Thursday, December 25, 2014

Here we are...

Continuing the (unintentional) tradition of a goofy family picture on Christmas, using a tripod in front of our tree....


Michael is...Napoleon?
Sophia, the belly dancer
Why are we...leaning??

Joel and I are both sure we fixed Sophia's shirt right beforehand. How it got like this again is beyond me!! Every one is this way. She's wearing a necklace one of the boys got me. She didn't want to take it off. :) 

Beaty Family 2013, Gotcha Day (December 24)

In every one, the boys are goofing off. 
Our tree-topping angel was a wedding gift from Camilla from Denmark.

Just goes to show how hard Elena works to get decent family pictures for us!!

Tomorrow I'll try to post pictures of the gift opening for relatives. The boys were very good today, playing well and no signs of ungratefulness or entitlement. Yeah!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Beaty Family Christmas Letter 2014

Christmas Letter 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas from the Beaty Family! This Christmas season, the first complete one as a family, has been so much more enjoyable than last year! Looking back, it was a complete whirlwind as we became parents to four new children who arrived right before and after our FIRST wedding anniversary on November 30.

While 2013 was a year of grand change for Jake and I, this year could be called one of much discovery and growth. A couple big events of the year were moving from our apartment to a two story house with a yard, and then right after, traveling around the states for two months visiting family and friends.    

In June, Jake completed his two year contract with Calvert School. As grateful as we were to the school for giving him the job he needed to be able to make the plunge and move to Bolivia (and thus marry me!), we breathed a big sigh of relief when he was free to pursue other, less stressful, endeavors. For the first month, he focused on writing his family’s book of building and moving into a log cabin in central Washington State, a tale he’s wanted to get down onto paper for many years, but it wasn't paying the bills. After an online job search, he was offered a job on Joel’s birthday (July 16) and began work for Black Fin, an internet marketing company for law firms. He is now the Director of Operations and works 40-50 hours a week. He is learning a new industry and enjoying this new field of work. It suits his introverted self to mainly work alone, then come join the family at day’s end. We love having him nearby!

This year I (Jennifer) have continued to adjust to a major change of life from my first 9 years in Bolivia sans children! Yes, I might have lived in the Baby Home, but I was mainly sitting at a desk and it was not my “job” to jump up every time I heard a baby cry. Now I spend my mornings getting kids ready for the day and then homeschooling. Afternoons are spent with a little more homeschooling, keeping up with the boys and keeping a busy toddler entertained, tackling Casa de Amor work when Sophia sleeps, and cooking for a big, hungry family. I’m settling into my new role and enjoying homeschooling more and more. The 10 year anniversary of my move to Bolivia was in July, and on December 3, Casa de Amor celebrated 10 years of service to Bolivia’s children with a big event and TV and radio interviews. It was pretty special!

Joel, now 11, is our most laid-back, emotionally stable kid (okay, maybe the only one?!). He’s an excellent artist and our most creative. He also sports the best attitude about school and is a champion scorer in soccer! There’s just not much to say about him…and that’s a good thing!

Michael, also 11, is our most active, energetic, talkative kid. He’s a natural leader and charmer…we’re just working on focusing that for GOOD and not bad! Of all the boys, Michael is Sophia’s best babysitter, perhaps because their energy levels match! Many of Michael’s behavioral challenges and difficulty resting  seemed to line up with ADHD, something we had suspected while he lived in the homes. We got an official diagnosis on that this month and have learned as we research that it’s not just an issue of hyperactivity, but also impulsivity, negativity, lack of motor control, the compulsion to always be right… We are seeking natural solutions and strategies to help, as well as the right professional to help Michael learn what it means to be part of a permanent family and the team work that entails. We have seen some breakthroughs recently, so that’s encouraging!

Samuel turned 10 this year. Same as both of his brothers, Samuel is a lego whiz kid, building anything he can envision and playing for hours. He’s also the most intrepid on his bike!  Before he joined out family on December 24, we thought he would be our quietest kid. Turns out, none of them are actually quiet!! The type of questions he asked, the constant disorientation, and much difficulty in schoolwork led us on a journey of seeking answers. Finally, after many evaluations and tests, he was diagnosed with dyslexia, ADD, dyslalia (and probably dyscalculia), with a big dose of low self-esteem and anxiety in every area of life. No wonder everything was hard! It was a relief to know which direction to head and he now attends twice weekly therapy sessions with an educational psychologist. If just for his sake, it’s great that we home school!

All three boys are part of a local soccer team and love their frequent practices and games. We might be biased, but it seems their teams always win and that they get all the goals! They are doing well with English although we still have a long way to go, especially to be able to use English curriculum. They constantly surprise me with what crazy phrases they pick up from…can you guess?...their father!  Our house is very much Spanglish-land…

It’s been a year of discovery for all five of us, and that goes for Sophia, too! She’s gone from a tiny baby who just laid around and watched us, to a toddler who actively participates in our world. She wants to copy absolutely everything we do, is very mobile (pulls up to everything, climbs up and down the stairs), is VERY verbal (says new words or sounds almost daily), and loves playing anything from peek-a-boo to a toned-down version of soccer with her brothers! Every day she gets more and more fun. We all adore her and she soaks up the attention!

Things will change a bit for Sophia - and all of us - once again next year, as we have another baby girl due around April 13, the day Sophia turns 18 months! The boys are excited about the new addition and having TWO little sisters to dote on. Our midwife friend (Katrina from New Zealand) booked her tickets as soon as she found out, so if everything goes well, this will again be a birth at home in Bolivia!

Jake has been quoted this year as saying, “If parenting can be compared to swimming, we jumped off a ship in the middle of the ocean.... it was a perfectly good ship, too!” I laugh, but it’s quite true. Jake went from living in a cabin in the middle of the woods with his cat, to a noisy polluted city of half a million and a big family in a small apartment - all in less than 1 ½ years! I also went from eating, sleeping, and breathing Casa de Amor, street kids, and jails around the clock, to being at home cooking and nursing around the clock. As we continue to adjust to all the changes, we know that we are living out our dream! Even with the unique challenges each child presents us, we have God’s chosen spouse and the big family we've always wanted. The days can be long, but we can sense that the years are going to start flying by!

We look forward to reading your family Christmas letters as we try to stay in touch with friends and family living all over the world, so send them on to us!

¡Feliz Navidad y Año Nuevo!

Jacob, Jennifer, Joel (11), Michael (11), Samuel (10 ½), Sophia (14 months), and #5!

Family Picture, May 27, 2014

First Ocean Visit with our Kids, September 8, Oregon

The Kids at the Beaty Cabin, October 3, Chelan, Washington

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sophia's Vocabulary

This post will appeal more to the relatives. I just wanted to record all of Sophia's words as her vocabulary blossoms! She is 14 months old now.

I expected Sophia to be quite verbal both because of her personality and all the great stimulation she receives from her dad and brothers, but it's taken me by surprise. I haven't really ever lived with such a talkative one year old, since my special needs sisters talked late, and the other had to start over at 9 months learning a new language (English). Then in the Baby Home, we do our best, but without the one-on-one attention of one caregiver, babies will always be speech delayed.

Words she uses frequently and easily:
  1. dada (the very first!)
  2. hola
  3. apple
  4. Shaggy (our neighbor's dog in our shared backyard, but she uses it for ALL dogs!)
  5. wow
  6. cracker (minus the "r" sound)
  7. caca (pronounced similarly to the word above - only context really clarifies which it is, ha!)
  8. chau
  9. cat
  10. uh-oh
  11. mama (Will chant it sometimes, like when in her crib, but otherwise she has never directly used it when talking about me or getting my attention. I say it's because any ol' scream or holler will bring me quickly enough!)

Today she used "uh-oh" in the cutest way! She wasn't going to sleep for her morning nap. At first I was trying to ignore her because I knew she was plenty tired, but she was getting more wound-up. As I walked in, she got up off of her stomach, with her hand down the back of her crib, and pointed, saying very sadly "uh-oh!" BOTH of her favorite pacifiers were stuck out of her reach. I saved them and she settled back down to sleep with a huge smile, having successfully communicated. Love it!

These are words she has said several times, just not as daily as the others:
  1. okay
  2. gracias
  3. thank you ("danku")
  4. no
  5. si
  6. bye-bye
  7. cheese (pronounced "chee")
  8. quack-quack
  9. baby (not pronounced real great, but it's 2 b sounds followed by a vowel sound - she'll have enough practice soon enough!)
  10. doggy
  11. gato (cat in Spanish)
  12. agua (water in Sp)
  13. auto (car in Sp)
  14. eyes (because she loves playing "eyes, nose...MOUTH!" Yesterday I only said the word "mouth" in passing, and she immediately said "eyes" and pointed to hers!)
  15. nasty (guess who taught her that one?!)

Signs she knows and uses all the time (SO cute! have to get a video soon):
  1. more
  2. food
  3. all done
  4. sleep
She immediately learned sleep the day I taught it to her, so I need to keep up the new signs.

She has her own signal to tell us to "come" to her, and of course she loves waving! Some days she's really in the mood to vigorously nod "yes" or "no", too. The brothers have fun playing around with that one!

A few days ago, Michael sighed real big and said "Sophia, I wish that you would just TALK, so that we could understand what you want, instead of you just CRYING!" Amen! But she's working on it, that's for sure.

And because no blog post about Sophia is complete without pictures, a few pictures of our crazy, fun baby from December thus far:

She loves saying - and eating - apples!

(trying to) feed herself pasta for lunch, because that is SO much better than being dependent on mom

First time on a bike (and of course she loved it)

At her first friend birthday party

Bed head!!

Checking out the flowers. She loves playing outside!

Michael, Samuel, Joel, Sophia

Christmas picture with mama 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Our Second Anniversary!

For two years in a row (wow!) we have been able to return to our honeymoon hotel, a beautiful, old - but updated - former mansion with beautiful, fragrant gardens just perfect for relaxing.

I didn't expect anything big this year since we've been really busy and have four kids and all, but Jake said we needed the time alone and found the babysitter (thanks, Danyelle!!). He had several gifts up his sleeve, including a very fascinating book we were able to read half of on our Kindles during the 23 hours away (The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan, by Jenny Nordberg). We also did the love language quiz for the first time together during a leisurely dinner at our favorite special occasion restaurant.

We've managed to take pictures at the entrance every year...

I love doing these things...

Check-out after our honeymoon. Next stop: our new apartment!
(We look SO YOUNG! I can't imagine how we would look if we had actually married when young, ha.)
Check-out after our first anniversary celebration, 2013
(Away from home with our feisty 7 week old for the first time. I look haggard for a reason!)
 Out to dinner for our 2nd anniversary, 2014
(Our first night ever away from the kids. I was so glad that they did very well!)

Christmas Time!

After Jake and I got back from our quick get-away anniversary, we planned to put up the Christmas decorations. "We" turned out to be us reading on the couch while the boys did the tree with just a little supervision. They did great!

When Sophia woke up, she was surprised!
That box of toys was put there by brothers with the idea of distracting Sophia from undoing the tree. Yeah, that didn't work!

Everybody "helping" Dad hang lights...
Joel wanted to take pictures in their Christmas pajamas, recent gifts from Grandma Thompson. Michael suggested that Jake and I really need the same style, so that we could join them. Uh... No thanks! :)
I won't show the pictures of the screaming baby... She was NOT in the mood, so this is the only real picture I got.

(What we call "baby candies" is all that let us get a couple pictures!)

What are those crazy brothers doing?! (I have no idea!)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

First Family Visit to the Ocean!

On Day Two of our whirlwind Oregon side-trip, we drove several hours south to Grant's Pass, Oregon, to meet Jake's new boss at his new job. The scenery was lovely, it was just hot and cramped with all the kids in the car for that long...okay, very! Sophia doesn't nap well in car seats, and Fanny roars as she goes. But I was glad that Jake was able to have a face-to-face meeting even though we live so far away.

Then that evening, Rudi Booher suggested that we do a quick half-day trip to the ocean the following morning! We readily agreed. Visiting the ocean while in the US ranked pretty high on the boys' priority list, right alongside visiting the zoo (which we did in Memphis)!

 The Beaty Family on the Oregon coast
First thing Monday morning, we piled into their 14 passenger van. First, we visited their lovely coffee shop (see yesterday's post) and then continued down country roads to the shore.
  Rudi at the wheel in beautiful Oregon

 We pulled over to watch a herd of elk alongside the road
 Arriving after the pleasant hour drive

Our kids made a beeline for the water! Pretty excited!
It was SO perfect for our kids to experience the ocean for the first time both with other kids they already know and love AND in Spanish! Rudi and Carla said they were glad their kids had the chance to speak Spanish again.

Sophia got right to work playing in the sand

She LOVES playing in water, in dirt, grass, sand... She's a nature lover, like her daddy!

It was chilly and windy, so Jake created this shawl out of her blanket. I tried dipping her feet in the water, since she so enjoyed the creek we played in two days prior, but she hollered! It was just too icy cold - for me and her! It made my feet go numb after only seconds. Only the kids ventured in!
 Joel with a special find
It was fun to watch the seal floating near the coastline, checking us out above the waves.
After being in the water a bit, we played on the sand dunes. I was holding Sophia and trying to keep blowing sand out of her face so there are no pictures, but it was lots of fun! Taking 10 kids to the beach, 4 of whom have never been, is quite the experience.
We are so grateful to the Boohers for hosting us for the weekend, even as they are busy serving other people (as usual) AND getting ready to move back to Bolivia and adopt siblings. We had a wonderful time and look forward to getting back together again in landlocked Bolivia come October! :)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Oregon Side Trip

We took a whirlwind trip to Oregon in early September. Rudi & Carla Booher and family had insisted that we visit them in their US home, and we were happy to be close enough to oblige! It was only a four hour drive from Jake's parents home, our Western Washington "home base".

Our first stop, however, was... Well, at some gas station between two points on our journey, where we got stuck after a diaper change! "Fanny", Jake's 1969 Ford Fairlane (a VERY COOL car, if you're a guy :)  ), sometimes gives us fits since it sits unused while we're in Bolivia. Here we were waiting for it to cool off...and then a jump-start (from a man who spoke Spanish)...before hitting the road again! (By trip's end, Jake had figured out how to get us going without jump starts every time. Cool!)

Sophia doing some modeling while we cool off, too! Oregon was experiencing unusually high temps for the season (mid 90s) and we had no AC.
Next stop: Brownsville, OR! We were meeting up with the Baker family, other Bolivia friends currently in the states. Although I've known them for over 10 years, this was the first time we've been together in the US. After a while I realized that I kept wondering why everyone around us was speaking English, ha! With this sort of scenery, should've been hard to forget we weren't in Bolivia... 
The kids had a blast cooling off in the creek! We only had a half hour - they could've played hours.

I think this creek was part of the Calapooia River, if we remember correctly
At first, Sophia was having fun with the pebbles on the bank, but Jake said to let her test the water.
And... She loved it!! She threw a little fit when it was time to leave.
Sophia loving the water!  

It was so nice to chat with Linda Baker again, this time about our adopted children.

A bit later, we made it to the Booher family's AMAZING home!

Booher family restaurant! As usual, they had a crowd for dinner

 Our boys loved the creek and zipline at the Booher kids' grandparent's house!
We were put up in the Boohers guesthouse and really enjoyed our time at their Sunday morning home fellowship, as well. That's a place where one doesn't feel out of place for having a big family! :)

High on our list was visiting the coffee shop that helps support the Boohers while they're in Bolivia. We filled up the place trooping in with the 10 children amongst us!
It's a actually a drive-through coffee shop!

Rudi loaded us up with goodies and scone samples before we were on our way to...the ocean!
See the note at the bottom?
Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sophia's New Room!

Actually, this is Sophia's FIRST room! It was high time this baby had her own space. She FILLS UP a whole bedroom with no problem. I think the number one reason I was excited about the move was to get to decorate a nursery for the first time! Well, okay, I've chosen paint colors for a couple of Casa de Amor Baby Homes, but that was a long time ago.

Also, she's a light sleeper and very aware of where Jake and I are, so it was near impossible to go into our room without waking her up, much less talk at all. Now she's sleeping much better!

Welcome to Sophia's room!

She loves playing here! It's warmed by the sun almost all day, very nice in a house without heat.
We haven't hung proper curtains yet. What she has up is just for some light blockage. 

Looking at her books at her new little table

"Got more?"

 Sophia's toys and books keep the boys just as entertained as her!

This shelf used to hold almost all of her things. Now there's room for a whole shelf of books! I used to think she loved reading. Now I think she likes ripping books apart! ;)

Her clothes are organized by size...

Too small clothes and too big clothes hang here, with shoes above

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the light cover thing (whatever it's called)!

Katrina... Have you spotted it yet?? 

I designed the room around the flags you sent me for a birthday a few years ago! :)
Green rug as "grass", with flowers on the walls...

And there she is! I bought the painting above her crib when I was a little girl and slept under it for many years.

It's not done quite yet! I've printed a "few" of our favorite pictures to hang on her walls. 


Sophia loves playing in her room, but playing with anything that is NOT a toy is still her favorite!

And to finish, a picture that doesn't fit the theme except for being SOPHIA!

SUPER BABY! The boys fixed her up in this cape one day.

I don't know when I'll have a chance to post again, as our first flight for our big trip to the US leaves in just 5 1/2 hours!!