Thursday, January 11, 2018

Casey Josiah

It's been awhile.  Like a LONG while.  There's actually so much to catch up on that I don't even know where to start.  I feel the need to write though.  For one, I miss it... but more importantly, there are so many memories and cute sayings and moments with the kids that I want to capture.  I want to remember.  So I decided to start by taking one kiddo at a time and recording some of the things that have been happening this year.

I'm pretty sure I told you about Casey in the kindergarten line already.  It's the sweetest thing I've ever seen.  He waits with me everyday until the last minute... then when his teacher comes to get his line, he reluctantly goes inside the gate.  Don't get me wrong, he LOVES his teacher, Mrs. Henry.  I'm pretty sure she's the best kindergarten teacher on the planet.  She is the perfect mix of being completely lovable and having the class under control at the same time.  She smiles and sings and has the cutest, most creative ideas like family art day and a manners tea and she even wrote me an email to check on Casey when he hit his head at school.  The class is so in love with her that they pretty much do whatever she says.  Anyway, back to the kindergarten line.  Maybe it's because I never got to experience this with Jacob and Gavin because they took the bus in kindergarten?  After the teacher greets each kiddo and gives them a giant hug, the line starts moving inside.  Meanwhile, Casey (who always stands at the end of the line) walks backwards, yelling, "BYE MOM!  BYE!  BYE MOM!" and blowing me kisses until I can't see him anymore.  Then usually, right before he is out of sight, he will blow me one. more. kiss.  My heart.

Adam asked me one day, "What takes you so long to drop the boys off at school?"  I told him it was because I waited with Casey everyday until his teacher walked him to the classroom.  He just didn't get it.  I said, "I know from experience... this time of hugs and blowing kisses in the kindergarten line is short.  I know because Jacob was just like Casey at that age.  Next year, he'll be with the big kids and I won't be able to watch him anymore.  So I'm going to stand there everyday until I can't see him anymore... because it's the best 20 minutes of my day."  Then it happened.  One day, before going in the gate, Casey pulled me aside and said, "Mom, I have to tell you something very important.  I don't think I'm going to say goodbye anymore because I sink I might be embarrassed."  (I think he was starting to realize that he was the only one yelling out to their mom amongst all of the kids in his class.)  I could feel the tears start to sting in my eyes and I gave him a hug.  "Okay buddy."  I said.  "I love you."  This was just a few weeks before the last day of school.  To my relief, he still blew me those kisses in the kindergarten line until the very last day of school (although he used to be oblivious with his loud goodbyes, they turned into a soft, quiet, "Bye mom.") That last day was especially emotional... because normally, you don't know when the last day of something special will be ( but this time, I did.

Thankfully, he still wants to cuddle at night.  As much as I feel like I want to collapse on the couch, I take him up on it almost every time.  Again, because I know the nights that he will want to cuddle with me are dwindling.  The routine is pretty much the same each night.  He hides Wolfie somewhere in his bed and asks me to find him.  Then sometimes he asks to brush my hair.  Sometimes he asks me to pray for him.  Sometimes he asks me to tell him something about when I was a little girl.  But we always talk and cuddle and tell stories... and I cherish this time with him.  One night, he said, "Mom,  I don't want to go to school because I don't want you to leave me."  Then I responded, "I don't want to leave you either."  He said, "Then why do you drop me off??"  Sometimes when I am lying there, he will gently put his little hand on my back.  It's these moments that make me want to freeze time more than anything... to somehow feel that gentle touch on my back forever.  If Adam comes to sweep me away to bed and Casey isn't asleep yet, he will grab me and plead for me not to leave him.

I love how Casey isn't afraid to talk about God, even at school.  He tells me that he asks his friends if they know Him.  When they had to fill out turkey feathers for what they are thankful for, Casey wrote God and Jesus.  At first, he was the only one in his whole class.  Then, I noticed on a different project where the students were writing what they were thankful for, other kids started to write God and Jesus too.  Making an impact in kindergarten... so cool.  Then, a few weeks later, Mrs. Henry invited the parents to the classroom to show a slideshow of what each student wanted to give their mom for Christmas.  Casey wrote, "I want to give her a cross necklace and a God and Jesus heart."

Another thing I love are his cute mis-articulations.  Like he says "I sink" for I think.  Momma, I siiink we should go to the pool?  Then he would follow it up with, "Could that be cool?"  Or he would say, "Mom, the thing is..." all the time.  Which I never knew where he got that from... until I caught myself saying it one day.  I also loved it when he calls the Super Bowl the Super Goal.  And how he calls pizza sauce potato sauce.  And he says Walmark for Walmart.  So cute.

He tells me I'm the best mommy even when I don't deserve it.  One day he said, "You're the best mommy in the world.  I'm not the best kid but you're the best mommy.  Daddy is one of the best daddies, but you are the only best mommy."  Another day, I was telling him that I was taking a class at church that teaches me how to be a better mommy and he said, "Why?  You already are the best mommy!"

When you are the one learning from your kids

I am in awe of my kids.  They make mistakes, sure... and so do I.  When it comes down to it though, to me, the most important thing is not how well they play sports, not how gifted they are in school, not how popular they are.  It's their character.  It's their heart.  We teach them about God's love and God's character, we read the bible with them, we pray with them.... and we have seen that as their relationship with God grows, the more his character spills over into their life.

Jacob.  At church, the fifth graders were making a huge banner with handprints and their favorite verses.  As Jacob was telling me about it, I was so curious which verse he chose.  I figured it was most likely John 3:16 or Proverbs 3:5 or Jeremiah 29:11.  I think those were the verses I knew at his age anyway.  He totally caught me off guard when he said, "I wrote two because I couldn't decide which was my favorite.  The first was Psalm 27:14  "Wait for the Lord.  Be strong and don't give up.  Wait for the Lord.  One day after church, one of his teachers told me that they were worshipping and his hands were raised... when nobody else's were.

Gavin.  I went to this Financial class last spring (where they were teaching us how to teach our kids about money).  Afterward, I was so excited and determined to set up a consistent allowance/chore chart for my kids.  Up until then, we were paying our kids for chores they would do around the house that were above and beyond our expectations.  Gavin is always the one who would volunteer to help vacuum, weed, whatever we needed help with.  One day in particular, I remember paying him three dollars for vacuuming.

Inside Gavin's bible, there is an envelope for tithing.  We have talked to the boys about tithing and explained how and why we give "money to God" out of every paycheck.  They understand that God doesn't really need money, he is just looking for us to put him first and trust him with our finances.  We talk to our boys about this, but we leave the decision of tithing and how much they tithe up to them.  We want it to be a decision from their heart... not because we told them to.  So a few Sundays ago, I was bringing Gavin to his class at church.  On the table was a tithing jar and I saw him reach into his tithing envelope and carefully pull out all three dollars that I gave him for vacuuming that week.  I couldn't stop my eyes from filling with tears.  I couldn't help but think, "Would I have done that at his age?  Give all three dollars?"  I was flabbergasted.  I remember bringing a quarter to church from time to time, but never anything that was a sacrifice.  Just when I thought it would most likely be a one time thing, the same thing happened the next Sunday.  Gavin filled an entire bucket full of weeds, only to take all of the money I gave him and give it back to God. Incredible.  One of his teachers at church told me they were talking about wants and needs.  Almost all of the kids were saying things like food and clothes (and video games ;), when Gavin said, "I think we just need God."

Casey.  Casey has wisdom beyond his years.  The other day in the car, a song was playing that said, "Do to others like you would have them do to you.  It's the golden rule."  Casey thought for a minute and said, "That's not really the golden rule, mom.  The bible says to love God the most.  That's the golden rule.  So actually the words in this song should be the silver rule."  When he had to make a tough decision, he said, "I heard God in my heart mom.  And then I choosed the right choice."  When we are reading the bible, he always has the most incredible questions and perspective on everything. He has always been timid to pray though.  When we ask if anyone wants to pray, he just says no thank you... and we leave it at that.  The other night, he wanted to pray though!  You know how some kids hardly can say a few words and then they just start talking in sentences?  Casey went from not praying at all to passionately praying the cutest, sweetest prayer!  He was praying for protection for our family, and that his great-grandpa would know God before he dies, that God would help the people who are hungry and help the people who are sick to feel better... and all sorts of things!  Amazing.

Ella.  Ella has an incredible gift for dancing.  Whenever we play worship music in our house, she will immediately go into this beautiful dance.   We call it "dancing for Jesus".  Her face is focused, yet full of joy.  Her arms carefully swing around and her legs swiftly take her all around the kitchen.  She sings too.  The sing like no one's watching type of singing.  We will be at the pool and she will belt out "YES Jesus loves me!" at the top of her lungs.  She doesn't hold anything back.  Then there are her prayers.  She is always the first to enthusiastically yell, "ME!" when I ask who wants to pray.  And God love her, she will pray for a loooong time.  And half the time, we have no idea what she's saying.  One time though, and I will never forget it, I was crying in the kitchen.  Ella came up to me and said, "Mommy!  Mommy no sad.  It be okay.  Ella pray for you mommy!"  She softly held my hands and quietly prayed that God would please help mommy feel happy.

She has such a giving heart.  We are just starting to give her an allowance each week and she wants to give it all to Jesus.  We are teaching her to put aside 30 cents of her $3.00, but she continues to empty her piggy bank every week with SUCH a cheerful heart.

One of the cutest things she does is use the phrase "next year" instead of "tomorrow".  Mommy?  Are we going swimming NEXT year?  I can't even correct it because it's so cute!  She eventually started correcting it on her own and now she will say, "Are we going tomodow... after this day?"

Some of Ella's loves:  Pretending... which is totally a new thing because I'm pretty sure our boys didn't pretend play EVER.  She pushes her stroller and pretends to be a mommy.  The majority of the time she wants to be a kitty or a doggy.  Adam will play this animal game with her where they pretend to be a certain animal together and she will ride on his back.  It's so cute.  They also play a board game called Sneaky Squirrel every morning while the boys are walking to school (Daddy calls it Stinky Squirrel).  She never gets tired of it.  She also absolutely LOVES My Little Pony.  She would watch it all day if we let her.  (The funny thing is, Casey likes it too.  I'm not sure if he would admit it, but he quietly sneaks in and is glued to almost every episode she watches.)  You should see how excited she was when I got her a My Little Pony backpack for TK.  Her eyes absolutely lit up and she was literally squealing with joy!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Tribute to Grandpa

If you know me, you know that I love grandpas.  This most likely stems back to the fact that I had the most amazing grandpa... as good as they come.  He passed away my senior year of high school, so when I married Adam, I was beyond happy gain another grandpa.  He had an amazing heart and he loved me and he loved our kids.  I will always always remember how he would pat me on the leg (as all of our kids were running crazy around the living room), give me a proud look, and say, "You're doin' a good job momma."  It always meant the world to me.  In the midst of the craziness, in the midst of the joy, in the midst of the tears, "You're doing a good job." Then he would pat his leg and each kid would run and crawl up on his lap to cuddle.  Every time he left, I would hug him, give him a kiss on the cheek, and whisper, "I love you grandpa."

He has been in and out of the hospital recently, but this past week it really wasn't looking good. Adam's mom called to let us know that she wasn't sure he was going to make it.  More than anything, we wanted to drop everything and go up to see him... but there were a few things we had to consider. Adam was selected to be on a jury and had about two weeks left in court.  Thankfully, our boys happened to be on fall break... so if Adam was able to get dismissed from being on the jury, we could go.  We were praying for grandpa that night and asking God to help us with the timing of it all.  (It was Friday night, so we weren't sure Adam would be able to get ahold of the judge until Monday anyway.)  After we finished praying, I noticed Jacob was turning through the pages of his bible.  He eventually landed in the book of Psalms and said, "Here mom.  I want you to read this verse.  It's my favorite."  It was Psalm 27:14 "Wait for the Lord.  Be strong and don't give up.  Wait for the Lord."  At first I just merely read it... but then my heart skipped a beat.  We were just praying for timing and then Jacob all of a sudden turns to this particular verse?   Okay God.  We'll wait on you.  

As if that wasn't enough, after I went downstairs to tell Adam what had happened, I decided to read a chapter in a book I was reading.  When I opened it up to find where I had left off, something caught my eye.  I saw a sentence in bold (under a section about how God speaks) that said, "Sometimes God speaks to you through your children."  Amazing.  

So we waited and prayed through the weekend.  All of a sudden, on Monday morning, I felt like God was whispering, "Go."  I was telling Adam this before he left for court and he immediately said he would talk to the judge.  At first, I thought to myself... wow, really?  Should we wait and get an update on how Grandpa is doing first?  Then I figured, well, if God wants us to go, he'll make a way. A few hours later, Adam called and said he was dismissed from jury duty altogether.  So we packed and within a few hours, we were on the road to the airport.  (Which isn't easy with four kids, let me tell ya!  ;)  

We woke up the next morning and got a text from Adam's mom that Grandpa was moving from the hospital to a care center.  I was SO relieved to hear that he was doing better.  When we got there, Grandpa was up and talking and looked great.  My mother-in-law said it was the best she had seen him in weeks.  He smiled at us and his eyes sparkled as he saw all of our kids crowding around him.  He looked at me and said, "You flew all the way up here to see me?  That really means a lot." Later, Adam's brother and my sister-in-law and their kiddos joined us and the love of family and joy and laughter filled the room.  One of the employees saw all of us and asked, "Are you having a party? Looks fun!  I'll bring some snacks!"  And she did.  Before long, there were trays of coffee and hot chocolate, goldfish and granola bars, fruit snacks and chips.  We had a party with grandpa and it was a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.  He knew we were there.  He knew he was loved. Little did I know, those God whispers had gotten us there just in time... because everything was about to change.

The next day, we found Grandpa in a wheelchair outside his room.  Right away, I knew something was different.  His eyes had lost their sparkle and were fading off in the distance.  The color in his cheeks had turned somewhat pale.  He wasn't able to talk except one word at a time in a soft whisper.  The nurse told us we could wheel him anywhere we wanted, so we took him to the library.  There were games and puzzles to entertain the kids and we just held Grandpa's hand and talked to him. Every now and then, he would point at the kids and muster up every ounce of strength just to smile at them.  Finally, he just looked exhausted and whispered, "too far away" so we had someone help him get back into bed.  He immediately fell asleep and only woke up for a few minutes at a time the rest of the day. Before we left, we all prayed over him.  The six of us, along with Adam's mom and her brother, were able to hold hands all the way around his bed.  It was a beautiful moment, especially hearing the voice of our kids as they each prayed for grandpa.  That he would ask Jesus into his heart. That God would send angels to take care of him.  That he would have strength just a while longer so we could visit with him.  My heart.

We knew the next day would be our last because Adam had to go back to work.  That morning, we found grandpa in his bed sound asleep.  We took the kids to the library and spent our time building puzzles and playing apples to apples and chess and scrabble... meanwhile checking on grandpa every few minutes to see if he was awake.  He woke up for a few minutes when the nurses brought him lunch, only to take a few sips of juice and go back to sleep.  Finally, after spending most of the day there, we knew we had to go.  And we knew it would be the last time we saw him.  Trying to hold back tears, we said goodbye and I could see his eyes struggling to open.  We squeezed his hand and told him we loved him and I left the room so Adam could have some time alone with him.  He told him about God and how much He loves him.  That Jesus died on the cross for us and through this love, everything he has ever done can be forgiven.  That he can be in heaven forever and we will see him again.  Then he asked if he could pray for him and Grandpa slowly nodded yes.  

That was the last time we saw him.  We flew home and got a text that evening that Grandpa was worse, struggling for each breath.  As we prayed, I remember Casey saying, "God please send your biggest angel to Grandpa right now."  We found out that he took his last breath a few hours later.  

I'm so thankful we got to spend this week with Grandpa.  I'm so thankful the judge let Adam off of jury duty.  I'm so thankful my kids were on fall break.  I'm so thankful to God for His perfect timing. 

We love you Grandpa Kahn.  You will be SO missed.

Friday, August 15, 2014

First Day of School!

 Summer always goes by so fast... especially when school starts on August 13th!  I was a little concerned about the transition from preschool two mornings a week to full-day kindergarten for Casey?!  He wasn't super excited about preschool either, so I had no idea what I was in for this year.  THANKFULLY, his teacher is super cute, bubbly, lovable...  Casey immediately wrapped his arms around her in adoration.  Adam said at open house, "Oh good, she's just like you.  Casey will be fine."  Lol!
 So proud of his Skylander's backpack!

 All smiles on his first day!
Mommy is trying HARD to be all smiles instead of tears.  ;)
 My big third grader... the tallest in his class!
 My even bigger FIFTH grader!  How did that happen??

 Casey wasn't sure how to make a K with his fingers... he decided to hold up six fingers because he is turning six in a few days!

 Me with my boys!!
 I missed this walk to school!  :)

 Daddy's pep talk with his boys before they walk in the gates
 All lined up!

 So cute, right??  I l.o.v.e. his teacher already.
 Meeting a little kinder friend
 Every day, when Casey is in line, he says, "BYE MOM!  BYE!"  over and over.  It's so endearing, but kind of makes me blush at the same time because he is so loud and doesn't even care.  The line is moving and he is tripping backwards over himself just to say bye and blow me kisses one more time.  Sigh... I love this kid.

His little smile assuring me it's all going to be okay.  That (along with Adam making me laugh on the way out) definitely helped me stay tear-free.  I'm sure gonna miss this little guy following me around with his cutie smile each day!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Jacob's baptism

If you aren't willing to put yourself in "this is crazy" situations, you'll never experience "this is awesome" moments - The Circle Maker

I love this quote.  It reminds me of our adoption, it reminds me of our move... all of those times where it felt crazy and I'm sure some people probably thought we were crazy.  "So you're flying to Russia three times and you already have three kids and you could put one or two of them through college with the cost of one international adoption?"  Crazy.  "So you're moving to California and leaving your entire family and you don't know anybody down there?"  Crazy.  But we've learned that when you fully put your trust in God and take a leap of faith toward what you believe He is calling you to do, God always shows up.  Logic might be screaming no, but faith is whispering yes.

I always had this picture of what Jacob's baptism day would look like.  All of our family and friends would be gathered together.  Adam would baptize Jacob.  I would have months in advance to plan out all of the details.  That was the problem though, it was MY plan... how I wanted it to go.  Not surprisingly, God had a different plan.

Jacob has always had this incredible child-like faith that I am in awe of.  He would pray, even on his own, and knew God was going to take care of him.  He has had these awesome dreams, one about Ella coming home all wrapped up as a Christmas present... long before we even knew she would be coming home on Christmas Eve.  Amazing.  One (on the night before Easter) where he saw an angel, telling him not to be afraid.  Amazing.  We were thinking about having him baptized at our church in Washington right before we moved... but doors seemed to be closing and the timing just didn't feel right.  So we waited.

Over the next year, Jacob's faith developed even more.  He asked lots of questions and Adam and I stayed up many nights, laying beside him and talking about God.  We found a church and there were a few days set aside throughout the year for baptisms, but they never seemed to work out with Adam's schedule.  (Events like this are really hard to plan when your husband is almost always on call!)   We knew there would be an opportunity to have Jacob baptized on May 25th, but again, Adam was on call.  Even though I had dismissed it as a possibility, Adam felt God pressing him that Jacob was ready.  To trust Him with his schedule.  That everything would work out.

When Adam came to me with this, it was May 24th.  Thoughts and questions flooded my head.  You can't just sign up for a baptism the day before, can you?  This is crazy.  Our family isn't here to watch him.  I don't have time to plan a party.  I'm not really sure how baptism even works at our church yet.  I felt this sense of peace though, as if God was whispering, "Trust me."   After all, people aren't planning out baptisms in the bible, right?  Believe and be baptized... and people were just baptized right there on the spot.  So we emailed our church on Saturday afternoon.  When NOBODY is there.   Crazy.  They called us back though, at ten o'clock at night.  They told us what to wear, what to bring, asked us a few questions about Jacob, and we were ready to go.  Fear and doubt were trying to creep in... everything was all lined up now, but what if Adam gets called and misses the baptism?  What if we tell all of our family and friends and it doesn't end up happening?  Logic was screaming no, faith was whispering yes.

Praise God, our church streams everything live so my mom and Adam's parents were able to watch Jacob get baptized from afar.  It was an awesome day.  That morning, we all held hands in our living room and one at a time we prayed for Jacob, even little Ella.  (The prayer of a little child, it melts my heart every. time!)  While Jacob was getting baptized, my favorite worship song, Oceans, was playing.  We took Jacob out to lunch and later that night, had a campfire and s'mores with some incredible friends.  God's plans always work out so much better than mine.

  If you aren't willing to put yourself in "this is crazy" situations, you'll never experience "this is awesome moments.