Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Giveaway for the Giveaways done!

That was fast! 
We've got our 5 blogs who will be giving away a paperback copy of "Redefining Home: Squatty Potties, Split Pants, and Other Things that Divide My World."

I'll try and put a post up later when they decide the details of the giveaway. 


Fruit Flies, Junior High Boys, and a Sort of Giveaway

We have been engaged in an epic battle of the fruit flies this week. We made a trap and it actually worked! 
All fruit flies want to do is reproduce and die.
They are like a junior high boy. 

To commemorate our victory over the fruit fly invasion, I've got 5 "Redefining Home: Squatty Potties, Split Pants, and Other Things that Divide My World," books that I'm gonna handout for giveaways on other blogs. Yes, this is a strange type of giveaway, but work with me here.

I've had several people ask if they could do giveaways of some sort, so here ya go. The first 5 to comment and leave their contact info., wins. Ok, so it's not really winning, because technically they still have to be given away. But let's just say that you are winning because you beat the person who chimed in 6th.

Just leave a comment with your blog name and email address and I won't publish the private information. Pinky promise.

I'll send you a picture if you want one, but the details of the giveaway are totally up to you. Like, "Win a copy of Redefining Home and a packet of 6 matching floral pot holders." Comment below.

Giveaways are fun, so even if you haven't done one, don't let them scare you. I'll mail the book, so all you have to do is host the giveaway. The world is your oyster! Carpe Diem! You are the wind beneath my wings!

Ready, set, go.

Monday, May 21, 2012

When God Called Piper Home by Julie Brawner

Julie and I have known each other for awhile now and I have been blessed by getting to read her words about God redeeming the loss of their daughter. "When God Called Piper Home," is their personal narrative as God has written it for their family. I have not personally lost a child, but reading her words has given me insight into those around me that have. The book summary is below: 

My husband and I lost our second daughter, Piper Kay, just days
before her due date in July of 2011. She was full term, a baby loved
and cared for through a normal, healthy pregnancy.

As we were faced with this tragic and heartbreaking loss, God spoke
words that became sentences and formed chapters that have become
a life-altering book.

When God Called Piper Home, by Julie Brawner, is a true story of loss
and shares the hope of Christ found in the midst of pain. The book
is made up of 12 chapters, pictures, journal entries and resources that
have helped along the way.

Our heart’s desire is that this book would touch the lives of many
and provide a hope that will last for eternity. Whether you have lost
a child, given birth to a stillborn, experienced a miscarriage, or walked
with someone who has—even if you are a mother or father of
healthy little ones—this book will minister to your soul.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A little ADHD lifeline

Even when I write about ADHD, a lump forms in my throat from inadequacies and fears. Our struggle with it is real. It is daily. It is our life. 

I wrote about our grasping for air with ADHD and have been searching for practical tools ever since. I stumbled upon this site that has some very helpful tools in coping with ADHD.

For example:

In schooling, take a word, such as "color" or "rapid" or "cargo," and write it in several different colors on a piece of paper. Ask your child to look at it until she can shut her eyes and see the letters in her head.

Sometimes, I feel like the advice for ADHD parents is more descriptive than prescriptive. In other words, the books spend more time describing my child than helping me educate and help them. I already know the issues. Trust me. In my brief perusal of Living Well with Attention Defecit, I have found several really helpful things. 

I also threw out a blog line for help with my wonderful daughter who burns 3,000 calories from movement in homeschool. People actually exhibiting patience were able to give some wonderful suggestions. The one I have found the most helpful so far has been for DHA. This tiny capsule that has helped my two ADHD children clear their minds quicker and block out back ground noise easier.  

That brings me to a few things we have figured out on our own:

1. Limit Noise. I have to remove all pencil tapping, music playing, foot sliding, and chopstick drumming. Any type of rhythmic noise makes them nervous and prone to freaking out. 

2. Calm the Aesthetics. I light a candle to help keep things calm. For both the children and for me. I also make sure the kids keep their desks clean. I put up a few things on the wall in our little homeschool room, but it does not look like a page from "Southern Living."

3. Early Meds. Take meds first thing in the morning. Our meds take about 30 minutes to kick in, so if you want a little modern day science help at the breakfast table, you have to give the meds accordingly. 

4. Give one set of instructions at a time. "Go put your shoes on." You cannot say "Go get your shoes on, throw out this paper cup, and then brush your teeth." I see panic in my son's eyes every time I try to instruct him this way. In my mind it's efficient, but to him it's overwhelming. 

5. Clear instructions. I cannot say, "Don't you think it would be a good idea to get your shoes on?" Because in his head, he is now thinking of the 15 reasons why it's not a good idea. Then he rabbit trails on one of those ideas and he ends up wrestling monsters in Idaho in his mind by the end of it all. Still having no shoes on. I just need to say to him, "Go get your black shoes on."

6. Physical Contact. When I give instructions, it has to be with my hand on their shoulder and our eyes making contact. 

7. Equip for Success. Finding something they really enjoy and equip them for success. My little dude loves putting things together using the instructions. So, now I try not to throw them away because I am the exact opposite and find instructions a rather gratuitous piece of paper. For C, I find that if I let her know that once she finishes a few problems, she can jump rope. This external motivator gets her excited to focus for a bit. 

8. Speak Slowly and Calmly when Disciplining. While I want to fly off the handle and scream back at them as they are losing control, I have to try and remain calm. I do not in fact succeed at this all the time. But when I do, I am able to diffuse a situation much faster. I find that if I can control the first 3-4 words by saying them slowly and calmly, then the rest fall into place much easier. If I start off in an elevated and rapid tone, it's pretty ugly thereafter. 

9. Encourage Often. I am not good at this. It is far easier to find ways they are disobedient or not on task. But when all I do is correct them or harp on them, there is a snowball effect and these two kids in particular have a hard time pulling themselves out from under the heap of discouragement. I am trying to get in a better habit of encouraging our whole family with the small things in a day. This becomes crucial for both C and M. 

10. Proper Expectations. We try and warn them what is going to be happening next. If we are heading out to dinner with friends, we might say, "This restaurant is going to be noisy and smokey. If it becomes too much, I want you to come to me and I will let you step outside for a bit."

I still feel like I've got a long way to go in effectively parenting my children that struggle with ADHD. I have cried, prayed, thrown pillows at the wall, lashed out, and sought counsel. I still feel like I'm on JV in figuring this all out. I would love to have others chime in on this one. Leave tips in the comments section. ADHD is a team sport and there are days that I am straight up in the wrong uniform. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Being a Christian Parent Requires Intentionality

I wrote this a few months ago for a guest post on Joy in the Blink. But I wanted to post it here to so that I can refer back to it later on. 

What does it really mean to be a Christian parent?

Does Christian parenting mean that we choose our names from the original Greek or that we put Chris Tomlin music on our pregnant wombs?

Does it mean that we say a two-line prayer before dinner and paint our nurseries like a Noah's ark petting zoo?

I think our calling as a Christian parent is hard, complicated, and full of satisfaction. What a privilege that the Lord has given us as parents!

Here is just one of the many ways to separate us as Christian parents, instead of just nice moral ones:

Find ways to intentionally build Scripture into our days.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 is going to encourage us to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and might. And we are to teach these things diligently to our children. Loving the Lord is not something our kids learn simply by proximity of Christian parents or a good children's program at church. We have to instruct our kids in the ways of the Lord. This will require a lot of work on our part. If, as Dt. 6 says, we are to talk about the Lord when we sit in our house and walk along the way, then we have to give our children the raw materials to be able to talk about. 

The Story Book Bible is a great beginning story Bible to get your kids to understand that the whole of the Bible is about Jesus. From beginning to end, Jesus is being announced as King. And don't just assume that because there is a cute picture of Jesus simultaneously petting a lamb and a child on the cover of a children's storybook Bible that the theology is great. So many children's Bibles jack up the stories and make them very man-centered. Do your homework and stick with the kid's Bibles that actually keep God central. This is an important foundation in building a solid theological foundation in kids.

The Desiring God children's curriculum will help you as a family begin to talk about theology. While there are lots of good children's ministries out there, we find that most don't assume your kids can handle theology. We have found that kids can actually handle the bigger truths of God with relative ease when it's communicate at their level. This curriculum does a fantastic job of just that. We talked about the omniscience and sovereignty of God with our 4 year old. It gives our kids a chance to move beyond David and Goliath and sink deep into a rich understanding of God. Choose a night a week for a family time of worship. Go through this together. Sing, pray, confess and plead to the Lord together.  

The Westminster Catechism for kids is a series of questions and answers for our kids to set in their hearts. Basic fundamentals like "Who Made You?" and your child would reply with "God." 

Seeds of Worship is a worship album of Scripture that don't make me want to pound someone when my kids want to listen to them over and over again. I love hearing my kids sing Eph. and John as they run through the house wearing only a feather boa and their underwear.

Memorize Scripture together. Desiring God has Fighter verses that will give you plenty to work through. Make it fun by giving them characters that move through an enchanted forest each time they get a verse done. At the end, go get ice cream or have a pizza party together.

Justin Taylor had loads of resources at Gospel Coalition for families too.  And he is way smarter than me, so head over there and check it out. 

Will people look at you strange when your child is singing, "Who is the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God!" in Target? Probably. But people find it cute when a four-year old sings "All the Single Ladies."

We need to start redeeming the minds and hearts of our children at a young age. Sometimes we have people who give us a hard time about the amount of Scripture we try to build into our kids. When Dt. 6 uses the word "diligently," I see no other way around it. The world is offering my littles a buffet of temptations and I need to remind them that the Word of the Lord is the only thing that will feed their souls. They aren't going to learn this on their own. It is our responsibility as parents to breathe this into them. These are the children the Lord has entrusted to us for a time. It's only for a season. A very brief season. 

Let's take this season back from what the world is offering them and give it to the Lord so that He can write His promises into their souls.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Broken Arms and Broken Places

I am sitting in Hong Kong with my 6 year old and using the word "lovies." It sounds clumsy coming from my American vocal cords, but here in the land of British English, it seems awkwardly appropriate.   This little jaunt across the water started on Tuesday in an unfortunate ripstick accident. A ripstick is a wobbly skateboard. As if skateboards weren't a tragic enough invention on their own.  

My 6 year old lovey broke her arm in two places and we wound up jamming our pores with the unmentionables of a Chinese hospital. As far as cultural issues are concerned, hospitals have received the #1 Most Frustrating Place award. In the entire galaxy. You rush around waving money and dangling limbs until a doctor tells you to sit down. There was a brief moment when I screamed at a doctor on this particular visit.

 For those in the Western world, please don't ever complain about healthcare. I promise that you are well taken care of. My daughter sat crammed into a room of various ailments while a friend pushed her way to pay. You will not be seen until money is paid. Period. No manner of screaming 6-year-olds with dislocated, multiple fractured arm is going to change that. Cue angry mother and her raging discourse at the doctor. There are pro's and con's to being a Chinese speaker now. 

But outside there was freshly squeezed orange juice for 80 cents. Please disregard the woman in pink sweat pants and ruffly scarf turban. She is probably dying of leprosy, but forgot her bank card and had to return home to die in a pile of her own flesh.

After carrying my daughter up and down multiple flights of stairs while her hand is bundled in a green baby blanket and denim belt strap, we were sent to hospital #2. The break was too complicated for hospital #1 and they couldn't fix it. Off to a taxi and more stairs. I'm trying to remain Godly, but bad words are starting to eeek their way out of my mouth. I am praying that I don't harbor cultural bitterness over all of this. But it is hard. Desperately hard. 

We were advised to seek medical care in Hong Kong. We left the hospital tired and crying. All of us. I tried to be strong, but found myself weeping uncontrollably like I had just seen the movie "My Girl" again. We headed out the next morning with her arm still very much broken, but wrapped in gauze.

The doctors in Hong Kong have been amazing. The Lord has been good in His care of our family. Minus the taxi driver that drove by flicking the steering wheel intermittently with his thumb and ring finger, this trip has been drama free. Oh ya, there was also that one moment where the broken English speaking nurse told my daughter in her drooping hospital gown, "Oooh, we close gown, you look too sexy!"

We head to the doctor one more time tomorrow and then fly out that night. We leave with thankful hearts and weary bodies. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Adoption Link-Ups. The Intensely Necessary

Adoption link-ups. We're delving into some intensely necessary blog posts here:

10 Misconceptions about Adoption

She takes some of the major misconceptions swimming around adoption like, people who adopt are saintly. She sheds light on 10 ways that people just might have a wrong understanding of adoption.

Facing Birth Mother Discussions Without Fear
A candid discussion on birth mothers. She lists out 7 things to keep layered in your mind as you breach this conversation.

1. Know what it was; what it wasn’t. The questions Reed asked and the things he said in his wondering about Michele didn’t hurt me at all (other than the fact that he was hurting). Why?

BECAUSE NONE OF IT WAS ABOUT ME. This knowing is what enables me to be fully present for my children during such times. This point is key for adoptive parents to get, deep down in our bones. This was about my son and his innermost feelings. He will have them whether or not I am comfortable with him having them. The question is, can he trust me to feel them on the outside of himself?

Explaining China's One Child Policy in My Daughter's Lifebook

[Editor's Note: Many adoptive parents struggle with explaining the "whys" behind their child's relinquishment. The trend to create a Lifebook -- think baby book but for a child brought into a family by adoption -- tries to address some of that in a physical, you-can-touch-and-see-it way. Ellen at The Daily Grind shares how she tackled the difficult subject of China's "One Child Policy" in her daughter's Lifebook. She does it with simplicity and grace that could be used for other complex adoption situations, thus making this post a must read for adoptive parents. -Jenna]

Exclusionary Exclusions: Will Adoption Gain Me Access to the Moms' Club?

A very honest post about infertility and the desire to be a mom. 

Well, it's official... of all the girls that I became friends with on Soul Cysters, I am now the ONLY ONE who has not become pregnant.
The only one. The only one. The only one.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Why Travel When You Can Live There?

These are our friends from our seminary days. Back when we were foot loose and fancy free with only three kids per family. We swapped off on date nights in which we would tote around 6 kids and tell people that we had birthed 3 sets of twins. I've just started reading this book and I've enjoyed the way he takes us through the early days to learning to navigate in a new country to the comparisons made even while eating toast.

Why Travel When You Can Live There? Thailand  is a Travel/Adventure narrative about one author's first time living overseas. Making the move from North America to Southeast Asia is a big leap! Follow along on his journey into the international community, "...the faux pas, the goofs, the gaffs, and being the foreigner who sometimes got it all wrong."

I asked Rick a few questions about the writing process and generally making a fool of yourself in foreign countries:

1. Why did you decide to write "Why Travel When You Can Live There? Thailand"?

I started blogging recently and loved writing! I got such positive feedback from readers that I decided to write about our experiences in Thailand, our first time living overseas, with an eye toward a series of books about the countries we’ve lived in. That’s why I’m already calling this my first book - the second is finished and the third is in the works!

2. Tell us about one of your first culture shock experiences. A "We're not in Kansas anymore" moment.

How about the really beautiful womman in the women's clothing department that I thought was perfectly at home until he coughed and spoke to his friend with a man's voice. A SHIM!!!!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Homemade Powdered Sugar

On this side of the pond, creative cooking rules the day. I find a sick delight in finding a recipe that is laced with things I can't find here and changing them up so that they are "China-friendly." 

Note to self: I don't measure things. I just dump and hope. If you take sugar and stick it in a good blender, turn it on, beat it to a pulp for 2 minutes or so, then you'll get powdered sugar. That's the end of it. I usually pick up the blender and shake it with much vigor. I usually make powdered sugar after being in a train station and 57 people cut in line in front of me. This is a safer form of aggression than what I come up with in my brain. 

As a fun side note, when you blend sugar, it starts smoking and you feel like a real chef. Until you realize that your 6-year old could do this. And so you look for other reasons to feel good about yourself for the day. Like "Hey, I was only 2 weeks  late on paying rent this week!" Or "I'm not washing my jeans again because it makes me feel like I've lost weight!" 

And then your self-elation can begin again. 

You'll want to mash your hands around in it after blending the sugar to make sure it doesn't feel like you'd flossing your teeth with sand. 

And then you can make things like these cinnamon rolls. You can also find the irony in telling your children, "No, you can't have cookies for breakfast! We are having cinnamon rolls."

Then you'll add color to said powdered sugar that will make your 4-year old son believe you have grown a cape and turned into a super hero overnight. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

It's Only 5 Children...Seriously

We have 5 children. We do not have 83 children.

There are lots of things that also come in fives and yet people do not seem to be freaking out and saying ridiculous things about fingers, Olympic rings, vowels, or the Jacksons.

Yet, people don't walk around, furrowed brow, looking like they just ate a solid cube of mayonaise when talking about any of these things that come in fives. And it's not just here in China, we got this in America too." I cannot believe you have 5 kids." Or "Are you like the Duggars?" Yes, we are just like the Duggars, minus 15 children and a uterus that is going to need to be stapled. I have a ton of respect for that family, but my goodness, we are no where near that volume of children.

For some reason big families trip people out. And I honestly don't understand people's consternation with others who decide to have big families. I am not asking them to come over in pity and do my laundry. I know how we got to this point and as a matter of fact, it took a ton of intentionality for #5 to enter our family through adoption. Adoptions don't just happen by accident.

I know so many large families that love the Lord and are obedient citizens. They aren't contributing to global warming any more than someone's soccer-mom-Hummer. And most of them aren't draining the welfare system in a  Grape Nut like fashion.

It wasn't that long ago that families were large because of the world running mostly through agriculture. Children are a blessing. The day they become a burden is the same day that big families become obnoxious I guess. I don't understand that, but I think that is what's going on. As we were winding down our dance party tonight, I remember thinking, "I love the chaos that comes with big families. I love the laughter, the love, the stories, the bathroom jokes."

I wouldn't trade this for the world.

I would love to hear how other bigger families respond when people say totally awkward things to them. I'm sure they are much more loving than the ones I've come up with. If you see a large family, don't tell them they have their hands full. They know that. Trust me. And please don't mention all the con's you can think of when having a big family. Because there are also a lot of pro's and we have other things to do besides correcting people's opinions of big families. Like laundry. Lots and lots of laundry.

If you haven't seen this, take a look. There is nothing hypothetical about this scenario. People actually say these things.

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