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