Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Prayers for Jason

For our family and friends who are praying with us, thank you so much!

Yesterday afternoon after taking our good ole, transmission's-on-the-fritz van for work, Jason began having adomenal pain that worsened to the point of doubling him over leaving him on the floorboard as I drove him and the kids toward home. We passed two hospitals both of which he denied needing to go to (ERs are our LAST, last resort). But when we started to pass the final ER before home and Jason's  condition was only worsening, I took the exit and finally heard Jason concede that he needed some help. We checked in quickly and waited for what seemed like an eternity to get pain meds in him so he could even speak to us. The pain was terribly intense and that is saying a lot for my tough husband. He said it was a 7 on the scale (if you've heard Brian Reagan you know that  9s are reserved for broken femurs and 10s for women in labor ) but I think I still would have said 9 judging from his writhing.

Finally just before midnight, with some welcomed meds and so many prayers from friends, we found out Jason has appendicitis. They kept him comfortable through the night and officially began surgery about ten minutes ago. The surgeon is super experienced and so helpful...and Jason and I are both so relieved to know and see an end to the pain from last evening.

As we know more I'll keep posts coming! Thanks for praying for my dear  husband!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cause for Celebration

It's Easter! And while some might feel 'meh' about setting a date on a calendar, the chance to remember and celebrate has gotten richer and richer in my heart these past few years. Perhaps it's because I've moved beyond bunnies and candy to better understand the depth behind the celebration. Really, though, I think it's because on a regular basis I've been witness to the risen Jesus working so kindly in my life and am in awe of this most precious, often overlooked secret to really living-- knowing Jesus! 

It's sometimes a tricky business celebrating with kids and including the usual festivities while somehow helping them comprehend the magnitude of what days like to today represent. So today we tried giving them a visual of what happened years ago. And they got it!

Then we celebrated with the traditional Easter baskets, Reshma's first.

We had a quick breakfast of eggs we'd dyed for the morning wrapped in chapati (Indian tortillas) and then headed to church where a candy buffet greeted the kids.

When we got home we tried celebrating in a new way. Traditionally our church would display a huge cross on which families could place fresh flowers but that tradition wasn't kept this year so we made our own at home hanging the cross on Friday and today covering it with live flowers. While our wet foam didn't cooperate very well this year, it was the start of what we hope can be a continuing (and improving) tradition. 

And, following lunch there was of course more candy, egg hunting and Easter pictures!

When Levi couldn't find as many Reshma was such a good sport to stop finding for herself and help him.

It took fifteen attempts to get this pictures and not a lot of happiness from our kids...just to keep it real for you!

Happy Easter from our family to yours!

'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!' 
Revelation 5:13b

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Birthday Announcement

With our March/April birthday celebrations finished, we have a little reprieve in birthday planning until October. But this year, instead of only planning one party for Dad and a big, already-requested princess party for Reshma, we'll be planning another big, birth day festivity.

Early this year amidst all the craziness of cocooning and bonding, I started having some crazy symptoms. Incredible Indian food turned my stomach and late night grocery trips for random produce and pickles started happening. We've known officially since early February but only dared tell a few people because we needed a little time ourselves to process. Finally, on April 6th, we felt we couldn't hide it any longer (for obvious reasons) and that our two little ones were ready to hear. Reshma immediately expressed interest in a sister and Levi said, "A new baby...I think I'll kiss it." Last Tuesday they went with us to hear the strong heartbeat of little baby brother or sister. Tegen #5 is well on the way due October 16th. We're all still taking it in but thankful it's bonding our little family in the whirlwind together.

Already this little one is teaching my kids patience and giving us an even more intensified period of bonding during these nine months before baby. The day after we discovered our little one was on the way the kids and I went to a birthday party where Reshma carried the birthday girl's baby brother around the whole time loving on him. Several people commented that she'd make a perfect helper for a new baby not knowing the secret only Jason and I knew. But those ladies were right. She LOVES babies. We only need to teach her a good deal more about gentleness and we think she'll be set in her big sister role. She's pretty excited that a baby can't hit, run you over with a tricycle or call you names like her current little sibling can so those are a few things in the baby's favor. And if you ask her, she'd really like a girl because one brother is more than enough. Oh the sibling love we've seen in the last two months...

The bonus of sharing so late is that in only about five short weeks we'll also be able to share whether we'll be welcoming a second girl this year or making good use of the bins and bins of baby boy clothes we have upstairs. Either way, as long as we have a healthy baby and two well-loved, prepared siblings we'll be more than happy.

We have lots more pictures to share this weekend. This is Reshma's first Easter home and lots of new firsts by way of celebrating. We've been going through the Resurrection Eggs this week and have a cross hanging on our front door ready for fresh flowers to celebrate on Sunday morning... which is when she'll get to wear that pretty new Easter dress, hunt eggs (again), see live bunnies, get her Easter basket, etc... We'll look forward to sharing the celebrations!

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Birthdays at our house come in two waves. Last week ended our first one. In late March I celebrated thirty-four with the family on Sunday, my actual birth day. 

Then last week, our little blonde-headed joy turned four! Already! One thing I love as he gets older is the quirky, funny personality that keeps emerging. He's never boring! The weeks leading up to his birthday he constantly surprised us with his present requests and detailed birthday cake order. Nothing less than an open book cake with a lighthouse and truck driving up to it would do. He added to that request that the truck have bananas and a candy cane in the back and that he be driving it. How does he come up with this stuff?! 

Mimi, the master cake decorator, went to work ordering and planning to fulfill our four-year-olds dream. Jason's mom, Nana, was busy too searching for the present Levi told her was his dream present-- running shoes and matching running clothes. Reshma has definitely been influencing him to be more active and to keep up with Dad thus the request, we believe, for clothes that look like Dad's. And since the party those running shoes have been "giving [his] legs energy" and his most prized possession. 

We enjoyed reading a favorite book at the party, playing a "find Ramesh" game, playing at a pretend library (that I somehow got no pictures of), opening lots of presents and then jumping some of the food and cake off with an Indian dance party. 

All for this sweet, brand new four year old!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Little Give and Take

I've been thinking a lot lately about how rich my life is because of other families out there who are sharing their stories via blogs or simply sharing their resources online so the rest of us can enjoy them. The online world is one of give and take...and I have a bit of each to share in this quick update.

During a recent reorganizing (my husband's love language) project, I thought again of this sermon I once heard and how it radically changed the way I think about the concept of enough. Even down to the small things like putting a shoe organizer in our closet and realizing my shoes wouldn't fit. Right in front of me was my visual "that's enough" fence and a call to step away from so much excess. 

I've also thought a lot about a challenge I got here on picking my battles with our new I-have-my-own-sense-of-fashion daughter and how wisely one mom shared her heart on the matter. It comes to mind often and has helped me in this area though I still have trouble biting my tongue over tights and open toe high heel sandals... 

Over here I've found myself very encouraged by someone much more fashion savvy than myself...and one wiser about what goes and what doesn't. Not being very artistic, I can't easily put together clothes and colors creatively. So for those challenged like myself, we can borrow ideas from inspirational places like this one.

And finally, after Reshma asking for weeks for Biryani I scoured the internet and found this GREAT recipe! We were cooking supper for nine people that night which is not usually the best time to try something new. That morning I prayed a very genuine prayer that the Biryani would turn out, and this recipe didn't disappoint. If only we could whip this up in an hour rather than almost three we'd make this a weekly tradition! 

In all of my trying to prepare Indian cuisine, I'm still looking for other good, go to recipes. So now comes the taking part of the blog world. Any good Dal Makhani, Samosa or other great Indian recipes you've found in your internet searching? I'd love to know! Reshma would be delighted. And Jason and Levi would be relieved that we finally found some tasty, not-too-spicy meals!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nine weeks

We've been home nine weeks now and this adopting an older child, out of birth order has felt like exactly that these last few weeks. When you have a biological child attachment usually takes place well before your child can speak. But in adoption and specifically older child adoption, the bonding process is set to take place with a child experiencing culture shock, exhibiting coping and self-protective behaviors and testing boundaries. Not exactly the cooing, innocent infant that steals your heart. Never did I think bonding or attachment would be an issue. How naive I was even after all the reading. Adoption is not natural. It is a willful choosing to give time and love and energy. To be honest, it would be a terrifying undertaking without a really good Model and Ever-Present Helper.  I think the rubber met the road around the 2nd or 3rd week. Food was hard, "no" was hard, sleeping, and having a younger sibling--hard! Culture shock was in full force on both sides. We share this because too often people only get warm fuzzies about the beauty that is adoption without the truth that beauty is not all glitz and glamour.


I've thought a lot about Caleb and Joshua from the Old Testament lately. Their parents had wandered for so long and finally they were entering the promised land. Surely the lights would shine from heaven and milk and honey would be oozing from every crevice. But instead of cows and bees, giants greeted them. It was going to be anything but a smooth transition entering this promise. So has been the case seeing our flesh and blood girl of promise. This transition has been the hardest thing we've experienced in our nine years of marriage. What is amazing us, though, is how we seem to be rapidly progressing through the stages of development with Reshma and already seeing tremendous improvements in behavior and attachment. As Jason pointed out, it seems we are starting to step out of the toddler behavior stage into one where words are used a little more than behavior. Currently we're in the questioning stage wanting to know the who, what, when, where, why and how of every situation. 

After a really rough patch for both kids, Reshma is starting to respond to correction and even engaging playfully in making agreements ahead of time over things we foresee becoming battles. That beats the hours of stonewalling, arms folded, don't touch me behavior we saw prior. Unfamiliar, non-Indian food, though still hard, doesn't get the gagging sound and reaction it once did every time. And her tender, quick-to-forgive nature toward her tag-along little brother is slowly giving way to Levi accepting and even some days really liking this new big sister.  

The day before Valentine's she signed her name Reshma Tegen all on her own right underneath a big I Love You. Daily her English improves and already in our language lessons she's reading short, simple sentences. Her favorite read so far is The Cat in the Hat of which she can read the first thirteen pages! Additionally, we've made great strides in Math too! Thankfully in this new homeschooling journey we've had a veteran to walk alongside who's tutoring her twice a week and keeping me on my toes about meeting her needs and targeting her difficulties. Our lives are so richly blessed by Mrs. Donna!

Last week we made the big trip to the doctor and dentist. It was very belated due to the major adjustment phase and a big insurance switch. Really, the last thing we wanted was to welcome her home to lots of needles and foreign-looking doctors doing examinations. Though we weren't supposed to wait so long, we were thankful for the time to let her settle before the tests and doctor's appointments began. The five shots she got at her first appointment were just as traumatizing as we expected them to be. 

Just last week after sharing the difficulties of the past few weeks with some friends, it has been as if a wave of reprieve has swept through our house. I overheard Levi saying, "You're the best sister in the whole woh-ld" and all on her own initiative Reshma shared the details of what happened back in India. We are so thankful to be connecting and to already have earned enough of her trust to hear these deep details of her past. 

During the last month with all of the adjusting we also made our way down to see Mimi and Papa which included a promised trip to climb the local lighthouse. We're the little specks you see. Some of the time in Georgia also included a little getaway for Mom and Dad to celebrate nine years of marriage while the kids enjoyed fun times with the grandparents!

There is progress and connection coming after a little season of really hard days. We know there will continue to be an ebb and flow, but today at nine weeks in, we are more than relieved to see so much good progress forward.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Whole Lot of Firsts

Life is anything but quiet with two kids and a whole community of college students outside our door. Sometimes at night we've joked that there is a ringing in our ears from the absence of noise. The buzz means that the kids are sleeping well, that Reshma's English is improving daily and that our kids are interacting lots. We're so thankful to be a month in and see so many improvements. Here are a few highlights from the last few weeks.

Sibling love and learning with Alphabet Go Fish (Reshma's favorite game)

Sibling photos, take one...

...and two...

...and as good as it got that night!

First four wheeler ride! 

Feeding horses

Enjoying warm days before they gave way to this...

First snow and lovin' it!

Becoming a fan of bowling

First zoo/road trip. She's not used to long drives and car sickness adds to the difficulty!

And, first bonfire with s'mores! She loved the fire but not the sweets. Wish the rest of her family felt the same way! (See Levi cradling his beloved hot chocolate?!)

There's a blizzard in the making outside our window and a day off of school which means there will be lots more snow pictures to come! Then, only two days to Valentine's! Happy, happy Wednesday!