Saturday, February 26, 2011

Parents' Night Out

Last night we hosted our second Parents' Night Out.  This is the first event we chose to hold for a fundraiser for our adoption.  Parents had a 4 1/2 hour window where they could drop off their children and go have a few hours to themselves.  We watched 20 children!  They had blast.  Boy were they dirty and exhausted when it was over. 

Activities included riding the golf cart (slowly - the biggest hit of the evening), jumping on the trampoline,


playing with swords and weapons (plastic ones, I promise),


playing games on the computer,


eating,


and generally a lot of running around screaming.  Our poor neighbors.  This was our big, crazy group:





Thank you to all the parents who participated! 


Morning Excitement

This morning I was doing paperwork before breakfast when Alana yelled, "Mom, there are cows in the yard!"  That's my cue to run out the side door and close the front gate that leads down our driveway as quickly as possible so no cows make it to the road.  Unfortunately this has happened a few times before, which is why we knew exactly what positions to take.  "Someone" left the gate open last night.  I won't say who did it.  Usually this offense is done by one of the children.  Not this time.  Nor was it me.  Oops, I guess you can figure it out now.  Anyway, if you have never had the priviledge of having cows in your yard, the next step becomes quite comical.  Alan ran outside and started herding (chasing) the cows, as the kids took various positions around open gates to let the cows back into the pasture.  My job is to laugh and shout directions, jumping in as needed.  Here's Alan with the last of the cows:


The dog that you can see the backside of is Dixie.  She has been ours for two years.  She's very large, a mix of Bloodhound and German Shepherd.  It took me a while to like her as a puppy.  When a dog that large wants to play and doesn't quite understand when to draw the line, it hurts!  But oh, I am so glad we kept working with her.  Dixie is a wonderful dog now, a great companion.  She also thinks she is a herding dog.  She was bred to be a hunter, but I guess no one told her.  I'm kidding.  She has a great nose.  She's Alan's herding partner. 

They make a great team, and all cows are now safely back where they should be.  The only thing left to do is pick up the presents they left in the yard.  Any takers?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Friends!

Wow, what a great day!  I have been on a high all afternoon and evening.  We were blessed to have a fellow AWAA family, Anthony and Paige Alleca, drive to our home.  They were here from New York visiting family and were only half an hour away.  They were so gracious to spend two hours talking to us.  What an encouragement!  They have 5 beautiful children.  They went to Ethiopia and brought home their two youngest children about 8 weeks ago.  Hearing their story was so uplifting.  I feel kind of crazy sometimes, like I'm on an emotional roller coaster, and there's no end in sight.  It was so nice to hear that I'm not crazy. Someone else went through the same emotions, and is now on the other side, with their forever family.  God knows what we need even when we don't!  Thank you, Alleca family, for sharing a piece of your lives with us today! 


Left to right:  Alana (9-ours), Tamirat (5), Easton (6-ours), Million (3), Jayde (11-ours), Marianna (10), Matteo (7), and Francesca (13)

If you'd like to read their story, visit Paige's blog at http://www.ourethiopianblessings.blogspot.com/

From the moment they left, I couldn't stop singing the song I used to teach my preschoolers.  It's been in my head ALL DAY. 

 "My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do.
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do.
The mountains are His, the rivers are His, the stars are His handiwork, too.
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do - FOR YOU!"

Thank you, Jesus, for knowing my needs before I ask, and for new friendships!

New Arrivals

Today Alan picked up the newest additions to our hobby farm.  30 chicks!  They are sooooo cute.  Of course the kids each picked out one they claimed for their own.  Persuasive language abounded as they tried unsuccessfully to get us to allow them to keep one in their rooms.  "But Moooommmm......, I can keep it in a box and feed it and water it and look at it and take care of it.  I promise it'll be good."  Yeah, right.  I should make them write a paper for English listing all the reasons why we should give in.  But I won't, since that would be cruel due to the fact it would not change my mind a bit.  I'm not quite sure how to convince them that those chicks won't be cute and tiny for long.  Their room will stink and they'll have to clean up poop from their carpet when undoubtedly the chick will escape (because chicks seem to be great escape artists).  At one time we were up to 18 chickens, but recently they've been picked off one at a time for various reasons.  So here we go again.  It will be about 6 months before they begin laying.  Here's a picture of some of our cuties:

All will not make it to be adults.  That's just a fact of life, folks.  Then some tears will be shed by certain compassionate, animal-loving children who shall remain nameless.  But we've been down this road before.  In the meantime, each child is loving on his or her respective favorite.


Can't you see them saying, "Please, please, please?"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2/23 Update

In the AWAA Ethiopia chat room world there was much rejoicing today.  8 families received their court dates to go before the judge in Ethiopia!  That's a huge number for one day.  They are all sooooo excited.  Hearing their excitement made me long for that day pretty bad.  What a long wait.  All in God's perfect timing, I know, but waiting on the Lord is not always easy.

"In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."  1 Peter 1:6-7

Crazy Strawberry Night

Before you read today's post, I must ask you not to scroll down quickly.  Please read the writing before you start looking at the pictures.  Then scroll down S..L..O..W..L..Y....., got it?  Promise?

Tonight was Crazy Strawberry Night at Awana.  Remember how I said we LOVE our strawberries here?  That's kind of an understatement.  All the Awana kids got decked out in their best strawberry duds and each group was judged at the end of the evening.  There was one winner in each group.  Alana borrowed an abundance of my strawberry attire:  shirt, hat, flip flops, purse, earrings, necklace, bracelet, and scarf.  Here is Miss Strawberry's final look:



Now we come to Easton.  I do not own any "boy" strawberry clothing or accessories.  Can you believe it?  I will have to remedy that situation this upcoming week, because the Strawberry Festival starts a week from tomorrow.  Easton went upstairs this afternoon and decided to wear a red shirt.  That was O.K., but his sister (Jayde, the artist) decided that she could do better than that.  Here's what she came up with.......


Wait for it.........



Wait for it.........



Ta-Dah!!  Mr. Strawberry in the flesh!



I am laughing out loud.  Right now.  Not as hard as I did this afternoon when I walked in on the makeover.  I was crying.  Boy, I never realized how white his eyeballs are.  He has loved on his sister for the rest of the evening.  That little man was so grateful to be made into a delicious red strawberry, complete with seeds.  He won the contest for his age category, by the way.  Just a perk at the end of this berry blissful day (haha, lots of "berry" jokes happening around these parts).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

4-H

Last night we attended our 4-H meeting.  The kids always have a lot of fun. As a group last month we visited a local dairy.  They taught us some of the breeds of dairy cows and we watched the milking process.  The dairy owners donated cream to our group, so this month we used the donated fresh cream at our meeting.  Usually the night starts with sharing a covered dish dinner.  Then the meeting takes place.
You are looking at about half the group.

After the serious meeting, we got down to the REAL business - making strawberry shortcake!  We live in Plant City, the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World.  Strawberry shortcake is the official dish of our city (OK, maybe not, but it should be).  People come from all over North America to eat strawberry shortcake at a local produce stand (seriously, they do!).  Jayde and Alana helped bake the cake.


Easton was on the strawberry cutting committee.


Each child took turns whipping the cream.  It took a lot of muscle.


They were having such a blast that one group actually took it too far and made butter!  Then we put it all together and ate big bowls of the finished product. 

Doesn't that make you hungry?  

Paperchasing

I am trying to keep track of dates so I can see our adoption progress.  We were officially accepted into the Ethiopia program on 1/20/11.  Every family that is accepted is invited to participate in a chat room specifically set up for families adopting from Ethiopia through America World Adoption Association (AWAA in future posts).  This has been a great source of information!  The real scoop on what's happening, details, prayer requests, etc., are all shared.  Our "paperchase" (as it's affectionately called in the AWAA chat room) began on 2/3/11.  So far we have collected:

-2 reference letters (more to come)
-insurance letter regarding adding a child to our policy
-insurance card
-all copies of birth certificates for the 5 of us
-marriage license
-passport photos
-kids physicals finished
-we sent off requests for backround checks through the FDLE and Central Abuse Hotline record office

Our passport appointment is Friday.  My physical appointment is March 5 and hopefully soon after that we can get back the forms and letters from our doctor.  By that date we should also have the other reference letters, employment letters, financial statements, life insurance copies, police report, and all of the papers finished (there are LOTS more) and notarized.  At that time our paperwork can be sent in to start our homestudy process.  We are praying that just the right caseworker is assigned to us, whomever God knows we need!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Body Book

Currently I am going through the book, My Body, from Teacher Created Resources with Alana and Easton.  Jayde and Alana have both been doing Anatomy and Physiology by Apologia this year and I wanted Easton to get a little taste.  I knew Alana would enjoy the activities in the book, too.  Who knew such an inexpensive book could be so fun?  We rolled out long sheets of paper, then traced the outline of the kids' bodies on the paper.  Every couple days, we have been reading about a different organ, coloring it, and adding it to our body.  They are loving it!  I must say, there was a lot of giggling going on the day we added the bladder.  What's going to happen when we get to the intestines?  Reproductive organs?  Hehe, we shall see.  Anywhoo, I took pictures of the first layer with Alana and Easton standing next to their respective bodies.  I wanted to document what it looked like underneath.  Many of the organs we add now will actually be glued on top of the current ones. 

Here's Alana with her body - doesn't she look taller on paper?
E-man's next with his little body, larger than life on paper:
I'm not sure what he was doing with his face!  Due to bad lighting and a cheap camera, this is as good as it gets as far as detail is concerned, but you get the drift.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Party

Our homeschool group had it's annual Valentine's party last week.  We exchanged valentines and candy, decorated cookies, ate pizza, and played games.  One of the hightlights was the hat and shoebox contest.  Jayde, my girl who loves to create unique hats to hightlight her personality, was going for the Funniest hat.  She managed to accomplish her feat and won the prize for the Funniest in her age category.  Here is a picture of her hat:

Alana, just like her girly personality, wanted to make a beautiful hat in her favorite color, pink.  She was thrilled that her hat was voted "Prettiest" in her age category.  Here is Alana's hat:


Now we come to Easton, who loves to push the line and be silly.  His balloon-covered hat was voted Most Original in his age category.  Here it is:

All materials were purchased at Dollar Tree.  Easton blew up an entire pack of balloons which managed to escape every time we opened the car doors on our errand day.  I can only imagine what the patrons of Walmart thought about me as a mother while the children ran after balloons scattered around the parking lot as I yelled, "Come back!  Balloons aren't worth getting run over by a car!  A pack's only a dollar!", and Easton was yelling back, "Yes they are worth it, Mom, I blew them all up!  My balloons!  Whaaaaaaa!"  A young man must have felt sorry for me because he found a balloon by his car and walked it back over, saying, "I think this is yours."  Yes, sir, how did you know? Could it be my red face?  Or my son's frantic screams?  How about the multicolored balloons being carried away by the wind as my girls stood there watching?  Just thought I would share a typical day in the life of the Kicklighter household. 

I digress.  Back to the party.  We had a great time.  I love to see how the kids are creative in different ways. 

The night before the party we had family over for supper.  I made what was going to be a two layer red velvet cake for dessert.  But as I was pulling it out of the oven, I dropped one layer onto the floor.  Half of the cake was left in the pan and half was scattered over the floor in red crumbs.  Story of my baking life.  Anyway, Jayde loves to make things organized.  She is all about presentation!  So I gave her what was left of the cake and asked her to make something out of it that looked nice.  Here's what she cames up with:

It's nice to have kids that can save the day. 

Journey

It's funny how when you are focused on a subject, you notice things that refer to that subject constantly, in ways you may never have been aware of before.  Here's a gross thought:  Take lice, for instance.  When I was a teacher in a school (I'm still a teacher, just not in a school building), if someone in my class had lice, my head would suddenly start itching and I would scrutinize every scratch any child made above his or her neck for the next several days, sure that we ALL had lice now.  That may not be the best example, but it'll do.  The fact is, now that our family is so focused on adoption, the theme is popping up everywhere!  We are bombarded with images, words, and "coincidences" that may not, unfortunately, have been given much attention before we started this journey.  There are banners online, billboards, magazine and newspaper articles, etc., all shouting for adoption and crying out for someone to love these children. 

The kids picked out a movie to watch two days ago, and it was "Love's Unending Legacy" (we like the Love Comes Softly series).  Although I've seen it many times before, I was struck by watching Belinda's transformation at her adoption.  She was welcomed into a family that wanted her even when she didn't understand that anyone could love or want her.  I thought about my future child.  Even though I believe that God has picked him (or them) out for our family and marked them just for us, that child won't fully understand that for months or even years.  He won't understand what it's like to be wanted.

I love the book of Romans.  God reveals how he loves the Gentiles, His adopted children, just like the Jews, His children by birth.  I was grafted in! Romans 11:17 says, "....and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root".  Ephesians 1:5 says, "He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will".  "Predestined" literally means, "marked out beforehand".  God marked me out beforehand, just like He is marking out our adopted child for us beforehand.  Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Calling

I'm breaking the ice...... this is the first blog entry!  Whoo!  Who knew it would be so difficult for a non-technical person to figure out how to set this up?  My sweet sister, Ginger, helped me navigate blogworld.  So......God has called us to go through the adoption process.  There, I said it.  Today my brain is not working as it should.  I feel like this initial post should be very deep and thought-provoking, but all of a sudden all of the meaningful things I wanted to say have left me.  It's been a very frustrating day.  My doctor and insurance company don't want to cooperate with the mountains of detailed paperwork this whole process is going to require.  There have been some tears on my part.  Not in public.  Don't worry, I wasn't blubbering in front of the receptionist at the office while 30 people sat watching me in the waiting room.  Though I was tempted, I made it all the way to my car in the parking lot before the flood hit.  I think I just climbed aboard the first car in what will be a long, emotional roller coaster. Reading other families' blogs documenting their journeys to Ethiopia has been a huge help.  I listed some in my blog list.  Other blogs listed are just ones I enjoy reading.  The list will keep growing as I get better at adding things on.

Tonight I am so thankful that I am adopted into God's family.  He chose me - thank you, Lord!  "For he chose us in him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves."  Ephesians 1:4-6.  Just as God chose me to lavish with His grace, so He has already chosen the child who is to be a part of our earthly family.  He may put us through this process and have nothing come to fruition.  I hope that won't happen, but who am I to tell God what to do?  So for now I have faith that He will work out all the details, even on frustrating days when I wonder how in the world this is ever going to happen.  I am SURE of this:  if we really do get through to the end of the process and go to Africa to claim a child, it will NOT be because of anything I did.  Only God can open the doors that our family needs open.  Praise be to Him!