Which means we are half way through the day.  Happy sigh.
The 1 & 3 year old are napping. 
The 4 year old is 'resting' on the couch. And the 5,10 & 11 year old are watching Free Willy.

We are on our own again today.  It makes my job a little harder to not have anyone in the house helping me.  But at the same time being on our own takes a bit of the pressure off of us all. So we are sitting back and chilling.  Trying to keep the air light and little people calm!  Thank you all for the prayers!  Happy middle of the week!

Oct 23, 2012

a short update - still in PA!

This is going to be SHORT.  Why?  Because I really don't have anything to say that hasn't already been said from the last trip (See what a typical day looks like for us.) + I'm tired + I need to wash my feet + I have a piece of chocolate calling my name!   But basically I just wanted to let you all know that the parent are safely back in Eastern Europe as of today and have already gotten a ton of paperwork done.  We are hoping it will be a short trip!  I am safely moved back into their home here in PA.  So odd to be moved back in after packing up all my stuff to go home (which I didn't end up doing but rather stayed on here).  I would really love some prayers that we could finish strong.  I'm feeling very inadequate for this job at the moment.  I'm guessing jumping into someone else's 6 kids can do that to you.  But I feel myself slipping mentally and I don't like it!  I cannot lose my calm voice or else we all will dieeeee.

And with that said I'm going to go eat choclate and brush my teeth.  Maybe not in that order...

Oct 20, 2012

Sometimes you meet awesome people

And those awesome people become family.
Thankful for the 4 days I got to spend with them.

Oct 18, 2012

Answer to the pop quiz

The answer to the pop quiz...
Can be found here: Happy Birthday!
I spent almost a month with this family last August while Ana's (formerly known as 'Stacie') adoption was being finalized.  I loved my time with this family.  They were the first family I provided childcare for and the connection we had was special (all because of that blond headed girl!).  It changed me, it stretched me.  I was so thankful to have a hands on involvement with this girls adoption.  Despite all the blood, screaming and wrecked ceilings that filled my time here, I went back to Canada happy.  Tired, but happy!

When I found out I would be back in Pennsylvania this month I was thrilled.  I wasn't sure how it would work out because my commitment was first and foremost to the family I am currently helping.  But I so badly wanted to come back here and meet up with my first family.   I shouldn't have ever worried or doubted.  Blessed.  I'm here.  Spending time with this family.  With Ana.  With the kids I invested so much of myself in last fall.  A year later and it's like nothing has changed.   

Except this time I'm relaxing.  Enjoying quiet.  Reading.  Watching some tv.  Hanging out with kids.  Looking inward.  Gearing up for the end of the week when I have to say goodbye again (sad) and head back to my other PA family (happy!).  I'm just feeling incredibly blessed to have such awesome people in my life and that I get to watch certain miracles unfold!  Being apart of their life will always be worth it.

Oct 17, 2012

Pop quiz!

Who is this little girl and why is she so important to me?
Why do I feel so incredibly blessed that I am spending the week with her and her family?
Anyone who has known me for a while should know the answer!

Oct 16, 2012

Trains & change in plans

I'm not heading home...yet!  
Adoption is full of twists and turns.  
And this twist is keeping me in Pennsylvania for another 3 weeks.

But since the parents are home in America for this week, I have been blessed to take a few days 'off' and visit with sweet friends.  Next week I will be back with the children juggling life but until then they are enjoying some quality time and I'm going to enjoy some sleep.  ;)  I took the train this afternoon (by the way, I LOVED it!) and am now safely in one of my many 'home away from homes'.  Being here it's like nothing has changed.  Reuniting.  Meeting.  Everything.  I am feeling so blessed tonight. 
I'm excited to make some memories and rebuild some connections.  Can't wait!

Oct 15, 2012

Reuniting with Vivvy (a piece of my heart)

It was raining.  My feet were soaked and the rain just wouldn't stop.  I love rain.  But as much as I love the rain I was frustrated that it was raining so much.  We were outside at a park after all!  Not a good place to be on a rainy day.

But then the van pulled up and the car door opened.  Suddenly I was doing something I had dreamed of doing for months.  And just like that, the rain was the farthest thing from my mind.

Vivvy.  Formerly known as 'Felicia'.  The little girl I met while in Ukraine.  You can read more about her (and see the pictures I took of her back in May) here: Do you see what I see? 

When I first met her she was just another orphan waiting in an orphanage.  At the time she didn't even have a committed family.  I remember so clearly the first time I met her.  She was wearing a blue shirt with a hood, the hood pulled tight over her head.  She was sitting in a stroller, but was the only baby outside and there was only one nanny pushing her around.  I fell in love with her.  I bent down and talked with her a bit.  And when  it was time to move away I whispered to her that I would find her a mama.  That she would not be forgotten.  That was May 5th.

Now, 5 months later, her mama was unbuckling her from her car seat and handing her to me.  For the next 2 hours I got to hold and cuddle with the little girl who stole my heart on the other side of the world.  unreal.
Today was perfect.  I am so thankful for the people who made this meeting possible.  When I found out I would be in this area of the country I couldn't believe my luck but wasn't sure how things would line up to visit with Vivvy.  I shouldn't of ever doubted, because things worked perfectly.  Despite the rain.  Despite the drive.  Sitting at that picnic table visiting with Vivvy's mama, meeting her sisters, reuniting with her.  It was all worth it.  I feel so blessed!
↑ Vivvy and her 6 yr old sister Michelle who was also adopted from Ukraine last month.  Precious and beautiful girls who have survived so much more then I ever have had to experience!!!
After about two hours it was time for us all to go our separate ways.  We both had a ways to drive to get back 'home' and had young children along.  And wouldn't you know it, but the second we started to head to the car it stopped raining.  That made saying goodbye bearable.  As the other two girls were loaded into the car I got to spend a couple more minutes cuddling with my girl.  

One thing that really hit me while we visited was that these children are so very real.  Vivvy was just months away from being transferred to a mental institute.  Precious Michelle spent two years in a mental institute while she waited for a family to step up and adopt her.  It breaks my heart that these children just sit and wait.  They are just children.  They are real children.  And they are wasting away while so many people in this world don't even know they exist.  Mixed emotions.
Finally it was time to hand her over.  Sniff.  I asked her mama "are you sure you don't want me to take her off your hands?".  ;)
Thank you so much sweet girl.  For inspiring me.  For teaching me.  For just being you.  I love you and am so thankful to be a {small} part of your story.

Feeling blessed tonight. 

Oct 13, 2012

The end

No pictures today.  Why?  Because I spent the whole day trying to keep our heads above water.

The kids woke up 'off' and things just kept going down hill.  The baby (literally) screamed and cried all day long.  I felt like I was constantly breaking up fights and wiping tears.  It was so unusual for all of them. Things have been getting slowly worse this last week, but never this bad.  I think the children are just tired of mom and dad being gone.  The thrill of having someone new wore off and they just wanted life back to normal.  I can so understand and I don't blame them one tiny bit for acting out.  As frustrating as it is to deal with in the moment.

The good thing about today?  It's over.  We are done!  The parents will be home in a couple of hours.  Today was our last day alone and the children will wake up to their mom and dad tomorrow.  They have no idea what is about to happen and that makes me smile inside.  I hope I get to see their reactions when they wake up tomorrow!  We made it.  We survived.  It was worth it (did I mention that they passed court over in Eastern Europe on Friday?  And that one more sweet 8 year old boy is no longer an orphan!!  Yippeee!!!).

My favorite parts of our last.but.super.duper.hard day:

-Before supper Baby was melting down and I didn't know what to do with her.  So I put her in the baby wrap.  I figured that if she is screaming now, she might as well scream while being contained safely in my arms.  But instead of screaming she calmed down as I fed her pieces of muffin.  I am sold on baby carriers.  And baby signing. ;)

-Looking at a picture on the computer of the new brother prompted an awesome conversation with Stephen about family and how family never stops.  When he is old, he will still have his family.  The new brother will always be his brother.  Family is forever.  It's a concept I have tried to remind them of, especially since I am not family.  I will eventually leave.  But family will not leave.  Does that make sense?  It was awesome.

-After supper the kids were going nuts.  So we headed outside for a 5 minute 'running break'.  For 5 minutes they ran and yelled and got all their energy and noise out before baths and bed.

-This morning Rebekah woke up a bit to early and the rest of the house was still dead quiet.  So I pulled her into bed with me and we snuggled for an extra 15 minutes.  I am also sold on co-sleeping.  Seriously, who wants to get out of bed to take care of their children when they could have them right there with you?  Not this bed loving girl!

-Cleaning up my stuff during nap time and attempting to re-pack my suitcase.  Not exactly fun, but I had all I could eat junk food from my parents!  My awesome family sent me a package full of goodies and it arrived yesterday (I was originally going to be here for several more weeks!)!!  It was like Christmas.  New puzzles to do with the children.  Chocolate covered pretzels for me.  I'm going to gain wait with all this yummy stuff!  I'm actually wondering how I will be able to eat it all before I fly home, or not go over my 50lb suitcase limit. ;)

-Nathan was gone visiting a gma since yesterday.  He came home tonight and was all smiles.  Looking adorable.

-After supper was over it just hit me.  We survived.  Where did the time go???  Awesome moment.

I've moved out of the master bedroom.  I'll be sleeping in the boys room with the little guys for the next couple of nights.  I'll be here until early next week when I head out to visit a couple lost pieces of my heart for a few days. ;)  Then it will be time to head home.  Back to Canada.  Back to the cold.  Not sure how much I'll be blogging before now and heading home.  But I will for sure fill you in on this next week with pictures once I'm home.  This next week is going be awesome!

Thank you so much for the prayers the last two weeks.

Mission accomplished....Again!

things I don't want to forget

A work in progress as I remember things.

Because memories come and go so quickly for me.  And some things I just don't want to forget.
In no order what so ever....

-The time I stepped in chicken poop and found myself thinking that it looked like chocolate cream pie.

-The way Rebekah laughed until she ran out of breath when she put her feet in shaving cream.

-Laying in the grass with Stephen and Rebekah watching birds and telling stories to each other.

-As frustrating as it can be, I don't want to forget the way Rachel screams or her temper.  Because it does make me laugh (after the ringing in my ears goes away.).

-The sounds of the Amish horse and buggies going by the house.

-Watching the tractors go back and forth between the fields and the farm with the little kids.  Nathan clapping and cheering each time he saw them, making the tractor drivers smile.

-The sounds of little feet waking me up.

-How this old house creaks if someone so much as roles over in bed.

-The rooster in the morning.

-The fall colors.

-Daily updates on how things over in Eastern Europe are going.

-Remembering who is gluten free and who is dairy free

-Rachel's hugs and kisses

-Races around the house.

-Eating pears of the tree.

-Calling Rachel 'Renee' and realizing how much I miss the children I have said goodbye to already.  Making me savor the moment with Baby even more.

-"I was born for...Karate!"


Oct 11, 2012

just words

The kids woke up early today.  Really early.  And they woke up fighting and grumpy.  Not a good combination.  Hopefully tomorrow morning will start a little later.  I usually can't function with less then 8 hours of sleep and here I am getting about 6.5 hours.  I have never wished I was a coffee drinker more in my life.

And now all this talk about sleep (or lack of sleep) is making me extra tired.  So I'm going to officially make this the shortest blog post ever.  Good night!

Oct 9, 2012

Life with the Collins family

This is what a typical day looks like for us right now.  I'm writing this so I won't forget just as much as I'm writing to share the experience.  The schedule changes a bit from day to day (but not by much) and the list does not include all the hugs, kisses, screaming, fights etc that also fill up our days.  This is just a rough outline!  I tried to take pictures all through out the day to document what our days look like.  But lets face it, when you have two screaming kids and another four children talking all at the same time, your not thinking about taking pictures.  So use your imagination for the gaps. ;)

5:45am - I start to hear a little boy singing in the other room.  I pray he goes back to sleep. He does.  Phew!
6:15am - I grab my laptop and try to shake the sleep from my head.
6:20am - I hear little people stirring in their beds but I ignore it and choose more sleep over getting dressed and washing my face.  Seriously people, I look hideous right now.  So glad that toddlers (usually) don't care about how I look!
6:35am - the first little person comes to wake me up.  I quickly throw some clothes on and chase them downstairs.  The baby starts to cry but she goes back to sleep.  Two little people play in the living room.  Today they are playing with cars but usually it's the play food.  I attempt to keep them quiet.  I stay sane by counting our blessings. They aren't fighting and they look cute in their pj's!

7:00am - They are wide awake and getting noisier so to keep them calm we turn on some Barney.

7:10am - Little person #3 wakes up and joins the party.  The children's grandma shows up and starts making breakfast (such a blessing to have the grandma staying with us!  She does all the meals and adds structure to our days.  I'm not sure I could do this all day, everyday without her!)

7:30am - Breakfast for the little people and for me!  We don't usually eat this early but today we did!

7:30-8:00am - The baby wakes up and eats.  The big boys wake up and eat.  As little people finish eating they head back to the living room to watch more Barney.  Yes, they watch lots of tv in the morning.  Don't judge. ;) 

8:00am - I slowly get the kids upstairs, one at a time, to get dressed and diaper changed.

8:30am - Stephen starts some preschool work sheets and then heads outside.  The other three boys work on various chores and then head outside to play.  Me and the girls play and read books in the living room.

10:00am - I turn on a half hour of 'preschool' tv for Rebekah.  Usually a leapfrog movie.

10:30am - The girls head outside and join the boys.  Sometimes playing outside is calm.  Other times it is a little crazy.  Today it was crazy.  Certain kids were just 'off' and were acting out a lot more then usual.  

11:30am - we head inside for lunch. Lunch is noisy and crazy and it almost always ends in a screaming baby.
12:00pm - Lunch is finishing up and we take the youngest two up for naps.  Rebekah gets a nap on the couch and the older three boys do some more chores.  School work gets done and then they play games & lego in the school room.  I hide upstairs and check things on my computer and sometimes take a nap.

3:00pm - Babies start waking up.

3:15pm - Heading outside.  A walk by the corn field and then hanging out in the yard!

4:30pm - The children start going crazy and I need to take myself out of that equation.  A certain child has started to play with my sympathies to get what he wants and when he does that it's best to just separate myself from him for a bit.  Me and the baby head inside and pull out the wedgits.  Something she loves to play with but usually can't because all the kids fight over them.

5:00pm - Supper.
5:30pm - clean up and some chill time with the tv,
6:00pm - Boys start their evening chores and a crabby baby gets a bath.  One by one the children get baths, pj's and teeth brushed.

7:00pm - babies in BED!  

Big boys stay up until 10pm but use that time to play games with Grandma or watch some of their tv shows.  So all though I stay up until 10 to see them off to bed, I don't have to entertain them.  Besides keeping my ears open for crying babies, I am off duty! ;)  10 o'clock sharp my lights are out and I'm ready for bed.  Because as soon as I fall asleep I'm waking back up to do it all over again! 

Now, if you'd excuse me I'm off to get some sleep.
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