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Well, I finally got some pictures of Joanna in her beloved hat a couple days ago… I just had to wait for her to be in “diva mode!”  I said I’d share them once I took them, so here they are.  Jo is literally attached to this hat.  She wears it all the time — which is rather uncharacteristic for her.  I have had the hardest time keeping anything on her head — even in the winter (and now you’ve seen the pictures and know what a bald little one she was… if ever a child needed a hat to stay warm, she did!) 

And, I managed to find a brick wall, Jamie!  Thanks for the inspiration!  (Jamie took a picture of Kendra in her favorite hat in front of a brick wall.  It’s a FANTASTIC photo!  These don’t even come close!  If you haven’t seen hers, you need to!) 

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I really love portrait photography — it’s one of my favorite aspects of the art.  Each person is a unique canvas made up of so many complex parts — passions, dreams, likes and dislikes, personality and quirks (even a two-year-old!).  Most of the time you don’t see all the layers; but a portrait (a good one) is like a portal to the soul.  You get a glimpse of the multiple aspects that make that person who they are because just the right moment was frozen in time.  There is so much to learn!  I don’t often hit the nail on the head… but even just trying to, there is something indescribably satisfying about capturing a bit of a person’s soul on film (no wait! that’s not entirely true with most photos anymore… I guess now it’s capturing a bit of a person’s soul “in pixels” — hmmmm, doesn’t quite have the same ring to it! 🙂  At any rate, I love it and am always looking for subjects…  Henry doesn’t know what he’s getting into!

It was a fun little photo shoot and I took waayyy too many pictures (what can I say?  She was in diva mode and these days I have to take advantage of it!) 

But as I said before, don’t for a moment, let this cherubic little face fool you! She is not all sugar! There’s been a lot of spice lately! The last week has been quite difficult…  Why? What is it that gets into kids and makes them wake up in the morning determined to fight to the death on every issue?  It’s like they decide… “today is a good day to die. I will NOT back down! I will NOT surrender! I will stand my ground to the end! There will be no survivors!!”  Arghhh… Seriously… it’s been trying. She brings out my worst side, too.  I am not a mean person by nature. I really like little children… and I love her dearly!  But the last few days I have been such a crabby impatient mother.  Darn it!  (I am definitely getting that book you recommended, Angel!)

Actually on a serious note, I am recognizing patterns that are contributing to some of the difficult behavior. So I suppose it’s actually beneficial to feel like I’ve run into a wall because it’s forced me to stop and evaluate my effectiveness as a parent and not just continue with the same methods of disciplining and training that obviously aren’t working in certain areas. I am learning to recognize that as she grows and changes, my methods of training have to change as well. My philosophy needs to stay consistent, but my methodology needs to adjust to her age and maturity in order to be most effective. Phew… there’s A LOT to learn as a parent. It’s all the stuff they DON’T put in books that gets me!

Although I do have to say that after a difficult week like this one, I end up appreciating the sweet, spontaneous hugs and cheerful, obedient responses so much more. I suppose that’s the silver lining… I’m learning to not take the sweet moments for granted!

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Another adopting mama had this title on a recent post… and I thought, “Hmmm, that’s interesting… I really haven’t had baby on my brain for a while (I’ve had sweet, little brown boy on my mind, but not baby baby)…  Of course I thought that… and now, of course, I have baby on my mind!

I blame it on these pictures:

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Have you ever seen such a deliciously round, bald baby???

Awwwww, gee, they make me miss that tiny little bundle that smelled like baby powder and cooed all day (okay… that’s a stretch.  She actually had severe colic and food intolerances and literally sccrreeeaamed the first six months of her life.  Seriously!  We don’t have a lot of “happy baby Jo” pictures pre-seventh month when we finally figured out what the deal was, switched her to goat’s milk, and re-configured her diet.  She stopped crying overnight and was like a different baby.  I just feel badly that it took us so long to figure it out!)  Still, even with all the sleepless nights and agony over not knowing why she was in so much pain, she was such a precious little bundle.  And the roly-poly, smiling, bald crawler that took her place was the most squeezable thing ever!!  *tsk… now I spend my days saying, “No! don’t throw rocks at the house, you might break a window!! …  No! Don’t “wash” the doll’s hair in the toilet! – yuck!! …  No! please don’t use my comb to brush Sophie’s fur!”  (I’m hoping at least some of you other mom’s with toddlers are nodding your heads in sympathy! 🙂 )

Oh, I AM looking forward to snuggling with Henry and enjoying the last little bit of his “babyhood”!!  I am glad he is still young enough to baby for a while!

Well anyway, I’ve been sorting pictures today, trying to eliminate some from my computer’s storage to free up space… and I have been overwhelmed with mommy-melancholy… “Oh my baby is growing up!!! (sniffle, sniffle)… I can’t believe she was ever that little! (sniffle) … She’s going to be driving before too long! (sniff!)  Yes, it’s pathetic… after all, she is only turning three next month… not thirteen… but it’s good for me to be reflective like this because she has been extra-naughty the last few days (probably due to the change in weather and rain-induced “house arrest”) and it’s healthy to be feeling something akin to motherly affection toward her!  

I also decided to finally load some pictures to my unused flickr account, primarily for our distant friends and relatives (Sabrina, I’m going to add another album with Marble pictures just for you! 🙂  But I figured I might as well add it to my sidebar, so if you want more of those chubby cheeks, just look under the “Baby Jo” album!  (Well, you can just as soon as I figure out how to get the link there!  🙂 )

I am recovering from being knocked out flat the past 36+ hours with a nasty bug — but I won’t burden you with details…. 🙂  It’s strange having lost an entire day — Wednesday is just gone!  Hopefully it’s not contagious over the internet.  I’d hate for any of you dear blogging buddies to catch it!  

The up-side to being sick has been the chance to catch up on some reading while I’ve been recovering.  I’ve been reading The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs…  It’s not a fluffy book by any means; it’s definitely an eye-opener and an awareness builder from the perspective of an economic genius who has the credentials and experience to speak with authority…  It’s an honest look at difficult global issues, but it’s not all doom and gloom as he has spent time in the field putting his ideas to practice and they have yielded remarkable fruit.  He talks a lot about the need to gain an understanding of what is really happening — the roots of the issues — so we can understand what will and will not make a difference.  He gives an excellent look at the historic reasons for the vast economic extremes that have emerged in the last two centuries.  Overall he seems to have a postive perspective on the economic possibilities we face.  Anyway, I am only half-way through, so I guess I should probably reserve my full recommendation until I’ve finished!  🙂 

Actually, I have a great story to share along these lines.  Peter and I have been praying for months now about further ways we can get involved with the global issues we feel passionate about lending our hands (and time and resources) to…  I have been working with UAHH on the beginning stages of the formation and structure of the school they are developing in Africa (more on that later!) and I am excited about where that relationship may lead us in the future.  But for now, we have been trying to posture ourselves to be open and prepared to give as much as we can in this season of our lives (as we are rather tied to the business and other responsibilities in this specific geographic location) and have asked the Lord to open doors where he wants us to give and minister.  Among other doors we feel He has opened, we are looking at an interesting opportunity that has presented itself recently.

We were reading the paper a couple weeks ago and Peter found an article about a Liberian man living and working in the Palouse (about 3 hours south of us).  He is “shadowing” the Pullman Fire Department, getting as much training as he can so when he returns home he will be better qualified to find a good job to help his family climb out of the cycle of poverty so common in Liberia.  He is living with a firefighter/farmer that he met while driving fire trucks for the UN.  He is on a visitor’s visa and cannot legally work for wages, but is looking to put on as many skills as he can.  We were really impressed with his initiative and desire to become a disciple and learn as much as possible.

We were excited to find out there was a man from Liberia living so close to us  (We really do live “in the middle of nowhere” — just google our address and you’ll see!”) Peter called the journalist who wrote the article to get the phone number of the man who is housing him.  We started praying about a pursuing a relationship, and saw it as God opening a door rather than mere coincidence. We realized we had a great opportunity to offer him the chance to come and work with Peter in the shop for a period of time to put on additional skills in carpentry, cabinetry, wood-working, business management, etc., 

I shared a few weeks ago about the organization, KIVA, that helps fund small business ventures in developing countries by giving people the opportunity to help relationally by investing in individual businesses.  We feel it is the same sort of opportunity for us to invest in this man’s life relationally… to offer him the chance to learn the skills we can teach him in the hopes that it will make a difference in his life and family’s life in the future.  It can be overwhelming to look at global economic statistics — just as it can be to look at orphan stats… but, every person we can help really does make a difference.  We can’t always know how exponential the ripples will be.  Another book I’ve read lately, Fields of the Fatherless (by Tom Davis) encourages us to look around for the opportunities to plant small seeds in seemingly “ordinary” ways that will bring large harvests in the future — crops we can’t even begin to imagine now from our small actions.   So I’ve been looking around and praying and feel this is a seed we can sow in the hopes it will benefit many people.

Anyway, Peter met with Ahmad (the Liberian man) and Mike (the firefighter he is staying with) over dinner Tuesday night in Spokane and he said it was an awesome time learning more about our son’s country as well as getting to know Ahmad.  He has a wife and a four-month-old baby in Liberia and is the “head” of his extended family of eight siblings.  So he has the responsibilty to care for them as well as his own family.  He sounded excited about the possibility of coming to stay with us for a while and working with Peter in the shop.  We are praying about the logistics.  We would like to pay him for his labor because he would be working for us the same as our other employees, but we aren’t sure how to go about it with his visa (plus there are a myraid of things we become liable for as employers… insurance, taxes, etc.)  We are thinking we might be able to gift him with an small amount when he is finished that would be like an investment for him to use when he goes home to help with the transition into the area of business he feels led to…. ? We’re just not sure.  Things, unfortunately, are rarely as simple as they should be.  We should just be able to say, “Yes! We want to help!” and then do it.  But there are things to think through on both sides before we move forward.

So, anyway… we aren’t sure where it is going to end up, but it’s an exciting door.  Even if nothing comes of this specific situation, we are aware of an opportunity we have to sow seeds in this way.  Could there be other men or women in developing countries that God would have us open our home and lives to for a season to impart various skills we have and then invest in their businesses as they take what they’ve learned back to their countries?  It’s a relational way to make a difference in people’s lives.  I really don’t know what God’s plan is in all this… but it’s exciting to think about.  What a door!  🙂

We would, of course, appreciate prayer for this situation… that we would be led clearly and be wise in our decisions. 

Thanks.

I think the wee one has had enough of being photographed!!  The last few days, this is all I have seen through the lens (I’ve been trying to get that hat picture, Jamie!)… I’m starting to feel like a member of the paparazzi, chasing her around with a camera!!  There are limits to the kinds of photos you can take when your subject is an uncooperative almost-three-year-old.  (At least it’s an awfully cute backside! 🙂 )

 

Just look at this grinning bundle of energy!!!!!!!!

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IS it the same boy????

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(the second picture was from a couple months ago…)

We got a fantastic update on Henry last night and some wonderful new pictures. Smiling pictures! Crazy, full of energy, laughing pictures!!  They made my “heart sit down good!” (a Liberian phrase the Sheppards shared with us 🙂 )

Apparently his adoption is in court right now and will hopefully be finalized sometime next month.

Here is an excerpt of the update (written, I’m assuming, by his foster parents):

It turns out Henry is extremely energetic, outgoing, and very chatty. (I love the way they said “it turns out”… like it came as a surprise to them (and does to us, too! A very welcome surprise!)

He’s got a charming personality and is VERY expressive with his right arm.

He is sitting very well, though he can’t crawl. But he is learning to move by turning on his bottom. He can move backwards in a baby walker, but has not figured out how to move forward yet.

Henry is wearing size 3-6 month clothes (so tiny for being 15 months old!) and is still taking bottles for his primary nourishment, but is tasting a lot of solids and eats flavored cereal every night.”

Wow. This is really quite wonderful. He is hitting a lot of milestones and we are just blessed. Thank you Lord.

We continue to pray for his left arm… The update on his use of it was not as positive as we had hoped… (in fact, it appears he can’t feel anything in his left arm and has zero movement.) The rest of the update is so encouraging though, this information doesn’t dampen anything — it just encourages us to pray more fervently for healing and for wisdom on the part of the doctors, specialists and therapists when we get him home. We are hoping for the best case scenario of him gaining some use of it… but if not, there is SO much else he is going to be able to do!

My beautiful happy baby!

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Gosh, we sure love you, Henry Isaiah!

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Before I share about our wonderful update and pictures of Henry, I wanted to take a moment to ask for prayer for the Borcherts and the heart-wrenching news from Jeff’s meeting with the consular in Liberia this morning.  My heart is so heavy for them…  I am not sure how Charity Alonso’s meeting with the consular went, but please pray for them as well.  I can’t even imagine how difficult it is to be facing what they are and my heart hurts for them.

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.  May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.  May He remember all your sacrifices and accept your offerings.

May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.  WE WILL SHOUT FOR JOY WHEN YOU ARE VICTORIOUS and will lift up the banner of our God.  May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now I know that the Lord saves his annointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand.  Some trust in horses and some in chariots, but we trust in the Name of our God.  They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm!  O Lord, answer us when we call!”  Psalm 20

Okay, this is for those of you as baffled by the airplane conversation as I was.  We got it figured out.  She was asking me to tell her a story about an airplane!!  *??*  Why she didn’t just SAY that is beyond me… (as is the fact that it took me a day to figure it out!)  Oh well.  She got her airplane story and was thrilled. 

Peter is gone this week on another installation in Coeur d’Alene (*sigh* it’s the downside of living where we do and primarily taking jobs from Northern Idaho…)   I wasn’t expecting him to have to be gone again this week (can you read the “grrrr” in between the lines?!? 😉 )  I’m usually fine and not as lonely as I have been this week…  I don’t know why it’s been harder than usual…  perhaps its the change in the air and daylight ending earlier.  I have a load of fall projects to keep me busy, though, and that helps.  I have been able to catch up on work and office stuff and am now “purging” the house — de-cluttering, down-sizing, sorting and organizing.  I get on a roll like this about twice a year.  It’s better to do it when Peter’s not around!!  Although I have had to solemnly promise not to throw out his well-worn work shirts that he loves so much.  What is it with guys and their “comfy” (translation: ratty) worn-out tees??

I have to say though, that I have a great companion while my husband is gone!!  The older Jo gets, the more I realize it.  I have been a bad mommy the last few nights and have selfishly let her stay up much later than her bedtime to keep me company.  (Nights alone out here in the middle of nowhere are the hardest part while Peter’s away.)  Joanna has enjoyed the special mommy-time… and so have I.  We popped popcorn and snuggled together on the couch under lots of blankets and watched a movie… and we cranked up the music and danced in our pajamas… and we made some yummy hot chocolate and zucchini bread (it was good — I swear!) 

Jo often sleeps with me when Peter isn’t home.  And, let me tell you: “pillow-talk” with a two year old is quite amusing (and baffling at times!!)  This was the conversation last night as we were drifting off to sleep.  I am still confused about it.  Perhaps one of you veteran moms can enlighten me!

Jo:  “Mama, you talk airplane to Jojo, okay??”

Me:  “okay… So, do you like airplanes, Joanna?

Jo:  “no, mama, you talk airplane!”

Me:  “I don’t understand.  What do you mean talk airplane?  Do you want to talk about an airplane?”

Jo:  “No, mama. I don’t talk airplane.  YOU talk airplane to Jojo.”

Me:  “You want me to talk about an airplane?

Jo:  “No, you don’t talk about airplane.  You talk airplane.”

Me:  “Are you saying you want to pretend we are in an airplane talking??”

Jo:  “No, mama, airplane is NOT here!”  (In an exasperated tone… I mean, come on, mom… don’t you know anything?! 🙂 )

Me:  “Sweetie, I don’t understand what you are saying.  Do you want me to pretend that you are an airplane and talk to you?”  “Hi, Airplane.”

Jo:  “NO!  I NOT airplane!  Mama, YOU TALK AIRPLANE!!  (getting rather frustrated at me now)

Me:  “Okay, okay”… (I am trying really hard to understand her and not just change the subject) “Do you want Mama to talk like an airplane and make an airplane noise?” (and I proceeded to “zzzooooommmm” like an airplane.)

Jo:  “No, No, No!  Mama, you don’t say ‘zoom’.  You TALK AIRPLANE to Jojo!!! 

This went on for a couple more minutes until thankfully, Peter called.  After talking for a while (during which time she never mentioned anything about planes to him!?!) she went to sleep and I assumed the whole thing was forgotten…  Until around 5:30 this morning when she sleepily snuggled up to me and in a drowsy little voice said “you talk airplane, mama, okay?”  

 What a silly little peanut!

I’ve been reflecting the last couple days on our journey this past year.  It was one year ago at the beginning of September that I first started thinking about the possibility of our next child coming into our family through adoption.  Peter and I talked and prayed about it for several weeks.  Toward the end of September we read There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene (which I highly recommend) and by the first part of October we decided to pursue an adoption from Ethiopia. 

But because of the teenyness (I’m sure it’s a word!) of our house at the time, we knew we needed to expand our living area for our homestudy to be approved.  So we punched through this kitchen wall:

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And turned this:

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Into this:

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In as short amount of time as possible!

The space used to be a shop/garage adjacent to our house and we remodeled it into a living/dining room to free up square footage for additional bedrooms in the main part of the house.  It worked out really well and I love the way it turned out (and upstairs, too) — but, whew! it was a lot of work that we squeezed into five little months.  We certainly had strong motivation to get it finished!  It was kind of a messy time of our lives, since we were living in the house while the construction was taking place.  I’m sure those of you that have built/remodeled can relate to the crazy mess and the strange way things seem to get worse and worse and then all of a sudden start looking better! I sort of gave up trying to keep things clean and just covered everything with plastic.   At the end of the fourth month when we started the upstairs construction, I finally had enough of the craziness and we moved into my parent’s for several weeks.  Looking back, I think we should have moved out sooner.  Peter tried to talk me into it, but I reasoned that we would get done faster if we could put Jo to bed and keep working late at night… so we did.   It was actually a special time of our lives — one I’ll look back on fondly, I’m sure.   It was “bonding” (to say the least! 🙂 ) And I can add “drywall experience” to my resume!

Anyway, after that hurdle, our homestudy was approved and we then went through several country and agency changes until we felt led to Liberia. We had a picture of a baby from one of the agencies and were told she was our referral, but things were very questionable and we made the difficult decision to step out of the process and release the baby due to our uneasiness about it.  We were then disqualified from the next agency after we were in the program due to a new guideline.  It was very obvious that doors were shutting; so we followed the open ones… that led us to AoH.  The funny thing is: back in October of last year while researching countries and agencies, I spent some time reading and praying about Acres and Liberia… but we didn’t pursue it at that time.  God had a road He wanted us to walk down first because He knew there were some things we needed to learn before ending up right back at the beginning.  

We would have never guessed last year where our adoption journey was going to lead us.  I don’t think we realized at the beginning just how life-changing this process would be — in so many more ways than joining a child’s life to ours.  It has been deeply challenging, heart-wrenching at times and full of awakening…  It has expanded what we thought we were “capable” of and given us a tremendous opportunity to step out in faith.  It has shaken us and challenged us to look at our lives and evaluate what is really important and what is worth our passion.  It’s triggered some radical shifts in our perspective and awareness.  We have been inspired to read and research like crazy and educate ourselves on the plight of the “fatherless and widows” worldwide and our responsibilities to care for them.  It has prompted us to become advocates not only for Henry, but for the millions worldwide like him.  It has deepened a sense of global responsibility that is heavy at times.  We are as sure as we’ve ever been that we are right where God wants us, doing exactly what He wants for this season (and that alone is priceless!) and we are dedicated to following Him wherever He leads in the future. 

I’ve also been privileged to meet some incredible people through this adoption.  It has been an huge, unexpected gift to look beside me and find so many others on the journey as well — others that have inspired and challenged me… and who have become dear friends.  What an added blessing!  Thank you Lord!

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What a glorious time of the year!  Every time I go outside, I just want to stay out there all day!  The light is golden and the sun is still strong enough to warm my shoulders as I work.   I am soaking up the warmth of it and storing it to remember during the months ahead.  The signs of the impending fall season are everywhere, but summer is still clinging to it’s last days of warmth.  The air is crisp and the nights are chilly, but we haven’t turned the corner into full-blown autumn yet .  It’s coming soon.  Inevitably, one of these nights the temperature will drop below freezing and a frost will cover the ground as a precursor of the snow ahead… the frost will kill my tomatoes and peppers and dahlias, but will also bring a rush of intense colors to the landscape… Soon I will start the process of putting the garden to bed for the winter.  But for now, we get to savor the last drops of the summer sunshine and continue harvesting the garden.  Part of me is a little sad that summer is almost over.  This is very uncharacteristic for me because I love fall!  Usually I am excitedly anticipating the change; but for some reason this year I’m not quite ready to let summer go…

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I love the warm golden glow as the sun reaches the horizon… We went for a bike ride last night to enjoy it… Ah, the simple things in life are the best.  I need to remember to slow down more often to enjoy moments like these.  Peter and I used to spend so much more time outside mountain biking and hiking and climbing than we do now.  It’s crazy that we let ourselves get distracted by all our responsibilites and projects that we often miss the opportunities to enjoy the simple pleasures of being alive: drinking in that warm glow… breathing deeply and fully… feeling the wind in our faces as we coast down a hill…  it renews the soul.

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We are blessed to live near a fantastic network of private dirt roads and little trails in the woods for mountain biking.  Some are definitely too steep to take Jo with us… so we just enjoyed a short ride down the highway to a little country road with great mountain views.  Pictures simply can’t capture it.  Thats the most frustrating thing for me about taking photos… sometimes the lens is too small and limiting!!

But it’s still satisfying to try!

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A little about me…

Wife. Mother. Friend. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Student. Adventure-lover. Photo-taker. Book-reader. Organic gardener. Granola-maker. Green smoothie drinker. Snowboarder. Soccer-player. Aspiring rock-climber. Sometime health nut. Passionate about justice and mercy. Adoption advocate. Business owner and jewelry designer. Wild at heart. Crazy-blessed to live out in the country with my awesome family.

Photography Website:

Contact Me:

sunfreckled@gmail.com
"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do." {Helen Keller}

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