Wednesday, April 21, 2010

… And it all happened at Kid’s Club

Tonight was an unusual night in many ways. It ended with such an unexpectedly pleasant (and humorous) turn of events that Kim and I deemed it blog worthy.

For starters you need to know that we all went to church tonight. We don’t normally all make it to a Wednesday night service. Normally one parent stays home with the youngest children. Both Kim and I like to attend, but the reality is that Wednesday night church does make for a late evening for our kiddies.

I should also mention that the Wednesday night church routine is somewhat different for the children's classes. Ben’s class and Jonathan’s class merge together in a common room known as “Kid’s Club” for a portion of the time. It’s a good technique for dealing with kids at that hour, I think. (Keep ‘em moving.) We weren’t sure how Jonathan would deal with this change in routine and the late hour.

But, there was a special speaker this evening that both Kim and I wanted to hear. So we decided to risk it and give Wednesday night church a try. After the church service I was given the task of picking up Ben. Ben’s track record with Wednesday night church has not been the best… when he is tired he is most prone to make trouble for a parent, teacher, or I suppose any other authority figure. So, I got the job of picking up Ben and getting “the report.”

I was greeted with a very pleasant surprise. According to his teacher Ben had been very well behaved in class AND I was also informed that Ben took a very active part in consoling Jonathan during Kid’s Club. It seems that Jonathan wasn’t dealing well with the change in environment and was starting to get distraught. Ben picked up on this, sat down next to Jonathan, and essentially befriended his kid brother.

Wow! Considering that those two had been tussling over one thing or another for the last 72 hours this was great news.

I told Ben how proud I was of him. I told Kim the happy news when we got in the car. More praise for Ben. Then the dialogue began between Jonathan and Ben as we drove home. When those two get on a roll, it can be hysterical. They carry on like two little old men.

I’m going to attempt to reproduce the dialogue here. It went something like this.

Mom: So, Jonathan, were you sad in Kid’s Club?

Jonathan: Yes.

Mom: Ben, did you notice that Jonathan was sad?

Ben: Yes.

Mom: What did you do to make him feel better?

Ben: I sat next to him.

Mom: Because that’s what brothers do, right?

Ben: Yes…. I think he knew it was me because I was wearing my name tag.

Mom: I think he would know you even without the name tag.

Ben: Yeah. Maybe.... Jonathan?

Jonathan: What?

Ben: When we get to our house I’m going to give you a big hug.

Jonathan: Huggie!

Ben: When we get to out house.

Jonathan: House? What house? That house? (Pointing out the window.)

Ben: (deep sigh.) No our house.

Jonathan: Mama’s house? My house?

Ben: Yes, your house.

Jonathan: My house.

And so the conversation goes on and on. A lot of conversations with Jonathan go like that these days. The point here is that we are seeing real growth in our two youngest boys. It is a real treat to see Ben own up to his big brother role in his four-almost-five year old way. It’s also a delight to see Jonathan growing in his ability to speak and relate to his siblings.

The young un’s are in bed now. Ben insisted on helping tuck Jonathan in.

It was a good night, a very good night.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


When you homeschool it is sometimes difficult to see success. You are with your children all day, you're the teacher, and it can become difficult to see progress. In September Amanda, Tyler and Jordan began memorizing what would ultimately be a total of 19 poems and 2 passages of scriptures. (We used the book Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization.) We told the kids in September that if they memorized all 19 poems and 2 scripture passages then we would celebrate with a special dinner out. TODAY WE GOT TO CELEBRATE! Today, all 3 children recited all the poems to Jeremy. We then went to Sonic for dinner. We celebrated by eating our dinner and ice cream in the car. All the kids thought this was extremely fun. I am proud of my children not only for memorizing the poems and scripture passages, but for also having a wonderful attitude about this assignment. No one ever complained about working on poems. They probably wouldn't admit it, but I think they even (at times) enjoyed learning the poems. I know they all enjoyed the reward for their hard work. I just announced that I was putting the book away till next year when we would start level 2 and Jordan exclaimed, "Let's start now!"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fun Photos

I know we are supposed to be starting more of a whole family blog, but the design team at Shafer Family, Inc is experiencing difficulty finding a time to meet when the designers are not exhausted.

I just wanted to post a few of these FUN photos!

These two are quickly becoming double trouble. Ben's latest comeback when he and Jonathan are caught in mischief is "It was Tinga's (his nickname for Jonathan) idea!"

They convinced me they needed a before bed snack of oranges, grapes and peanuts. Yes, I know my food budget is going to go through the roof when I have 4 teenage boys.

If you have been reading the blog for any length of time then you know how much Jonathan loves cars. He was thrilled last week when he discovered he was going to take part in helping to wash the car!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Road Ahead

Kim reads more blogs than I do. Yes, even after our journey to Jonathan, Kim has continued to read and learn from the adoption experiences of others. And, to be honest, the “adoption experience” doesn't really end when the child comes home. No more than being married ends after the honeymoon. No more than being a parent ends when an infant comes home from the hospital!

The “adoption experience” doesn't ever really end, but it does change. I think that it would be fair to say that Kim and I have both, in our own way, grieved a little bit over the past few months. We have grieved the loss of the anticipation and excitement and challenge that came with our initial journey to Jonathan.

That's probably normal. That's probably been written about in a lot of other blogs. I wouldn't know. Kim reads more blogs than I do.

In those days, weeks, and months of “let down” I have found it easy to think as if the adventurous part of our life is over. Certainly one very big adventure is over. We went to CHINA for cryin' out loud! But that doesn't mean that all anticipation and excitement and challenge ends here.

To that end, I have an announcement to make. This blog is going to end. In its place will be a brand new blog with a new address. It's only fair you know this is coming. It'll be a spot where we can yammer on and on about the whole family: Jonathan and Ben and Jordan and Tyler and Amanda. No child left behind here!

It'll also be a place for Kim and me to write about whatever new adventure God lays on our hearts. We took a big leap of faith in adopting Jonathan. Now we're kind of hooked. What leap of faith would God have us take next?

It hit me like a ton of bricks this morning: If I am not careful, I will make decisions backwards.

God wants me to make decisions based on faith ... expectation without tangible evidence.

Instead, I will naturally look for tangible evidence.

God wants me to make decisions based on hope ... an optimistic view of the future that trusts God and His willingness provide.

Instead, I will naturally gravitate towards cynicism.

God wants me to makes decisions based on love ... love that unconditionally expresses itself to others.

Instead, I will naturally look out for "me" and "mine."

If I operate out of a natural realm, I will make decisions backwards.
To be totally honest, that natural realm is what I have slipped into these past few months. In my mind the journey to Jonathan was over so, now it's on with my career, my duties, and ... business as usual. I found myself slipping into some pretty “backwards” thinking.

This is not the person I want to be. This isn't who Kim wants to be either. What bold move would God have us take for which there is no tangible evidence, which requires a God-centered optimism, and which demonstrates unconditional love?

We don't know yet. It might be big. It might be small. It might end up being so small that it'll be boring to write about. We'll get back to you on that.
In the meantime, say a prayer for us! We'll announce the new blog address here when it is ready and when we can agree on its name. :-)

Thanks for reading. Thanks for letting Kim and me share our hearts and our tears and triumphs. Thank you for every sacrifice large and small that helped bring Jonathan home. It was worth it all, and it still is.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

We have come a long way!

This week it will be 5 months since we first met Jonathan in China. In those 5 months, we have come a long way. Jonathan now loves Church. He asks to go and walks into his classroom like he owns it. He is quick to tell us that "I no cry" when we pick him up. I love to sit and rock him to sleep and sing "Jesus loves me" to him. We talk about Jesus and read his Bible story book. What a privilege it is to introduce him to our Savior.
His favorite phrase is "I like that". He is still fascinated by cars and loves going for a ride.
Ben and Jonathan are getting along much better. (although like any brothers they have their moments) Today, it is hot. So we pulled out the baby pool and slip and slide. Jonathan thought this was really, really cool! It is so much fun to watch his face as he encounters so many "firsts".

Everyone (except Jordan, a story for another day) is taking swimming lessons at our local high school. It was so much fun trying to explain to Jonathan what a swimming pool was. He loves his swimming class and is doing great!

Easter provided many other firsts. First time dying eggs.

He also enjoyed Easter Sunday spent at church and with family.

Jonathan loves his sister Amanda and our dog, Emma. Although, he is the first to scold Emma if she is doing something she shouldn't be.

If you didn't see the video we posted last week. (You need to go to the actual blog to view. In some cases it can't be viewed on email.) I would encourage you to go watch Jonathan ride his bike. He is one incredible little boy. His favorite thing to do is ride his bike.
Yes, we have come a long way, but the road ahead of us is long. Every day is an adventure and we are thrilled that God has allowed us to travel this road.

Friday, April 2, 2010

We're still here

It has been a while since our last post. Life is full. Jeremy took this video of Jonathan today. The video pretty much summarizes what life is like with Jonathan. He is always on the go. He is active. He can ride a bike. He does not let his so called "special need" stop him from being a normal 3 year old boy. At the moment his favorite word is "mine" and his favorite phrase is "go outside". He is a boy who loves sunshine, playing outside with his trucks, and (most of all) riding his bike.