7.31.2015

1,276 Days and Counting

We have reached a huge landmark here in the Martin household. This little cutie lived in an orphanage for about 1,275 days. She has now been a Martin for 1,276 days. That, my friends, is something worth celebrating!



When she came to us she was 3 1/2 and the size of a 1 year old. She weighed 21 pounds and was 31 inches tall. She still toddled when she walked, she did not know how to take a step down off of a curb, she was not accustomed to activity so, while she loved to play, she got tired very quickly.



She captured our hearts before we ever met her. Then she walked into the room. We were gonners. She walked in, held her arms up and said, "Mama".

Just after meeting her.

We needed her thumb print on the paperwork the day she became a Martin.

Has it all been easy? No. There is nothing easy about healing from neglect and trauma. And it is an ongoing process. I'm not sure she really believes that she is ours forever even now. She still self-soothes when she is going to sleep. She still flinches if you move too quickly close to her face. She takes nothing for granted. Nothing. The marks of those institutionalized years are still there.

In Guangzhou, China
But...

At 7 she now weighs 39 pounds and is 47 inches tall. She is amazing in her ability to keep up with her siblings! She goes on 3 mile bike rides. She bounces from morning to night and is normally either talking or singing as she bounces. She celebrates with abandon. There is nothing quiet or subdued about her excitement!

How I love that smile!
I can't stop adding pictures! Oh the cuteness! 
She never ceases to amaze us. She has experienced more pain and loss in her little life than most of us will ever experience. But her brave, resilient little spirit remains unbroken and beautiful.

7.30.2015

One Year Ago... {A Post of Gratitude}

One year ago today I had emergency back surgery. The pain and loss of function leading up to that surgery were horrific pretty significant. I wasn't sure I would ever walk without assistance again (I wasn't just being dramatic). I used a walker for a couple of months and a cane for awhile after that.



I don't think you can tell that I still have a numb foot and lower leg. Most of the time it functions normally. Aside from a little weakness it really doesn't impact me that much. (OK, I don't exactly do any power walking or hiking... and it gets so tired it feels like it is going to fall off from time to time...but seriously, it isn't too bad!)

I think of all of the things that I can do and I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. Because one year ago I just didn't know.
Psalm 103:1-3

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,

7.28.2015

Thinking About... School

We start school early so that we can finish early. At least we normally do. It is delightful to wrap it up in April, about the time Keith is finished with tax season and it is getting warm and beautiful outside.

But...



This year we are planning to join a Classical Conversations homeschool group. It starts in September. So, should we go ahead and start on a few basic subjects or wait to start everything on September 1st? That is the question on my mind today.

A certain little seven year old is ever so anxious to start first grade. Annika, Casper, and Freeland have been on "summer break" since the end of April. In some ways easing into it seems like a good idea. So who knows? Maybe next week will see us buckling down again, or maybe not. Either way, I ordered some books this morning.

I truly love homeschooling!

7.25.2015

Seventeen Years

I have now been married for seventeen years. Seventeen years of highs and lows together, seventeen years of getting up, making coffee, and living every ordinary day together. Seventeen years of running out of clean wash clothes. Seventeen years of arguing and making up and laughing at ourselves for being so difficult in the first place. Seventeen years of living life.

A selfie we took last night
Not only seventeen years. Five Children. The first a surprise "too soon" after we got married arriving ten months after our wedding. The second a preemie. Nine long stressful days in the NICU which later seemed like nothing when compared to the third's almost nine weeks in the same NICU. Then there was the month and a half spent in Kazakhstan adding child number four. And finally the trip to China for child number five. It hasn't been the easiest way to have five children. But it has been the best!

We have been through some hard times when everything seemed bleak and impossible. We have been through some really fabulous times when the world was bright and shiny. But the important thing is that we have been through it all together and our lives have become intricately intertwined, a beautiful tapestry woven of every ordinary miracle of every moment in the past seventeen years.

7.22.2015

And Now She Is Seven

Eliana had quite the birthday this year! Her birthday was on Monday, but celebrations started several days earlier as her new friends in the Oasis Chorale gave her gifts. She was so excited about every gift. I love the way she celebrates with gusto!

On Sunday evening we took a birthday cake to the final tour party. In typical dramatic Eliana fashion she thanked everyone profusely for singing to her.



Monday morning we all (choir members) met at a restaurant before heading home. Once Eliana finished her Mickey pancake the waitress brought her a Sundae with a candle on it. Again, everyone sang to her, much to her delight.



That evening we picked up our children from Carl's. They had made a cake for her and had gifts all prepared for her. Another sweet celebration of our little birthday girl!

But... WE still had not given her gifts! So last night we had another little family celebration. She squealed all over again as she opened and tried out her gifts.



This morning her first question was, "Am I still the birthday girl?" I said she certainly is. I mean, what is wrong with a birth week?

7.21.2015

Oasis Chorale- The End of Summer Tour 2015

We are home again. I'm sitting here on my own comfy sofa sipping coffee and listening to the morning sounds of my crew getting the day started. I love getting home! I love how special the ordinary feels as I revel in familiarity after I have been away for a little while.

Gifts for the director and his wife from the bass.

Traveling with Oasis Chorale was quite an experience! I think my favorite times were when they would sing an impromptu song for someone in a restaurant, store, or rest area. I loved these little token moments of sharing their gift with people!

video

I appreciated the commitment the choir has to communicating the message of the songs and honoring God through their singing. I certainly came away from the experience with a renewed appreciation for the gift of singing and music.

Apparently it is also all about the socks for bass #2.


As for Keith? I think he is hooked! So this may have been our first experience traveling with Oasis, but I really don't think it will be our last!

7.13.2015

Oasis Chorale Tour, The Middle

So, we have been traveling with Oasis Chorale for about one week now and have one week left. So far the chorale has given 4 concerts and there are more concerts and recording scheduled for this week.



We are still in Canada which makes contacting the children at home a little difficult since we can only contact them when we have wifi. But it sounds like they are doing well, at least from their perspective!



In a lot of ways this trip seems as exhausting to me physically as trips to China are. It is strange because I'm not really that busy. I'm taking photos which means editing them and getting them to the people who need them, but I'm not busy most of the time. I guess it is just the traveling and needing to function on a set schedule.



Keith is really enjoying singing with the chorale. I love watching him, knowing how much he loves it! And Eliana is having the time of her life with a bus full of adults to have fun with every day! Spoiled? Oh no, not her!
 
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