Friday, November 4, 2011


Just sitting here,
relishing the sounds of my little girls in the background.
They're making their Christmas lists with Daddy right now.
And I just feel grateful to have a house feel with their sweet voices.
And a Daddy that spends his Friday night doing things like these with his kids!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Time Melting Away .... or Standing Still?

Don't know where the days are going.
Just moving terribly fast.
Or terribly slow, depending on what you're focused on.

I can't believe summer is gone and the new school year is well underway. Don't know how that happened so fast.

On the adoption front, things are moving terribly slow. It's getting to that painful part where I dread people asking how it's going, because, frankly, it's just s.l.o.w.

I don't know if trying to pull this off while being stationed overseas was the right thing. If Abby's adoption was complicated, being oceans away from your adoption agency only makes it thrice as much. And because we have TWO agencies involved, one placement agency and a different homestudy agency, nobody seems to know WHAT IN THE WORLD they're supposed to do.

So, I'm back to reminding myself that it is in His hands. Really, this was all His idea to begin with. So I know He'll figure it all out.

I just wish He would stop insisting that I need to grow in patience.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lanie got to be in a M*ssoula Children’s Theatre play this past weekend.

It was “The Pied Piper” and she played one of the Mayor’s cooks.

It was a very hectic, but fun, week because they audition for the play on Monday, and the production is put on the following Saturday.

M*ssoula Children’s Theatre is a production company that travels around the world putting on these spectacular plays. All in one week. Pretty amazing.

And even more amazing is the fact that unlike Lanie’s last play or her two (ever) ballet recitals, this time I actually remembered to get her flowers!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

More Confessions

OK, and while I'm in the mood to confess about obsessions..... I'll throw another out there.

Hubby and I have started sharing a certain addiction.

I mean, it's hard when you're the parents of five kids.

It can be difficult to really make time for each other. It's hard to find those passions that you can share and, well, just have fun with together. Because, let's face it, something else usually has your attention.

We have made an effort over the years to not completely take off on a personal hobby that would cost us even more time away from each other.

I do have my scrapbooking, and he has his motocross (which he shares with the boys), but we really do limit the time we spend on those activities.

And admittedly, since we have two kids now old enough to babysit, there's been a whole lot more date nights.

BUT we now have something to keep us entertained RIGHT HERE AT HOME. Something that doesn't involve his constantly flipping channels and me begging him to PICKSOMETHINGALREADYYOU'REDRIVINGMENUTS. Something we can do with the kids going berserk all around us.

It is a bit sad, and pathetic, and I am a bit embarrased to admit it. Because it DOES involve us each walking around the house at all times with an extra appendage - namely and ipod and ipad. So we can play "W*rds with Friends" against each other. Non.stop. I mean, we've only been doing this for a couple of days, but for those two days there hasn't been a minute when we have both been home that one of us is not staring at said device trying to find our next word.

And don't ask me why we each need our own device, and can't just hand it off to each other. Or why we can't act like normal people and sit down in front of a Scrabble board.

I guess it's just more fun to holler across the room "It's you now!!!!" And to hear the little "ding" a second later!!

I LOVE summer, b/c I would never have enough time to keep up with this little game in my "real" life.

But I have to go now, it's my turn!!! I'm pretty excited, 'cause I have a "Z".

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I have a confession to make.

I am obsessed - VERY obsessed, with G*mboree clothes!!

Luckily, I have become very savvy about when I buy from them. So I manage to satisfy my crazy need for it at pretty stellar prices.

Just this past week we got our big quarterly box of G*mboree stuff. The one from the order where I reedemed my G*mbucks. The girls always get super excited when this box arrives.

This time around, the contents were mostly summer PJs. Aren't they just so darn cute??

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just Thoughts

Preparing for a new arrival from China (if only mentally) has made me reflect a lot on the last eighteen months since Abby joined our family.

I am in awe when I think of what an amazing child she really is.

When I allow myself to think, even for a few minutes, of what her daily life was really like when she was still in the orphanage.

When I see her next to other kids in the neighborhood, kids who have been loved and nurtured by their parents since birth, who have lived, really, like royalty. Her own siblings included.

And when I realize that to her, even after eighteen months, this is all so new.

I am not going to say that the adjustment has been a piece of cake. It has probably been the hardest thing that any of us has ever done. And it's still a work in progress.

But when I think that, and I pause to watch her, I really am amazed. Completely amazed at how smoothly she transitioned. She is truly, and has been from day one, such a sweet, sweet child. We have never, not once, had an issue with temper, or anger, any of the many things I feared so much in adopting an older child.

We struggled with food for quite a bit, and in hindsight that was probably her way of assuming some type of control over her topsy-turvy life. Then came the giant struggles over schoolwork. . And again, we have made incredible progress in this area. Easy it has not been, that's for sure. But considering she spent almost 9 years with no one having a single expectation from her academically, other than keeping her quiet and busy, it really comes as no surprise that she would be resistant to learning. At this point, she's almost caught up to grade level, and is now reading chapter books completely on her own (Way to go, Abby)

Like my friend Sonia, who's no stranger to adoption, is fond of saying, "Adoption is not for wimps". She is absolutely right. And I believe that we were very blessed with Abby, and feel like a spoiled brat for even considering any of our minor struggles a struggle at all.

That being said, even in the best case scenario, bringing home a child who has experienced tremendous loss in their very short life will rock your world.

But all good things, I think, require effort, sweat, and tears. And I cannot in a million years imagine missing out on the beauty that I am seeing unfolding before my eyes. I would not give up learning the things I have learned about myself, about my husband and children, and most importantly, about our Heavenly Father, through the experience of opening up our home and hearts to Abby. I do not care how hard the hardest days have been, I would not give this up:

The sound of her voice calling me "Mommy"

Watching my TWO daughters give each other pedicures.

Hearing her read a book - in English - to her little brother.

Feeling her lay a kiss on my cheek - a completely new concept to her at the age of NINE.

Listening to her sing praise songs - or belt them out in the shower!

Watching her fall in love with a God whose name she had not heard less than two years ago.

Seeing the understanding in her eyes, the fact that she is really getting it, when I put her on my lap and tell her that she is OURS, she is SAFE, she is LOVED UNCONDITIONALLY.

People ask about adoption all the time: "Isn't it hard?" YES - it's VERY hard (so was labor, by the way. And parenting period). But, boy, look at the rewards!!!

I can hardly contain my excitement at the little surprises I have planned for this week. Obviously, because it's 1 am my time and I'm sitting here typing about it. I have:

1 - Signed Abby AND Lanie up for soccer camp next month, which Abby doesn't know about yet. She has NEVER EVER done anything like this - and I can't wait to see her face when I tell her!!

2 - I am scheduling the girls in for a photo shoot at the photography studio. All five kids recently had some "antique" portraits done, but I've really been noticing that we really need more professional pictures of Abby. Not having her here for a chunk of her life, we really do need to "catch her up". I thought it'd be fun for the girls to do that together. I might even be talked into posing once or twice (most likely not).

3 - This isn't a surprise, but I'm excited about it anyways. Next week, the girls are doing a Golf Clinic. Again, this type of thing is completely new to Abby. She loved mini-golfing on our vacation recently, so I thought she would get a kick out of that.

So, I know this was all over the place, but I just kind of had all these thoughts floating around and wanted to get them down. I know I've probably said the same things a thousand times before. I'm just feeling very blessed these days to have these FIVE incredible lil' people that call ME "Mom"!!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011


So we're experiencing a "typhoon" right now.

Or the beginnings of one.

We're supposed to see most of it tomorrow.

So far today, it's been raining cats and dogs. It feels like the sky is going to fall one minute, and then it completely stops for a while. Crazy.

Meanwhile, Jake is on a summer school field trip - get this - blueberry picking. How on earth they're doing that with all this rain is beyond me. But they have a Japanese teacher, and the Japanese generally don't let a little thing like weather hold them back from anything. They're used to lots of rain, too.

The other kids are trapped in the house (well, besides James who's at work). Thank God for next door neighbors!! The girls have one friend over and Josiah has one friend over. So I'm back up to five kids in the house, which feels normal.

It's actually a lot quieter around here when they have friends in the house.

Working Man

Today my oldest son had his first taste of full time employment.

It's only for 3 weeks, but it is a REAL job, and he'll be working a full 40 hours each of those weeks.

It was really strange to drop him off this morning and watch him walk into the building, all dressed up (for him) in his polo shirt and slacks.

It was a very bittersweet moment and made me almost want to cry - he just looked so grown up!

This was a wonderful opportunity provided by the base we're stationed at. It is called "Summer Hire", and it's basically an internship for kids 14 - 18 to get a taste of, well, "real work". They pay them - peanuts - but they are getting something!!

He is working in the building right next door to his dad, so they got to have lunch together. They'll probably do that on most days for the next three weeks. What a great unplanned opportunity for some bonding time! DH went to James' office to meet him for lunch, and said it was very strange to see him sitting in his own little cubicle with a bunch of papers in front of him. We're both having flashbacks to his first steps, first lost tooth, first bike ride, all those little milestones that just seem to FLY by. And just praying that God will continue to remind us to slow down and savor the blessings we have RIGHT now. Time with our children is truly fleeting.

Meanwhile, Jake is going to a summer school program for the entire month of July. It's a Host Nation class, so he's learning about Japanes culture and getting an introduction to the language. He's really enjoying it and learning quite a bit.

Here's the thing: The class meets from 9 - 12. Which means for the entire morning, I am without a babysitter. I mean, I can't even step to the coffee shop in the next building without dragging three other people with me. I am totally spoiled by my two big boys and don't know how to live like that anymore. Spoiled.rotten. I know.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Time to Update

Wow!! Just got to looking around my blog, and started to realize how OUTDATED everything is. From the pics on the sidebar, to my buttons, to, well pretty much ALL OF IT!!

Which really should come as no surprise considering what a whirlwing this last year has been.

And the fact that we've been trying to complete the slowest moving homestudy in the history of international adoption.

Luckily, with summer here, I should soon have time to give things around here a bit of a facelift.

That is, as soon as I'm done switching out the summer clothes for the winter ones. I thought it'd be a one day job, but it's more like a week.

Feel blessed that I'm sparing you pictures!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sweet Summer

Summer is FINALLY here.

Well, it has been here for a couple of weeks, but those were busy weeks.

One week we spent in Tokyo, which was GREAT.

The following week we all participated in VBS (all minus Daddy). The big boys were helpers, and the smallest three attendees. James ended up being fully in charge of games, and I got a pile of compliments at the end of the week about what an awesome job he did.

Now, we're done, ready for the NOTHINGNESS of summer.

My big plans include:

1. Catching up on my blogging.

2. Lots of time at the swimming pool.

3. A bit of "mindless" reading.

4. A lot of downtime with the kids - getting to just BE and not having to teach (formally, at least).

Although I confess that I am requiring reading from Jake, Lanie, and Abby all summer. Don't have to worry about James keeping skills up over the summer anymore, and he's already an avid reader. This will probably be the last summer I require it from Jacob. Anyways, here's what they're each reading:




Lanie is working her way through this series and she's completely addicted. She is reading about one book a day or every two days.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Story

First off, let me say that the last thing we planned was adding to our family again.
Five, well, is truly a handful of kids.
And as much as I love parenting, we really felt, well, COMPLETE.

Then we found out that China had recently changed some of their rules regarding adoption.
They were going to allow anyone adoptive parents to re-use a dossier already filed in China, if they started the process of adoption within twelve months of their last adoption being finalized.

And our hearts started stirring.
The whole "paper chase" to put together our dossier had been so daunting, we really had no desire to go through all that again anytime soon. We wanted to focus on school, and life, and just moving forward.

However, once we heard the news of the dossier being re-used, we started wondering if maybe
God wasn't opening up a window for us to step up in faith one more time. The window was very small, as it was almost the one year anniversary of Abby's adoption. So we prayed hard, and figured it was truly in God's hands. If this was His plan, we would have to be matched with a child pretty quickly.

We were thinking it would be a boy this time, as our heart had really been softened for the boys who wait in China, who seem to wait and wait, many times with no or very minor special needs.

God, however, had something else up His sleeve. And a few weeks later we were matched with our new daughter, Genevieve Grace (Evie). She just turned two this past May. She's got plump lil' cheeks. And such expressive eyes!

I absolutely cannot wait to get her home, and neither can anyone else around here. The girls, in particular, are bursting with excitement and already packing bags filled with the things they are going to "hand down" to their baby sister. It's also been a while since we've had a baby girl in this home, and so I'm stocking up on irrestible baby girl clothes. I put my sister on notice to let the shopping begin.....

We've kept this under wraps for a while because, having walked this road before, we fully understand how fragile the whole adoption process is. Basically, until that child is home with you, anything can happen. We didn't want to bring others on that emotional roller coaster with us. And frankly, although we have pre-approval from China, I still worry about things going wrong. But we are stepping up in response to His call, so once again I remind myself that if it is His will, it will come to be. We couldn't hold the news in any longer!!

I think it's too early to post pictures, and will hold off until our Letter of Approval from China is here. I'll just have to send out a private email or two if anyone just can't wait to lay eyes on her!!

Another exciting part to this adoption will be that we're planning to take the entire family to China this time!! We hope to be able to add some days on the front side of the trip to take Abby (well, all the kids, but I think it's of particular importance for her) to do some sight seeing. And it doesn't seem remotely daunting to do it from here - we don't even have to worry about jet lag!!! Abby can't stop talking about getting to see the Great Wall.

And if that wasn't enough excitement around here.....
SIX more days of school left!!!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Exciting News

We're heading back to China in the near future....
and it won't be just a vacation.

Details to come......

Monday, May 16, 2011

Normal ????

Well, life must definitely be back to normal.
Whatever that is.
And today it felt totally normal to take 4 kids to back to back physical exams.
We were at the doctor's office for three hours.
And I'm sure we weren't the only ones happy when we finally got to leave.
To make it even more fun, there was a brand new doctor on staff today.
Not brand new as in brand new to the doctor thing.
Just brand new to this facility, which when you are in the military is just the way it is.
Someone is always new.

We survived, and everyone is pretty healthy. And it did make me a bit sad that I have one kid that doesn't qualify for the pediatrician's office anymore. A kid that has the same primary doctor I have. And that is kind of scary.......

Monday, May 9, 2011

PW is Going to Kill Me - Or At Least Make Me Fat

Pioneer Woman is going to literally kill me. I just made these for dinner:

I don't think I've ever tasted anything so delicious. And I'm really hoping someone will hurry up and eat the last one lonely taco sitting on the counter, 'cause I really don't want to go back for more. Well, I DO want more, but I'm trying really, really hard to be good!!

(Disclaimer: That is NOT a picture of MY tacos, but mine looked just as good. Or better).

And guess what? Tomorrow night, it's another PW dinner!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

I am having a truly fantastic Mother's Day. Started with breakfast in bed - nothing can beat that!!! Then I ventured over to the little Asian bazaar we're having on base this weekend, and was beyond thrilled to find this:

Yes, it's a mortar and pestle (actually, suribachi and kogi, to be exact) - and I've been wanting these items very badly recently. 'Cause it makes me feel like I'm really cooking when I use things like this. And because it makes me think of my own mom, which is always nice.

The pestle is made of wood from the pepper tree, which is supposed to add a hint of fragrance to the food. SCORE!!!

AND my twelve year old made me this. From scratch:

He said he had some trouble making the frosting and getting it to be, well, smooth. So I asked him how he made it. He said: "Well, I melted some butter, added 3 cups of sugar, a little vanilla, and a little milk......"
Me: "Wait. Three cups of REGULAR sugar?????? You mean powdered sugar, right???"
Jake: "No, it was regular sugar. I think it said cane sugar."

Well that would explain the trouble he had getting it nice and smooth.

But you know what???? You top anything with a little New York Super Fudge Chunk, and it's not a problem. No matter how gritty that frosting was!! I loved every.single.bite.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Blessing of Siblings

Remember the recent fiasco with Josiah's swimming lessons?

We went twice. The first time he screamed his little head off the entire time.

The next time he calmed down some, and even went in the water, but was very stressed out.

The day it was time for the third lesson, he started throwing a fit at home at the mere mention of going. And I figured it was not worth it to force a three year old to go to swimming lessons. So we just quit going. I had only paid $36 for the month, so I didn't count it as a great loss.

Soon after that I took Abby for a swim test to see what level she needed to start on. Although she's pretty comfortable in the water, she would NOT put her head in without plugging her nose, so they said she had to start on Level 1.

Then the lightbulb went off. Maybe Cy would be willing to go to his lesson if his big sis' was there with him. So I signed them both up.

We had our first lesson yesterday, and it worked like a charm. She's happy because she feels like the "big" girl. He's thrilled because it's not so scary with her there. They both did a wonderful job.

Now I'll just have to make sure they work at the same pace, so they can move up to the next level together : )

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I've been pretty uninspired to blog lately. We're pretty much doubling up on school so we can get done as previously scheduled. And by the time that's done for the day, I just don't have the energy to think.

Abby's been up to her usual - trying everything possible to NOT have to do any school, or should I say - to not have to THINK in school. Which involves a good amount of tears and drama. The good news is, I'm getting pretty good at expecting it and, frankly, not letting it get to me. The schoolwork IS getting completed by the end of the week, mainly because she really wants to be able to play on the weekend. It's not an inability to do the work - it's just plain unwillingness. But she won't just say "no". That would be too confrontational. She pretends to be trying but it takes forever. Kind of like eating used to. Then somehow, magically, on Friday it all comes together and she can get like 3 days worth of work done in about 1/2 a day. Whatever.

We've cut out sports for now so that we can focus on school. But, that doesn't mean no fun. It is very rare for us to have a completely free Saturday, but, yes, we actually had one this week. So, we went and hiked up Mt. Takao - another beautiful mountain here in Japan. At the top they have a little monkey park. It was great to get outdoors and get some fresh air and exercise, and so much fun to be able to do it as a family. Jim and Jake took turns carrying Cy in one of those hiking backpacks that kids ride on, and surprisingly he enjoyed it. I was very impressed with Abby here because she hiked all the way up AND back down with zero whining. And I could tell it was hard work for her little body. Frankly, she did less whining than some of her brothers, who will remain unnamed.

Yes, I did let my children pet a monkey.

I spent the remainder of the weekend poring over curriculum choices for next year. So much fun, but, oh so hard. So many choices.........

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Normal Life

Well, life's getting back to normal around here.

Yesterday, Lanie had four teeth pulled to prepare her for upcoming braces. She was a trooper, and after a little Tylenol #3 and a good long nap, was as good as new.

We're back into the swing of school, and have actually had one of the most productive weeks all year. We're all motivated to hurry up and get done before summer is here. Yes, even Abby has been cranking it out with no (OK, few) complaints. It is really helping that the weather is very springlike, making us all long for some serious outside time.

It is not 100% normal though, because both of our next door neighbors are still gone - which means 7 less kids on the block. Plus, no one that I can run to for a teaspoon of sugar or that much needed can of tomato sauce when I realize at the very last second that ooops, I don't have one. I really hope they come back soon, but they evacuated and then enrolled their kids in school in the States, so they might decide to stay until the school year lets out even though the evacuation order has now been lifted.

We also told the kids we're skipping the sports season so that we can focus on getting through school. Although we got some schoolwork done on the road, it definitely wasn't a full month's worth of school, still leaving us behind somewhat. The boys had both started track before we left, and as it turned out the whole track season was pretty much put on hold. They ended up only missing five practices. Now they're going to have a mini-season, with only something like two quick meets. So I don't feel they're missing much by sitting it out this year.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Well, we are finally, finally back home.

Reunited as a family.

The trial of the last few weeks is OVER - once and for all.

And let me tell you, it was definitely a time of trial.

A time of worry, anxiety, and testing.

And although it was wrapped up in blessings, in the form of special time with very dear friends and family, it was certainly a huge TEST for me personally, for our marriage, and for our family.

A walk through the desert.

But I'm happy to report that we are emerging on the other side all the stronger for it, with our faith having been refreshed, renewed, and definitely strengthened.

So I am thankful for the sand and the heat of the desert, because as usual, they only serve to make us more aware of the oasis He provides daily.

Thank you to all of you who covered us in prayer, and please don't forget to continue to pray for the Japanese as they work to reconstruct their country.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Blog Vacation

I would LOVE to write a new post and update everyone on what's going on in our nomad life. But, alas, I have a three year old at my side every.minute who is away from his toys and his routine. He will NOT STOP TALKING. And when he goes to bed at night, well, I have hours of games to play with my kids and game loving sister. To catch up for all those years that we've been far,far away.

Maybe I can find a quiet minute at some point in the next week.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What airline NOT to fly

I need to vent!!! I am on my fourth D*elta flight in about two weeks. I've been traveling alone with FiVE children. And every.single.flight they have seated all of us scattered all over the plane. HELLO!!! When I say scattered, I mean not even my three year old is sitting next to me. Most of the time I've been able to get the seats switched at the gate, but not today. They made me get on the plane and beg strangers to switch seats with us...

And I would have a lot more to say about that if I wasn't so tired!!!

Sent from my iPod

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Life Interrupted, Part 2

Over the last few days, we felt several more aftershocks. It was becoming more and more unsettling to sit around, just waiting for the next one to come. And then we started hearing more about the problems at the nuclear power plant in F-kushima. The first few days we figured everything would blow over in no time. Just had to wait it out. My MIL even emailed me at some point, asking if the kids and I were planning on coming home. I told her I wasn't ready to leave my hubby, and that we would make that decision when it was absolutely needed.

In the meantime, we were becoming more and more concerned for the way these consecutive disasters were affecting the Japanese. We know this country has a mostly non-Christian population, and we felt a true heartache for all those lives lost without coming to know the Lord. We felt a deep sadness for the people suffering without knowing His comfort, and spent many hours in paryer for this difficult time to become a wake up call to all of those who needed to have a greater hope. It was very conflicting to be hurting for the people around us, and at the same time to want to depart that very place and bring your children to safety. But with each passing day, things seemed worse instead of better. We were trying not to give in to panic, but also trying to have wisdom and make the plans necessary to do what we felt we needed to do as parents. And then we woke up one day and decided that we'd had enough of the guesswork. Quite simply, there was really no reason for us to be staying put.

I personally wanted to be a help in some way to the recovery efforts in Japan, but at the time that wasn't really practical. Not with five kids in the house that I was homeschooling, and trying to keep calm as well. In those initial days, there was such an outpour of volunteers that the Red Cross was turning people away, and even asking the public not to call their offices anymore. Nobody but official rescue workers were allowed in the areas affected by the tsunami. I just felt we were more in the way than an actual help. There was a huge emphasis being placed on conserving energy, and I thought maybe we could help do that best by being gone. As it stood, we felt we were sitting around waiting for a disaster to unfold. We didn't want to wait to be given the order to go, because we thought that it would be complete chaos to try to evacuate at that point. So, even though it was a huge stretch for us financially, we decided it was time for the kids and myself to take a little trip home to visit family.

With the decision finally made, it felt like someone had pushed the fast forward button. I had one day to get everything packed to take five children and myself halfway around the world for an undetermined amount of time. We had a flight leaving at 8:10 in the evening, but still opted to take the very first shuttle our base offered to the airport. We figured in the current state of things, we could not be sure that the shuttle would be running at all by the end of the day. That meant we'd have to spend 9 hours sitting in the airport, waiting for our flight. Did I mention I had five children with me???? And that one of them is THREE????

The airport in Tokyo was completely packed. But just like I've come to expect from the Japanese, everything was very calm. Lines ran smoothly, people seemed at ease, and everyone was being friendly and polite. I thought I would lose it when a strong aftershock hit at about 1 pm that afternoon, but everyone else just rolled with it. We tried to check in as soon as we arrived only to find out we had to wait another three and a half hours. We asked if there was an earlier flight we could take and she pretty much laughed at us. So we found a spot in front of Mickey D's and parked our two cart-fulls of luggage while we ate what they had left on the menu. When we finally got to check in, the lady told me that if I could PLEASE agree to switch to a flight leaving only one hour later, we would each get a $400 voucher. And I will be completely honest - my first reaction was to turn it down. After that afternoon's aftershock, I was really just wanting to leave. But good reason (and a wise husband) told me to accept the deal. So with shaky knees we sat around for an extra hour, while I tried to convince myself that nothing terrible would happen in that hour between when we WOULD'VE left and when we actually did. The original plan when we made arrangements to leave Tokyo was to fly to the West Coast to spend some time with my extended family there, and then fly on to the South where my nuclear family is. But the vouchers gave us the opportunity to add a leg to our trip, and get to visit with my in-laws in the East Coast as well.

But that also meant......5 children, THREE time zones, in THREE weeks.

Part 3 to come.....soon

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Life Interrupted, Part 1

Exhausted doesn't even begin to describe how I've felt for the last almost two weeks.

The events of March 11 shook up our world in ways we could not have anticipated at the time. Shortly after 2:30 that afternoon, the ground started shaking beneath our feet. Having spent several years in Southern California, this was not a new experience for me. The earthquake didn't seem particularly big to me at the time it was happening - but what did stand out was how.incredibly.long it seemed to go on. I kept thinking it must certainly be done and I was just feeling dizzy, but then I'd notice the door was still swinging, or things rattling on the shelves. However, once it was finally done, we thought "No big deal. We are in Japan - there's earthquakes here all the time." We were even surprised it took us nine full months to get our first one. Back to business as usual. Boy, were we wrong!!!

That evening, however, things were still going on as usual. I even attended the dinner to kick off the women's Bible conference our chapel was sponsoring that weekend. We followed our scheduled program but took the time to pray for the people of Japan, since we were already starting to hear reports of damage from the tsunami that had hit Sendai following the earthquake. We had no clear concept, however, of how extensive that had really been.

It wasn't until the next morning that the reality of what had happened in the aftermath of the earthquake started taking place. The women's conference went on with Day 2, which was in a nearby town about a 45 minute bus ride away. I opted to pass on that day, feeling a little too nervous to be so far from my crew. Initially, we focused on how merciful God had been that in such a BIG quake (it was measured as a 9.0 at the epicenter), there had been so little damage from the shaking itself. We heard virtually no reports of major damage due to the earthquake. That, however, turn to a deep concern as the realization of the massive damage from the tsunami became a reality. And a true and very real concern for a nation of people who for the most part do not know the Lord.

The next few days were spent in prayer for those experiencing loss due to this tragedy, and pleading that this would be used for God's glory and that those in need would turn to the true source of all comfort.

I can't even remember when we started to hear about the concerns relating to the nuclear plant. The days all kind of blur into one another now. We did not want to panic, and patiently waited out the first few days hoping the situation would be reversed and it would turn into a non-issue. We tried to reassure family members stateside, telling them we would be sent home when deemed necessary. We just didn't know how fast that would be.......

Part 2 to follow........

Sunday, March 13, 2011

God is our refuge and strength
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

(Psalm 46:1 - 2)

All By Myself

Josiah is learning to dress himself.

I like it - but I don't at the same time!! youknowwhatImean

He's also VERY particular about what he wears.

His absolute preference is jeans.

As a matter of fact, if it's not jeans I'm trying to get him to wear, I literally have to wrestle him into his clothes.

And then he walks around for half the day holding his pants up as though they're burning into his legs!

Sensory issues, or strong-willed child?

I'm honestly not sure.

He even says he wants a "jean" shirt!!!!!!

And if anyone else is wearing jeans, he goes up and rubs them and says "I love your jeans!!"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Be Still

Again, we are thankful that we are all OK at our home, and all our immediately surrounding communities. However, there is devastation all across the country, and that leaves one feeling helpful, fearful, and frankly, somewhat depressed. It reminds me of the feeling we had being overseas on 9-11, or the awe and devastation felt following Katrina.

It is exactly at times like this, when we are at the end of our ropes, when we are brought face to face with our helplesness and our total LACK OF CONTROL - that we must turn to Him!!!! A time of crisis serves to remind us that we are in fact NOT in control, that each day is a gift - not a guarantee, that at any moment it can all be gone - all in the blink of an eye.

Please continue praying along with me for the families of Japan, and also that all of those affected will not give in to fear, but instead use this opportunity to draw closer to our Father.

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love...." (2 Tim. 1:7)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shaking Things Up

Thank you to all who have contacted me to check on our family. We are well, thank God, and the quake was not huge where we are at. We are also far inland enough that the *tsunami did not affect us either. It still certainly is scary even when you grew up with things like this - especially when there is such devastation around you (not in my immediate surroundings, but feels a bit "close" to home). Please lift the Japanese people up in prayer today - and that somehow God's name be lifted up through this in this nation that needs Him so much. Maybe through outreach in the days to come some of us can help that happen!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!!

In honor of Dr. Seuss, we had this for lunch:

I just make them, but I can't actually eat them. I can barely even cook them - they look too pukey to me. So I make them for my kids, who enchantedly eat them, and then I make myself good-ol' yellow scrambled eggs. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

No Milk, Thank You

Well, we spent a whole week waiting for a doctor's appointment. Lanie had been having a lot of tummy issues lately (she's really kind of had tummy issues her whole life, but they were getting significantly worse), so I wanted to check out what was going on. But of course I couldn't sit for a week and do NOTHING, so I started researching. Between that and the little tiny bit of nursing knowledge that remains in my brain after all these years being not so formally used, I came to the conclusion that the problem might be lactose.
So, I took her off all dairy (all "visible" milk, anyways) and she started feeling MUCH better.
Today was the much awaited doctor's appt.
And what did the doctor say???
Well, if she was having belly issues, and you took her off dairy, and she's feeling better, then, yeah, she probably IS lactose intorelant.
Wow!!!! We pay her for that?? And to think I interrupted a perfectly good homeschooling day to hear her say that!!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pics, As Promised

Well, it's been busy, as usual, around here. But I am very proud to have remembered to take some pictures of Abby's family birthday party, which finally took place last night. It is getting harder and harder to find a time when we are all at home at the same time!!

I love this last one with that sweet, sweet smile. I was reading her birthday card to her - apparently she really liked it!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Abby!!!

It is hard for me to believe that Abby turned ten today. She still looks much younger, and definitely acts much younger - ten in my mind sounds like such a "big" kid.

She definitely had a fun filled day, but I beat myself up because even though I reminded myself about ten times I forgot to get my camera on my way out the door.

Part of the advantage of having a birthday on a Sunday is you get to go to church to celebrate - which I think is pretty neat. We started off by going to the morning service, although we usually go in the evening. We wanted to leave room for all the other things we had planned later on in the day.

Church was followed by one of Abby's favorite places on the planet - brunch at the O'Club. On the way there we were discussing what we each wanted to start off with and she said "I'm having BACON first!!!" Hmmm, a girl after my own heart......
She did indeed feast on a giant plate of bacon and eggs, followed a a mountain of shrimp and tomatoes. She even got adventurous and tasted the crepes - but didn't go for more than one bite of that. Then she shocked us again by putting sprinkles on her ice cream. Usually, she will tolerate ice cream but only if it's vanilla with NOTHING on it. I love seeing her willingness to try new things. Long gone are the days when we struggled to get her to eat anything.

Later on in the afternoon we went to the theatre to watch Yogi Bear. She seemed to enjoy that quite a bit too. Then she cracked up on the way home when I made a stop at the commissary and told her "This is the BEST part of your birthday. We get to go grocery shopping." She was a very good sport about getting dragged through there on her special day. I just knew that with tomorrow's holiday it would probably be closed and our pantry was EMPTY.

The girls are right now capping off the day with some Mario Party 8 on the Wii. The big boys are gone and so it's pretty cool to them that they totally own the video games and can play exactly what they want without being kicked off.

We're holding off on the cake and presents until probably Tuesday, because Daddy and the boys are on a snowboarding trip. They called her to wish her a happy birthday, and you could tell she felt like the most special girl getting that phone call. Same thing this morning when Grandma and cousin Tommy called her. She's not used to getting phone calls, so she thought that was pretty cool.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Singapore Details

Singapore was absolutely perfect - one of those vacations we will remember for a lifetime.

For starters, the flight was free. And they fed us like crazy - I mean, the kids were turning food down towards the end and I was grabbing it and stashing it in my backpack for later. They even came around with FULL SIZE CANDY BARS. Snickers, etc.... Yes they did.

We stayed at a military lodging facility that charged us a whooping $90 a night for a three bedroom apartment, with two bathrooms and a kitchen. Laundry service was directly outside our front door. Free movie rental. Pizza Hut, KFC, and McDonalds all delivered to us. Oh - and of course, someone cleaned the apartment and did the dishes every day. I could have stayed just in that room and been happy.

A short walk away we could get on the metro, which would take us pretty much anywhere we wanted to go, or pretty close anyways.

When we got to our room, we noticed a sign that said "Feeding the monkeys has a fine of up to $5,000." We're going "What monkeys????" Well, as we found out from the noises outside our window bright and early one morning, they do roam free around the island. We got to see a couple on our walks back and forth to the Navy post - that was probably one of my favorite parts.

Singapore is only about 85 miles north of the equator, so the weather is spectacular. We had solid 88 degree days, perfectly clear, the entire time we were there. Well, truthfully there were showers every afternoon, but they came and went so fast you just felt refreshed. The weather is the same year round.

I absolutely loved the abundance of fresh tropical fruit everywhere we went. Guava, mangos, papaya, coconut, all the things I grew up loving in Puerto Rico were sold in every corner. OK, fine, I don't really like papaya, but I just feel like I should, you know. I did get to drink straight out of a coconut which I hadn't done since, well, since I ate at the Thai restaurant in China last year, but it was a REALLY long time before that.

We stayed pretty busy but still made it back to the room early enough each night to just enjoy lounging around and having no responsibilities. Which makes having roomy lodging very key.

The food was a great part of the experience as well. There is such a mix of cultures on the island that it makes for an interesting selection of grub. We enjoyed getting giant plates of authentic Chinese and Indian food for dirt cheap, mostly $3 to $4. Abby in particular probably ate a truckload worth of noodles while we were there. My absolute favorite were these "crunchy" meatballs I had on the beach - I could've eaten them every single day. Jim had a fair amount of seafood, including the popular "chili" crab.

We explored the beaches, the zoo, night safari, Science Center, Chinatown, Little India, spent two days hanging out on Sentosa Island, and still had time for a "down" day on Sunday, giving us a chance to go to church and hang out by the pool after Sunday brunch.

We got back on Wed. evening, and already this morning (Sat. morning to us) my three big boys left on a snowboarding trip. From the equator to the slopes in less than 3 days.

Here's a few pics from our time in Singapore:

The cool pool we hung out at.
Beautiful beaches on Sentosa*.

Look at those plates of food for $4.

A little Luge action.

And a very special little girl is turning 10 tomorrow, so be on the lookout for more pictures.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Life is Rough

I am typing this poolside, while I digest my awesome Sunday brunch. We have had the most amazing week of clear and beautiful 88 degree weather, and taken in probably every Singapore tourist site. We shot down a zipline over the rainforest, spent some time on the pristine beaches, and took in the nighttime safari. We have also eaten to our heart's content. The mix of cultures here is evident in the great variety of traditional food available. Genuine Chinese food, Indian food, you name it.

We are in heaven.

Sent from my iPod

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Peach Fuzz

I can't post to FB, 'cause he'll see that.

But I think I'm safe here.

Jim just went upstairs to teach our 14 year old how to shave.


Where'd my baby go???

Friday, February 4, 2011

Can't Wait 'Til Today Ends

Tonight Jim and I are speaking at our chapel's women's group Valentine's event.

I'm honored to have been asked.

And Jim certainly has no problem with it.

But I'm terrified.

I'm shaking in my boots. Literally, because it's a Western theme (Spurring Each Other On).

And I won't be able to relax until it's all over with.

My son said it'll probably be really good and then they'll be asking us to speak at ALL sorts of events. So I might have to purposely blow it.

I'll let you know tomorrow if I survived.

And fill you in on day 2 of swimming lessons.

If you're really lucky, I might let you in on the really big news.

But I can't right now. I have to go run through our speech for the gazillionth tim.e

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More Prayers Needed

John 16:33 is the verse I'm hanging on to today:

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart - I have overcome the world!!!"

A needed reminder when it seems that more often than not these days my posts involve prayer requests.

Our VERY beloved brother in law, Jason, has just learned he has a sizeable mass on top of one of his lungs. I fully trust God for his healing, and have confidence that through the prayers of many that love him dearly this will all turn out to be "no big deal". But it really makes me sad to watch those I love go through stuff like this...... And it makes it specially hard to be SO far away from family when you just want to give them all your love, well, in person. I want very badly to give him and his wife a big'o hug and hold their hands and actually pray TOGETHER with them - but I'll just have to hit my knees on this side of the world and ask all who would join me from your particular corners to do the same!!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I'm Back Up

I love that God cares about the little things that matter to us.

Like internet access.

And I know He cares because if it had been up to my ISP I'd still be without service.

Anyways, it's not like I had much time today anyhow.

Cy had his first swimming lesson.

We talked about it for about two weeks.

Over and over again I explained that I couldn't go in the water with him.

I told him I'd be on the other side of the plexi-glass, watching him intently.

That if he was a big boy, I'd buy him an ice cream (yeah, I broke out the big guns).

In spite of all the careful preparation, he cried through pretty much the ENTIRE thirty minute lesson.

Maybe for the last five minutes he finally sat there and WATCHED - without crying.

But he would not go anywhere near the water.

Maybe on Thursday.

Monday, January 31, 2011



Prayers appreciated.
I'm crying like a baby.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Montage 1/26/11 at

Celebrating having Abby home for one year. Don't forget to turn off the blog music on the sidebar so that you can enjoy this video. Then read the accompanying post below.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Abby's Adoption Celebration - Take Two

I had written this really nice, long, and emotional post about reaching the big milestone of one year with Abby. And then, I felt like it was all just re-hashed stuff. Touchy feely things that I have probably said a million times, and so has every other adoptive parent out there in blogosphere.

So, I scrapped it.

Instead, I thought I'd do another favorite of adoptive parents, which is much more light-hearted. A list of things about Abby. I went with twelve things, one for every month she's been a part of this family. 'Cause I thought no one would want to read 365 things about ANYONE else..... no matter how cute that person might be!

1. The girl can SLEEP. When she wakes up in the morning, she tumbles down the stair and has that "nobody talk to me until I drink my coffee" look on her face that she must have learned from me. I think most days she finally gets up just because she doesn't want to be alone upstairs. Which leads me to number two......

2. She HATES to be alone. I don't know if that comes from being in the orphanage and getting used to always having so many others around, or from having been punished by being left alone in a room, or from abandonment fears, but she avoids being alone in any room at all costs. The only place she's comfortable alone is the bathroom. Thankfully. lol

3. She loves salty foods. When most of my kids finish a meal, they beg for cake, cookies, or candy. Not Abby. She always says: "Can I please have some chips for a snack??"

4. She is gifted with a beautiful singing voice and is not afraid to use it.......... in the shower, or when doing chores.

5. She LIKES chores. I mean, she knows enough by now to do her share of complaining when she's assigned them. But she does them with JOY. And does not rush through them. She honestly looks every bit as happy doing chores as she does when she's playing. Either she loves them, or she's found the secret of doing everything cheerfully the way we SHOULD. But wait: she doesn't do schoolwork cheerfully - so maybe not.

6. She has the best handwriting out of any of my kids. There might be two reasons for this: 1- I wasn't her sole handwriting teacher!! 2 - There's something about learning to write those complicated Chinese characters that makes our alphabet ridiculously easy.

7. She cannot get enough of looking at her reflection. She says they had no mirrors at the orphanage, so she did not get the opportunity much for most of her life. But now she just can't stop. I've caught her fixing her hair using the microwave door for a mirror while on time-out. I found this kind of endearing at first but now it's just a little over the top.

8. For those of you who think I talk fast, you have seen NOTHING until you meet our Abby. Her English is GREAT - but we have to keep reminding her to please.slow.down!!

9. She has never taken a bubble bath in her life - but I'm terrified to leave her in the bath by herself. I'm going to have to sit myself in the bathroom with her so she can experience this indescribable joy, or figure something out.

10. Bible is her favorite subject in school.

11. She is great with babies, and baby dolls too.

12. She is a total Daddy's girl. And to think, before adopting, I worried about how Jim would bond with our adoptive child. You worry about the dumbest things sometimes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One Year Celebration

We celebrated our one year anniversary of Abby's adoption day, or gotcha day, or whatever you want to call it, yesterday. I can hardly believe it has been one year since we met that scared and TINY lil' girl. I've been meaning to sit down and write something deep, profound, and touching, something that will express all the feelings that have raced through my mind and heart in the last twelve months. But frankly, with five kids in the house plus homeschooling thrown in, I just haven't had the time. I'll get to it, hopefully before the end of the week. And I'll also throw in a nice detailed description of how we celebrated, with the ONE picture I managed to take.

But if I leave you wanting for inspiring adoption related reading, please hop on over to Sonia's blog and laugh and cry along with her and her crew, as they are in China RIGHT NOW adding two more sweet boys to their family. And Sonia has me beat now, with SIX children to call her own, she's two days post adoption, and she still manages to find the time to write witty and touching posts. I might need to hire her for some private lessons!

On a side note, Jim and I have been asked to speak at an upcoming Valentine's Dinner for the chapel. While my husband is quite talented in the public speaking department, I have no skills- or nerves - whatsoever for that type of thing. Plus, it made me feel really OLD that they would even ask us to do this. I guess they just want the young, hip couples to reach out and encourage the other young, hip couples, right??? Please pray that my nerves will be stilled and I can speak clearly and be an encouragement to others - not just blubber, and stutter, and sweat!!!

OK- wonderful one year post coming up, VERY SOON!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Hero

I just got the sad news that my dear uncle gave up his fight with leukemia this morning. It is difficult, as it always is, for all of those who loved him to say good-bye (well - see you later). His battle had been long, though, and there is great peace in knowing he is at rest in his Father's arms. And although I hadn't seen him in the last 20 years - I just wanted to note that he was regarded as a hero in our little family circle. I would need to open a separate blog just to give enough detail about the ways he gave to others. He was an amazing father, an incredible brother, and I know many not-so-young-anymore nieces and nephews that still called him "favorite" - and when you are one of TEN siblings you have stiff competition for that title. He also dearly loved God and walked hand in hand with Him.

Anyhow, thanks for your prayers over the last few months. And to my family in every corner of the world - I love you bunches and wish I could be closer!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Need a Little Inspiration?????

This song is a great reminder to get off our duffs and DO something!
(Don't forget to turn off the blog background music on the sidebar).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Big Boy

My baby turned 3 this past Sunday. Boo-Hoo!!!!!! I am so sad happy to see him getting so big!! OK, I'll admit this is bittersweet for me. All it takes is one look at my big boys (the oldest of those now being taller than me, by the way) to remind me how crazy fast the time goes by. I'm going to miss his baby ways.

On Monday, we were leaving the commissary and the lady pushing out our groceries started making conversation with him, and dared to call him "baby". He quickly turned around and said: "I am NOT a baby. I am a boy." Luckily, this smart lady must have had a bit of experience with toddlers, because she did not snicker or even break a grin. If there is one thing that drives him crazy is when people laught at what he says. Instead, she apologized and then asked how old he was. He was SO excited to get to hold up three little fingers and announce "I'm THREE".

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Excuse Me???????

I just about died today......

Now I have to say that schooling Abby has not been an easy feat. The girl is extremely smart, but also has been very, well, unmotivated. Which is to be expected considering she was never challenged academically before she got here. So, to her chagrin, she got a nutso mom who is a little too motivated when it comes to teaching her kids. So, I've really cut her no slack and have pushed - err, I mean, encouraged her, to do her best. But it can be exhausting work. And there's times I want to just have a good day with no confrontations and just let her get away with doing next to nothing. Luckily for her, I 've had six previous years of experience and don't easily succumb to those temptations.

We've come a very long way......
She knows tears don't get her out of school, she knows I know how much she can do, and she frankly has turned a big corner and has stopped fighting me on it. She still freaks out when I ask her questions, like she thinks I'm trying to trick her into being wrong or something, but we're working on that....

And yet I was not ready for today. I mentioned recently that Abby does most of her work on the computer. She is doing the third grade program from Alph* and Omeg*'s Switched* on Schoolhouse*. In China, she would now be in fourth grade, as she would be here based on her age. Lanie is in fourth grade now, and she is a few months younger than Abby. The third grade program has been just right for her, though, considering she is still learning English.

Well, today Abby came to me and said: "Mom, I wanted to ask you if I could do fourth grade over the summer. I want to do it but I don't know if you will let me."

I just about fell off my seat. Actually asking to school over summer break??????? Are you kidding me? She then told me she is anxious to catch up to Lanie and the rest of their friends. Peer pressure at its best!!!!!!!!!!!

I explained she'll catch up eventually, and the only reason she is behind at all is the language. Luckily, she seemed pleased with that - for now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Smile

See the little cutie on my sidebar, Marcelle??? She is the child we are privileged to sponsor through An Orphan's Wish. I just got word that she is having her lip repaired!!! That is amazing news and I am thrilled for her. Not only will she have a beautiful new smile, but this will make eating so much easier for her!! What a thrill to get to watch the changes this will bring. Please praise God along with me for this milestone for Marcelle, and pray for a speedy recovery!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Too Cute

Abby does most of her schoolwork on the computer. It really helps her to be forced to read mostly everything on her own, instead of having me read to her all the time, but the computer is set up to help her with pronunciation when she needs help, plus it also gives her definitions of new words, etc.... It is definitely not something I would do long term, but for now it is really working out well.

I require her to come tell me what she has learned before she can move on to the question part of the lesson. So today, after her Language Arts lesson, she ran up to me and said:

"Mom, they're teaching me about what to put at the end of a sentence. I already knew about periods and question marks, but now they are teaching me about EXPLOSION MARKS!!!!""

So cute! Love my language learner!