Saturday, December 3, 2016

Two Years, Y'all!!!

Hey y'all, guess what! OUR GIRLS HAVE BEEN HOME FOR TWO YEARS!!!!!!

Hey guys, guess what! I'M ACTUALLY BLOGGING!!!!!!

It's so crazy to me that our sweet daughters have been home for two whole years! It's gone by so fast and we all have made such great strides! I'm so proud of our girls and all the process they've made in all areas. It truly is evidence of God's grace.

Last time I blogged I mentioned that we had put all the children back in school due to starting our escape room business. This year all the kids are still in school and since we moved, they are in a new school which we love. The school is just up the road, so I take all the kids to school every morning after a 30 minutes of begging, pleading, fussing, crying and pure insanity. Sometimes the kids and not just me. Look, I'm NOT a morning person. I'm really not even an afternoon person but apparently that's not acceptable in real life. 

Brayden is 10 years old and in 4th grade. He's such a great kid. He does pretty well academically and apparently he does pretty well making all the 4th grade girls swoon as well. His hair is longer than mine and I had hoped after some comments from peers he might want to change that but apparently he's the Fabio of Blanchard Elementary and it's going really well for him. Whatever dude, just keep it clean and tangle free and your Momma won't say squat. 

Brayden also just earned his first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He endured hours of testing and did absolutely phenomenal. We are so proud of him! This was such a huge accomplishment for him, because  somewhere around his orange belt he wanted to quit. He begged to quit, but we pushed him to stick with it until the end and he did! If you see him out and about, give him a big high five because my baby is a BLACK BELT!!!

Khushboo is 9 years old and in 3rd grade. She has made tons of progress in her reading and math since she came home. It amazes me how much the young mind can adapt in such a short amount of time. She is a very sweet and compliant student. 

In other areas, we have worked very hard on using words to share feelings instead of keeping them all bottled up. We've also been working on helping her see that she can be a kid and not have to worry about everyone else like she did back in India. That being said, she is such a great helper and she never complains when we ask her to do anything. She still loves to clean. It's amazing to me that after two years we haven't broken her of this.

Kashila is 8 years old and in 3rd grade as well. School is her forte. She loves it! She is an extremely hard worker and always does her best, which of course means she is the teacher's pet. My only complaint is that she wants to do everything and gets very concerned when I don't feel the same obligation to participate. I'm probably not the best school mom. Too many kids for that.

Kashila is also doing Tae Kwon Do. She's reached high orange belt, and just as with school she works hard and does her absolute best. She's going to have a mean hit one day! Watch out boys! 

There are probably only two areas that we are working on with this one. The first is having to constantly remind her to mind her own sweet business and the other is to stop being so utterly absorbed in any screen she comes across. I swear that child will zone out on digital billboard if we are stopped in traffic long enough. She's such a sweet and joyful girl though. 

Asher is 7 years old and in 2nd grade. He started out the year very behind his peers but has probably made the most progress out of all the kids. I feel like his teacher has really made a concerted effort to help him excel and I'm so thankful for that. He has made huge strides in reading which makes this Momma's heart sooooooo happy because I thought we would strangle each other during reading lessons. 

He's also made huge strides emotionally. He still has his moments when his engine runs a little hot but he has done so well acknowledging his negative emotions and voicing them so we can help settle things down before they get too much to handle. I gotta say this improvement has made such a difference in the peace of our home. 

He played soccer for a second season. It was super entertaining to watch. He was the biggest kid on the team, all arms and legs with no real control over any of them. He earned the "Most Improved" award at the end of the season,m and he scored multiple goals (even though they don't "keep score") which made his Daddy super proud!

And last but not least, Rabina is 5 years old and in Kindergarten. She is doing pretty well in school but is still slightly behind her peers. I think a lot of this is because she's the youngest in her class both biologically and mentally. Her teacher is wonderful though. I thank God constantly that last year and this year Rabina has had patient and kind teachers who are super understanding. Oddly enough our new neighbor is Rabina's teacher from last year. We think she hides from us, but I really can't blame the woman. 

Rabina still struggles with behavior at home and school. Things are MUCH better, but we are still working on things. I mean, hey, she hasn't drawn on the teacher's computer monitor with permanent marker or pulled her pants down in front of the class, so that is a huge improvement! I'm working on my responses to her behaviors and constantly reminding myself that she IS only five and coming from a traumatic background on top of that. 

We've learned that Rabina struggles the most with change in authority figures. It's like she has to test the waters to see what she can get away with or how much control she has in the situation. It can be really frustrating, but we understand that these are typical survival behaviors remaining from her time in the orphanage. 

Personally, I've been very busy and under a lot of stress with our new business. We are right at the one year mark and we just closed our original location after we finished up our Halloween game. Summer was a pretty rough time for the business and we are still suffering for it, but I have full confidence that we will recover and progress. Being a small business is hard. 

After some recent reflection I've arranged with my staff for me to be home more for Lance and the kids. I have a great staff and now I feel like I can step away if and when it's needed. I think the kids really need me at home more and I think I need that, too. It's been so easy for me to fall into a pattern of distance and busyness and I recognize that hasn't been good for me or them. So, I'm working on my own improvements I guess you might say. 

Overall, I feel like the last two years have been amazing for our family. Yes, they have been hard and have come with lots of change and adjusting, but we have made it through what I believe is the hardest part. I'm sure we will have plenty of hard in the future, but all I can really do, as I look reminisce, is to fall on my knees and thank the Lord above for his goodness. I think about those days when we waited and prayed for what we have now. How can I not be overcome with gratefulness? I cannot imagine my life without these three girls! They were so undeniably meant for our family! They are without a shadow of a doubt 100% our daughters. I'm just glad we said yes despite all the reasons we should have said no. 

Well, I guess I've written enough. I should probably say Merry Christmas because I doubt I will blog again before the new year. Let's be real here. You're lucky you got this! I'll leave you with a couple of recent pictures (sorry for lack of pics... having some trouble getting them off my phones).

Until next time! -K

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Hi! My Name Is...

Hi there! My name is Kristian. It's been so long since I actually posted anything I figured I should reintroduce myself. Y'all! Life has been a whirlwind at our house! So much has changed and I really don't even know where to start in catching you up.

Well, I guess I'll first say we still have 5 kids. All of them have survived since last August and the Lord hasn't blessed us with anymore! Thank you Merciful Jesus!

So, we started the past school year off homeschooling the older four while our little firecracker, Rabina, went to public Pre-K. I love homeschooling and it was going really, really well until October. In October, our world was flipped on it's head.

First, let me explain that Lance and I had been in the process of looking into different business opportunities. We weren't very open about it, but we heavily considered buying an existing business up in Blue Ridge, GA. Thankfully, things did not work out for that, but it did help get us going in the right direction. I had done some research on a new type of entertainment called "escape rooms" and we were very curious.

This may not seem related, but Lance and I FINALLY were able to get away for a real anniversary trip! Way over due! We decided to go to California, and well, with so much awesomeness to see we decided to start in San Francisco and drive down the coast to L.A. It was such a great trip! We had a blast.

The day before we flew out of L.A. we decided to try one of these escape rooms. Apparently we didn't even pick a good one, but OH MY WORD we had the BEST TIME! You know how when you go somewhere like a museum or an aquarium, you fork out a ton of green for tickets and then when you leave you assess your experience and kind of feel a little cheated? Well, we felt the exact opposite of that when we left the escape game. We loved it so much! It was the only redeeming value of our stay in L.A. in my opinion.

So anyways, on the flight back to Georgia, we talked about the idea of starting an escape room business in our hometown of Columbus. How would we go about it? Where would we put it? Would people even come? Lance was of course the more logical one with more reservations, and I was the one saying "LET'S DO IT!"

I won, so as soon as the plane's wheels touched the ground we hit the ground running. Honestly, it's all kind of a blur, but we opened Escape This Live on December 5th! And guess what? It's been a success! People love it, and we are having so much fun with it! We opened our new location in Uptown (aka downtown) Columbus in May and we have been steadily growing. I'm so glad we took the plunge despite our reservations.

Okay, so back to homeschooling... we quit. Yep! We quit homeschooling and put the kids back into public school in January. I just got so busy with the escape room that I couldn't keep a consistent schedule. It was such a hard decision to make, but I know it was the right one for all of us. All the kids did so well. They have made me incredibly proud! The girls have come so far. It's really unbelievable.

We also hired a wonderful nanny for the kids. Rylee has a heart for India and adoption, so it was such a great match. She does wonderfully with the kids and Rabina hasn't run her off yet. Ha!

And to add more chaos to our lives, we moved houses. I swear I'm a glutton for punishment. We moved into a MUCH larger house than our previous one. I feel like a flippin' queen, because I have my very own bathroom that I let Lance use sometimes. The children are forbidden from crossing the threshold of it. It's so great. It was a little bitter sweet moving in, because the house actually belonged to our good friends who moved away.  It took me a couple of weeks to stop feeling like I was living in someone else's house.

Well, that's pretty much the gist of everything without writing a novel. I'll leave you guys with some pictures to complete the summary. :) (Sorry, but they are so not in any kind of order!)

Until next time (year)!  - K

Lance and I with our first employee Libby
Kashila's first American haircut
Khushboo's first American haircut
My life with Rabina
Birthday dinner (maybe?)
The Georgia Aquarium
Waiting in line at the Georgia Aquarium
Georgia Aquarium
Me and Brayden at the Montgomery Zoo
Train ride at the Montgomery Zoo
Our entire Escape This Live crew escaping in Atlanta.
Me and Rylee ripping up carpet in our new location.
Then and Now!
I went blonde.
CoDe our escape pup hanging out with me at work
Asher lost his two front teeth.
Kashila's no longer has an under-bite thanks to Dr. Matt Keller
A group of awesome India Mamas at Created 4 Care
The four eldest

Khushboo and Kashila's birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese
Me and Lance visiting Alcatraz
Some beach on the California coast.
Pismo Beach (maybe?)
I deleted the crotch grabbing pics
One hot chunk of wax
Just riding the train to Long Beach, CA and trying not to get robbed
Todd and Ginger's wedding in Charleston, SC
Our little Indian
Brayden got to get glued up
Christmas morning
Christmas morning
Christmas morning
Our traditional Chinese dinner for Christmas Day

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Back to School!

Back to school! The joy and dread of every mother of school aged children. If your kids GO to school it means long shopping lists, PTA hit ups, stacks of forms to fill out, orientations, uniforms and pickup lines. If your kids STAY for home school it means new curriculum, lots of planning, lots of organizing, and pumping yourself up to be a teacher again. But whether your kids go or stay for school, back to school means back to the reality of *gasps* a SCHEDULE!  

All of the above applied to our family this year. ALL of it! We are home schooling the four older kids and our little squirt, Rabina, is going to Pre-K! We really went back and forth as to what to do this year. A lot of me just wanted to put all the kids in school so that I could have a nice break, but after much prayer and discussion I just did not have a peace about that. So, we decided putting Rabina in school and homeschooling the others was the best decision.

Last year was our first year home schooling. It went fairly well until the girls came home. When they came home, we did zero school for about 6 weeks and then tried to ease into some type of schooling. The schooling part itself was really hard and so overwhelming just because I had to learn what the girls knew and what they didn't. Also, Asher was under a lot of stress with the transition, so he was having a very hard time in school. Then, when you add a very needy and mischievous three-year-old to the mix, home school becomes darn near impossible!  There were days where I just cried over how horrible things were going in the educational department. It was a pretty rotten first year of home schooling but I tried to give myself lots of grace about it. It was only one year, and the world didn't end just because it didn't go so well. 

Despite how badly things went last year, I still really loved home schooling (at least the good days) and I wanted to continue it again this year because I felt like it was the best choice for the kids. I really wanted to put the girls in grades that fit their actual age and not their paper age (long story), but that requires a lot of catching up. I thought we could cover more ground with them if we home schooled. However, I knew if I was going to try again this year, I would have to figure something out for Rabina. We needed to be toddler-free so we could seriously focus on schooling! I applied for her to go to our public Pre-K program, but we weren't sure if she would get in since it's a lottery system. I had planned to put her in a mother's morning out program if she didn't get in, but we were hoping we wouldn't have to go to (or pay for) Plan-B. Well, she got into public Pre-K! Thank God! 

While I was excited, I was kind of nervous about Rabina going to school. School started on Aug 10, and she turned four on the second day of school! She is probably the youngest kid in her class physically, but she is certainly the youngest kid in her class developmentally. In a perfect reality I would not have sent her off to school being so young and immature, but I really needed her to go this year. Regardless, It was so hard for me to imagine her walking into that school building and getting to where she was supposed to go, much less going through a lunch line or walking in any line for that matter. It all seemed so above her capabilities. I met her teacher at "verification day" and explained that Rabina was adopted and asked the teacher to try to always point approval toward us. Like saying "Mom and Dad are going to love that picture!" and stuff like that. I didn't want to be the psycho, overbearing mom, so that's basically all I said about the subject. There was so much I wanted to say to her and warn her about, but I figured I should just let things play out. She would learn soon enough. This was such new territory for all of us though, so I was really anxious about it. Rabina seemed excited and a little scared, too.

Lance takes Rabina to school every morning and I pick her up. She wakes up at 6:30am, is dropped off for breakfast at 7:15am, and I pick her up at 2:30pm. It's a very long day for her! 

On the first day, Lance walked her in and gave me text and picture updates. He walked her in the whole first week and, after that, just started dropping her off at the door. What she does or where she goes once she crosses that threshold we have no idea.

Every student at R's school gets free breakfast and lunch! No complaints here!

She got on the floor and pitched a fit the very first day! Good times!

That book bag is as big as she is!

She found herself a friend.

When I pick her up in the afternoon she is all smiles and waves to me when she sees me in the pick up line! She is soooooooo tired though! 

This was actually the second day of school. 
It's been two weeks and she loves school. I think overall she's been doing well, but I got a sort of humorous update from the teacher this past week. It's humorous only because this is what we deal with everyday and now somebody other than us gets to... um... enjoy it. She told me that Rabina has a hard time being obedient and sitting down in circle time with the rest of the class. She says she would much rather play with all the awesome toys. Say what? My child being disobedient? No never! *maniacal laughter* On Friday, her teacher told me she went and sat behind the teacher's desk. The teacher thought it was harmless and maybe she would just sit there and listen. *maniacal laughter* Well, she drew all over her computer screen with a black permanent marker. She also told me that at lunch that day, Rabina, along with a couple of other kids, decided to get up from the lunch table and go running through the lunch line again for the fun of it. The head of the cafeteria and the principal had to intervene. Bless that poor teacher! Bless her! I had better start planning the most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Christmas and Teacher appreciation gifts!

I do feel like having that break from her during the day has been good for me... for us. I have a lot more patience for her and feel much more affectionate toward her. In the afternoon when she comes home I play with her (just the two of us) and sometimes we take a nap together because she is so tired. I guess that's my only complaint... she's very tired and therefore pretty grumpy. I am hoping as she gets used to the routine that will get better. I'm grumpy when I'm tired, too. 

Having Rabina in school has definitely made a huge difference for our home schooling! We started school the same day she did. This year is going MUCH better than last year. All the kids are doing really well as a whole. We have a few issues we are working on, but I have been really happy with the way things have been going. Day one was a huge shock to the system for everyone. Lots of tears that day but we overcame and pressed on! Asher is doing really well this year, and I am so proud of how far he has come!

Khushboo redoing an entire sheet of addition after having "counted wrong"
Brayden is in 3rd grade this year. I decided Khushboo and Kashila would do well at the 2nd grade level and Asher is in 1st grade. Home schooling 4 kids on 3 different levels is not a walk in the park (unless it's nature walk day and then it might actually be a walk in the park). It's not like I can set everyone down with their school work and go do my own thing. No, it requires my complete involvement. I'm ok with that, but it's definitely time consuming. We start school at 8:30am every day and some days we just barely finish before we have to leave to get Rabina at 2:15pm. On shorter days we finish around 12:00.

We are doing the first year of the My Father's World cycle. The cycle is a four year curriculum and it starts off with Exploring Countries and Cultures. It's challenging and I like that. My best friend Andrea is home schooling her three kids for the first time, and they are doing the same curriculum with us. We have a "synergy" (hate that word) group on Fridays and will do different events and field trips together! I love having her as a partner of sorts. I'm excited to really dig into things and can't wait to start exploring the different cultures around the world! 

Our first synergy group with Andrea's kids. Rabina got to join after school.

Our world cake. haha!

Tomorrow starts our third week of school. Let's do this thang! 

Here are a few pics from Rabina's 4th birthday. She is such a hoot and we are thankful for her! 

Also, Asher lost his first tooth! My baby boy is growing up!

Until next time! -K