Verse of the Day

Monday, March 29, 2010

D-Man is Now a Yellow Belt!

D-Man continues to make incredible progress in his quest for a black belt!
The child is only 11 years old, and he is already stronger than I am.... and way more buff!

Congratulations, D-Man!

Friday, March 26, 2010

... and we're off! First Soccer Practice!

Emotions were high in the H. household today... the kids were absolutely wound to get out and play a little soccer!  By all appearances, the kids have played soccer before--- but probably "street" soccer... meaning they make up the rules as they go.  Thank the Lord for a very patient coach, Matt Kennedy, who simply encouraged the kids (over and over again!) to go in the right direction or to stay in bounds.

Tomorrow's opening game promises to be a wild ride.  All we can pray for are no injuries....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit VI

Wish I could attend... but, alas, I have seven children to attend to!

I also wish someone from our church had the desire to attend...  heck, I'd even help pay to have them go!

Family Life Radio Show on Parent Expectations

One of my dear friends sent me a link to a Family Life Radio talk show that featured Karyn B. Purvis, Ph.D., author of "The Connected Child."  Dr. Purvis participated in three separate discussions; my favorite was the segment on parental expectations during adoption.

The first thing that hit me... like any "normal" mom... was a certain amount of guilt.  Gosh, I didn't do everything "right" with our first adoption.  I reacted to many situations with Miss B., as opposed to responding or redirecting her in an affirming way.  I had read tons of books on adjustment during adoption, but was simply not prepared with enough of an arsenal of adjustment/bonding techniques.  I think I had a more difficult time bonding with Miss B. than she did with me.  That was my error, and in hindsight, I should have had the maturity to recognize this.  Some things only come with experience.

That being said, I believe it is vital to be in connection with other adoptive parents.  Why make lots of mistakes when you can learn from the experiences of others?  Had I been in a support group of some sort, I would venture to guess that the bonding and discipline issues with Miss B. would have been less traumatic for both of us.

Look for someone who has already been down the adoption road before; someone whose family is thriving and positive.  I will often shoot off an email to many adoptive moms--- asking questions regarding anything from food to discipline.  Not only will these parents stand with you and support you, but they will also pray for you.  Prayer is so crucial to your success in learning to manage newly transplanted children.  Of course, connecting with others will also help you to know that you are not alone.

I hope you enjoy listening to the attached program.  I also noticed that Family Life also has many, many shows in archives regarding adoption.  Looks like a positive resource! 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Home School Helps for Kids Just Home

Okay, I'll be the first to admit it... I buy lots of school materials.  If I have a weakness for anything, it's books!  I am definitely a teacher at heart!  Through trial and error, these are the materials, in order, I have used with the kids.  I have stacks of materials I purchased that were just too advanced to be of any practical use.  Additionally, although the kids have been through whole workbooks, they still don't know colors or numbers!  It will be a matter of repetition, repetition, repetition!

As a side note, when Blanca first came home over two years ago, I did not attempt any formal schooling until she was fluent in English.  Yet, with these new kiddos--- just out of sheer desperation to fill the day and to make an attempt to prevent the house from getting destroyed-- I started some sort of schooling after just 2 weeks of being home.

"The Jesus Film" in Amharic (
"Tsehai Loves Learning," Vol. 1 and 2 (  This is a preschool video in Amharic


Oral recitation:  ABC's, Counting, Colors
Califone Card Reading System:  (
Puzzles:  started with easy 24 piece puzzles and worked up to 100 piece puzzles

Games: (very important, as kids have difficulty losing gracefully)
"Hi-Ho Cherry-O"
"ABC Letter Game"
"Bingo" (
"Shoots and Ladders"
"Dominoes" (matching patterns; difficult for two of the kids)

Flashcards (ABCs, numbers, first words, colors, etc.)

Critical Thinking Curriculum:  (
"Visual Perception Skill Building, Book 1 Pre-K to 1"
"Hands On Thinking Skills, K-1" with manipulatives (attribute blocks, interlocking cubes, pattern blocks)
"Half 'n Half Animals, A1"

Kumon Books (
"My Book of Easy Mazes" (very simple, but built kids' confidence"
"Numbers 1-30"
"My Book of Mazes--- Animals"
"Uppercase Letters"
"My Book of Alphabet Games"
"My Book of Mazes--- Around the World" (only one of the boys could manage)
"My Book of Simple Addition"
"My Book of Easy Crafts"  (really fun; Blanca enjoys this, too)

I also use small white boards to practice letters and shapes.  The kids seem to enjoy being able to wipe off their work.

You may notice that reading is not on the list.  Yes, I make an effort to read to the kids... but honestly, they are just so wiggly that they have very short attention spans.  Their favorite books have been "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," "Chicka Chicka 1-2-3", and anything Spiderman or Peter Pan!

What the kids absolutely enjoy--- more than most things-- is singing!  We sing the ABCs, 123s, Bible songs, etc.

Hope this helps someone!  I will add to the list as things "work."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Favorite Verse

Micah 6:8 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

8 He has told you men what is good
    and what it is the LORD requires of you:
    Only to act justly,
    to love faithfulness,
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Please say a little prayer for the orphans and the widows in the world. 

Is there anything He may be calling you to do?  

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Three Month Update

I can hardly believe we are coming up on the three month mark with the new kiddos! A LOT has changed in one month; A LOT has remained unchanged.

First, the changes:
1. Miss G. is just a new creation! She is sweet, funny, outgoing, spunky... and determined! The infamous Ethiopian pout doesn't show itself very often; when it does, it lasts only moments. G. is able to accept most correction without losing control. She definitely wants to please and dislikes getting into trouble.
2. Bedtime is much easier. They have now accepted the routine of showering, changing, brushing teeth, and using the bathroom. Purchasing electric toothbrushes helped the kids spend a lot longer brushing their teeth. They all love to sing songs and pray before bedtime.
3. School time has increased to around 2.5 hours now, give or take the clean-ups, "time-ins," and snacks! Kumon workbooks have been very good for the kids. They enjoy the mazes, cutting and pasting activities, coloring, and easy to follow letter formation worksheets. I had to start with the earliest of materials, made for 2-3-4 year olds. We do a lot of oral work: reciting colors, days of the week, numbers, letters. We have invented games in hopes of getting some of the facts to stick; games seem to be a real positive and exciting way for the kids to learn.
4. Chore day goes much faster and easier. The kids are able to follow simple instructions and follow through.
5. Better use of time: the kids are learning to move away from the television and play both inside and outside. They are very ingenious with inventing new toys and games. Give 'em a blanket and a ball... see what happens!
6. Going to stores is easier. We still don't really take the kids out that much, but we did go to Sport Chalet to purchase soccer cleats and shin guards. The kids didn't run away, and although they were hyper as all get-go, they we're disruptive or destructive. I still don't take them all to do major grocery shopping. I'm just not that stupid (usually).
7. Going to the movie theatre was fun! They could actually sit through the movie and gorge on popcorn--- and not talk the entire time! Big change!
8. Sunday School: Well, they all tried Sunday school at church this weekend. I am told that Grace was a bit talkative, but the boys were quite attentive. I sure did get more out of the sermon this week!
9. Soccer: we signed the kids up for soccer; it starts in 2 weeks. I'm sure I'll let you know how that goes....
10. First "I love you, Mom," from B. and G. A. gives me big kisses and at least parrots "I love you, too."

Now, the UNchanged:

1. No understanding of an "indoor voice." These kids are just plain loud!
2. Lots of sibling fighting: B. still picks on his younger brother; G. and B. still fuss. They still hit and kick each other when angry. The kids scream bloody murder with each cut or scrape. I honestly never know if someone is seriously injured or just barely scratched when I come running to the rescue! I do go through a large number of bandages and plenty of anti-bacterial spray every day. Additionally, the kids all relish calling each other names (in Amharic) and love to tattle on each other. D-man and T-Man get extremely annoyed with what they consider "babyish" behavior from B. and A. Each new kid cries a bucket of tears multiple times a day.
3. B. has now takes the award for most pouty. This child, when corrected, will sit and space-out. He gets a totally blank stare, won't look you in the eye, and refuses to speak... for long periods of time. This behavior has tested my mommy patience; I see it as so disrespectful. This usually happens when daddy has been gone several days.... I stay calm, lower my voice, and get down to his level. If he does not look me in the eye, I gently turn his head to my eyes. I correct him and then simply ignore him. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. He has spent more time in "time-ins" this month than the previous two months. He is also very slow to recover from being disciplined. He can really hold a grudge!
4. A. wets his underwear--- daily. He smells absolutely dreadful! Interestingly, he doesn't wet the bed at night. Spiderman underpants helped only a little.... He just seems too busy to pee.
5. The boys still chatter endlessly at night. Poor D-Man has to wait up until they fall asleep before he can climb into bed. B.simply can't be quiet. Ever. Never. Ever.
6. Food issues remain. A. is very, very stubborn about food. He simply will not eat if he finds an item unacceptable. Now, even plain pasta can get a "thumbs down" from this fussy eater. I do make Ethiopian food on a weekly basis, but it just takes so long to make that I simply cannot provide it all of the time. We do order injera on a weekly basis, but even the injera doesn't satisfy at times. A. still refuses milk, ice cream, yogurt, and indeed most American food. He lives on fruit, bread, injera, potatoes, berbere, sega wat, rice, and garbanzo beans.
B. is fussy with food, too. Yet, he finds enough to eat... when he's hungry. B. simply doesn't care that much for food. He lacks a powerful appetite, preferring to play than to take the time to chew.
Miss G. is the easiest in terms of food. She likes a lot of different foods and is willing to try new things.
Popsicles are the greatest motivation to eat dinner... and yet, they don't always work.
"Tough love" doesn't work with these children in terms of food. They are accustomed to being hungry and simply will not eat for long periods of time. They will not give in. Yes, chocolate complexions can get very pale!
7. School: B. and G. still can't consistently name colors or numbers (1-20). We have been working on the same facts for two months! A. is the strongest student. The kids like to listen to stories a little bit more, but it is certainly not their favorite activity.
8. Hyperactivity is down, but only a little. As the above photo shows, these kids can be happy just running in circles... literally. They run through the house, through the yard, through everything... if they could.
9. Destructiveness continues: broken toys, broken i-Pods, broken headphones, broken trucks, brooms (we are on number 3),dismembered dolls, disassembled scooters, etc., etc. Part of the problem is simply lack knowledge and experience; the other very large part of it is massive curiosity. The kids want to see how things work, so they take it apart. They want to see what other kind of toy can be made from the original toy, so they dismantle it. My favorite new toy is a new carpet cleaner! I try to remember to hide anything important and irreplaceable. I also try and remember that the curiosity, enthusiasm, and creativity is good. Yeah, it's good... it's good.
10. Horrible manners. Just horrible. Really.
11. Lying. Lots of lying. At least I know them well enough to know when they are lying and when they are telling the truth (usually).

All in all, the kids are doing fantastic. I am greatly encouraged by their affection, ability to pay attention, and general happy natures. I wish I could have more, just like 'em!

Home School/ Preschool

It's preschool central over here! We've got the paint, the play dough, the crayons, the scissors and glue! The kids had a wonderful time today, although I still don't think they've learned their colors. Bummer.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Purity Rings and Other Things

Many of you can relate to this: you keep "bumping into" the same Scripture verse... repeatedly, for a period of time. You know it's time to spend some time thinking about just what the Lord wants you to hear.

The verse for me is Ephesians 5:15-16 which says, "Be very careful, then, how you live--- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." I keep rehearsing in my mind "redeem the time, redeem the time."

In the Halvorson household, we are dealing with many teenage issues. One of those issues is purity. And I'm not just talking about sexual purity, but purity of mind and of spirit. Undoubtedly, we are bombarded with unpure and often times flat-out ugly messages from our culture, encouraging us to do just the opposite of what the Word would consider pure. How do we help our young people remain pure? How can we help them steer clear of the evil they face on a daily basis? How can they learn to live lives that honor and glorify God?

I don't think the answer is simply slapping on a purity ring and hoping for the best. I see many young people sporting purity rings and acting in quite unbecoming ways. Being "pure" is not just about not having sexual intercourse or being a "technical virgin." The answer seems to be about teaching our young people not to waste time. They have to be directed firmly and continuously to the Word; they need to study it, digest it, and learn to live it. They have to see the Word lived out in our lives. "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word," (Psalm 119:9). Our children need to learn that delayed gratification is often appropriate; we simply can't "go with the flow" and "trust our hearts." Our hearts will lead us straight into the ditch, resulting in compromised standards and broken hearts. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

I've never been a much of a fan of church youth groups, but because my kids honestly just needed some new friends, we decided to allow the kids to join. Well, much of the experience has been wonderful. I have seen my kids learn to delve into the Word. Our church has an awesome youth pastor who challenges the kids, emotionally and spiritually. Yet, I still see some problems. It's flat out difficult to remove the raging hormones from the youth group scene. Kids see someone who is cute or whatever, and simply "forget" all of the lessons mom and dad have attempted to teach them through the years. Many of these so-called Christian kids are acting no different from the rest of the world.

What also makes youth group so difficult for kids attempting to live a pure life is that many of the kids come from families that are simply not on the same page. We don't want our kids to date; we believe entering any type of relationship without commitment is just plain wrong. How can I support my 15 year old son in a dating relationship? What is he going to do, other than jump into an emotional (and potentially physical) relationship with someone he has no true intention to marry? Why waste the time? Why waste the emotional energy? Why "practice" at love? Isn't teenage dating just a selfish exercise in doing whatever makes a person feel good? I would certainly rather see my kids preparing for their future spouses by using their precious youth to learn the Word. I want to see them serving people and the Lord. I want them to develop their God-given talents so that they can be prepared for future work and future serving.

Raising godly children in a promiscuous world is so tough. I am so thankful that we have a God who gave us the gift of His Holy Spirit so that we could constantly pray and ask for direction and wisdom. I do know that the Lord expects believing parents to train up their children and to equip them to be His disciples. Warning our children about the spiritual and emotional dangers of premarital relationships must be part of our message.

I just read this Scripture, and it certainly speaks to this discussion. Not only does it cover relationships, but all kinds of other "activities" that so many kids waste their lives pursuing. We must study the Scriptures with our children so that they can make good decisions that will honor both the Lord and their future spouses.

Proverbs 31

The Sayings of King Lemuel
1 The sayings of King Lemuel contain this message, which his mother taught him.

2 O my son, O son of my womb,
O son of my vows,
3 do not waste your strength on women,
on those who ruin kings.

4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine.
Rulers should not crave alcohol.
5 For if they drink, they may forget the law
and not give justice to the oppressed.
6 Alcohol is for the dying,
and wine for those in bitter distress.
7 Let them drink to forget their poverty
and remember their troubles no more.

8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
9 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.

A Wife of Noble Character
10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

(italics are mine... how can she bring her future spouse good all of her days if she has not remained faithful before meeting him?)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Challenges of School

My kiddos all may be sweet little things, but they sure are behind in school! I have to remind myself over and over again... sometimes multiple times within a couple of hours... that they will catch up. Eventually.

B. is 8.5 years old and is at the educational level of a preschooler. Maturity-wise, I'd put him under 6 years. He is left-handed, making some of life a bit more of a challenge. He doesn't know his numbers (1-20) or colors. He has just learned to write his name. He can not follow simple directions; I don't know whether this is an issue of language or of distraction. It is hard for him to stay on-task. He does not seem like your typical "first child."

Miss G. is 7.5 years old and is at the level of a preschooler. Maturity-wise, she is a 6 year old. She does not know her numbers (1-20) and does not know her colors at all, despite daily work. She can not write her name without letters being backwards. Grace does quite well at focusing on a task, and wants to do things well... the first time. She can sit down and finish a task with good concentration.

A. is 6 years old and is at the level of a preschooler. Maturity-wise, he is a 5 to 6 year old. He is very coordinated, and can write many letters and knows 80% of the colors. He is good at building puzzles and enjoys working with mazes. He doesn't have much interest in "coloring." He wants to zip through the school work so he can play outside. He enjoys answering questions for his siblings; he seems to know more than either of the other two.

Socially, the older two are quite immature when compared to American kids. They are loud, screaming at inappropriate times. They throw tantrums at odd times. A., the youngest, seems to be the most "tuned-in" of the three. He shows as much or more maturity than the older two. Perhaps because of his more aggressive, yet shy personality, he spends more time digesting what was going on around him. He seems to think before he reacts; the other two seems to react, then think. B. and G., maybe because they are older and remember more, seem to be operating in a "flight or flight" adrenaline stress response to seemingly insignificant struggles. A., being the baby, seems to have been insulated from some of the emotional trauma.

I remember being advised with our first adoption, that staying under 5 helps with adjustment and school. This seems to be the case... if you think life has to be all neat and in a box! I clearly don't believe life is either neat or orderly. Kids, just like the Lord, can not and should not be put in little boxes for our convenience and sanity. Sanity is highly overrated.

That being said, I have had to purchase lots of new school curriculum. After completing an entire workbook on colors (, the kids still don't know their colors. After completing an entire workbook on numbers, the kids still don't know all of their numbers. We review colors, numbers, letters, etc. every single day--- to no avail. To try something new and hopefully more effective, I have now purchased some of the Kumon workbooks. They are very, very simple and highly colorful. The letter recognition and formation workbooks have numbered steps to help kids remember what they should do first. Thus, we are starting all over again!

Perhaps the school work will simply be an issue of repetition and time. If that is the case, the Kumon books should be helpful. If it is an issue of a learning disability, then time will tell also.

In retrospect, I did not start formal school with Miss B. until she was orally fluent in English. Yet, because of the hyperactivity and destructiveness of the new kiddos, I have instituted school significantly earlier. All I can hope is that once the kids are fluent in English... which I hope is within another few months... the tide will turn and the light bulbs of learning will start to glow.

I do understand, though, why many people simply put their adoptive kids in school. These kids are so used to being physically active and around kids all day; the environment allows them to thrive. Yet, for us, the good Lord has made it very clear that we are to home school. Interestingly enough, the daily Scripture verse that appears at the top of my blog today is the very reason we home school (Deut. 6:6-7)! That being said, we shall persevere! I just have to hope that all of this helps the kids get to the place the Lord intends for them to be. They sure are teaching me a lot of new lessons: joy in perseverance, enduring under pressure, and celebrating the little victories.

I love my family!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Don't Pretend You Didn't Know

Proverbs 24:11-12 (New Living Translation)

11 Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die;
save them as they stagger to their death.
12 Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve.

As believers, we have a wonderful duty and obligation to minister to those who are suffering, whether that suffering is from malnutrition, extreme poverty, AIDS, a self-induced abortion, or any number of life-threatening conditions that plague much of the world. We are an information-saturated world; how could we possibly deny and avert our eyes to the blatant suffering of our fellow man? God knows we know... He knows us better than we know ourselves. I beg of you; let your eyes fall upon the dying. Let your eyes fill with tears from the mere thought of the thousands of children who will die today from lack of food or clean water. Think about others for just a moment, and realize that any of the dying could have been you or your very own children... had you simply been born at a different latitude and longitude.

Now, do something about it... anything... just start.

A word of encouragement: the US dollar goes a long way in places like Ethiopia. In December, the exchange rate of dollar to birr is $1USD=$12 ETB.

Some "Firsts" Today

Today I was especially privileged to enjoy quite a few "firsts." Today was the first time Miss G. actually told me she loved me... and she said it with some sweet emotion. Today was the first time the four youngest kids could actually sit together--- without throwing punches or screaming at each other--- and read several books. Today was the first time everyone ate the same food for dinner... with no complaints! And finally, today was the first day that home school wasn't reduced to "sit down" and "please stop shouting" the whole day. Wow... the simple pleasures of life!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lying, lying

Wow! How much lying can little kids do? Quite a bit, actually.

Yesterday, Miss T.'s cell phone disappeared. She kinda suspected who was responsible, but wanted the guilty part to come forward.

After a whole day of trying to solve the crime, Miss G. admitted to taking the phone; she had hidden it under her bed. G. had to go to bed early.

After being in bed about a half of an hour, the screaming ensued. G. felt so guilty and sad about her sin, that she wailed apologies. She was almost hysterical with grief: she sobbed, and repeatedly asked for forgiveness. I got to hold her, and rock her until she relaxed. I was so thankful for the admission of guilt and desire to repent, I too, cried. Best of all, G. woke up this morning with a sweet, joyful smile. I got the biggest hug of our short history.

Isn't that what our Lord wants from us? When we sin, doesn't He just want us to 'fess up, repent, and seek His forgiveness? Then He just wants us to start over, not being burdened with guilt and shame. I do love do-overs! And I love being a mom....


They might come from different mommies in different countries, but I'd say we've got ourselves a couple of twins! G. and B. are inseparable: they are the same age, they sleep in the same room, share the same bathroom, share the same Sunday school class (yes, G. participated in class this week!), share the same toys. When they fight, they fight with fire. When they play, they play with gusto. I think they'll end up being best of buddies.

The Hyper Duo

I've got to come up with an appropriate name for the two little boys... they are just a bundle of hyper energy! Taking group photos is always a challenge with them. They can't keep their hands off of each other--- and if they manage to do that, they won't look at the camera!

No matter how many times I take them to the park, and no matter how many hours they ride their bikes or scooters, these boys just don't settle down. They don't sit for school--- they stand. They don't sit at church--- they stand on the seats... or crawl under the seats. They really can't sit or be quiet for more than a few seconds... until they finally fall asleep. As a matter of fact, it's almost 9:00 a.m. and they are still asleep. When they finally crash, they really crash!

I am thankful for this: the boys are happy-hyper! They aren't sullen or depressive; they are simply excited about life and don't want to miss a second. Gotta love it!