Trying out my new picture program

















Random moments around the house

That's a "Madeline Hug" for you!

That’s a “Madeline Hug” for you!'s never ending!!!'s never ending!!!

If she could get any more squeezier...or stubborn???

If she could get any more squeezier...or stubborn???


Madeline's end result


Garmai...feelin' a little sick after her first sleepover and a contraband bowl of Lucky Charms!
Garmai…feelin’ a little sick from her first sleepover and contraband bowl of Lucky Charms!
How old does Emma look???

She's getting too old too fast!!!I am a beauty!


Christmas tree...compliments of Grandpa No-Hair and Nana!

Good clean-up!

Good clean-up!

I know I can still fit on this pillow!

I know I can still fit on this pillow!

Only short boys can even try to do this! Looks comfortable, huh?

Only short boys can even try to do this! Looks comfortable, huh?

Pictures, pictures, pictures!

Its exciting times around our household!  I found a new, already micro-braided, kind of extensions to put in the girls hair!  A gal at Virginia’s Hair Salon showed me some ways to put it in that will stay for a LONG time!  Praise the Lord!  I’m 2/3 of the way done with Garmai’s and so far I think its turning out good!  Might not last the 4 months that a professional could get it to hold, but its my first time!  And, with Travis’ side having pictures of all the great grandkids taken on Saturday, it comes at a great time!  The girls will all have long tiny little braids for the first time and can fix it just as you would straight hair like mine. (pony tail, keep it down, pigtails, partially up…the potentials are endless!)  🙂  They all feel instantly beautiful when they have hair they can fling over their shoulder!

Such cuties!  Its serving as a nice distraction too, from the girls’ moods!  Love it!

My hero!

I tell you, in the wake of Maria’s visit we have had one of the most turbulent weeks in a while!  The girls are emotionally super charged (non-stop rollercoasters) and Travis and I can’t seem to do much of anything right…more me than Travis, but as my mom said, “The kids feel safest taking things out on you!”  Although I know that is a good thing, it makes for a really hard week! 

Last night all three girls had nightmares and ended up in my bed!  Garmai came first, then Madeline, and then Emma early this morning.  When Emma came in she first sat down and said, “Mom, I went downstairs to see if you were down there and just so you know, Madeline is sitting on a chair with the fridge door open drinking juice she’s not supposed to have!”  Up to that point I had been squished, pushed, had to listen to arguing about who’s hand was hitting who in the face…but by the time I found out that Madeline was having her own little smorgasborg (sp?) downstairs, I was beyond annoyed!  As soon as I got downstairs I heard Madeline go running.  She tried to make up some crazy excuse about having drank the juice by accident (Its amazing the kinds of unfortunate life experiences she has by mere accident!), and before she could finish I ordered her to the couch!  I was not about to go back up in between Emma and Garmai, as I knew I wouldn’t get any sleep.  I also was not about to lay down with Madeline, as I also knew I would not get any sleep!  So I said, “You get on that couch and I am laying down on this couch!  If you get off that couch…well, you don’t want to find out what will happen if you get off that couch!”  She asked, “Can you rub my back and sing me a song,” to which I replied, “Not a chance honey, close your eyes and go to sleep!”

When Travis got off work at 7am, two hours after the kitchen incident, I begged him to go volunteer for me at Monroe, and he ended up being the hit of the class!  The kids loved him!  Then tonight, I went and got movies for the girls, dropped everyone off after school, and Travis said, “Go do anything you want tonight. You can have the whole evening to yourself and I’ll hang with the girls and watch Tinkerbell!”  How amazing is he?!  So, I did a little early Christmas shopping!  And I have to say, escaping the non-stop moodiness of our household this week was like winning the lottery…except I was a really tired lottery winner!  I came home and Travis was doing laundry, had the kids fed, happy and in bed, kitchen was emaculate, and I decided that there is little else as sexy as that sight!  Men should really catch on to this! 🙂

Nightime fears and slobbery dogs!

Its so neat to watch God work in your kids’ lives!  And its especially fun when you see Him do it so creatively!  Madeline, ever since she came, has had a lot of separation anxiety, especially at nightime.  When she first came she wouldn’t even lay down in her bed unless you were right above her and she had her arms wrapped around your neck…and you’d have to gently lift her hands off your neck so you could stand up, hoping she wouldn’t wake up.  She was often very quick to notice your absence.  If you weren’t hovered over the top of her she was crawling up on your stomach.  I probably couldn’t even count the number of nights I had where she slept on my stomach all night long.  I don’t know how exactly I slept through the night, but I’m sure I was tired enough in those early days.  She just hated being separated from my body (her heart rate would even increase while totally asleep, when you would take your hand off of her), and I often joke about Madeline being like an extra apendage.  She’s finally getting to a place where she doesn’t want to be carried everywhere, and its about time!  50 pounds isn’t like carrying around a little feather!

img_2081So, several months ago she began having nightmares, and was terrified to be in her room alone in the dark.  She came into my room one night convinced she had seen a dark man in our bedroom that was scaring the girls.  Well, one of the books I recently read gave a great idea for this issue.  They said to walk them around the house at night, helping you lock the doors.  Then, talk them through all of the safety features of the house.  I tell Madeline, “You are in a safe house, in a safe room, the doors are locked, the windows are locked, Daddy and I are downstairs, the dogs keep watch and bark when they hear anybody outside.  And Daddy would kick somebody’s butt if they ever tried to hurt you!”  That last one always gives her a giggle!  img_3537

Well, just about the time I began doing that with her, Dudley (our bassett hound) began sleeping right outside her door…kind of like he was guarding her door.  She has a habbit now of asking where Dudley is whenever we are saying goodnight, and he is always right there outside her door.  And tonight Grover continuously pushed his way into her bedroom and curled up on her sleeping bag on the floor.  That’s the first time I’ve ever seen Grover do that!  She laid in bed tonight smiling, looking totally at peace.


WACSN comes to Iowa


Auntie Maria, as the girls call her, (she is the director of the organization that ran the girls’ orphanage) is traveling to many different cities around the country, visiting with the families that have adopted kids through their organization.  Its been exciting for her to get to visit with the kids and see where they live, so that she can take word back to any living relatives on how the children are doing.  Plus, she has always gotten to pass the children to their new parents, never seeing how they are doing down the road, so that was a real blessing to her.  The picture below is the group of Liberian kids in Iowa, singing in a kids choir before Maria spoke.  We had one (Emma) make it to stage and actually stay for all the songs, one (Garmai) who panicked last minute and sat with her face buried in our lap while the rest of the kids sang, and one (Madeline) who was singing and dancing when she first got up there (like there wasn’t another person in the room), then all the sudden stood with a total deadpan face after realizing the whole crowd of people was staring at her!  I went up and she quickly jumped off stage and sat with me, then she followed me up on stage when I went up to be with Emma at the end, so she wasn’t totally alone.  You’ll see this all in the pics.

Maria’s visit was great, so amazing to have a piece of Africa come to the girls.  I think it meant the most to Emma, to hear about her mother, and to find out that she will be really easy to locate if she wants to go back and find her when she gets older.  But I think the reality of what adoption truly means is beginning to set in for Emma (and the reality that she is going to have to say good-bye to that part of her life…she hasn’t really done that yet.)  I think she has deeply desired to connect with and attach to us, but she’s had a lot of grief and anger over how out of control she’s felt and the pain she’s lived through.  She hides her pain and fear behind this wall of anger, which it seems like is kind of coming to a head.  Her anger and control issues are intensifying daily, and from all I’ve read, if a child is putting all their energy towards controlling their environment then they are not directing energy towards attaching, which I know she wants, she’s just scared and angry.

One thing I’ve noticed about Emma is that she always needs for someone to be responsible for what she feels.  If she feels sad then you did something to hurt her.  If she feels angry its because you did something to make her mad.  And I can totally understand where that comes from given all of the pain she has been through at the hands of other human beings, but boy is that a hard wall to break through.  Learning how to see situations through another person’s eyes, and trust their love and intentions, is going to be a long process for her.  She often can’t, and isn’t willing (and she’ll let you know that), to hear a different perspective, even if its going to be a good thing in the end.  And since Maria’s visit, and our talk about saying good-bye, the issues have probably tripled for her!  Makes it hard for everyone around her, but I know she is in so much pain right now too!

She looked so cute at her concert though.  Garmai and Emma both had a friend from school come to see them sing, and Emma’s tutor and Garmai’s school teacher also came, along with family and our friend Ruth down the street!  All in all it was a great time.  We had one night where we did a potluck, and Ruth actually sent a whole Liberian meal for us to take for our portion of the food!  Everyone raved over it!  And the kids did double dutch jump rope almost the entire night with all the other Liberian kids and their siblings.  It was great to watch!