slide show

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {X Diamond Ranch}

One of my favorite places in Arizona.
A little out of the way.
A little unknown.
A little bit of history.
Just the way we like it.

X Diamond Ranch is a working cattle ranch that was owned and run by the Molly and John Butler, some pretty famous settlers in these parts.  It is still owned and run by their granddaughter, Wink.  It's just north of Greer, where the famous Molly Butler Lodge is.  Wink has turned part of X-Diamond Ranch into a bit of a museum and will give you a tour of the place.   And if you want to stay a while there are a few cabins to rent, fishing to do, and horseback riding too.  But we usually just come for the day.  Give 'em a call ahead of time if you're gonna swing by for a visit.  Just to make sure Wink will be there.

The Wallow Fire is now over, and do you remember this picture when we took our road trip about a month ago to see what the fire had done?  Look at it now!   I tried to take the two photos at exactly the same place.
Amazing how nature works!
We settled in for a picnic as the kiddos were getting pretty snarky hungry.
And some time to play in the creek!
This land really was this green!  This is honestly one of the most gorgeous pieces of land I've ever seen!  The monsoons have been producing rain daily and everything was alive and fertile!
Then we got the tour.  The boys were totally captivated for at least an hour by tales of cowboys and cattle rustlers, toe-tapping to real nickelodeons, and stories of how settlers lived at the turn of the century.
Meanwhile the rest of us just admired the surroundings.
And if that's not old enough history for you, then there's also an old huge ruin, think 500AD, to look around.
If you plan in advance, the folks at X-Diamond will even let you (and your kiddos!) help them dig here.  Yes, I mean dig in the dirt to try and discover ancient pots and arrow heads!  This archaeological site is on private property and offers advantages like this to regular ol' folks.  We've never done this, but it'd definitely on my bucket list!
Only a small percentage of this ruin has been excavated.  
Thank you, X-Diamond!  We'll be back next summer for sure!

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Not for those of a delicate constitution...

This is my shoe that I was innocently putting on.
Notice the black abyss.
I put it on, only to discover that my big toe was up against my twisted insole.
Or leaf.
Or rock.
Or stick.

So lazy me decided to walk about 10 steps hoping the insole would right itself.
Or leaf.
Or whatever.

But it wasn't correcting itself.  So I took my shoe off and reached my fingers into the black abyss to untwist the insole-leaf-rock something...

That's when my shoe started to make hissing sounds.
Or rather the occupant of my shoe started making hissing sounds.
I threw my shoe across the porch and begged for reinforcements... Livy.
There was all sorts of little-girl shreiking going on.
Me thinks this is an unfortunate yet natural consequence of spending the summer in the woods!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Done faking it

I want to start with this.

Some say 143.  Recently I heard 153.  But the number heard most frequently is 147. There are approximately 147 million orphans in the world, right now.  And that's kinda sad that I have to say approximately because no one knows for sure how many there are.  There are so very many that we can't even count them all.  Let's say we're talking about socks or hand bags.  Ok, we don't need to be precise.  Even if we are talking about dogs, maybe it's ok if we leave one or two out of our final count.  But these are children.  With souls and dreams and eyes and bitty fingers each an orphan without family to wrap her loving arms around them and give them each what every single child should have... a home... a family.  And we can't even count them all.
So we welcomed a daughter (and a son) into our family with excited and loving arms.  I was given this child.  Because I was too fearful and distrustful of what the Lord said I could handle.  I got this daughter.  She was 12 months old.  Because I was fearful of older.  Older would mean that I might have to deal with uncertainly.  Could she love me?  Could she love at all?  Would she turn her back on me?  Would she run from me, leaving me with outstretched arms, empty, longing to be held?  So she was 12 months old only, because this young infant surley could be molded and with time and love... could love.  She could be healed of the deprivation?  Surely, I thought?  I thought wrong.
But again, God knows.  Not me.  Again I am reminded of this.  And this daughter of mine for only 20 minutes, did not love me.  She loved noone.  She wanted no one.  She wanted the quiet solace of her own inner world.  She wanted to be left alone.  All alone.  Alone was when no one saw her or attended her or touched her or cooed to her or sang to her or looked into her eyes to tried to get a glimpse into her soul.  For days.  For months.  For years.  Forever?  This malnourished baby of only 15 pounds who never knew or felt love in her orphanage.  Maybe it was there and she just wouldn't let it in her soul.  Certainly she didn't know or feel the Lord's love.  She turned her head from me.  Turned her body from us.  She did not smile.  She certainly didn't love.  She wanted to be placed in her crib, and she wanted us to leave the room and close the door.  And that fact made me weep uncontrollably and broke my heart.  And in the beginning we obliged her.  Being alone was her only peace in the beginning.  We wanted her to have some peace at least.  From my own naive experience, I will tell you, this was beyond orphan adoption adjustment issues.  This was serious attachment life-altering stuff.
So we were left with a child, our beloved daughter, that knew nothing of love.  She scratched her skin till it bled.  She pulled out her hair.  She dug in her ears till the blood came.  She hoarded food.  She did it all trying to avoid us and trying to avoid looking at and touching anyone, and most of all trying to escape any contact with her soul.  When she started to be less silent, she screamed to get what she wanted.  When she didn't get what she wanted she'd bang her head against the wall.  She didn't want to look at us or be touched or held.  She knew me and noticed me no more than the mail carrier and the random stranger in the checkout line in Walmart.
To remain sane, I borrowed a phrase often used in foster parenting.  I adopted the motto, fake it till you make it.  I said it over and over in my head.  So I faked my enthusiasm.  I faked maternal joy during the many doctor visits.  And I faked the fulfillment that comes with milestones achieved during 8 therapy sessions a week.  I faked it around my family so they wouldn't worry about me... or my daughter.  I got quite good at faking it.  But sometimes I couldn't any more.  And out would burst the fear, or anger, or countless tears.  Hopefully they didn't see me do it too much because it's really hard to fake it when they see you cry.  But I did continue faking it, honestly because there were no other options.  This was my chosen path after all.
And I came to realize something in the course of these months now turn years.  I can't fix her.  I don't have that power.  Despite 8 therapy sessions a week, nutritious meals considering of 4 food groups, with one meltable solid and one crunchy texture and 2 snack-times in between those 3 meals, despite consistency, and routine, and sensory integration therapy, and unconditional love, despite brushing therapy up to 5 times a day, and daily baby massage, and rocking her in my grandmother's rocking chair and reading her books, and so much research my brain hurt, and stress and lots of lost sleep, and the assistance of the Early Intervention program and the Arizona Department of Developmental Disability, and a preschool with a teacher/child ratio of 1:2, and so so many tears, and praying with her and over her as I tuck her in to bed each night, and wrapping her with a constant source of mama love, and a forever family that would never ever leave her, and despite 30+ years of previous parenting experience...
I couldn't fix her.  
I don't have that power.  
Only He can fix her.  
Sure, I could lay the foundation and follow directions, but I'd never be able to fix her or make her whole or redeem her soul.  Only God has the power to love completely and see her for who she is underneath all the  issues and redeem her.
Now almost 3 years later, He has molded her.  We have provided the foundation for her change, but He has looked deep within her soul and let her feel His unconditional love, through a really ordinary mama and papa.  She is transformed.  She is healed in {not all} many ways.  She is a glorious, giggly, get-in-to-everything lovely little girl.  A sweet little thing that will patter down the hall and wrap her arms around her papa when he comes home from work each day.  She has been transformed into my baby that will look for my eyes, and literally reach out her arms for the comfort of her mama when she falls and needs lovin'.  She is {and always has been} my daughter.
Today there are 147 million orphans in the world minus 2

And I am the most transformed of all.  No, it's not that she's so lucky to have us.  I am so blessed and lucky to have her.  I am transformed.
I'm not going to be talking about Tess and her adoption and healing journey too much anymore.  3 years later, she's loving us and letting us love her.  Her delays are still evident, but it's ok.  She's eating pretty normally, the hoarding is pretty much under control, and although she still occasionally bangs her head when she doesn't get what she wants, now she tries to find a couch, or carpet, or blankets, or some place soft, to do it.  She's not hurting herself nearly as much anymore.  She will still look us in the eye, and scream I want to go away! when we tell her she can't have more candy or hit her brother.  But more and more often she can be coaxed into my arms for comfort and mama lovin'.  Her My transformation is largely complete.  A transformation of surrender to Him.
So any future posts about Tess will be a reflection of my sweet twirly bouncy girl.  It's a celebration of sorts, or a letting go of so many fears.
Because they aren't necessary anymore.
And they really weren't necessary all along.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Family Faves--Bacon & Eggs

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. The following is a list of supplies that I actually use. Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you purchase through this link I may receive a commission that is used to support the blog, and I sincerely appreciate your support keeping it going! 

I can't take any of the credit for this fun project!
This one is all from my mother-in-law, and the kiddos are ALL OVER IT!
White chocolate!  Sweet with a bit of salty!
And really... could it get any better than that?
This is my niece and Livy making them for about the 4th time this week.
A little riddle for y'all - When is a cell phone more than an arm's reach away from a teenager?  Not when making bacon & eggs!  Please keep your cell phone close by in case you need to text someone in a dire candy emergency!  You never know!

Unlike the previous family faves posts, this isn't really a recipe, but more like assembly instructions.

---White chocolate chips or white melting chocolate-melted in the microwave in microwave safe bowl, at 50% power
---M&Ms-pick out all the yellow ones and eat the rest.  See, I told you the kiddos love this project!
---Pretzel sticks

Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper or silicone baking sheets.  Blob a bit of melted chocolate on the wax paper about the size of a quarter.  Put a yellow m&m in the center of chocolate blob with the logo down/not showing.  Break the pretzel stick in half and put your 2 "bacon strips" along side egg.  Repeat till you've used up your ingredients or you have to do laundry.  Transfer to refrigerator to chill till chocolate sets about 20-30 min.  

This one is easy enough for my kiddos to do with little supervision.  Especially if I melt the chocolate first and get everything set out on the table.  It's hard to mess up, even for littler kiddos.  

Enjoy!  And let me know how they turn out!
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

“Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent and the serpent didn't have a leg to stand on”

What are these boys up to?  2 are my sons.  2 are my nephews.  They've been kinda inseparable this summer.
But there was just this little something in my stomach that said they were up to no good.
Oh!  A snake!  Happy happy joy joy!
Mama bliss!
Patch do not bring that critter in the kitchen.  (Oh yes he did!)
The scary part is that this is not the first time this summer he's brought me this awesome surprise.
Nor the second or third or sixth or eight!
This is the ninth time this summer time he's bought home a snake!
We've started calling him St. Patrick!
Thanks, Patch.  This will forever be known as the summer of the serpent.

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