Monday, September 29, 2014

6 months with Syler & Mercie!


6 months.

SIX months together.

Half of a year.

WOW.

I remember after getting home thinking of what life would be like in 6 months, and it seemed SO far away.

I looked forward to being able to write that post, knowing that we would be feeling more settled, calmer, SLEEPING.

But also not wanting those 6 months to fly by, as life seems to do.

And here we are.

177 days ago we met our children.



It is already getting hard to remember life before them.

And thank God we don’t have to imagine life with out them.

I have been reminiscing over our time in China, reading back over my blog, looking through photos.

They are not the same children we met that day on the other side of the world.


And we are not the same people that flew around the world as parents of 5, to become parents of 7.

Those 5 children are forever changed as they embrace their new siblings.   

God has given us a front row seat to watching Him create beautiful things.

He has shown us that we are weaker than we wanted to be, but SO so much stronger than we ever imagined possible.

He has shown us that when we throw our arms wide open, when we ask him to lead us where our trust is WITHOUT borders, wherever He calls us, our faith WILL be made stronger.  He will take us deeper than we ever imagined.

And He will walk with us.


In 6 months we have watched Him bring our new children to LIFE.  



We have watched sorrow turn to JOY.

We have watched HOPE come from where there was once none.



God has made beautiful things out of all of us.



He has made them new.

They are Laxtons forever and while people still tell us they are so lucky, we know better.

WE are the lucky ones.

It is often said, can you imagine what their life would have been like if they were still in China?

And I can’t help but think what MY life would be like if they were still in China.

YES of course, I know that God has rescued these children, they are no longer orphans.

But in the process we come to know the Rescuer more and more, and really, isn’t that what this life is all about?

Adoption. Changes. Lives.



No one should walk away from watching & be unchanged. 

This is my prayer anyways.

If someone sees our family and doesn’t see the Rescuer, the one who has saved ALL of us, we are not living the way He has called.

I want people to look at us and not think of how CRAZY it looks (because oh it really is!!) BUT how God has made beauty from ashes.

So, how IS life with 7 kids? How are they adjusting? Are we done yet? J



Life with 7 kids is as you can imagine it is, but probably not quite that insane.  It never feels like that many till I have to tell someone how many children I have and give their ages. As I watch their eyes grow large and sometimes their mouth drop open, I am reminded 7 is not so normal for most.


Well that and when I have to get all 7 out the door for church on time. Why is it Satan moves in to our houses on Sunday morning as we prepare to go and worship our Father? No matter how much we prepare the night before!

Now at first everything seemed like I had SEVEN kids. Getting food on the table, laundry, baths, TEETH, etc and so on.

Not to mention the grocery bill. But besides the grocery bill pushing a cart full of groceries for 9 people!!

As the months have gone on, 7 doesn’t seem like so many. We have all settled in. Dinner is calmer, bedtime routine is down.

Though Sunday mornings still 
need some work!



Let’s start with Mercie Fei. Our baby girl. Oh the sweetness that pours out of her. She has this house wrapped around her tiny finger. I am not sure I ever talked about the way my olders were hesitant about adopting her. They were GREAT with an older child, but another baby? WHY???

And then she came home. They saw her terrified and anxious.



God moved their hearts in mighty ways and they have been Fei Fei’s biggest cheerleaders.  Sawyer definitely had to work the hardest, she was so nervous with any males. But watching him with her and how much she loves her biggest brother are so special.


We do still call her Fei Fei, though we try to say Mercie at times, and she responds to Mercie. She does call herself Fei Fei, which she just learned this week.

Language is slow.  You might be able to understand a handful of words. No being the loudest followed by Mama, which she can say in 100 different tones.

She still sleeps in our room, right next to our bed. She feels safe and secure and right now that is what we want. The fact that we are a bit out of bedrooms is also part of this.

She is hilarious and so stinken cute honestly we can hardly stand it. Her hair gets curlier the longer it gets. She is still such a tiny pixie and fits in as our baby just perfectly.


When I look back at the photos of her in China I am shocked. It is hard to remember how much she hated me, how sad she was, how EMPTY she felt.



God has breathed life into Mercie. She giggles all the time, she rarely cries, she hugs & kisses freely and you can just see the light that shines from her.

There are moments I remember wondering if my story was going to actually include her. The fear I felt as we pursued her, begging God to let her be ours.



And now she is!




Our sweet son is doing AMAZING. Everyone told me you will be shocked in 6 months, and I AM.

Syler has embraced his role in our family and hasn’t looked back.



Language is booming. He is in 3rd grade and in the same class as Mavery at school. He has an amazing Christian teacher and the school has gone above and beyond in helping him. We do not have ESL classes but they are doing everything possible to help him succeed. He works so hard and you can tell he is just smart. Things come easier for him than some.  We struggled on sending him vs homeschool.  We wanted to make sure he felt secure and loved before sending him off. It is good when you see God confirming your choice as we watch him blossom at school.

He is VERY laid back (thank the Lord!) and calm. He is snuggly and full of hugs for his mama. He is all BOY and is happiest running around outside.



He eats everything. We joke about how he did not want to try things at first and turned his nose up at most things. Now there is nothing he does not inhale. Seriously, he is the least picky in my house. He says “Mama make good food”. J

We very rarely see defiance in him, unhappiness, jealousy etc.. He and Sage had some competition going on for a while but that has even gone away.  Recently I found a ton of GUM, chewed gum hidden on the floor beside his bed. But once we talked it through (and took away gum chewing for a time) we have not had problems.

Seriously he is like the perfect child and has made older BOY child adoption look easy.


He holds us accountable to family devotions every night and prayer before meals. Recently his cross fell off his wall and he was holding it. I asked him “Syler who is that cross about.”. He answered Jesus. And I said “who is Jesus?” He quickly answered Jesus is God.



6 months and my son can say the name of Jesus.

Because HE has rescued us.

Of course Syler does not understand all of how God has written His story quite yet. But everyday we point life back to the author.

Someday Syler will have such a story to share. Unlike his sisters, He does remember life in China. And while I know these memories could make him bitter, we continue to pray that they will make him better.

Better at seeing the Rescuer and how His plans are always best.

I realize older child adoption is not for everyone. And how scary older BOYS can seem.

But we are here to say if God is nudging you in that direction, He will make it beautiful.




Sometimes it seems we are ALWAYS teaching Syler. How to speak English, school stuff, how to act in situations, manners, rules, schedules, the list goes on and on.  AND on.

But in reality, Syler has taught us more than we will ever teach him.  No matter the situation Syler NEVER complains. He looks at everything as an adventure. He accepts what is given to him and never gets down. If it were ME walking in his shoes I would never get over my pity party. Learning a language is HARD work. Going to school and not understanding the other kids is hard. When everything is new for me, it is HARD. And I whine and carry on. But not my son. He just smiles.

There are times that I am tired. It IS a lot of kids. It is such a variety of needs. I am parenting toddlers AND teens. (for the record, they are both hard! Toddlers are physically EXHAUSTING. Teens are mentally EXHAUSTING!)

But in those moments when I get frustrated, it all comes down to me and my selfishness. I would love to have the time to do things for ME. I miss writing. I should exercise. I like shopping ALONE. I don’t want to help with homework or homeschool or change a diaper or well you get the idea.



Then I look around me and see how much God has given me. SO much more than I deserve.  I look at my children, each of them, and see how God has grown their hearts. I think of the ones we have left behind in that orphanage, who are dying inside as they hope for a family.

praise God for being our HOPE.

I make comments often, “IF we adopt again, etc and so on” Tonight someone said back, It is not IF but WHEN….

Quite honestly right now I have no idea if our family is complete. (for the record, IF we adopt again, the child MUST be pottytrained!! Ha!)

I have no idea how God will continue to write our story.

Maybe this is our 7th Heaven and we are done. 



Maybe it is more. (there is such a gap between the 3 and Mercie, I mean really, I DO like having twins!)  ;-)

Whatever it may be, I trust in the One who brought us this far. 

The one who has allowed me to see these 2 beautiful children, who grew in my heart for so long, blossom to LIFE in my arms.

6 months since FOREVER..

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mercie is THREE!!!


I am so behind on blogging. So many things to share.

Like having Chinese guests last week and their passports being STOLEN from our van. Not even kidding.

I WILL catch up, I hope. (Facebook is so much easier to drop pictures on these days!)

But today is about our miracle baby girl.

Mercie Fei Evangelin is THREE today.

Ms Mercie started her life in China early.

She was just a little over 2 pounds when she was brought to the orphanage.

TWO POUNDS.

Sometimes this doesn’t sink in to me, but when I look at this photo, I am reminded of Gods mercy on our Mercie.


To survive being abandoned at that size?

Mercy.

To survive an orphanage at that size?

Mercy.

For her to be in MY arms?

Mercy.

In the day to day I sometimes forget what a miracle her story is.

But she is such a miracle.

Our baby girl has changed SO much in these 3 months.

She is a true JOY.

Remember the baby in China who HATED me?



Now she is a mama’s girl, BUT adores her daddy too.  Overall she is quick to warm up to people. She still loves Malaine, but I am enjoying being her favorite person right now.

She makes sure her shoes are with my shoes, every time. 



She sleeps IN HER BED! Granted it is her crib with the side off pushed up next to my bed and sometimes I have to hold her hand half the night. BUT, she WILLINGLY goes to sleep in it. This is huge and has been so much better. I am all for co sleeping, really I am. Unfortunately all we had going on was the CO part, there was NO sleeping for me. I am a light sleeper so every kick, thrash, basically movement had me awake. Which made me feel I was in a fog most of the day. We are all enjoying a bit more sleep.

She is so funny! She is very expressive and her faces are the best. She loves to make everyone laugh, and we do often!

She thinks she is 8 and wants to keep up with the big kids. Which makes me sad! Yet then in so many ways she is VERY babyish. When we took her to be evaluated by adoption clinic they put her at about 18months and I would say that is where she seems to be., more like an almost 2 year old than 3 year old.  She is small in size, weighing about 24 pounds now. Her language is VERY delayed. She babbles but there are not many clear words. Mama, Baba, Jie Jie (sister) Dog which is Da, Baby which is BB.  All things to be expected being born so small/early AND spending over 2 years in an orphanage.

She eats anything and is a really good eater.  

Not even close to being potty trained.

Loves to be held and snuggled and kissed and is so so sweet.


She is a busy bee for sure. We forgot how tiring this age is, the never blink or you are in trouble phase!

She can be stubborn, but actually her personality is pretty calm I think. She sits in her stroller SO good, in a highchair while out and is just happy!

One miracle with Mercie is that while this is her 3rd birthday, I have actually celebrated ALL her birthdays with her! She was turning one the year we met her and last year we had a party while in China with my team. This is a gift for me for sure. BUT this birthday we sure enjoyed waking up with her, all day giggles and sweet goodnight kisses!




There are times in the craziness of adjusting to 7 kids that I am tired.  VERY tired.  Sometimes the volume in my house is so loud I can’t hear myself think. The to do list is so long and someone always needs something.  But then God will whisper a memory of life before and I think how empty we would be with out the chaos. Mercie is a gift, and has really melted into our family perfectly. We have loved her for so long, and to have her home with us, to see the way God moved mountains is a story we  treasure.



So thankful for our baby girl. Happy THIRD Birthday Fei Fei!!

Friday, May 02, 2014

Syler's First Birthday HOME!


When we birth children, or adopt them as infants, a first birthday is such a big milestone.

We plan for months. We celebrate all the firsts that have happened over that year. We are in awe of how that newborn has changed from such a helpless being to a one year old covered in cake!

When you adopt a child at EIGHT, you don’t get that 1-year-old birthday party. You don’t see first steps, first teeth or first of ALL those things that make it so much fun getting to know your baby.

You can’t look back on newborn photos and remember tiny toes.

Sometimes you can’t look back on ANY photos.

BUT, you DO get a first birthday HOME, no matter the age!

And while Syler might not have understood as the day started what it was all about, by the end he knew HE was being celebrated!

My sweet friend Kathy had sent him a build a bear gift card so that was first on our agenda today. Overall we have not been going many places. Of course they get to ride in the car a lot as I taxi kids all over creation. But I try to avoid going in. Till we can communicate better on some things, it is just easier to NOT go in many stores.

Seriously had an outing to Wal mart this week ALONE and I was giddy. That is really sad.  Sad that my time alone was spent at Wal mart for one, but REALLY sad how excited I was to go!

Anyways, we ventured to Build a Bear and it was GOOD.

Mercie now rides in a stroller, HAPPILY. Miracles do happen! That makes life much easier. Will have to do a blog on her, so much change! Sweet change in our girl. 

We were bummed that Build a Bear was out of super hero bears! But Syler found one he liked & quickly caught on to the concept and seemed to enjoy the fun of building his first bear!



I try to remember; I did not get first of MANY things, but I DO get to enjoy these firsts through his eyes!

He did so well at Build a Bear we tried the lego store. After asking for every set in the store (I can’t believe some of those are $400!!) we decided we should probably move on.  

We had Chick Filet for lunch our first week home and Syler, for whatever reason, was not happy with me there.

This is the fun of no language. He pouts, and I get to guess why, but of course even guessing I really have no idea.

Are you mad because you thought we were going out for Chinese food?
Are you mad because there is a picture of a cow and you are eating chicken?
Are you mad because I am eating a chicken sandwich and you have nuggets?
Are you mad because you don't like Chick Filet because honestly that is going to be an issue if that is why. 
Are you even mad or just in the mood to pout?

So I was not sure if showing him Chick Filet would result in a glare down contest or what. Thankfully he was excited about chicken, we ate and headed home.

For dinner we decided on a Chinese Restaurant that reminds us a bit more of China than most places. Especially because the tables spin in the center and really, that makes dinner with 9 pretty fun AND way more like China than a buffet!

BUT if you have less than 9 don’t think you will get a spinning table, you will not. I tried it last summer and they told me that is only for a big party and I only had 7. 

Seriously.




Syler SCARFED down the food. He eats well here, but apparently nothing is as good as some Chinese Food. We love talking to the staff there. They tried to talk to Syler and while you can tell he understands, he does not talk. It is interesting but we have heard him attempting to speak in English to us more than we have EVER heard him speak to anyone Chinese. IN china or here.

We came home and had cake and ice cream. He acted a bit shy but he seemed to have fun blowing out his candles!


He was so cute opening up all his gifts and VERY excited about his FIRST bike! He had learned to ride a bike right after getting home that first week, but was riding a pink hello kitty bike.



Tonight putting him to bed was the FIRST time he actually kissed me! He is always snuggly and lets us hug and kiss on him, but it was good to have it returned.

Things are going good with our sweet boy. Really he is just an easy kid. He is calm and quiet and very laid back. He gets along well with everyone here and seems happy. He is definitely happiest when the girls come home from school and LOVES to be outside playing with them.  He loves wrestling with Sawyer, and WOW are 2 boys together LOUD.(especially on top of 5 girls!)  J

The times when we both have frustration it is always because of communication. And I get that. I can’t explain WHY I am saying no, he can’t explain WHY he thinks he should be able to do something. So there might be pouting or tears, (on both of our sides!) but that is improving.

Language really is going well. It is funny, every Chinese person we have talked to laughs at me when I say we need a tutor to teach him English. They all tell me, “He will learn listening to all of you, no tutor needed.” And we are finding that to be true.  Though it can still overwhelm me when I work so hard on ABC every day and pull out a flash card of A and he says B. To imagine him READING like the girls anytime soon seems impossible.


But then again, I look back at a month ago, and how far he has come. (can you believe it has been a whole month, WOW!) and why do I even worry? Every day we see change.

It kind of goes back to that whole newborn thing. We miss out on those firsts, and that first year when they change SOOO quickly. BUT we are LIVING his first year home and seeing those amazing changes daily.  It is different; he is no baby for sure. But he is learning and exploring and trying hard to adapt in this new world.

We may have missed almost 9 years with Syler, but we are so thankful that he is now home. That we will celebrate every birthday with him forever! 


Monday, March 24, 2014

Here we GROW AGAIN & Again!!!

We are off! Moving over to our travel blog, follow along by clicking HERE!!!!

Catching up 2014

Since I am leaving for CHINA and bringing home TWO children, I am guessing I will never get caught up on blogs if I don't catch up NOW before I go! :-) (and I do this because my children bug me when I DON'T, so here we go, in pictures! )

January
Chinese New year was the big event! 




February
We had the youth mystery ball with our church youth group. I was in charge of the dessert bar. :-) 





March
Celebrated my moms 60th birthday!
(also my grandpa and aunts!)





Had a fun day at Cahokia Mounds.







AND prepared to travel!!