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housework, communication, and more….

Here goes…starting to answer all the questions I got here.

“You take such beautiful pictures! What model camera do you use?”

Gee, thanks.  It definitely must be the camera because I have so much to learn about taking really good pics.  Anthony is a fabulous photographer, so I’m blessed to have a good teacher.  He learned photography from some of the world’s best photographers when he modeled internationally.  Me?  Sometimes I get it right, other times my pics are just awful.  We use a Nikon D90 which we bought a few years ago.  It’s an amazing camera.  What I post here on my blog is usually straight out of the camera–I don’t have time to sit and edit each and every picture.  Plus, I couldn’t really be bothered to fiddle around with them.  Thank goodness the camera gives me great pics straight from the camera.

Black and whites are easy to do and fun on some pictures.

“Why does Harper wear hair bows and Hailee doesn’t?”

Well, for the longest time I tried to grow Hailee’s bangs so that she could have pretty hair bows.  But she absolutely will have nothing to do with stuff in her hair!  A bow will last all of thirty seconds and then it’s on the floor.  It’s futile.  Haven is the same.  Hair accessories are there to be taken out in their opinion.  Harper totally doesn’t mind anything in her hair.  So bangs it is for Hailee and Haven–that way they don’t spend the day peeping through the hair that hangs in their faces.

“I would like to hear more about the little girls’ health.  I’m curious about Harpy’s heart surgery. Also, some more about Hailee’s PT/videos.”

They are both doing SO amazingly well.  Harper had her PDA (heart condition) repaired last month and recovered so quickly.  She weighs 26 pounds now and is our chunky little lovie.  She is really struggling with allergies this spring.  But other than that, she is doing well. 

Developmentally she is one smart little girl.  I will have to video all the words she is learning to show you–it’s the cutest thing.  She learns fast.  We show her how to do something and she pretty much gets it right away.  From what we can tell, Harper is going to be very high-functioning Down syndrome.  We chuckle about finding her a husband to take care of her someday.  I have no doubt that she will have some kind of a job too. 

Hailee is growing slowly but surely.  I will give a big update on her development next week when we celebrate her sixth birthday.  So I’ll wait and share a lot on Hailee next week. 

“I’d love to know how you find time for yourself.”

There was definitely a time in my life when I valued “me time.”  I was very purposeful about finding time when I could do the things I wanted to do and have alone time.  These days I am different.  I don’t feel the need to be alone very often or escape from the house to have some time to myself.  Yes, every now and then I feel like I would love to just sit in a coffee shop and read a book without any interruptions, or run to the grocery store quickly without little hands hanging onto the cart–but those times are really not very often at all. 

What I am blessed with is an incredible husband.  Anthony is so good about helping to ensure that I do get the odd moments alone.  All I need to do is tell him that I have an errand to run or something to do, and he gladly holds down the fort at home.  He is such a treasure in my life.

So to answer the question, I don’t really have or need very much “me time.”  It’s just not important to me.  God is so good to restore my energy and fill me up when I’m running on empty so that I can do what I need to do here in my home.  I don’t  feel like I need to get out of the house to get rejuvenated. 

One thing I definitely do, however, is try to make sure I take care of myself.  I try to eat well and get enough sleep.  When I’m tired and run down, my whole world feels like it’s caving in.  I am the kind of person who needs to get enough sleep or else I am a total grump–not a good thing.  I exercise as often as I can and try to eat healthy meals.  I find that when I am healthy and feel good, I am able to be a better wife and mom. 

Lots of you asked about meals and what I feed my family.  I will share that in a post of its own soon.

“I’m so curious about how you communicate with Haven.”

That’s a really good question.  Haven has been home for two and a half years now.  In that time we have learned how to communicate with her.  She refuses to use sign language (at this stage).  She still will not acknowledge any need (part of her PTSD).  But she definitely does show us when she has an opinion on something.  If we ask her whether she would like to go outside, or eat something, or sit in a certain place, for example, she will either shake her head or nod. 

We have learned how she is doing and what her needs are simply by knowing Haven.  We know the things she hates and the things she likes.  We know when she’s afraid or when she’s happy.  We just know. 

I have said it so many times here on my blog about Haven, but it really is so true….words are not necessary.  It’s amazing how much we can communicate simply by being

We get asked a lot about whether Haven understands English.  The answer to that is yes she does.  She absolutely can understand simple commands and sentences.  If we tell her, “Haven, it’s time for a bath,” or “Haven, please bring your dirty clothes to the laundry,” she will follow through with the instruction.  Anything more than a few words gets confusing to her, so we keep it really simple.  Kind of like you would communicate with a toddler.

I guess like any child who is non-verbal or struggles with verbal communication, you just learn to know what they need, what they think about something, and how they feel.  Like all things, God gives us the grace to do the things He calls us to do.

“Did Haven ever communicate with words before the trauma happened to her in the orphanage?”

That we really do not know.  We adopted Haven after her first adoption ended in a disruption.  The first family who legally adopted her only had her for five days before returning her to the orphanage in China.  She never came to America.  We do know from them that Haven was non-verbal when they adopted her (it was one of the main reasons why they felt that they could not parent her).  Haven was six at the time.  Her history before that is really just a big black hole.  We have no idea.

In all her adoption paperwork that we got with her referral it does state there that she was saying words as little girl.  But who really knows if that was true?  Anyone who has ever adopted knows all too well that you take that information with a grain of salt.  There was a whole lot of information given to us that we know was not factual.  But that’s just how it goes when you consider adopting a child–they are either your child or they aren’t…no matter what is written on the paperwork you get, no matter what is “wrong” with them.  Hang on to all the information you get from the orphanage very loosely.

So we really do not know about Haven’s history and at what point she stopped speaking.

We only know that she is amazing…just the way she is.

“Do you get help in your housecleaning?”

Nope!  That would be lovely, but we do it all ourselves.  Before I had a large family I used to be obsessed with having a meticulously clean home.  These days?  Not so much.  I love having a clean house, but it is not the be-all-end all.  As many of you know, the job is never done.  I have had to try and find a balance in it all over the years.

Anthony is an amazing help around the house.  A blessing.  Our kids also have chores that they do.  For example, they all do their own laundry.  I wash the clothes, but then each child is responsible for folding and putting their own clothes away.  They are required to keep their bedrooms neat and tidy and to help keep the bathrooms presentable.  The older kids help with the dishwasher and other more difficult chores.  Everyone in our home is expected to help out.  I want to train my girls to be good housekeepers and my sons to know that helping out is a good thing–I want them to be helpful husbands to their wives someday.

Housework is a team effort around here. 

“Are you open to adopt more children?”

I got tons of e-mails asking me this question.

Yes, of course, we are.  We would feel so blessed if the Lord grew our family again.  We consider children a gift from the Lord as it says in Psalm 127:3.  Some translations call children a “reward.”  I love that. 

Our hearts are so open to more children if God ever called us to adopt again.  We surrendered our lives completely to the Lord and the path that He has chosen for our lives a very long time ago. 

I’ll talk a lot more about adoption, our journey, the calling, the siblings, and everything else, soon.