Honk if you like Novocaine!

I can’t believe it’s been a month – the past 30 days have flown by with the gusts of wind that sweep up our forested hillside, bringing a torrent of feathery helicopter seeds spinning into the grass. It’s fun to watch, but the quiet awe and appreciation of something that so exquisitely reflects our God’s genius starts to tread the edge of annoyance in a few months when all those seeds start sprouting new trees in my lawn. Yes. I’m the one that spends 3 hours on a crisp spring afternoon hand-plucking maple babies from the grass. I started counting last year and I counted 300-something then got tired of keeping track. At that point I just started keeping track of what everyone else in the household was doing at that moment since they weren’t out plucking babies next to me. Grrr…

It is definitely fall here in Vancouver! Our woods are full of flaming, mustard-hued, rustling leaves. Wes has quietly observed all of the changes in the trees as they move from bright greens to yellows, browns, oranges and reds. These changes are something that he’s seeing for the first time – and you can see his eyes taking it all in. We’ve spent hours at the neighborhood park playing kickball (complete with bases, and our entire family playing – boys vs. girls – somehow the boys always clean up the score), and throwing the football in the driveway. The crisp air prompted a trip to target to pick up a pair of “man tights” (man sport leggings) also dubbed “Mights” or “Bites” (boy tights), for Wes to wear under his soccer and basketball shorts. He amazingly doesn’t seem to mind the pouring rain or the cold! On days when the downpours are incessant he comes home from school, hops out of the car and runs around the driveway with no coat yelling at the top of his lungs, “IT’S RAINING!!!!!!! IT’S RAINING!!!!!!” and insists profusely each morning, “Mommy, I do NOT need a jacket. I’m not gonna get cold!” Just wait, kid. This is nothing. 😉

All four kids are racking up the miles on our cars this month – Braeden started driver’s ed last month and has been hopping in the driver’s seat every chance he gets. Amazingly enough, I’m not nearly as nervous as I thought I would be! Well, okay, that’s a tiny bit of a lie. The first few times in the passenger seat I was writing out my living will and testament in my head. But at this point, he completes driver’s ed next week, and I feel pretty confident that our lives are safe in his hands for the most part. Wes continues to give him a run for his money, winning the prize for the “most vocal backseat driver”. “YOU GOTTA SLOW DOWN, BUD!” or “DUDE, YOU’RE ON THE LINE, MAN,” are common outbursts from his booster seat…Logan has started basketball for school with Kris coaching the 8th grade girls team, and Abby has started her 6th grade basketball team (Kris also helping on/off), and Wes began playing on a 1st grade boys basketball team (again, Kris helping on/off) with boys from his school which he LOVES – and this is in addition to overlapping soccer for a few weeks. Insanity, is what it is. And we wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

We continue to deal with the same parenting issues with Wesley that we have been through with our older children when they were seven – respectfulness, telling the truth the first time (instead of giving the “joke” answer”), sharing, and finding a compromise instead of doggedly holding to only one opinion. We are finding joy, more and more, in realizing that these behaviors are so much more about just generic, 7-year-old discipline/teaching-moment issues than they are about un-doing his past bad habits or healing a trauma. We still have moments that we recognize an orphanage-style response, or habit – teaching him to pick up after himself is going to be a lifetime of learning, for sure! – His tendency to flick a wayward bit of trash or food across a table or across a room if he doesn’t want it near him is common, or stash his trash somewhere close by instead of making it all the way into a garbage can. Although – again – it gives us relief to remind ourselves that we deal with this same behavior in our biological children as well, and they are 5+ years older than he is! I guess, if this is any encouragement at all to families going through a transition process with their adoptive kiddos – just remember that not all behavior is trauma or hard-past-related. A lot of the issues you’ll deal with are normal, age-appropriate behaviors and when I thought about it from that perspective, it became a lot less anxiety-producing for me. While it is important to understand that some behaviors are age-appropriate but also exacerbated by past trauma, it is equally important to understand that not all the negative behavior you’re seeing is going to need to be UN-done – some of it just needs to be done a first time.

This week, Wes had his very first dentist treatment (AKA Cavity Fillings). I was super anxious that he would be stressed out and nervous and refuse to go in, or fight the hygienists trying to stick stuff in his mouth (AKA NEEDLES). Not so. This kid practically dragged me back to the dentist chair, picked out his movie (Kung Fu Panda 3), put on his special glasses and opened up his mouth wide. He calmly obliged when asked to put the silly gas elephant nose on and breathe deeply, and then proceeded to tell me I could “go out and wait for him” in the lobby until he was done. LOL – a constant battle to teach this child that he DOES, IN FACT, NEED HIS MOMMY. 😉 Today I told him (while he was throwing me the football decked out in a Spiderman costume) that even Spiderman kisses his mom, to which he said, “Ugh, I KNOW, Mommy!” However, something softened his heart today, because I got multiple kisses at a few different times today – all complete surprises and not asked for! Anyway, when he finally tromped out of the dentist room with the nurse, carrying a highlighter-green, rubber monkey that lights up when you fling it around, he attempted to smile at me. His lips were tinged with puffiness and his smile ended about 1/2″ into his lips. He looked at me and said, “Mmmy, muh lipppthss are not wuuuhkng!” and proceeded to attempt to slide a mini wooden paddleful of vanilla ice cream into his mouth. When his lips finally landed on the spoon, they were dripping with melted cream and flapping all over the mouthful. Braeden was there with me, waiting, and we both burst into peals of laughter. Of course, like a good mother, I whipped out my phone and started videoing the spectacle. We’ve had many laughs over that video since, but he was such a trooper! He was dead-set on going straight back to school despite his sleepy lips. He couldn’t say “f’s” or “p’s” and could only smile halfway. His nose was tingly and when he had to raise his hand to make a quick exit in class he said, “Mrs. Hippbppbbbbbs, can I go to the bafffppppwoooom?” He still laughs about having to go to the “baffwoom” and says that his lips were so sleepy they made a toot noise when he tried to say it. I guess I don’t need to worry about him being afraid of the dentist. If anyone is in Vancouver – I highly recommend Adventure Dental for all kids dentistry and orthodontia! Amazing people, and it is so worth it for my kids to not mind going to the dentist!

Work for me is busy, exhausting, challenging, but getting easier as I get my bearings and figure out how to manage a classroom of children. I’m not sure I was cut out to be a teacher, but those kids do find a quick way to my heart, darn it! Plus, last week we did a coloring and design element with our Mola making project so each class period I let myself sit down among my kids and color! Color Therapy. It’s a thing, I’m sure.

In addition to working at the school, my ECommerce business, Bél Lavi, is also gearing up for the Christmas shopping season. My office at home and, unfortunately, my dining table, are being overrun with inventory – metal wall pieces, Christmas ornaments, leather bags, jewelry, etc. I get super excited to see it all come in, but nervously pray that it goes back out in boxes with paid shipping labels to customers! 😉 If you’re at all interested in checking out what we have going on, please visit www.bel-lavi.com!

Kris’ work is busy as usual, but he’s such an amazing steward of his time, and somehow finds a way to balance his crazy work load with coaching, parenting, and still finding time to be the best husband on the planet.

Well, my eyes are fluttering, and I have another day of teaching about Van Gogh to some 2nd graders and Kinders, making chalk sunflowers! 😉

Blessings to you all,

Laura & family

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