Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas is almost here...

The tree in my room...
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Meet Frosty...
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Better watch out, the nutcracker army is in position...
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Living Room tree...
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Jackson's tree...
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Jacquelynne's and Jenna's tree...
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Joseph and his tree...
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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dining with Jenna

For those of you who have not had the experience to go out to lunch with Jenna, let me tell you what to expect. For a little background, remember that Jenna is the youngest of four, and when it is her turn to have one on one time, she is a show stealin' little, fun lovin' little super star. Alright, here's the plan:

1. Choose someplace that SHE likes; one that plays peppy music is a plus. For example, Rancho Grande Cantina has these kid sized mini tacos, that are the perfect size for Jenna. Oh, and forget the healthy side dishes, chips and salsa will do just fine.

2. When one of her favorite songs comes on overhead, and she says "Hey, it's the Shrek song!!" as you are walking to the table... forget going quickly, and don't bother to correct her about the song's title. She really doesn't care who Smashmouth is or what he originally named the song... it is "the Shrek song" from here on out so just deal with it.

3. Of course you are headed to the very back of the restaurant, and you are walking past everyone in the restaurant, but Jenna needs her dance time. So, expect this half skip, half boogie all the way to the back. Hands flying in the air, curly head bouncing back and forth, eyes half closed, singing along... Just smile at all the people who cannot help but grin at this little bundle of energy.

4. Next, position her booster seat perfectly in front of you. She gets ALL your attention for now. Also, scoot the booster seat all the way back against the back rest of the booth. Boogie time isn't over yet.

5. Jenna needs her own dipping bowl of salsa. No other options here. This 31 pound five year old can inhale salsa by the gallon.

6. Don't bother offering any other lunch options. You are here for mini tacos.

7. When another catchy song comes on, get ready for Jenna's version of salsa dancing. She tries really hard to be careful and not spill, but it is a challenge when rocking side to side in a booster seat, nodding her head and shaking her shoulders to the beat. Keep napkins on hand.

8. You may be in a hurry to move on to your next task, but Jenna eats at her own pace. She enjoys every bite, and you are not going anywhere until she has finished her bowl of salsa.

9. Sit back and relax. Realize that you rush through too many things in life. Just enjoy the moment, she will grow up too fast, and soon, she'll be more concerned with being cool than dancing through lunch.

My Thanksgiving post from Lots of Kids:

Happy Thanksgiving:

I don't cook turkey. I cook side dishes and pies. But, I don't cook turkey. Fortunately for me, my husband can cook a fabulous turkey. My father-in-law apparently was king of the turkey prep while my husband was growing up, and I guess it rubbed off on Scott during his youth. He actually LIKES to cook turkey. It is a whole production. All of the kids are involved somehow, from mixing and cooking the stuffing, to stuffing the bird and basting. Scott and the kiddos cook the turkey. Works for me.I have to laugh about how different we are. I grew up with a mom who preferred that my dad made pork chops cooked on the grill to spending hours cooking a turkey; so my family usually had grilled pork chops for Thanksgiving. We lived 1000 miles from my extended relatives, so it was just my family of 5 around the table growing up. And, I didn't have homemade cranberry sauce until I was an adult and married. My first year and a half of marriage, I lived near my grandmother, aunt and uncle, and cousins (my mother's side of the family). My grandmother makes amazing cranberry sauce, and now I make it too.My husband grew up with Thanksgiving meals of a huge turkey and all the fixings to go with it, and lots of extended family around to share it. I learned from my husband and my children that it is not about the end result that creates the quality family time. It is the entire family in and out of the kitchen all day, kids climbing over each other to help. The meal is always good, and the littlest kids pass a turkey leg between them like at a Renaissance Festival.Last year we hosted a bunch of friends who were all in town for the holiday. This year it is just the six of us. And, over the weekend, after the turkey induced coma wears off, we will transform the house into a winter wonderland of Christmas cheer. That is our plan for the weekend. May your holiday be blessed with friends, family, and good food (turkey or not). God Bless.

And one more from my Lots of Kids posts today:

When Daddy's Away:

My poor hubby. He doesn't travel as much as many husbands do, but he does go out of town for an overnight a couple of times a month. Problem is that we tend to have these "little emergencies" when he is gone. Two weeks ago one of the parakeets died while he was gone. Tonight, Joseph had hives that caused his face and toungue to swell. He is ok now... I loaded him up with Benedryl, put all 4 kids in the car, and hauled them into the emergency room. By the time we got there the swelling had gone down, and they gave him a steroid to keep it down. The doctor and all the nurses said I did the right thing with the Benedryl before coming in, and we were in and out of the ER in under 2 hours.But, my poor hubby was 4 hours away, wondering if he needed to be on his way home. Had things turned out differently than they did, I would have asked him to come home. But, everybody is fine now, we have more medicine on hand, and I will be checking in on Joseph all night long.It is hard enough to be around when things go crazy. I cannot imagine how hard it must be for him to be gone and things go crazy. Well g'nite all. It's time for me to go check on my boy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Missing Hamster...

What do you call an almost 5 year old sitting on the side of the bed intently staring at the dresser?

Well, if the hamster is out of his cage and hiding behind the dresser, we call that almost five year old Jenna. Yep. Scott was on the phone and Jenna didn't want to wait to ask for supervision to get her hamster out to play. So, she took him out and was attempting to get the little guy in his exercise ball when he made his great escape. So Jenna sat, staring at the dresser, waiting for the hamster to come out so she could catch him and "hide the evidence" against her.

Unfortunately for Jenna, but good for the hamster, Jacquelynne came in to get the cage for cleaning. Jenna told her she couldn't take it yet because Spirit (Jenna's hamster is named after a horse... go figure) wasn't in there. Jacquelynne was alarmed and informed Scott, who came to move the dresser and rescue the hamster. I think the little guy was happy to go back in his nice, safe, clean cage.

My Lots of Kids post from today:


We have done the pregnancy/labor/childbirth thing 4 times. I am pretty good at knowing what to expect, and how I will feel about the process. This world of adoption is a whirl-wind. I feel like I have been swept up in the center of a tornado, and I'm whipped about to and fro without a visual on where I will land. I know that the end result is my child, but the process is a ride.

Paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork; and I'm still not done with the home study! Top it all off with the list of waiting children, and my heart is torn (for all of them, but one in particular).The mental image of my family that I had 12 years ago has shifted several times... and always for the better. It is shifting again, and I know that just like physical labor and childbirth, there is beauty in the end result but pain in the here and now. I am learning to let go of my control over the result and wait to see what God has intended for us. If it was up to me, I'd travel tomorrow and deal with the details later. Unfortunately, that is not how the process works and I have to deal with the details now, and see the results later.There are so many "what if" and "maybe" questions to be answered. Maybe I was wrong in the mental image I had of my child. Maybe I need to let it go. If I was wrong, I can swallow my pride. Either way, I have to let the process work, and know that this precious little child will find a forever family, even if it is not mine.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Snag in the adoption paperwork...

Some silly clerk typed the wrong abbreviation for Missouri on my original marriage certificate... instead of MO they typed MI, and therefore my original marriage certificate does not match my birth certificate. OK, so we got that changed with the clerk of the City of Baltimore, and I have a corrected version issued by the city. Good enough for my passport, not good enough for the adoption. Nope, China requires a STATE certified version and will not accept the City version. Problem is that Maryland's State office will not and cannot alter the original. I have to get the correct version from the city. But China will not take the city version, and I cannot get the one issued by the city to be state certified. So, the ONLY possible state certified version is incorrect by one little letter, and it cannot be corrected. But that one little letter means that the marriage certificate does not match the birth certificate.

Is your head spinning yet? Mine too.

All because some clerk looked at a Missouri birth certificate, and did not bother to look up the correct abbreviation. Seriously, this is 8th grade social studies, right here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Letter to Julia's Birth Family

I am posting this on both of my blogs. Where ever you are, I hope you have the chance to see this.

I know that I will not meet you on this side of heaven. This was the only way I could think of to tell you what is in my heart. I cannot imagine the emotions that you are experiencing as you prepare to give up your daughter so she can become mine. You are courageous and I love you. O know that you loved her enough to give her life. You loved her even more to hope for her things that you may not have. I want you to know that I love her. I do not know where she is right now. Somewhere in China you are loving her, and your heart is broken for the choice you must make. My heart is broken too. Your grief is a powerful thing. If I could wrap you in my arms to tell you thank you, I would. I am praying for you. I pray that the one true and awesome God of all creation will wrap you in his loving arms and be your comfort. I pray that He is your strength and your shield. I pray for your health and safety, and you will be in my heart for as long as I breathe on this earth. I want you to know that she will be safe. She is loved. She will have a mother and a father who love her and long to give her all that we are capable of. She will have older brothers and sisters who will cherish her as their little sister. She will be raised to know that she is Chinese born even though she will have full rights and status as an American. We will teach her about Chinese customs and culture to the best of our ability. I thank you for the gift of my daughter. We are working on the paperwork to be completed so that we can travel to get her. The estimates that we have been told are 2 or more years until we will see her. I promise you that we will not give up. As long as it takes, no matter what else happens, we will find her, and we will bring her home. Her name will be Julia Grace. If I could, I would tell her all about you. I know that we will not be able to meet. So I will tell her that you loved her enough to give her to me. Thank you for your gift and for your sacrifice.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Brood Keeps Growing...

Well, parent teacher conferences and the grade reports came today. All A's (or the kindergarten equivalent) and all the teachers say we have terrific kids (Duh!). We have spent the last several months talking with the kids about responsibility, and earning the things that they want. Up until now, all of our pets have been family pets... alright, the dog is for Scott and the cats and birds are for me; but the point is the kids have been wanting their own pets. We set the standard of straight A's to get their own pet. They all earned it. They are responsible for the care, and keeping of them.

Joseph (age 6) now has his very own Beta Fish named Marlin.

Jacquelynne (age 9) and Jenna (almost 5) each have their own dwarf hamsters named Spirit and Sammy. Jacquelynne even said that she knows that she will be caring for Jenna's hamster.

I swore I would NEVER have a reptile. Never. Not gonna happen. I will not purchase crickets to eat.

Jackson (age 11) has a Bearded Dragon named Harry. (And, don't tell anyone, but it is kind of cute) However, I am still not purchasing crickets, that is all on Scott.

And as exhausting as it was to go to Petsmart with all our kids and purchasing assorted habitats, it was really fun. We got home and set up all the habitats, and put them in each of the kids' rooms (girls share a room so it worked out well). Everybody went to bed late, so sorry for the teachers tomorrow.

This is what makes family so much fun.

Monday, October 22, 2007

We finally got it started...

We have been planning this for over seven years. We have prayed, cried, planned, researched, and waited a very long time. Yesterday afternoon, we submitted our first batch of paperwork to adopt. We are planning on going to China to bring home our next child. Most likely it will be a girl, but a boy is possible; and most likely we will get a 2-3 year old, but a baby is possible too. Either way, God already knows the who, where, when and how. Originally, our plans would have already had us there and back by now. Jenna is turning 5 next month, and we really didn't want to space it out this much, but I trust in God's perfect plan for our family. I am learning to hand it over to Him, and trust. Of course, I have trusted in His will in the past, but this is just one more challenge to build my faith and when I finally hold my child in my arms, the time and prayer will be worth it. For now, we are content to call her Julia, and know that one day, she will fianlly be ours.

My Lots of Kids article for today:

Big Family???

Yeah, this is going to seem weird to some, and down right crazy to many, but I do not think I have a Big Family. OK, statistically, I have a larger than average family, but maybe the average is small, and my family is actually "normal." I know it is a stretch, but go with me for a minute.Our life has been blessed with four wonderful children, and yesterday we turned in the paperwork to begin the adoption process to bring home #5.

Our kids are like stair steps... 11, 9, 6, 4... one kid at a time, each unique and gifted and as individuals. Each one teaches me something different about myself, the world, and about the way God loves each one of us exactly the way we need it. They love each other, fight with each other, defend each other, and tattle on each other. It would be really quiet around here if even one was not here.

I have always known that I wanted a big family. Coming from a family with three children, my then boyfriend, now husband thought I was kidding when I told him that I'd like to have 9 kids. He has come around, and we both have agreed that we just take it one at a time, and we will add to the "bunch" when the time is right. We had each of our kids for a different reason... including a surprise, but we have known kids would be a big part of our lives. We enjoy the challenge and even the chaos.

I don't think I have a reason for choosing a "Big Family." My life has been blessed with children, and I pray that God continues to bless us with more children. If I can teach them to become responsible adults that do good for others, then I have done my job of leaving this world a little better than I found it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Not me...

There is syrup in my keyboard. I usually type at a decent speed, but right now, I have to double check every "y" and "h" because those two keys are stuck together with syrup.


I knew you would ask that... because "Not me" must have eaten pancakes while playing on the computer.

Who is "Not me"?

I knew you would ask that too... "Not me" is my other child. The one I cannot see with my eyes, but leaves his/her mark all over my house. I know "Not me" lives here, because none of my visible children would leave blue marker on the basement wall, crumbs on my floor, or eat pancakes at the computer desk. It is all the secret work of "Not me."

"Not me" is a naughty little child. And now, every time I type a Y or an H, I get both letters on the screen. Ugh. Did you know that pancake syrup does NOT come out of keyboards? Nope, just have to get a new one.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Happy Fall

Sorry, it wouldn't all fit in one picture...

My kid thinks I'm cool...

Yesterday, I was the "coolest mom in the world!" Yes, I know, this was in between being the "meanest mom," and dealing with the bouts of "I wish I didn't have a brother!" But, for just a moment, I was "cool." Wanna know why? This week I finally got the fall decorations up. Over the last few years, I have slowly been building my seasonal decor, and this years' focus was fall. Mind you, tight budgets don't allow for a lot, but it forces me to stick with stuff I really like so it is a good thing. Hobby Lobby had fall stuff 50% off, so I added a few little odds and ends to get it the way I wanted, and I got our dining room nook done yesterday. We now have a little pumpkin patch complete with fake leaves, pumpkins, scarecrows, pilgrim turkeys, fall colored flowers, and a hay bale. I pulled out the fall dishes; and I put a scarecrow wall hanging by the front door, little ceramic pumpkins by the fireplace, and a fall garland on the front living room window. It may seem cheesy to some, but I love this stuff. Anyway, last night, and then again this morning, my 11 year old son said, "I love that you made the whole house look like autumn. You are the coolest mom ever." Now, all of my kids noticed the decor, and laughed at the silly scarecrows and turkeys, but Jackson really appreciated that I went out of my way to decorate the house. There aren't a whole lot of times I get thanked for being a mom, or doing the routine stuff around the house. In the past, I have decorated for me. It is something I love to do. It gives a whimsical, homey feel. It is a visual adventure to look at the little details, and smile at silly turkeys dressed like pilgrims. I have been warning Scott for a long time that eventually, I'd love to be able to decorate for each season like this (except for Christmas, which takes a week to put up all the decorations, and takes over every imaginable space in the house, but that's another story). Jackson's comments just reinforced to me that I should keep it up. Sure, it is a hassle to pull everything out of totes, set it up, clean it up...etc. But, it makes our house a fun, creative place to be. And, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Welcome to the funny farm

So, here I am. I am reserving this blog for my Lots of Kids blog posting. I still have the my other blog, and you are welcome to check it out too.

As for this blog. This is life with a full household. Some days it is chaos, and some days I am really quite organized. Most days are somewhere in between. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and welcome to my little corner of the world.