Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
It is now time to just relax and enjoy all those fun presents that showed up under the tree......
Or just hang out and revel in the fact that we have no responsibilities for a few days.
Well, outside of laundry. And dishes. And meal making.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
I'm quite exhausted right now after all the festivities, but wanted to at least share some pictures. Abby had a fantastic first Christmas - she enjoyed every bit of it. From the singing carols at church, to "Christmas Eve pj's", sleeping over in her brothers' room, dragging mom and dad out of bed, etc... And she loved that we got to have deep fried turkey again.
Josiah really got a kick out of getting a birthday cake for Jesus. I think that might have been his favorite part of the whole weekend. We even let him blow out the candle, which as someone pointed out, will just serve to confuse us years from now when I get around to scrapbook these pictures. We'll be asking if it was his birthday, or what.
So, although I actually have about 200 pictures, here's just a few of our favorites.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I am making a ton of loaves of cranberry bread, but I don't realistically think 17 of them for tomorrow is doable. So I'll be throwing in some magic bars as well. Maybe some fudge. ???
So my kitchen is pretty insane right now, but I have to say I love it!! I love the mess of baking, mostly because my kids clean it up - and because I LOVE the results!
And speaking of loving the craziness, it has really stood out to me this year how much people like to complain about the busyness of Christmas. Oh, too much to do, too many parties, all this baking, too much money spent, etc... And a lot of Christians will say that we've gotten away from the "true" meaning of Christmas. But I say, that all depends on your perspective. It's true that for many, Christmas is void of any true celebration of Christ. But for those of us that KNOW what this holiday is really about, that know we are celebrating the birth of a SAVIOR, then yes, we should be going ALL out. Yes, I want to put bright lights ALL over my house - I want a BIG tree, I want to have a GIANT party EVERY night, I want to play my Christmas music as loud as possible, for as many days as possible, I want to do EVERYTHING I can to shout out to the world that CHRIST was born. And I absolutely LOVE that we have not just a day, but a full SEASON to all out CELEBRATE this fact. That doesn't mean I don't live out my faith the rest of the year, but times set apart to remember and to celebrate ARE important - just like they were in Biblical times.
I don't give my loved ones presents because I feel obligated to. I do it because God gave me the most important present of all 2,000 years ago in sending His Son, and I want to take the time to show my love to others with a gift as well. It doesn't have to be big, or expensive - I could never match the gift He gave. It is just a way of saying you are loved, you are special, you are thought of. It doesn't matter if I spent $5 or $50, or maybe even $0 but just took the time to do make or do something special
I don't want to be guilted into thinking I should celebrate less. Like somehow I am more spiritual if I buy less gifts, or bake less, or turn off my Christmas music. I celebrate God in plenty of quiet ways all year long. For the month of December, I say turn it up a notch.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
This last picture is from the day we made popcorn balls. I broke out the good ol' air popper - which I've had since college - and hadn't brought out in SO long none of my kids had any recollection of it whatsoever. But it still works!! I absolutely loved the look on Abby's face when she saw what was going on in there!
Monday, December 6, 2010
I have seen His face, upclose, pretty much every day since then.
In taking a scared little girl and teaching her to trust.
Teaching her that families are forever and love unconditionally.
In teaching a momma to love a child she did not bear.
A child she did not get to rock, and bathe, and love.....
A child she did not have the privilege of loving for the first (almost) nine years of her life.
I have seen His face in my biological children's eyes, as they love their new sister as though she had been here forever.
I have seen His face in my other family members, who have all accepted and loved Abby the same way - as though this was the most natural thing in the world, as though she was always here.
And that type of unconditional love, friends, comes only from God.
But that's only the start of it still.......
In adopting Abby, I became part of this giant network of adoptive families. And I have had the joy of seeing the face of God as I witness Him at work in their lives.
The stories are many, they are beautiful, and they are touching. And they all have His fingerprints all over them.
The story I want to share today is one particularly close to my heart, because it is happening in the life of a dear friend. Melissa and I have never met in person, but we connected with each other in 2009 when we were both waiting to hear if China had received our paperwork. I believe it was even before either one of us knew who our children were. We then had the privilege of supporting each other through the roller coaster of international adoption - what a ride that was!!! In November of 2009 I got to follow along via the amazing world of computers as Melissa and Ryan traveled to China to bring little Everest home. And then I got to keep following along over the next year and watched them mold into a family. Well, their story doesn't end there. To hear what awesome twist God just brought into their lives, visit their new blog . If you're able to get involved and help them complete this story, please do so, whether by donating or just backing them up in prayer.
And to my tech - savvy friends out there, if anyone knows how to make them a nice little button for their blog that would be AWESOME. I am clueless in such matters!!
In closing, let me assure you, I feel like I fall short every single day. Not one day comes to an end that I don't feel like a failure in one way or another. I am so glad that in spite of all my shortcomings and imperfections, He still extends His grace and allows me so close a glimpse at His face.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Not a tough week around here, but for a lot of my loved ones all over the place.
DH's grandma passed away this weekend, and will certainly be missed. Even though we've been far away for so long, we all have fond memories of the visits we shared with them every time we did make it home. And it stinks to not be closer to family at a time like this.
My cousin P is hospitalized and very seriously ill, with a lot of unknowns and unanswered questions. She is terribly missing her little man who is only about three months old.
And my parents are visiting my uncle who has been very bravely fighting leukemia for a lot longer than anyone ever thought possible, but we don't know how much fight he's got left in him.
Closer to home, one of Lanie's volleyball teammates lost her dad in an accident this week. Pretty shocking and a great reminder that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. My heart is breaking for this little girl and her family.
So, if you could take a minute to lift all these needs up in prayer, it would be greatly appreciated by many more people than you can imagine.
I'll lighten the mood later this week with pictures of our more cheerful happenings, like Jake's 12th birthday (yeah, TWELFTH!!) and our beautiful - yet- not - as - big - as -we're - used - to Christmas tree.
Oh- and lovely pics of Abby fully enjoying her first Christmas season.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Poor Abby was sobbing by the end of the very first fight scene, so she came and cuddled on momma's lap. My super sensitive girl.
Then about halfway through the movie, we realized she thought Dre (the Karate Kid*) was a GIRL!!
Glad we figured that one out before the kiss scene..........
Which, by the way, is a whole other post, because I don't really get why TWELVE year olds have to have kiss scenes in a movie.......
Friday, November 12, 2010
I really can't remember what it was I was doing, but for a mother of five whose laundry room IS the kitchen, there are endless tasks in there.
Anyways, there I was busy with my motherly tasks when Josiah runs up to me and says "I made a mess."
So I said what any reasonable mom would say "Well, go clean it up".
To which he replied "Do pumpkins break???"
Huhhhh??? "Did I hear you right?? What did you say?"
"Do pumpkins break???"
Then I remembered the ceramic pumpkin I had (stupidly) put in the bathroom - to "spruce" it up, you know.
Sure enough, it was shattered into countless pieces!!!!
Better be glad he's so darn cute. AND my last lil' baby.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I have to admit, I sure do!! And Stefanie over at Ni Hao Y'all is doing a BIG one. Basically, thirty days in a row with a giveaway EVERY day. And considering that the people contributing to this giveaway are the readers of her blog, I'm expecting some pretty neat stuff to be part of the prize stash. Because, well, her readers just happen to be a very creative and talented bunch. I know there are certain things in the blog community I'll be hoping will show up....
So, do yourself a favor and check out her giveaway. You might just have to write me a little note sometime in the next six weeks to thank me when you win some fabulous prize!!
Friday, November 5, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Jacob will be trying wrestling. He has practice Monday through Friday from 2:45 until 5 pm.
Luckily, they only have four meets the entire season.
Lanie is playing volleyball.
I could've sworn when I went to the parents' meeting, they said TWELVE year olds and older would be having away games. Well, the first week of practice they hand out game schedules, and out of six games, FOUR of Lanie's are away games.
When I say away, I mean at least a two hour trip each way. Not looking forward to that.
On the bright side, Jake's wrestling matches are mostly in January, and Lanie is done with volleyball by then. Which means, for a season, we might actually be able to ALL be at each other's sports events every weekend.
And THAT sounds like a lot of fun.
Monday, November 1, 2010
But, I wanted to give it a go anyways.
Because somebody out there totally deserves it.
I want to give a special "shout out" to my mother in law.
So many people out there struggle with their relationship with their MIL, a lot of them for good reason.
And although I don't remember ever praying specifically about my future husband's mother and our relationship, God chose to bless me anyways (don't you just love it when He does that?).
I am blessed to share a special bond with her - not only because of our mutual love for her son and her grandkids (and actually, her daughters too. They're my own little sisters in my mind). We share an even greater passion for the Lord.
How awesome to be able to call on her with any prayer request, and KNOW that my needs are covered in prayer.
How reassuring to know she will never call me with criticism, but instead takes the time to call me with encouragement. Not once in our 16 years of marriage have I heard her even show even a hint of criticism for my performance as a wife, or as a mother for that fact.
She praises our homeschooling efforts, always calls me on my birthday, and NEVER plays the jealous mom game.
She is very conscious of boundaries, and very careful never to cross any that might even possibly exist. She is almost TOO careful - but I DO appreciate it that so!!
She truly treats me as one of her own daughters - and I LOVE that I have TWO wonderful moms to shower me with love.
And I won't even get into how she spoils (in a totally positive way) the grandchildren.
So, thank you, Grandma, for showering Christ's love on us continously.
Thank you for going well out of your way in pretty much everything you do.
Please know that I count myself BLESSED for having you in my life!!
P.S. I would love to throw a picture in here, but I really thought I'd better ask first. And I didn't want to wait to ask to write the post!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I was glued to this chair, or my couch, for most of the afternoon.
I did make it to the commissary to stock up for the week, but that was about it.
I feel guilty; I feel lazy; but it had been WAY too long since a Saturday had come up with absolutely NOTHING on the schedule. And so I relished every single second.
I even cancelled our zoo trip for tomorrow. And I'm going to do a repeat of today. All over again. Plus a trip to church, but that's a GOOD something.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The highlight of the trip:
I had put a pull-up* on Josiah and had packed a bag full of extras, because although he is now "officially" potty trained and doesn't miss a beat around the house, we had a (very) long drive there, plus I wasn't sure of the availability of public restrooms once in the town. He had used the potty maybe twice on the ride up and kept his pull-up* dry. However, upon arriving at the shrine, my brain just forgot that I have a newly potty trained kid. Forgive me, but it's been about 6 years at least since I had to think in that mode. You know, scoping out where every bathroom is ahead of time, constantly asking if they have to go, so on....
Well, there was a bathroom right by the front door, but I TOTALLY missed it - I wasn't really looking. About 30 minutes after we entered, Josiah starts doing his little dance and saying URGENTLY - I have to PEE!!! I really didn't feel like running around like a madwoman searching for a bathroom, so I reminded him he had a pull-up* on, and he could just go in THAT.(Oh -don't judge me. You know you've told your kids the same thing). And he gave me a weird look, but he did it.
So, instead of scoping out the bathroom now, to be ready for next time, I just forgot about it again. We proceeded to climb about one million steps to the top of some massive hill, where they had this magnificent statue thingie. It was like the center of this entire shrine. We are WAY up there, surrounded by all these locals who consider this a "sacred" place - and he yells again "I have to PEE". Definitely NO bathroom anywhere near us. So I cooly say - "Hey, you've got your pull-up, just go in that." To which my way too smart for his own good two year old replies "Did I ALREADY go pee???" Because, you see, he can feel the wetness already there and that causes him some concern. So mother-of-the year says "It's OK, you can go again" So he does. And it all just completely flows right down his leg, soaking the ground beneath him.
And then mother of the year did the only thing left to do. I tapped Daddy's shoulder, pointed at the two year old, and ran as fast as I could in the OPPOSITE direction.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Josiah just informed me that HE NEEDS A NEW MOMMY!!!!
I asked him why and he said "Because you are being NAUGHTY"
All this because I asked him to sit down.
Parenting is SO rewarding.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Not a lack of busyness, mind you.
Just same old stuff type of busyness.
Nothing much worth blogging about.
Other than, I guess with all the insanity in this house the last several months, boring is GOOD.
Jacob has some changes coming. He will be starting a paper route tomorrow. And sometime in the near future he will be getting braces.
Josiah is keeping his pants dry most of the time. And has decided that he loves Kai-Lan. Must remind him of someone dear to him, I guess. He continues to crack us up with his off the wall comments. Today, he picked up his toy dog and said "He's a very active puppy". We kind of stared at him in disbelief for a minute (I mean, the kid is TWO for goodness sake - where does he come up with these words?). Then we realized he was quoting this Arthur book he loves.
James is enjoying X-country, improving every week, and consistently beating a few of the juniors and seniors he's running with. Loving youth group, probably as much for the free dinner as for the Bible study and social part of it.
Lanie had a photo shoot for some Japanese modeling agencies that come on base to find American faces to put on their stuff. We'll see if anything comes of it. It looks like as she wraps up the soccer season she'll be picking up volleyball.
Abby's English is improving more each day. I am learning more and more each day about how she best learns, and I'm able to help her move along even more as I figure this out. This teaching thing is really a dance, a back and forth between teacher and student. I wondered for a while if she wouldn't get so much more out of a regular classroom, but I really think the one on one from someone who can really get to know her learning styles is more beneficial right now. I also think it's great for her to have the added family time. I have finally realized that even though she can read pretty fluently at this point, making all the right sounds, obviously a lot of the meaning behind what she is saying escapes her. Just because she can say the right words doesn't mean she understands them. So if I hand her something and ask her to read it, even though she can technically read it - the understanding is not always there. We're taking a lot more time to read together, to make sure she can "get" what she is reading. I am still in complete awe at the fact that this sweet girl has only been learning English for less than 9 months, and she can do as much as she can. As a matter of fact, her English has come such a long way that I sometimes forget she is still a language learner and ask WAY too much from her. She's too smart for her own good, I'm telling you. So this teaching "dance" is a work in progress, and we're both learning in the process.
Another noteworthy piece of Abby news: today, she was talking about not being able to choose her clothes when she was in the orphanage. I guess there were only a couple of dresses or skirts available, and that's what she always longed to wear. But it was a random pick by the nannies, and so she just got to wear what was handed to her. I asked if she ever told the nannies that she really wanted to wear the dresses, and she said she hadn't. She said there was this one really cute outfit in particular for the boys, and all the boys always wanted to wear that one. Anyways, this discussion led to talk about perhaps sending some clothes to the orphanage, as we thought it would be fun to send some "cute" things for the kids to wear. Abby was very excited about that possibility, so I'll have to look into it and see if it is possible.
And I guess that's a lot more than the nothing I thought I had to share : )
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Did you hear that???? FOURTEEN!!!
Where in the world did the years go????
I have a constant family video playing through my head today, but it seems to be stuc on fast forward.
I am so grateful for the call to stay home when he was small, and the fact that God provided for that.
I am so grateful for the call to homeschool, and the fact that God provided for THAT.
I have no regrets about the time that we have gotten to spend together, and would not trade ONE minute of it to have been somewhere else, to have made more money, or to have a cleaner house.
And as the day quickly approaches when he will be off on his own, I am very grateful for what I feel is a very close relationship with my teenage son. I know not many moms can say that. And I know it might not always be that way.
I am grateful for the man I see God shaping right before my eyes. Trust me, God is doing the shaping, and not me. The wisdom, maturity, and love for others that this child displays are way beyond his years. And yet he is not missing out on being a kid: he loves to have fun, be goofy, lose himself in his video games, and pick on his sisters.
I actually have to remind myself sometimes that he is still a kid, as the temptation to treat him as the more mature person he acts like is always there. He never complains about being asked to babysit his siblings (even if it involves the occasional diaper change), or do an extra chore, or, I don't know, accompany his highly emotional mother all the way to China to bring home yet another sister.
This year I have seen him step beyond his comfort zone and join the high school's cross country team. A brand new sport for him, at a school he's not really a part of, in a brand new country!!! Things I would've never dared to do at his age if I were in his shoes.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
But I can't help it.
It's Christmas in the stores already.
And, usually, I find that a bit irritating.
But not today.
Today we walked into our trusty on-base "T*yland", all decked out for Christmas.
And Abby absolutely flipped out when she saw the Christmas trees.
I mean, I really don't think I've ever seen a bigger smile on anyone. Ever.
And she said (or at least I think she said, b/c it was all slurred together and said in ONE breath, the way she does when she's excited): "Mom, mom, I think maybe you will put a tree like that in our house for Christmas"
To which I replied " Oh, no, sweetie, we will put up a REAL tree in our house"
And she just looked at me very strangely, because she probably never heard of a "fake" tree, and thought those were real trees she was seeing in the store.
But anyhow, she kept on scrambling all over her words, talking about how she was going to make a heart to put on the tree, and on, and on, and on..........
I absolutely can NOT wait to help her celebrate EVERYTHING Christmas this year!!!!!!!!!!
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
He's known what to do, and talked about it, for a while.
We have even gotten started down that road a time or two, but then life has happened.
School started and I got too busy to constantly take him potty.
I went to spend two weeks in China.
Then we were a bit busy getting his new sister settled in
We moved overseas.
So finally, I decided we just need to get this done. Life will never stop. And as long as I keep slapping a diaper on him, he'll be more than happy to use it.
This week, I told him: "No more". We officially said "bye bye" to diapers. Yeah, cold turkey. It's been quite the ride.
He has done a lot better than even I expected.
Yesterday, he stayed dry (and clean) ALL day until 6 pm. And I guess at that point he was getting a little tired to care. 'Cause he just quit for the ENTIRE rest of the day.
I'm hoping we can make it through the WHOLE day today.
And I feel a party comin' on soon.
'Cause unless I see a burning bush, I think we're about done with diapers around here. At least 'til grandkids start comin' over.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
While you are there, you can find out how to participate in their upcoming drawing for some pretty cool prizes, and help this beautiful story be completed.
Monday, September 20, 2010
But does this mean that I have to clean my house in preparation for the lesson????? 'Cause if that's the case, the lessons will be short lived.
We spent the last few days in Tokyo, celebrating Lanie's 9th birthday. Pics have been shared on FB, so I won't put them all up here, except for a few of my favorites.
I think my three "middlers" look very sweet in this one:
This one is one of my favorites because it shows that wonderful big brother - little sister thing they've got going (more details below):
The Tokyo tower (model after the Eiffel Tower) was Abby's absolute favorite thing in the whole trip. And I think her expression in this next picture says it all. It's interesting because the rest of us have traveled so extensively that it's quite hard to impress us - we've seen it all by now. It is neat to see things through Abby's eyes - everything seems so exciting when it's the first time you've done it.
OK, this last one is not from the Tokyo trip, it's from the birthday party after we got back. But it's just so cute, I couldn't resist!!