Sunday, February 16, 2014

The baby turns two!

Hayser, you are two!

I won't tell you that, though, because you think you are five.

I wish you would extend this "wisdom beyond yours years" vibe to your speech. We call you the strong, silent type. One of the only spontaneous and recognizable things you say is "yes ma'am!" That's not something we really work on. I've asked you to say "drink, please" or "eat, please" roughly 100,000 times and that is not in your repertoire but 'yes ma'am' pops out all the time. 

You bring such joy to me! And to our whole family. Just tonight, you were opening the door of the refrigerator while the rest of us were finishing dinner. I asked you to close it and you did. Then you turned and cheered for yourself, which inspired the rest of us to do the same. Before long we were all five hanging on your every move, each wanting to be the one to tell you to close the fridge so we could start clapping for you again. You have a gift to make ordinary things special and fun. I love that about you! 

usually know you're awake becuase you like to jump up and down in your bed, just because you can. Since you are a fairly sturdy young man, this makes a ruckus.

Your default mode is happy. You just roll through life, cheerfully expectant about the next thing on the agenda, whatever it may be.

Someone described you as the new pledge in a fraternity. :) That is dead-on. You are always ready to join in on the next thing that's about to go down. And so happy about it!

Baking? Absolutely.

Toy assembly? You're on it.

Grocery shopping? Hand me the list.

Car wash??? No thank you!

As easy going as you generally are, you still like things the way you like things. You are constantly closing doors. I am the same way, so thank you for that. I now have an ally.  You like to organize your toys occasionally. For a toddler, you are remarkably trustworthy in a room filled entirely of lego creations. I think you appreciate the order of it.

That being said, you are unafraid to make a mess.

When you saw me coming, you started shoving those marshmallows in your mouth as fast as you could.

Did I say you were trustworthy in a room of Legos?? I may have spoken too soon.

I can't complain about your mess making though, because you are always ready to clean it up!

Here you are wiping up food after one of your daily occurrences of throwing it on the floor.

You scattered bags over a huge area then immediately picked them up when asked. You are such a funny little guy.

The wanting things how you want them extends to your books as well. You would like each item named as you point to it. You want Cat in the Hat acknowledged when appropriate. There is a small pic of cat in the hat on the cover of several books you have and you will never allow the book read without pointing him out. Then we can carry on. 

You would like items specifically named if the picture contains several things. For example, you want to hear 'red crayon', ' yellow crayon' etc in this pic. Not just a generic 'crayons.'  Your little finger will just sweetly but insistently go back to the picture and keep touching it until you are satisfied you've gotten the appropriate words for what you are pointing at. 

You really love books and you have no shortage of admirers to read to you.

You also love to dance. You immediately start shaking your ample hips and get your arms going when you hear a beat you like. You developed an attachment to a Christmas decoration that plays Alvin and the chipmunks version 'up on the for top.' I've heard that daily for over a year now. Please remember that and have patience with me in my old age.

Here you are, getting warmed up with 'wheels on the bus.'

This combines your construction truck obsession with your love of books and music, because it's all set to the wheels on the bus tune. That's God's gift just for you, little Hayser. You love this random book so much!

You point to every single picture to hear its name said but never in any discernible order and you never forget one. If I say the wrong name you make a little noise of protest and touch it again until I say the correct name.

You definitely do not get lost in the midst of four kids. Another thing you treasure dearly is your sleep. I'm afraid Walker's preschool might think I'm writing a book of lies about you because you hit a wall and need a nap about 20 min before it's time to pick him up. As we all tend to do, you become somewhat unreasonable when you are being drug around and just need to be in bed.

You love your sleep SO much that I am flabbergasted by this latest development. You take your diaper off at every nap time/bedtime. We've had to buy one piece sleepers to contain you. You have a mischievous streak because when we put your little feet in the sleepers or get out the packing tape to tape you in, you think it's hilarious.

You also think it's funny when I pretend to eat your feet and your are constantly holding up your little foot for me to kiss or pretend to eat.  Your little face here is just expectant and so sweet.

You hold up one foot.....

Then the other.

I know one day that will no longer amuse you so I'll keep kissing/eating your feet as long as you hold them up there.  I realized we must play that game often because the other day, out of the blue, Walker said, 'I'm hungry for Hayser Goolsby feet!'

You like to play with trains.

You are a builder.

You are the original gangsta.

You love to eat!

This is how we do Costco.

You love to laugh!

Hayes, you bring me and all those around you joy! You light up others with your happy demeanor and your sweet spirit. You are quick to smile, to offer a hug, and you make fun out of the completely mundane things in life. 

Our family wouldn't be complete without you and I'm so thankful to have you! You are the exclamation point and smiley face on Team Goolsby. :)

I'm excited to see how God will use your encouraging spirit, your kindness, and your charisma for His glory. I love you so much, little Hayes!! Happy birthday, sweet boy!!

For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
Phil 1:7

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Caroline and Hayes were dedicated recently. A dedication has nothing to do with baptism or salvation. It is more of a declaration of how you want to raise your child and a time to reaffirm your commitment to raising your child in a biblical way. It is a time to pray and have your church family pray over both your parenting and your child's future. I don't have any sort of picture to commemorate that because we were preoccupied with child wrangling. :)

This baby dedication ceremony was done differently than any that I had seen. The pastor had looked up each child's name and found the meaning, then found a verse to correlate with that. Name meaning has significance in the Bible. Jesus renamed Peter. God renamed Jacob and Abraham. Mary was told what to name Jesus. We did not change Caroline's first name. This is the name given to her by her biological parents. One of the meanings of her name is "free man." The verse spoken over her was 
"So if the Son sets you free you are free indeed."   John 8:36

Freedom is God ordained for her from the time of her birth. Right now, she isn't free. She is bound up in feelings of unworthiness and a lack of belonging. She doesn't understand fully that she has a permanent family and that she is loved. She doesn't know what that means and still feels an orphan in many ways, I think. But God will not leave her in that place and He is giving us, and her, something to hang onto. We had just studied John ch 8 in my bible study that week, so it was awesome timing.  The next week was John ch 9.

She's doing the sprinkler. She gets her awesome moves from me. 
Before I go to this part, I should back up. Caroline is crazy smart. She didn't know a single letter or number 7 months ago and is now reading and doing addition, while simultaneously dealing with all that has happened to her. She is an anomaly when you look at what research says about kids from her background. Her reading teacher is blown away by what she does and how she catches onto things. That being said, there are natural stages of development that progress a child from point a to point b, all of which she missed. For example, they generally learn to differentiate shapes, then they are better equipped to distinguish letters, etc. The same sort of thing happens in emotional/social development and there are gaps. She missed so many stepping stones along the way and it shows. The more we learn about parenting a child from a hard place, the more I realize her long term emotional and even physical health is strongly shaped by these first few years of her life. God has gone before us in every single step of this and it's not something I obsess over. Frankly, the next 10 minutes are usually challenging enough to keep me occupied and I don't even have the luxury of thinking that long term. But the times I do, I have felt this will be something that is a lifelong battle for her. Right before she came home, I read Steve Jobs biography and he struggled with his adoption, and he was adopted at birth. Adoption and abandonment plagued him his whole life and he seemed to more strongly identify with the biological sister he met as an adult than adoptive family who raised him and seemed to have loved him well. It's an issue of deep loss in the best case scenario. Caroline's adoption certainly isn't the best case scenario. That doesn't have to define her but it will always be part of her story.

Reading like a boss.
In chapter 9, Jesus restores the sight of a man blind from birth. There are a handful of cases where people who were blinded in their early years have had their sight restored in adulthood. There are major issues with these people. Your sight develops over time and there are developmental steps it needs to go through. When man restores things, they can't immediately, if ever, fill these holes. While these people technically can see the world around them, they don't understand what they are seeing. They can't distinguish faces, or foreground from background. It's not true restoration. When Jesus gave this man his sight back, he restored what had been lost from birth. He fully, completely, and willingly, gave this man exactly what he had lost. It was as if he had always been able to see. I am hanging onto that for Caroline, because that is what she needs to set her free to truly live the new life God gave her.

There is fear in adopting an "older" child. Since our adoption happened literally overnight, God spared me much of that. But if I'd had the time to actually think about what was happening I'm sure I could have created numerous doomsday scenarios. When people ask questions, I am reminded again how scary that is/would have been. And I try to answer as honestly as possible because it will certainly mess up your plans and take over your life and expose all of your weaknesses. But God is showing us how He is doing things we are incapable of. And He's not waiting until we have faith that He will do it or until we get parenting just right. He's doing it anyway, right now, in the middle of all of our screw-ups and inadequacies. Total strangers notice a change in her. The day after she came home I went to Crazy 8 and just asked the sales associate to pick things out that we need, explaining she had nothing. I was too numb to do anything but hold the things she gave me. We've seen that same lady several times since then and the last time I saw her she pulled me aside with tears in her eyes and couldn't believe the transformation in Caroline. She just tried to fade into the background at first. Now she will confidently engage any adult that gives her half a chance. She smiles. She laughs. She bosses her brothers around. There is so much healing to be done in her. But it is amazing what God has done in 8 short months! And He's just getting started.
Here she is the day before she came home.

She couldn't even look at the camera. She was a lost little girl in every way. God is doing amazing things in our little girl's life and I'm so thankful to have a front row seat to all of it.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
John 8:36