Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Creative Discipline

As you may know, Amelle is a child with an unusual disposition. For starters, she’s super-moody. …and I just can’t imagine where in the world she gets that horrific personality trait from (ahem)….must be Dirt. But she’s also very sensitive, in fact, I think her moodiness may actually stem from her hypersensitivity. For example, last month, we were at a fair and Amelle was enjoying some fried dough when a smiley old man jokingly said, ‘hey, your shoe lace is untied, want me to hold your fried dough while you tie it?” Of course, Amelle was in flip flops and the man was making a cute joke about stealing her fried dough. When I mentioned it to her a few minutes later she broke down and began sobbing….to the point where I needed to take the fried dough away from her and remove her from the grounds. Um..yeah.

Amelle has a lot of tricks; she’s like a cunning mood magician. She diverts attention and she manipulates her way out of things. In the morning, I tell her at least 10 times to brush her teeth, but half the time, she somehow gets out of the house without doing so. I don’t know how this happens.

Last week I noticed that her moods kicked into high gear while we were doing math homework. Homework, in general, seemed to trigger a mood attack. Dirt and I had to hold a parental debrief session, which went something like this: “We’re not going to take this anymore” “Why should she ruin our night?” “This is ridiculous – she’s small and we’re big”, “Yeah!”. As we began strategizing solutions, we realized that Amelle is a difficult child to punish. There are no “take-aways” that really matter. Amelle can live without TV, ipods, computers, going outside, just about anything, really. The only thing she really cares about is food, and I think it might be unlawful to take that away from her.

So then we started getting clever, we need to inflict punishment on her. Add ons. The ideas began coming fast and furious, “We’ll make her walk up and down stairs 10 times”, “how about 100 jumping jacks”, ‘how about standing in a corner…holding a book over her head”, “we can make her write her name 100 times…no, make her write her entire scripture until it’s memorized”…”yeah!”. “We’re the smartest parents ever!”, “I love you”, “I love you too”.

So the next day I informed the children that their father and I had decided on some strategies to encourage them to do their homework in a more cooperative manner. I shared some of our ideas with the kids and they agreed that they’d try to do better.

Last night, I received an e-mail from a blog-friend, Jillian, who shared some of these same creative disciplinary strategies with me. She has her kids walk up and down the stairs with their hands in the air – love that. And, she has another one that I love: the child who wrongs another child has to pick up a chore from the person he wronged. I am so going to use that one!

Feeling inspired, I informed Amelle that if she didn’t get going on her scripture, we were going to do some of the discipline techniques that we had discussed last week. (I had already asked her to do her scripture several times). She smiled and said, “What will I have to do?” (for punishment). I said, ‘Walk up and down the stairs 5 times with your hands in the air”. She smiled and proceeded to do the stairs, giggling the entire time. Then she said, “what next?” I said, “do your scripture”. Then she said, “What if I don’t?”. I said, “do 100 jumping jacks”. She gladly did her jumping jacks. Avery commented, “she’s going to lose weight”. Still smiling, she asked me what was next. I repeated, “do your scripture”. She said, “What if I don’t?”. “Stand in the corner with a book raised over your head with both hands until you’re ready to do your scripture”. Within 3 minutes she was working on her scripture.

Once she memorized her scripture she was free to go play. But she didn’t. She sat at the kitchen table writing something. I didn’t pay any attention to what she was doing because she had completed her school work and was quiet.

Fifteen minutes later she arrived at my side telling me that her hand hurt from writing so much. She held up a completely filled sheet of lined paper; she had inflicted yet another punishment on herself! She wrote her entire scripture!

What kind of child is this?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Some days are harder than others...

Today and yesterday fall into the "hard" category. I pray that God will open up the door to let us adopt, but I don't know if he will. I get discouraged. Last year at this time we were filling out adoption paperwork and this year we aren't doing anything to bring us closer.

...and then I look at what He has already entrusted me with and I assess how I'm doing with them and sadly, the reason He hasn't given me another one becomes clear: maybe I'm not doing such a great job with what I already have.

...or maybe there is another reason, a less self-deprecating one.

Then I get an e-mail like this from my beloved...

There are plenty of examples in the Bible of God working things out in His time. Hannah wanted a son so bad that she constantly cried out to the Lord and bitterly wept. Not only was she barren, but she was mocked by Penninah (her husband’s other wife) who would flaunt her children before her. Hannah was probably asking the same question…”Why Lord have you given me this burden for a son if you are not giving me one?”. Although she often prayed and cried and the Lord didn’t seem to hear, she didn’t stop praying and crying. Well, the Lord was hearing her and did answer her prayers. She conceived and gave birth to Samuel. Samuel was a great man, priest, and prophet. The Lord did wonderful things through Samuel. This is the same Samuel that said “here am I” when the lord was calling him in the night. He has two books of the bible named after him. Just awesome. Hannah had no way of knowing the reason God was making her wait. But His timing is always perfect. He always knows what is best.

...and I am reminded that it's not all about me getting my way (luckily). It also reminds me that I have a pretty awesome (and long winded) husband (this was just the 1st of many paragraphs).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

"We Met Online"

Last year when I was obsessed with reading Ethiopian adoption blogs, I stumbled across Red Letters Campaign (RLC). When I clicked on the RLC website I found a portal of information related to extreme poverty and adoption. RLC is an online community of Christians who believe that we can help end extreme poverty by simply living out our Christian faith. I immediately wanted in; I wanted to be a part of the movement to end extreme poverty, to help orphans, and I was willing to sweep floors at the RLC headquarters if needed.

When I finally got around to touching base with Russ Weir, one of the RLC founders, he explained that I was already part of RLC - just by checking the site and blogging. He asked me how RLC could help me to achieve the things that God was laying on my heart. At the time, I wasn't clear what those things were, I just knew that I wanted to serve. I think Russ sensed my need to have a job and he asked me to write a travel guide for Ethiopia. I was in!

I was so excited to write that travel guide. It was a perfect assignment for me (my day job has me writing policies and guides). I began taking notes as I planned my trip to Ethiopia and planned to complete the guide when I returned home. Plans...plans...plans - they're a funny thing, aren't they? (The travel guide is still not complete).

In the meantime, Shaun introduced me to twitter. Don't ask me to explain it, I have no idea what to say about twitter, except that I am addicted. I was happy to see that RLC was already on twitter and I waited patiently for them to tweet something. They never did.

I wasn't sure who was in charge of the @rlccrew twitter account, but I sent a message to Russ saying that they could use more of a presence. He wrote me back saying that the job was mine.

This time I was really in! I quickly latched on to my new job as "Communications Director", or was it "Director of Outreach", or maybe it was "Twitter Queen of the Universe". My RLC title changes quite often (of course, my inner HR person cringes at this; is there a job description for that?!). We joke that I have finally found my spiritual gift: twittering. I'm also suppose to lead the Facebook effort, but that's not really my spiritual gift.

So...on Labor Day weekend, Dirt and I traveled to Dallas to meet the team that I had never met face to face, but whom I "talk" to every day! I have grown to love these friends of mine, before ever seeing them live. Amazing.

Here we are:

Okay, let's try this L to R starting with the back row:
Jonathan & Brea with their beautiful (and ridiculously well-behaved son), DeeDee & Paul, Jamie*, Sam*, and Greg.
Dirt, Me, Josh & Amy, Brandi, Holly*, Wendi*, and Russ* (* = RLC Founder). ...and behind the camera is Angel*.

The Warrior Girls!

...I like to call this one: "RLC feeds orphans not altars".
I love this girl. Brandi has such an enormous heart for Jesus (and orphans). Here she is goofing off at the pedicure place. Seriously, glazed donuts and chocolate milk for Buddha?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Animal Planet

Growing up, my mom had a thing for mallards. Our living room was adorned with these colorful wooden ducks.

Today we had one in our front yard:

The problem was that we also had one of these in our front yard:

...and Fat Louie don't play that.

Nobody turns their back to Fat Louie.


Yep, Fat Louie whacked him.
I ran out after the first hit and shooed Fat Louie away. Dirt on the other hand was ready for an Animal Planet style show down.
...so were the kids.
To my knowledge, the duck got away with just a few feathers missing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cat Man

Why does Avery look like this?

Reminds me of an old song I use to like to sing...

When your sliding into first and you feel somethin' burst...

It seems that the Flea bath isn't exactly agreeing with Fat Louie either. Though his eye seems fine, it does seem to be causing some lower intestinal distress.

That's why God made kittens (and kids) cute.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Meet Fat Louie

You remember "the proposal", right?
Well - here's the result:
Meet "Fat Louie"
(I have no idea where Avery came up with this name...we don't allow him to watch The Supranos")
This morning I found this little guy on Craiglist. By 4pm we were driving home with him.

By 4:30pm Avery's eye looked like this.

We're hoping Avery's not allergic. The only reason why we think there is a chance that he isn't is because when Fat Louie got in the car, he had just had a flea bath and was still "wet" with some of the "stuff" on his fur. Avery was petting him and then proceeded to rub his eye. We are thinking that maybe the "stuff" irritated his eye, but we aren't sure yet if it was the "stuff", or Fat Louie himself. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009