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, April 30, 2009

Who knows what you just might find...

Today, the kids and I found ourselves in the midst of a huge neighborhood garage sale. Every street we went down there was house after house with a garage sale. Now, I love and adore garage sales. With three children and two more (hopefully) on the way from Ethiopia, we have to not only feed and entertain this army but we also have to prepare to pay for that many college educations. Thus...the reason I love garage sales. You can find whatever you might need...as long as you are a little patient with your searching. I have found anything from bikes, to clothes, to way too many toys to count.

My favorite find of all at a garage sale was several years ago. It was a HUGE box filled to the brim with Lego's. I actually had to talk my husband into buying it for $100.00. Now, you have to understand that this box had hundreds of sets of Lego's (with instructions) but they were literally dumped into the box. All he saw was the work involved and all I saw was the investment...come to find out...we were both right. It took us one year to separate the colors and then one by one put together all of the Lego sets. (The pictures below is when our year long project was winding down and there wasn't too much left) In the end we had tub after tub after tub filled with Lego sets labeled and placed in plastic ziploc bags and stored away...hundreds of them.

Now, you might be asking what we are planning to do with them all...I joke with my husband that I'm going to send all of us on a vacation somewhere warm. Who knows? For now, I no longer have to talk my husband into any of my garage sale finds.

...cause who knows what you just might find

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What colors fill your cup?

For our adoption process we were required to take 2 full days of "classes on adoption". These classes were to help us with the integration of an adoptive child into our home as well as becoming a multi-cultural family. We talked for hours and did many class "exercises" during this time. There was one exercise that we did that was incredibly thought-provoking for me.

Our instructor gave us all one clear plastic cup and a bag full of multi-colored M and M's. Each color of an M and M's represented a certain ethnic group that we come in contact with day in and day out. For example...the red M and M's represented White, blue represented Indian, yellow represented Black and so forth. So the exercise went something like this...

"Place three M and M's in your cup for the ethnic group that represent your family. Place three M and M's in your cup that represent the ethnic group in your church. Place one M and M in your cup that represents your hairdresser...and on and on it went...from teachers to friends...to even restaurants that you frequent". She continued to ask us to fill our cup.

Until this time, I really thought that we had quite the multi-cultural surrounding...but when you see it visually represented in front of you...you see that you are not always right. So now, as we begin to prepare ourselves to become a multi-cultural family I often think about that exercise and our cup.

...so what colors fill your cup?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

...thanks for the laugh little brother

My little brother has been blessed with a wonderful gift. It's the gift to make people laugh. Now, I'm not talking the class clown kind of laugh, but the whole heart from the belly kind of laugh. You know, the kind of laugh that when you are done your eyes water and your sides hurt. I love being around him. He's full of life and energy...you can just feel it.

My little brother is a free-lance writer and an independent film producer. Many of his films are comedic versions involving sports and "men-stuff" (which I don't always understand...because I'm not into sports...but, I can appreciate the unique view of it). However, he just produced a short film and I must tell you that I laughed until my sides hurt over this one. At first I really had no idea where this film was going...wondered a little about my little bro...but then realized in the end...just how clever he really was. (...my favorite is the very last line...).

This film was accepted to the Chicago comedy short video and film festival. Can't wait to see how it does. Either way, I'm proud of him.

...thanks for the laugh little brother

Monday, April 27, 2009

One more step closer...

Well, we are one more step closer to receiving our referral. We found out today that our dossier is now officially in Ethiopia. Apparently it took the long route to get to there...but no matter. I'm just ecstatic that it's officially there. So for now, we are praying everyday that the Lord will lead us to the right children and just protect those children until we can get there.

...just hold on...we're coming

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The garden has left the building...

These past few days my husband's parents have been visiting us...and with their visit comes lots of help...and that help just happens to be with my vegetable garden. Now, I am an avid perennial gardener but this is my first year for a vegetable garden. My mother and father in-law have always had a large garden...so suddenly I became the student...and they the teachers. I learned so much as we tilled and planted. I learned about spacing and how the plant is going to grow. I found it all so incredibly fascinating while truly enjoying spending time with them.

It's times like these that I miss the fact that we are so very far from any of our family...it's at least 12 hours in many different directions to get to some of them. And while we planted and laughed and talked throughout the day, I was so happy to have had this time. Especially when I can go down to the basement (where all the plants were growing "way out of control") and we can finally say...

...the garden has left the building

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A big green smelly ball...

Around this time every year I begin to bug my husband for somewhat of an unusual item - my Mother's day gift. Now, it's not the same thing every year that I ask for...but let's just say...that's it's not your standard, run-of-the-mill Mother's day gift.

Take for instance...a couple of years ago we were in the middle of renovating our house and I asked him for a ladder (...not just any kind of ladder...but the kind that bends into all kinds of directions). Oooh, just thinking about it gets me all excited...because I love to renovate/paint/tile just about anything. Weird, I know...but it's what I love. Another year I asked for a complete flower garden and last year,I believe,I asked for a nail gun...unfortunately, my husband drew the line on that one (given my accident prone nature...I really wasn't surprised).

So this year, I plopped down next to him with the laptop and it went something like this..."Oooh, look what I found, honey." "What?" "It's a ball composter. You see, you take weeds, food scraps and leaves and put them in the ball...roll it around...and in about a month you get good compost for my vegetables and flowers." "So let me get this straight...this year you want a big green smelly ball for Mother's day?"


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A table full of love and laughter...

Family dinners at our house are an event and anyone who has visited us during dinner knows this first hand. As the meal is nearing completion all of the children descend upon the area in a stampeding fashion...all the while yelling "dinnertime!" After the hand-washing process/arguing is finished, each child has a specific job in order to hurry the dinner process along. Our smallest does napkins but longs to do the forks, while our middle one does forks but longs to do the plates and the oldest passes out the plates and drinks (and quite often spills something...maybe we should rethink the job status).

After the plates are on the table and everyone is seated does the fun really begin. We all hold hands and each one of us (children included) say their own little prayer one at a time. Now, this really does make a lot of people nervous who visit us for a dinner...you know...thinking they have to come up with some kind of material when it's their turn...so we just smile and chuckle a bit.

My favorite prayer is my smallest...actually it's a song. She came home from church one day and said that she had learned a prayer/song she wanted to teach us. It has hand motions and she was pretty sure it was the right hand motions (not 100% though...). So the song has stuck...and each night we do hand motions that may or may not be saying "Thank you Jesus...thank you Jesus". Who knows we could be motioning that we love pigs or something. But you know...I don't think the Lord minds one bit.

After prayer...the laughter abounds. The children all speak at once and the sound volume goes up tremendously. I love the stories that are told again and again (even if everyone there knows the ending). And it's rare that dinner ever gets done fast...cause who'd ever want to leave a table full of love and laughter...and a little bit of spilled milk.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What a transformation...

Last year, my smallest learned to play soccer for the first time during the Fall soccer season. Her Dad was the coach and I must admit that he was incredibly patient with the group of 6 kids on her team (all 4 -5 year old). We went to each game hoping for her to get her first goal (or any goal for that matter)...no such luck. This season it's a different story.

This past Saturday she had her second game of the Spring soccer season and her Dad is again the coach. I'm not sure who loves it more...the coach or my smallest. All my husband could say all day after the game was..."4 goals!"..."4 goals!" That's right...She scored 4 goals in one game. And I tell you, there was some serious whoopin' and hollerin' from this southern momma. This year it just seems that the soccer techniques are just clicking for her and I am truly excited for her. Boy was she so proud to have scored so many. To come from the little girl who barely even touched the ball last year...to the girl who really doesn't care who she tackles to get to the goal.

...that is some kind of transformation

Friday, April 17, 2009

God humbles me...

I came in from a run yesterday and here's how the conversation went with my husband...."I fell again today, honey." "What? Again...how many times is this?" "Oh, I don't know...I guess you'd need a few hands and feet to count it all." "I'm going to have to order you a puffy suit or something like the Pillsbury Dough boy outfit so you can run around in that and not get hurt." "Great...then when I fall it will be more of a...aaaah, boing....aaaah, boing....aaaah, boing." "Well, at least you won't get hurt every time you fall." UGH!

It's true. I have fallen/tripped when I run many more times than I care to admit. It's not that it's a medical issue or anything...let's just say that I am...what one might call...accident prone. When I run I find myself truly enjoying my surroundings. I mean I love the trees and houses and flowers. I find myself thinking...ooh, I like that front door...or, those flowers are so beautiful....or what were they thinking with the rocks. And then it's....aaaah, SPLAT!...flat on my face on the concrete. Now, I'm not talking in some remote area that I run. I run in neighborhoods and main streets. So yes...everyone and their brother has seen me fall flat on my face.

I've decided it is a humbling experience for me. It's like the time when you get toilet paper stuck on the bottom of your shoe and finally someone tells you. Or when you have something stuck in your teeth and you just chat away with it in there. It's humbling...God humbles. He grounds us...to remind us...that there are much greater things than ourselves.

So, as I pick myself up...once again...I am reminded that God humbles for a reason. I just wish mine didn't hurt so much.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

That was so easy Mom!

Today and tomorrow are my two oldest children's testing days. In the state in which we live (it's different in every state), if you want to home school your children then you are required by law to have your kids either: be followed by a licensed teacher, keep a portfolio all year long of all their work or have your kids take a standardize test (the same tests that the public school kids take every year). We always choose to have them take the tests. I like having the scores documented by the state and see where they compare with other children of their age. Being this is our fourth year homeschooling, it's really second nature for our kids to take the test...me...it's another story.

I'm the one who frets and worries about whether they'll get the answers right. Or whether they'll have enough time to finish or remember all of the stuff I've taught them over the past year. I'm the one who has practically drilled them everywhere they've gone this past week with questions like..."do you remember what a synonym is?"...or "o.k., tell me what a proper noun is?"...or "what's 8 x 9?"

So when I dropped them off this morning...my son leaned over and told me..."don't worry Mom, we'll do just fine." I smiled as he walked away and said a quick prayer..."Lord, grant me the ability to let go and let my children be what you want them to be..."

Three hours later...the kids ran out smiling and yelling..."that was so easy Mom!" Thank you, Lord...I just wish parenting were that easy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

...moving on up and out

O.k...I have been blessed. Blessed with lots and lots of hair. I mean the kind of hair that on many more days than I care to admit...has a mind of it's own. I mean the amount of hair that looks so wild after a run that's it's no wonder no one has ever bothered me - I can only imagine how crazy I must look coming down the street. I can hear it now..."Quick, honey...grab the kids. Here comes that wild looking woman again...run for your life!" Now, I'm not really complaining...I was just thinking...wishing really...that the big hair from the 80's would come back.

Being almost 40, (you can do the math...), I grew up during the 80's and big hair was such the fashion. Boy was I in my element. I mean I could tease it up somethin' fierce...it would make even the boy hair bands at that time jealous. Fast forward to present and the hair styles have come back down to earth a bit...and I am at a loss. There is a lot more effort involved now taking a naturally curly/wild hair and making it look somewhat fashionably straight.

So ladies...until we bring back the big hair from the 80's, I'm going to have to have what I affectionately call my "Jefferson days".

...you know...hair that is moving on up and out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

...the return of the big pink bear

"Mommy"...my little one yelled this morning at 4:15. I scrambled to wake up enough to run up the stairs (we thought the master on the main floor was a good idea...not so good at 4:15 in the morning). I ran in not knowing what had happened...but found my smallest sitting up in bed stretching out her arms to me. I held her tight. She had had a bad dream. We've all been there...each and every one of us. But to my five year old...it means only one thing...the return of the big pink bear.

You see, the big pink bear is a very large pink care bear that sits up high on a shelf and rarely comes down (...except, of course, for loud thunderstorms or bad dreams).

As I began to pull away to get the bear, she held me even tighter and said..."not yet, mommy...I'm not done being scared". My heart melted...I would have stayed there all night. Finally with a yawn and one last squeeze she said she was ready. As I placed the bear next to her she looked up at me and said "I love you mommy"...

...and that was enough for me

Monday, April 13, 2009

25 is our magic number...

I am a bit of an optimist really...you know, the glass is half full kind of person. So when we were told this past week that we are the 25th family on the referral list to receive a child I decided to look at it from a different perspective... a positive one. O.k....I know it's a stretch but it's better than thinking we're never going to get a referral. So here goes...what are all the good things that have the number 25 in it?

Well...Christmas is on the 25th day. In 2007, Americans consumed about 25 pounds of candy per capita. There are 25 minutes in a Backyardigans show (that's 25 minutes I can get a few things done around the house). The number 25 is easily divisible by 5's and when you are out in public and need to practice a little math...25 is your number. Since this morning, 25 is the amount of money I have in my wallet (unless my husband has raided it for haircut money...hmmm...). And in the summer, I have at least 25 different kinds of flowers growing in my yard at any given point.

O.k...I know this is definitely a stretch for anybody really...and most definitely pretty hokey (that's right...I said it "hokey"...from the south, remember?). But it will keep me staying positive in the midst of a mountain of waiting. So from now on...

25 is our magic number...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter from all of us...

From the bottom of our hearts we wish you all a wonderful and happy Easter. Our day was filled with morning church services, Easter baskets, egg hunting and even a little kite flying. Yes...it was a good day.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

...a very fine line

There is a very fine line between looking like you are crazy and really being it. I think today I was walking that line. You see...I am an avid perennial gardener. I love flowers...really any kind of flowers...they just make me happy. So when we moved into our house last June I told my husband that we would need to get rid of all of the river rock that was in our massive flower bed in our backyard, because you really can't grow perennials or any kind of flowers in rocks very well at all. He looked at me like I was crazy. I am talking about a HUGE amount of rocks here.

So today when I picked up a shovel and started moving rocks...then...I started looking like I really was crazy. Well, you have to start somewhere right? So crazy or not...I am determined (and very hard-headed)...but in the end the flower bed will produce the most beautiful flowers...and that will make me happy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

My father's hat...

It's amazing how your world can change in a split second. Three years ago today...my father died of a heart attack. There were no goodbyes...no last I love you...no one more minute. You are left with only the memories...nothing else. We buried my father on Good Friday that year and I knew that every Good Friday after that I would relive that day...that very long, hard day in my mind. That's how memories work...

This year...the day my father died and Good Friday are one in the same. To me...it's twice as hard. I wish..oh, how I wish...I could talk to him. I have so much to tell him...how much the kids have grown...about our adoption...just to sit with him for a little while longer. Unfortunately, I'm left with nothing more than memories and a few items left of my father's...one of which is my father's hat. My father loved to wear this hat. It's tattered and dirty and no longer smells like my father...but it's his.

So while we celebrate Good Friday today...I can't help but think of my two fathers who are up in heaven looking down on me...my heavenly Father and my earthly father. I love the verse from Ephesians 2: 9 which says "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus..." I like to picture my father sitting up there in heaven...just waitin' for me to get there.

Until then...I'll be down here...holding on tight to my father's hat...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hiding the vegetables...

Alright...I'm not proud of it...but I admit it. Sometimes a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do. I hide the vegetables. It wasn't always like this..until just recently...when my smallest took an aversion to zucchini. Now...I find myself searching for a way that she will eat the funky little veggie without even knowing it. Today...I have found it. One of the best tasting breads with zucchini in it. You just have to try it. It's called Zucchini Pineapple Bread. I got the recipe from a cookbook called "Dining at the Whistle Stop". O.k....so here goes:

Zucchini-Pineapple Bread
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini
8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts
4-ounce package vanilla instant pudding mix

Combine the eggs, sugar, oil and extract; beat until foamy. Combine the next 6 ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to the egg mixture; beat well. Add the zucchini, pineapple, walnuts and pudding; stir well. Pour into a coated and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. Check with a wooden pick for doneness. This bread freezes well.

So that's it. If you can believe it...I even have everyone in the house eating this bread for dinner and breakfast (hey...you take what you can get...right??). It really is that delicious...you don't even taste the zucchini. Just don't tell your kids the name. I happen to call it pineapple bread to the kids...not really a lie...just not the whole truth.

You know...I'm just trying to hide the vegetables...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Who's hoarding all the Spring?

O.k....I love snow just like anybody else...but come on...this is getting a bit ridiculous. Bet you are wishing you live where we live...right???

I'd just like to know who's hoarding all the Spring...you have to share you know.

Friday, April 3, 2009

...in the form of a little white dog

I believe God has a great sense of humor...he must. I also believe he puts certain things in our path...to teach us a lesson. My lesson comes in the form of a little white dog.

You see, four or five houses ago (we relocate a lot...) we had some neighbors that had a "little white dog". Now, I don't even want to mention the breed for fear of an uprising straight to my house...but really that doesn't matter. This little white dog barked and barked and barked. The neighbors just allowed it at all hours. So I complained to God about this dog (really...it drove me crazy...I know you know what I mean, so don't even tell me you don't). Low and behold...God showed up to teach me a lesson...we relocated. To another city and another house...with a little white dog. THE SAME KIND OF LITTLE WHITE DOG!!!! Well, I thought the first one was a fluke...surely, this couldn't happen again. Oh, yeah...it can when God's involved. Well, I of course...complained again. I am a bit hard-headed at times (...apparently). Again, you can imagine what happened...that's right...we relocated...to another house...with a little white dog....did I mention that it was the same breed? I am not making this up!!! This has happened at every house since I complained.

So just yesterday I met our new neighbors at our present house and you are not going to believe it...out from behind them came...oh yeah, that's right...two little white dogs! I just laughed out loud till I almost cried. Of course, they asked me what's so funny. I couldn't help but tell them...

God showed up...in the form of a little white dog.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hoot n' Holler Day...

I love spring...actually I love every season, but I especially love this time of year. The birds begin to come back, the flowers start to bud and bloom and then...there is "hoot n' holler" day. Now, if you are unfamiliar with it, it's a time when you can rummage through those items you swore you would use someday and of course you never did and finally decide to throw it out. I believe here in the Midwest they call it "spring-clean up" day. However, I was born and raised in the south and I do so love to call it "hoot n' holler".

So picture this...you take a few weekends and you gather up all your cherished treasures that you've toted around with you for years (and never used) and you haul it out to the curb. Then...cars come one by one and rummage through your items taking what they will then call their cherished treasures. I can hear their conversations now..."Oooh, wheee! Lookie here, Earl. They got them here a shovel-thingy I saw on TV once. Now who would throw a good thing like that out. I'm gonna keep me this one."

I just love "hoot n' holler" day...