Family Picture

Family Picture

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June, Summer is here

We survived having exterior painters at our home. For quite some time.  Seems like every time they came to paint, it would rain.  Just long enough to delay things again. When they were here, I had to be on special duty Amy watch.  Boy, did she really want to help them paint. And ask them questions, plus make small talk and such.  It all started on the first day they came.  I noticed they started from the top of the house and would work their way down.  Made a mental note to myself to have a talk with Amy about staying out of their way, not to touch where they were painting, and not to wander outside to talk to them. We are working on "not talking to strangers" as I have to constantly reign Amy back. Amy and Anna had been up in the school room for awhile when Amy came down and asked me point blank if she could talk with the painters.  I told her no, that we don't know them, and that I would handle all the talking to them, that they were very busy. About that time Anna comes down to tell me Amy had already climbed up into the closed dormer window and talked with the painter. She had pressed her face to the glass and had a conversation.  Amy told me the following: " I can't remember his name Momma because he is Spanish.  I said Hola to him and he said Hola back.  I said hello to him and he said hello back.  I asked him if he has a momma and he said yes.  I asked him if he had a daughter and he said no.  And he doesn't know why he only has one ear ring. I didn't know I wasn't supposed to talk to them!"
So I had my talk with Amy but when we had to leave doors open on the back or front porches,  the temptation was just too great.
She made friends with Juan, who has three daughters and who painted his nose to make her laugh.
Showed some painters her freshly "painted" fingernails.
Left one of her books open and wedged in the window in case they wanted to take a break and read.
Another day sent her and Anna downstairs to jump on the trampoline so she would move away from the porches/doors to stop watching them and talking to them.  Unbeknownst to me,  they were also down below on the basement patio painting doors.  Anna told me Amy's conversation with yet another painter:  "Hi Mr. Painter.  You are doing a really good job.  One day when I grow up I am going to be a painter just like you!"  Anna said he laughed and said thank you. She's a mess!

Glad they are now finished and our house looks really great.
The window Amy talked through, with her new found painter friend that only has one earring.

Now we are staying busy doing homeschool and getting ahead for the year. We love our Story of the World, History CD series and Amy is right in on it.  I always copy her a map and coloring page that goes with the lesson so she can stay busy while she listens.  Much of it is too complicated at this point but she does get something out of it. I help her with the map and she copies Anna because she is so proud to be doing whatever Anna is doing!! Amy is reading three letter words, sounding out and has a  small stack of beginner readers that she can read to me.  Anna, Amy and myself continue to read books together in the afternoons as well.  I read fiction and non fiction trying to capture whatever Amy's interest is at the time.  For example, when we had the snake incident, we read a snake book. We have read books about bats, and birds, foxes and frogs and the seasons of the year.  The girls are catching fireflies in the evenings so we checked out some firefly books.  We have read books about the weather as thunderstorms pop up in the afternoon and books that tie into the history lessons. We recently learned about the Dutch in history so we read a true story about Katje the Windmill Cat.  Last week we read about a young giraffe that kept wandering away from his tall, tall momma.  Mamma giraffe kept telling him to "stay close", "stay safe"  but he kept pushing the limits and was in danger from predators.  He was not a bad giraffe...he was only  curious.This one was good for Amy as we continue to work on her staying close to me at stores and public places.  She sees something that interests her and off she goes...just like little giraffe in the story. And she never meets a stranger, will chit chat with anybody.  She said, "Momma you are not a tall, tall momma, you are just a little momma so you can't see me."
"That is right Amy, you need to stay close so you can stay safe".
 Because we read this book many times, we looked up more information on giraffes and have learned some interesting facts about them.  Often the girls have questions, we look them up on the internet and sometimes watch short videos on subjects. Reading so many books, I was blown away when we made a list for the library reading program, seeing it on paper as I don't keep up with it other wise.  We just love our reading time, so we go to the library sometimes twice a week to get more books. Anna listens with us but also has her own bag of books that are way past her grade level as she is an excellent reader.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to educate little people and especially to teach one who has missed so very much.  So exciting to see her and Anna, and myself, for that matter, learn together and enjoy good stories together.
Unless it is a really cloudy day,  it is too hot to play outside so we are making the most of indoor activities.  We often go outside in the evenings, after we cover with insect repellant, that is.  The mosquitoes have arrived in full force for the summer.  The girls ride scooters or gallop around like they are horses while I take a walk.
We will be headed to the beach in July so we will be swimming every day there to stay cool. It will be a nice change of scenery and help us survive the summer.

The week Anna had sewing class we had to get up early.  When Amy told me they were going to take a nap in the guest room upstairs, I did not believe her. I thought, sure you are.   Checked on them later as it got so quiet and indeed they were napping.
I think this may have been a first for Amy, she never ever naps.

I got a new camera so Will tried to capture a shot of The "Honey Moon" that only happens every 15 years.  

Amy's "go to " outfit if I let her choose her clothes. Giraffe print capris and flower print shirt. There is a striped shirt she sometimes pairs with these capris also. She loves all the bright colors.
This is Amy! Wild and silly, bouncy and bright, live life to the fullest with your colors going every which way.
  This is our stay at home wear.
Will, in his dry manner says, "I see she picked out her clothes today".
Painting with watercolors.  We have been watching the deer in our yard.  Amy wants to catch one and tell them we won't hurt them, so they don't have to run away.  

She painted every pair "red" her favorite color. We each had to pick our favorite pair.  She would not let me pick the flats.  "No, mom.  You have to pick high heels".  

Playing in the rain

Anna's sewing projects

Arabian Princesses riding unicorns

Walked the church campus for exercise on the day we had dancewear fitting.  Was nice and cool inside.  

Amy in the lead.  Pretending to be a wild pony.

Checking out  some shirts at Kohls

And surprise, surprise, who is in the accessory department?
"Momma, can you see me over here?  I really lika these!"

Monday, June 16, 2014

Grandma and Grandpa Henderson's New House

We recently went for a visit to Scott's parents new house.  They relocated back to Ga from FL and this was our first time to see their new place. Beautiful up there in Blue Ridge where Scott's sister, Darcy also lives not far from Scott's parents.   It was fun seeing everyone.  The cousins had a big squirt gun battle and did a couple of crafts.  We ate some hot dogs and hamburgers. For dessert, we had some fried apple pies topped with Blue Bell Vanilla ice cream. Nice summer day together, with the mountain in view and the sound of the creek running along the back property line.

Thanks Aunt Darcey!  They love the purses and headband bows!  

Girl cousins with Grandma Rachel

Amy proud of the extra large "diamond" clip on earrings from Grandma Rachel!
They sparkle like crazy!

Family picture( missing Wesley and Will). Amy displaying one of the flower crafts

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

The girls love to hear me tell them stories of Scott from the past.
 I have purposely shared with them his protective nature. I purposely speak of his love for us and of his goodness to us, his family.
With Amy's past experiences, some including mistreatment, trusting Scott has taken her longer than it did for her to trust me.  Her tendency, if Scott tried to discipline would be a fight or flight response.  Scott has had to tread lightly and discipline her with gentle firmness, and no spanking.We have said more than once it sometimes feels as if you are trying to discipline with both hands tied behind your back because you really have to be careful in how you deal with her.  I have tried to do all I could behind the scenes so Amy would understand Scott's good character. I have shared with them how hard he works to make sure we have all we need. He spends time with them when he is home. Now one of Amy's favorite things to do with her dad and Anna is to, "Russle and Tussle" (their term for play rough housing) on the trampoline. It is a girl version of wrestle matches, and Scott tosses them around and squishes them, pulls their feet out from under them,  and I can hear the squeals and howls all the way from the basement, then the girls come up sweating, and huffing and puffing, saying they won! Sometimes they show me their trampoline burns and Scott comes up almost as sweaty as they are.
Scott has been a patient dad.  It has taken time, but he has won her over, her trust, her love and even her admiration.
 These stories are their favorites.
Story #1.When Scott and I were first married, we had a tornado come through our neighborhood. I began to run around  , not sure what to do. Scott firmly guided me down into our basement.  I sat on the bottom step and he stood over/ covered me to keep me safe.

Story #2. Another time Scott and I  were out walking and a big dog came running towards me barking, showing his teeth and growling, basically trying to come after me.  Scott immediately put his arms out and took his stance in front of me, making himself look like a big bear then growled back, scaring the dog off and protecting me. I act this one out and Amy will ask me to "do it again, Momma"!  Amy is afraid of dogs and has many nightmares about dogs chasing her.  She told me there were some bad dogs in China that roamed near where she lived.

Story # 3. I have personally seen Scott go into a pool on two separate occasions to help a struggling child in the water. One of those times he was fully clothed, tennis shoes, watch, and wallet as he jumped in amongst a crowded pool to help a child no one was watching, and who was in trouble.
He is always cool as a cucumber.  I am the freaker outer.  I wish I could stay cool in times of trouble.  My brain stops working or something. I am either deer in the headlights, or chicken with my head cut off.  No cool for me. Scott is the go to guy when there is any kind of emergency.

Story #4.  This happened recently as we had a huge copperhead on our lower back patio.  Scott had to kill it as it was very aggressive. So aggressive he had to shoot it.   Amy and Anna both said, "We are so glad we have our daddy to keep us safe"!

Here's to our Fathers on this day and to the powerful influence they have on our lives.  We thank you for providing for us, for protecting us and for loving us so well! We Love You!

Some pictures of today and some pics from the past.
Scott trying to watch the world cup soccer matches.  

My dad came over and we had a steak dinner.  Love these two dads!
I don't know what we would do without them!  We appreciate you!

Picking apples, dad helps Amy get some high ones!

Amy fell and got hurt on our playground which has a green roof. She made out this accident report.  Note she is top left corner with red hair and matching red earrings, arrow pointing down as she went to play.  She fell, hit her back and is crying (with a green face because she is upset and flowing red hair, tears falling).  Her dad came running (he has on a green shirt) and picked her up and carried her down ( note the arrows pointing up, down and sideways as they mark his path) then he made sure she was ok.  Then she went off (her in the red dress arrow pointing back to her dad) to go inside with dad because she was hurt and didn't want to play anymore. Then they ate popsicles.

Hold Daddy's hand

Which way at the zoo?

Anna not so sure, that is a big duck, daddy! 

Hiking with Wesley and Will

Amy warming up to Scott on the day we first got her in China. She landed her toy on his head. Bouts of tears and bouts of trying to get to know us.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tears at our Dinner Table

This occurred a few weeks ago and I debate about things I should post and things I should keep private.  Ultimately, if I can't get it off my mind, I take that as a cue to talk about it.
Raising special needs children is so rewarding. They are compassionate.  They are the troopers. They are the strong ones. They are the brave ones.  But every now and then, after a string of what we call "incidents"  that being unkind people, comments or difficult situations...... our troopers..... can just feel defeated, sad and frustrated.
As our steady and discerning Will commented: "it builds up, you just let it out, then pick up and move on. It is just a part of it. She will be ok."

Incident with Amy:
Recently we were at our local chick-fil-a for lunch.  Amy of course wants to play on the playground and more often than not, children will inevitably ask her what happened to her hand.  I know children are curious about differences in people, I get that, believe me as we have walked this road before.  Like for 21 years. Different circumstances but similar in that we are dealing with an obvious physical special need. With that, comes the stares, comments and questions. It is what is is.
I have always role played and talked about ways to handle this with my kids.  I try to let them handle it.  But I do have my limits.
Because she is missing fingers, children often assume an accident must have happened to Amy's hand.
Amy knows what to say.  She tells people that nothing happened to her hand but that she was born this way.  She will often say "I was born this way in China".  Sometimes that is all she has to say.  Other times there are children who will not let that be and continue to barrage her with more questions.  She is strong, this girl of mine.  I heard her way up in the top of the playground, tell her explanation to several children, one right after another.  Several took the information and went about the business of playing and letting her play.
But there came a point where some children would not let her be.  She came down in tears saying that she kept telling them she was born this way and they kept asking what happened to her hand,  and wouldn't let her pass.
Blow the whistle.
Enter momma bear into the scene at this point.  Lucky for the kiddos I happened to have a skirt on that day or I might would have weaseled my way to the tip top of that cramped indoor playground and clanked some heads together then sent them down the slide.
Confrontation is not my nature.  I hate it.  I hide from it.  I really do try to advocate/inform one person or child at a time.  Quietly, teaching, explaining the special needs issues one on one. Modeling kindness and respect for others while protecting my children from burdensome questions.
Its a balance. Sometimes we say very little and just wish others would mind their own business, curious or not. Just let us be.
On this day as Anna sat by my side, I wiped Amy's tears, stood up and took Amy by the hand and said:
"Alright, everyone on this playground listen up for a minute."  It actually got quiet.
"This is my daughter Amy.  Some of you keep asking her questions.  She has told you, and now I am telling you,  she was born with this special hand and she can do great things with both of her hands.
No more questions please.  Feelings get hurt when you say too much!  Everyone play nicely and enjoy your day, Amy wants to enjoy hers." Funny how quiet it remained in there for a few minutes.
Amy looked up at me with her almond shaped eyes as wide as they can be, nodded her head yes to me with great satisfaction and went back up there to play.
Anna whispered to me that she was glad I did that.
Amy ready to try again, knowing she had her mom and sister in her corner. Brave girl.
Problem solved day.

But unfortunately, without going into detail,  we have had a string of incidents with Amy lately.
She even commented under her breath in frustration recently that she was going to start hiding her hand so people won't look and say things.

It has built up for her.  And the tears finally came.  At our dinner table.  Right after dinner was served.  Took us by surprise.  Amy is really a joyful child with just enough spunk, so when she is sorrowful, it will hurt your heart to witness.  Really. And this girl of ours knows sorrow like a child should not. And I'm not talking just about her hand here. So when her tears came, she blurted out that she just wanted a better hand.  She wants to be like everyone else.  She wants to be able to eat what we eat but her tummy does not like so many things we eat, so she eats noodles while we all eat something else. She wants to do so many things that her hand won't let her do. She wants people to stop looking at and asking questions about her hand. Then she asked us for a new hand.

So I push my plate away and call her over.  She climbs in my lap and faces me, her tears rolling down each cheek and when her eyes met mine......she saw my tears streaming down my cheeks.  I wiped hers away and then she wiped mine away, but they just kept coming for the both of us.  So there we were crying at dinner. I validated her feelings. I hugged her tight. We all tried to encourage her.
I told her that if we could get her a new hand we would, but that it is not possible. I reassured her that she will be able to do many great things in her life. God has good plans for her.
 She asked, "Momma why are you crying?"  I told her that when someone hurts her....they have hurt all of us. When she hurts, we hurt with her. And when she is happy, we are happy with her. That we are her family, we are here for her  and we will help her in any way we can.  And that we love her. We will forever and always, love her.
Then slowly,  her smile came back. We wiped our tears, blew our noses,  then we ate our dinner, albeit, a little on the cold side, but that is ok.
And after dinner, I went for a walk and prayed to the one who knows best how to handle all this. That His will be done and that He heal the hurts and guide our steps and that He give us words to say.  And thanked him for standing up for us,  for fighting our fights for us,  and for calling us His own. We are by no means alone in this journey, no we are not. Not even on those days it might feel a little bit like we are.  I heard this song while I was taking my walk.

"I won't Let Go"
Rascal Flatts
It's like a storm
That cuts a path
It breaks your will
It feels like that

You think you're lost
But you're not lost on your own
you're not alone

I will stand by you
I will help you through
When you've done all you can do
If you can't cope
I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
And I won't let go

It hurts my heart
To see you cry
I know it's dark
This part of life
Oh it finds us all
And we're too small
To stop the rain
Oh but when it rains

I will stand by you
I will help you through
When you've done all you can do
And you can't cope
I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight

And I won't let you fall
Don't be afraid to fall
I'm right here to catch you
I won't let you down
It won't get you down
you're gonna make it
Yeah I know you can make it

Cause I will stand by you
I will help you through
When you've done all you can do
And you can't cope
And I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
And I won't let go
Oh I'm gonna hold you
And I won't let go
Won't let you go
No I won't

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May 30th, Anna's Birthday

We just can not believe our Anna Faith is ten.  Double digits.  We knew it was coming, but when I think of how fast the time has gone, I want to slow life down.  Savor these years.  As my Wesley and Will  get ready to leave home, I know far too well how fast children grow up.
Anna I think about our time spent together homeschooling, reading wonderful books, learning new things, cooking, running errands together, and shopping at our favorite places.  I truly treasure these days.  I was thinking about the way you love to go sample perfume, hand soaps at Bath and Body works and to help me pick out Yankee candles.  You are a girly girl and I love that about you. You are always a little lady who likes nice smells and who likes to smell nice. More importantly, you like to be nice.   We have memorized this Bible verse  and talked a lot about it, prayerfully considering ways to make this true in our lives.
I want you to always remember it as I think it is a special verse for you and for me:

We are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:15

Anna Faith, our sweet and beautiful girl, who is wise beyond her years.  Our girl who woke our hearts up to the beauty of adoption.  Our girl who is the first one to help out, the one who knows the plans and keeps us all on track.  Our girl who is gracious, kind and encouraging.  Our girl who has helped one little sister in so many ways, we can not even begin to count.
We love you with all of our hearts, our precious Anna, you will forever and always be
Our Girl!

Happy Birthday!

Amy happy to celebrate with balloons and party blowers

Anna always has a book in her hand. Because we go to the library so often to get bags of books,  all the librarians know Anna by name and ask her recommendations on books they have purchased or are considering purchasing.
She is excited to have a Kindle!  It will be slap full of books in no time!

We went to a children's museum the morning of Anna's birthday.  Milking a cow.

Driving a crane and unloading the balls


In this chamber thank goodness.  They registered 107 decibels together.
And that's loud. About as loud as a subway train says the decibel chart.
I have thought all along,  little girl screams can jolt one into an absolute panic! I have scientific verification.

Anna requested one of her favorite meals for dinner.  Hawaiian Pork, Rice casserole with extra mushrooms, green beans and Hawaiian Rolls.  

We had a store bought cookie cake but made homemade sweet cream vanilla ice cream.