About Me

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Married twenty-five years to my wonderful husband and best friend. We have 3 "home-grown" kids and 1 hand-picked by God from Africa. Our life is blessed. We are a close knit family with strong Christian beliefs. Come along with us on our journey…you might have a great laugh or two.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Maybe we'll just wait until then...

Well, we are finally back from traveling and spending time family during the holiday season. We had such a wonderful visit with everyone...just wish that everyone lived closer to us. We have way too much fun and always hate to have to leave.

We started the depressing task of taking down the tree and the Christmas decorations today (although we didn't get very far before we found ourselves playing on the floor with the kids). Oh well, if we keep the blinds closed maybe no one will notice in the Spring that it still looks like Christmas in my house. Or...we could just say that we're getting ready "early" this year if anyone asks. I mean we won't be able to even see, much less find, the Christmas lights outside until all the snow we've had melts....maybe we'll just wait until then.

Poor thing...no tellin' what our new little one from Africa thinks of all of this white stuff.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from our family to yours...

From our family to yours, we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May God pour out his blessing upon you this upcoming new year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sometimes you just gotta laugh...

Our trip to Ethiopia was incredibly stressful. We seemed to have one problem after another that we had to deal with. However, in the midst of all of that stress...sometimes you just gotta laugh. Here's a few moments we'd like to share and have a good laugh about it (believe me, I wasn't laughing then...only now looking back).

Sometimes you just gotta laugh when...

-in the middle of the biggest blizzard of the decade (the night before you are to fly out) your snow blower "pull-start" cord breaks and you are left to shovel and shovel and shovel

-your flight is one of only three to leave your airport (because of the blizzard) and yet they still lose your luggage (and I mean ALL of your clothes are gone...and you've got ten days still to go)

-you finally get into your hotel room in Ethiopia late, with little to no sleep for two days, only to be awoken by a Muslim mosque chanting VERY LOUD for hours on end early the next morning

-if the mosque didn't keep you up at night, then the packs (and I do mean "packs") of wild dogs fighting all night would

-the next day you go to a shopping "mall" (because you've been in the same clothes now for days and you're pretty tired of it) only to be told by a sales clerk in choppy English that "we have no clothes to fit you" just by looking at you

-you realize over the next few days that all of the pictures you are taking during the trip will later look like all the same day...due to you still wearing the same clothes

-the shared computer in the lobby of the hotel has a "dial-up" connection and you become ecstatic when you get one e-mail through

-driving on the streets in Ethiopia is much like driving in the worst traffic on the planet...with no rules...and you realize that you just might not make it out alive

-near the end of your week there the laundry service in the hotel has taken pity upon you and brings your one outfit up to your room after it has been cleaned

-the day you are to leave you call to confirm your airline reservation only to learn that it has been cancelled and you are stuck in the country (thank goodness for emergency numbers)

-after you finally leave Ethiopia you land in Istanbul and have to go through 6 different passport and immigration checks which by this time petrify you enough that you debate you will never leave the United States again (if you ever make it back...)

-you land in Chicago to a plane that skids sideways on the runway...why am I not surprised after this whole week

-you miss the last flight and have to spend the night in Chicago...oh, to be so close to home

-you make it home with the most wonderful bundle of joy who for the entire trip was the biggest trooper and never did complain

This was our "labor" to bring him into our family. Oh what a story to tell him when he's older...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This is our amazing journey...

This is our amazing journey. A journey that took one year. A journey that was incredibly long and one of the hardest. A journey to meet our son and bring him home. Come along with us...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

We finally made it home and look who we brought back!!!!

We just got back from Ethiopia yesterday morning and allow me to introduce to you our newest family member...

...weighing in at only 14 pounds and only 11 months old, he is a tiny thing but one of the happiest children I've ever seen.

We'll update more about our trip in a day or so (we are in deep need of some sleep and some type of normal "baby" routine). For now, we couldn't be more happy with our new little boy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dial-up Connection Update!

I can’t remember the last time I used a dial-up internet connection, but I’ve learned that in Ethiopia, you’ve got to be quick because you could lose your connection at any moment. So here’s an update in bullet format…

- Left for Ethiopia in a blizzard… one of only three planes to leave the Des Moines airport that morning.

- Missed all connections… had to re-route (lost one of our bags of luggage in the process).

- Landed in Ethiopia after 40 hours of travel… still no luggage so none of our clothes arrived with us.

- Slept on a bed as hard as a board… no kidding… but happy to be here!

- Met our son the next day, so worth all of the trouble to get here… we got the happiest one!

- Next day, still no luggage… had to go shopping for a pair of pants and a shirt (getting tired of the same clothes)

- Played with our son… did I mention that he’s REALLY cute and VERY happy?

- Got to meet the birth mother… very emotional meeting for everyone, but definitely glad we did it.

- Not doing well with the food… coming back skinnier (new Ethiopian diet!)… still no luggage.

- It’s Sunday today and we’re now resting… waiting for the chance to see our son again tomorrow!

There you go – the fastest update ever from the country of Ethiopia!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Our bags are packed...look out Ethiopia here we come!

O.k., no one ever said that having children would be easy. It doesn't matter whether you are the biological parent or the adoptive one. You will have to "labor" to get your child into your world. This is so true for us at this very moment.

The biggest snow storm since 2007 is right upon us and about to dump 10 - 14 inches of snow...right now and into tomorrow. Very early tomorrow morning we are to be flying out in blizzard conditions (that is if they fly at all...). If we miss our connections through DC and NY, we will miss the only flight out of NY to Istanbul and then on to Ethiopia...and we will be stuck waiting for the next day's flight. Needless to say, we are incredibly stressed. So I've decided, this is our "labor"...and what a "birth story" to tell our son.

Hang on my little one, we are packed and coming...whether I have to help shovel the runway or not. I'm on my way!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Way to go kids!!!

Three days and counting... before we leave for Ethiopia. Can you believe it??? Our life is so completely busy it would truly make "your head spin". In the midst of all the last minute details, shopping, paperwork and just getting people here to help us, our kids had their Lego Mindstorm competition today.

If you are unfamiliar with Lego Mindstorm, it is a two part competition. The first part the kids had to create a Lego robot using a special computerized "brain" which has to perform certain "tasks" on a special playing field (you get points for doing different things). The second part of the competition is the research project, where the kids have to present a project on a certain topic. Crazy enough as it might sound...our team won first place in the scoring part of the robot competition and we have now been invited to compete in the state level of the competition.

Way to go kids!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm still here...

Birthdays are a funny thing...when you're young you can't wait until your birthday - to be older. When you're in the middle of your life, you just want to forget about it "because" you're getting older. And at the end of your life, you're just thankful you keep having birthdays.

Today is my birthday...my 40th. I am sure my guardian angels up above never thought I would make it this far...much less my parents (I am highly accident prone...and I have been stitched up and raced to the hospital more times than I care to admit). Nevertheless, I'm still here...still "ticking" but with slightly slower batteries. I wake up in the morning and sometimes hurt in places that I didn't think had muscles...but I'm still here. I have begun to tell my kids the..."I remember when" stories and they just look at me like I'm crazy...but I'm still here. I now have to circle the "40 - 45 division" when I enter a running race...but I'm still here.

So the way I see it, turning 40 isn't really that bad...let's look on the bright side....I'm still here...and that's a really good thing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Do you know how this stuff works??

Yesterday I stood dumbfounded in the aisle. Apparently, they make a lot of them...in all different kinds. You can get it pre-made or powder, with soy or with some kind of booster for the brain or some kind of growth thing. I looked at the kids and said, "Any suggestions?". They just smiled and shrugged their shoulders.

It's funny if you think about it. Here I am a mother of three "home grown" kids (11, 10 and a 5 year old) and yet I have never in my life bought formula or even a bottle (and apparently there are tons of those as well). I nursed all my children for the first year of their life and then they went straight to the sippy cup - it was quite easy to say the least.

So here I am standing in the formula aisle and I look over and see a very young mother of a small baby. I smiled in her direction and asked..."Do you know how this stuff works?"

Her face was priceless...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hangin' on this week...

I can't believe how crazy this week has been already...and it's only Tuesday. Our adoption agency has been sending us last minute paperwork that needs to be filled out and sent back to them before we leave in a few days. We are scrambling to get the last two needed shots (to be able to go on an excursion outside of the city of Addis Ababa...crazy but we just found out about this). The Christmas packages are arriving by the tons and are getting wrapped as fast as they can. The decorations are finally up (well most of them, that is). We have been shopping for diapers, formula, toys, clothes for our newest member. And to top it all off, our Lego Mindstorm competition is this Saturday, so we've had the kids at our house practicing.

Crazy...but we seem to just be hangin' on this week

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Thanksgiving success...

Well, the turkey was a success and our holiday was wonderful. The kids loved having their cousins here to play with. I so wish we lived closer to both sides of our families because we have so much fun when we get together. The stories around the dinner table are hilarious and don't even get me started on how competitive everyone is with playing board games. In the end, we had a fantastic visit with our family...and we hope your holiday was blessed as well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Checking things off the list...

Our tickets are bought, we've got my Mom flying in soon and I'm just about done with all my online shopping for Christmas. Now, it's on to getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday. It's a whirlwind of fun and excitement around here. My husband's family is coming in for the holiday and we have so much to be thankful for this year.

The kids and I went out to do our Thanksgiving shopping this morning. It's hard not to "float" over to the baby section and pick up diapers and such. However, I am trying to stay on task and not shop for that stuff until after Thanksgiving. As my husband puts it..."prioritize your list"...and I think I've got to cook a turkey first, before I begin to pack diapers otherwise, I just might have...a mutiny on my hands.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Travel dates...

We have our travel dates. We leave on December 9th and arrive back home on December 18th. We are scrambling at this point to fly my mom here (she lives on the West coast) to help take care of the children when we are gone. Our things to do list suddenly just got enormous and I am becoming one with online shopping (just don't ask me if it will get wrapped). I'm not sure any lights will make it outside and there will probably only be one tree in the house up (maybe decorated...we'll see). But....

...it will be a Christmas to remember forever.

Friday, November 20, 2009

We are approved and are headed to Ethiopia!!!!

At this moment, our minds are racing and we are in "scramble-mode". We found out about an hour ago that we have been approved by the Ethiopian court and are traveling in just a couple of weeks to go and bring our son home. Can you believe it??? We will be home and together as a family for Christmas...this Christmas. I am overwhelmed by God's timing and feel so utterly blessed.

We're going, we're really, really going...

Happy Friday, everyone!

There are days that I am so glad that my kids are home schooled. That my kids get to spend so much time with me...fun time. That my kids learn from doing and being out in the world and not just reading about it from behind a desk.

Today, as we headed out the door to go to the zoo (which I might add we had all to ourselves - one of the benefits of going during the "off season" - not to mention the fact that no school wants to do their one field trip in the cold)...I armed my kids with our digital camera and a photo scavenger hunt list and away they went. I loved seeing them race ahead screaming the things they saw on the list. Granted they fought about whose turn it was to take the picture (believe me, a remedy was quickly found), but they loved being outside and learning some different things about the animals they've seen thousands of times.

At the end of the morning I wanted to get one picture of all of us together, but there was no one around to take it (I'm not kidding...the entire place was empty...except us and the animals...and the way my kids were running around it was hard to tell which was which). So with the camera propped precariously on a railing, the timer on and six pictures later...here's what we got. Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Adoption through the eyes of a 5 year old...

Today is November 18th...our court date. O.k., actually the entire process probably took place in the middle of the night sometime last night as we slept. Oh, it is agonizing to not know either way...we are just so close to being done. So to keep my mind off of what is at hand, I thought you would enjoy a conversation I had with my smallest last night after bath time. It's adoption through the eyes of a 5 year old....

"Mom, where do they get all of the kids?" my smallest one asked. "What kids?" I asked scrambling to figure out what she was talking about (5 year olds change subjects like the wind...). "You know...the brown ones?" "Oh..." I knew instantly she meant the kids at the adoption center where our son is located. "Each child has a Mommy that had him from her tummy and she just didn't have enough money or food to take care of him. So she loved him so much that she wanted him to grow up with food, clothes and a big, loud family that would love him just as much as she did and would never let him forget about her." "So how many kids are there?", my little one asked. "There are lots and lots of them that need a family to love them." She thought for a very long time and then finally said...

"So this is going to take us a while, huh?"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We got our court date....

Late yesterday we received an e-mail that said we had gotten our court date...and it's TOMORROW (November 18th)! I just can't believe it. Nothing like waiting until the last minute to notify us. If the court approves us, then our son will legally be ours and we can go and bring him home. The bad news is that they have also told us it will take a week to notify us if we passed court or not. So we'll be waiting...yet again. Either way, this is it...we are running through the last mile of our very long race.

So we are asking just one more time if you could please join us and pray for our little one on November 18th. Pray for the paperwork, that it will all be in order and that there will be no delays (we have no control over this, as the Ethiopian government puts it together for us). Pray for speed, that these last few documents will be processed extremely fast. And please pray for us, this is so very hard as we can see the finish line but just can't quite get there yet.

We know that God is with us through all of this, but it sure does help to have some fierce prayer warriors walking along side us as well.

Monday, November 16, 2009

In the hot seat...

It was a beautiful cool, crisp morning when we all piled into the car to go to church this past Sunday. That morning I had worn one of my favorite winter dresses when the conversation with the kids began. "Mom, you look really nice in your dress this morning", my middle one said smiling. "Oh, thank you sweetie. That's such a nice thing to say." She beamed with delight and began again. "It really goes well with your brown hair." I smiled. "Actually...", my little one chimed in, "the brown hair color is almost all gone and all she's got is gray left on top." The car roared with laughter...

...that is, all but the one in the front passenger's seat.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Aren't you tired yet?

This morning I went out for a long run with a great running partner...my dog. Oh, this just isn't any dog...it's a Vizsla. Now, if you are unfamiliar with Vizslas, know this one fact...THEY NEVER GET TIRED. For instance, I come dragging in after running 6 miles and our dog has so much energy left over (which we affectionately call it her "zoomies") that she has to runs laps around our yard and our house. It just puts me to shame. In fact this happens every time I run with her, that I have to yell to everyone inside the house..."look-out, we're home"...as I open the door. Kids scatter and batten down the hatches as she tears around the house. Of course, I never have my video camera on me when all of this happens, but it is quite a sight to see. So I decided to go searching for a video which best captures what a Vizsla is really like. I'm not sure who put this video together but believe me, it's perfect...

Believe me, I have asked my dog a million times..."Aren't you tired yet?"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Havin' a party...

I have decided that if you add the word "party" to anything it sounds a lot more fun to kids. For example..."Come on kids we're going to have a clothes folding party", or "let's go have a math party" or my personal favorite "woo-hoo kids, we get to have a clean up the playroom party". I admit that the older ones are on to me but still play along so we can all have fun. Our kids understand that we are all in this together and we must each play a part.

It's just a lot more fun to have a "party" as we go along.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One year....

Today marks one year...one year since we first sent in our application for adoption. One year filling out more paperwork than you could ever imagine. One year of falling in love with a country we've never seen. One year of seeing the beautiful faces of so many children and one especially that we will call our own. One year of waiting...and waiting...and waiting

...for our lives to never be the same

Monday, November 9, 2009

Falling like dominoes...

"What's that noise?" One of my children asked me today during school. As we left our classroom table and went around the corner the noise got louder and I suddenly knew the answer....a chainsaw. My neighbor was at it again. It's quite a sight to see really. Allow me to explain...

We live in a neighborhood with a wooded lot that backs up to a creek. It's quite nice really with all the trees in the summer as most of our backyard is quite shady and cool. Sure in the fall, it is a bit of a pain to rake all of the leaves, but the colors are the most brilliant reds and yellows. It's quite beautiful. Well, apparently, this was not to my neighbors liking, for his lot used to look like ours.

It began one day with one tree, he choose to cut down, then another and another. He just didn't stop. So today I wasn't at all surprised to see that a team of tree cutters were there cutting down almost all of his trees on his lot. They fell like dominoes one after another until there were about three small ones left. Now, these aren't your everyday trees, these are enormous ones with huge trunks.

So as we ate lunch today and watch one tree fall down after another, my little one turned and said..."I guess he really doesn't like trees." "Yep, I guess you're right"...sadly.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

One little invention...

Friday's are our special day. It's a slow school day and the kids and I always try and go do something fun. I try not to drag them to the grocery store on this day (but I admit that's hard sometimes...especially when you go through a gallon of milk a day). This past Friday we decided that we would go to our Science Center. It really is quite a nice place to visit and has some wonderful exhibits that the kids love. So as we went from room to room and the kids touched and played with everything under the sun, I decided that one little invention (located all over the Science Center) was a good thing....a really good thing...

...hand sanitizer

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Voracious readers...

Our children, by all means, are what I like to call, voracious readers. It's not just that they love to read, it's that they HAVE to read. You will always find a book with them if we are out shopping and probably not far from them where they are playing in the house. While my smallest one is still in the process of learning to read, I have no doubt that she'll follow suit with her siblings.

This being said, we spend A LOT of time at our library. And to tell you the truth, I love the library just as much as the kids do. I mean, who doesn't love the fact that you can "request" any book, movie, CD or anything really from the comforts of your home and then they will e-mail you when it's ready to pick up. If they don't have the item already, then they'll buy it and you get to be the first one to get it. Best yet...it's all free!.....How awesome is that!

Now, if they could just do my grocery shopping for me or even a little bit of laundry...is that asking too much???

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Celebrating the little things...

The first Monday of every month (for a couple of hours) I get to go to a wonderful homeschool group. Basically, it's just a bunch of homeschool moms who get together and talk about how their schooling is going and learn from one another. We talk about what things are working for some people and what's not for others. Every month there is a theme and last night at my meeting the theme was celebrations.

Now this was something I could really relate to. I love to whoop and holler and get excited about stuff (and to have a reason to and not just look like you are crazy...hey, that's even better). It was such a wonderful perspective on how to celebrate the small things in your child's life...so you never miss it. Case in point...one mom said she had the "special red plate" she used. When her child finally mastered something she had worked hard on (such as her multiplication facts) then that night she got to eat from the "red plate". Another said that she journaled back and forth with her husband because she felt that she was missing out on their busy lives together.

When I left the meeting that night I realized, it's not really important about what you do exactly, but just that you do something. Whether it's praising someone for a good job or serving them on a "red plate", the fact that you acknowledge them for who they are makes it worthwhile. It's just down-right, good ol' fashion enjoyin' the moment.

It's hard enough going through this life as a child or an adult, wouldn't it be more fun to celebrate the little things as we go along.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Candy Bar Cake...

O.k., I have figured out what to do with some of the "left-over" candy in our trick or treat bowl. My favorite aunt in the whole world has a fantastic recipe called Candy Bar Cake. So kudos to her and this delicious cake. Enjoy!

Candy Bar Cake
2 big candy bars (or a whole bunch of little ones) - freeze for a while in the freezer
1 dark chocolate cake mix
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 12 oz cool whip

Cake: Mix cake mix as directed and put into 3 small round cake pans (could use 2 if needed). Cook as directed on the box.

Icing: Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, granulated sugar and cool whip until smooth. Chop up candy bars into little pieces and mix in with the icing. Assemble cake in layers and then make sure to refrigerate cake afterwards.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The race is on...

Lately, I believe my children have declared a growth spurt race and failed to mention it to me. For the past few days, my children have put on clothes, which were just bought for this winter, and they have now become "high-waters". And it's not just one child...it's all of them.

My son is so tall (and incredibly skinny) that I've had to make his winter pj's because he needed the long length in pants but not the width you get in the bigger pants. I've even had to "take-in" elastic waistband pants because I was desperate to find the length. (and yes...I have tried the "slim" fitting pants...still too big. That boy is a bean pole, I tell you)

Right now, it's a good thing that I'm in a sewing mood...because my kids are really putting me to the test on just how many things can I sew...and fast.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Party...

Last night our church offered a wonderful pumpkin party for the kids to go to. There were inflatables (what's a party without those, right?), games, balloons, and of course candy. The kids got to dress up in their costumes and had a fantastic time.

Funny thing is, we don't really eat candy all that much. Hmmm....what to do with all the candy in my house??? I think it might just go into the "trick or treat" bowl. Of course, then the kids will go trick or treating and then the candy is back in the house again....ahhhhh!!!...it's a vicious circle, I tell you.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Turning a corner...

Finally...I believe that I am turning a corner and beginning to a feel a little bit better. The only good thing about being sick is that "extra" few pounds you were trying to lose...not a problem now. Watch however, I'll get better and then just look at a piece of cake and "viola!", there they are back on me again...ugh!

On a different note, we had some good news on Friday about our son in Ethiopia. We received a more in depth medical report (if you dare to call it that...) which said that he was feeling much better now and had even gained some weight. YEAH!!! They wrote that he has a really big smile and loves to smile for the nannies. I just can't wait to see that for myself.

Soon, my little one...very, very soon.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sick...as a dawg

It's been a long time since I've been this sick. You know, the kind of sick that you wish a bus would run over you or at least the "rapture" would hurry up and come so you won't have to feel this bad anymore. Call me stubborn but I really don't want to go to the doctor (because I'll have to drag three kids, who aren't sick, into an infected doctor's office) only for them to say..."yep, you are definitely sick...so sorry...can't help ya...see ya later". The funny thing though is that I'm scheduled to get my "flu shot" this upcoming week. Do you need a flu shot when you've got the flu? Oh....just shoot me now. This takes too much effort to think this much...I'm going back to bed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Close enough...

Okay, so what do you think? Look like a pink poodle or more like a fluffy pink lion? I finished my little one's "pink poodle" costume today and she just loves it. She told me it looks just like a pink poodle.

For me (whose glad to be done until next year), I'm going to call it...close enough.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My brain has flown off...

There are some days that I have to keep reminding myself that I am a pretty smart individual. I mean I've got a college degree and I teach three small children school everyday and I run a fairly good household...but... There are days that I wonder where my brain has flown off to.

Take for instance, today. I thought I would vacuum up our eat-in kitchen area. Now, this is the place where we eat all our meals, but it is also a place where I store all the plants that can't make it outside during the cold season. Basically, it looks like we eat our meals in the jungle...so to speak. Anyway, many of the plants had lost a bunch of their leaves during the transition to the inside and I thought I'd save myself some time and vacuum them up instead of picking them up by hand. This folks...is where my brain must have flown off.

Here's how it went...I begin to vacuum under one plant near our table when I knock off one of the place mats. As I bend down to pick it up, I vacuum up one small plant (the entire plant) in one swoop. Quickly, I pull it out and knock down another place mat. Bending down to pick that one up, I wipe out half of another plant. By this time, I pull that one out and scramble to get a trash bag...leaving the vacuum on (folks...it's just not a good day). The vacuum then sucks up one of the cords to mini-blinds and part of my curtains. By this time, I'm screaming..."someone pull out the plug - for the love of humanity!!!"...not that I could have easily turned it off right next to me. People, my brain has flown off for sure....

...but really I'm pretty smart...I think

Saturday, October 17, 2009

You just never know...

Tonight we had a wonderful opportunity to go to a potluck dinner with a group of people who have/or in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. The information we learned was outstanding and the stories that they all shared were amazing. It made me even more excited to go and pick up our little one in just a few months.

There is just one funny thing about this entire evening that just goes to show you that God really does have a good sense of humor. Well...the potluck dinner was at our old house. Yep, the people who bought a house of ours (3 houses ago...remember we relocate a lot) hosted this event. How funny is that??? I must admit it that it does feel a little weird going up to and through a house that you use to live in for several years. Although some things had changed, the memories just flooded back the minute I walked through the door.

Well, after this evening I thoroughly believe....you just never know, who God's going to bring into your life.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Creativity at its best...

My children by all accounts are incredibly creative. I mean they come up with the most elaborate drawings, blanket tents, Lego creations or any other thing really. And unfortunately for me, Halloween costumes are no exception. I believe they think the "costume creation" is the epitome of all creations, by coming up with the most unusual ones. And every year I find myself scrambling to create/sew a costume that no other child will have or at least ones they don't sell in stores (which would make my life a little easier).

In the past I have sewn such costumes as a flying monkey (from the Wizard of Oz), peregrine falcon (with actual feather fabric), a mushroom (don't even ask about that one...), and Sonic the Hedgehog...just to name a few. This year is no exception.

My little one wants to be a pink poodle. Sounds simple, right? Well, not when you talk to my five year old who has specific ideas that it must look "just like her pink poodle Webkinz". Needless to say, I'm up for the challenge. But I now know what I put my mother through years ago, when I created a "special" costume for her to make me on Halloween. Sorry about that one, Mom...

I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Small e-mail...but I'll take it

We received a VERY small e-mail regarding our son today (after I just couldn't take it any longer...I called our adoption agency and they were able to get this short bit of news). The e-mail stated that our son is "doing well at present and that a health report would come later". That was it.

Small e-mail...but it was good...and for that I'll take it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Still no news...

As of today, we have still no news regarding the health of our son in Ethiopia. We were told that we would have the normal medical report the first week of October and yet...nothing came. As of right now, we can only hope that he is getting better and that he is on the road to recovery. Thank you all for your continuing prayers. I just hope this week brings the e-mail that we so desperately need to see...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Who ordered the snow?

Today we awoke to a sight that I thought was at least a few more weeks if not a couple of months off...it was snow. Yep, you read it right...snow. Big fat fluffy flakes came floatin' down and covered everything in sight. Unfortunately for us we are still playing fall soccer here, so early this morning we had to sit outside amongst all those fluffy white flakes. As we hooped and hollered for our kids (who were terribly frozen and miserable) a good friend of mine leaned over to me and said..."you know, in February, we're going to think this is a really warm day". I laughed at that thought for I knew she was right.

For now though...let's just bring on the hot chocolate.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Do we or don't we???

Well, we did it. We broke down and finally decided. I had been struggling with the idea for weeks now and today I needed to decide. Do we get the H1N1 vaccine or not? The health department here only had a small number of doses and were giving them out to high risk people today...kids are one of those. I did some research and even talked with a family member who is a doctor. In the end, we tromped on down and all the kids got the vaccine or the mist actually, and I must say that it went fine. There were no fireworks, fainting or even tears. Heck, there wasn't even a fever or sniffle afterword. The kids still talked coherently, fought when they got home and did great with their school work. Yep, it's worth it. Now, I know that even when I tote them all around the city and we go to a bazillion amount of activities with other kids they are at least a little protected from that flu.

It's just too bad the vaccine can't fix the whole arguing thing...

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Sound of Music...

For the past few days my kids have been watching the movie "Sound of Music" (it's like a 3 hour movie so it took us a while). I have to admit...I just love that movie. Anyway, I've decided that wouldn't it be great if life were like that movie. You know, you could just sing away to tell the kids it's time to go to bed and they would happily dance their way to their rooms while chiming in on key. Or better yet, you could "doe a deer it" all the while they clean their rooms smiling joyfully (in matching outfits, I might add). But alas, some days are just like when they put a frog in the governess' pocket or when she sat on the pine cone at the dinner table. In the end you are singing away to heaven for help to get through the day. Funny...I guess that movie is more like my life than I realized.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lots of nervous energy...

I admit...I have nervous energy - LOTS of nervous energy. Now, that nervous energy is pumped up a billion times when I'm worried or anxious about something. I just seem to be unable to sit still for long periods of time without having to do something. Thankfully, I have been harnessing it to complete projects around the house. It keeps me from worrying so much about the things I cannot control...and as a bonus, things are getting done.

Today, my project was painting our exercise room. O.k. basically, it's a large closet with our exercise equipment in it...but it got painted. Goofy, I know. Who really cares about what color is on the walls as you are panting and sweating on a treadmill, right? But...I needed a project. If I don't get word soon about my son, I might just have to go to someone else's house for their projects, 'cause I will have completed all of mine...any takers?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

...even if I am

It is finally October and thankfully the courts in Ethiopia will open back up soon (on Oct. 15th). I am not one to "wish my life away", but I am the first to admit that I am anxious to proceed with this adoption as fast as we possibly can. The news on our son is sporadic at best. We have been told that we will receive another medical update in "early October"...does today count, I wonder? I mean it is October 1st. So really, besides what we were told before, we have no idea if he's getting any better or not. I pray everyday that he is and I have faith in God and his plan for my son. As I was driving home late last night this song came on the radio and made me realize...God's not shaken by anything

...even if I am

Monday, September 28, 2009

A helpless feeling...

It is an incredibly helpless feeling that you have when your children are sick. However, it's even worse when your son is in another country fighting for his life and you can't be there...to hold...to love...to just be with him. We have just gotten word that our adoptive son right now is battling some serious infections. It seems to be one problem right on top of another. We are praying that God will lead the doctor's hands so that they can heal him. He is so tiny and I am scared that he won't have the strength he needs. We have been told, in the midst of all the medical issues, that he has such a "natural beauty and smile"...isn't that such a wonderful thing to say about someone. So today if you can just help us and pray for my son....he could really use a whole bunch of prayer warriors right about now.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wheelin' and dealin'...

Well, our garage sale was a huge success! We sold just about everything we had including our old van (Yee-haw!). I tell you if it wasn't nailed down I was wheelin' and dealin'. It would have made even the best used car salesman jealous. Even better than that, it just feels great to have gotten rid of that much stuff. Gettin' clutter free, baby!

Now, it's on to the next project...no rest for the weary here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A crazy life...

You know your life is crazy when the only place you can find to do school is on your driveway as you price clothes/toys in your garage. Someone "whop me upside my head" iffin I ever get the notion to do another garage sale again.

On an up note, I made a pot roast and sweet potato casserole for dinner (...from the south remember...and I was in some serious need of comfort food)...bring on the comfort.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's my privilege...

What if you could do it all? Obviously, you can't but let's leave reality for a moment...what would your home look like? How would your family function? What would you love to do with your children? (I'm sure you would NOT be doing a garage sale...)

The more I get into homeschooling...reading, teaching and just being with my kids...the more I am realizing that life...just life...speeds by. I see changes in my kids today that weren't there a few years ago. I don't mean growing up size-wise, but growing up - period. I think the author of the book I just finished sums it up perfectly when she says....

"Don't we often have the mistaken idea that it is our job to finish training our children? God gives us the privilege of training them in the beginning; it is God who finishes what He wants to accomplish in them. Philippians 1:6 says, I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

The outcome isn't always what we expect or necessarily what we want. Life moves fast and it's messy, even when children aren't toddlers any longer. We survive through hard times, tears, laughter, disagreements, joys, work, accomplishments, prayer, and praise all mixed together to form our unique family. Nevertheless, we can be sure that the outcome is what God has designed. Certainly, we are to do our part, and we will by God's grace, but He is the author and finisher of each of us, including our children." (from the book Homeschooling by the speed of life by Marilyn Rockett)

So this week as I seem to be "hanging on for dear life" just to get through...I am reminded (yet, again) that I am not in control of the outcome. Right now, I have the privileged of teaching/being with my kids...whether my home is in perfect shape or not, whether dinner is home-cooked or pre-bought, or whether we are schooling in our classroom or at the pool. God has us in his hands...and he's not letting go.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Don't stand still...

Well, I'm pretty sure that I've gone crazy. ("er"...as in "crazier"...my husband so lovingly says) I have decided to have a garage sale this upcoming weekend...because homeschooling full time, gymnastics, awanas, swimming and soccer just weren't enough things on my plate. I'm crazy enough...I just think I'll add more. Our house has become an official disaster area at the moment, as I have begun to go through all our girls clothes, toys, and everything else I can think of to sell. The good news is that in a day or two these things are going outside and are never allowed back in (whether they sell or not) ...and that to me is an accomplishment.

So right now in our house, you'd better watch out. If you stand still long enough I'll either tag you, organize you or throw you out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Out of my comfort zone...way out

My son has just begged me lately to start and coach a Lego League - Mindstorm team. Not familiar with Lego Mindstorm? Well basically, you have a team of kids which create a robot that can do certain challenges in a competition. The idea is to incorporate science and technology with Legos. Sounds cool, right? Well, maybe for someone who is technologically savvy. I admit...I am not. I mean I just found out what a "tweet" was a year ago. And don't even ask me to text anything...heck, I can't even read the text messages when they're all ...BFF...LOL...PTNGBRF (I made that one up, but really, who would know).

So see, God did not put me in that (computer savvy/technological) line when I was born. I guess I just stayed way too long in the artistic line. So as I branch out to coach a Lego League team, I realize that this could go one of two ways...it could be as funny as me trying to text someone, or we could hit it out of the ballpark. Either way...

I am out of my comfort zone...way out

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I just know I'll get this done...

I have been reading a book lately called "Homeschooling at the speed of life" by Marilyn Rockett. Obviously it's about homeschooling, but mostly it deals with balancing home, school and family in the real world. The chapter that has captivated me lately is the one on clutter. O.k., I admit it's frustrated me actually and more times than I care to admit I've slammed the book shut and put it down thinking...no way, she can be right about that one.

Now, you would think that since we've had to relocate a few times I would not fall guilty under the "clutter chapter". I mean who would WANT to move all of that clutter from one house to another and another. But humbly, I admit...we do. Pathetic really. This past move I did try the hardest and threw out/gave away/sold an enormous amount of stuff...and still...sadly to say it took one large 18 wheeler and half of another one to move us...so sad. Thus, the reason why I'm captivated by the clutter chapter. What could I possibly still be doing wrong?

At the beginning of the chapter she asks several questions which I admit I could answer no to (whoo-hoo for me!) but then came the second half of the list (and reality set in)...they were as follows:

1. If you had to sell you home today, would you be able to show it to prospective buyers within a twenty-four hour notice without embarrassment? (O.k....my answer...CAN ANYBODY DO THIS????)

2. Do you have boxes in the attic or basement that only God knows for sure what they contain? (I loved that one...we really do. We've moved enough that some boxes don't ever get untaped)

3. Do you attend yard sales regularly and come home with bargains you couldn't resist? (O.k., this for me is toys...LOTS OF TOYS)

Finally, this last one hit me like a ton of bricks...

4. If the Lord called you home today, would you be horrified if your spouse accepted help from friends, relatives, or especially your mother-in-law to sort through your things? (For me, I just wouldn't want to put extra burden on anyone)

So how do you achieve the balance that's best for your home? How do you not throw everything out and also not keep everything at the same time? The book called it "functional neatness"...neat enough to be peaceful and messy enough to be happy. I liked that.

So, here's my thought...I've got a few months before our new son arrives (after he gets here, I'm not going to get anything done...), I've decided to take control of our "clutter issue". My goal is to NOT move the mountain of stuff in our house one more time. I know it won't be easy (I've got to let go of the girls baby clothes...sniff, sniff), but I really feel that this is important. So, I'll take all kinds of tips for organizing that worked best for your family...from toys to paper clutter.

With a few tissues, plastic containers and lots of trash days...I just know I'll get all this done.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thank goodness for wood floors...

Before I had children (in the "pre-kid" years) I was an art teacher, teaching grades K - 12. (Funny how that came back around full circle...I quit my job so I could stay home with the kids...only to teach again in the end). Anyway, as we started our school off I was not surprised that my kids just begged me to do clay/pottery as our first art class. Probably a crazy thing to start off in art with, but I'm so use to kids making a mess with art that I really didn't mind one bit. So we dragged out our pottery's wheel, clay and everything else I could think of to create what the kids said were beautiful clay pots.

Actually, it's really good therapy for kids...or anyone for that matter. It has a wonderful calming effect on people when they focus on smashing, smoothing and creating with clay...(playdoh, has the same effect). That's why it's used so often during many different kinds of therapy. For my kids though (as calm as they were), they just settled down to make a good ol' fashion mess....

...thank goodness for wood floors

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Say cheese...

On Friday I took the kids to go and have their "school pictures" taken at a local portrait studio. It's a pretty sweet setup actually called "Portrait Innovations". The photographer takes a ton of pictures with her digital camera with all the kids...individually, together...all kinds of backgrounds, poses...you get the idea. They even allow for you to change outfits during your session (I laugh at this though...I'm just happy to keep them all clean, combed and wrinkle free in one outfit...much less two).

Anyway, after your session is up you get to look at all of the pictures on a big screen and they can digitize it whatever way you would want. O.k....now here's the best part...you can pick your pictures up in about 15 minutes and if you buy the basic package it's only around 10 bucks. Granted, with three kids there was no way we were walking out of there for 10 bucks, but on the flip side...I was very pleased with everything. I mean everyone smiled, there were no major fights, and for a brief moment everyone was combed and clean (that is until snack was handed out at the end in the car and chocolate ended up on my son's shirt...to be honest, I'm really not surprised).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Waiting on you...

Lots of people have asked us when do we get to go to Ethiopia and pick up our son. That's a hard one for me to answer. We believe and hope that, that time is around Christmas or the new year. Why so long??? Well unfortunately, lots more paperwork has to be filed.

They have to apply for a birth certificate for him (in Africa birth certificates are not given out). Next, a court date is issued for us, which, if we pass, will legally give us custody of him...(however, you sometimes fail if your paperwork is not all in order). We, personally, are not putting the paperwork together, the court in Ethiopia is...so we can only pray things will go as planned. As of right now (in the month of September), the court is closed for their annual break...UGH! So we can't even get into the line to get a court date until they open back up...talk about frustrating.

After we pass our court date, then a travel visa is issued for us and a passport is issued for our son (so he can exit the country). Finally, our final travel arrangements will be made that will allow us into the country.

So you can see, it's not an easy question to answer...not because we don't know the date (that's part of it), but because it's hard to be patient through all of this knowing your son is on the other side...waiting on you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Where do I sign?

With Labor Day behind us, our life is in full swing here. With school full-time now, we have squeezed in swimming lessons, awanas (a church organized Wednesday night event), home school get togethers, soccer practice/games and gymnastics. It seems that everyday day and night are filled to the brim with something to do. I know that this is normal for most families you meet, but it doesn't always make it the easiest. It's like being on some kind of reality show...you know, the "survival of the most organized family" wins.

Let's see...hmm, it might go something like this...you stand on the starting block and rip open the paper and read...travel to America, land in your kitchen and make dinner for 5 in 20 minutes...all the while doing two loads of laundry, finishing history assignments, teaching piano practice and organizing Spanish lessons. Making sure you make it to soccer practice on time with all the gear on that your kids need, and entertaining the rest of your crew located in the back of the van. You will encounter a "road-block" along the way which will probably be the fact that you have to stop for gas or buy milk for the umpteenth time for that week as you are running late out the door. Oh and yes...did we mention that at the end of this "amazing race" you will receive no money, no endorsements, no "hoop-laas"....just a whole lot of love, kisses and "thanks Mom and Dad".

O.k....I'm crazy enough...where do I sign?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Being blessed...one bag at a time

We have always tried to teach our kids to be polite, considerate of other's feelings and to reach out and help those less fortunate than themselves. Today we had a wonderful opportunity to "practice what we preach" and to show our kids what it's like to really extend a helping hand...we packaged food at an international food drive.

There is a fantastic non-profit organization here called "Meals from the Heartland", whose sole purpose is to feed hungry children in different parts of the world. One of those countries really hit home for us...one on the continent of Africa. In fact, as we poured and measured and weighed, my smallest one said to me..."Is this food going to my little brother's African family?" I smiled and said..."Very well could be".

So as we stood in the middle (of what looked like a big hair net convention), you could not help but smile and be blessed. Because each bag that was filled and each box that was taped up fed that many more children. By the end of our time there, we had filled 540 bags that would feed 3,240 children.

For our family, God has truly blessed us beyond measure...our only hope is that we could give some of that back to others in need.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The feeling of completion...

This past weekend we had beautiful weather...clear, sunny 70's to 80's....and beautiful projects being done around the house. Ahhh, the feeling of completion...I love it. I love to stand back and see the fruits of all that hard labor (o.k...granted I didn't help one bit with putting up the ceiling fan in our family room...no wait, I take that back. I did open the door while "the boys", my husband and his dad, brought in the "mo-jo" ladder we had rented).

Now, because we had rented this ladder all day I wanted to utilize it as much as possible so I decided that I would paint the walls in our family room...did I mention that it was a cathedral height room (it is crazy high when you get up on a ladder holding paint). Well, that was also a "group" effort project and between all of us we got it done. YEAH!!!!...don't ever want to do that again...personally, I am not built to go up high places. Anyway, it's all done, looks great...on to the next project (something on the ground preferably).

Tomorrow my husband has the day off...we'll just see what we can get into.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Help is on the way...

Today my mother and father-in-law are coming for a visit over the holiday weekend. It's so nice when they come because it gives my husband the needed help (his father...) for certain projects around our house. This weekend we are installing a huge ceiling fan in our family room (it happens to be a cathedral height ceiling...no way do I want to get up there and help on that one). I also hope that they can do some shelves in my storage room (I'll see how the first project goes before I mention that one to them). In any case, I'm just so thankful that...

...help is on the way

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Oh, the things our parents taught us...

My father loved to fix things...as I like to call it "tinker with things". You would find him quite often out in the garage, or the backyard...wherever, really...with a hammer in his hand. If you asked him what he was doing he would say..."I'm going to fix...(whatever it was)", but he always had a hammer with him. Now, this I came to understand after many years of watching him, was his last ditch effort at trying to fix the item...he beat it with a hammer. Funny, yes...did it work?...no.

Actually, the only time I ever saw it work was on a car that my husband and I had (early in our marriage) that had a tendency for the thermostat to become stuck and would over heat. We had stopped at a gas station with him on a trip and he went in and asked if they had a hammer. My husband and I burst into laughter at the scene as out he came with the "prize" tool. He proceeded then to "pound" the engine (who knows where...) and low and behold the thermostat began to work. I tell you I've never laughed so hard in my life and my Dad never looked so proud.

Fast forward to today...as I have been having trouble with one of my window blinds (it's stuck, really and won't stay up...frustrates the fire out of me). After working for several minutes and trying different things, I headed straight for the garage to get...what else but...a hammer. And as I hopped back up onto the chair I stopped dead in my tracks and busted out laughing...

Oh, the things our parents taught us...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Our sweet middle girl turned 10....

Today our sweet middle one turned 10...and somehow I just can't believe it. 10 years...where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital...tiny little thing, dressed all in pink. And now, she's (as Daddy puts it) "in the double digits". She was way beyond excited about this day and even started counting down the days a month ago. To her this day couldn't have been any better, filled with lots of presents, cake and balloons.

You may be getting older but to us you will always be our sweet little girl...we love you!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Next time it's Daddy's turn...

"Oh Lord, please let them be fast"...I prayed silently as I closed my eyes. The screaming grew louder as the second shot went in and the little arms around me squeezed tighter. I opened my eyes again as the fourth and last shot was being done. My smallest one's eyes were so red and just pleaded with me that we "bolt" from this doctor's office as fast as we can. As I scooped her off the examination table, I turned to see two more kids incredibly anxious and one with tears already streaming down her face.

I truly hate immunizations. It is so hard to watch, hold and know that it has to be done for your child to be healthy and safe. To cause so much grief and tears...as a parent, seems unnatural. We are there to protect and love not to cause pain. So as the last of my kids held me tight and the shots kept coming, my heart by this time was in my throat and the tears were in my eyes I realized two things...

...some days it's just hard being a parent and...

...next time Daddy gets to do this.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Moments like these...

You remember the story of Noah...the boat, the flood, the animals and all that rain...lots and lots of big ol' fat raindrops rain. Well, he had 40 days and 40 nights of it and we had only 24 hours...so really we can't complain. But...I'm bettin' that Noah didn't have to cook and take care of his 3 kids and a dog (without any help) and control the mud (lots and lots of mud) in a 16 x 20 space for 24 hours. I mean he might have just jumped ship, or at least been smart enough to not camp in the rain.

Actually, our camping trip was not that bad...o.k., yes, the mud was that bad and it did rain ALL DAY LONG...but it had it's moments...wonderful, moments. I loved it when all the kids were finally clean with pj's on and were snuggled in their sleeping bags and I got to read out loud to them chapter after chapter of a good book. I loved it when we broke out the card games and laughed so hard when one of us won. I loved the fact that in the middle of the night, my smallest reached into my sleeping bag and held my hand. And I especially loved the fact that no matter how hard it was during our camping trip, and how much rain and mud we had to deal with, I will never forget this moment.
I am so thankful that God gives me moments like these.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The things that never go as planned...

My husband left this morning for a week long business trip out of the country. Now, he doesn't really have to travel that much, maybe once or twice every couple of months. Which really is a good thing, cause we miss him terribly when he's gone. So for this business trip, the kids and I decided to keep our minds off the fact that he's not here and go and do something fun...like camping.

Of course, wouldn't you know it, the few days that we had planned to go the weather forecast is calling for rain. Well, we leave tomorrow and...we are undeterred. Because sometimes, the things the kids remember most...

....are the things that never go as planned.

Friday, August 21, 2009

With smiles plastered on their faces...

Yesterday, we took the day off from school and went to our huge county fair. Since the local schools are back in session we thought that the crowds would be a little lighter. It turned out that we were right, and even better than that, the weather was fantastic - cool and a little cloudy.

Now, we don't usually get around to going to the fair every year, so this was a special treat for my kids...and they loved it. We rode a few rides (thankfully, nothing that involved large amounts of screaming, turning or plunging), just ones that really made us giggle.

We ate food that was on a stick (everything...and I do mean everything...is on a stick at the fair) and we saw all the baby animals you could think of. The kids even got to ride on a camel and see a "zedonk" (yep, that's really it's name...believe me, I saw the stinky thing).
They had a butterfly house that had over 5,000 butterflies in it (that kind of freaked me out with so many things flying at you and sticking to you...butterflies or not). Finally, late in the afternoon a quick ten minute shower came down and reminded us it was time to go home. So I dragged three over-stimulated children home with smiles plastered on their faces.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Check this one off our list...

In order for us to go and get our son from Ethiopia, we needed A LOT of shots. So with a pinch and a sting and a smile on our face, we got most of the needed shots. Our kids were there, and just so that you know, that whole thing you tell your kids when they're getting their immunizations...you know...that shots don't hurt that much...that, definitely comes back to haunt you. We have to go back for one more round of shots in a month but we are checking this one off our list.

Just hold son...we're coming as fast as we can

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I am...

On Monday, we started back our school schedule full time. (Now, we will take a few more days off here and there to do fun stuff...but my kindergartener just couldn't wait any longer...she had to learn).

Today for Language Arts, my son had to write a personal poem entitled..."I am". With his permission, I wanted to share it with you. So sit back, be blessed, and remember what it's like to be 11...

I am a creative boy who likes nature.
I wonder what God is like.
I hear the tinkling of the stars.
I see the wind moving through the trees.
I want to see new places.
I am a creative boy who likes nature.

I pretend to be a hero.
I feel happy when I fly.
I touch the moon.
I worry about scary things.
I cry that so many people die.
I am a creative boy who likes nature.

I understand that you have to work hard to get through the problem.
I say let everyone be happy.
I dream to be a hero.
I try to be happy.
I hope to see Jesus someday.
I am a creative boy who likes nature.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We hit the motherload...

"Mom...Mom! We found another caterpillar!" is what I heard come from the screaming kids in the backyard. They had found another yellow and black caterpillar and were oh so excited. "And look here's another...and another...and another" they screamed. That went on for 12...that's right, I said it...12 more times. They had found 12 black and yellow caterpillars (you remember...the ones who turn into monarch butterflies - the black and orange ones). Our butterfly pavilion was suddenly crowded. It was like we had raided a vacation resort for yellow and black caterpillars.

We had indeed...hit the motherload (stay tuned to see how it turns out....)

Friday, August 14, 2009

You bet it is...

Lots of people ask me about homeschooling...we talk about it everywhere...the grocery, garage sales, play dates. I find that people are very curious as to how we home school...what does our classroom look like? and how can I teach three children three different curriculums at the same time?

Our actual "classroom" in our house is technically the study. We've only been at this house for over a year but we are lucky enough to have floor to ceiling bookcases. However, in years past, our classroom has been in the living room as well as at the kitchen table...but this classroom has been the best one by far.

We have a fold down table that the kids work at everyday (to make it more spectacular, I let the kids pick the "wrapping" paper that goes on top of it to cover the table and then we cover that with clear plastic wrap...viola!..a brand new table). This year the kids chose polka dots...not my personal favorite, but it's not my table.

Our room has maps, calendars, number lines, phonics sound posters...anything that will be of help in school and give them a classroom feeling. I have set up a playdoh center and just today bought an art center with a chalk board/painting area. We have a computer and a piano (all in the same room, I know...but you can't be too picky when you only talking about one room).

My curriculum is quite planned out already for me. I love it. I just open the main manual and teach what it tells me to do for that particular day. If we can't get it all done by the morning/afternoon, then we are discussing geography or math or science over dinner. It just gets done. Does all of this take a lot of time?...Yes!

Is it all worth it?...You bet it is!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Until the next time we go...

Alright, we live in the middle of the country. And due to that one minor detail there is, by far, no ocean beach remotely close to us. You can't even get to an ocean beach if you drove all day (o.k., maybe you could, but not with three kids and a dog and still have your sanity intact). Beaches are great and my kids love the beach. I mean there is nothing like playing in the water and building huge sandcastles.

So this week we were ecstatic when we found out from a friend of mine that we have an actual "sandy" beach here where we live. Granted it's a beach that's off of a river here...but that's o.k. You still get the feeling of a beach and that's half the fun. (I'm just not going to think about what's under the water in this river beach...nope, not going there). Anyway, the kids had a fantastic time and to be honest I loved it too.

I just need to go now and disinfect everyone until the next time we go....

Monday, August 10, 2009

And then there was none...

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to find a yellow and black caterpillar walking along in our garden. Now, if you don't know much about caterpillars these are the ones that turn into monarch butterflies (the pretty orange and black ones). The caterpillars aren't very easy to find but when you do they are so much fun to watch change into a butterfly.

So we scooped up our butterfly pavilion (everyone needs one of these...) and grabbed a bunch of different leaves and put him inside. We really lucked out because by that night he had made his chrysalis. For the next few weeks we waited and watched. Then, this morning he popped out of his chrysalis and opened up really big. Beautiful...just beautiful.

At lunchtime we watched him go and my smallest one said "well, I guess everyone has to leave sometime". I hugged her tight and thought...I'm glad that day is not today.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The doctor is in....

"Mom, are you going to sew today?", my little one said with pleading eyes. I knew immediately what she wanted me to do. She was holding three of her stuffed animals. My kids love to play with their beanies. They line them up, tote them around everywhere and love on them until inevitably they get a hole somewhere on it. Lately, it seems to be a daily occurrence for me to "open up the Beanie Doctor Office" and put the fluff back in some type of animal, stitch it up and then send it back home. It's just too bad that all this "doctor" experience can't be put on a resume, cause I'm getting pretty good at saying...

...the doctor is in now

Friday, August 7, 2009

We got our referral!!!

Yesterday was an absolute crazy day...the day we had been waiting for, for so many months. Here's a sneak peek as to what happened...

The kids and I had been out at the grocery (where else do you go...) when we walked into the door and there it was...the blinking message light. With an armload of groceries, and three kids scrambling to "get through the door first", I didn't even have time to push the message button by the time the phone was ringing again. Now, our answering machine talks...goofy, I know...but I don't have to go the phone to see who it is...it talks to me and tells me. So when our adoption agency name was stated, you've never seen a crazy mom drop everything and "plow" through the kids to answer that phone. That would have been reality TV at it's best. Needless to say, the breathless "hello" probably didn't sound to good, but I'm sure they loved the "Woo-hooing" after they told us of our referral. Yep, you don't have to be a kid in this family to jump up and down screaming "it's a boy!...it's a boy!". I didn't care...we got our referral and it was a boy!!! I scrambled to find my husband's work number and called it three times (he has lots of meetings you know...) before he calmly said "hello". After that, I'm really not sure if I put a coherent sentence together, but I did get out that it was a boy and he was healthy. From that, my husband got the jest.

For now, we have more waiting to bring him home. We have to be assigned a court date and then more paperwork has to be filed. To us, he's already ours and a part of our family. He's healthy, but small (almost all children are due to malnutrition) and he has big brown eyes. Our favorite part was that in his referral picture they dressed him all in pink...he'll love that part later in life. I so wish we could post a picture of him, but our agency has asked us not to until we bring in home. So now, we are back to waiting and praying for more paperwork to hurry itself along so we can go to Ethiopia and bring our baby boy home.

A beautiful baby boy... we have been blessed yet again.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

As small as a mustard seed...

"...I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

This is by far one of my favorite verses in the Bible. I have been thinking a lot about faith this week. You know, the faith like Peter had when he stepped out of that boat and walked on water. Faith like the wind, you can't see it but you can feel it straight down to your bones.

As we are just days away from getting a referral, I keep thinking back to the very beginning when it all began. Our story is a simple one. Years before we had my son, God planted the adoption seed in our hearts. We wanted to be parents...and it didn't matter to us where the children came from...we knew we could love them no matter what. Fast forward a few years and we were blessed with our son. Our middle daughter followed shortly thereafter...but the seed never left. Finally, we were yet again very blessed to have our smallest. Now, the seed was ready...ready to plant. So we decided to adopt and step out of the boat, step out in faith and again let God choose our child. So you see, our story didn't happen overnight and it didn't happen on a whim. It happened because it's all part of God's plan.

We may not be able to change the world, but we can change the life of one child. And it's all because of faith...as small as a mustard seed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Box Day has arrived...

Well, "box day" came to our house early this morning (8:25 a.m.). Not familiar with box day??? In the home school world, it's when your entire curriculum (or whatever you ordered for the upcoming year) arrives packed in boxes. It's a lot like Christmas. My kids LOVE box day. I ordered everything we needed for this year late this past Sunday night and couldn't believe it when it arrived early on Wednesday morning. We have used Sonlight curriculum for 5 years and just adore it.

This morning was extra special for my 5 year old because for the first time it was her turn to have "school" delivered (her Kindergarten curriculum, that is) and she just couldn't believe how big her pile of books were. My older two just kept holding up one book after another and asking..."is it o.k. if I read this today?"

Ahh...music to my ears...it's going to be another great school year!

Monday, August 3, 2009

What if we all lived like this...

"Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. Chase the lion!"

from "In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson

Sunday, August 2, 2009

You eat it...no, you eat it

Today I tried my hand at canning salsa. With 13 tomato plants, we have more tomatoes than we know what to do with. So I researched "canning" on the Internet, printed off directions and began the process. Now being this is my first attempt at canning, I tell you guys this so that come this winter, when we open the salsa to eat it, if we don't blog for a couple of days, it might be botulism....so please call 911

Saturday, August 1, 2009

17 years ago today...

17 years ago today I married the one person who can make me laugh in any situation. The one person who still makes my heart flutter when he comes through the door. The one person who listens to me and calms me down when things are going wrong. The one person who loves me so much that he's willing to give up everything for his family. The one person who has given me three beautiful children. The one person who has committed to spending the rest of his life...with only me.

17 years ago today I married my best friend...my husband. Here's to you babe...and the many more wonderful years we are going to have together. I loved you then, I love you now and I will always love you.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Woo-hoo for us!!!

So, I couldn't wait any longer and I had to call again our adoption agency. Now, on my behalf I believe it's been over a month since the last time I called...so for me that's pretty good. Last time we were at number ten and all I could think about as I dialed the number was...oh, please don't let us still be number 10. I held my breath as she said "hold on while I go check"...(very cheesy hold music here....). She comes back with "well, you're number TWO now." "You mean to tell me that only one family is in front of ours?" "Seems to look that way"... "Woo-hoo for us!"

Look out Ethiopia...we are NUMBER TWO!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My heart skipped a beat...

So yesterday as the kids and I were about to go out the door for some errands the phone rang. Now usually I don't pick it up when we are that close to being all ready but the caller id said that it was our social worker...and my heart skipped a beat. Boy, oh boy, I just knew that this was going to be our referral call (we've been told that our social worker will most likely call to give us the good news). So trying not to sound like a maniac I raced to the phone...

"Hey..." I said. "Hi guys, I just wanted to check in with you and see how you guys are doing?" She had no good news. Nothing to share...she just wanted to see how we were doing. We'll I'd be a tee-tiny little bit better with a referral (is what I wanted to say...ARGHHHH!!!!!) This waiting thing is so incredibly hard. So now, I'm back to racing to the phone and waiting for a referral. I guess I'm just glad I've got caller id...otherwise, all my family and friends would really think I'm just that crazy.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Good ol' summertime...

It's just not summertime without a cheap ol' fire pit, smore's, a hammock swing and bugs galore. We love summertime here! We hope your weekend was as nice as ours...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lovin' Legos...

I guess it began when he was barely a toddler and we got him a big bag of Duplos. Then the older he got he found Legos and nothing has ever been the same. Our son loves Legos.
Alright "loves" is not a strong enough word to use...maybe I should say obsessed. Yep, he's obsessed with Legos. That boy, builds with Legos everyday and when he's not building with Legos he's studying idea books on how to build better sets. And when he's not studying Lego idea books he's researching with his father on how he can get a job with Legos later in life.

Yes...that boy loves Legos and I can't wait to see God's plan in this one.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The quiet ride home...

Today we went to a nearby state park to do some creek wading and have a picnic with a friend of mine and her three kids. Man, oh man...was it a great day! Who doesn't love it when a child screams "Mom, mom...we caught a frog", or to look out and see 6 filthy kids with smiles all over their faces. They waded and bug collected till their hearts were content and at the end of the time it was a race to see who was more worn out. And the ride home....

...was oh so quiet...yes, it was a great day!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I wonder...

This afternoon was the dreaded cleanup/organizing of my smallest's room. Now, I have put it off just about as long as anyone could. I mean the poor thing had only a small path to her bed and to the bathroom...everything else was in the middle of the room. So I hauled up some storage cubes from the basement and nice baskets and she and I went to work (I say "she and I" loosely, but really, it was me...she lost interest in a short amount of time). That was for the best though, for it allowed me to "conveniently" throw away some broken, missing pieces toys. Needless to say, the room now is clutter free and we can again see the carpet...I had forgotten that it was beige.

I wonder if that same color is in the other two kids rooms...

Monday, July 20, 2009

The domino effect...

O.k....you know the domino effect, right. First one thing must happen, then another has to happen and so on. It's a bit like the kid's book "If you give a mouse a cookie" (where this mouse wants a cookie, then milk, then a napkin and so on). Well, my domino effect started with a piece of fabric.

In the nursery for the new babies, my husband and I decided that the theme would be a safari theme. So I shopped all over to find a safari bedding. I couldn't find anything pre-made that I liked but I did find fabric...and boy is it cute. Well, that began the domino effect. Of course, with the fabric I had to pick the color and paint the nursery on Saturday. On Sunday, I had to have my husband move all the nursery furniture (the crib, dresser, glider, etc.) upstairs from storage. On Monday, I began making all the crib accessories (so far I've made the dust ruffle from the fabric) Today, I'm making some sheets and the bumper pad that goes around the crib. My husband calls it my "nesting" but to me...

...it's just my domino effect (and at the end are "hopefully" two really cute Ethiopian babies)

Friday, July 17, 2009

So close...yet so far away...

Yesterday, I heard our dog barking away on our deck. When I looked out I saw her stalking this butterfly (on the pink flower in the pot).
Oh to be so close...yet so far away...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A little "thank-you" note...

Alright...I knew it was going to be a big shopping day before we even went. Yesterday, my smallest and I went to Costco to do our "monthly" shopping. Now, I am at Costco about every couple of weeks, but I normally don't buy meats or cleaning stuff or even that much cheese each time. But it was time to restock our extra fridge/freezer and pantry with the staples that we go through in a month. (Now, I did buy 1,000 Band aids and I'm banking on that being a lifetime supply...we'll see)

I have learned from experience that going with a flatbed is the way to go. Awkward, yes...but you have a large amount of room and I can seat kids each on a different corner, if needed. After a hour of being there we had that flatbed so packed full that one person actually asked us if we were buying for a company...sad, really. But I have learned from experience that this is by far the cheapest way to feed our family...even if you have to buy 20 lbs of flour or 30 cans of corn.

You'd just think that a "thank-you" note would come from Costco with that...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Getting very good at the dishes...

Right off the bat let me just say that my husband is a brilliant man. His brain is much like a vast amount of information stuck in there just bustin' to come out...80's information I might add. Me, I just live in the moment and probably forget it, in just a few moments (not really...but kind of), much less can I recall something from my childhood.

His favorite thing to do is 80's song trivia. We listen to the 80's channel on XM/Satellite a lot. Now, this man knows his 80's songs. We both grew up in the 80's era, but apparently I was sleeping when "Bow, wow, wow" or "Talk, talk" came out with their song. But my husband would know. That man knows A LOT of music from the 80's. So when a song comes on the 80's Satellite radio station it goes much like this... "Quick who sings this song...loser gets to do the dishes." I scramble to find someone that it might sound like and most often fail. I mean I don't even get close to the singer....

...but I am getting very good at the dishes

Monday, July 13, 2009

While I'm Waiting...

Lately, I've been feeling a little anxious about our adoption. I see women in church with their tiny babies and my heart aches. I know our children (in Ethiopia) by now must have been born. I pray for them everyday in generalities but not specifics. I pray for their safety, their health and most importantly the caregivers...please give them a kind and gentle heart. I may not know the children yet, but God does...he has hand-picked them for us. Personally, I'm ready to go and get them...however God's plan is sometimes different than mine. I want so badly to have a referral...a name...a face...my child.

This morning while I was driving the girls to gymnastics practice a song was playing on the radio that hit me like a ton of bricks. I have heard it a hundred times but this time it just seem to talk to me. It was all about waiting on God's timing...while I sure am trying to be patient...there are days that I fail miserably...good thing God's still there.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It could only happen to us...

We picked up our new van today...again...with a brand new windshield installed. This time I'm going to have to chalk this one up to...it could only happen to us. You see, throughout our course of marriage my husband and I have had a few...how shall I say it...unusual things happen to us...to put it nicely.

When we first got married we were driving down a road in the pouring down rain. The road just happened to be closed due to flooding but you were not notified this in advance. So not seeing any signs, my husband was not able to stop in time and "barrelled" through a barricade (just like the Dukes of Hazzard...minus all the horn tooting) and right into the flooded area.

Sometime later, when we were driving (yet again) my husband hit a bat which then proceed to get wrapped around and stuck on our antenna (...a BAT...I thought they were suppose to notice something big like a car...figures we'd get the one "not-so-smart" bat).

Another time, my husband entered us both into the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" show. I really didn't mind so much, I figured no one ever gets picked that we know...wrong again. They picked...yep, you guessed it...me. Now, if you personally knew both of us, you'd know that my husband is incredibly smart and me...well, I'm more of a "fall apart, spastic, over talker, crazy one"...in a nice sort of sense. Figures we'd get the producers who just wanted great reality TV.

There are hundreds more things that we have just chalked up to "it could only happen to us" and this windshield thing is one of them. So I guess...I'll just take it one day at a time...cause with our family...you just never know.