Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy 18th Birthday, Jonathan!

Jonathan rarely allowed himself to be photographed,
thus the date on this one!
Today is our oldest son's 18th birthday.  When we first met Jonathan, he was 6 years old...almost 7.  My how time has flown by!  Jonathan is a senior in high school this year and doing well by all accounts.  He has taken up crocheting in his spare time, as well as reading and listening to music.

The following post was written on December 26. I didn't post it then, but for those who are interested, you can read it now.  It pertains to Jonathan.  It is entitled, "When Love is Not Enough".

Happy 18th Birthday, Jonathan...we miss you and love you very much!!

I've been mulling over this post for quite some time now.  It's hard to put it into words, but I know someone, somewhere, needs to read this.  You see, sometimes, love just is not enough.

Yesterday was a happy day at our house, filled with love, joy, gifts, good food, and family.  Except for one.  You see, our oldest son, who turns 18 in just a few short days, will not be in any of our Christmas pictures this year.  He does not live with us right now, and hasn't for over three months. The reality is, he may never live with us again, but most certainly not for at least a year.  Out of respect for his privacy, I won't go into detail here about the why, but he is in a residential treatment program.  Prior to that, he spent three weeks in juvenile detention.  Prior to that, he and his choices wrecked havoc on our family for 9 months of 2012.  Harsh?  Maybe, but it's the truth.

What's also true is that I love my son very much.  He became a part of our family when he was six years old.  For almost 11 years we loved him and taught him and guided him and loved him some more.  But it wasn't enough.  It wasn't enough to break the hold his past has on his heart and spirit.  We don't know exactly what has a hold on him, but we know he and his biological brother are what are called in the adoption world, "wounded children".  There are many books written on how to "love the wounded child" and "parent the wounded child".  But sometimes, love is not enough.

We went to visit our son yesterday with my parents, his grandparents.  We drove 45 minutes one way to the facility only to be "refused" by our son.  He has rights, too, you know, and his refusal to have contact with us is his trump card right now.  But we wanted him to know that we loved him, and so we made the trip anyway, in hopes that maybe, he would change his mind.  But he didn't.  And it was hard.  Very hard.  For sometimes, love is not enough.

Where am I going with this post?  I don't know.  Except to say that adoption and parenting, and especially adoption parenting, is tough.  Sometimes, really tough.  But even if our son chooses to never see us again, I believe that he was placed in our lives for a reason.  I also believe that we have loved him the best way that we knew how, and it was our love that pushed for him to have this one last chance before "adulthood" to get help for his wounded heart.  Will he understand that one day?  I hope so.  But for now, we face the reality that sometimes, our love is not enough.

But we pray that, someday, our son WILL recognize that GOD'S LOVE is ALWAYS enough.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Little Angel

Last Sunday, Sophia's class made these really neat angel wings out of paper plates.  They actually have elastics where the arms go through so they can be worn for dressing up.  Of course, Sophia wasn't really into them at all, but Nathaniel was!  He wanted to try them on right away, so I took some photos by our Christmas tree of our little angel.  Enjoy!

I just can't get enough of those baby blues!!


My little angel!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy 5th Birthday, Sophia!

Our beautiful Taiwanese princess turns 5 years old today!  We are so proud of all of her accomplishments in the past year.  She started school almost a year ago, and loves it!  She has made progress with the use of her right hand and arm after two rounds of botox and occupational therapy.  She is making more and more vocalizations which every now and then approximate words.  She is even "singing" at times, which we love to hear, and she has recently started Music Therapy which she really enjoys.  She loves her Sunday School and Word of Life classes at church, and her favorite toys are her baby dolls and her grocery cart--which she pushes through the house at breakneck speeds!  Sophia brings us much joy and we can't wait to see what next year brings!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What's Missing?

First tooth...lost at five years of age (with a little help from his big brother!)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gettysburg Field Trip

Last Friday (which seems like eons ago what with the craziness of this week's storm!), Benjamin and I went on a field trip to Gettysburg, PA.  We had planned this trip for awhile with my sisters and their home schooled children.  Both of my sisters live overseas most of the time, so cramming U.S. History information and trips was a priority for them these last several months.  I happen to love visiting Gettysburg, but had not been there since the new visitor's center was completed.  So I was more than happy to introduce Benjamin to the Battle of Gettysburg.

After a quick stop for breakfast, we started our day at the new Visitor's Center and Museum.  It was AWESOME!  The movie they show was well done.  It prepared you perfectly for the layout of the museum and what you were going to experience as you walked through the labyrinth of exhibits.  From the movie we went to the Cyclorama of Pickett's Charge.  If you have never seen this, it is so worth the trip!  There are only two of these 360 degree paintings left in our country.  They used to travel with these paintings around the country before motion pictures and television in order to show people the scenes of famous battles and such.  That in and of itself was an education for our kiddos!

Since the battlefield at Gettysburg is part of a national park, we took advantage of the Junior Ranger program and Benjamin and I worked through several of the activities in the booklet we were given to help him learn the basics of the battle and life in the 1860's.  I think I get more excited about the Junior Ranger activities then Benjamin!  (It's the teacher in me!)  The booklet was geared to match the new museum and its layout perfectly.  We went through each day of the battle and looked for various items in the displays.  I learned a lot of interesting, new information.  The quantity of artifacts they have is quite astounding.  I was very impressed at how they really tried to help visitors see the faces behind the battle.  There were real people with real lives and real families who fought and died on the picturesque fields of Gettysburg those first three days of July, 1863.

After the museum and Visitor's Center, we ate a quick lunch, then headed to the wax museum where we caught our 1930's Ford Tour Car for the Kids' Tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield.  Our guide was fantastic, stopping here and there to share some "behind the scenes" tidbits for the kids...and the adults! He took us through the battlefield chronologically, which was great for the kids since we had just been through the museum which was set up chronologically.  Prior to leaving the wax museum for the tour, he also taught the kids about muskets and the nine steps to loading and shooting them.  It was amazing to think that the soldiers could shoot those three times in a minute given how difficult it was!

When we returned from our tour (2 1/2 hours...well worth it!) we took a quick trip to the cemetery where Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address.  All of the cousins know that we are related to Abraham Lincoln (actually one of his brothers) so they have a strong affinity for our 16th president.  The day was coming to an end as we quietly walked through the cemetery, looking at the hundreds of headstones representing men and women who gave their lives for our freedom throughout the history of our great nation.

I was struck again by all of the "Unknown" engravings on headstones in the section of the cemetery dedicated to those who fought and died in the Battle of Gettysburg.  Each one of them represents a family who never learned the fate of their loved one.  I can't even imagine that.

Benjamin and I parted ways with my sisters after the cemetery and headed home.  We debriefed a little in the car, and I was happy with what Benjamin had taken from the day.  His favorite part was roaming the rocky terrain of Little Round Top, darting in and out from behind the boulders which would have shielded the Union forces on that fateful second day of battle.  The views from there were amazing last week.  I heard one guide share with his group how the whole battlefield could be seen from that vantage point.  Left undefended or taken in battle by the Confederates, the outcome of the Civil War would have been very different had the Union forces not held that hill.  A sobering thought...

I couldn't help but think about the historic times in which we live today, and how we are on the eve of a very important election which has the potential of determining the future fate of our great land as I revisited the life and times leading up to the Great Civil War.  Of course a lot has changed since then, but in other ways, I can't help but feel that we have not learned the lessons that we should have as a nation.  I can only hope and pray that, in the words of President Lincoln, those "dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

God Bless America!

P.S.  You can check out my sister's post on our trip here:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Making Applesauce

After picking 150 pounds of apples, and tripping over them for over a week (seriously...Sophia must have run into them a few times a day!!), it was time to make our applesauce!  Last year, we had the help of Dave's parents which made the process go much faster, but this year, we were on our own.  We set up our assembly line, and away we went!  It took the good part of a day (can anyone say "Home Ec" for homeschoolers?), but we ended up with around 50 quarts of yummy applesauce and a couple of gallons of juice.  Yum!!

Benjamin's job was to wash the apples and get them ready for Mom to quarter and boil.

He worked hard all day!

This is my work station.  I was quartering apples and putting them into two pots to boil.  When there were soft, they went to Dave in the dining room who put them through the food mill.
This is our set's not pretty, but it worked!
Here's Dave with most of our bounty!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Apple Picking 2012

Many months ago, we sadly ate the last of our applesauce from last fall.  We had frozen about 20 quarts or so, and ate it sparingly, but it was oh, so good!  So it was with great anticipation that we set out to pick apples again this fall at our local Sycamore Spring Orchard.  This time, we took along the "big pickers" as Dave and Sabastian joined in on the fun.  We ended up with 150 pounds of apples--more than twice what we picked last year--in about half an hour.  Once again we picked Empire apples, a hybrid that, picked at the perfect time, makes a pink, sweet applesauce with no extra sugar.  For fun, you can compare last year's photos with this year's photos by clicking here:  Apple Picking 2011.  Last year, Sophia wasn't walking yet, and sat in her stroller the whole time, wailing...thus no pictures of her!  This year, though, she helped us out!!

(To enlarge the collage, just click on it!)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Happy 15th Birthday, Sabastian!

A few days after celebrating a 5th birthday, we celebrated a 15th birthday in our home!  As usual, we celebrated over a few days, with cake and ice cream one day for both October birthdays, and then lunch at Arooga's another day for one of Sabastian's favs...chicken wings!  We are so proud of the young man that Sabastian is becoming.  While he's all of a 15 year old boy (smile!), he is sensitive to instruction and truly has a heart for the Lord.  We pray that he will continue to grow in grace and the knowledge of His Lord and Savior!

We love you, Sabastian James Fisher!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Happy 5th Birthday, Nathaniel!

Ever the brave one, holding a creature from the touch tank at the Visitor's Center on Assateague Island.

Five years ago today I was blessed with the birth of our youngest son, Nathaniel.  He has brought lots of fun and joy to our home, and certainly keeps us on our toes!  His sensitive spirit and loving heart mean so much to me.  He can test the boundaries with the best of them, but under it all he has a great big heart.

Happy Birthday, Little Tank!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Little Mama

Sophia loves her doll babies.  She carries them around the house and pushes them in her grocery cart.  She has a variety of skin tones represented in her dolls, and she seems to love them all pretty much the same.  I often wonder, though, what is going through her little mind when she looks at her dolls.

Pardon the half-dressed doll...this is the way they all are.  She can take off the pants but not the shirt, so they all are half clothed.  This also means we find clothing strewn from one end of the house to the other!  I love Sophia's smile in this photo...she's one happy little girl!

Friday, August 31, 2012

First Day of School

Monday was our first day of school around these here parts.  Even my ninth grader (sort of) humored me by holding a sign with his grade for the year.  Of course he then needed his "cool" photo, too.  Sophia technically started her preschool back in January, but a new year started earlier this month, so we tried to get her in on the photo action.  She didn't cooperate too well for Daddy, but later was content to push her sign around in her grocery cart...whatever works!

I am homeschooling Benjamin and Nathaniel, and so far we have completed a full five days, getting everything done that I had planned.  That's an accomplishment around here!  Sabastian is attending Blue Mountain Christian School again this year and is excited about being in high school (I think!).  Not pictured is Jonathan who is technically a senior this year, but is currently working until some issues are worked out regarding his schooling and such for the year.  So, there you have's to a successful year of school!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Making Beautiful Music Together

My youngest two are only 2 1/2 months apart in age, but years apart developmentally.  However, one thing they have in common is their love of music.  Nathaniel has been asking for piano lessons for quite some time, and loves to "play" on our piano and makes up lyrics to songs that usually include "don't lie or you will die" and "Jesus lives forever".  Whenever Sophia hears him composing  on the piano, she runs over and stands next to him, waiting for someone to put her up on the bench with him.  One of my favorite photos of her from Taiwan was one where she was sitting on the piano bench watching her teenage foster sister play.  Maybe, someday, Sophia will find her voice through music.   Meanwhile, Nathaniel is very happy to share his.

I'm not sure what he was doing here, but he looks so protective of her, so I had to share it!

Friday, August 17, 2012


I took this photo earlier this summer.  I just love these boys!  Even from the back you can tell they are brothers...gotta love the backwards pajama top!!  (I'm afraid it's going to come true...he's a cutie and a lover boy, even at four years old!)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Olympian Club

Benjamin had the privilege of joining our church's Word of Life Olympian Club this past year since he was a big first grader.  Every Wednesday night he would go and enjoy a Bible lesson, game time, and fellowship with other kids and their awesome leaders.  In addition, he would work on his Quiet Time Workbook, a workbook that had him reading and interacting with God's Word every day, and memorizing Bible verses and even the names of the books of the Bible.  There were also times when he would do some Christian Service activities, read designated books and do a book report, and participate in fun extra activities during the year.

Benjamin and many of his friends worked very hard to complete all of the activities required by Word of Life to reach the gold level of participation in his first year of Olympian Clubs.  He was rewarded with certificates along the way for bronze and silver, but for gold, he received a shiny gold medal and recognition in front of the entire church.  Here are some photos of that day in June...he was so proud of himself and his accomplishment, as well he should be.  We just pray that God's Word will take seed in his heart, put down deep roots, and be his guide for the rest of his life.  Way to go, Benjamin!

Pastor Tim bestowing the gold medal...hard to capture from a distance, unfortunately!!

Proud of his accomplishment!

So many kids worked hard this year to reach the gold level!!

A better picture of his medal...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Learning to Fly

This summer was supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable...payback for a hectic, crazy, summer last year when we were trying to sell a house, move across country, and complete an international adoption.  As many of you know, only one thing on that list actually happened last year, but it was enough!   So this summer I was anxious to just enjoy life with my family and friends.

BUT!!  Of course, life never goes as we plan.  Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that this summer--this year!--has not gone as we had planned.  From issues with children to losing a job to financial woes to my grandmother's Homegoing...God had other plans for us this year.  Through it all, however, one thing has been constant:  God is in control.

Our younger children have enjoyed several vacation Bible schools this summer.  Each one has different songs to go along with its theme.  It's been refreshing, though, to hear a commonality flowing through each VBS program:  Trust in God.  I am reminded of baby birds, hesitant to leave the nest, pushed over the edge by a parent who knows it's time to test those wings.  As a family, we are learning--or should I say, continuing to learn--to trust God's timing for our flying lessons.  We don't know what our future holds, but God does...He knows the end of our story, and we are ready to FLY!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A New Look

I closed a chapter in our lives today by writing the last post on Sophia's adoption blog.  So, I decided to give this blog a makeover...what do you think?  I will try to be more consistent in posting her on our family and such.  I have been quite negligent, I know!!  But now that I only have one blog to worry about, I promise to be more faithful.  Thanks for sticking with our family and catching up now and then on our merry happenings!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Guest Post by Nathaniel, Age 4

Photo by Benjamin, age 7
Russia is a good hamster.
Russia hibernates her food.
Russia does not bite very much.
I love Russia.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Moment in the Life of Russia (Photolog)

Ebony looks very innocent...

and then the fun begins!!

Time for a quick exit!

But Russia can't get away that easily!!

(No animals were harmed in the photographing of this incident.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

2012-13 Home School Curricula

On a field trip to a coal mine a bit north of where we live.
This year I officially began homeschooling my first grade son, Benjamin.  One of my reasons for homeschooling was the flexibility if offered, and we have definitely taken advantage of that this year as we had many appointment for Sophia and other things that have cropped up.  We used Five in a Row materials for the first part of the year which uses a piece of children's literature as a springboard for all other subjects.  In addition, we used Horizon Math materials for a more systematic grade level approach to math.  Halfway through the year, Benjamin began receiving some tutoring in reading to help supplement and ease our frustration with each other over the subject (even though I am a certified reading specialist, go figure!).  He now sees himself as a reader and is doing much better, and I didn't have to fight him over it.  Works for me!

I have spent this past year investigating other curricula and thinking through what else I want to use to teach my children as we progress forward.  Next year I will have Benjamin in grade 2 and Nathaniel officially in Pre-K/K.  Today I took the plunge and made some decisions and purchases, and I am very excited to receive my new materials and get planning!  I have also decided to continue homeschooling over the summer months, just not as rigidly, so that we can take breaks here and there at other times of the year and also to keep our routine going.  So, here is what I have come up with:

Math - Horizons Math 2 (Benjamin) and Horizons Math K (Nathaniel) from Alpha and Omega Publications
Spelling - All About Spelling Level 1 from All About Learning Press (Both will be review for Benjamin, and new for Nathaniel...I will continue with Level 2 for Benjamin at some point in the year.)
Grammar - First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Levels 1 & 2 (Benjamin only)
Reading - Five in a Row (Both boys); Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Pre-K (Nathaniel); guided reading with leveled books (Benjamin and eventually Nathaniel)
Writing - Write Shop Primary (Benjamin and eventually Nathaniel); Kid Writing (Nathaniel)
Science - God's Design for Science from Answers in Genesis (Both boys)
Social Studies/History - Unit Studies based on holidays/interest; The Mystery of History, Vol. 1:  Creation to Resurrection (Both boys)
Foreign Language - Hooked on Spanish (Both boys)
Keyboarding - Typing Instructor for Kids (Benjamin first, then Nathaniel)

Additionally, we LOVE field trips, and we will participate in a home school Art class and sports locally.  Now that I type it all out, it sounds very ambitious, but I think it will be fun.  I am definitely not going to be doing every subject every day, but with a nice menu of choices, I will have plenty to work with.  Let me know what you think!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Of Death...and Dehydration

Once again I have been MIA on this blog due to family circumstances...and lack of photos due to a missing camera cord (but that's another story!)  My dear grandmother, Margaret Christian, took a fall back in January and has not recovered from it.  She contracted a bacterial infection while at rehab and is basically bedridden and dependent on 24 hour care now.  She is home and under hospice care, which includes being cared for by many family members including my mother and youngest sister.  I have had the privilege of caring for her one night/day, and I was so honored to have that opportunity.  My grandmother was my closest physical relative for many years as my parents served as missionaries in far-away Chile, South America.  She cared for me and all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in so many ways.  Caring for her now with honor and respect is the least we can do.  She is ready to go home to Heaven and see her husband and siblings and even a granddaughter who have preceded her in death.  And of course, she longs to see her Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, whom she loved and served while here on Earth.  We are praying that she will enter Glory quietly and peacefully, in her sleep.  She will be missed!


Now the funny story...most children who come to their parents' bedside in the middle of the night and want a drink would say, "I'm thirsty," right?  Well not my Benjamin!!  Last night, a little before 3 a.m., I sensed a presence next to my bed (and, might I add, it is ALWAYS on my side of the bed!).  When I came to enough to figure out who it was and ask what he wanted, his response was, "I'm dehydrated."  Where does he come up with this stuff??  So I said, "So you want a drink?"  Why of course, that's what he 3 a.m...on my side of the bed.  No wonder I'm tired tonight...maybe I'm dehydrated, too?!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Seven is the Perfect Number

Today is Benjamin's 7th birthday...where has the time gone?  I love this kid more every day...he was our surprise blessing from God seven years ago, and he continues to surprise us each day with his sensitivity, creativity, and heart for spiritual things.  Unfortunately, today wasn't the best day to have a birthday with all the craziness happening in our household, but we made the best of it, and I think he's happy.

We love you, Benjamin!!
Photo Courtesy of Inspired & Enchanted Photography