Thursday, January 28, 2016

Watching our children fall in love

 Having 9 children has given us a lot of time to watch our children fall in love.  Sometimes it is smooth and seemless adding another child.  Other times it takes a little more work and intentionality.  

One thing that we did as we added more children to our family is to talk about it at the dinner table, at prayer times, and during play time.  Who do you think God will bring into our family?  What will they look like?  What toy do you think will be their favorite?  
 In a lot of ways this helps give your children already in your home a part in adoption process.  Although growing up our children may not have always understood fully what was going on, they knew bringing home another child was exciting.  Making special trips to the store as a family with your children and allowing them to pick out items for their sibling.  Including them in on conversations about how fun it will be to have another sibling.  That now they got to be a huge help to you in caring for the next child.   
 Making sure they know that another child doesn't mean they are not wanted, but instead that they got to move into the "older child" position.  This is where you have to be careful to read your child.  In all the hustle and bustle of bringing home a new baby/child what can I do to make them feel special?  
 Sometimes we divide the children and spend time with just one child or just a couple of the children to make sure they know they are heard and loved.  It doesn't have to cost money just simple errands with them, a walk, or maybe it includes a special bowl of ice cream that you share together.  
 The reality of siblings falling in love is a reality.  Oh yes I will guarantee there will be arguments, after all they are siblings.  The love outweighs all of those because when you catch them whispering with flashlights in the blanket fort, or laughing toghether at a secret they are keeping, or holding hands as they run toghether to play outside.....there is no greater love that bubbles up in a parents heart!  

It is such an honor to watch your children fall in love and grow up best friends. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Just an average family......

 Sometimes people see our family and think- WOW!  That explanation in an of itself actually makes me panic.  It's like there are set expectations already there.  Either I have to be a super mom and Jason a super man, or just that we are so very different than anyone no one can relate. 
 The whole no one can relate is hard for us.  It puts a barrier between us and most families.  A lot of people are afraid to even come to a meal, invite us over, or get to know us.  It's not always true, but for the most part we are outside the box. 
 So here are some facts about our family.  Maybe we aren't so different than you after all? 
 We love our theme park trips!  We have some of us who are total thrill seekers and will ride anything we are tall enough for!  Some hang out around the stroller and just like the less intense rides and special snacks we get on our days out.  We typically go to a theme park once a week.  Wait- what? 

Yes we have what we call family day during the week when everyone else is at school. For us we want to take a day out from everything else and spend it doing fun things together.  Sometimes we go to a local park for the day.  Sometimes we stay at home for the day playing games.  Soon we will start trying out camping in a tent too!  So we don't always go to a theme park, but it is a family favorite! 

Of course it helps that we live on the East side of Tampa- an hour from Orlando theme parks and 20 minutes from Busch Gardens here in Tampa.  Plus as a Florida resident we get better pricing on year round passes ;).  We use our Christmas money from family to help pay for those memories- money well spent! 
 This guy right here has to be fed and given meds daily.  However, we are working on self feeding!  In this pic he is putting a chip to his mouth and licking it!!!  YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  He loves to play with toys that make music and bang on things.  He loves to swing, read books, snuggle, and laugh.  Although he needs a lot of extra care we just think of him as the cute little guy that we all adore! 
 Ahhhhhh....... this is our yard!  Can I just say this is the reason we moved here!  Our own piece of space and trees and chill.  3 acres to run crazy or relax in a hammock. 
 We love playing board games- Clue, Monopoly, Ticket To Ride, Candyland, and all the other classics.  We also love cards games like Uno, Phase 10, Skippo, and others.
 Now this is Christmas, but this is what we do daily three times a day.  Sit at the table and eat together.  I won't lie- it is loud!  Sometimes too loud, but then again there are several of us.  All of us with opinions and thoughts. 
 We like to be creative and have fun.  We have a "clean room & bathroom" competition between the boys and girls.  Whoever wins the most nights during the week- they get to stay up late and watch a movie, or sometimes we offer other prizes instead. 

Sometimes the kids leave me crazy fun notes with scripture or just something fun for me to read.  I love it! 
 When Jason redid the kids' rooms we did chalk boards on the inside of their rooms on the closet doors and the entry door.  It makes for great entertainment. 
 We have 3 pets- no pics on my phone this moment sorry.  We have a small 8lb black dog named Crumpet who lives inside.  We have an orange cat missing part of his tail that likes to roam inside and outside named Rascal.  Sometimes when Rascal is inside he and the dog are much louder than the kids!  We also have a larger 50lb outdoor black dog named Sampson. 
 Sometimes we eat the turkey off the bone on Christmas Day or Thanksgiving Day. 
 But I mean this face!!!!  You still can't resist! 
 Overall we are a totally normal family! 
 For real!!!!
 OK so I am not sure I convinced anyone that we are normal.  Sometimes we aren't because when we go anywhere we pile into a 15 passenger van.  We are definitely loud!  Sometimes we are passionate with our opinions and having 4 teens and a couple preteens can add to that. 

We love the Lord and gladly share about our faith whether at the theme park, at Walmart, or at church. 
 Our homeschool days start around 8 or so.  We end around 3:30 with plenty of outdoor play time, indoor play time, laughter, and fun too.  We usually get up around 6:30ish.  Our new routine is that Jason and I get the kids up and then we head out on a short walk to just have time to talk without interruption for about 20-30 minutes!  It is amazing how much that helps! 
Overall if you came to our home you would see toys and books scattered, kids and me especially still in pj's some days.  You would have kids being mean or being nice.  You would find that we have many family issues and we have lots of love to give. 

After all we are just an average family.......

Monday, January 18, 2016

Birthdays, Adoption Days, Galore!

 What happens when between November 8 and January 6 when you have 8 birthdays and adoption days to be celebrated in your family? 

You eat a LOT of cake and you have a lot of cuteness!  Now I posted about Abigail's Sweet 16 here are the rest of those special days!  ENJOY!
 I mean really do I even need to say how much this makes me want to eat her up? 
 Happy 5th Adoption Day baby girl!!! (November 23rd)
 My Aerial lovin, sweet, sassy, crazy, funloving, girl! 

 They love playing Legos together :) 

 Her ice cream cake was topped with "kitty kats" her favorite chocolate bar. (I love when she says that!) 

 Oh girl, I can't believe how fast 5 years has gone!!!!  Please stop growing.... 
 And then this happened!!!
 Yep, our 4th teenager in the house!  Pray for us ;).  By the time Elizabeth turns 13 we will have 7 teens at the same time.  Like I said - Lord hear our prayers! 
 Actually, we love our teens!!!  I mean it is really fun having children being more independent! 
 Our engineer here loves to build things- create new things- take things apart.  You get the picture! 
 He is such a cute teen!!  OK sorry crazy mom moment.
 (November 27th)
 This- this is his smile that seriously makes me pause.  I love it!  Happy 13th birthday to a caring, loving, fun teen!!! 

 Then a week later this amazing guy turns 14! 
 You guessed it- LEGOS!  Of course.....
 Our Lego King has dozens and dozens of sets!  And he keeps them nice as well.  He takes them apart, puts them back together, and mixes and matches. 
 December 5th....
 There it is- finished it in no time flat. 
 A little throwback for fun.....
 Happy 14th Andrew!!
 Then comes Matthew again- this time it is his 12th Adoption Day December 22nd. 
 Hey handsome!
 Jurassic World Legos and more Geronimo Stilton books (one of his favorite series). 

 Love YOU!!!!!
 Then on Christmas Day this sweet child was born!  She too is a Lego lover and has several sets of Lego Friends. 

 Just a little excited!!! 

 Built and ready to play! 
 Happy 10th Birthday to our crazy, joyous songbird! 

 She is just so beautiful!!!! 
 OK we belong to a FB group called "I run for Michael".  It isn't named after our Michael, but I love the name.  It is a person who runs or excercises that matches with a child that has special needs and sometimes can't run for themselves.  It is a way to cheer each other on. 

For Christmas Michael's runner- Julie got him this adorable shirt- I love it!!!!  THANK YOU JULIE!!!!
 Michael's 3rd Adoption Day!!! 
 He loved his box!
 He loves his frog drumset and plays with it daily! 
 Beads around here for Michael is what I call a super toy.  They calm him and make him happy no matter what!!! 
 I found these Bunch 'ems at Target and they are an amazing sensory toy!  Win-win!
 I would love to know what he is thinking!!! 
 Ice cream for his treat.  He loves it because he takes after me!!!!
 Yep- he is a thumb sucker.....

 Daddy helping our amazing little guy blow out the candle. 
 Oh Michael.  Some people say that we must be heroes for being your parents.  That is so wrong and backwards.  You are my hero!!!  The love you give, the strength you show, and the huge strides you have made- make me proud to be your momma on a daily basis!!!!

 I mean he loves his ice cream!!!!  Happy Adoption Day Michael!!!
 Ok so that brings us to Andrew's 13th Adoption Day on January 6th. 
 This was a favorite too.  I mean the Hobbit is big in this house! 
 New Star Wars book of course. 

 Working on it mom. 

That handsome smile right there is my book reading, history loving, giving, Lego loving, young man who loves the Lord!  Happy Adoption Day Andrew James Wright!!!! 

And now we can try to regain our waistline between now and Michael's Birthday February 27th!  Oh and a fun fact: in our family of 11 the reason there is this crazy window of all kinds of special days is that between July 31st and November 8th there are NO birthdays or adoption days, or anything!!!  Over 3 months of nothing in our family- that's crazy, but true!