Thursday, May 21, 2009

Praying for Lindsey!

Several of you will remember the Dobbertin family, when I highlighted their "Gotcha Day" back in March. They are a family who has also adopted through Living Hope. Just before we left for our trip to China, I got to share a bit of our journey through the special needs program with them, as they were feeling the call of the Lord to pursue a "waiting child."

Little Lindsey has been bonding and attaching fairly well to her new family, but there's been a few very serious health complications. Yesterday, little Lindsey was admitted to the hospital and today's update looks like it's pretty serious again. Please, take a moment to pray for this family and for a miraculous, complete healing for little Lindsey. They are weary, sad and fearful. They need the love of the Body of Christ and the support of our prayers.

A Refresher

Happy Two Year
Blogoversary, to me!

(It was officially on May 17th, but it was also a Sunday. And I was chillin' and recuperating from LadyBug's big 10th birthday girly extravaganza and missed the date. More on that in another post.)

Wow, what a two years it's been! We've re-modeled and re-decorated all but one room and two bathrooms in our house. We've re-landscaped our entire front yard. We're navigating the parenting of not one, but now 2, junior highers with little or no visible scarring. We're surviving the orientation to the tween years with minimal hair pulling (mine). I'm bearing up under the transition of my littlest guy becoming a big boy and being in school all day. The Boss has increased and changed job responsibilities multiple times. And we've added Li'l Empress to our crazy, happy gang. Whew. I'm exhausted :)

I have a lot of new readers in the two years since I started "The Gang's All Here!" A lot has happened in our lives. I've grown and changed and learned. I had this great brainstorm, and thought it'd be fun for you if I were to post some pics of my little gang from May '07 and now, from May '09. So you can see for yourselves how much we've all grown. Except, we didn't have a digital camera in May of 2007. And I since I was practically comatose on the couch most of the day, I didn't capture them on this 17th either. So for the closest I could get, here's some pics of late summer '07. And some recent pics from this April. That'll have to do. Okay with you?! Good, cuz with all the drama and craziness going on around her, it's all I got.

Clockwise, starting at the top left:
Shaggy, Dr. D, LadyBug, and Baby BlueEyes
So little and so sweet!

From left to right:
Dr. D, Baby BlueEyes, Li'l Empress on
Shaggy's lap, and LadyBug
Still so sweet, now more numerous,
and certainly growing up too quickly.

An interesting note of change is that Dr. D is requesting a new bloggy name. He's not all that into animals anymore and thinks that Dr. D (short for Doolittle) is juvenile. I've been thinking on it for a while and might just have to come through for him. He is interested in a huge variety of things and coming up with a name that captures him will be tricky. He's offering all kinds of suggestions, but with his sense of humor, I have to weed through them and their various hidden meanings very, very carefully. He's a witty one and pulls one over on his boring, "in the box" thinking Momma quite easily. Always gotta be "on" with this one!

So, dear readers, thanks for a fantabulistic two years. I've had a great run and I'm already looking forward to where the coming year takes us. I've always got lots going on in this little head of mine to share with you all - finding the time to get it all out of my head is becoming the catch I'm up against daily. Thanks for reading, thanks for coming back and thanks for the friendships!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Artwork by LadyBug.
I had no idea she knew how to do this.
How cute are my stick-figure daughters?!

For more Wordless Wednesday fun
head over to 5 Minutes for Moms

I'll be back soon. It's been a busy week and I'm fighting through the temptation to chuck the end of the school year and start our summer vacation, like, yesterday! Now, if only the weather and our pool guy would cooperate.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Grab a Tissue!

I read a lot of adoption blogs and stories. I love learning more about each country's individual processes. I enjoy the thrill that comes with the happy endings of so many families. I even enjoy learning more about the hardships and heartaches that people endure to pursue this calling they have to build their families through adoption. Domestic or International, I love reading about all of it. I have found some wonderful, wonderful stories. Don't you just love hearing other people's stories? I learn so much from the telling.

This story was particularly beautiful. Head over to read it, but grab a tissue before you get there. You will need it.

Did you know that May is National Foster Care Month? For many families, this organization is a perfect way to go about building their families. There are many, many more beautiful stories here, if you are interested. Maybe God is calling you to "change a lifetime."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Sequel I Can't Wait To See!

There aren't a lot of movies that I think are good enough to rate a sequel. I'm kinda picky that way. I mean, there are the classics like the Indiana Jones movies. And I can't forget the National Treasure movies, but really, I can't think of many other movies that I loved enough to watch in continuing installments. And let's be honest. We're talking Harrison Ford and Nicolas Cage. 'Nuff said.

But the buzz here at The Gang's house has been all about the upcoming Night at the Museum sequel. Each of us has our own reason for loving the original, but each of us is equally agreed that this is the summer's "must see" movie for The Gang. We don't go to the theater often as a family. I think the last movie we all saw together in the theater was Charlotte's Web, back in 2006. Really. Sad, I know. We're just too choosey. And too cheap. Yes, I said it. We're cheap. Frugal. Miserly. Whatever.

This is one movie that might actually get us to the local theater for an afternoon of giggles and guffaws together. Notice I said afternoon. Yeah, taking 7 folks to the movie theater these days just about equals a car payment. So I'm cheap. I've already acknowledged that. Whatever.

Especially if we win this give-away.
I might even chip in for popcorn!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Happy Girl

Today, my LadyBug is 10. While I'm still reeling at the idea of my precious, chubby-cheeked, red-headed baby girl being in the double digits already, I'm also extremely cognizant today of the utter joy and sweetness that she brings to our home. And has brought with her since the day we found out about her microscopic tiny presence in our lives!

In honor of her special DOUBLE DIGIT DAY, here are the
Top TEN Things
that I love about LadyBug:

  1. She is joyful and exuberant about her life. She wakes up with a smile EVERY DAY!
  2. That smile lights up our rooms and changes the atmosphere in a flash!
  3. She has a caring, nurturing spirit about her. I can already tell she's gonna be a fantastic mommy.
  4. Her sense of humor and silliness brightens our day. Her antics and silly words make us laugh.
  5. She is a wonderful, loving sister to all her siblings.
  6. There is a tenderness, an innocence if you will, about her that stirs my heart.
  7. She loves to jam to my country music with me!
  8. I love that she is easily pleased and very grateful for so many things.
  9. She is a very hard worker and eager to please.
  10. She loves Jesus, has become very quick to repent, and desires to be like Him.

Thank you, Lord for our lovely LadyBug.
I rejoice that she is as beautiful inside as she is on the outside. Thank you for who you are creating her to be as you grow her. Thank you for the covering and protection You have over her life. May she always be as tender and sweet in Your Presence as she is today. Thank you for the miracle and the blessing that she is to The Gang and all who are privileged to know her.
And thank you, Father,
for the honor of parenting this sweet girl.

The birthday girl and her new bike!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Perfect Day

My Mothers' Day was perfect. Except for LadyBug's little fever. But even that turned out to be a wonderful opportunity for extra time together. I allowed Baby BlueEyes and Li'l Empress to skip church with me and LadyBug. We all snuggled up on the couch with the shades and curtains drawn to watch our favorite girl movie, Little Women. (Baby BlueEyes was a great sport, but mostly un-interested in the story or gorgeous dresses and lovely hairstyles. He kept waiting for the battle scenes because I had told him it was set in the Civil War era!)

Once The Boss, Shaggy, and Dr. D returned from church, I got to spend some time wandering around my local K*hl's all alone. I returned to the amazing smell of dark chocolate brownies baking in the oven. And vases of my pretties placed strategically throughout the downstairs. The rest of the day can be summed up in these pictures.

Mmmmm, the house still smells amazing, and the color is so deep and lush!

My perfect meal: steak, garlic roasted broccoli, and baked potatoes. Salad on the side. And dark chocolate brownies after some very thoughtful presents and the world's funniest Hoops and YoYo card. (Go ahead, click over. You know you want to. HI.LARE.EEE.US!!!! Just come back, quick!)

My Mothers' Day treasures. All five of them. I am a blessed woman, indeed.

And the wonderful, amazing hubby who made it all happen. And who still makes my heart skip a beat.

Pretty much picture perfect, wouldn't you say?

Friday, May 8, 2009

On My Mind Lately

Okay, this is a totally random post. Don't say I didn't warn you! There's so much going on, and I'm having a hard time nailing down one specific thing going on in my brain. Might be the huge Tigger mug of coffee I have already downed. The Boss made it this a.m. and I think it's safe to say, he makes his coffee stronger than I do. At least, my heart rate is saying so.

We had a pool catastrophe last week. We've been trying to clean it, repair some stuff and get it ready for swimming season and in the process of that the liner basically blew out. Ironic on several fronts: first, we were pretty excited about starting the preparations and repairs so early. Normally, we're so busy in the spring that the pool kinda gets jammed into a semi-free weekend, and other things end up being eliminated or moved around on the calendar. Secondly, we were feeling positive about the possibility of squeaking another year or two out of our liner after we researched how to take care of some of the problems we had at the end of the swimming season last fall. Finally, we've been feeling good about our finances as of late. The adoption and several other unexpected issues have made things really tight around here for a while and we were starting to see some "flexibility" coming down the pike. Not so much anymore. I submit to you the evidence.

I'm choosing to believe that this entire event will force further reliance on the provision of the Lord and trust in His ways. I've been forcing myself to "just keep praisin'" as I said in a recent F*ceb@ok status. (I sing it to myself in Dory's singsong voice. Without the swimming. Obviously.)

On a more pleasant note, spring field trips are beginning. The Boss and LadyBug are in the city today, taking in the historic sites with the whole grade. It was so precious to me that The Boss volunteered to go and was so excited about it. (Here's a close to live action shot, uploaded by The Boss just for me!) LadyBug has just been beaming all week, and assured Daddy that she would be "totally fine" with strolling down the city streets hand-in-hand with her dear ole' Dad. I'm so blessed to have such an involved, "present" and loving Daddy for my children. Next week, he heads to a local amusement park for "Physics Day" with Shaggy. I doubt that there will be much hand-holding, but sharing the day hanging upside down on roller coasters is great father-son bonding if there ever was any, don't you agree?!

I'm thinking it's pretty sacrificial of me to give these chaperoning opportunities to The Boss, don't you? I mean, I'm giving up long rides on noisy school buses, hoards of chattering little ones, and hurling jr. highers who've overdone it on roller coasters and carnival food. THAT's love, I tell ya. True love.

Li'l Empress is astounding us with her progress and her growth. She's fully into the toddler testing stages. As I've said before, she's redefining our definition of a strong-willed child. But she's so darned engaging and cute that I'm not minding it terribly much. I also suspect that the little battles mean less to me, all these years later, and I'm enjoying the stages more than I let myself (or the kids for that matter!) in years past. I'm far choosier over what battles I'll push back with her. There's lots of fun new things she says and understands. That kind of stuff deserves it's own post, so I'll work on those thoughts and share them soon.

Finally, I'm wrestling with an internal dilemma. Last night, Dr. D asked if he could just hang at home today. My immediate, fun-mom response was, "SURE! I'd love to have you home to hang out with me and Li'l Empress." Immediately on the heels of that exclamation came my little rules-follower self, whispering that it would be inappropriate to allow him to stay home for no good reason. That he's already missed a lot of school with his bout of extreme strep this winter. That it's not very honoring of the authorities over him at school to let him just "skip." He went to school. Part of me is kicking myself for not taking the opportunity to meet him where he was at. I know he's pretty burned out with the pace at school right now. But the other part of me is kicking myself for even allowing the thought that responsibilities like school could or should be ditched so easily. And a teensy weensy part of me is just plain ticked that I didn't let myself be Fun Mom, consequences be d*&#%d . . . This mothering is a tough gig.

So, there's just a tiny peek into the randomness of my life this week. The sun is FINALLY out, Elboh is singing in the family room to Li'l Empress (Oh, how I love this Elboh stage of life!), and I believe that there's another cup of coffee calling my name in the kitchen. Have a great weekend, dear readers. I know I plan to.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009

Modify To Your Tastes

Okay, so today was dreary and cold and rainy. Again. I was tempted to fall back into bed after dosing Li'l Empress up with something to make her drowsy (NOT that I've ever done that before, mind you. I'm just saying I was tempted!) and hide under the covers for a good long time this morning. But I was on auntie-duty, the laundry mountains were multiplying by themselves, and there was nothing quick and easy in the house to serve for dinner. The day was calling.

After I got the gang all off to their respective buses, I threw in a load of laundry, reheated my coffee for like the 6th time and whipped up a version of these tasty morsels of health and goodness. My favorite thing about this recipe is how versatile it is. Today's treat was Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins. My second favorite thing is how easy it is. Finally, my third favorite thing about this recipe is that no matter how stale the cereal, it turns out amazing muffins. Every. single. time. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think!

In the interest of giving credit where credit is due, I got the original recipe from It's been so modified and changed up for our health needs and taste preferences, that I can't honestly remember what is still original. But I just needed to make sure you knew it isn't original to my little brain.

The Best Bran Muffins
1 1/4 c. bran cereal (think All Bran or Bran buds, not flakes)
1 1/4 c. milk
1 1/2 c. flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 c. brown sugar, not packed
1 egg (or 1/4 c. egg substitute)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. applesauce

  1. In bowl, pour milk over cereal and stir. Allow cereal to moisten while you work on other steps.
  2. In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients except cereal. (If adding raisins, oats, chips, or nuts, lightly toss them in dry ingredients as well.)
  3. In bowl of cereal and milk, add egg, vanilla and applesauce. Mix well.
  4. Slowly add wet ingredients into the large bowl of dry ingredients and fold in JUST till all the mixture is moistened.
  5. Scoop into greased muffin cups. Bake at 400 for about 22 minutes. Should yield 1 dozen medium sized muffins.

Modifications I make as the mood strikes me:
(The above recipe is the "bare bones" version)
  • Sometimes I do 1/2 white flour and 1/2 whole wheat
  • I often add 2 small apples, peeled and chopped
  • I love to add 1 c. dry oats. This requires an additional 1/4 c. applesauce
  • My kids love it when I throw in 1 c. chocolate chips.
  • I also have been known to add 1 c. raisins or craisins
  • I especially love this with 1 c. of coarsely chopped nuts (any kind is yummy!)
  • I like to add 2 tsp. of cinnamon, or 2 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice
  • Once I added a ton of orange zest (didn't measure!) with the craisins
  • Go ahead, go crazy and add all the "stuff" - I've done it before and they're super hearty and really tasty!
So, let me know if you try them out. And if you come up with any other add-ins or yummy changes, I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Raising Awareness

My bloggy friend, Heidi, over at God's Grace In Practice, is hosting a contest aimed at increasing awareness of Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS). May 9th is the 20th annual Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Awareness day. Heidi's precious little boy, also known as Blue and pictured here, was born with this congenital syndrome. He's an adorable little guy and I've so loved reading about this family's journey with their son. Take a minute to read this post and the information about CdLS and then head over to this post and enter the contest. You could win a gift card to Amazon (and who doesn't love Amazon?!) AND have a donation in your honor sent to the CdLS Foundation!

The Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation exists to raise awareness about the condition, foster research about the syndrome and provides extremely valuable support and information to CdLS families. It is also the best place on the web to learn about CdLS. From their website:

CdLS is a congenital syndrome, meaning it is present from birth. Most of the signs and symptoms may be recognized at birth or shortly thereafter. A child need not demonstrate each and every sign or symptom for the diagnosis to be made.

As with other syndromes, individuals with CdLS strongly resemble one another. Common characteristics include: low birthweight (often under five pounds), slow growth and small stature, and small head size (microcephaly). Typical facial features include thin eyebrows which frequently meet at midline (synophrys), long eyelashes, short upturned nose and thin, downturned lips.

Other frequent findings include excessive body hair (hirsutism), small hands and feet, partial joining of the second and third toes, incurved fifth fingers, gastroesophageal reflux, seizures, heart defects, cleft palate, bowel abnormalities, feeding difficulties, and developmental delay. Limb differences, including missing limbs or portions of limbs, usually fingers, hands or forearms, are also found in some individuals.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Oh the JOY!

My favorite thing about May is my lilacs. The fragrance, the delicate blooms, the memories they evoke. One of the first things we did when we moved here was to pull out all the overgrown shrubbery and plain green foliage in the front gardens. We replaced it with 6 lovely lilac bushes. I can't think of a more fitting way to say Happy May Day to you all.

This is one of two traditional lilac-colored bushes.
This year is the first year that it's yielded
more than a couple little blooms.
They are the most fragrant of my collection.

This white tree has the most profuse, lush blooms.
It's been a great producer since the very first season.
I love the crisp purity of the blooms.

Ah, my favorite little trees of the whole bunch.
These bloom a bit later, and the flowers are
a deep, dark purple.
I searched for these for a long time.
Ironically, I finally found them at my favorite nursery
back in my old town.
After I'd lived here for a year.
With a store credit and a major coupon,
I was able to buy two!
And now I have mementos from
my lovely times at Ashcombe's, too.

My Miss Kim miniature bush hasn't bloomed yet.
She's ready, just hanging in there for some
bright sunny afternoon to bless me with her beauty.
I'll be sure to share the joy when it happens.