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Always Growing

Maria started a new school last week.  It’s a great school, or so we heard.  We met a girl her age at a Halloween party, “Most kids are sad to go to school, but we are all sad for the weekend because the school is so amazing, and the LIBRARY is HUGE!” she told us through her glasses.

I kicked Maria under the table, my little book lover. She was like, chill mom, while shyly nodding at the girl.

We applied, hoping for a change, thinking maybe next year, but she was able to get in this winter semester.  She started last Monday and came home standing a bit taller, a noticeable difference.  “Everyone was nice, everyone said hi to me, they all sat with me at lunch, everyone…I had this buddy, she was with me the whole time, and everyone greeted me.”  Our three year struggle, seemingly gone today.  Andrew dropped her off the next day and two girls called her name and ran to greet her.  Maria was bewildered, then happy, Andrew beamed.  Her homework is short, she has more time for the hobbies she loves like reading, crochet, piano, playing games, she recently got a skateboard and loves it. We are all loving it.  It’s also a K-12 school so I could send the boys there next year, too.  I guess they have 500 kinder applicants a year, but they would have a better chance with a sibling there, although I would be sad to say goodbye to Finley’s Spanish school, it’s wonderful.

Maria has gone to BSF with Andrew since she first came home from Russia.  It’s the lazy parent’s actual dream come true if you are looking for your child to read the bible deeply, and to experience a tangible awe of him, reverence for his wisdom.  She gets her homework sheets, and all on her own she reads her passages, contemplating the verses, allowing His constant goodness to soak into her.  She surprises me by how much she knows sometimes.   And it’s never been easy like, “Welcome!  We’re studying the book of Philippians!” but she has read through the life of Moses, Genesis, each verse, and now we are all studying Revelation.  It’s not Andrew and I trying to foster some sort of affection for God, or sitting down trying to convey biblical messages, but on her own with the free notes, she reads and learns and then discusses it in her class while Andrew is in his.  Because it’s mostly all independent, she will surprise me when I hear her teaching the little ones something about God, or having a deep knowledge of things even some adults (like me, hah!) don’t know.   She loves the kids in her class and her teachers, too.


She is getting ready for her first missions trip to Mexico, she can’t wait. It’s the same trip I went on when I was in high school, it was simple, living in tents, no showers, running a VBS for poor local children in the pure dust of open land and wild and free worship at night, buying warm tortillas on the crumbling corner and passing them around to everyone in our van, painting the local zoo, but it was a life changing experience for me.  She and some of the other local adopted junior high girls are going to go.  They are starting to get excited, although nervous as it is a new experience for them.  We just told them, “Don’t have any fun, don’t help lots of sweet kids, sing and dance during worship and don’t buy junk food at the local tiendas without all your moms there, k?”  They laugh and giggled at the thought.  “I just want to help the kids,” Maria told me.  “They will love you,” I told her.


She recently went on a daddy date with Andrew to go see Start Wars and told him, “I’ll remember this day forever!!”



Finley is loving his little school.  I am surprised by what that teacher is able to get her class to do.  He’s learning so much, and sometimes I forget that he’s hearing Spanish all day.  Our friends will speak to him in Spanish, he’ll respond in English, but understanding.  He’s developing a little accent, ‘Gor-ee-ya’ he’ll say pointing at a Gorilla.


He is our little thinker, sensitive and quiet.  Well…except the other day when a neighbor who lives behind us and comes into her back yard to smoke came out.  We’ve never said anything to her ourselves since we have loud chickens and children and a rooster, and a drummer, but Finley looked at Poppy while on the trampoline, “PLEASE STOP SMOKING!!!!!”  Me with the look of panic in my eye, not moving so she wouldn’t know I was present…  “Mom…why is she ignoring us?  Mom…is she going to *wait let me just take 10 deep breathes as I remember his words and type them* is she going to die!?!?

“Finley….shhhhh, ” as I motioned them inside with stiff hand motions and zero chill.

“Why mom??  WHY??  Why are we going inside?  I asked you if she is going to die…” totally shattering the intended illusion that I wasn’t present with them in the back yard…

He loves listening to Peter and the Wolf, riding his bike, but mostly doing art.  That’s his thing, art art all day long.  Paper and crayons or pencils.  Mostly people.




Elijah, our sweet little buddy.  Elijah struggles a hard battle with his sensory system and other issues due to his early lack of care and affection; hold and love your babies, you aren’t spoiling them.  What’s interesting is that deep inside is a heart that is pure gold, one of the kindest, most thoughtful hearts.  But when he is unregulated or overwhelmed, there’s not much that can stop him.

He starts more OT with an official evaluation next month that took all the time in the world to organize and arrange, oy vey.  One night we were praying for him, I wish I could say I was constantly praying for his healing, but I am not.  But I particularly remember praying for him one night, and the next day I was treating warts on the bottom of his feet with oregano oil, sitting on his bottom while he flailed his feet because it tickles so much.  I turned around and put my hands on his back and cracked his back maybe 20 times.  It shocked me how many times, he was so tense, like a brick wall.  I started massaging his back, hard as a rock, and afterwards he snuggled into me and was very calm afterwards.  The entire day.  He has started asking for massages, ‘howd massages’ and then curls his back and is on the verge of tears through the discomfort of them, but loves them.  So weird.  So strange, and helping him so much.  He is much more regulated and can sit still through much more. This is all the day AFTER we said that prayer.  It makes me remember how much I can rely on God in the moment.  I would agree with that in my mind,  I know it to be true… but most often just try to get things done myself, without calling on a loving, wise God who is always present.


I have been slowly continuing my Marie Kondo house reclaiming and it is changing my life for the better.  We cleaned out under the house, and now are slowing working through the garage.  I feel like it’s giving me more time to do things I care about, which seems strange, how can cleaning out under my house and taking 2 car trips to the thrift store of things I never even really see on a daily basis give me more time and peace?  She talks about it in her book, but I didn’t believe it until now.  Yesterday, while the kids napped I took down my ‘fabric box.’  Because, what, am I ever going to craft?  What is even in here?  I’m all about looking through my stuff now, though.  I found an old curtain and 10 year old lighting McQueen fabric and decided to make a weighted blanket for Elijah.  I had the space, the time, plus I’d be clearing out stuff…(Let’s be honest, that was more of my motivation than anything else 😉  So I sewed and sewed, the kids woke up and watched as I poured in a tiny cupful of rice into each square before sealing it up.  Maria came home from school and watched, too.  I felt very motherly with my sewing machine, and Elijah bragged to anyone who would listen that this was ‘his Lighting McQueen blanket.’  I had taken Poppy to story time that morning and gotten a few books, one cute one called A Beautiful Mess all about DIY projects and Maria read all the pages, planning out what we could make.  She and Finley found a blanket that you sew streets and a town onto and then drive toy cars on, they dog-eared it for when I was done with the weighted blanket.

I finished the blanket that night, Andrew had to buy me extra rice, but it was otherwise a free blanket.  I was about to buy one for $150 online.  Elijah is loving it.  He is sleeping longer, not getting out of his bed, but feels secure and cozy.  And I am officially going through that random fabric box!!  (Me=overly excited)


“You should make them and sell them!”

“That will never happen.”


Poppy:  So sweet, so easy.  She’s like butter in your arms.  She makes people feel amazing about themselves because she is so loving.  She receives infant ed from the same teacher Elijah had when he was two, and we LOVE her, and speech therapy.  All these ladies come to our home, for free, and play with Poppy for an hour, she feels so special and loved.  Poppy still can’t really talk, she just babbles through some of her favorite sounds, but with the biggest smile, so it works.


Andrew and Maria started calling her BB8, a robot from Start Wars that just rolls around babbling things that no one can understand.  She can, however, say BB8 proudly.  I had thought that we might experience some racism, but it’s only been the opposite.  Even older people at Costco will go out of their ways to smile at her and comment about her as she grins at them.  Hmmm, maybe what I assumed was ageist.  She loves library story time and ensures each time that she is front and center and sits through the whole thing, so different than my boys.  I love our library story time, the guy who reads is so strict that parents can’t be on their phones, and I love meeting local people.


All my kids get along very well and are good friends, except Poppy and Elijah; they are frienemies.  Sometimes they are best friends playing tea party, and other times they go out of their way to bug each other.  Elijah tries so hard to make sure she is doing the right thing, and just ends up in trouble.  And when he bugs her, she’ll try to bug him on purpose.  We thought she was pure sugar, but Elijah brings out her sass.  Maria and Finley though are best friends.

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She takes a tap ballet class and she loves it, but I kind of feel bad for her.  Her dance skills are so much better than what they offer.  All the other little girls can speak in full sentances, wheras Poppy cannot.  “What is your favorite Disney princess!?!?!?” the teacher will ask.  All the girls describe in full detail, and when asked Poppy, will just smile, and nod, so confused.  She will even smile and laugh at the teacher, with no answer, and the poor teacher is like, “Well….Poppy?”  She can’t even say the word princess.  But then she dances with her whole body, head and all, while the other girls run to the sidelines or scratch their heads.  Poppy LOVES to dance, hoping to switch her out of ballet when she’s three.

Poppy is slowly learning to eat healthy.  She used to cry when we’d serve her salad, and we’d be like, “Awww, so sad you need to eat this…” but she’s developing a taste for it.  In her mind, she just wants to eat chips and cheese, like, “Mom, this is obvious the only good stuff…”

Ok, BB8.


Andrew started reading a Wrinkle in Time to the kids at night.

We started everyone on a 7pm bedtime, 7 meaning the door is closed at 7pm, so they are in bed earlier.

I had my floors professionally cleaned yesterday and Elijah burst a full pee diaper into a million small white pieces all over it this morning…  He cleaned up most of it himself.

Our family loves counseling, Maria is doing EMDR which is phenominal and her counselor is now down the street from her new school, a dream.  I wish I had the skills of a counselor, to have life giving words for people when they share their hearts with me, what a gift of true, actual freedom and healing.  I remember a counselor sharing that many people are trapped in the pain or abuse or hurt from their past and can only function as half a person because they are constantly thinking about it.  Then while parenting, they can’t pull out their child’s gifts or strengths because they are not quiet whole.   I called my friend who suffered through unthinkable sexual abuse growing up, but never received counseling because as she said, “Mexicans don’t talk about feelings.”  I told her about half a person, and she said, “That’s me…” and went to counseling.  There was a visible difference in weeks, she looked lighter, a breathe of life in her face.  But counseling isn’t just for the abused or orphaned, it’s for anyone wanting to process life.  We cope constantly trying to survive feelings, even busyness can be a way to not feel some overwhelming feelings, and counseling isn’t a bandaid leaving the wound beneath still present, but can be the link to freedom and a life of a rich fullness, ability and connection.



The other night Maria said, “Mom…can we please stop listening to Justin Beiber?”

So I kindly responded, “Oh Maria, I do so much for you…no.”


Where are my BSF people?  If you are in BSF, or have been, write a comment sharing what you are learning or like about it, I would love to hear since we are all studying the same thing around the world 🙂




Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity // luke 6.38


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  • Joolzmac January 20, 2016, 7:27 pm

    Oh, I could listen to you talk all day long, Amy! Such beautiful beings, you and Andrew, raising your beautiful children. I feel good every time I read your posts. Sunshine, pure sunshine! 🙂

  • Debi Allenbaugh January 20, 2016, 8:27 pm

    I have been wanting to try bsf. Totally nervous about going in with a bunch of women I dont know. Good to hear how much you like it

  • cathy chan January 20, 2016, 8:52 pm

    I love you writing style, i love your family, i love your heart. Thank you for your vulnerability. Thank you for sharing your family stories and photos. your blog is always beautiful.

  • Jennette January 21, 2016, 4:20 pm

    Joolz took the words right out of my mouth. That’s exactly how I feel after reading one of your blog entries on raising your family- SUNSHINE! I love to hear it all the good and the hard. Thank you so much for sharing it all with us.

  • Christopher Hudson January 22, 2016, 11:06 am

    The BB8 thing is hilarious. Hudson crew hearts the Brockhaus crew.

  • Trish January 22, 2016, 4:20 pm

    I LOVE hearing you talk about your kids. Every single time, it just makes me want to be present in all of your lives! Thanks for sharing them with us! 🙂

  • Annie January 26, 2016, 4:18 pm

    What a wonderful update. I adore your blog and every time I stop by I leave inspired to love my kids more fully.

  • Bonnie January 27, 2016, 9:57 pm

    I love to hear about the kids, Amy!! I miss those sweet people! I am loving BSF this year, and every year I have gone! I encourage you all to go if you have not yet gone to BSF! I did not know anyone in the place I just moved, but went anyway. I love those ladies and what they share. It is amazing!! Go!!
    I learned this week from Revelation 12:11 that we triumph over evil by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. That testimony is the truth of God and how it is worked out in each of our lives. God Word is true and our lives prove it as we are changed by the reading, hearing, and study of the Word of God through the Holy Spirit.

  • Leigh February 8, 2016, 8:44 am

    I enjoy reading your blog. I especially appreciate reading about Elijah and his challenges. I have a little girl adopted from Vladivostok , Russia. We even stayed at the Vlad in. She is now 5 1/2 and home for four years. She did not qualify for any therapies when she came home and I think for the most part is doing very well. But, sometimes I think I don’t recognize behaviors as being residual issues from her time as an orphan. I tend to look at them as behavioral issues as an only child, a spoiled child etc. Reading blogs like yours and a few others that I read often offer me some “aha” moments and solutions as well. I also got a kick out of your recent post about Poppy’s birthday. There was some discrepancy as to when Ellyana’s birthday was- June 9 or 29th. They finally told us it was June 9, but I always wonder. At this point, four years in, I’d rather not know. It would be a nightmare to change everything. Anyway thanks for writing and don’t stop!

  • Diana February 20, 2016, 12:59 pm

    The recent lesson on suffering was really good for me. The line from the notes that said “In your suffering, will you seek comfort by deliberately thinking more about God than your struggle?” was convicting for me. I tend to way over think things and it consumes me rather than turning to God.

    Enjoying my second year in BSF in Michigan 🙂

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