Wednesday, September 30, 2009

2 months home!!!

We have officially been 2 months home with Eli. In those two months our four bio kids have started school (one in highschool, one in Jr. high), Hosanna has undergone extensive recovery on her foot, and Billy has begun a new job. We've just begun to add "after school activities" into our schedule and yet EVERY DAY is brimming with things-to-do. Life is never boring...and it's never idle!

Eli is changing every week. Currently, he is as animated as we've ever seen him. He's laughs a lot and talks all the time. He has about 20 American words/phrases that he uses regularly and at the right times. The other morning when I went to fish him out of the crib, he said, "Good morning. How are you? Good." He has entire conversations memorized as a matter of fact! He uses the names of family members and certainly recognizes his own. He's enjoying a weekly story time at the library and loves playing outside. He's certainly has become interested in his environment, toys and tentatively delights in his new found freedoms.

Eli eats everything...and I do mean everything. Just a few minutes ago he yelled from the kitchen, "Mommy, Eli hungry! Eat!" We'll work on his manners.

As far as "bonding" and knowing there is something special about the 6 members of his family...and knowing there is something special about his parents -- he continues to come along. It's a slow, steady and fragile process.

His glasses have done wonders for his sight and his enjoyment in looking at things. We actually do not feel like we deal with his "special need" on a daily basis besides keeping up with where we put his little glasses. Friday he will go to the eye Dr. to have the glaucoma that's in his left eye checked. Glaucoma is "high eye pressure" -- you can liken it to high blood pressure. If it's high enough he may need a medication or procedure to relieve it. I'll keep everyone informed.

For now...the Ramsdell's are alive and doing well!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

More cute pics of Chicken Little

These were too cute not to post!

Good use of a Saturday!

I like to paint things. I love wearing paint overalls! Paint under my nails at the end of the day probably means I spent time doing something I think is worthwhile. Actually, I like to slap paint on. I like to jump right in on a project, before I'm totally prepared (that means I don't tape up), and just get it going! I appreciate finger paints, water colors, collage materials and sidewalk chalk. I'm the mom who keeps playdough on a low shelf for easy access -- and I think playing with moon sand is a great use of time as a matter of fact. I'm a messy painter, but I have fun doing it.

Today, I did my front door. Since I was basically left uniterrupted for the most arms are tired, but my brain feels like I've been on a mini vacation! With no less than 11 children in and out of my house...that's pretty amazing. Here's to a good use of time on a Saturday!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Father's Heart - The Epic Unfolds (from Billy)

The Bible says that men should not presume to be teachers. I agree with that and in the life experience of adopting ELI I have found myself, even though I have fathered 4 other kids for a while now, becoming a student of life, parenting and child development all over again. As a good student I listen, discuss, object and then attempt to adjust my understanding according to new found truth or facts. Through the intensity of the past 2 years surrounding this adoption, including this very day, I might add, I feel like I have swallowed a river worth of living waters full of refreshing and energy. There is something special bottled up inside that little boy we have all so naturally begun calling Eli.

I say that to say, I am not a teacher, but rather a student who likes to teach. Truth is, I really like to tell stories, to recount moments in life when something powerful, funny or special brought attention to some interesting fact. One example would be, and follow me here as I change decades, the time when I was around 7/8 years old with blood all over my face from a backyard brawl. The setting was the backyard of a small suburban home playing beside a new possible step brother named Scotty, don't ask, and his sisters. We were playing in our cool tree house on stilts when the 6th grade bully from the next lot over came to play. He played but he also bullied Scotty's sisters. So, as we had discussed, with the precise planning of a special forces operation, we stepped in and defended the ladies. The perfect example of chivalry and bravery, with honor at stake, we lured the unsuspecting bully up the stairs of our tree house then attacked. For the sake of our family name and with every ounce of "scrappy" we could muster up at 4th grade and 78 pounds, we attacked. The battle included tackling down the stairs, rolling on the ground, hitting, kicking and bloody noses. There is a secret picture to prove that Scotty and I, were both laughing and crying as the medical staff treated our bloody faces while the bigger, tougher and now defeated Goliath of a 6th grader ran away, jumping the fence in fear to never return again. It was fun, memorable and perfectly executed, teamwork at it's best. It was a story that 33 years later still makes me admire my friend and almost step brother Scotty and makes me wish we had more opportunities to defend more innocent ladies of Tidewater Lane.

Getting back on topic, I would like to write about my personal experience with becoming the Father of our newly adopted son, Elias Zhang Wei Ramsdell. For the longest time we were just doing paperwork and getting ready to adopt. Eventually we got pictures of Eli. I thought he was cute, I showed them around to friends and prayed over them, but never felt any real confirmation or connection, they were just pictures. Eventually, I was beginning to feel like we were not being decisive, mainly me, and that something needed to happen to confirm we were headed down the right path. This was Spring of this 2009. In pursuit of greater confidence in the matter, I ditched work to spend a day, the first official day of Spring actually, hiking up Stanley Canyon behind the Air Force Academy, seeking God's heart on the matter. As I hiked, still feeling the pain of a recent ACL reconstruction on my right knee, I prayed. Sometimes being physical helps me pray more focused and more intense. I stopped along the way to rest, drink water and read scripture. I was also listening to some kicking praise on my iPod. At one point I was wondering if I should just turn back. I was weak due to fasting, tired due to being out of shape and breathing hard due to the cool rain and altitude. Pressing on, however, proved to be just the right thing to do as I eventually found a great spot to sit and to pray. It was there that a normal prayer for God to speak turned into a life experience worthy of retelling. In the following moments, as I drank water, rested and really began to focus in on the heart of God, that a miracle happened. With no words and with no visions, and during a normal moment of quiet time before God, my heart began to break. The more I prayed the more my soul began to become torn and twisted inside of me. The heart of Father God, especially the heart of God for Elias, deeply penetrated my own heart and broke me like a baby. I cried, I sobbed. For a few minutes upon that mountain side, I fell apart. Easy to understand though was the reason for the breakdown. It was, like I have said, God's heart, the Father's Heart, reaching out through me to one of HIS dear sons, stuck in an orphanage thousands of miles away without a family, father or chance in the world. God's brokenness over Eli's situation broke me. I pictured him going to sleep at night, cold, uncomforted and alone. I felt the feelings of abandonment, I felt the feelings of deep sorrow and I felt the passion God has for this little ones. After this short time, I didn't have to pray for God to speak or to show me, I knew, like a Father knows, this boy was mine. I had felt both his pain and the pain of his Heavenly Father and was now fully vested as his Earthly Father.

As if that is not cool enough, there is another piece to the Father's Heart puzzle. It has to do with our Baby Dedication just 2 wks ago, 2 months or so after we actually brought Eli home. Without anyone in the world knowing about the above experience we went forward for Baby Dedication Sunday morning. A pastor was assigned to us, to pray for us and to symbolically receive the child from our arms and we dedicated him to God and God's Purpose. We went through the routine and the prayer with a sizable group of family and friends around us for support. A group we are very thankful to have with us, by the way. Following the dedication the pastor standing with us gave me a word about an impression he received while holding Eli. He said that God had shown him that Eli DID IN FACT have a place in our family, a place made by God and that the place was near The Father's Heart. Say what, The Father's Heart? Did he really say that, why yes he did. So, you know what I thought of...that day on the mountain. It was a confirmation that God had been involved in every step of the way and that HE had placed Eli in our home and that He had given us the right amount of space in our home and heart for Eli.

I do believe that Eli is my son. I know he has biological parents and I believe that his birth dad is his dad. But, he will never be his Father and he will never be the kind of Father I can be to him. There is a special bond between us already and I appreciate the way God has breathed into our lives through this young man. I look forward to writing about it and talking about it in the days to come. The first year of experiences with Eli at home have already started with amazing growth and surprise. I can only imagine what he will be like 6 months from now. And without being a teacher I hope to share more about the parenting we have engaged in and practiced in response to this unique experience.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Determined to make homemade lemonaide while it was still summer (at least technically), I went to the grocery store to buy lemons. They didn't have any...but limes were abundant. So...we squeezed 25 limes and made Cherry LimeAide. Summer isn't over until Tuesday people!!!

Book Signing...

Last Saturday, we went to the Barne's and Noble where Paul McCusker (who we know best for his Adventure's in Odessey series, loved by kids and adults in our family) signed a copy of his newest book for us! His book, TSI: The Gabon Virus, is an excellent read if I do say so myself!

Happy Apple Farm

Last weekend, my family (including my in-laws) went to Happy Apple Farm. It's quite a cute place...just what you'd think. We rode in a hayride of sorts down a lane lined with sun flowers to be dropped off in an over priced apple/pumpkin pay for the experience. The kids had a blast and so did I! We left with 30 plus lbs of apples and 85 lbs of pumpkins! Hope you enjoy the pics.....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Can I Have This Dance?

Last night, my oldest daughter Elizabeth and her friend Taylor Parsley ended TAG's $10 Homecoming service by singing "Can I have this Dance"? They were amazing. It's such a joy to parent this child! Thanking God today for a large, busy, hectic and totally worth it life! Enjoy!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Indian Summer

Today, as I get my studio ready for students to return tomorrow and put out Fall decorations -- I secretly go over my T.T.D. list for the summer and am aware that I did several things on my list...but not all of them. Instead of lamenting about not finding a "Hawaiian Shaved Ice Stand" (or even having one snow cone for that matter)...I'm going to give myself the grace of an Indian Summer. The weather is still warm here...the days are just beautiful. Actually, it STILL IS SUMMER!

I make "lists" of these things because I believe we always need something to look forward too...whether it be a simple, patio picnic with our kids, a nice vacation or a Starbux with Billy. My lists are my way of making sure I stop and smell the roses. So, along with my review of those activites I had planned to do in May, and before I make a list of all the wonderful things to enjoy this fall, here's what I hope to do with my last few days of SUMMER.

from post on May 25, 2009

1. Fly to China and adopt a little boy whose life will be forever changed. Ours will change as well...and we can't wait! This we did! And it was profound, wonderful, scary, overwhelming, incredible, etc. We are enjoying the adjustment period at the moment. Praise God!

2. Send Elizabeth off on her second international mission's trip, Germany! Try not to cry and act anxious every day she's gone. This was an incredible trip for Lizzie. Thanks to all our friends and family who helped her go! I'll just say...I missed her alot!

3. Find a Hawaiian Shaved Ice stand and frequent it often; Settle on a snow cone if I must; As a last resort, there is always the ice cream truck, but I'm a little grossed out by that. I didn't even do this once! I do however find contentment in the fact that I did eat a strange looking ice-cream thingy from the seven-eleven in China.

4. Walk to the park with the kids and lay by the fountain until I get sunburn on my cheeks. Feed the ducks even though the sign says not too. This we did several times...and with great friends I might add!

5. Make the drive to Denver and lay by the wave pool in Six Flags at least 4 - 5 times; Ok, I might have to settle for standing in the kiddie pool. Hard to do with Hosanna's broke leg...but we did...the last time was the best....Hosanna's cast had just come off the day before! The sun and pool were glorious!

6. Camp. Even if it means sleeping in a tent. Choose a camp ground close to the movie theatre so we can go see Transformers. Transformers, I saw twice! Camping...not even once!

7. Grill and Eat the most spectacular burger on the planet. We grilled ALOT! We had some GREAT ribs! "Most spectacular burger on the planet" -- didn't happen.

8. Nuture the few plants in my yard and hopefully eat some home grown lettuce and tomatoes. A vicious hail storm destroyed my first crop! Not one to be defeated, I sowed a second. There is still hope that I MAY harvest some tomatoes yet!

9. Spend a few lazy mornings reading my Bible as long as I want. This is certainly a luxury for me. I did spend a few mornings doing this very same thing....I'm gonna spend a few more mornings doing this too!

10. Remember to kiss my husband and hug my children more often. Do this after crushing them in a game of badminton in the back yard! The kissing and hugging went well...the badminton...only once!

My days of Indian Summer will include....

One batch of Homemade Lemonade, a few more lazy days of reading my Bible as long as I want, one more game of badminton, and one good try at kite flying! It's not over til it's over!