Sunday, August 30, 2009

Technical Difficulties

Or, "Where the Heck Has The Gang's Momma Gone?"

We've been experiencing some extremely frustrating and time-consuming computer issues for quite a while now, and it all came to a nasty, ugly head on Saturday. After a delightful impromptu lunch with my parents, The Boss started to install the printer that came with Dr. D's loaner equipment for his on-line school. The system crashed. It all went speedily down hill from there.

For the past two days, The Boss has been planted on his b*tt in front of our PC while saving data files, cleaning hard drives, restoring functions, and some such gobbedly gook. He logged more than 5 hours of on-line time (on hold, on the phone, on live chats) with representatives of Dell, Microsoft, Verizon, and so on. He spent HOURS saving pictures and documents on cd's, just trying to mitigate the damage. He still has several hours of restoring and re-loading ahead of him, but the most critical operations are up and running and we're back on-line.

This could not have been a WORSE weekend for the crash to occur, with Shaggy's on-line schooling scheduled to begin tomorrow and Dr. D's scheduled for Tuesday. While they both have laptops to use for school, we need the home PC to allow me to log-in to their systems and record attendance and so on. I also have several parent orientations to work through and can't use their laptops during their school day.

The upside of that is our PC is moving along very quickly now. The downside is that tons of bookmarks, passwords, and other miscellaneous account information is lost. All my forums, all my adoption resources, all my shopping haunts, everything. I'm trying to see the upside of that. At least all my favorite blogs are in my Reader, right?! And maybe the inherent "cleaned up-ed-ness" of it all will inspire more purging and cleaning? My family is already afraid of my annual "it's September, let's start purging!" frenzy. This will NOT endear me to them, I'm sure.

So, if you have sent an email to my personal account (not through my blog here, not through my gmail) in the past 48 hours and it requires timely attention, please resend it. If you sent me a link that you think I needed to see, please resend it. In the meantime, I'll be digging in first thing tomorrow morning to a brand new school year and a brand new way of life for The Gang. Wish us luck - and pray for smooth sailing from here on out . . .

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

I LOVE being an Aunt!

Welcome to our family, little Liadan!
We are so happy to finally meet you.

For more Wordless Wednesday,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Update on the Three Little Girls

When I prepared the post on these three little girls (see previous post) I had no idea that we'd have a personal connection. Please go HERE to read about that. As a quick reminder, Li'l Empress is originally from Baoji. That is where she met the author of this post, who was in intern for China Care when Li'l Empress was still in Baoji. We've been fortunate to have contact throughout the past year with this lovely young woman, and I feel confident that if the China Care staff are as kind as Joan is, these sweet girls are well cared-for while they wait for their Mommas to come to them!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Three Little Girls

Would you please join me in praying for these three precious little girls? They are all dealing with significant heart defects and are in the care of China Care/Half The Sky.

(China Care is the charitable organization that resourced and staffed the orphanage group where our Li'l Empress lived. They have recently merged with Half the Sky, another reputable and amazing charitable group caring for orphans in China.)

Apparently, their needs for treatment are significant and in an effort to be sure that they receive both the critical medical care that they need and that they be matched with a waiting family, the CCAA (China's gov't office that oversees all international adoptions) has granted special permission for Half the Sky to get the word out. These girls need their forever family. And the medical care that can best be sought in a place like the States.

You can go to this post and read more about the individual needs of each girl.

Please, you can pray with me today that the forever families of each sweet girl come forward to claim their beautiful waiting treasures. And that until that happens, these precious little gems and jewels be kept safe in the hand of The Father who loves them and desires to heal and renew them as only HE can do.

Thank you.

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Apologies . . . and other random thoughts from a harried brain

I have been a bad, bad blogger. Seems the crazy pace and the big family party preparations have put me off schedule a tad. Dinners here for the past week have been a dismal throwing together of "stuff left over" or pick-ups that The Boss snagged on his way home from the train station. Laundry has been remaining at the same enormous mountainous level, despite the steady hum of the washer and dryer since Monday evening. Emails have been piling up, skimmed for importance and set aside in my mental inbox. Groceries? Well, let's just say that it's a good, good thing that I over-shopped last week for the family gathering. There's not been a piece of fresh fruit in sight since my wonderful SIL picked up some salad and pears to round out lunch on Monday.

I wish I had some wonderful, productive explanation for how the week has gotten away from me. I don't. I mean, I'm re-working a brochure for our fall session of small group ministry at church. I've finished the bulletin for the week. I've enjoyed a rainy day movie with my kids, but only one. I've wasted too much time wrestling with my sluggish computer and obstinate printer, trying to move both the brochure and the bulletin along. I have no idea where else the days have gone, except to say that I have fallen into bed every single night this week. Completely exhausted. Utterly spent. And feeling my yearly panic of "Summer is almost over. How did this happen so quickly?!"

We only have two full weeks of summer vacation left. I have devised a plan for this weekend that will allow The Gang and I to more fully maximize the remaining days of sun, swimming, and hanging out together. I'm armed this morning with my super-size Tigger mug of creamy coffee and a To Do list that seems reasonable to me. Now if I can only drag my tired bones up to the shower and get myself started. Before lunch time would be good.

I leave you with a couple of pictures. To the left is Li'l Empress in her first nightgown. An adorable hand-me-down from a little friend who is from the same part of Shaanxi province as Li'l Empress. That's Mikayla and Li'l Empress on the right. We had a lovely visit with them yesterday and they blessed us with another big bin of clothes. Their visit was a highlight of my week, as I always enjoy seeing the girls playing together and getting to know each other. It's very special to me that they share the bond of adoption, from the same village to the same town . . . I hope they will remain friends for many years!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

The week in cakes . . .

A tower of funfetti cakes

A peanut butter-filled,
peanut butter-drizzled chocolate cake

A chocolate Elmo cake

A vanilla Elmo cake

A Birthday Bash / pool party for my
two favorite two-year olds

*The Elmo cakes were lovingly
and meticulously created by my SIL.
She stood, 81/2 months pregnant, in her kitchen
till midnite working toward the finished product!

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Great Date Night, If You Can Win

5 Minutes for Giveaways is hosting a give-away for a $50 gift card to Red Lobster. With the crazy pace that we've been keeping around here, and the serious budget cut-backs that will be required after the gazillion and a half birthdays we've been celebrating, I sure could use a nice date night out with The Boss.


Do not enter this give-away.

I'm just sayin' . . .

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Praying for Mercy

This precious family needs your prayers today. They are in the middle of an adoption for a sweet little girl named Mercy, waiting in Ghana for her Momma and Daddy to come to her. Tuesday, they received some hard news.

Pray for them. Ask the Lord to move a mountain on their behalf. They've already been through the failure of one referral in the process of a Haiti adoption. They've had a hard, long year.

Little Mercy needs her Momma. She needs her Daddy. She needs to be home with her siblings. Please, go there now.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Shaggy!

August is a full month for our family. Today, we celebrate Shaggy's 15th birthday. In the past years, (here and here) I've waxed eloquent about the amazing young man that Shaggy is becoming. This year, it's all still true. But there's a new dimension that I've been privileged to witness in my son this past year that I want to share with you.

Over the past year, The Boss and I have felt an increasing desire and need to pull our boys from the public school that they were attending in order to school them at home. It wasn't an easy choice, nor was it wildly popular. They were succeeding academically in their school setting and for the most part both boys were continuing to grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We saw no "red flags" or grave concerns. We just felt an increased desire to be the primary influence over their lives and an interest in loosening up the pace of our home. Between their honors level classes, outside hobbies and church activities and Shaggy's desire to become gainfully employed sooner than later, we felt as if time to just "be" together as a family was getting harder and harder to prioritize.

Let me just add here, that taking a "year off" when Li'l Empress came home was the best decision we could have possibly made. It was hugely instrumental in helping us to regain some perspective and fine tune our sense of mission about who we want The Gang to be even while navigating such a wide span of life stages all in one house. I am mourning that the "official" end of that year is looming . . .

As I said, the idea of leaving the traditional school atmosphere was not wildly well-received when we introduced the idea. It was a rough winter of conversation and prayer and more conversation and more prayer. All we asked is that the boys allowed us to follow what we believed to be the call of the Lord for our family, without purposefully trying to thwart or rebel against the plan. We asked for them to pray for open hearts and open minds. Just getting them to agree to that was a process in itself! We were very sympathetic to their resistance, but we were firm that if it came down to us obeying the Lord or pleasing them, we HAD to obey the Lord.

It has been a wonderful process to see my son rise to the challenge. I'm not saying he did the process perfectly. But I am so proud of the choices he made along the way:
  • to try to honor us even in the midst of disagreement,
  • to choose prayer for that open mind,
  • to be willing to talk about it,
  • to be willing to take ownership over the choices of schools out there,
  • to be even willing to consider the "pro's" of this new venture instead of dwelling on the perceived "con's."
He will be the first to admit that he's not completely "there" with excitement and anticipation over the changes that have been made in our schooling choices. But he will also tell you that he's at the very least, willing to concede that this might be a good thing for our family, and for him at this season of our lives.

Through it all, I've discovered how much I enjoy talking with my son. He's got a sharp, intuitive mind. He reads people well and has become adept at "reading the room" (This is our family code for checking out the environment of the room and taking into consideration that there may be a need to tone down or pull back until gauging that environment!). He's a great conversationalist and is very receptive to others' perspectives. Especially when they are shared in a respectful manner. (He really doesn't like being talked down to, and I have to work on that - sometimes I look at him and I still see my adorable, bowl-cut, blond, verbal little toddler. Even when he's standing there in all his 5'7" shaggy blond glory!)

He's light-hearted and hard-working. He's focused and driven and very goal-oriented. He's organized and enjoys learning. He's kind and compassionate and respectful. All of these things will make him an excellent home-schooler. But the joy for me is that they also make him an excellent son. And now, my friend.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Li'l Empress

Today is a special day for all of the Gang. Our sweet, fiery, happy girl turns two. It's extra special because it's her first birthday at home with us. We are so grateful that Our Father honored us with the privilege of raising this girl to know Him and with the joy of being her family.

We started the day by surrounding her crib when she woke, to sing "Happy Birthday" to her. She kept asking "again, again" and of course, we all complied. She just laid there, completely content and smiling like crazy. I kept getting all choked up, just marveling at how confident and secure she is in our love. Her "scrunchy nose grin" gets me every time. It was a perfect start to this special day.

Happy Birthday, Li'l Empress!

We love you beyond words and we are so happy
that you are part of this big, loud, crazy Gang.
You make our home happier, our hearts lighter,
and our laughter more pure.
May you always know the same kind of
complete and total joy that you bring to us.
May you always feel the love of Our Father
by the love that we show you.
And may you always have that
silly grin ready to face the day.
Happy Birthday!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Can You Feel IT?!

Eagles fever is in the air.
Only five more Sundays
till regular season starts.

These shots were taken from the sidelines
at the Eagles' Training Camp.
The Boss took the boys up last week for a morning.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

More Vacation Pics

An intense game of checkers

An even more intense game of chess

Sleeping in the shade

Soooo NOT sleeping in the shade!

Never too grown up for a kiddie pool

Best $10 Grandma ever spent!
(for the pool, not the baby!)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

A day at the Corning Museum of Glass with The Gang, in pictures:

Very large, very pretty bowl of glass fruit

Very happy Gang, standing next to
very large bowl of glass fruit
(Note Baby Blue Eyes' & Li'l Empress' expressions!)

Very tired Li'l Empress,
pulling at stroller straps mumbling,
"Buck, Buck, Buck!" (buckle) over and over
like a little old woman with her rosary beads.

Very frustrated Li'l Empress giving up
(temporarily!) the struggle with the "buck."
See the resignation?!

We can laugh about this progression of events now,
but in the crowded pre-lunch hour of this
part of our day at the museum,
we. were. NOT. laughing.

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
that might actually truly be wordless :),
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Bit of a Rub

Several months ago, I found this great site, called Creating a Family. Since then, I've recommended it to several friends. It covers tons of issues related to building your family, whether biologically (and all the methods that might entail) or through adoption (both domestic and international). The insights from both the writer of the site and the guests she features have been so helpful. I've also enjoyed the recommendations and resources that this site offers - I feel that most of them are very trustworthy. I come away from this site educated and informed about a broad spectrum of issues related to raising my family. I'm hoping to get my iP*d fixed soon so I can subscribe to the podcasts. I know I'll enjoy those during my walks or while the boys are schooling and using the computer during the day this fall.

Recently, Dawn's blog addressed an issue(here) that has long been a bit of a rub for me, more especially since I have become an adoptive parent. I was tending to think that I was just being too sensitive. Turns out, there's a whole host of folks that feel that certain rubbing against the grain that I felt. I love the thoughtful and logical discussion of the issue as Dawn addressed it.

I'm really interested to know what you think of this issue? Please, head over there and read the blog entry. But come back here and share your thoughts. I'd love to learn more from your perspective!

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Vacation Musings

Today is the last day of our vacation. Our time away was refreshing and relaxing. We had lots of naps, reading, playing checkers, listening to music, and enjoying each other's company. We also went here on my birthday to escape the rain that follows us to the lake every. single. year. And of course, we had food. Lots of yummy, savory treats that we rarely allow ourselves to keep in the house year round. Cheetos, lamb fillets, THREE different kinds of ice cream, extra-butter microwave popcorn, you get the picture!

We arrived home from our time at the lake late last evening, after almost 7 hours in the car. With a crabby, over-tired toddler who is in a screaming stage. Yeah, fun times were had by all! So we spent our Monday on re-entry. Armed with my cozy jammies and a never-ending mug of coffee, I tackled emails, snail mail, laundry, and re-training of said toddler.

I'm sharing with you a list of the things I thought about while lounging on the deck watching the clouds drift by the cabin. Things that I wonder when I'm allowing my mind to drift. Feel free to answer any of the questions I pose. Feel free to share your own musings. Just don't laugh at the strange way my mind works when I'm busy relaxing. It's not always pretty, but it amuses me. And that's all that counts!
  • Why don't calories ever take a vacation? They certainly work hard enough.
  • Are you a vacationer who prefers total isolation from the world in which you live?
  • Is Internet connection slower at the lake because it's already learned the value of a gentler pace of life?
  • When vacation is over, do you prefer to live it up till the very end and cram all your stuff into your suitcase at the last possible moment?
  • OR do you begin your departure plans the night before, organizing your suitcases for maximum consolidation and efficiency? I think we all know where I stand on this one.
  • Is chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting just intrinsically better when your mommy makes it for you?
  • How relaxed am I really if I'm seriously contemplating how relaxed I am or not?
  • Are our local retailers' tv ads as corny and ridiculous as this lake community's ads? How do we stand it?
  • Do the fish know my kids are coming for them and spread the word about the best hiding places in the lake? Seriously, not one. stinkin'. fish. Not ONE.
  • Just how much time on this lounge chair is considered too much? Does the same measure apply to the couch? To the hot tub?
  • Exactly where did Jimmy Hoffa go?
There you have it. Just some of the random things I thought about when planting my tushie on the deck to enjoy the fresh Finger Lakes air. I make no apologies for it.