Monday, January 31, 2011

To The Rescue!

Super heroes invaded our house today. They caught 6 bad guys and put them in handcuffs.




They even had a superhero dog

well, for a minute anyways...

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Another One Bites the Dust

Chloe lost another tooth last night, this one on the bottom. So now she has lost her 2 front teeth and 2 on the bottom.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mickey keeps Caesar in shape

Mickey asked to take Caesar out to play the other day and about an hour later, I looked out to find this.

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Mickey was definitely not sure about a dog in the house when he first came, but now, I often find Mickey spending extra time with Caesar. So glad they've connected.

Friday, January 28, 2011

On My Own

This article has been floating around the adoption world the last few days and I couldn't help but post it on our blog.

On My Own

When many people think of an orphanage, I think they often envision babies and toddlers. I used to be one of those people myself. On my many trips to China, however, I began meeting and falling in love with the older children who have grown up in institutions, many who never had any true chance of finding a permanent home. Their faces and stories are in my heart forever now, and sadly many of my memories of these great kids involve tears. Tears from Jenny, who broke down on her 14th birthday when she realized that she had aged out of the adoption system without being chosen. The final realization that she would never know what it meant to have a mom or dad of her own caused her to fall into a deep depression. Tears from Lily, a 17-year-old girl whom I had given my jacket after she admired it. When she refused to accept it initially, I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “But of course you have to take it because you are like family to me.” And it was at that one word, “family,” that this normally stoic young lady broke down and sobbed uncontrollably, as it is the one thing that she longed for.

By far, however, the most emotional moment of my time in China came one night when I was able to meet with a group of older orphaned teens I had watched grow up over a five year period. Every time I would visit their orphanage, I would enjoy getting to know them more. They all seemed so close, such good friends, and they always had smiles for me when I arrived. That night, however, was a night when the kids finally let their guard down. It was a night of real conversation and sharing what it means to grow up as an orphan. Toward the end of the evening we were all in tears. Afterwards, one of the older boys stayed to talk with me privately. I am hesitant to even write of it now as it was such a deeply personal and emotionally raw conversation. I will share, however, that he told me that growing up without a mother or father “hurts more than death.” Children aren’t supposed to raise themselves. They are not supposed to grow up alone, which I know sounds impossible when you are growing up in a crowded orphanage. The reality, though, is that hundreds of thousands of orphaned children feel utterly and completely ALONE. I held this incredible and wonderful teen in my arms as he sobbed about how much he wanted a mom, and I can’t think of it now without great pain.

Why was I given the opportunity to be born into a family who could take care of me, while millions of children are born into situations so sad and filled with hurt that many people don’t even want to hear their stories? I have struggled with that question for years with no answers. But I do know that all of us who have been blessed to know what a family really is should make every effort possible to help those who are orphaned. If not us, then who?

The theme song for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was a song called “You and Me.” It has been sung to me by children in orphanages many times, and it always makes me cry. The words haunt me… especially for the older children who have grown up feeling so alone: “Put your hand in mine. You and me, from one world. We are family.”

How I wish those words were true in every person’s heart. How I wish everyone believed that we need to treat people as family and share our ever shrinking world. What a wonderful place this would be if every adult took the hand of a child in need and didn’t let go. To all of the older orphaned children who have aged out of the possibility of ever finding a family, I send my heartfelt prayers. You are not forgotten. And we will continue doing our very best to help in every way possible.

Amy Eldridge is the Executive Director of Love Without Boundaries.

Love Without Boundaries proudly advocates for adoption but is not an adoption agency. We invite you to contact adoptionassistance@lwbmail.com with questions about a child we have featured and encourage you to contact your local adoption agency for more information about China’s Waiting Child Program.


After reading that, I can't help but think of my boys who could have so easily been one of those kids who aged out of the orphanage. The last 5 months have been the hardest of my life and so many days the Devil told me It's not worth it. These boys are ruining your family. But I look at them now and think about what their life would have been like in a few years when they too would have left the orphanage like so many others and realized that no one thought they were worth the risk to love. Please ask yourself if you are willing to take the risk to love just one child.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Things I should be writing down

People tell me all the time that I should write a book. I hope to one day, but no time for that now. I've been really bad about writing things down since the boys came home so wanted to jot some notes before I forget.

Last week:
Mickey started calling me "mommy" when he is concerned about something or is having a sweet moment. He still yells, "MOM" when he needs help with homework or needs something, but "mommy" is a huge step.

AJ read me 2 beginner reading books. This is huge!!! I've been extremely frustrated with AJ's school and the ESL services he is getting (or not getting). I decided to investigate Hooked on Phonics to see if it would help AJ learn the sounds of letters. A week and a half working with HoP and he's reading. Now retention is another matter...but baby steps.

This week:
Mickey asked me tonight if I had texted someone. I asked him if he knew what texting was and he explained it to me. I told him, "congratulations, you are now an official American tween." Then I had to explain what a tween was.

Chloe lost her 2nd front tooth so is now asking us to cut up all her food (like pizza). Poor kid!

Essie lost her bottom tooth last week (same on as Chloe lost a few weeks ago) so they were missing the same teeth for about a week.

The girls also brought home math papers from school last week that showed they had been doing addition. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! They are in Kindergarten and are already having to learn addition. Craziness! But I've been intrigued by the Tiger Mom book that has been all over the news lately and I do have to say that I agree with her when she says that Chinese parents believe their children to be strong and push them so that inner strength comes out while Western parents feel their children are inherently fragile. I know my children are inherently strong because they survived for 3, 8, and 10 (or12) years in the bush. Therefore, I'm pushing as much as I can with school and we are doing lots of homework and extra work that I am finding from various sources. Honestly, its a big pain in the butt to me as I have many other things I could be doing. But, its my job to make sure they not only survive, but thrive academically. And since the boys are already behind, I'm going to keep pushing as much as they'll take. (BUT I still won't homeschool them b/c I'm pretty sure I would strangle one or more of them if I did that) Ok, I'm getting off my soapbox now.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Essie & Chloe's cheerleading debut

Today, Essie and Chloe got to participate in the Asbury University cheerleading clinic. They have been so excited to go to "cheerleading practice" and have asked me about a million times in the last 4 days if it was time for cheerleading yet. Well, the big day arrived and the girls had a ton of fun. You can see from the videos below, I think we need a few more practices before we become "professionals" (as Mickey likes to say), but they were cute and that is all that really matters at this age.

Hanging with Isaiah the Eagle

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mickey's First UK Game

Some very kind friends (thanks Kerry & Tim!) gave us a couple of tickets to the UK-LSU game today, so Matt and Mickey went. Just passing the faith along from generation to generation.

Watching the Cats warm up

The final score - quite a drubbing!

Mickey's favorite player, Brandon Knight, was the player of the game, so we stuck around to watch him be interviewed afterward.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Family Photo Shoot, Part Four

Here are a few last shots from our family photo shoot in November:





Thursday, January 13, 2011

Adoption Tax Credit

I always prefer a video to actual reading (b/c I'm a visual learner) so thought this might be helpful for other adoptive families. Kudos to Jackson Hewitt!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Snowlady

As promised, the snowlady pictures. These are from yesterday and she grew much bigger today, but I never made it out to take any pics. Will try to do that tomorrow while the kids are in school (fingers crossed).




Mickey's first English book

Mickey finished reading his first chapter book today, The Next-Door Dogs. Two (more) snow days gave him plenty of time to finish all 103 pages! I think this book came from my sister Kelly's childhood library, but Mickey seemed to enjoy it. He has now ventured on the Robinson Crusoe which I think he will really enjoy.


This is his "I love to read" face

Other accomplishments of the day included the boys spending a whole hour outside working on a snowlady (pictures to come later) and another frank discussion about the proper use of the toilet (please Lord, help this one to sink in b/c I am SOOOO tired of cleaning up messes).


Monday, January 10, 2011

Family Photo Shoot, Part Three

These photos were all taken under High Bridge, a railroad bridge that spans the Kentucky River just down the road from where we live. Our church is about a half-mile from the bridge.


Mom & Dad

Matt and his boys

Notice the train going across the bridge in the background.

A little Ethiopian pride!

Family Photo Shoot, Part Two

Essie & Chloe are definitely the photogenic ones in our family, so they just deserve their own post. So cute.





Family Photo Shoot, Part One

Our very talented friend Cydil (cydilwaggoner.com) took our family's photos a few weeks ago, and tonight we got to see the beautiful finished products. Here are some shots of our kids:

Mickey

A.J.

Chloe

Essie

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year's Eve Christmas in Kentucky

We celebrated the Kinnell family tradition of a chili supper on New Year's Eve and added Christmas with that side of the family as a bonus. It was a wonderful day for the kids to receive roller blades - temps in the mid-50s and sunshine.

Opening bike helmets from Uncle Ron and Aunt Ok

AJ shows off his Spiderman web shooter

Chloe and Essie with their new UK hoodies

Essie gives the roller blades a try

Essie & Chloe

Mickey

Aunt Buffy attempts to keep the chain upright...

...with mixed results

AJ gives it a go

Chloe

Essie

The girls are catching on

Adding a pillow for bun support

Mickey is getting the hang of it

So much fun!