Thursday, April 28, 2016

Almost May Day!

Reading . . . Life-Giving Home by Sally Clarkson.  Amazing inspiration, she says what I think deep in my mind but could never put into words.

Playing . . . a fun game called "organize the house in my spare time."

Watching . . . Whatever Jer happens to have on- The Office most recently.

Trying . . . to plan homeschool for next year.

Cooking . . . night off tradition- blackened fish, kale, (new recipe) cornbread.

Drinking . . . not enough water.

Calling . . . no one.  I never have quiet time to talk on the phone.

Texting . . . some special friends who have been keeping me supported during these months of uncertainty, with daily encouragement.

Pinning . . . home decoration ideas and lots of yummy things I want to eat.

Crafting . . . a beautiful broom closet to make my days of cleaning happy!

Doing . . . Lots of praying and talking about the future.

Going . . . to swim lessons for Forest every day.  And he is ready to swim so they are so fun!

Loving . . . some new routines and how they change our days.  Load of laundry done start to finish each day.  Taking extra time and effort to dress nicely each day.

Hating . . . the 90 degree temps that are back to stay.  And humidity. But it means berry picking and new sunglasses.  Volleyball tournament and swimming pool!

Discovering . . . a newly rediscovered enjoyment for John Grisham novels.

Enjoying . . . more music in our school days.  Classical.  Raffi and folk kids music for fun.

Thinking . . . A lot about next year and all the details surrounding it.

Feeling . . . ready for decisions to be made and the course to be clear.

Hoping for . . . clear answers this next week.

Listening . . . to little people quietly playing in bed.

Celebrating . . . little days and little things.

Spelling . . . lots of words to Forest, who has caught the reading bug!  YAH!

Thanking . . . a former co-worker for affordable swim lessons for Forest.  Friends for endless support during these last couple months.  Co-workers for sharing their snuggly little babies!

Finishing . . . school in four weeks.  YAH YAH YAH!  And there is no way the kids are more excited than the teacher.  No way.

AND!  Shannon and Forest ran their first 5k!!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hello There!

Thanks to my friend Melissa for a fun reminder that I don't have to wait until I have piles to write or time to be thoughtful. . . so a fun update time.  In randomness.

WHAT WE'RE EATING THIS WEEK- Pantry clean-up creativeness this week since grocery day is Friday.  Chicken curry with rice or noodles is a family favorite.  And lots of veggies- trying to get our numbers up there.  Kids love chopped up cucumbers (Aldi has some really good tasting small "English" ones), bell peppers and carrots.  Naval oranges are on sale this time of year, so lots of them too!

WHAT I'M REMINISCING ABOUT- Hmm.  Heidi as a baby I suppose.  Some really cute pictures of her popped up on my Facebook "timehop" and that combined with new Ranch babies makes me nostalgic.  I'm glad to be out of baby stage (so weird to say that and realize it's true . . . ) but if I could push a button and hold my baby for an hour or two?  I'd do it in a heartbeat.

WHAT I'M LOVING- Wearing my boots every day!  Warm temps will be here soon and time to pack away the scarfs and boots.  Enjoying them a lot now.  Coconut oil for dry and chapped hands.  Carrot juice to quench thirst and make me feel healthy.

WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO- Normal school days.  Working on diligence and discipline.  Lots of indoors time with cooler temperatures.

WHAT I'M DREADING- Can't really think of anything though there must be something!

WHAT I'M WORKING ON- Cleaning out and purging our house. For the last month, I've just felt this huge push or need (but no idea why) to downsize and clean out and simplify.  More than I normally do!  So I've been using the tiny blocks of time here and there to empty drawers, shelves, baskets, etc.  Cleaned out our side yard and the "boys toys" - threw out piles of plastic junk, nerf guns that were broken, etc.  Feels so good and makes me want to get to more!

WHAT I'M EXCITED ABOUT- Two new babies here at the Ranch this week and I get to do baby pictures!!!!  And then practice my lightroom skills!  Summer vacation!!!!  Okay, that's many months away but we all look forward to it so much!

WHAT I'M WATCHING/READING- Not a tv or movie person, but often Jer watches before bed and I half pay attention.  We are watching The Office.  Again.  Reading goes in spurts for me, depending on tiredness.  But I've been keeping up with my Bible reading and really being diligent with that.  Loving Sally Clarkson's newest book "The Lifegiving Home" and working slowly through her "Own Your Life" book.  Also slowly reading "The Fringe Hours."

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO- Not much.  I find the older I get, the more I need a break from the constant noise.  So instead of turning on music, I turn it off and let my ears ring in silence.  3 kids plus 6 boys does not equal much quiet.

WHAT I'M WEARING- Jeans and a comfy purple shirt.  3/4 sleeves because after a month of "winter," I'm feeling claustrophobic in all those clothes!  Yes, I'm turning into a Florida wimp!

WHAT I'M DOING THIS WEEKEND- Working!  48 hour stretch with the boys.  Groups for lunch and dinner.  Hopefully it will feel warm enough to enjoy being outside rather than being miserable outside!


WHAT ELSE IS NEW- Not much.  Feeling very heavy burdened for my parents and their girls who need a family.  For my little guy who needs a mom to advocate for him and love him and teach him.  Things that are starting to feel hopeless.  I have a bracelet that says "never lose HOPE" and I'm wearing it for this month of lent, as a reminder to pray for those two things and one other big prayer request I have.  Praying to not lose hope and for visible answers!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Forever Homes

Hello Friends!  I was going to do a catch-up post with random pictures and this still may turn into that.  But on my mind so much lately is the need for kids to have families.  How sad is a world filled with kids who just want someone to lovingly tuck them into bed at night?  I know I'm preaching to the choir- I know most of my dearest friends have hearts for the orphans too.  I just need to get it off my chest.

My parent's process of adoption continues . . . .the US Embassy in Ethiopia has things at a standstill at this point. They need to finish "verifying" the kids' orphan status (Despite having already done so for the other three kids in the family) and nothing has been done about it in over a month. Once this is done (seriously, should take someone having a meeting and be done in an hour), they receive the final paperwork they need and can get a court date!  And go get their little girls!!  Pray pray pray!

This is Cindy, the mom adopting the other three, with Musteryia, age 5.

Musteryia and Flower (9)

The girls have three siblings who have been adopted by another family at the same church.  They are Restem (15 boy), Emane (11 girl) and Anthonia (7 boy).  Joyfully, they are home today!  I can't imagine what shock these kids must be in.  They've been getting to know their adoptive parents for the past three weeks, while they've been in Ethiopia with them, but now they have flown to Central NY (in winter no less) and suddenly have a whole new world to learn.  Many prayers needed for them.  Here they are with their new brother (also an adopted kid!).

Welcome to America!

My heart just hurts for all the ones left behind.  For all the ones in our own country needing families.  For the one IN MY OWN HOUSE who needs a family.  A mom to be his advocate and defender, his comforter and one who showers him with kisses.  Who disciplines in a stern yet loving way.  

I've done an awful lot of begging and appealing to God lately.  Trying to patiently and yet filled with faith, wait for him to answer in powerful ways.  

In the mean time- life is full and good here! I've been fighting a chest cold for a week.  We've been trying to be very diligent and disciplined with school work.  Boys have been a challenge this month, just some hard things to work through and to know how to deal with.  But January is at an end and February is here!  Bring on the love!

New year!  Goals have to do with Bible reading (and copying verses) and learning Lightroom.

This was dropped off at the Ranch and both my kids and Ranchers are enjoying!

Enjoying some pre-lunch hiking into our back yard wilds!

Some "school" work from Forest.

Trying to stay warm on some cold Florida days.  BRRRR!

We have an extra family member on Sunday afternoons!

Thanks Uncle Dean for really cool gifts from Africa!

One of my boys requested a minecraft cake.  

Sweet Sisters!

Working on a read-aloud challenge and got some new books.

This one lost a first tooth!

Another Sunday adventure- introducing him to things like FIVE GUYS!  

This one wore this dress for over a week straight. 

A peek into my life . . . "make sure you check your bed and put the pillow on it."  "Yes Ma'me."  
Does it look like he listened and obeyed?

Suddenly it was in the mid 60's and we burst outside!

"We are starting a pet store.  And we won't ever give up."

I was paid for one of my photo-shoots with a Target card . . . and so I splurged on new things for the kitchen.  New dishtowels, new drying mat, new drying rack.  Things that look nice but weren't "necessities" and I'm too stingy to ordinarily buy.

Secret Agent Shannon turned 8!

And a little sass going on here :)  In a good way!  (Note:  still in princess dress)

So if you made it this far . . . all in all, moving on!  I have a lot on my heart- praying about it and waiting to see where God moves with things.  Love!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Men Needed

Not such a good blogger these days, eh?  All in seasons of life I suppose.

But life is well and moving right along!  Today my heart is heavy with thoughts of "my boys."  We've had an interesting year so far, as I suppose they all are, in their own ways.  So here's what our 2 1/2 months have been like!  A few words here and at the end, and a whole lotta pictures thrown in!

First night back- alligator spotting!

We started the year with three returning boys.  And gained two new little ones- one just turned 10 and one who celebrated his 9th birthday with us.  By far our youngest {and youngest in maturity} cottage ever.  Those of you who have or had 10 year old boys, this is similar except subtract 2-3 years of maturity from them.  In the course of August-October, one of those boys was moved out of the cottage, so we were down to four.

(One of our little guys wants to learn to whip because he saw Jeremiah doing it.  I won't tell you how hard I laughed when he kept whipping himself because he wouldn't follow directions!)

THEN Our boys (and our) beloved teacher had to take a two-month leave to take care of her elderly father.  We have a delightful substitute but it's not the same.  This is also a lot of transition for little guys who come from very unstable homes.  The boys are doing well, all things considered.

 Celebrating Heidi's birthday!

Some work detail!

Celebrating this little guy's 9th birthday!!

He quickly became Heidi's best friend- maybe because he is so close to her size? 

More work detail- learning how to install a floor (Forest's room) like a man!

Finally getting some consistency in his room inspection!  Stickers!  Yah!

More random spapshots of my day!!!

Then this week.  New little guy arrived . . . He is very young in actions and size.  Very much in need of the love and stability we offer, more so than most.  He climbed on my lap on Tuesday night, to see the choir singing during chapel.  I had Forest on one half of my lap and him on the other.  And today we lost one of our other boys, due to his mother unexpectedly pulling him out.  Nothing hurts as much as a little 9 year old breaking down sobbing when Jeremiah wrapped his arms around him, because he doesn't want to leave.

Sweet Jesus, our world is full of broken and hurting boys, in need of MEN to love and care for them.

I sure am thankful for all these years (14) working alongside Jeremiah.  He is the dad that 90% of my boys have never had, and usually the first positive relationship they've ever had with a man.  That's a high calling and a huge responsibility.  And he bears it and wears it well.  He feels each loss painfully.  He shoulders the pain of "why can't they make good decisions?" personally.  As frustrating as some of them are (and you have NO IDEA unless you've been here), it hurts him physically to lose any of them from our house.  Even when it means his life is easier.  It's pretty amazing to see someone love so deeply, little boys who aren't his own flesh and blood.

But we need more men!  More men willing to stand up and teach these BOYS to be MEN while they are still BOYS!  Boys will be foolish and sinful boys.  But that's not what we want them to stay!  In order to be MEN they need someone to teach them to be MEN!  Show them what integrity looks like.  What honesty looks like.  What it means to look a woman in the eye and give her respect and a hug, a kiss and honor her!  A man to show them how to cradle a baby and kiss a toddler's booboo's and set limits for that same little one.  

Sometimes the need is so overwhelming- we help so few boys.  And some days, it's just overwhelming how honored I am to be a part of reaching little boys with love.