Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dinner with the Pierces - 05/09/11

A glimpse into a typical dinner at our house....  We may be a lot of things, but boring isn't one of them.  (Okay, sometimes we're totally boring, but that's just to make up for the crazy parts!)

Last night's dinner...

We had turkey breast, beans, and sweet potato casserole - NOT squirrel, rabbit, or squirrel with cheese no matter how many times Michael told TJ that's what it was!

Turkey under the napkin and an overly dramatic story about a cow - just a couple or average dinner time moments...

Brown-cake-m's (brownies baked in a cupcake pan with m&m's on top), "No, we don't eat eagles", and the musical portion of the after dinner entertainment.

Singing (Act 2), gymnastics, dancing, and bicycle tricks.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Going shoeless for the shoeless AND shoes for the shoeless

All EIGHT of us are going without shoes today.

Puddly parking lot and fuh-REEEZ-ing floor in produce section of grocery store were no fun at all this morning. Neither were the odd glances. I just kept reminding myself that it's only one day, and tomorrow I'll choose a pair of shoes from my closet to put on my feet. In fact I'll probably wear at least 3 different pairs of shoes tomorrow for various things I'll be doing.

Honestly, I hate going barefoot. I don't even go barefoot at home. I always wear shoes. Always.

And how many times a day do I say, "Get your shoes off this floor and take them to your room!" It's not uncommon for a couple of the kids to have a pair in the kitchen, a pair in the living room, and maybe even a pair they left in the van. We have "church" shoes, soccer shoes, dance shoes, tennis shoes, sandals, and flip-flops left around the house at any given moment.

But millions of adults and kids have ZERO pairs of shoes and not only have no choice about which ones to wear today, but have no choice of even whether they will wear shoes or not.

And even though today's awareness event was created by TOMS shoes, we won't be buying any. (Sorry.) The idea is great, but instead of dropping $40 to get yet another unnecessary pair of shoes for someone in our family  and ONE pair for someone else, our family is using that $40 to ship a couple of boxes FULL of shoes to our friends in Springfield, MO who are collecting shoes and light-weight blankets for people in Ethiopia.

So, thanks TOMS for raising awareness. We're doing our part.to help...

34 pairs of shoes that we mailed today...

The girls worked hard filling the box.

TJ showed up when he heard me tell the girls to smile for a photo.

At the Post Office mailing the box of shoes.
(Boy, that parking lot was a killer!)

In the mall...

How all of our feet looked at the end of the day - nasty.  Just plain nasty. 

The Pierce family is THANKFUL for shoes...
and SOON we'll be sending more to those who really need them!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Is your pillow a luxury? Part 2

Okay, we’re done with our first week of the World Vision ACT:s Lent program. It didn’t go exactly as I had envisioned - it was way better. The program was initially intended for college students and young adults, so we had to adjust some things to make it work for a family of 8 with kids ranging in age from 15 to 3 years old, but it was still a good learning exercise for all of us. Here’s how it went.

Beans and rice: (Monday and Tuesday nights) The kids LOVED it. All of them, and that almost never happens. I was hoping they wouldn’t, but they did – BOTH nights. Go figure. They did say it would have been better with some sausage or other meat in it, but still.

Spaghetti with meatless sauce: (Thursday night) LOVED that, too. Really?!?!

I was hoping they wouldn’t like them and that they would feel deprived and therefore more grateful for our “regular” food. They did say they are glad they don’t have to eat just that kind of stuff all the time, but they liked it and we’ll have it again. New options for cheap meals are always good. They did get tired of sandwiches every day and hardly any snacks, so it wasn’t a complete fail. I had never done the math before to see how much we normally spend per person per day on food, and this week I realized that we normally eat on about $3.25 per day per person, so $2 isn’t completely impossible to do on a temporary basis – or possibly even on a permanent basis if we had to. And since we hardly EVER eat out, not eating out was just normal. However, the realization that one meal at Chick-fil-A costs the same thing as ALL the food we each could have for 3 days was an eye opener.

Monday’s lost luxury was the dishwasher. All the kids had to wash, dry, and put away their own dishes for the whole day. Again, since it was something new, they thought it was kind of fun (though they did admit they were glad they didn’t have to do it every day). It was obvious that TJ and Brielle were the only ones with previous dishwashing experience, and now TJ tries to wash his dish every time after he eats and we end up with water ALL OVER the counter. Lovely.

Tuesday we didn’t give up anything. I asked the kids what they thought we should give up and they said that since I am always telling them , “School is a privilege, and there are kids all over the world who would love to have the opportunities you have”, that they should have to give up school for the day. (Can’t blame ‘em for trying, I guess!) In the end, we ended up not giving up anything that day, but I did have some “food for thought” (and a new plan for Wednesday).

First thing I told the kids Wednesday morning when they got up was that they did not have to do school that day. They were SO excited! (That was the distant sound of screaming and cheering you heard for a few moments but just couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from) But after the initial euphoria, a couple of the older ones began to suspect this was probably too good to be true. Next, we discussed our World Vision ACT:s story for the week again: Sophie and her kids sort rocks every day in the rock quarry. They make only enough money for food and rent. The kids cannot go to school because they must work every day just to earn enough money for food. Working all day every day means they cannot get an education, which means that there is no hope of a better life for them in the future. (Suspicion growing.)

Then I dropped the bomb on them. No school = all work. I told them they were going to have to work ALL day doing whatever I told them they had to do. There was plenty to do because were a lot of extra chores that had been neglected the week before due to me having to work on the yard sale every day. So, Wednesday my kids: folded, hung, and delivered multiple loads of laundry and towels to the correct places; wiped walls, baseboards, doors, and doorframes; organized the school shelves, movie cabinet, and book shelves; cleaned their own rooms; helped clean my room; cleaned bathrooms; cleaned and vacuumed under couches and couch cushions; cleaned the kitchen counters; swept kitchen, dining room, foyer, and hall; etc.

Throughout the day we talked about kids around the world who do much, much, much harder work than they were doing, with the added difference of terrible conditions and with no hope of ever having the opportunity to do anything else. When they complained about how “mean” I was being, I reminded them that they didn’t know what “mean” was. “Mean” is a boss who does not care anything about you – only about what you can do for him. “Mean” is a boss who beats you if you do not work fast enough. “Mean” is a boss who doesn’t pay you at the end of the day what you rightfully earned and doesn’t care if it means you and your family will not eat that day.

We talked about the opportunities that become available ONLY when you have an education. And about what it would be like to be a kid and have your family depending on you to work and provide FOOD for them. And about what it would be like to never get to “play” – only to work. And about what it would feel like to live every day knowing they had to wake up and do it all again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

Thursday morning they got up expecting to do some school work. Then I let them know they were going to work AGAIN. They were actually *disappointed* that they weren’t going to do school work. (“I love it when a plan comes together.”) They did more laundry and more sweeping and more wiping things until about lunch time. We had some opportunities to talk, and I could tell that just the tiniest peek at the reality of what life is like for some kids in other parts of the world had made an impact.

We stopped working around lunch time (when Dad came home early to watch basketball – it’s that time of year, you know). The girls and I went out to run errands, go to dance, and go to the grocery store (something I do NOT take for granted – it felt really good to go back to $3+ per day). On Friday I took the girls to the ballet, took Mattea shopping for shorts and TJ’s birthday gift, and then went to pick up the girls’ dance recital costumes. Friday night we went to the church for Family Fun Night.

Grocery shopping. Dance. The ballet. Shopping. Recital costumes. Family Fun Night. We hardly ever do that many “fun” things in one 24 hour period – I can’t even remember the last time we had a 24 hours like that. But it is “interesting” how it ended up being this week of all weeks. Some of the things just HAD TO be done. Some of them had been planned for literally months. But we are blessed that we are able to do any and all of them. And after a week of focusing on how unspeakably blessed we are, we viewed every single one of these things with a new gratefulness. The contrast between what we had been doing and learning throughout the week and what Friday was like for us was something God used to reinforce all the lessons we learned – and we will not forget them.

The subject of how blessed we are has come up several times this week, and it’s been mentioned by the kids instead of by me. I think they “got it” – at least to the degree that each of them can at this point.

It was a good, good week.

The last 2 and a half months ...in one post

Okay. It’s been a while since I posted. Since we’ve been home I just haven’t done much with the blog. I’ve posted to FaceBook regularly, but not the blog. As we were in the adoption process and I read blogs written by others, I noticed that when the kids came home the postings became more sporadic. I claimed that that wouldn’t happen to me.

Famous last words.

I assumed that the lack of blog updates was the result of the newly adopted kids taking up a lot of time. While they do take time, that’s not the only reason I haven’t posted regularly.  Another reason is that it’s just hard to think in an organized way. God has overwhelmed my mind and heart with more of Himself, and it’s just hard to communicate what’s going on in my spirit in a way that does it justice. 

So this update is just a summary the last couple of months. I went back through FB status updates and chose some of the ones that give a glimpse into life at our house and also added a few new tidbits. Most of it is about the two new little ones, but the big kids are doing great, too…

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Jan 6
Brielle’s first day of dance!

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Jan 10
Just overheard from the other room:
"Are you okay?... Are you okay?... Pull up your pants."
(Later found out:
Brielle was running backwards across the living room and tripped over a pillow and fell down. Her pants fell down, too, but she stood back up and kept going BEFORE pulling up her pants.)
Always fun around here... :o)
Watching the football game. TJ repeats after is dad, "Tackle him! YES!" He's learning all the important stuff - cheering for the SEC! :)

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January 11
God’s cost to adopt us was infinitely greater than any cost we will endure in adopting and raising children." - @JohnPiper - Is God calling you to adopt but think you can't afford it? (God calls people to do things all the time that THEY can't accomplish on their own... that's why it's called FAITH!) :)
While I was updating the blog, TJ saw a photo of Wyatt and himself and said, "Brother! Cool brother!"
Ahhhh, that makes my heart SO happy....

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Jan 12
When God calls us to do something that:
(a) we can't do in our own strength/power
(b) will cost us dearly in comfort, finances, energy, time
We must ask ourselves two questions:
(1) "Do I trust God enough to live as if He actually is Who He says He is?"
(2) "Do I believe that obeying God and knowing more of His faithfulness is worth more than anything I could ever give up?"

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January 13
Cooking ramen for lunch.
Brielle sees it and says, "Pasta! Pasta! Bravo! Bravo!"
TJ starts running around the living room screaming, "I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT!"
Wish the first four were that easy to please! LOL
Brielle wanted to know Daddy's name so I told her, "Michael Pierce".
TJ screamed, "Michael Jackson!"
No. Not quite...
Funny moment of the day: TJ running into the kitchen and trying to tell me (in made-up sign language and something besides english) that the toilet was overflowing. Wish I had it on video! (It would have been even funnier if I didn't have to clean it up.)

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January 15
We told TJ that tomorrow was Sunday so we would be going to church, and he said, "Church! Church! Hallelujah! Amen!" :)

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January 17
TJ and Brielle are watching BibleMan.
Every few minutes they scream, "Good job, BibleMan! Good job!"
"I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama...little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My family would likely not be complete were it not for the sacrificial efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I am thankful in a new way this year for his work. Although he is best known for his gains toward racial equality, it would do him a disservice to limit his legacy to that one thing.

He continually taught that doing the right thing was always the right thing no matter the consequences. The most fitting way to honor him today would be not merely by studying his words but by taking action in ways that truly make a difference in the world.
“If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The time is always right to do what is right.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Apparently, TJ enjoys green bean casserole. He ate all that was on his plate, screamed "I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT!", then started licking the plate. Alrighty, then!

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January 18
I just said to the kids, "Okay, let's clean up the house." TJ and Brielle ran around screaming, "YES! YES! YES!" The others all just ran away...

Yesterday and today TJ and Brielle have been on a cleaning spree. They have swept, used the whisk broom and dust pan, wiped down the fronts of the kitchen cabinets, cleaned baseboards, wiped doors and door frames and anything else within their reach - and then they kept asking for more jobs! (Unfortunately there are only so many jobs that are not more than 4 feet high!) This morning I put some towels on my bed and came back and Brielle had folded them! I sure wish this would rub off on the other four!

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January 22
Last night our Bible Fellowship group had a Family Fun Night in the gym at church. All the kids had a great time PLAYING, and all the adults had a great time TALKING!


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January 24
TJ and Brielle LOVE America's Funniest Home Videos! Wish everyone could hear them laugh - and see them cringe. SO funny! We're all laughing at them laughing!

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January 25
TJ went to gymnastics today for the first time! He had never seen any of that kind of equipment or even a trampoline. He was amazed by it all and loved every minute of it. It's just right up his energetic little alley. If it had been "speed gymnastics" it would have been even better!

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January 26
All the extra helpings of food that TJ and Brielle eat every day are beginning to show! I keep having to let out the elastic in the sides of their jeans! :)

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January 27
While much of the country is sleddin', in Mobile we're happy to be scootin'!

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February 1
TJ and Brielle's English is getting better every day. It's so much fun to watch them as they learn and to see how proud they are when I understand what they were meaning. :)

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February 2
Preschool choir sang in "big church" tonight. TJ sang some but barely did any motions. Brielle just stood there like a knot on a log the entire time - not even one smile. This is after both of them constantly sang the songs all week around the house. After we got home Brielle stood on a stool in the middle of the kitchen singing AND doing the motions. Figures... ;) LOL

While trying to find ways to have fun and burn some energy this morning, we created "flippin' in the hall"! It was a big hit and I'm sure will be one we do again and again. :)

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February 5
TJ didn't like my answer to the question he just asked me.
He grinned and said, "What? I don't know English."
Yeah, right... :)

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February 7
Went out to ride "baskils" (bicycles) this afternoon. We were nearly blown away by the freezing cold wind! Brielle got her pullover stuck on her head because she tried to put it on OVER her bike helmet! And TJ kept saying "Touch my 'baskil'! Touch it!" Took me a while to figure out that he meant "HOLD it" so he could get on! LOL
Princess Brielle and Prince TJ!

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February 9
We put TJ in gymnastics because he was constantly flipping, standing on his head, climbing on things. Yesterday was his 3rd time to go to gymnastics, and he has now been moved up from the preschool class to Level 1. I SO wish I could have seen more of what those boys did at the Transition Home every day! :)

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February 10
Brielle: "Mommy, lunch?"
Me: "In just a minute - I have to cook it first."
Brielle: "YAY! YAY! TJ, cookies first! COOKIES FIRST!"
Me: ("Oh, great...")

And, of course, she got a cookie.

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February 13
TJ and Brielle (especially TJ!) are so funny-looking with bicycle helmet hair with all the bumps and ridges that are just like the inside of the helmet! LOL
But they did have fun! :)

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February 14We went to Pump It Up today (or as Brielle called it "Pump A Rump" LOL). TJ and Brielle's first time there and they had a blast!


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February 15
We've been together as a family of eight for 2 whole months today! So how is it possible that it seems like we've been together forever? And how could God work out all the details to bring us together? And then work in our hearts in such a way that could make *family* out of strangers from two different parts of the planet? Because HE'S GOD - that's how! And He had planned it all from before time began. Wow. :)
The kids rode their bikes for a while this afternoon - took these pics of them looking so cute!Bike riding!

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February 16
Come on, gymnastics (4:00pm)! TJ can't wait... and he's driving me crazy about it! LOL
So we're at gymnastics today and Wyatt says, "Is that TJ on the rings? Which one is he?"
Me: "He's the one in the red shirt."
Wyatt: "Oh. Yeah."
(TJ is the only kid in his class who is NOT white, and his brother couldn't figure out which one was him! LOL ~  I love it!)

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February 17
Went to Clinton to visit with Uncle Wayne, Aunt Donna, Parker and Mattie.  Everybody had a great time.  Always good to visit with family!

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February 18
We had a great reception in Vicksburg last night. So many friends and family came by to visit with us and meet the 2 newest Pierces. It was such a great reminder of how blessed we are - which is WAY too blessed for words.

Four wheeler riding with Papaw!
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February 23
Me: "Okie Dokie"
Brielle: "On a donkey?"
(Well, guess it makes about the same amount of sense! LOL)
(I recently read that there are 85% as many donkeys as people in Ethiopia. I believe it.)
Hopefully he got a little bit of that toothpaste on his teeth, too!

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February 28
TJ and Brielle arguing with each other in English... is that good or bad? LOL

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March 2
I showed TJ and Brielle this video. When they saw the well, they both started smiling and screaming and jumping up and down. They said they had a well just like it where they lived before. Wow. I'm thankful that "someone" gave MY babies a place to get clean water. I plan to do the same for someone else's...

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” Dr. Seuss

Sierra Leone from The Water Project on Vimeo.

If you would like to change lives by donating to a water well, please visit this link.  These are acquaintances of ours who are asking for money to build a water well as a wedding gift.  What a great way to begin a marriage!

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March 8
God calls.
We say yes.
Lives are changed.
See how easy it is?

Please read our friends’ blog post. You WILL be blessed!