Monday, July 22, 2013

The week in a whirlwind!

I have been very negligent in updating the blog lately.  It has been crazy around here to say the least.  I have heard that the last week to week and a half of Kidsave is intense so life isn't about to go any slower! 
It is hard for me to even remember back to what all we have done!  Going back to where I left off was our small group's turn to clean the church two Fridays ago.  Kevin pitched in and vacuumed without being asked.  I have been so impressed by his initiative.  Afterward all the boys and men played a game of American football.  Kevin ate that up! 
The following Saturday was our chocolate making morning at Chocolaterie Stam.  We have hosted internationals in the past, and one complaint about our food was that it is "too sweet."  Kevin does NOT have that complaint.  He put down his share of treats that morning.  I kept trying to cut him off, and he kept finding new sources of sweets.  YIKES!  That night we joined my husband's brother's family who were camping at Red Rock.  (Kudos to them for letting us crash their party.  Not everyone has enough food for 7 extra eaters!)  We failed miserably at translating this new camping subculture, however he had a great time playing games with the other kids at the site. There was a sweet little 6 year old there who fell in love with Kevin.  He has been great at playing with little kids.
Sunday we took Kevin to the zoo.  This was the first time he had been.  He said that his favorite animal was the lion, but we loved watching him in the Outback Adventure.  The animals run loose as people walk through the exhibit.  When the wallaby jumped passed him his face light up, and he shouted "Kangaroo!" 
I needed to rest on Monday, and I think that Kevin needed to as well.  He spent the day drawing, drawing and drawing some more!  The other kids played outside quite a bit, but I don't think that he enjoys our heat and humidity.
Tuesday we met some of our friends and a couple of his Colombian friends as the park.  I really enjoy watching him interact with his friends.  I can't imagine how lonely I would feel if I lived with a family whose English is as limited as my Spanish is! 
Wednesday was art lesson time again, and Adam humored them all with a giant water fight to finish off the afternoon.  What a blessing he is!
Thursday was Kevin's dentist appointment.  He had a cavity.  True to his personality though he never complained about pain the rest of the day.  I gave him some Tylenol just because I was convinced that if he was in pain he probably was not going to tell me!
Friday afternoon we got to take Kevin to Jordan's parents dairy farm.  Jordan learned something new: driving does not come natural to someone who has lived life with all public transportation.  Jordan has been driving tractor since he could see over the steering wheel and figured that steering left or right and correcting just came naturally.  It does not.  Kevin did much better driving the 4 wheeler!  Jordan's mom also had leather crafts left over from Bible school.  Once we got him off the 4 wheeler he really enjoyed that too!
Saturday was our 3rd Kidsave event.  It was too hot for the Colombians.  At one point I looked out and all the dads and American kids were melting as they played kickball while our (smarter) Colombian friends were sitting in the shade with water bottles. 
Yesterday was a little more low keyed.  He got to meet my sister and brother-in-law.  We ordered pizza, and the kids sat in the kitchen with the boxes of pizza.  He helped himself to a lot of pizza.  This was notable only because he doesn't often help himself, but waits for food to be offered to him.  We adults ate in the living room and evidently he felt more comfortable to eat up!
Today we went bowling with our neighbors.  I don't see professional bowling in his future, but we all had a great time!
Wow, after reading through the last week and a half I know why I am so tired.  If there are many typos in this post it is because I need a nap!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Works of Art

He is so focused when he works! I am sure Adam found that refreshing.  His younger students have the attention span of a gnat!
Art lessons had to get juggled around a bit this week, but today was finally the day!  I was really looking forward to it since Kevin has had such an interest in art since he came here.  This summer Adam, a foreign exchange student from China, has come to our home and taught lessons to my older two right at our kitchen table (or on our porch!)  It has been a great blessing. 
I was curious to see if language would be a barrier, and I think that Adam was curious too.  We both  figured that art was a universal language, and they would be fine.  They were.  Adam would demonstrate, and Kevin was quick to catch on.  Take a look at Kevin's fine work!

Kevin's drawing of a leaf.

  Kevin's work on colors and shading.

   After lessons I asked Adam play piano for Kevin.  (Adam is a wonderful pianist.)  Then I twisted Kevin's arm into playing for Adam.  Adam was sweet enough to volunteer coming back for a few piano lessons in the next few weeks that Kevin is  here.  Everyone is excited about that!

Kevin is talking a little more each day.  He even asked me for a muffin today!  Like so many kids I have to push the veggies with him, but I am amazed that he has eaten everything I put on his plate, minus the green beans today.  To his credit he tried one-I held the grapes captive until he did!  I think that he tried peaches for the first time.  He liked those.  He helped flip tortillas last night for our burritos.  He was much more reliable to flip them before they burnt than the 8 year old volunteer.  They made a good team though!

Our next Kidsave event tomorrow-chocolate making at Chocolaterie Stam!  I am looking forward to that!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Living History Farms

We decided to take Kevin to Living History Farms today.  It seemed like a good idea for two reasons:
  1. Today was the coolest day in the 10 day forecast.  We can save the Science Center for a day we need the AC.
  2. The Summer Miracles chaperone is also staying with us and could help me translate the historical farms and village.  I figured that that there might be a few things that would be difficult to understand since he was looking at the history of a culture that is foreign to him! 
We went to the farms first.  I thought that would be a bigger hit for Kevin than the town.  I was right.  The hike was beautiful, and large farm animals are fun to see no matter what language you speak! 
The sheep on the 1800s farm

Petting horses on the 1900s farm

It is a little nuts, but it is so good!

Life is good, and I am hesitant to write this post because I don't want anyone to get the picture that it isn't.   That said I had a moment tonight when all the craziness hit me at once, and I laughed so hard that I nearly cried.  I am not sure that the incident was all that hilarious, but in the context of it all it hit me as such.   (I really don't want to sound negative, so please read all the way to the end!)
When we decided that we were going to host this summer I imagined this wonderful month where I would be a perfect hostess and give this kiddo the best American experience there was to give!  We would all learn Spanish, and who ever was lucky enough to come to our house would feel like he was on the set of "Leave it to Beaver."  (In my mind I might have even worn an apron and heels.)  It was going to be awesome. 
REALITY: there have been a few things that have come up since we decided to host that could have happened at a better time.  That's life; we roll with it. My health hasn't been great these last few weeks so I don't feel very "June Cleaver."  The dryer setting that I usually use won't shut off automatically so I have to watch it.  I wake up in the middle of the night in a panic because I can't remember if I left it running when I went to sleep. The washing machine is now making funny noises, and few weeks ago the basement flooded. 
Our basement really wasn't finished, but we had our TV down there and large carpet remnants.  We made the space functional.  As a result of the flood we lost all the carpet in the basement, and with it the useable space.  Kevin's room was the Lego room, but we removed the Legos.  They were supposed to go downstairs, but now are on the main floor. Our ping pong table folded up and has remained trapped in the corner.  Our TV was moved up to the family room which isn't terrible, but something about the router and the way the internet is hooked up to the TV -if someone turns on the TV no one can be on the internet.  It is kind of annoying.
As part of being a host for Kidsave the families take turns hosting the Summer Miracles chaperone as well.  Yesterday morning I picked up the chaperone, and she will be with us until Saturday.  She is very friendly and has been helpful, but we are just running out of space!  We had already given the guest room to Kevin and the basement pull-out is not place for anyone right now.  We gave her our girls' room, and the girls are sleeping my closet.  (Don't worry, it is big.  They are fine.)  I texted Jordan last night to ask him if he remembered I was hosting a couple of ladies for Bible study at 8:00 that evening.  He replied with something along the lines of "That's fine, but you have to meet outside, because every other room in our house is full of people."  (I ended up canceling anyway, because I just needed some down time!)
The chaperone spends a lot of time at night on the internet working and Skyping which is fine, but we can't turn on the tv to watch a show, dvd or the news because we kick her off the internet.  Honestly, it's a good excuse to go to sleep early, but it just adds to the craziness right now.
Then tonight I was tucking my little girl into her "nest" on the floor of my closet, and she wrinkled her eyebrows and said, "Mom, this blanket dad gave me sure feels like a table cloth!"  Sure enough running low on blankets last night Daddy had grabbed a table cloth, and that was her blanket.  (I found a large bed sheet and folded it up for her instead.  It is softer!)
That's when I lost it.  It was just too funny. I had wanted to be the best host and wanted to give this kid the world in a month and really we have just invited him into a whole lot of our chaos!  We are sleep on the floor with table cloths for crying out loud, but I laughed because that's ok. 
God is teaching me that I don't have to wait for the perfect time to serve Him.  When he calls and we obey, He will make a way.  So, so, so  many people have stepped in to help us.  In big ways and small ways.  Faithful friends and neighbors who let me know that they are headed to the grocery store and can pick up milk right when I realize we've run out.  A text that they are going to the park and can take a few extra little people.  This morning I woke up to an email from a new friend asking if she could bring all the sides for supper tonight.  The cool part was I had the frozen hamballs; God completely took care of the whole meal for me so that I could spend the day taking the kids on a field trip.  It is a little nuts right now, but it is so good too.  Despite the inconveniences and my inadequacies God is showing me who He is.  He is good.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Week 1 Begins

Yesterday we begin our first full week with Kevin.  Since he came on a holiday weekend the days didn’t feel very normal.   I realized that I may have to fill the calendar with a few more things to do, the Science Center, zoo, etc.  I feel badly that he is 4 years older than our oldest, and so much goes on around him in a language he doesn’t fully understand.  I am trying to be sympathetic to both of these factors. 

He pulled away a lot yesterday from the activities that my kids were doing.  Not in a bad way; he just found other things to do. Still, the worrier in me wonders why.  It is not easy for me to get inside the head of a 12 year old boy.  Add to that the cultural/language differences and I am pretty clueless!  Was he physically tired?  Tired of playing games with an 8 year old?  Tired of not being able to communicate?  Was he uncomfortable with the heat and the humidity outside?  Or was he completely fine and likes to just do his own thing?  I may never know.  I just sat down with him and played a game of chess and Chinese checkers.  Then I made everyone cookies because cookies fix everything, right?  J  He is out playing hide and go seek-tag with our kids and the neighbors right now.  Yesterday just may have been "a day."  We all have those!

Kevin is easy going, and has been great at finding things to do.  The last couple of days that has meant playing piano, reading and art.  I wish I knew more about what music opportunities he has had in the past.  He is trying to learn the notes now.  I would love to find someone who speaks Spanish, plays piano and is willing to sit down with him and teach him a few things.  He is eager to learn.  Last year I bought an art curriculum that we never got around to finishing.  Kevin found it and has been putting it to good use.  I am so curious, are the supplies that we have more than he has had in the past or does he need more?  Our oldest two have been taking art lessons this summer, and I am excited for Kevin to be able to join them this week.  I think that he will love it! 

We took Kevin shoe shopping on Sunday.  He found a hat that he really liked too!  I have been told that any clothes that we send back with him will go into a community closet so to speak, but I hope he gets to keep the shoes and hat!  I think that he would sleep in them if he could! 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

First Saturday Event

Kevin Daniel’s profile says that he is a “leader.”  I was really curious how that leadership would manifest itself in our family.  I am an oldest child.  Sometimes when my family would describe me as a “leader” they were politely saying I was a little bossy and maybe a little obstinate too!  So far Kevin has been neither.  He’s been very responsive to our instructions.  When we say that it is time to be done with the DS there hasn't been a fight, and he didn’t fuss when I told him he had to pick a different ceramic to paint because the first one was “mucho dinero!”  I do realize that we are still in the “honeymoon” phase of his stay here.  Questioning our authority may follow in the next week or two.  Kevin has demonstrated his leadership by helping our younger children.  When he felt that the girls were getting a little too far into the street at the 4th of July parade he would gentle lead them back to the curb.   When my 4 year old needed help with his bike helmet and I was busy helping the 2 year old, Kevin got off his bike and helped out without being asked.  I like this kind of leadership! 

Kevin's artwork from this morning.
 It was our first Kidsave event, and we painted pottery at Glazed Expressions.  My oldest son also got a taste of reality today.    The two have been together since Kevin arrived.  My son has completely amazed me in his thoughtfulness toward Kevin's needs.  I warned my son that today Kevin would be with his Colombian friends and may want to hang out with them a lot.   It wasn't necessarily because he likes them better, but because they all speak Spanish.  Kevin didn’t shun him at all, but my son could see how much fun he was having with the other kids.  While it was a hard lesson, it was probably good for him to realize that Kevin Daniel is not his personal playmate!  

I enjoyed seeing him interact with the other Summer Miracles kids this morning.  He says so little at our house that it was fun to see him talk and joke around.  He was not the most boisterous kid in the bunch, but he came out of his shell a bit more than we have seen in the past couple of days.

I have contacted a couple of acquaintances in the local media in hopes that they will help me spread the word about the upcoming Kidsave events.  There are three more chances for families to come out and meet these great kiddos!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Kevin's 1st 4th of July

Waiting for candy at the 4th of July parade
A late happy 4th of July to everyone!  We had a good day.  We went to our local parade and spent the rest of the day hanging out around the house.  It so great that my husband had the day off for Kevin's first day here.  We were too tired to do any fireworks.  My kids didn't even complain they were so exhausted.  I hope that Kevin wasn't disappointed.
In one way yesterday felt a little like "sink or swim."  On the other hand we got two calls yesterday to make sure that all was going smoothly, one for us from the local Kidsave coordinator and one for Kevin from his chaperone. 
Kevin has been pretty quiet so far which we are told is typical.  He is polite says "Thank you" for every meal and my oldest has started to thank me at every meal too!  Bonus! 
We our kids have quickly learned that there are a few universal languages.  I have been so impressed with the way that kids can play without letting language get in the way.  Playing catch, Nerf gun wars, video games, basketball...the kids are just fine.  My six year old and 4 year old just chatter away at him like normal.  I don't think that he has a clue what they are saying, but he smiles and seems to enjoy their company! 
I had picked up a few Spanish books for him, and yesterday he started reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.  It was as if he went to another world.  He didn't hear anything that was going on around him.  I loved watching him devour that book!  I am not sure if he loves the book or if he loves hearing his language even if it is just in his mind, but I may have to find Prince Caspian in Spanish soon!
We had a big language break through last night.  My husband speaks no Spanish and was coaching him to use Google translate on the ipad.  Kevin was very hesitant to try it, but Jordan kept pressing.  Finally Jordan asked him what he wanted to do, and Kevin typed "Tocar el piano usted" "Play piano with you."  My husband is a very talented musician.  (I like to joke that the only two things he loved before me was his mom and his piano!)  Jordan doesn't think that Kevin reads music but just likes to play by ear.  It was a very sweet moment!
Tomorrow is our first Kidsave event.  We will be painting pottery with the other Summer Miracles Kids and families who are interested in opening their hearts and homes to these kids and giving them a forever family.  I can't wait!
*If you would like to view pictures that include faces or see what the other Summer Miracles kids are doing be sure to go to the Kidsave website and apply to meet the kiddos!  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Welcome Kevin

I am sitting here with our kids as they eagerly wait for our new Colombian friend, Kevin, to wake up.  His American adventure began early, early yesterday morning.  His flight finally got in around 10:20 pm last night, and it was well after midnight before we got him tucked into bed.
Kevin is a 12 year old orphan who is in the US for a month long American experience with Kidsave's Summer Miracles program.  Kidsave will be hosting fun, interactive events to bring together families who are interested the international adoption of older child (ages 8-14) and the Summer Miracles kids.  Our family will be taking pictures and writing weekly reports to give these families an idea of Kevin's personality and how he interacts with our family and friends. 
If Kevin were to have stayed in Colombia his chances of adoption were 10%.  Kids in the Summer Miracles program have a 80% chance of being adopted.  Isn't that great? 
Please help me spread the word about Kevin's arrival and the events Kidsave is sponsoring.  Share this post on Facebook, and sign up on the Kidsave website to see pictures of exciting summer!  Help me spread the word about Kevin's arrival and the chance to give him a forever family!