Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve Blowout

We had a very laid back New Year's Eve.  I told everyone they had to dress up, and, well, SOME of them KIND of dressed up.  At least the girls got out of their PJs.    I also made a rule:  NO SCREENS past 8 pm.  And almost everyone made it up 'til midnight.

 You have to have the great big platter of sliced meats and crackers!

 We did some hanging out with our screens before 8 pm

 Then the bulk of the food came out - potato skins, taquitos, mozarella sticks and gyoza.  All frozen junk food that I didn't have to make!

 I made Abby pose for this.  She got this Barbie movie for Christmas and I think it was her favorite gift.  She has watched it several times a day this week.  She knows all the songs in it already.  And she's asking for another for her birthday coming up in February.

 After the screens went off, the board games came out.  And the goofiness, apparently.  He's 14.  You understand, right?

 Josiah asked to play PayDay.  He didn't it make it past the first month!

 They were all good sports and filled out the 'Year in Review' sheet I printed out.  They actually all gave me real answers, too.

This was Josiah at 9:45.  I let him stay there for about one hour and then carried him off to bed.

Happy 2013!!!!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

It's Been Quite a Wait

Just so you get an idea of how long this wait has been, here's Evie's referral picture.  Compare it to the pictures from the post below.  She's grown just a tad, hasn't she?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Almost that Time Again

I've been tempted to close down the blog because, frankly, time is very limited around here and I never ever seem to have the chance to update anymore.  I've kept it here because I knew pretty soon I would have another exciting journey to journal and I wanted to have that and Abby's story all in one place.

And the time has come to get my updates going again.

We are getting close.  Very, very close.

I expect to have our Travel Approval from China in about one week.

Which means sometime in mid to late January, I will finally get to hold Evie in my arms and officially call her "my girl". 

It has been a LONG road.  We first found Evie exactly two years ago, and scrambled to get paperwork together to be able to reuse our dossier to bring her home.  That, clearly, did not happen. 

What did happen was God made it clear this was His path for us to follow - to pursue this little girl's adoption.  Whether we knew the end result or not.  And let me tell you, most of the time I did not think we would ever get to finalize.  Yet He kept whispering - one more step, just one more.

And now here we are.  And without further ado.......

Genevieve Grace (Evie)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

How Do They Do It?

I am spoiled rotten.


I have forgotten what real parenting of young children is like.

When people find out how many kids I have, and then on top of that they find out I homeschool, I usually get the same question, along with the bewildered look:


Well, I learned a little something about myself this past week.

Both of my big boys (the only two children at my home old enough to babysit, at least according to Air Force standards) were gone to running camp. 

The girls are able to stay home on their own, but they are not "of age" yet to babysit their sibling.

Which left me 3 1/2 days where I had to take the 4 year old with me.  Everywhere I went.  EVERYWHERE!!!!

And then I thought "How do they do it?"  How do moms of little kids with no older siblings to help do it.  When they have to take them everywhere all day long.

Obviously I did this before - in some former life apparently. 

Luckily, I never will have to do it again.  I now have enough children in my home that there will always be one or two babysitters available.  As of February, I will have THREE of them at the house.

Hey, you have to do what you can when you live oceans away from grandmas and aunties.

You gotta count on those teenagers!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


                              (DOSSIER TO CHINA)

                                                         August 10, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Perfect Roomie

I'm sorry, but I thought it was TOTALLY cool when I talked to my oldest boy tonight and found out that his roommate this week is none other than:

I think that's pretty darn cool!!

**** You'll have to turn off my background music on the sidebar if you want to hear this video***

Monday, August 6, 2012


So, I'm doing a lousy job at taking pictures this week, but still had to share.....

On Saturday, I saw my oldest boy off on his eight day trip with Show Hope, to spend that time serving at Maria's Big House of Hope with their Student Global Training Program.  He had to fly out by himself and that was really the scariest part of it all for me.  I am so, so proud of him (and admittedly, pretty jealous too).  That at 15 almost 16 years old he is CHOOSING to spend his time in service is pretty awesome! I just wish I was at Maria's Big House loving on those babies right now.  I wouldn't even mind the painting and yard work that's involved too.

Then today, Abby and Lanie both tried out for Missoula Theatre's production of Betty Lou and the Beast.  They both got parts and are SOOOOOOO excited.  Lanie is a young daughter and Abby is part of the "country folks".  Most of the kids in the neighborhood are going to be in the play so it should be a very fun week for all of them getting ready together.  It was Abby's first time trying out and she did so well!! 

And now, Jacob, Lanie, and Abby all went to the track where Jacob is trying to train the girls in running.  Jacob and Lanie will both be running for the middle school's cross country team this year, and Abby is kind of wanting to get into running too.

Tonight I get to go to dinner with my hubby to a "secret location" to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary.

To top it all off, we are one document away from completing our dossier!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A few China pics

Did I mention that the family trip to China was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience?  We prayed SO hard and everything fell into place beautifully.  Not one thing went wrong!  We had a couple of flight delays but the guides were always waiting when we arrived and it was no big deal.  Josiah caught a stomach bug but it didn't show up until we were back in Tokyo and even then it was very mild.  Praise God!!  We made some great memories, and a lot of unique experiences that I hope to share more about in the coming weeks.  Abby got to get a little taste of her homeland, and we all got to see some things we will remember for a lifetime!

Josiah talked everyone's ears off the whole time, and is right now reading over my shoulder with a very weird expression on his face trying to figure out what in the world that means.  Our travel group was very, very patient with him and answered the same questions over, and over, and over!!  By the way, he can read faster than I can type and if someone has some hints on homeschooling gifted children please do let me know!

Anyhow, here's a little peek into our trip....

Temple of Heaven

Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an

Terracotta Warriors

Summer Palace

Split pants!  I had to take a picture!

YuYuan Gardens

Great Wall
Great Wall

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ahhh....... Summer

Loving, loving, loving summer!!!

What's not to love???

So far, we've taken a family trip to China, spent a couple of days bumming around Tokyo, two girls have done a Creative Foods camp for a week, half a week of tennis camp and half a week of theatre camp, bowling, and hanging around the pool.

And we're only a little over halfway there!!!!

Love summer!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Track Banquet

James had the end of season track banquet last night.  Very nice event at the O'Club.  James was awarded the trophy for most improved male athlete.  A couple of his friends sat with us and it was nice to get to know the kids he spends so much time with. 

With Coach P

Monday, June 4, 2012

Thirty something......

I celeberated a birthday this week.  We never seem to get any decent  pictures of our own birthdays - so this is the best I can do.  I have NO pictures with any of the other kids.  I really do love this picture because of the camera angle - sort of leaves you guessing.... Thirty...something! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Let the Paperchase Begin

Our homestudy is off to PA for certification.

 Once it's back, it'll be off to NY for authentication.

Then, and only then, will we know that this is actually doable.

 If NY won't authenticate because the homestudy is more than 6 months old, that will be the end of the road.

 It was crazy and difficult enough to complete it he first time around.

In the meantime, I am starting to gather the rest of the dossier documents.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Reasons to Love Homeschooling

The reason I love homeschooling today??

I am getting to read Romeo and Juliet with my 15 year old son.

The laughs.

The snickers.

The eye-rolls.

The puke noises.

I wouldn't miss this for the world!!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

USCIS approval!!!!!!

So I got antsy early this week and emailed USCIS to get the status of our I-800A application. I was pretty surprised when I got an email right back telling me that we had been approved that same day!!!! Our letter is in the mail on its way to us as we speak!

 Now the big question remains.... Will we realistically still be able to do this? We're way past our original deadlines and are afraid we'll have to start our dossier from scratch. In which case it will probably be the end of the road for us as far as this adoption goes. Putting a new dossier together from here would be a nightmarish process that neither one of us is up to. We started to pursue this in the first place because we didn't think that would be neccessary.

 At least we're one step closer to knowing.....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More Kids' Run Pics

My super thoughtful friend snapped some pictures of us at the Kids' Run last Saturday - so you can see us in action (well, she missed Jake, but here's the rest of us!!).

 Me and Abby

 James and Lanie

 Can't check out your shadow if you're running too fast!!

Go, Joe, go!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Look, mom, I'm trying.....

Here's my freshly planted spring flowers.  Let's see how long they will live!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kids' Run

Today was a first for our family - a very COOL first.

We ran a race together.  All seven of us!!

It was America's Kids' Run, for kids ages 5 - 18. 

Yes, some of us don't fit into that category, but we somehow managed to sneak in anyways.

The way the breakdown works, 5 - 6 year olds run 1/2 mile, 7 - 8 year old run 1 mile, and everyone else runs 2 miles.

We had Jacob and Lanie running the 2 miler.  They are experienced runners and had no trouble.  Jacob finished in third place with a time a bit over fifteen minutes.  Lanie's time was 18:10 - a personal record for her!!  James ran, not really to race, but to help Lanie out and try to pace her.  He stayed with her the whole time and cheered her on.  (And this is where I would go on to tell you about what a great kid he is, and how I'll never let him move out because what in the world would I do without him, blah, blah, blah, but I won't do that).

I signed Abby up for the 1 mile even though she was really too old for that category, because she had never run for distance and I expected she would have a hard time.  Which she did.  I think it was more mental than anything because the kid runs a lot more than that back and forth on the playground, and jumps on the trampoline for HOURS (no exaggeration) without getting tired.  But she was a trooper and kept at it, and it was actually kind of a nice thing to be doing together.  I love taking opportunities to build nice memories, and to reinforce that I am there to cheer her on and help her get through things. 

Mr. Josiah and Daddy ran the half mile together.  Or half ran, half walked.  I'm pretty impressed with him doing it and not running the wrong direction to head for the playground!! 

We all had a great time, and are so excited about more runs together through the years!!  Ms. Abby will be joining me and Lanie at the track a couple of times a week from now on.  I plan to have her run one lap at whatever pace, and then she can walk while Lanie and I finish our run.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Decisions, decisions

Jake, my sax playing 13 year old, had an Honors Band concert today. Actually, it was more of a field trip, as it was happening at a Naval Base bear here in the middle of a school day.

What you must understand is that, when you live right outside of Tokyo, you have no guarantees as to how long it is going to take you to drive anywhere. So even though they were going about 30 miles away, best case scenario it'll take them about 2 hours to get there. So when I say middle of the day, I mean the bus was leaving at 6 am. Which meant we had to leave our home at 5:30 am. Which meant I had to get up at 5 am. Joy!

 That wasn't what prompted my title for this post, though. Last minute, the teacher made a desperate plea for chaperones. They needed four and only had two. Taking a weekday off, especially this late in the year, is not an easy decision to make at all. And then there's the whole question of who's going tomwatch Josiah while the only other sitter in the house goes to track practice. And DH has a huge inspection atvwork this week, so he could neither go on the field trip nor help at home.

 After much consultation with my two next door neighbors, whose kids were going on this field trip as well, I made a decision. I would agree to go as a COMPLETE last resort. If they were going to CANCEL the trip, then I would sacrifice my day to go with them. So I dropped off the kids this morning and Mrs. G said the principal had bent the rules and was going to let them go with 2 chaperones and one teacher. So I didn't HAVE to go. Happily, I hopped in my car and started the drive back home.

And then the guilt hit. Would Jake feel lousy about how badly I didn't want to go? Would he have a bad day because he felt cruddy about that? I ALMOST turned back. But then I remembered that part of the reason he's even participating in the middle school band is to give him some time away from momma. We're always at every concert, every event. He was probably glad to have the breathing room, and if he's NOT glad, then he probably needs it. We'll both live.

And as I sit at home, surrounded by piles of summer clothes that I'm finally getting around to pulling out, grading tests, patiently waiting EONS for Abby to answer each history question I ask her, and hearing Josiah and his posse making mud pies in the backyard, I'm thinking I'm insane to not have chosen the bus with 40 middle schoolers. At least I could've been treated to an awesome concert in the process!!!!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sunday Brunch

I have been wanting to link up to Stefanie's "Sunday Snapshot" for, well, quite a while now. But with the dwindling time and energy I've had for blogging lately, it just seemed to never happen. This week, I figured it was time. I really do want to stay on top of all these "everyday" happenings and record them in some way, before they're all just long lost memories!

A favorite family tradition since we moved to Japan has been Sunday brunch at the Club. We would probably NEVER go to brunch, considering there are 7 of us and it is NOT a cheap meal. We went once when we first moved here and promptly decided that, although it was definitely a scrumptious treat, we would most likely not be going as a family again. Date? SURE. Family affair? Not so much.

And then we discovered the BRUNCH COUPON.

Everything changed.

Once a month, club members get a coupon for the ENTIRE family to enjoy brunch for $45. It was over twice that much for our group if we were paying full price. And, they don't put a limit to how many are in that entire family, so you know, if Sonia or Stefanie happened to get stationed here, they could love the coupon a whole lot more than I do!

So, guess how often we go to brunch these days? Yep, once a month! Everybody loves it!! My favorite part? Hard to decide between the made - to - order omelets, pasta bar, fresh fruits, or the incredible desserts. But probably, my favorite part really is that I don't have to cook AT ALL on brunch Sundays. Because once we walk out of there, no one is eating anything else. For the entire day.

Guess who the best eater of the bunch is? Yes, she probably eats more than Daddy at the brunch. I just don't know where she puts it all!

And what better way to work off a meal like that than an exciting game of Killer Bunnies?

Check out all the great posts for "Sunday Snapshot".

Sunday Snapshot