Christmas Day (yr. 1)…

The Loot

The calm before the storm…

And just like that we had a Christmas.   We had to have a blue slip pinned up late the night before to hold the children at bay.  Tyler didn’t think that would be enough so he slept across the doorway too, to block any peeking that might take place.  It was kind of magical seeing their happy little faces, the laughs, the surprise, the “I told Santa that this is what I wanted!”  But then it happened my sweet babies turned into knife wielding vikings within a matter of minutes…”I wanted this too.  I wanted that only bigger.  I wanted it in a different color.  I want…IT ALL!”

In the very, very back part of my head I wanted to remind them that we saved you, you were orphans we made you our family that should be present enough, we kept all 5 of you together you might have been split up, it was a very “I brought you into this world & I can take you out of it” kinda moment.  (You should know that last sentence was hard to type, it isn’t a very “Christian” spirited attitude but a very human one).  Luckily the wonderful man that I married reminded me they are kids & kids are greedy & selfish, they are learning to think about others & the real meaning of Christmas.  So we paused in our day & talked again about the Christmas story, Baby Jesus being sent down to us on earth to save us  & about what matters our family & friends, & being kind to others.

Christmas morning 1

Ready to open our presents! Little brother took FOREVER opening his presents & would generally open one of his & then take a walk around the room to see if anybody got something better that he wanted to play with first.

Patty's helmet

Barbie everything, even a Barbie bike helmet, thanks Grandmom & Grand-dad

Heidy's loot

So Darth would not sit in the circle with the other kids, she went behind the couch with her Papi Grande & had her presents stashed. She would open one & then play with it for about 5 min, show it off to a few people & then go again. Needless to say she opened her stocking the day after Christmas because she ran out of time the day of.

Flag

So my kids are all about flags & Papi Grande made them this very special flag holder for their room, it has the Colombia flag, the US flag & the TX flag. It also has their name on it, their birthdate, & our Sentencia date. One side is open & we are hoping to fill that with their baptism day.

Papa

Hanging out with Papa

Hands arriba

Headed out to fight crime/test our presents, Nerf guns & marshmallow guns (thanks to our new aunt and uncle) & Darth has got a jump rope

Then we headed to Meme & Papa’s (my grandparents) house for Christmas lunch & a few more presents from the extended family.  And then the miracle happened…we were eating lunch & all of a sudden white flecks started coming out of the sky…SNOW!   Snow on Christmas day, please know my northern friends it was not your kind of snow but it was just enough to answer the prayers of 5 Colombian children who had never seen snow & who had been praying for weeks & weeks for snow on Christmas.

There was a mad rush to get outside & within about 15 minutes there was a mad rush to get back inside…

“Mami do you know that snow is cold?”  “It’s just like playing with ice.”  “Can we go back & play in it when the snow is not so cold?”

Snow

Lots of snowy delight going on

Boys in the snowGirls in the snow

That night after we read our bible story & said our prayers Tyler asked the kids, “how did you like Christmas?”

Middle brother’s phrase was my favorite, “This was my favorite Christmas, because of the snow because my whole family got to see the snow.”

Presents do not replace God’s love for His people, presents cannot outshine His glory, presents cannot compare to His beauty.  New bicycles were forgotten, the remote control car that he’d asked for set aside, his new “Incredibles” movie put on the shelf.  It was the snow, a present we didn’t buy, a moment we couldn’t plan, I didn’t even know we needed it but we did.  We needed the snow for our first Christmas because our kids needed to see a miracle.

Underwear

And so we don’t end on too serious a note my kids got underwear for Christmas…LOTS & LOTS of underwear, an entire laundry load of underwear. Luckily they love underwear, they have each changed their underwear 4 times today trying out their new ones. Except Darth, still can’t woo her to potty train, hoping the new underwear works!!!

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

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Merry Christmas Eve (yr.1)…

So we did it, we went to the Christmas eve candle light service & we did not burn the church down!!!  We have some fun memories of the kids pretending that the candle holder is ice cream, another memory of Oscar holding the candle holders on his chest & exclaiming “mi tay-tas” (that one was quickly ended by Mami), Darth trying to put the candle in her mouth instead of blowing it out, our pastor lighting our family’s candles, our kids surrounded by grandparents on our first Christmas eve as a family.

Please know we are not a perfect family.  I overreact, Tyler is high-strung, our oldest still has a healthy fear that all of this happiness could disappear.  For example tonight was a great night, everything was going his way but he still looks for things to be angry with: “I didn’t get the spoon that I wanted.  I wanted to close the second door, not the first door.  I wanted to be the only one wearing red today.”  It is EXHAUSTING!!!  I just want to take him & tell him you have a great life, so many people love you, tomorrow is Christmas you are getting presents, stop being such a baby!  But instead I sit with him his room rocking him, holding him as I would a baby & tell him I love you, I will always love you, this will always be your family, we want you to be happy because we are happy you are here.  We hug, we kiss, we make up, we keep going.  Then 5 minutes later my sweet happy son is back to the Grinch.  This time Tyler takes him back into his room, holds him & tells him that we love him, they talk about all the reasons to be happy, they talk about all the people who love him, they end on a good note with hugs & kisses.  10 minutes later we have a sad kid again…

My goodness it takes a long time to heal the broken, to lead the lost, to see the fruit of our labor.  Praise God, He sent his son, a baby to save us all.  To heal our broken, to find the lost, to give us eternal life.  Praying for our children tonight, not that it gets easier for us & they become deliriously happy all the time, but that they find the Lord, that they give their life to Him.  That they allow Him to heal those wounds, the ones we can’t see, the ones that they keep hidden, that they find everlasting joy.

This time last year we had just begun work on closing in our office in hopes that we would get a call that 2-3 children were available for adoption…how small are the thoughts of men.  5 beds full of children, 5 bikes with red bows, 5 kids excited to wake up on Christmas morning…how can you still not believe in miracles?!?

Christmas Picture

In our Christmas best, thankful for a Grandma who can sew such beautiful dresses & snazzy bow-ties

The girls

Boys were not interested in a solo picture

Candle light

Tia Sara took little brother duty for the candlelight service

Service

Ready for the service

Santa is Here

Got a surprise Christmas Eve visitor, he could only stay for a little while, busy night you know

Patty & Wilson Santa

Middle brother requests: a bike, cars, a water gun
Big sister: Barbie, everything Barbie

Oscar & Santa

Little brother: I want what my big brothers want & a stuffed animal

Yohan & Santa

Big brother: a bike, cars, a ball, a stuffed animal

Santa & Heidy

Darth: a doll & a stuffed animal

Sometimes not much has changed

awkward family Santa photo yr 1…looking forward to all the years to come.

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

Personal…

So I am going to share with you one of my most shameful moments so far as a mom… “I don’t care.”

Sometimes (especially in the morning as we are getting ready to go to school) my kids want to tell me something, tattle on their sibling, say something mean, say something funny, say something insignificant, say something important, they just want to talk…and I under my breath mutter, “I don’t care.”  Sometimes this phrase would cause them to pause, most of the time they would plow through with their agenda & keep going with all of their words.

Well yesterday my oldest daughter asked what does, “I don’t care,” mean in Spanish?  My kids are learning English, a little more each daily & are starting to pick up on words & phrases.  It broke my heart to tell her it means,  “No me importa.”  It is not important to me.  Immediately her face fell.  It hit me hard when I realized how many times I must have muttered this phrase & now looking back how hurtful this phrase is.

I don’t care.  Was there ever such a selfish phrase invented?  I don’t care: that you want to tell me about why you want to wear your red shirt instead of a blue one because I need to get you all ready & off to school on time.  I don’t care: that your brother is looking at you with mean eyes, I need you to put your shoes on.  I don’t care: that you had a great day at school because I have to help your brother (who did not have a great day at school) with homework.

I have to wake up out of this hurried attitude, this “put the fire out” attitude, & start caring.  I have to validate their feelings or they will not know how to process their emotions in a positive manner.  I HAVE TO CARE, my kids have already been through a home that didn’t care & we are still recovering from it.  I have to care otherwise how will my children learn to care?

So last night after the conversation with my daughter I started caring.  I listened while she told me about her day.  I listened to why middle brother was frustrated with his little sister.  I listened to what our oldest wanted to do on his train.  I listened to why little brother likes to pick his nose.  I listened to Darth about why she was in time-out.  And you know what we had dinner 30min later than usual, I didn’t get their lunches made until after they went to bed, I took the trash out at 9:30pm instead of 8:00pm.

But I had a great time building a cardboard train with my oldest son, the son that I have daily struggles with in building our relationship.  For an whole hour while we worked on his train & his brothers & sisters watched & cheered him on he told me, “Mami I love you! I love you so much!  Thank you for building this train with me!”  Then we would work for a little while longer & it was almost as if he could not control himself & he would say again, “Oh Mami thank you so much for this train!”  And because of his kind words I was greatly encourages & they reminded me to heap kind words & blessings on him, “Mami is so glad that you like your train, I am having a great time being with you & I love you.  You are being such a great example for your brothers & sisters.  You are a good, smart, creative & kind boy, I am so glad that you are my son.”

Just know before the “I don’t care” conversation with my daughter I was going to build the train by myself after the kids went to bed, I was going to rob both of us of this joy.

001

Working on the train…don’t worry it will get better than this

002

His siblings would randomly clap & then they prepared a song for us to watch afterwards

I will still fail, I will still be selfish with my time, I will still have the “I don’t care” moments but I am going to try my hardest to keep this phrase our of my mouth & out of our family’s life.  “I don’t care”, it makes me sick to my stomach.

Micah 7:7
But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (BECAUSE HE CARES, HE LOVES ME)

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

An American Tradition…

So we worked for a number of years with the youth group at our church, specifically with 10th graders.  And sometimes when you work with the youth you have to develop a healthy fear of being tee-pee’d (toilet papered, rolled, vandalized).  Luckily we lived in what I like to call the “safe zone” AKA about 25 minutes from the church.  You see 10th graders are usually just learning how to drive, mom & dad have given them a pretty strict budget for gas & a pretty strict driving perimeter, and our house is just out of reach & too expensive to make the drive worth it.  5yrs of safety, sleeping soundly through the night without fear of being a victim.  Then we adopted 5 kids & got out of the youth group, mainly because we have our own children’s program at home to focus on for a while.  We were safe…

toilet paper

We got a few extra decorations added to our yard tonight!

Turns out that the 9th & 10th graders had their class Christmas party tonight, and as we pulled into our house at 8:30pm we were greeted with toilet paper streamers all over the front of the house.  Our kids immediately began using their newest most favorite American catch phrase, “Oh man!”  As they ran around the yard frolicking & dancing with toilet paper streamers.

Some of the best phrases that they said:

“Mami who would do this for us!  Must be our friends at church!”

“I cannot wait to tell my teacher tomorrow about all the toilet paper at our house!”

“They must think that we poop a lot!”

As we cleaned up our yard there was loud giggling, dancing, chasing, Darth would pick up pieces on the ground & try to find a good spot for them on the Christmas decorations until we convinced her that we are cleaning the paper up not reusing it.  All in all this small inconvenience was a big blessing on our family & turns out when you have 5 little helpers the clean-up goes pretty fast.

Also well done 9th & 10th graders, the attention to detail was fantastic, every Christmas decoration had a little paper love on it.

***Please know this is not a complaint, this is not a forum to get onto “today’s youth”.  This is what today’s youth should be doing, they should be spending time with their Sunday School/Life Group teachers & doing zany things.  They should see an example in adults who can have fun but not destroy property.  I still remember going with my teachers for our class parties & disciple now’s and they were some of my favorite times & best memories.  An adult to take you rolling is a rare treasure; thankful for the teachers who pour into these students & make time for them during this busy holiday season.  And thankful for students who take the time to go to church & class parties, consistently going to church & fellow-shipping with other believers is so important!

clean up 4

Such attention to detail, even the wreath on the door

tree

Papi couldn’t reach it all

cleaning

Darth “re-distributing” before she understood the concept of cleaning up the paper

Clean up

Papi “making it rain” toilet paper…I know, I don’t know why we thought this was an American phrase they needed to know

clean up 2

Cleaning/playing

Clean up heidy

Poor baby! Hehehe 🙂

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

 

Out of my hands…

So I have a 2yr old, maybe you’ve heard of her…Darth.  Well baby girl is dying for independence.  We spend most of the day in battles of her saying, “Yo solo, yo solo, YO SOLO” (in English: BY MYSELF).  She wants to do it all by herself, get dressed, buckle herself in, unbuckle herself, carry the groceries, drive the car…everything.  So on Monday the kids got up a little earlier than usual from their naps & Darth once again demands sweetly asks to put her pants on by herself…okay. 2o minutes later she comes in & tells me “Si” AKA: I did it mom, I did it by myself, without any help from you, I told you so!

Heidy pants

Mom, I did it ALL BY MYSELF! Ha!

In Darth’s mind she had succeeded the pants were up, at least from her angle, however from Mami’s angle was Darth’s reality…

Heidy reality

Is that a draft I feel?

And after I tell her & show her, she still fights me, throws a tantrum & has to sit in time-out before she relents & lets Mami help her out.

So tonight we had a delightful activity planned; we were headed to watch our talented brother-in-law in a Christmas musical.  Outfits were pressed, hair was fixed, baby sitter had been lined up (turns out our 2 little ones are not ready for 2hrs of sitting politely), dinner was done…and then I heard water running.  Which surprised me because I had not run a load in the washer since that morning.  So I call the husband at work & tell him what I am hearing & he tells me to unplug the washer.  I move the washer over as much as I can (it’s heavy with a dryer sitting on top of it & full of water) & wiggle my hand back there & unplug the machine…but still I can hear water running.  Husband tells me no worry he gets off in 15 minutes & will be home 20min after that.

Then all of a sudden I hear a big rush of water, washer has opened, spilling water & clothing everywhere.  Uh-oh, door closed, shop vac in use, calling the husband again.  “I need you to come home now!”  Also I can still hear the water running.  Washer gushes out with water 2 more times, the water has now reached our dining room, living room, kitchen, bedroom & master bath (don’t worry it’s because we live in a small house).  I finally run barefoot in a tank top (you should know I do not wear tank tops in public, there is a lot of arm to jiggle on this body) looking for a neighbor to  help me turn the water off from the street.  2 houses down I meet our new neighbor, who I had not had the chance to talk to before, & tell him my story.  Thankfully he rushed out with his family following with a wrench & screw driver to help me out.

Water off.  House soaked.  Kids everywhere.  Mom screaming, “Our home is a pool, just get along with your brother, Mami does not care that he took your pencil!”  Kids yelling, “Mami there is a lot of water on the floor…why?”

Then the calvary came in!  My folks & sister showed up because we had already lined Tia Sara up to baby-sit & my parents were going to ride out to the play with us, but dressed in their “Saturday night going out clothes” my dad takes over the shop vac & mom starts laying down towels & Tia Sara keeps the kids busy in their rooms & out of the “pool”.  Tyler came home cool as a cucumber & didn’t over react…even when we decided that we had to get a new washing machine, using money that we had allocated for something else that is also very important, but not as important as 7 people walking around in smelly clothes.

ALL THE TIME Sometimes I tell God “Yo solo”, by myself.  I’ve got this, I’ve worked hard & know what to do, I’ve planned for everything (yea right), I can handle it because I know what is best. Then I try to walk out of the house with my panties hanging out (not really, this is just to bring it back to my Darth from before!!).  I let my circumstances define me.

Spending tonight in my favorite verses…2 Peter 1:3-11

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

My goodness life is hard & trying.  It is filled with daily struggles, frustrations, corruption, national tragedies, heart-breaking news… but we cannot stop living.  We cannot tire of doing good.  We cannot “play it safe” or keep our faith hidden.  We cannot stay away from the world. WE CANNOT DO IT ON OUR OWN!!!  We have to have faith because without faith all is lost.  And in through our faith there must be WORKS!  I will not fear humanity because I have been commanded to share the Good News with them; I will not fear my children being in this world, but I will arm them with the Armor or God (Ephesians 6:10-18), I will pray for their salvation everyday, every hour, until I know that they have chosen salvation.

Stay strong friends, rely on God, listen to His voice, let Him heal you, GO when He calls.  Do not take on this life alone.

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

La luz…

My husband is an engineer, he is a bit persnickety, he likes things a certain way, he likes things done “right”, &  I love him for that. He has taught me discipline, follow-through, the importance of being on time, persistence, & cleanliness (yep I was a giant slob before our marriage).

But due to the previous mentioned behavior we have been Christmas-light-less for the past 5yrs.  Mostly because he has a dream: a dream of all our lights facing in the same direction, perfectly color coordinated, anything extra matching perfectly to the color of the house & other lights.

Needless to say there was never “light display” money in the budget, there was always a better place for it to be spent.  So we had bows, precious red bows for the past 4yrs have been wired to our outside lights, they were cute & delightful (maybe a little boring) but they all matched & all hung at the right angle; which meant a stress-free Christmas for the husband.

Let me now introduce you to my dad, better known as Papi Grande, he is a Christmas-light-a-holic.  There is no rhyme or reason to his light show but mere delight!  Less is better…oh no no no the more, the brighter, the bigger…the BETTER!   There are rope lights, angels & Santa playing together, snowflakes mixed in with red chili lights, candy canes surrounded by twinkle lights…it’s a magical place during the holiday season & when I was a kid I loved it!

Well Papi Grande has grandbabies now & wants them to have the same delight & Tyler’s uncle was cleaning out his lights & sent a few fabulous ones our way.  So yesterday I called up my dad & asked if he would come help me put up a few icicle lights, because turns out that the kids were not impressed with the red bows & asked everyday when we would have lights on the house.  He was ready to come the next day, I chose not to mention it to Tyler…

Yes luz 2

Yes you see icicles mixed with blue snowflakes, different colored candy canes, an LED-lighted deer & a soft lighted dear, a Moravian star & the red bows

Tyler

Welcome home honey; I made his favorite dinner to soften the “imperfect” light blow. Chili with hotdogs cut up in it over white rice…what a gourmet, right?!?

Yes luz

Out in our pjs & barefoot on a cold night to see the lights again…couldn’t help ourselves 🙂

Please know that Tyler was a champ, he was thankful for the help getting the lights up since he has been so busy at work.  It was also pretty magical to see the kids you’ve wanted for so many years run up and down the yard in awe, telling everything that lit up “feliz navidad”.  As Papi Grande said, “every kid needs a light on their house; otherwise how will Santa find it?”

At the dinnermesa,

Beth

Christmas decorations (Yr. 1)…

You should know that before we had kids my husband & I were a bit of control freaks; we like things a certain way, we plan out our days, months & sometimes years.  Every dollar made has a place to go.  There is always a plan…

Then we had 5 kids & life got a little messier, plans got a little looser but we still try to keep to a plan.  For example our mornings work like this…

Kids get up, make their beds, get dressed, put your dirty clothes in the hall by the washer, & head to the breakfast table.  The first kid to the table gets to put out the cereal & spoons (a coveted job by all & luckily our two youngest are never ready first!!)

Afterwards the kids take their medicine, brush their teeth & wash their face, put on jackets & watch about 15min of PBS television

The first person ready gets to put everyone’s dirty laundry into the washer (again a job that is fought over at our house).

Then we are off to school.

Breakfast

Our line of cereal & medicine ready to go & lunches for the back-packs.

laundry

Middle brother was today’s lucky winner!

Christmas is a time of traditions, a time where “perfect” moments are planned.  We are just redefining what our perfect moments are going to be.

The day after Thanksgiving we decided to decorate for Christmas, my parents volunteered to watch the kids for the whole day so Tyler & I could get all of the decorations down & maybe go out for lunch together.  But then kids got in the way. Big sister got an ear-infection the night before so she was homebound with mom & dad while the other kids went out to play.  So instead of the day we planned it was a delightful day alone with our oldest daughter, our lunch-out turned into a lunch-in of Whataburger, I still got to watch my Christmas movies & loved seeing the smile on Big sister’s face when Judy in White Christmas taps her foot faster than humanly possible.

We invited friends over to help decorate the tree, the tree that ended up being decorated in about 4 spots as fast as possible by 4 super excited kids.

Christmas

Santa picking his spot to decorate.

Christmas 6

The ladder was the spot to be, many a Christmas fights broke out over that

Christmas 5

Mami, Ms. Lisa: unwrap faster, no not that one, I want the air plane, where is another princess ornament, mas rapido please…

Christmas 1

The ladder isn’t free but I need this specific ornament in that place just up there please Mr. Isaac!!!

Christmas 2

After one time on the ladder Mr. Cautious was done

Christmas 4

Not one decoration for Darth, a full day of grandparents wore her out!

This was not how I imagined the day going, these were not the perfect moments that I had planned.  The whole day was messy, unorganized, my Christmas tree looked like it had been decorated by a group of…well children, but it was so wonderful.  It was ridiculously full of life!  The past 3yrs on this same day Tyler would find me crying at least 2-3x’s & not tears in my eyes but sad sorrowful sobs because we had no children in our lives to share this time with.  We had no chance of perfect moments…

Perfect

5 stockings later…For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Take heart, He is not done with you, He has created you, He loves you, He will not leave you.  In His perfect plan will there be your perfect moments.

At the dinnermesa,

Beth