Wednesday, March 31, 2010

squeaky clean

my friend melissa was so kind and put her creative talents to work when matthew came to our home. she made him his very own hooded towel with his name personalized on it. as soon as the boys saw it i knew i had to convince her to make two more:)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

have you ever....

listened to the cries of an abused child? listened to the story of someone who's never been loved? someone
who hasn't slept in the same bed, heck, even the same house for more than a few months? i have. last night
in fact. i hate neglect. i hate the foster system. i hate the pain. the tears. the nightmares. the injustice.
the only thing i hold onto is the promise. the promise that this is not it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

great day in history

it's the day the world welcomed sonny esteban varela

it's the day we got the funny faces
the insatiable need for knowledge
the brain that remembers facts he saw on the discovery channel when he was 5
the love for God's word and the passion to share it
the palette that appreciates a fine meal and can taste the tiniest hint of freezer burn
the man who has embraced the hard work of being the sole provider
the love of my life

happy birthday, love.

Monday, March 22, 2010

electronic bonding

they are called...

A digital native is a person for whom digital technologies already existed when they were born, and hence has grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3s. A digital immigrant is an individual who grew up without digital technology and adopted it later. (wikipedia)

i think it is interesting that these terms have been coined. much of the same principles apply to actual immigrants and their children. their children actually navigate this "new world" for them (become fluent in the language, translate, shop, speak to other adults on behalf of the parents, etc) they are experts in an entire culture that their parents live in but are not native to. i pray that rather than feeling threatened by this fact i will embrace it and always stay involved in the land my children were never foreign to. may i learn from them and embrace their "savvy" rather than trying to keep them in my "homeland".

Sunday, March 21, 2010

job charts

i love the idea of job charts and grew up loving to put stickers in those little boxes and waiting for a prize. i wanted to give my kids a way to be responsible for themselves and track their success. the only thing is they need visual cues, rather than just writing and the big paper charts with the little boxes just aren't that attractive with my decor. once again...i found a solution to my dilemma on etsy.
aren't these the coolest? they're personalized, magnetic, and reusable infinite times. they have visual cues along with written words and they're easy for my boys to manipulate all by themselves.
i found these at Abbie's House and she also has refill packs with more magnets for additional jobs. we love our new job charts almost enough to love doing our chores:)

Friday, March 19, 2010

say what?!

ari had his last basketball game of the year and was so excited to have an undefeated season. even though the league doesn't keep score...somehow the kids found out:)
during the first half ari was upset because he wasn't getting very many shooting opportunities and the few he got were unsuccessful. there were tears. there were clenched fists. there were lots of killer looks.
during the end of the second half i heard cheering with my sons name woven in and i looked up in time to see ari celebrating a basket! when he came to the bench a few minutes later for a rest i congratulated him and asked how it was. he looked up at me with a face lit by his smile and said...

"it was like the water of happiness washed away all the sadness"

he's 7. where does this come from? who is this child? i am reminded daily that he is his own person and i am responsible not to make him into my image, but into God's image. not to mold him into the child i expected, but the one God gave me.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

happy happy birthday!

the most common question I’m asked when people meet my mom is…
”is she always like that?"

the answer is….yes.

here’s to 53 years of enthusiastic living…happy birthday, mom!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


it was such a special day. noah was showered with so much love and affirmation and our whole family was supported and it just confirmed again what a blessing the process of adoption has been in our lives. the more we share it, the more beautiful it becomes. thank you to all the thoughtful and wonderful people who made today so very memorable.

i got the 4-year-olds matching outfits with a shirt to match their demeanor...

watching the video of our special day in court and pics of noah's first year

the "older" boys celebrating with video games
all of our guests received a freezer paper stencil, canvas tote and fabric paint to create a one-of-a kind bag all their own...they did such a great job!


Happy adoption day, noaH!!

THree blessed years Have passed since noaH officially became a varela. we cannot imagine our family witHout Him. to read tHe cliff notes of His story click Here. (adoption day party pics fortHcoming:)

Monday, March 15, 2010

new cHildren's zoo!

tHe oklaHoma zoo just opened tHeir new cHildren's zoo tHis past friday and we were tHere witH bells on! tHe coolest part was tHe larakeet park. we got to go in, nectar cup in and, and be attacked, um, i mean greeted by real live larakeets. my friend nicolette was wise and bougHt tHe nectar but tHrew me under tHe bus asking me to Hold it. i got SWARMED! i'm not big on animals (and birds are my LEAST favorite, besides snakes) but tHe look on tHe kids' faces made me stand still and not run for my life. Have i mentioned i saw a clip of alfred HitcHcock's "birds" on tv wHen i was little and Have Had nigHtmares ever since? o.k.
mattHew was THRILLED to Have a larakeet on His sHoulder.

and His Head. anywHere really. He just loved Him some birds.
Daniel giggled witH deligHt over tHese beasts and even tried to lure tHem witH empty nectar cups

aren't i brave? tHis was AFTER tHe feeding frenzy.
o.k. tHis picture sHows a bit more of my true colors...not lovin it, but trying oH, so Hard:)

p.s. if you Haven't noticed, my "H" key is NOT fixed yet, but i did discover tHat tHe capital H works. wHen i Hit "caps lock" it doesn't work, but just tHe capital H. extremely weird. makes for strange reading wHen you come to my blog, but you'll just Have to live witH it until my Husband bails me out of tHis H-less mess.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

around the world in my room

ari's room is the only one i consider "finished". except for a bedspread (he's attached to the floral one from our old guest bed) i don't have more plans for this space. i wanted something uniquely ari and something not too young because he is seven and we plan on him being in this room for a while. ari loves math....hmmmm a number theme? no. ari loves maps. he loves geography and he loves travel. BINGO! this is what i came up with...
the first two are time zones important to us and the second two ari chose as "important" places.

these are sheets i picked up at ross for the bed and used one to make a window covering.
the bookshelf with his globe and globe bookends

a travel chest i found for $10 on craigslist and a stack of LIFE travel books i got free at the school book sale. the globe balls were decor from the world collection at target that just ended.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

thank you...

i had to write and express my gratitude for all of your comments. it is scary posting something so painfully honest, but i trust you, and you didn't let me down. in fact you went above and beyond what i ever thought. you encouraged and inspired me. i thank you. i cherish you.

i saw this on the rack as i was browsing kids clothes yesterday.....i thought of you all. nothing i have is the way i dreamed's as God dreamed.
and it's
needless to say, i won't be buying this little outift:)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

last night... part two

so, did you read the story? if not, i'll wait.

o.k. did you get kleenex? alright, i'll wait again.

now...sigh. i'm gonna try and communicate the experience i had. here goes....
i was in my bed. after an exceptionally hard day with matthew. he is difficult. the thing is, though, i knew he would be difficult. i prepared. i went to 46 hours of training. i have read countless books, articles, blogs all addressing kids with issues. kids who are angry. kids who act out. they kick, scream, destroy things, pee in corners without you knowing until you smell something foul later. these kids hurt other kids. punch their teachers. swear, curse you, run away, get expelled. yes, i'm talking about preschoolers. i expected this. i was ready.
what i wasn't ready for was the LACK of all of these behaviors. matthew's got none. he's less violent than my own kids. he is just as wounded as all the kids i researched and prepared for. he just expresses it differently. in the exact ways that drive me crazy. literally. now, my own kids drive me crazy. but this is a totally different animal. this kind of crazy eats me alive. there is no connection, no history, no promise of a future with this child. all of his acting out, EVERY SINGLE thing he does is fingernails on a chalkboard to me. this causes a lot of frustration. a lot of yelling. a LOT of timeouts. a lot of loud sighing. a lot of guilt. i don't WANT to feel this way. i know he doesn't WANT to make me feel this way. it just is. it. is. hard.
so, back to my story. (will i really start it this time? i don't know.) i was in bed after a hard day. i go to bed early a lot these days. i just don't want to sit up and watch t.v. or tidy up the house or any of the other things i used to do with my "free" time. so i was in bed browsing through blogs and found "the story". i must admit i anticipated a birthmom/adoption story. wHen i realized it wasn't that i went on to think maybe it was a stillbirth story. i must admit. i was surprised. the placement of the brilliant colors, gorgeous photography, and all the anticipation and careful preparation in juxtaposition to something so painful. so scary. so unexpected. it jolted my body. it was like paddles to my heart. i was in shock.
then there was this...

Love me. Love me. I'm not what you expected, but oh, please love me.

i lost it. i could almost hear matthew pleading these words to me. he has been begging, screaming, asking, for nothing else. he has never experienced the unconditional love of a mother and it's all he wants. all he needs. and he asks for it. constantly. obnoxiously. maddeningly.
who am i to be annoyed? who am i to deprive him of that love again?
i felt the Spirit saying "hold him".
i went to him. on the couch. i had angrily placed him there earlier as a punishment for getting out of bed. i picked up his little body, put my laptop on the floor with the soundtrack of the story still playing, and i rocked. i rocked him for all those that should have been there for him, but weren't. all the love and security he should have received, but didn't.
he is not what i expected. not who i prepared for. he is not what i wanted. but for now, he is mine.

Monday, March 8, 2010

last night...

i was doing my daily (o.k. two, three times daily) perusal of blogs and found a link on my friend celina's blog. it said "a birth story". i'm fascinated by any birth story, but i knewthis one was probably special cuz celina is special and she's been in the process of adopting for YEARS and is still waiting for her precious ones to come home.
so i clicked over getting ready for a heartwarming read, and boy was i in for a major shock. this thing rocked my world. it hit me where is hurts and i was forced to look face to face at my own depravity. i'll expound more later on my struggle in the night, but i just wanted to link to the story so that you could read it for yourself. you are not the same sinner i am so you will not be convicted in the same way, but whoever you are, i guarantee you will not regret reading this. come back tomorrow to read how this story left me rethinking everything.
p.s. i hATE hATE music on blogs. don't know why, just annoys me. i always turn it off. this time...i didn't and boy did it enhance the experience. do what you want, but that's my two cents:)

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Matthew and Noah had their first soccer game today with their friends Markel and Cayden
i truly don't know if they were more excited about the game, or wearing their soccer gear...they would sleep in it if i let them
i asked them to stand by the bush so i could take a picture before the game and noah struck this pose while shouting "SOCCER!!!" he was a tad excited

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

education for a dollar

our foster son has needs. and lots of them. i am overwhelmed with all that he doesn't know, all that he hasn't learned and all he needs to unlearn. he attends eight appointments a week to help wit these tasks, but most of the weight falls on me. with two other children and a part time job and all the other things i do, i need to incorporate this "re-education" into our daily lives. i just can't sit down for hours with matthew like i would like to. i have found a simple (and cheap) way to make that possible and i thought maybe you, with or without a special needs child, might like to use it as well.
every child has things to learn (that's their full time job) and we all have time in the car, grocery store, post office line, etc where we could capitalize on their lack of anything to do, but how? here is my solution....
photo albums from the dollar tree or walmart for a buck. they hold just enough and usually even have a slip cover you can customize (or just slap a label on the front). i had dreams of making scrapbook like covers with embellishments and stunning lettering, but this was all i had time for. we just deal with it.
matthew as major speech issues and is supposed to be working on saying certain problem words every day. i just google images of those words, have the pics printed and voila...a speech book is born!
don't want to find pics and print them? flashcards! they can be found at the dollar tree on many subjects at all grade levels and just slide right into te pockets. done!
matthew also has a hard time with all the people that go in and out of is life so i thougt it would be cool to make him a book of the people who love im and their names. he loves to flip through this and the grin gets bigger and bigger with each page. noa insisted on aving one too:) wouldn't a little one LOVE this? could also help wit learning the names and faces of out of town relatives.

finally, i purchased the school sized letter chant that my teacer friend recommended. it has worked so well for the boys and teaches alphabet recognition, letter sounds, and it's just fun! i took pictures of each card and had them printed as 4x6 photos and now they're "chanting" down the freeway, in the dr.'s office waiting room and down the aisles of target. it's awesome!