Tuesday, August 31, 2010

book review day

Time out for a book review day. I have had this job on my list of "to do's" since we arrived home a month ago.
I know.... sigh.

So here we go:

Book one: "Somewhere to belong" by Judith Miller.
This book was a difficult read for me.I kept hoping for an attention getter and just never found one. I liked the characters and the plot but I just found the story lacking in interest and Oomph. I LOVE to read and get frustrated when I pick up a book that doesnt hold my attention. I can tell you that part of me wondered if I didnt enjoy the book because the main characters are teenagers. If you have a teenaged daughter that enjoys reading - or are in your teens I recommend you give this book a try. I had never heard of the Amana colonies and found it to be very interesting Historically. I have read many stories about the Amish and we have Mennonite communities aound us. I struggled with this because there are many groups that look at the outer appearance and are legalistic. So there was inner conflict when reading this story as well. I kept hoping that as I read the story it would come together and I would feel better about the characters and the plot. I was disappointed. I am hoping that there are readers out there that will enjoy this book and enjoy the following books in this series.

Book Two: "Sixteen Brides" by Stephanie Grace Whitson: This book was also read while I was in Ecuador this summer. I enjoyed this story. The plot is well written, I was nervous because it was a plot that has been used many times. There were several surprises and I enjoyed the twists and turns along the way. I can give this story 4 out of 5 stars.

Book three: "Hearts awakening" by Deliah Parr: I want to begin by telling you that I was nervous that this book would let me down. I fell in love with the main character, Ellie, and the authors style of writing right away. I do think that she took the character Jackson's irrational behavior a bit too far. I am not sure if Ellies reaction was believable either. BUT I so wanted it to be. She was full of grace and mercy. If we could all be given the benefit of the doubt when our past causes us to react instead of thinking before we speak. I also felt like she dealt on Ellies appearance too much as well.
I cannot give away too much but there were Many many aspects of this story that made it an enjoyable read for me. I found myself looking forward to quiet moments to read. I can easily give this story 4 out of 5 stars.

Book four: "No more Christian nice girl" by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer Degler.
I was really looking forward to reading this book because I, like many others, have a hard time not feeling undeserved guilt when I say "no" to someone's plea for help in one area or another. This book was written to deal with some tough issues but I had such a hard time reading the continued saga of "Nicole" that I could not bring myself to completing the book. I know, I am a book reviewer and I couldnt read the book in its entirety.I felt the authors just went overboard when telling Nicole's story. I cannot imagine that there is a "real Nicole " out there. I also felt like I was being mocked if an issue rang true in my life.Since I mentioned that this is a topic I would love guidance on I think the authors had a good idea but felt many times that scripture was taken out of context in proving a point. The comments written in the sidebars were also very distracting for me- this may be personal preference though. I only feel comfortable with giving this book 2 out of 5 stars.

Book Five: A pilots true story "Flight to heaven" By Captain Dale Black.
I want to begin my review by saying thank you to Bethany House. This book was just so good I could barely put it down. After many books that left me feeling eh, okay... this was the icing on the cake. The story was told beautifully and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I was sad to read the last pages. My favorite part was where the author shares about sitting in his backyard and studying the trees and the changing of the seasons. It was such a beautiful analogy. If there is one book that you read this year this should be it! I can easily give this book 5 out of 5 stars!

So there you have it...... being a book reviewer for Bethany house has its pros and cons. I enjoy being given the opportunity to read books free of charge. But along with that comes a price......We all have an opinion and I have to say that is one thing that I am not too keen about in our society these days.

I remain,
Under His wings,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Girl time

As you can see Grace only took 3 days to get used to the Dogs! Thank you Lord!!!! She was TERRIFIED of dogs in Ecuador.

Grace "helping" Paul change the bulbs in the kitchen light.
I recieved a phone call from a friend that has "been there" for me for quite awhile. Weve raised our kids together through high school and beyond. She wanted to meet Gracie and had a "package". Little did I know it would be like Santa Claus arrived. She saw that BIG pink bag and did her happy dance.(I was a little embarassed) Cute, special things for a sweet little girl. A baby doll that speaks english AND spanish. The most awesome drum that plays in English and spanish by leap frog, some squishy blocks that can be played with in the tub or not.... very tactile too. Rubber ducks for the tub, dora blanket and dora socks..... I commented that it was ALOT! (she reminded me that she had two years to prepare.... ha ha) We went out and had chick-fil-a and I thoroughly enjoyed the talking and laughing. It felt good to be out and about. She used to work with adults with special needs, she has done substitute teaching and worked in audiology. It was nice to get a few more pointers, reassurance and ramble about my concerns.

Ive gotten a few of these sorts of check-ups.Girlfriends wanting to "do lunch". A phone call at just the right moment to remind me to stop and smell the roses. Friends that Ive never met just sending an e-mail to ask how we are doing. Reassurance that its all "normal". Ladies.... thank you. Its funny how I thought I knew how to do this mommy thing and, well, being 40-something and Grace's special ness has taken my "I can do this" mentality and thrown it right out the window! So much that I "know" has been shaken up and stirred around and I feel like I did when I brought my other little ones home from the hospital. SO TIRED, remembering to potty every 2 hours, trying to keep on top of the laundry, cooking and cleaning, and feeling like I have to spend every waking moment sitting and playing with her, educating her, making sure she isnt lonely and getting into mischief. Yes, this may come as a shock to you. this little cutie pie has a um.... shall we say independant, adventuresome, defiant streak! (yes, just because she has Down Syndrome doesnt change the fact that she is a typical toddler. Down syndrome just means instead of saying no or re- explaining in appropriate behavior may take 100 times instead of 10!Sigh.... "Mommy isnt here so I can throw my toys, slam things against the mirror, jump on the bed, screech at the top of my lungs and top it off she fake sneezes for attention- after our 8 weeks in Ecuador sick you have to see it to believe it! AND she fake belches- this is what I woke up to at 6:30 am yesterday.( yall do remember I am not a morning person right?!) REALLY pushes me over the edge in a hurry! its not some lady-like burp of air. OOOOHHH Nooooooo she imitates her hero- her papa. If you know Paul you are probably rolling on the floor right now. I mean REALLY?! Not just one of him but TWO! "A", my daughter reassured me that I was able to teach THEM it wasnt acceptable so i will be able to with her. I am having some serious doubts...... Little G and I have SOOOOO much to learn together!( REALLY I HAVENT BEEN PRAYING FOR PATIENCE!!!!I promise!)

(And for those of you who arent Gator fans I hate to say shes learned something new: The gator chomp! GO GATORS!)
I dont know why I didnt expect the overwhelming feelings of imperfection and fatigue to wash over me like I have. But I remain thankful that we are at the end of that( out of country) part of the journey and that God goes before us and prepares the way. This part of our journey has made us strong in many ways that will be useful along the way, as we continue to run the race set before us.

I just want to be a reflection of Him and his love.

I remain,
Under His wings,

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sign language

You know me, Im going to have to talk this out..... THEN post the list of the words Gracie knows. Im jumping right in and not beating around the bush. Gracie is so smart and she has SO MUCH to say! At four and a half she is ready, past ready, to communicate. She likes having a way to express her needs, wants, desires. Mostly her signs have to do with food. ;) But food is important to a growing girl! (plus alot of the signs on her video are about food and eating.) I am seeing how the sign language and possibly being able to see better, is leadng to her actually vocalizing. She said her first word- clearly. I just about fell on the floor. Apple. it sounds like Aah-ble. But so clear! She does a little dance when I put the signing time video number three in and says "Apple apple!".
Ive been wondering..... why does this bring tears to my eyes each time I think about it? When I made up the list of words a few days ago I just sat and cried. Is it because she had to wait so long? Is it because I am so thankful that she is able to learn, a relief? Is it because as the weeks tick by she is becoming a different child???? So many deep emotions over watching this sweet child learn how to communicate. Only God knows why we had to wait so long to bring Gracie home. He has all the answers and I trust him. He knows whats best and I dont need answers. He doesnt have to explain himself to me..... He is God.
I am just so thankful that I have a part.
A small part in the big scheme of things.
I can make a difference,
loving can change the world........

without further ado....

Gracies list of signs:
1.Mommy *
2.Daddy *
3.Ashley (fist, "letter a" brushing side of face like the "girl" sign)
4.Eat (coma)
5.More (mas)she says Maaaa*
6.All gone/no more (no mas)
7.Cookie (sp? Ca-je-tah)*
10.Juice( hoo-go)
11.water (augua- she says Wa wa)*
12.Milk (Leche)
13.please (por fa-vor)
14.Thank you (gracias)
15.sleepy/tired (dormir, con-swain-ya)hands together like praying on side of face.
16.car (carro- ca-jo with a rolled r/ j sound)
17.Airplane (avion)
18.Apple *
19.dog (perro)
20. cat (gato)
21. Bird (bahajaros, bah-ha-rrros)
22.bread (pan)
23. Shoes(zappatos)
24. Potty(el bano, el ban-yo)
25. baby
26.full (geno I dont know how to spell this I know its actually a double l which makes the g/j sound)

She says "tickle tickle" very deeply and wiggles her fingers in the air when she wants to be tickled!

She holds her hand out for your to "give me 5" "Dame cinco".

If you sing Jesus loves me she claps in time like she knows it but just cant sing it.

She knows patty cake.

She comprehends ALOT:
some helpful commands are:

"Come here" with open arms.
No tah-kay: "no touching"
To tah-kay peh-low: "no touching hair"
No bo-ca pelow: "no mouth in hair"
nite nite
no lingua: "no tongue" or Lingua el dentro (commands to put her tongue away)
dame: "give me"
see-in-te-tay: "sit"
Manos kee-er-tas: "quiet hands" teling her to fold her hands in her lap
Un beso: A kiss
en brazo: enbrace, hug

Yes, you are seeing right. This is Gracie making a fashion statement wearing the dogs dish on her head!
I remain,
Under His wings,

Friday, August 6, 2010

Drama Queen

Let me tell you folks. I am NOT being a drama Queen here. I just want you to know that International adoption is NOT for wimps. And that is what I think I am. A big wimp. But wait?! ITS DONE!!!! WE did it! Maybe, just maybe I am not a wimp. Or maybe I really am.... but God in me did it. Yeah, thats what it is! Those last weeks without Paul there I think I cried once a day. (Im serious) It just wasnt fun anymore. I didnt want to see anything or do anything fun because he wasnt there to enjoy it with us. Now I will tell you that him leaving was a very good thing. Grace and I needed some time without the big ole teddy bear there....... I mean reallly??? Why do I have to be the bad guy? It seems like this is the way it will be with child number four. She adores him. And really..... I do have to say he is pretty incredible. So it was good for Santa Claus to be on his merry way...... ;) wink wink.

But once he left thigs got hard. LONG waits in offices to fill out documents that were in Spanish with a lawyer that spoke Spanish. Getting odd looks from the people. This white American proudly escorting this child with Down Syndrome around like she was the queen of England. Days and days of this.

To sob in the driveway with Marco, and Andrea...... I had met family while I was there.They were just letting us stay in their apartment. Or so we all thought. But it was so much more. They became like family to us..... Good byes are so hard.

We get to the airport 3 hours early. Go get the ticket stuff handled and bags checked in, go pay the exit tax. Man, this is easy I thought to self. Headed up to immigrations.it was nine. Only been there about 30 mins. Yay! Then everything came to a screeching halt. The man keeps thumbing through the documents telling me they arent done correctly. 30 min later he pulls someone out of the line to interpret. Informs me that no, he wont use his phone to call my lawyer. (I left mine with apt mate since I wouldnt need it stateside?!) The nice gentleman uses his and explains the situation. She is on her way. Then two more officials come to help. ( I wont tell you the "how many Ecuadorian immigration officials does it take joke....." ha ha) the woman was actually rude and kept insisting that we werent leaving the country and when I mentioned that my lawyer was on her way she got even nastier. "when did you call her? Nine-thirty? That was 30 mins ago. You really think she is coming? We will see if you have enough time once she gets here." by then I am sobbing. Our lawyer gets there and they arent letting her past the checkpoint without a ticket. I tell them to go let her through. They do and lead her to the counter ranting and waving her legal handbook in the air. It took about 30 mins and two more phone calls for them to talk to God-knows- who. (remember I barely speak spanish) WALA! its done. They apologize and she actually has the gall to thell them not to worry about it and no problem! HA! Yeah! they OWE ME HUGE APOLOGIES!(insists the self righteous American) They hurt my feelings! They caused me emotional distress! They taunted me! Oh, yeah, this isnt America is it? RIghts? What rights?? Eric and I go to the restroom and then have to go through security. We now have only an hour till our flight leaves. We get to the area where you wait for your plane in record time. Im looking for an empty chair to wait, a guard walks over, "Are you Anna W_____?" Yes. Okay, we need you to come with us. REALLY?! YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING ME? I know I mustve looked like a nutcase as tears start rolling down my face and I wonder what I have done now....... my suitcase had "randomly been chosen to be searched for drugs." REALLY???? I leave Eric with GRace by the door so they can make a quick escae if I dont return! (ha ha) m escorted down two flights of stairs, wheezing and coughing, to an outside area for my suitcase to be sorted through bit by bit.... how embarassing. Then I get sent on my way. Get to the waiting area just in time to be told they were boarding the airplane. We get to be first since Grace is "disabled".
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am a Baby.
I am a wimp.
I confess.... this is all true and we are now home safe and sound in our litte home on the little road........

Just excuse me if I seem a little off.
It might take some time for all of it to become more of a memory.
A few more days of sweet little G surprises........

Walking around the corner to see her dancing like a ballerina in the hallway to a praise song on the radio in one of the dresses that her mommy made for her over year ago...... just took my breath away. THere wasnt time to get a piture so I made a mental one. It was all SO WORTH IT! Oh my sweet Jesus She is SO SO worth it! I am so thankful to be her mommy.Remember, we all have an adoption story. He chose us, her persued us, He hung on a cross so we could have HIS NAME! We get to live in His BIG house, with our eternal family.......