Monday, September 27, 2010

In Her Sleep

The other night, I stayed home with Li'l Empress while the rest of the family headed out to watch my nephew play football. She was getting a cold, runny nose and slightly fever-ish. So I popped in her new favorite, an old VHS of LadyBug's ("Strawberry Shortcake's Get Well Adventure" - anyone remember those?!) before an early bedtime.

She talked to the screen and the "nay nay" through the whole movie. The. WHOLE. movie. (Isn't it crazy how a three-year old can watch the same movie 4 or 5 days in a row and actually want to watch it again the next day?!)

Apparently, it was TOO EARLY a bedtime. For the next forty-five minutes I listened to her talk quietly to herself, sing "Twinkle Twinkle" (not so quietly!) and roll around with her wubby dubby and doggie toy. After we prayed together, said our good-nights, and turned out the lights. I'm not sure where she gets the energy to keep those lips moving for so many hours a day.

I knew she'd been restless and wiggly, so I was pretty certain that she'd likely have tossed her blankets all over the crib. So a few hours later when I headed up to bed myself, I stopped by her room and crept quietly in to cover her up.  And to spend a moment peeking at her cute little pouty lips. That were finally quiet.

Or so I thought.

As I covered her up, her little eyes opened and she sleepily mumbled, "Mommy." So I answered her by saying that it was "night night time," and she should go back to sleep. I walked away and heard her sweet little voice. Again.


"What Li'l E?"

"I lub you."

Somehow, I didn't really mind that those sweet little lips were still talking. Even if it was in her sleep.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

Ni Hao Y'all

September is a big month for The Boss and I. Lots of reminiscing and remembering all the things that God has done in our lives through our adoption story. Two years ago today, we were wrapping up the biggest adventure we'd ever been on.  But we also knew that in reality that we were heading home to face another whole kind of adventure. Embarking on the transition from a family of 6 to a family of 7. Doesn't sound like much. But we thought that was big enough. That we had a handle on what was changing.

Turns out, it was a bigger deal than even we expected. Turns out, a lot more changed than just our numbers. Turns out, what we started with that trip across the world to embrace our Li'l Empress was just an itty bitty part of the trip that God has for our whole family. Turns out, once you get God's heart for "true religion" - it changes everything you thought you knew. Turns out, it changes you.

Our last night in China, two years ago today.
(yes, the date stamp was off, still on US time...)

We spent our last day packing, shopping,
packing, eating, and packing some more.

Here is the Li'l Empress, at 14 months old,
all dolled up for a morning of Shamian Island shopping.

Here is the Li'l Empress now, at three years old.
The girl still loves a morning out of the house to shop.
And still loves a good pair of glamourous shades!

And the changes are still coming. The adventure is still unfolding.

Link up to the Sunday Snapshot fun,
but please leave a comment here too!
I'll try to get around and visit if you leave me a comment!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Really? REALLY?!

I dutifully went to my yearly exam today.

"I'm fine. How have you been, Dr?"

"Yes, everything is good."

"I know. I need to make more time for exercise."

"I'm feeling fine. Thanks for asking."


Until I gathered up the paperwork to check myself out at the desk.

Did you know that medical codes group exams of this nature by age?

I did not.

My new "code group" is a twenty-two year span. And I ain't talking ages 20-42, either.

Oh no. Now, I'm in the ages 42-64 group.

For cryin' out loud, my MOTHER just left that age group. As I entered it.

That is NOT right.

Ugh. "Fine" is NOT how I'm feeling right now.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Today, Dr. D has his first (loooong-awaited) game of his freshman football season.  He was pretty focused all summer long, conditioning here at home with an eye toward being ready to "hit somebody."  We also signed him up for a local football camp run by one of his former coaches, and he really enjoyed honing his skills. And "hitting somebody."  He even got Li'l Empress into the fun by practicing three-point stances and leading with her shoulder and "hitting somebody" low and solid. Yeah, he likes the hitting. Me, not so much.  And while I'm sure I'll never love watching him hit or be hit like HE does, I'm learning not to cringe every time.  Or at least I'm trying . . . 

I don't mind admitting I was a little surprised by passion for all the preparation for the season. There's been lots of studying of the play book. In fact, that white binder was his constant companion on our car trips. And we logged a lot of hours in car trips this summer.  He was intense about it. Willingly studying and memorizing. Even though I've always known that he was capable of such dedication and focus, once he found something he loved, I was still surprised by the ferocity of his attention. And very proud of it, too. 

(Is there some way I can show him how Algebra I is applicable in creating and strategizing plays for a freshman football team? Cuz that would neatly wrap up a lot of our mother-son homeschooling conversations, for sure!)

So. He came home from practice the other day and proceeded to tell us that he's starting this season. Starting offense, at wingback. Starting defense, at safety. And he's on punt return. AND covering kick-offs and punts. That all translates to a lot of "hitting someone."  Lots of someones.  Unfortunately, for this slightly nervous momma, I'm football savvy enough to also know that it means there are potentially a lot of "someones" who will be looking to hit him.  Oy. 

I think it's safe to say that he's not going to see a lot of down-time during the games.  And as long as he's on that field, running, dodging or "hitting someone" - neither will I.

Neither will I.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

"I lub brottin' cate!"
Translation: "I LOVE frosting cakes with Mommy!"
Hard to talk with a beater in your mouth.

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Blue-Eyed Boy. Forever.

Sigh. Today is Baby BlueEye's 9th birthday. NINTH, I said.

How is this even possible?

Sometimes, when I look at him, I still see this in my mind's eye.

Spring, 2002
I know. I know. Could he have BEEN any cuter?!

I mean, I know in my head that he's all grown up and stuff. I know he's miles past this.

Summer 2007 - Rockin' the tough guy look

I am still stunned to find that even this isn't what he really looks like any more.

Winter 2009
With his best buddy, Nate.

Instead, right in front of me I see this.

Backyard soccer, again with his buddies, Nate and Sam.

The 2010 version of the tough guy look.

He's growing up into a kind and loving big brother. Maturing into a sensitive, loyal and compassionate friend. We are so proud of the wonderful son he is. In love with his sweet devotion to family and his unquenchable desire to be JUST.LIKE. all the godly men in his life. His crazy sense of humor and his occasional cluelessness keeps us all laughing. He is good medicine for our family.

Today when I look at him, at who he really is, not as my heart wants to still see him, I see a young man emerging. My baby boy is growing up. And I'm not sure I like it one bit.

Happy Birthday,
Baby BlueEyes!
You are a gift to our family. You steal the hearts of everyone who is blessed enough to know you. And every day, I thank Jesus that I get to be your momma.
But.... You will always be my blue-eyed baby boy. Forever.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

Ni Hao Y'all

Okay, so the excitement of Sunday Snapshot here at The Gang's house can NEVER compete this weekend with the excitement going on over at Ni Hao Ya'll's house. I mean, seriously, Stefanie. I'm glued. Just glued, I tell ya. I keep hopping up and down to check my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Raisin cookies that are baking for Baby BlueEyes birthday treat for school. Haven't burned anything yet, but the night is early. And my oven is so inaccurate. I'm not holding out much hope for a perfect batch!

Speaking of early, aren't you all impressed that I'm posting a Sunday Snapshot on SUNDAY?  It's part of our new fall routine. The Boss, Shaggy, and Dr. D are off to youth group and I'm stuck home with the rest of the gang hiding at my computer, er, I mean using my evening wisely. Making cookies a day in advance, planning out the week, making TO DO lists, organizing meals for the new baby at church, reading blogs, writing blogs, yeah. That's what I'm doing.

This weekend was The Closing Of The Pool. It's capitalized because it's its own special holiday, always marked with a sad little faceLon my calendar toward the end of September. It's a day-long event, made easier to manage in recent years with the addition of big strong muscles on big strong sons. Who can now remove diving boards. And carry chaise lounges to storage.

A sad, sad sight. The poor pool looks nekked.

Diving board. Gone.
Ladder. Gone.
Stair rails. Gone.


 One last lunch on the deck.
For laborers and slackers alike.

A little cheese with that p.b. & j. anyone?

The Boss VERY off-handedly mentioned that it was
a shame that the kids couldn't have one more swim.

So Baby BlueEyes suited up and dove in.

It was a chilly 74.
Inside the pool and out.
He dove in. And jumped right back out!

 Inside, I rocked out to my favorite 80's tunes
and pumped out a triple batch of
spiced banana muffins and bread.
Some with nuts. Some without.

Sometimes ya feel like a nut.
Sometimes ya don't.

If you want to check out the excitement
and join the fun of Sunday Snapshot,
head over HERE and link up.
Leave me a comment below
 and I'll come visit your pics!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Remembering . . .

Two years ago today, our family changed forever.
Two years ago today, we were given the gift
of another child to nurture and love and parent.
Two years ago today, we met our Li'l Empress...

The highlighted portions are links to the three posts
we wrote from our "Gotcha Day" in China.
So wonderful to look back and read them again.

I've been doing a lot of remembering this week. These walks down memory lane have been sweet to mull over and over. Especially in light of the difficulties of the last few weeks as we work through Li'l E's adjustment to pre-school. The memories of our early days, intentionally building her trust and confidence that we are permanent, have been so encouraging as we ponder what kind of support and reassurances we can give her when she feels anxious about drop-off time.  Thinking about those first days of her silent stares, occasional tears (after the initial first big melt-down!), and tentative attempts to connect with us make me smile fondly now. Back then, they made me quake with the enormous-ness of what we were taking on.

In many ways, we had a wonderful, smooth attachment and transition to "home." In many other ways, ways that I rarely spoke of here in that first year, we had some heart-breaking moments. Moments that I think were tiny windows into the girl that was hiding little bits of herself until she was sure it was safe.  I remember one night in particular, after a mostly-sleepless night of clinging to my neck and whimpering between bouts of what I can only describe as night terrors.  Her determination to NOT be put down and her fortitude to fight the sleep and panic that came with it made me think, "AAAH! This is more of her true self peeking out at me." Let's just say that the quiet, very compliant, docile child that clung to my or Shaggy's shoulders in those early months was only a very TINY part of who our girl really is.

Today, I can contrast that picture in my heart (and by the way, I can still feel the ache of her fear as if it was yesterday when I let myself. Does anyone else do that with their kids? Or am I nuts here?) with the picture of her sitting in the middle of my parents' living room last weekend, singing a little love song to each individual person in the room, happy and content in knowing that she is loved. Nine verses (including herself, of course) of "I Love Mommy," etc. just did not get old for me, as I thought back to that night when she was so afraid of being alone in her bed that she ferociously fought the waves of exhaustion that were crashing over her.

Today, we KNOW what a huge personality she is. We know (and are continuing to learn) what a tenacious, single-minded, determined, joyful, exuberant, strong character she is.  And in many aspects, I'm quaking more now at the task ahead of us in parenting her to hold on to those great qualities but temper them in submission to Christ and in consideration of the others around her. No easy task, by any measure. (To be sure, I quake at this task for all my gang members. It might be the underlying cause of so many of my quirks and tics.... I'm just sayin'!)

But through it all, I still find myself amazed. In awe. So humbled and honored that Our Father would see fit to give us the gift that she is. Out of the most heart-wrenching circumstances of her little life's beginnings, He saw something in us that could be part of a redemptive plan for her life. And certainly for ours. CERTAINLY for ours.

And while I might have started out the week just remembering?  Well, I'm finding myself wrapped up in worshipping The Father who gave us the opportunity to participate in a life that will no doubt be HUGE in His Kingdom. And praying for further equipping to do the task of molding and shaping her to be His vessel. Remembering. Worshipping. And praying. Always praying.

Wordless Wednesday

Are you ready for some

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

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Great Case For Ordering Your Home

It's no secret among my family and friends that I prefer to run a tidy, organized home.  I've taken a lot of heat for it over the years - jokes about OCD, anal-retentiveness, and other psycho-babble that is easy to let roll right off my back. After all, my pantry is spit-polish clean, neatly stacked with T*pperw@re galore (most of the time).  And when I go searching for something important (like, say, that amazing recipe for butternut and farfalle in a creamy chive sauce), I can usually find it pretty quickly (or at least in time to make it for dinner that week).

But when I read this article, the heavens opened.
The angels sang.
The "cleanie" in me sighed in joy and contentment.

In her eloquent and logical way, Jamie Lee Curtis explains beautifully just why an organized home is a happy home.  Why neatly stacked containers of dried goods, complete with labels (snicker if you must, but I LOVE my label-maker), make such good sense for a busy wife and mother.  Why streamlined closets and archived boxes full of the kids' most sentimental belongings makes room for creativity, freedom and contentment.

Sigh. I think I have a new celebrity crush.
And a whole lotta new ideas for some fall projects!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

Ni Hao Y'all

Better late than never!

We are so blessed to have just returned from 4-5 days at my parents' cabin in upstate NY. We relaxed, ate really well, and the older four kids got to enjoy a fishing trip or two with Grandpa. It's a special time for all of them, building memories together and sharing something that Grandpa got to share with his dad when he was young. Sometimes on this very same lake. Li'l Empress was disappointed that she couldn't help "Poppa" drive the boat this time around, but I have no doubt she'll be right by his side next year, talking his ear off and reveling in all the "big kid fun" that her sibs have enjoyed for many years now.

Shaggy obviously had a different agenda for
his time on the long-anticipated fishing trip.
I wonder if my brother passed on the "napping" mantle
to the next generation sometime this summer! 

 The victorious fishermen with their prize catch!
He's a large-mouth lake bass.
He was yummy.

Riding shotgun and classing up the joint
with her beautiful smile.

If you want to hang out for Sunday Snapshot,
open through Monday night for slackers like me,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

We always end our summer by hanging out
with my oldest and dearest friend for the Labor Day holiday.
Usually it's at our house,
or more correctly, in our pool all weekend long.

This year, our reunion with friends
changed our location.
But not the tradition. Or the fun.

Back when we were five years old
and whispering secrets on the playground,
I'm pretty sure we never thought
this would be the outcome!

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

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day, Rounds Two and Three

So, I forgot to add Dr. D's first day pics last week - he started his freshman year (also at home with a cyber-school program). He also started last Wednesday when Li'l Empress started, and I got these two pics of him after I re-charged my camera... And dried my eyes. And stopped checking the clock every 10 minutes to see if she would make it all morning.

He's particularly fond of the dress code.

 And sneaking some shut-eye mid-morning
when he "needs it."  Heh.

And today, Baby BlueEyes and LadyBug went back to their local elementary school. I've said it before, but it bears repeating.  I am SO grateful for this wonderful little gem in our district. The staff are wonderful, caring, passionate educators who really dig into KNOWING the kids they teach. They are warm and welcoming and so excited for every new stage the students reach. We are also blessed that many of them are believers in Jesus Christ and I know they pray regularly for the school, the families, and the students. It shows.

All dressed up and ready to go.

A bright sunny day to start the new year!

For the last several years, the school has hosted a "Welcome Back" carnival on the lawn of the school. All around the lot there are brightly decorated tables with balloons and banners.  Music is thumping and teachers and other staff are milling around, welcoming families back to the new school year. It's a fun, festive way to start off the year. The principal always leads them in the Pledge of Allegiance and then some rousing, "Hoo Ha!" kinds of cheers to kick things off in the right direction. The Boss and I went for the fun this a.m. and brought Li'l Empress along.  She really couldn't understand why she couldn't stay with her sister and brother, but they sure enjoyed showing her off to all their friends.

Looking so grown up and lovely.
She's ready to be the "Big Girl on Campus!"

So, now, we settle in... Rather, we settle in for today and tomorrow. Then we're taking off (yes, I know, taking off in the first week? How irresponsible!! :) ) for a couple days at my parents' place on the lake.  The schools are closed on Thursday for the Jewish holiday, so we decided to delay the "hard core" start to the school year till Monday and sneak away for a last ditch get-away.

Friday, September 3, 2010

"You Need to Be There"

Twenty years ago, sometime in the mid-fall, our then-Sr. Pastor tapped me on the shoulder after morning services.  I remember it like it was yesterday. It was one of those moments that you look back upon and your heart and mind say, "Ahhhh, that's what that was all about."

He asked how the newlywed Boss and I were doing, how we were adjusting and settling in. We chatted very briefly and then he said, "My daughter and her husband are starting a small group just for young married couples at their home tonight. You guys need to be there."

So, we went.  I mean, when your Sr. Pastor stops you and tells you "you need to be there,"  you don't much question that. At least, I didn't. (But then, I'm a first-born and I love to please the authority figures in my life. Even more so when I was just a young 20-something!)

When I look back on it now, I realize that this was the night that our connection at  that church moved from "attendance" to "relationship." That night, we met couples that walked with us, cried with us, rejoiced with us, over the course of the last 20 years. That night, we started on a journey of intentionally connecting with other folks who were ahead of us in the journey of marriage. Couples who were just starting out with us as newlyweds. And even a few couples who were newly-engaged and soaking in all the preparations they could. It's from that group that our two or three most significant adult relationships have sprung. And those relationships have grown, flexed, and sustained us in ways that only the dearest and most intimate of friends possibly can over all the ages and stages that life together brings us all.

This weekend, we are setting off to enjoy a reunion of that original small group and all of the multiple groups  that have come out of its core over the past twenty years. Some of the folks we'll get to see are ones with whom we have lost touch. But they were there at the beginning of our journey and it will be wonderful to re-connect. Some of the folks we'll bump into will be from different generations of that original group as it multiplied out and gave birth to other young-marrieds groups over the last 20 years. And I can't wait to meet some new folks that I know will be there as a result of the group's place in their own journey. I don't know all of them yet, but that's okay. I know where they came from.

That night, 20 years ago, was a touchstone for our marriage. For our newly-begun adult life. And for many, many other newly-married couples over the past 20 years that group has functioned as the same point of connecting. It's exciting to look at all the lives that have been shaped and formed by that ministry. By the core of that original group in some manner. It's a family tree of sorts. A healthy family tree in the life and growth of a healthy church - just as it's supposed to be. The last twenty years have yielded great fruit. Great legacy. We are so grateful to have been there for the start of it all.

To James and Trina, for your passion to see couples build healthy and strong foundations for their families, The Boss and I (and our many gang members!) thank you.

To Chuck and Susan, your ministry and training and mentoring over these 20 years, starting that memorable night in James and Trina's living room, has made a lasting impact on our marriage and our parenting.

To Brett & Teresa and Ron & Sherry, for your sustaining, unconditional, consistent love and friendship, The Boss and I thank you. We could not have started this journey and lasted on it so long without any of you by our sides. In our homes. In our hearts.

And finally, to Pastor Larry, for your sensitivity to the Spirit's leading, The Boss and I thank you.

You were right, we needed to be there.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Do You Need a Make Over?

I've never really been one to spend too much time thinking about the facade of this blog - the free templates and backgrounds that are available "everywhere" have sufficed for the most part.  Occasionally, I get an itch to have a new look that defines "me" here but I've never really done much about it, beyond the free stuff that I change out, usually seasonally. I figure that I already spend way too much time coming up with wonderful, witty, meaningful dialogue. What excuse could I possibly come up with to explain MORE time spent combing through sites to find just the right look? And frankly, I'm just too darned CHEAP to want to invest any. money. at. all. on this here little hobby o' mine.

But.... my friend, Christie over at Bushel and a Peck, is hosting a new contest. A free blog make over that will give your blog (my blog?) its own unique feel and "first impression" for anyone who stops by here.  You, too, are eligible to enter this make over contest. To do so, click HERE and check out the rules.  And if you win, I'll be very, very happy for you.

If I win?  Well, then I'll have to come up with something that makes this blog scream "THE GANG'S MOMMA DUMPS HER BRAIN HERE!"  I'm starting to feel a little stressed at the idea of it... But that's what the look of a blog is supposed to say, right? That's the point of a make over, right?!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - sorta

 First Day of Pre-School

 Not so sure she wants to go in...

 "Mommy, you tay wi meee?"

Matching the letters in her name
distracted her for a few minutes.

Before she fell apart.
And screamed wildly.
And tried to climb over the shoulders
of the teacher who was holding her while I left.
I have no pictures of that.
I was trying too hard not to cry
as I walked. Away.

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

*Updated: The teacher said it took 45 minutes for her to
stop crying and freaking out. Then another couple minutes
to stop the "fake crying" to see if the teacher was serious.
Yeah, she was totally testing the teacher.
Welcome to my world :)