Family of Five!

Family of Five!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Our Hardest Post.

This post has taken me a long time to write. I’ve chickened out on actually posting it for almost a month. I’ve rewritten and deleted these paragraphs endlessly. I’ve tried to explain or justify some of the things I wrote, to soften them, to give background, out of fear that someone reading who is unfamiliar with ‘attachment related behaviors’ will not understand and will label me cruel. Fear that someone will think I didn’t love enough, I was too strict, too soft, too whatever, they should have known what they were getting into, they should have (fill in the blank). I’ve heard it all. Maybe it doesn’t matter what you know about the subject, maybe I am strict, soft, naive, cold, take your pick. I am now ready, or ready as I can be, to handle the judgment and labels that will be given to us from people who will never know our true hearts and pain that was endured through all of this.
For the first week home, we lived our dream as a family of five. We played, laughed, and had all kinds of fun. Our honeymoon ended abruptly when the boys went back to school and it was time for us to start working with Eryna. During the day it wasn’t too bad. It was when the boys would come home and our attention would be divided that her terrible anger surfaced. She lashed out at me and Shawn mainly. Our parenting style provided a consequence for misbehavior. Simple moments of discipline caused screaming tantrums that lasted for hours – incoherent rages in which she clearly lost all ability to function. She felt a desperate need to be in control at all times in order to protect herself. Despite all of our preparation, despite everything we thought we knew, that need was painfully at odds with my picture of a parent-child relationship.
           We read about older child adoption. We talked to our social worker. We thought we understood the challenges and pitfalls. We heard words like reactive attachment disorder and post traumatic stress disorder and post-institutionalized behaviors and we thought, naively, optimistically, tragically, that we could handle it. The deep truth, though, is that, like birth defects, like miscarriage, like fatal accidents, we never considered that these lurking horrors would apply to us. We had a dream and a plan for our family and nothing was going to get in the way of that.
We attempted to keep life as normal as possible for the boys. When there was a bad night, my parents would come get them to stay at their house. Shawn struggled first for many weeks and became depressed. It was all on my shoulders. After a couple months and going back to work, I lost my ability to deal with the issues and felt depressed. Thankfully, Shawn had recovered and took over everything. We would go back and forth like this for the remainder of the year. The summer was the worst for us because it wasn’t structured like she had been used to. I knew this was going to happen but I kept hearing from everyone to take the summer off and just have fun together so that’s what we tried to do. Well this is when things just got worse for us. Just when she most needed me to pull her closer, I would send her away from me, physically, because I needed the space to avoid yelling and screaming at her, but more damaging, emotionally, because I could not deal with my anger and fear. I failed her as a mother again and again. I needed silence, I needed a break. Everything was always “Mommy this and mommy that”. I could never get away.
Prior to attempting to parent her, I might have harshly judged someone who adopted a child and then ‘gave them up’ or maybe ‘gave up on them.’ Sitting at my computer, looking for an answer or help in any way, I read the word “disruption” That was it. That was us. We were disrupted. Our lives were disrupted. Our children were disrupted.  We had already learned, through research and counseling, some hard facts about the difficulties of bonding with an attachment-disordered child. Children who lack the critical building blocks of trust needed to be regressed and treated as babies. They often struggled in families where they were not the youngest or only child.
She needed time and undivided attention. I was stretched to the limit. She needed to be babied. I already had babies. We adopted older because we were already blessed with two infants, toddlers, and now a child. We wanted an older child that not many others wanted. There is a reason that most adoption specialists recommend against adopting out of birth order. Children with attachment-related negative behaviors often thrive as the youngest or only child. Second placements succeed at a very high percentage rate because the second family is prepared for the behavioral challenges and the situation is tailored to the child’s needs.
Once reading all this, Shawn and I began to pray if we were the right parents for her. If God could change our hearts or to open the doors in other areas. We knew that if we made any decision, it would be for a couple with no kids or possibly older kids. Also, we would only do it if the family was local so that we could remain in contact and visit her throughout the year. We had some families through an organization contact us with interest in adopting her. Things fell through. Well as we have learned in the past, God always has His own plans and who was I to say what and how this should happen. After a friend shared our story to a friend who then shared the story to a different friend that she knew was praying for a little girl specifically from the Ukraine, we got a call from Eryna’s life-long mother. We prayed and talked to her for weeks before I flew with Eryna to meet her. Yes….I did just say flew. This was very hard for me because remember, my plans were only for a family in driving distance. To make a long story short, the first moment I met her, I just knew this was Eryna’s forever mother. She had already adopted a little girl from the Ukraine when her daughter was 2 years old. The daughter is now 8 years old and doing well. She has always prayed to go back and adopt a sister for her daughter but Ukraine changed their laws and would not allow a single parent to adopt anymore. She had felt that her desires of being a mom to two children were broken but always continued praying. She was even praying for a miracle to happen while we were miles away adopting Eryna never knowing that this was God’s plan from the start. After coming home, we received a message from her thanking us for bringing her daughter home. Her house was now at peace with knowing that her two daughters were finally together and home. Both girls are getting along great and sometimes fighting as typical sisters would as if they had been together from day one. We keep in close contact with her new family and plan to visit her once the family has had time to bond.
I still cry. There is so much guilt. I still lie awake at night and relive this past year. What could I have done differently? With more patience, could I have broken through and begun bonding? I still wish she was ours. Selfishly, but honestly, a lot of the pain involves my self image. I still wonder if I am a terrible mother. The answer hurts because it is not simple. The answer is no. And yes. I am a dedicated and determined, usually-patient, often-hurried, sometimes quick-tempered, incredibly loving mother to our two boys. I was just a terrible mother for her.
I hope in writing this that one day someone will come across my blog by accident and it will help them to not feel alone if they are going through the same thing we are. We have felt alone this whole time. For the first time in a year, I can honestly say that we have peace back in our home. People ask us how did we do it and get through all of this and I am thankful to say that it was not by our own strength but through Christ. I am sorry for all the unanswered calls and stories we have told in the past weeks when asked about Eryna. This was done till we were ready to share our story and to give the new family time to connect with each other. Plus, we took our time and sought out professional help with how to share the news with the boys. Please be patient with us if we are not able to answer more detailed questions. We are going through a healing time for our family and that is our main priority at this moment.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Start of Summer!

              Wow, I can’t believe it has been 4 months since our last post. Time sure does go by fast. I have been saying to myself over and over that I need to update the blog but then something comes up and I never get around to it. So of course, I was laying in bed and can’t sleep (which seems to be every night these days) and thought…Hey, let me update our blog and here I am! As always, a lot has gone on since our last post. We celebrated Eryna’s first Easter, my 30th birthday, Ethan’s pre-k graduation, Eryna’s first visit to the beach, her first visit to the zoo and many more events! It is summer time and I love being home with the kids. The past two weeks we did all fun activities which included our trip to the beach and today I knew we had to start getting back into some type of routine. Since being out of school, it has been hard for Eryna to understand what is going on and she doesn’t really know what to do with herself. Well as expected, trying to start some type of school work today didn’t go very well either.
                I don’t really know where to start with this post….to write about the fun events and how we got some great pictures out of them, or all the times behind the camera that we have cried ourselves to sleep and feel like we have lost our family. I guess I will start with the not so good news and then end with the happy moments we have shared.
                Eryna’s behaviors have improved thank goodness but we have discovered other things that have taken over the explosive behaviors. There has been stealing, lying and the worst one being that she has started to become aggressive towards the boys. The boys have always been very loving to her and especially Ethan, he always has had a special love for her. Well lately those feelings have changed and while on vacation, Ethan told us that he is scared of Eryna. That broke my heart. I know that a lot of these behaviors are typical from orphans but the aggressive nature that has turned to the boys is the most concerning. We feel that we are not enough for her. She needs so much extra attention and constant love that right now we don’t have. We are exhausted and just beat down. I feel like I have failed her as a mother. We see our boys starting to fall apart too. It has been so difficult trying to find the time to give each child all the attention and love that they need. I know that comes with the package of having 3 kids I have been told but it is different. We have many other mountains we are trying to climb at the same time and the biggest one being this situation. As always, it is never Eryna’s fault. She didn’t ask to be neglected by her birth parents, she didn’t ask to be placed in an orphanage that wasn’t right for her and she didn’t ask to be placed in a family with two other children that she was going to have to compete with for her new parents love and attention. She deserves everything, so much more then what we are giving her. A friend of mine was venting to me today about her daughter and how she was having a tough day with her. She was so frustrated and in the middle of telling me about it all, she stopped and said sorry, I know this is nothing in comparison to what you are going through with Eryna. I felt so bad at that point. I told her that it doesn’t matter that her daughter’s tough day wasn’t “technically” as extreme as Eryna’s can be because to her, it was. I felt her pain, I completely understood where she was coming from and knew that it didn’t change her love for her daughter, it just meant that at that point, she needed someone to relate to and just listen. I hope that I never judge a mother for any feelings of failure and frustration she may have to her children because no matter what the situation, we all can handle different things and we just need someone that can be there, listen and just be quiet for the person to vent.
         I have to say that if I hear one more person say “It’s going to get better, just hang in there. It’s only been such and such months” I am going to scream. It goes back to my last post; You’re not here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week dealing with this. We are and until you want to live our life, please don’t remind me how many months it has been because I feel like it’s been years. As I turned 30 this year and had my second back surgery, I feel like I am already in my 50’s!! I am sorry if this sounds harsh but it’s where we are at right now and I don’t want to candy coat it all. We have had to divide our family up just to make it through most days. Whichever one of us is feeling like we can handle the situation, that one stays with Eryna whether it be at home or if we have to remove her from an overwhelming environment and the other takes the boys somewhere or stays at the place we were at. I hate that we are not the tight family I want us to be. All of the kids need us both and they all deserve so much more than what we are giving them. I want to be so much more of a mother to all of them yet I feel like I fail daily. 
Before I lose some of you because you don’t like to hear about the difficult times, let me share about our good times. It seems that when times are rough, people don’t want to be around but when it’s is a fun time and Eryna is at her best is when most people tend to be around! So our first fun time was Easter. We went to my Aunt’s house this year and had a huge egg hunt for the kids. They all had a blast and we even had a golden egg for the first time and Cayla found it. Poor Ethan wanted to find it so bad because that’s all the kids heard about on the Easter shows but it was a good lesson to teach that not always are we all winners! A week later was my 30th birthday. Shawn planned a wonderful surprise dinner with some family and friends. We had a wonderful time and the best surprise was my gift of going away the next day for a weekend to the beach with no kids and a much needed dinner with my best friend and her boyfriend! Two days later I had my second back surgery and finally had my hardware removed to take away my stabbing pain. The next month was pretty boring since we weren’t able to do much with my healing from the surgery. Ethan had his pre-k graduation and that was a bitter sweet moment for us. I can’t believe that my first born is already going to kindergarten! Logan had an end of the year show and he was a pig in it…..a very cute one of course! The week after school ended, we went on a family vacation to the beach. It was Eryna’s first time. She loved the sand, didn’t like the water and waves too much but got used to them. It was so nice to get away and out of the house for a change. Ethan got to do some wave surfing with his nieces from Boca and Logan was swimming like a fish! My parents bought our family a year pass to the Miami Zoo and that has been nice. They have a new water spot that the kids love and we have already been 3 times. Eryna loves seeing all the animals and keeps asking if they are going to bite her! Here are some pictures from our trips and fun times! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Read with Caution!

So I guess it’s time for another whole-hearted-pure-honest report on our life right now. We have continued with the ups and downs from the transition process. We have cried, laughed, screamed, ran, prayed and came back to crying! What have we done, did we make the right choice, did we move too fast, did we follow the wrong path? Those have been many questions that have came up in conversation with Shawn and I during the past 2 weeks. We feel that we are doing everything we can do yet we continue to fail at the same time. We feel alienated from our friends and I don’t blame them. The past 5 months have been such a roller coaster. One day we feel comfortable and back to our “normal” life and the next it just falls apart. I have become selfish in thinking that everyone needs to be here for us right now and not remembering that others need us as well. We feel that we can’t go anywhere because if we do, the main question is “How is Eryna going to behave and when is the bomb going to explode?” I can’t relax anywhere we go. Everyone says its fine yet I still see the looks and the feeling of them not being comfortable in the situation. I wish I had answers. I thought I was prepared. I have taught children with Autism for 7 years and I was able to control their behavior. Why can’t I do the same with MY own daughter? I have made a behavior chart, we give her praises, she goes to therapy, she has ESOL tutoring, we pray, we have fun, we take away, we give back, we love, we hug, we laugh, but in the end, we cry. I am lost. I don’t have control. I know….I said it….Allison not have control? I am sorry if this is all over the place but I need to release this. We have the crazy house now…my own parents can’t even enjoy being in my home for more than 5 minutes anymore. Our joy is lost. How can we find it again? I know the answers, I know we need to fall down on our knees and spend these broken moments with Christ but I don’t want to right now. I am hurting, I am exhausted, I have lost my patience, I am not me anymore. I am with 30 kindergarteners all day and then come home to 3 kids all with the mentality of a 5 year old and younger. One of those is a walking time bomb and we just don’t know when it is going to explode. I am sorry if this sounds harsh but it is so true and it’s our life right now.  No I don’t want to talk right now, I don’t want to listen to people say “Give her a chance, it’s only been 5 months, she will come around, be patient, pick your battles, etc”. Your not here when she destroys her beautiful room we made for her, when she bites and hits her dad, when she screams for hours, when your in a public place and she wants to do what she wants to do and then screams like I am murdering her because she didn’t get her way.  YOUR NOT HERE. We are, our boys are, and thankfully God is too.
I am so thankful for our belief and faith in God. Without this, we would be on a plane back to Ukraine and back to our life as a family of 4. We are not going to give up. This little precious soul needs us. God needs us and has trusted us to do His work in her. We are all she has.  How dare I put this blame on her. It’s not Eryna doing this to us. It’s her past that has done this to her and it is all she knows. Our boys have been our rock each and every day. The other night, Eryna was having her scream fest as we were going through our bedtime routine. When it was time for our family prayer time, Shawn and I went into the boys room, shut the door and started prayers with the boys. Shawn sat down and just began to cry. Ethan without any hesitation turns to him and says “Daddy, it will be okay. God sent Jesus to die for our sins and He is here with us. I love you daddy.” So then of course I started with some tears and said to Ethan, “So Ethan, what do you think we should do?” Again without hesitation he said, “We should always care for her, that’s what God wants us to do.”  Wow. Thank You Heavenly Father for Ethan and the words you gave him because we were almost at our breaking point. Each time we get to that point, God has His way to remind us that He is in control and we need to trust His timing. She has come so far. You wouldn’t believe all the English she is speaking. She has such a love for life (except when she doesn’t get her way!) and love for others. On Valentine's Day I wasn’t feeling well and laid in bed as Shawn got all the kids fed and ready for bed. Eryna loves when we read books but last night she chose to lay with her mommy instead. She was so concerned about my health and why mommy wasn’t up running around like a maniac! I kept telling her to go read books with daddy, that I was okay. She just laid there, crying and asking “Mommy, you okay….Mommy, I sleep with you….Mommy, you better?” I so badly just wanted silence and to be alone but how could I turn this sweet, caring child away? When Shawn took her to go to bed, she began to hysterically cry as if she was leaving me to die. After her crying for over 5 minutes, I had to get up and go reassure her multiple times that I would be okay. Let’s just say I am not allowed to show Eryna that I am sick ever again! The point I am trying to make is that in these little moments it is God reminding us that He has a plan for us. He has orchestrated this whole thing and continues to daily. It was exactly a year ago last week that Shawn and I made the commitment and started the process to adopt our princess. Time sure does go by fast and I am sure this time next year I will read this post and think about all the time I wasted trying to make life “normal” and just wish I would have been praising God for all the little steps we have accomplished.  Continue to pray for us. Eryna has started to attend her own small group at church now so Shawn and I can attend service alone without having to entertain her the whole time. That has been a huge step and we thank my niece Cayla for coming the past couple weeks to help her with the transition! Our pastor is going through Psalm 23 right now and it couldn’t have been better timing.  
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

We gave daddy an indy car driving experience for Christmas!
At the Homestead Rodeo

Eryna and Shawn at the Homestead Rodeo

All the cousins at the Rodeo Parade

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Birthday to Eryna!!

A lot has gone on since the last post. Eryna celebrated her first Christmas with us. She loved all the festive lights, music and of course….the presents! Every night she would be the first to remind us to put on the outside lights, turn on the Christmas tree and ask what the boxes were under the tree. We celebrated with Allison’s family on Christmas Eve with breakfast in the morning at her parent’s house and then dinner in the evening at our house. On Christmas day, we opened presents as a family in the morning and then just enjoyed each other for the rest of the day. Later on, we gathered with the family again and some close friends for a traditional Christmas day bike ride. Logan got a new bike from his Aunt Mel Mel but he is still learning how to ride so he rode on the back of daddy’s bike. Eryna is really getting the hang of riding her bike, hopefully soon we can try without training wheels! Ethan is a speed demon on his bike, he probably could go into BMX riding but I won’t allow it. The kids got a trampoline from Allison’s parents and they love it! Every day now, they go out and jump for hours. Eryna especially loves it. She is trying to accomplish doing a flip like Ethan but can’t get the concept down. It’s pretty funny. Poor thing has no coordination skills. We would like to get her into swimming lessons soon before the summer comes and she will want to be in the pool every day.
We all enjoyed the 2 weeks off from school. We bought a paper house (big enough for all three kids) that you can color and play in to keep the kids busy all break. Well that didn’t last long since Eryna colored the whole thing in one day. When she is given a task she loves, she can spend hours doing it. The other 90% of the time and has an attention span of about 1 minute!! We are so proud of the progress she is making. She is still having tantrums but they are becoming more appropriate of a 9 year old instead of a 3 year old. She hasn’t destroyed her room in a month so we are slowly giving her stuff back as she earns it. I was laying in bed thinking one night while I couldn’t sleep about this whole process. The beginning process took us 9 months until we traveled to the Ukraine (my nine months of pregnancy) and then once we met her till now, the first three months were extremely difficult (like the first three months of having an infant. No sleep, lots of crying and trying to figure out their needs, etc). God had us experience the same trials as if she was our own from the start. Not sure if any of this makes since to you but it sure does to me! I look back at those beginning struggles and thank God for getting us through them. We still have a long road but life is finally starting to feel normal again. Just tonight we were able to go out to dinner and not have one crying episode (Shawn thinks it was because the place had a salad bar and she was able to choose and eat all that she wanted!) We have only been out to eat 4 times since being back because of it being too much for Eryna. It sure has helped our budget though!
January 5th was Eryna’s 9th Birthday but her 1st American Birthday! We celebrated on that day with her friends at school. That weekend, we had our family and close friends over for a small birthday party. We didn’t want anything that was going to overwhelm her. She was so excited and talked about it the whole week before. The morning of her party, she woke up not feeling well. She laid around the house and didn’t eat much. After some medicine and a nap, she felt good enough to be a part of the party. After swimming for a little and playing, she started to not feel good again and laid down on the couch outside. I felt so bad for her but she still enjoyed the party. She lightened up when we started to sing her Happy Birthday and the glow on her face was unforgettable. She loved all the gifts and attention. It was a perfect day!
                We are so thankful that on that day, 9 years ago, her birth mother chose life for Eryna. I know that she is going to do big things in her life. She has the most loving and caring heart. She loves to laugh and to be loved. We are in this for the long run. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for her and our family of 5. Never did I think at 29 would I be a mother of a 9 year old but I wouldn’t change it for anything.  Our pastor spoke about Psalm 139 on Sunday about us being “Fearfully and Wonderfully made”. Eryna was there with Shawn and I and I turned and whispered in her ear that God made her fearfully and wonderfully. God does not make mistakes nor does he make junk. God designed us each as individuals and His works are marvelous.  I needed this message. I needed to be reminded that our life and circumstances in it have and are preparing us for the purposes that God has for our life. They are building who I am. I pray that we can raise Eryna to love the Lord with all her heart and to always know that God made her just as He wanted. He has a plan for her life and she has value. She is precious to us but most importantly, precious to God. Pray for our patience as we may struggle with tough times during this transition. I know God is carrying us through this because there are days that I have no clue how I made it through.  Thank You to everyone who continues to follow our story and those of you who continue to stick by us even when our life is so crazy!  Especially the ones who continue to even invite us over knowing that it will be a wild house with our crew inside!  

Making Christmas Cookies

Christmas Eve presents!

Christmas Eve

The kids got their favorite gift from Nonny and Papaw! A trampoline!

Eryna didn't know what to do with all her gifts on Christmas morning!

Happy New Year!

She loved the fire works!

Happy 1st American Birthday/Princess Birthday Party!

Poor thing wasn't feeling her best

The face on Shawn is priceless here! I love that he makes me laugh all the time!

Eryna snuggling with her Papaw

Blowing out her candles for the first time!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

So many changes!

Didn't realize that it has been so long since an update so I will make this extra long! Time has gone by so fast and life has been very busy. Since our last post, Eryna has started school and made her way to full days, we celebrated her first Thanksgiving, Eryna had her cast removed, went to Disney and Sea World for a day, I went back to work, Eryna performed in her first school Christmas show, we decorated our house for Christmas, and now everyone is home for 2 weeks to enjoy a break before life gets going again!
Now to expand on each event...
Eryna has been attending Redondo Elementary, the school I have taught at for the past 4 years, in a second grade inclusion class. She has two teachers and there is a paraprofessional in the classroom as well, though he is a one-on-one for a student with spina bifida. All three adults are amazing and have taken Eryna in as one of their own. They have been patient and understanding to her needs. We couldn't have asked for better teachers. The students in her classroom have been great as well. When I first went back to work, I ate lunch with their class everyday until I was told that I can't (no parents are allowed in the lunch room, I tend to forget I am a parent when it comes to work!) I really enjoyed that time each day bonding with her and the other kids in the class. They would always tell me all about her day and ask many questions about her life. I miss those peaceful 20minutes at work. Last Thursday we had a school wide Christmas show. She did so good. You would have never known that she just learned and is still learning English. I have videos of it, I will try to post them as well. She is very behind the other kids in learning but that is expected. We are mainly concerned about her learning English and making friends.

We celebrated Thanksgiving at Shawn and Amy's house. Eryna loved all the food options and that she could eat as much as she wanted! Its amazing that she never stops eating though she has lost weight since being here. I think its because she is more active and she eats a lot of fruit. The orphanage fed them a lot of bread and you can tell because Eryna barely ever wants to eat bread anymore!! She prefers vegetables, meats, and her favorite of all is fruit! Of course she would eat candy all day if we let her but she has come along way with accepting that candy is only for special occasions.

Right after Thanksgiving, we headed up to Orlando for our first family vacation which was our Christmas gifts to each other. We went to Sea World first and had a wonderful time. Eryna loved all the sea animals and even went on her first roller coaster. Poor thing, we took her on the biggest and baddest one out there, The Manta! Shawn took her and he said that she cried and screamed the whole time and when it ended, she told him "Beautiful Daddy"! We asked if she wanted to go on it again and she said no! The shows were amazing and all the decorations up for Christmas were beautiful. She had a smile on her face the whole time and the boys were just as excited. Ethan had a little tantrum because he didn't understand why Eryna could go on the roller coaster and he couldn't. I felt bad for him because he wanted to go so bad but Disney World made up for it the next day because he was finally tall enough for Space Mountain.

That night, the Davidson's, our good friends from Homestead, came up so they could join us at Disney World. I am so glad they did because we had a wonderful time and we needed their help. Poor Eryna was so tired and overwhelmed by all the excitement at Disney. She had a very tough day and didn't get to enjoy the second half of the day but it still was a great experience. The morning was nice and all the kids got to ride a good handful of rides. As the day went on and the park got a little more packed and Eryna got more and more overwhelmed. She did take a nap and after that, the day went a little better. I think Disney was too much too soon. Let's just say I needed a vacation after that day! The next day we took it easy and just hung out by the pool at the hotel. That was my favorite day! I was happy though to take our princess to visit her castle for the first time and to take our completed family picture!

That next Monday, I went back to work. I never thought going back to work and having 3 kids would be so exhausting! I feel like I am shorting my kids in so many ways. I have less patience, my house is a mess, dinners aren't as well prepared and healthy, and the list goes on and on. I pray so hard that I can find a happy medium in all this and I know I will figure out a system soon. I am so thankful for Shawn. He amazes me everyday. God couldn't have customized a better husband for me than Shawn. We work so well together and pick up each others slack exactly when needed. He knows when I have had "one of those days" and completely takes over. I am so blessed knowing that I get to spend the rest of my life with this man. Right now he has the kids outside playing and is pressure cleaning the back porch so I can have a quiet house to write this and so we have a clean porch for our Christmas dinner!!
Eryna has loved all the Christmas festivities. She sat on Santa's lap, had a little talk with him, and refers to him as the guy who gives candy! She is the first one to remind us each night to turn on the lights outside. We had a wonderful time decorating our tree and we are making cookies later today!
A lot of you ask how the boys are doing. Ethan and Logan are doing great. Logan is still a little stinker but is getting better. He plays best with Eryna when its just the two of them. She loves to use him as her baby! Ethan is our constant reminder that we are doing something right as parents. He is so smart and the sweetest thing ever. He is my emotional child. We just signed him up for t-ball again. He is excited about that. We wanted to sign Eryna up for softball but we are going to wait a little longer. We may do cheer leading or swimming this spring. She definitely has a swimmers body and loves the water but just needs a lot of practice. She is still having her tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants and there are times that they get really bad but I can say that they have gotten better. I know that God will heal her and in the mean time, He is using this experience to teach us many things about life and His promises to us. He knit her together in her mother's womb wonderfully and fearfully made and He will guide us through it all.
I am enjoying the break so far and trying to catch up on a lot of stuff, this was my first thing on the list. I hope I remembered everything and you enjoyed getting caught up. Wish I could promise that I will keep up with it more but I will just say that I will try to!

First visit with Santa
Santa trying to ask Eryna what she wants for Christmas!

First bubble bath! She wanted one every night after

Sea World!

Eryna was trying to figure out what this was!

Eryna's face on "The Manta" ride

Shamu roller coaster

Hugging her Shamu as she watched the show

Getting ready to go visit her castle

Our 3 precious kids!

Ethan just made it!

Our strong princes!

Hanging out in the pool

Love this picture of her!

Lazy river time!

Decorating the tree

She loved all the ornaments

Doing sign language at her school show

Playing the bells at her show

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eryna is riding her bike by herself!

Getting her first haircut!

We went short! She loved it!

Waiting for her first parade to start. Happy Veteran's Day!

New Pictures!

Happy Birthday to Ethan and Logan!

She loves to play at the park!

Such a silly girl.

First day of school at Mama's school!

Happy girl going to her "big girl" school!