Friday, August 23, 2013

First Day of School (7th Grade)

Tuesday was the first day of school.  We were ALL ready for this day.  The last week of summer was a hard one. The kids are done, we were done, it felt like the longest week of the year.  :-)

We had open house last week and met each of Hope & Maggie's teachers.  7 of them.  And the girls only have 3 together.  My first reaction was "this is going to be interesting".  But after seeing how the girls reacted to this, I now know this is going to be a good thing.  They were happy to not have every class together.

I was terrified because everyone kept saying "this year is going to count".  Maggie's 1st class is Civics. I wanted to cry listening to the teacher. I knew there was NO WAY Maggie was going to pass this class.  And then she introduced the ESE teacher.  Whew!  I talked with her and she said not to worry about the girls (she is with Hope in her Civics class as well).  She said every teacher knows their situation and they will only expect them to do what they understand.

The girls were ready for school. They were excited.  They told us they wanted to eat breakfast at school because they knew it was free.  So, we told them they could try it.  Maggie said they went through the line, picked their food & milk, and then she asked to make sure it was "no money".  They were very sweet to the girls.

They love their teachers.  They have friends in most of their classes.  But the big shocker was Hope. She made a NEW friend.  ON....THE....FIRST....DAY!   If you know Hope, you know this is HUGE!  Hope does not make friends easily.  She does not understand why anyone would want to be her friend. So when she told me this I just wanted to cry and rejoice.  But the kicker is this......The girl speaks Chinese. This is her first year at the middle school.  I don't know who approached who first, But Hope said they were talking with each other and she can speak Chinese, English AND a little Spanish.  Hope said they talked to each other in Chinese.  I was SHOCKED!  Because Hope refuses to speak Chinese at all.

The first week of school has been good.  The girls come home every day wired and non-stop talk.  They are trying to do their homework and we are realizing how much they still need to learn.  Basic math facts for one.

Amazing how much the girls have changed.  So thankful for this.  It's amazing to see the transformation.  God is good!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

One Year!

Wow, what a difference a year makes.  One year ago today, Hope & Maggie were no longer orphans.  One year ago today, we became the parents to 6 kids.  One year ago today, all of our lives changed forever.

Has it been an easy year?  I will not lie.  No, it has not been easy.  Why?  Well, so much has changed.  Hope & Maggie went from living in an orphanage, with no real boundaries, guidance, love, nourishment etc.  To living with a family where there are boundaries, rules, love & plenty of food etc.

It was hard for the girls to adjust. A new language, new smells, new people, etc.  It was hard for us to adjust.  Two preteens who don't speak the language, who have habits that are not acceptable in the states, who don't know what it's like to be loved etc.

We all learned a lot this past year.  We learned to love each other. We learned to like each other. We learned to accept the new "normal".

Has it always been difficult?  No.  We have had some amazing moments with the girls & our entire family.  Experiencing their first Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter etc has been amazing.  Teaching them to ride bikes, to swim, to try new foods has been awesome.  Even though the girls were preteens, there was still so many first that we got to experience with them.

We had our 1 year post placement visit with our social worker last week.  I told her how some days are just exhausting.  She told me to sit and really think back through the past 12 months.  She told me that I will see the growth in the girls, and in us, if I just sit back and reflect.

And do you know what?  She was right.

You've heard a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well, I believe that.  I'm so thankful for photos, because it does help me to reflect back to the past year. I can visually see the changes in the girls & in us.  Sometimes when we are in the thick of a tantrum, it's hard to see that there are changes. But there are changes.  There has been growth.

Here are photos.  I don't think I have to explain which ones are from last year and which ones are from today.  All I can say is God is so Good!  He has stayed with us and will not leave us.  He has watched over the girls the entire time they were in the orphanage.  And He is still watching over them.