Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (finally, I'm back!)

Every year, my father-in-law carves ornaments for the kids.
Each ornament is a kind of "living history"
documenting the kids' current interests and hobbies.

This year, as with every year,
he totally nailed it for the littles!

will be adorning our tree and surreptitiously
scoping the area for signs of
I feel much safer now.

Big sister Candace will be keeping an eye
on the hijinx of younger brothers Phineas and Ferb.
Just like LadyBug does! 

And! Kai Lan! will make sure that all her
super! duper! friends! are
Super! HAPPY!

(Isn't that reaction by Li'l Empress PRICELESS?!)

And don't worry, none of the moms keep
it truly wordless every week :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ahoy, or Should I Say Yoha!!!!

The other night, Dr. D and I were watching a late night college football game. We were talking about some of his favorite college teams and the "greats" of the sport that those schools have produced. I recalled a story of a player from many years ago who had been spotlighted regarding his struggles with ADD and dyslexia, so Dr. D was googling him and trying to find out who I meant.

In his searching, he came upon a list of famous folks, celebrities and the like, who deal with dyslexia. The list was quite extensive and we chatted about the names as he read them to me.  Some of the names included notables like Tom Cruise, Orlando Bloom, Sir Richard Branson and more. He was as surprised as I to read just how many folks have overcome such learning struggles as dyslexia.

After just a couple seconds of reading over the site, he said, "You know this list includes the three major actors in the Pirates of the Carribbean series. Johnny Depp, Kiera Knightly, and Orlando Bloom."

"Yeah. How 'bout that? What a funny coincidence," I said sleepily. After all, it was nearing midnight and my brain felt fuzzy.

He lifted his arm in the air (as if hefting a sword), smiled cheekily at me and said, "hgraAAA!"

Friday, December 2, 2011

One Last Giveaway To Share

I have one final giveaway to spotlight for you.  This, too, is a great way to invest in someone else while shopping for yourself or entering to win the goodies. As the mom of a former China Care girly, I'm especially tickled that China Care's partner organization, Half the Sky, will be one of the recipients of the blessings of your investments.

Here's the fancy-dancy button on which to click.

Fill Their Stockings

And please, click away - there's some truly great stuff in store for this giveaway. Read all about it in this post and get to clicking and commenting! The first post of the giveaway went live earlier this week and has already been awarded, but you should be able to get in on at least day two or three and go from there.... Have fun!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another Great Giveaway

I'm pretty excited about this particular giveaway - first, because it's an awesome way to shop for gifts that have incredible meaning and purpose behind them. From moms trying to help support their family, to families creating and crafting to bring home adoptive children, and more - the gifts featured here are DOING DOUBLE DUTY!

And second? Well, it's opened a whole new world to me... Can we say ETSY?!

(I know, I know, I'm so behind. Sheesh, I can't be up on EVERY trend.)

(And right now, as I typed that, I'm realizing I'm not up on ANY trends.  But anyhooooo.....)

So, head over to Purposeful Giveaways and click away.

There's some beautiful things there and while you are clicking and commenting, take a moment to pray for the family that is creating the gifts you are trying to win. And pick out something special for your loved ones.  Your support will be priceless to them, I promise!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just in Case....

I'm taking a little break from the holiday giveaway links, because I just realized the date AND because I just realized I hadn't shared it here earlier.... Time's a tickin' for this one.

As many of you know, The Boss and I began another adoption journey last year about this time. It's been slow going, as our "must-do-now" bathroom project took over our little nest egg that we'd been planning for the first few steps of the journey. I've been selling tons of stuff, donations from friends and things we have purged and cleaned out from our own belongings for a while now and we're finally feeling like this process is going somewhere now. I've also been looking around for some creative and purposeful ways to raise money for our documentation fees and travel expenses.

Recently, I  got connected with a Pampered Chef consultant who was willing to work with me on a fundraiser sale. Basically, it's an on-line sale and a percentage of the sales will be translated into a monetary donation directly to our adoption agency in our family's name. Additionally, I'm hosting a party here in my home on Friday night, Dec. 2nd at 7 p.m. If you are local, I'd love for you to come out and join the fun. Free food, a chocolate fountain, and some great weeknight meal ideas will be on the agenda.

So, just in case you are interested in a little
Pampered Chef with a purpose, 
The show will close on Monday, December 5th.
(Really, I can't believe I waited this long to blog about it!)

If you have questions about the shows, please contact me via email (in my profile).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's A Tradition!

Okay, so I know I've not been around much lately. I've had lots to say and precious little time or energy  to say it all, thanks to a change-of-season cold that has been whipping my butt and the little hineys of The Gang plus 2 around here!  I'm woefully behind in reading some of my favorite blogs, participating in the holiday fun, and linking up to give-aways and such.  So, to ease myself back to the routine of blogging, I am sharing some fun holiday links this week. This first one is a tradition that many Mommy Bloggers anxiously wait for and I'm no different. I've won some pretty cool stuff over the years and I'm excited to share the 5 Minutes for Mom Christmas Giveaway 2011!  Head over there TODAY or TOMORROW cuz the fun wraps up on November 30th!!!!


Good luck - there's some mighty cool stuff over there to try for!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Review of I Don't Have Your Eyes

Several weeks ago, I was presented an opportunity to review a book for EMK Press.  Since this particular book has been on my "wish list" for some time now, I jumped at the chance to receive it and check it out with Li'l Empress.

When my complimentary copy of I Don't Have Your Eyes arrived in my mailbox, I was DELIGHTED to see it in hardcover. I am a huge fan of beautiful children's books and collect them in hardcover whenever possible. So upon opening the much-anticipated story book, I was already very excited about the prospects this story would hold for us.

And the book did not disappoint.

I read through it first by myself, as Li'l Empress was napping when it arrived. Frankly, because I couldn't wait. I mean, it has been on my "wish list" for a while. Did I mention that?

I found my first read-through to be very touching. The illustrations, first of all, are just beautiful. Realistic, artistic, and very inviting. Each face seems so warm. The "child's eye-level" view of kneeling knees, the big shoes and little shoes, the daddy braiding hair... all of these illustrations complement the text just perfectly. If this book had been picked up by my Li'l Empress before we'd had a chance to read it to her, I've no doubt in my mind that there would have been some great connections made by how the differences between characters were presented visually.

As for the text of the story, I found its simplicity to be the most charming thing about the whole book. Again, on my own reading, I actually felt a little choked up at the tenderness of the observations of the differences between the child and the parent. They were such real things that kids point out to themselves and each other every day. I was quite anxious to read it to Li'l Empress and see where the story pointed her conversations.

At this point, I must add that I am a mom to five kids. My older four bio kids have some strong similarities among them and Li'l Empress is, so far, the only child in our home of a completely different ethnic background. And she has been noticing it a lot lately. Mostly in sweet, funny observations that give us plenty of time to think ahead about the more serious questions that we know will be coming. So, I was thrilled that the appearance of this new book (and truthfully, the pouring rain outside!) prompted Baby BlueEyes to sit with Li'l Empress and I for our first reading of the story. He is, in appearance and in temperament, the most different from Li'l Empress so I was interested to read the story with both of them.

And again, the book did not disappoint.

The three of us giggled and laughed our way through the story, pausing to talk about all the little and big differences the story sparked as Li'l Empress made connections between herself and the characters:

Li'l Empress's little ear and big ear
(Li'l Empress was born with right ear Microtia)
Li'l Empress's shiny black hair and LadyBug's long brown hair
Li'l E's soft dark hands and Momma's scratchy white hands
(yes, I know. I need some Swiss Formula!)
Dr. D's great big huge feet and Li'l E's tiny feet
Li'l E's big black-brown eyes and Baby BlueEye's sky-blue eyes

The book led to some of the sweetest and funniest talks we've had to date, about how we all look very different on the outside. It was precious, really. And very age appropriate for the stage that Li'l Empress is in, at four years old. Baby BlueEyes was making some deeper connections, about adoptions and mixed race families, but they were all on track and really interesting to discuss together.

I think the book does a great job using simple observations kids make about the differences between the people in their lives and catapulting it into points of connection about the really important things of life. Principles like "taking one step at a time" and "lifting spirits with a song" and "giving thanks" all build together to validate the old adage that "It's what's inside that counts," and "in our hearts we are the same."

As a mom of five incredibly unique and very different-from-each-other kids, that message is one that I embrace and can camp  upon while parenting them toward the path that the Lord has for their futures.

Thank you, to EMK Press,
for the complimentary copy 
of this book and the opportunity to review it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rock and a Hard Place

At dinner the other night, I served some Sauteed Brussels Sprouts, some fresh steamed broccoli, and some garden salad to go along with our grilled salmon and noodles. And I served them, knowing full well that the only veggie offered that all 5 kids can even half-heartedly agree upon as potentially edible would be the salad.

Now, I'm sure you've had similar conversations around your table, but this particular one just got me....

Setting the side dishes on the table, "Guys, tonight you need to choose two veggies. Period."

Upon spying the choices on the table, Dr. D groaned and hung his head. The other kids perked up and looked to see what got him so distraught.

They all looked at each other in dismay.  Truly. It was dismay, plain and simple.

The Boss and I couldn't help but grin at each other.  Heh. Sometimes I love being a mom.

Yes, I know. That's evil.
But please. Sometimes, the only fun we get
around here is torturing our kids.
With healthy food options, nonetheless.
I know. We are such cruel parents.
Go ahead. Call Children's Services.

We sat down, bowed our heads together while Li'l Empress prayed one of her "Grandpa Ed" prayers over the meal, and settled in for the meal.

I noticed that the kids weren't exactly looking around or making eye contact. With me. Or with the side dishes at the middle of the table.

So I reminded them, "Guys, tonight you need two veggies. Salad, broccoli or Brussels Sprouts."

Dr. D looked up at the offerings, looked at me, and hung his head again, "Man. Choosing from those options is like choosing how I want to die."


Dramatic much?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rearing Its Ugly Head

We are in a tough season with Li'l Empress. There's no other way of saying it - it just is what it is.

Separation anxiety is rearing its ugly head in her little heart and mind once again. Drop-offs at Sunday school have grown more painful, with feelings of increasing anxiety leading from the time she starts getting dressed all the way up to the actual dropping off and signing in at the door of the class.  Drop-offs at pre-school are increasing in difficulty also.

For two Sundays in a row now, I've had to stop at the doorway of the nursery (on the way back out to the sanctuary) to compose myself. Her tears and cries for Momma are heart-breaking to hear.

In my head, I know that this revisiting of the stage is developmentally normal. Age-appropriate, life-experience appropriate. Even "adjusted age" appropriate. It's normal... the other kids did it at 3 and 4, too. In my head I know that.

In my head, I know I've done all I can do to prepare her, assure her, and then prove to her that Daddy and I will be back to get her. In my head, I know she is safe and well-cared for. In my head, I know that SHE knows she is safe and well-cared for.

But it doesn't make her tears and cries for Momma any LESS heart-breaking.

Nor does it make this stage any less exhausting.

Which, ironically, I think might actually be making this stage last longer than it needs to last.

(It might also just feel like it's lasting longer than it needs to last. I know that too.)

Because I am finding myself much less patient with her constant need for reassurances as we're walking down the hall to Sunday School.

Because I'm finding myself snapping at her barrage of questions about who is in charge in her class room and who will pick her up when church is over.

Because I find myself bristling every time she asks me who will be the drop-off teacher at the pre-school line.

Because I find myself so.over.the.drama. that all of the reassurances and questions and crying are creating.

Like just now.

She just came to me, asking who was going to be putting her to bed tonight. She interrupted my train of thought, asked it in a whiny, nervous tone, and I didn't hear her at first. So she asked again. On the verge of tears at the thought that the answer might be Daddy instead of Mommy.

I heard it that time. And because I was being interrupted. Again. For the same basic reason as so many other interruptions in these last 5 weeks. I snapped at her. I told her to ask me again later. That I didn't want to talk about bedtime so far before bedtime.

The irony is that while I'm this tired and worn out from the constancy of this need, what she needs the most to move past this scary-to-her part of the need is my gentle, tender reassurances and patience. She needs me to be present and to validate her feelings while taking the time to allay her fears and insecurities. My impatience and snappish-ness is just making her more nervous and uncertain.

So, I stop what I'm doing. I stop thinking about what I know she needs, about what I know I've done to meet those needs, and I do it. I just do it.

I'm pretty sure that what I was doing (typing out a blog post) WAS going to translate to something brilliant here. But the brilliance is gone.

That's okay, it was fleeting and likely not as brilliant as I'd like to think it was, I'm sure. It rarely is.

Instead, there's soft hugs, back rubbing, and tender whispers of love and constancy.

Praying while I whisper of the constancy of our presence and our love.

Of The Father's Love.

Fighting back the ugly head of her anxieties. Slaying the dragon of insecurity once more, vanquishing its hold for another day.

And trusting that there is brilliance in that.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's a New Era

A big, big change has happened in The Gang's House. And while I know the change is for the better, for a right start to a big future, it's NOT a change I have embraced easily.

Most of you know by now that Shaggy is a senior. That Shaggy is a licensed driver. And that Shaggy is a hard worker, with his sights set forward toward the plans that God has for him.  We are extraordinarily proud of the young man that Shaggy is. We are thrilled to dream with him for the destiny God has set out before him. Last week, he took another step in pursuing that future. He got his first "real" job, with a schedule, training hours, a paycheck. And yes, taxes, too.

Tonight is his first shift. He's joining the world of retail fast food.

Though I am usually not excited about these big changes that mean my gang members are growing up so quickly, I must admit a teensy little thrill of excitment over this part of the change.  I hear tell that Ch!k-F!l-@ has some mighty awesome milkshakes. I'm thinking Shaggy needs to let his Momma test that theory for herself one of these afternoons. His treat. I'll take it in payment for the taxi fare.

But I digress.....  Back to the change.....

Last night, he took the biggest step of all in toward in chasing this new era of his life.

He got a hair cut.


I say it all the time.
This boy has some great hair.
Good-bye lovely long shaggy locks.

Off the collar, layered.
Neat and tidy for the retail fast-food industry specs.
And just way too grown up looking for this momma.

Those had better be some darned good milkshakes.
I don't think the nuggets will be comfort enough.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Her Own Little Twist

Over the many years of parenting this Gang o' mine, we've had lots of fun little traditions and routines that all the kids count on, things that have become almost like muscle memory for us.

One of my favorites has been the After! Bath! Hooo-ha! that The Boss and I put on for the kids when they were little. The smelling of the hair. The snuggling in new clean jammies. The smelling of the lotion-scented baby skin. The smelling of the hair. The exclamations and appropriate outbursts of joy to accompany said smellings and snugglings. Ooooh, who doesn't love the smell of a freshly shampoo'd little one, all warm and snuggled in their arms?

Sadly, mostly all my gang members are far too grown up for this little ritual. When one of them comes down freshly showered now, I have to be content with pathetically leaning in just to catch a whiff of the freshness. I miss the over! the! top! excitement of Saturday bath night that much.

Well, okay. I just miss the snuggling and "Smew my haiw" clamors for attention. I don't miss the chaos of running four little ones through the bath routine before crashing on the couch in exhaustion.

Apparently, Li'l E loves the little ritual of smelling freshly shampoo'd hair and snuggling with soft, lotion'd skin more than I realized. She has taken the routine to a new level.

This morning, while I was showering, she came in to greet me.  It went a little bit like this:

Knock, knock, knock.

(Can I pause here and tell you what a MILESTONE it is that she can stop, knock, and be content to wait for bidding to enter?! You moms who have had little ones with separation anxiety will GET that. Can I get a WOOT?!)

"Come in."

Perky. Chipper. "Good! MORNING! Momma!"

From the steam and rush of the shower, "Good morning sweetie. Do you need to go potty?"

"Nope. I aweady wented."

"Did you just come in to say hello?"

"Yup. Are you takin a showah?"

She spent a few seconds watching herself in the mirror and then making faces at me through the glass shower doors, giggling at herself and chattering away.


"Yes, Li'l E?"

"When you are done yoh showah, can I smell you?"

"Ummm, sure? Really? You wanna smell Mommy?"

Several minutes later, I toweled dry and shook out my hair. I bent over and stuck my hair in her face, "There. Smell my hair. All clean."

"Yes, but can I smell dere?"

Ummm, not sure where this is going... "Uh, here? My shoulder?"

"Yes. Yoh showder. I want to smell your showder."

Long, exaggerated, sniff, followed by a deep, contented sigh (she is SUCH a drama queen!), "Mmmmmm, Mommy! YOU! SMELL! GWEAT! SO! CLEAN!"

With that, she spun around, left the bathroom and went off to find her brother.

I guess I passed the smell test.

I'm so relieved.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I'm a Contributor!

I'm pleased to announce that one of my recent posts has been selected for posting over at We Are Grafted In. I've recommended the site to many of you before and I'm so honored to now be counted as a contributor. I even got this handy-dandy little button to sport on my sidebar for my efforts.

I'd love for you to go over and check out the wonderful things written there about the journey of adoptive families. And if you have a minute, read my post too.

Oh, and I looooooove me some comments...
You know, once you are over there.
If you have the extra time.
And you don't mind sharing your thoughts.
Pretty please.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oh! The! Drama!

Yesterday was miserable here.
The morning was cool, humid, cloudy and dreary.
Li'l Empress and Little Gal were in MOOOO -OOOOODS to match.
I pulled the oldest mommy trick out of my bag o' tricks
and set them up for (at least) a few minutes of drama free fun.

Who doesn't love an old-fashioned blanket fort?!

Don't let those sweet smiles fool you.
The drama runneth over yesterday.
All. morning. long.
This distraction only bought me about 1/2 hour
of peaceful relations between warring nations.

Little Guy was totally oblivious to the drama.
All he cares about is the fire truck that rumbles
and blares its siren.
Oh, and the garbage truck.
That one makes really cool crunching noises.
They fascinate him.

It's a good thing nap time comes at the same time every day.
I'm happy to say that both girls woke with new moods.
Dramatically different moods.
Heh. It might have been the "come to Jesus" meeting
and prayer revival I hosted after lunch.

Here's to a drama free day. Enjoy yours!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


There's been a lot of conversation around here lately about expectations. It seems to me that whenever there is a season of change, conversations about expectations are not far behind.  The relationship between change and expectation is a curious link for me. As it turns out, we are in quite the season for all of it:

Preparing and planning for child #6
Two kids heading back to public school for the first time in two years,
Momma working at home four days a week,
Shaggy praying about his post-high school plans
and so much more change than I can even list here

I find the adjusting of expectations to be a difficult thing. When my expectations are adjusted even in the the nicest possible way, I balk. (Don't we all? Or is that just me?!) When my expectations are adjusted in an unexpected, or worse, a rude or thoughtless manner, I fold. I retreat. I crumble a bit inside.  I suspect that it's the same for many of you. (If it's not, don't tell me, I prefer to think I'm not alone in this. Thanks!)

Recently, I had a situation of dashed expectations that was painful. While The Boss was not surprised at the outcome but I think he was a little surprised at my adjustment and my retreat. He couldn't figure out why I was surprised at the outcome. (Marriage is such an interesting dynamic for the conversation about expectations, isn't it?) I'm not being vague to be coy, I'm being vague because the situation itself is a rather universal, almost mundane one, especially now that I am several weeks out from it. But it left me thinking a LOT about adjusting expectations.

You see, I know that I have high expectations of myself, my family, my kids. Of my relationships and my ability to navigate in healthy ways through them. I also know that my expectations are usually rather rosy, idealistic, even "Polly-anna-ish."  I tend to be the "glass- half-full" in our home - I expect positive outcomes even from my highest expectations. To be truthful, I kinda like my high expectations. I think they keep me moving forward. Trying. While I know that those expectations won't always pan out in that rosy manner, I am loathe to talk myself into expecting differently. The Boss doesn't always get this, as he's more of a realist than I and gently reminded me that expecting a change or a growth in this particular issue was kind of setting myself up for disappointment. For a couple days, I agreed with him. While I was nursing my hurt feelings and frustration.

But by the time I'd prayed through my feelings, I decided that I don't really want to expect something different to come of these dynamics. Even if "something different" was exactly what happened. I don't want to stop expecting growth and maturity. From myself or from my relationships. It feels too much like lowering my expectations.
To be clear, I do understand that unrealistic expectations in relationships or in any other area of life can set me up (and those I with whom I am in relationship) for more than disappointment. It can lead to failure and to destruction and wounding. That is not the kind of expectation of which I am speaking.
Being an adult in an adult world brings with it all kinds of expectations for growth, very often triggered by a call to change. At work, at  school, in community organizations - expectations of growth are everywhere. To take it a step further, I am a believer in The Gospel of Jesus Christ: the greatest written set of high expectations and urgings for change that exist! As I sit and think about the teaching in the Word that I have received and the reading and studying that I do on my own time, I hear My Father speak to me all the time of the need to change. To grow. To expect that He will show me where I need to grow. To expect that He will do the work of that expectation, if you will. It hurts, it takes work, but it's in the Word. Right? Does this make sense to anyone else out there?!

In times when my expectations are disappointed (either by other fallible folks in my life or by my own unreasonable or unhealthy desires), I need to grow through that, too. Make no mistake, it hurts when my unreasonableness is spotlighted. It hurts when people disappoint me. It hurts when I think things could be different and they end up being the same. But I need to press on (not fold!), figure out what the appropriate adjustment is, and let the rest of the unpleasant or painful parts of it go. I'm learning about myself that I have a long way to go in that area. I tend to take into my heart all of it, and even let it linger and wound. In this season of so much change, I'm facing that truth about myself and being set free by the revelation that My Father doesn't intend me to take on the pain of someone else's mishandling of healthy expectations.

And I get to do it all with five sets of little eyes watching me. I am expected to teach my kids about The Father's expectations of them, our expectations of them, and about handling those expectations. I need to be about the business of teaching my kids to have expectations of themselves, reasonable AND excellent, because that is what the Word says they are capable of. I am learning to let them see my process and talk to them about it as I am growing. And when one of my gang is struggling with his or her own failed expectations, as much as it hurts, I have to learn to let them navigate their own balance of learning and healing.

Expectations are everywhere. Never more so than when change is looming on the horizon. My heart for my journey of faith is to let Him mold my expectations and let Him dictate what is Truth when I face disappointments of my expectations and what is not. I believe He created me with a mindset toward high expectations. It's part of my wiring. I don't want to let go of what His expectations are in me. As my gang watches me grapple with the process, I can only pray that they learn the healthy balance and journey forward in a quest for their own balance.

But I sure hope that they learn to expect that the balance will always change. Isn't that the way of it?!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rare and Treasured

After a jam-packed week and a serious "run-around" errand day, our Friday night was very slow-paced and peaceful around here. A rare and treasured moment was in the making.

The older two boys were off at Homecoming festivities at the high school. The middle two were snuggled up (separately, of course!) on the living room couch with blankets and pillows, watching a two-hour special of Extreme Home Makeover with The Boss. I was wrapped up in my blanket, steeping in a good book in the family room. And Li'l E was bouncing between the two rooms, checking to make sure I was still 'dere" when she tired of sitting still on the other couch.

The last time she peeked into the family room, I beckoned her over and pulled her onto my lap. I had turned the tv on by then, catching myself up on my dvr'd shows. As she lay down on my chest, I started playing with her hair and rubbing her back. In less than 10 minutes, her breathing had slowed and her body was going limp. The Boss caught the sweet moment for me on camera.

It's rare that she slows down enough to let me snuggle her this long. Let alone long enough to fall asleep. Even her bedtime routine has become so "grown up." She refuses help with her jammies, she pulls down her own covers. She arranges all her little buddies all by herself. I am not allowed to help. She climbs into her bed and says, "No sank you" oh, so politely! when I ask her to sit and rock in the chair with me first. She is so independent. So determined to be "a big girl" just like her big sister, that she rarely allows for this kind of "babying," even when I know she may need it. And lately, it really feels like she has desperately needed it.

Babysitting for Little Gal and Little Guy has been good for her, on many levels. She has a built-in playmate with Little Gal almost every day. She gets to exercise all her little mommy skills and dote on Little Guy, who just laps it all up. She's learning to share, to compromise, to play cooperatively, to negotiate, and more. But, as with all good learning experiences, there have been some difficult moments for her little heart along the way.

She is still not sure about sharing Mommy. Even when she knows that they are going home at the end of the day, even when she knows that Fridays are her "mommy daughter dates." Even though she knows that she belongs here and they are just visiting. Knowing it and feeling it are two different things. When they are here, she tends to be more sensitive, less tolerant, and even sometimes a bit passive aggressive in her resistance to my "character training."  This week was especially hard, as Little Gal and Little Guy had been away with family for almost two weeks. I think Li'l E was pretty convinced that she had me all to herself again.

Unfortunately, I totally neglected to think about the return to our "normal schedule" from her perspective. I was looking at their family trip as "time off" to get some projects done (pics coming on the boys' room re-do soon, I promise!). I was looking at their return as my return to routine. I forgot how difficult adjustments are for four-year olds. And in the forgetting, I spent much of this past week frustrated at the intense referee'ing that I had to do. Irritated at the immovable nature Li'l E was exhibiting over some of the negotiations that I tried to lead the two girls through. There were more tears than normal. More time-outs than normal. More snapping (mine) and whining (hers) than normal. I realized about half-way through Thursday morning (yeah, I'm slow on the uptake like that! Sigh.) what was really going on. And spent the rest of the day dealing with Li'l E and Little Gal in light of that revelation (uh, duh, finally!).

So, sitting on the couch, snuggled in my arms and utterly at rest, I soaked it in. And I lavished it back on her. while she slept. Because even though she thinks she is a very big girl, even though she thinks she doesn't need it, we both need those rare and treasured moments.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {bye week}

Sunday Snapshot

It's a "bye week" for our beloved Eagles. So instead of gathering around ye olde tv, stuffing our faces with unhealthy "football food," and yelling our brains out together, we sat at the dinner table like civilized folk. After a hearty meal of Creamy Garlic Shrimp over Parmesan Polenta (OOOOOHHHHH, yes, it was good. You have no idea how good!), The Gang dispersed to individual pursuits. I thought it might be fun to take a walking tour around the place to let you peek in on how The Gang spent the unfootball family day.

Shaggy set up some garbage cans
and parked my van out on the street.
To practice parallel parking.

The Boss watched from a safe location.

He was very focused and measured his marks
very carefully.
He is determined to nail this skill.

 I had to stop watching.
I think I was making him nervous.
And when he got that close to my baby, I mean, my van
I got nervous myself.

There's never a truly non-football day for this guy.
He watched the other games for a little while.

But this game wasn't interesting enough for him.
So he went to the other tv and rocked the Madden
for a while instead.

LadyBug prefers her solitude most days.
So she headed off to practice her clarinet.
I think I may have forgot to mention
that she made third chair in her jr. high Wind Ensemble.
We are so proud.

I have no pics of Baby BlueEyes because he spent the entire afternoon playing across the neighborhood with his friends. He will sleep good tonight. After a run with me to the grocery store and then a long shower to de-grime himself, that is!

Li'l Empress practiced "Jingle Bells" for a while on her
kitty piano. But that got boring.
 So she headed outside and helped The Boss
plant the pretties and weed the garden.
But that got boring.
So she rode her bike for a while and pretended to race
Shaggy while he drove back and forth for parking practice.

Apparently all that parking practice really wore him out.
I caught him napping in his semi-finished room.

And while LadyBug and I snuck out for a quick run to purchase curtains
for the semi-finished room, I hear that The Boss stole a quick nap too.

So.... That's how The Gang spent the bye week.
The Eagles will be back next week and so we'll
be back in our family huddle 'round the tv.
Hopefully cheering our brains out for our team.

If you stopped by as part of Sunday Snapshot
leave me a comment and I'll come by to say hi.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Takin' On The Big Brass

First it was the drums. Shakin' the rafters. And the floor joists. 
Then there was an all-too-short dance with the French horn.
And along behind that came the smooth tones of the clarinet.
Today, the brassy trombone has joined The Gang's musical adventures.

We may never be the same again.

Showing us how to put it together

Trying it on for size

 Watching the instructional dvd

Relearning how to breathe! 

Tried and true instruction

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Scar

I was washing Li'l Empress' face the other day after a particularly messy bout with a "peeder budder and jelly sammich."  I took an extra breath of a moment to study her face, lingering over her deep, bottomless black-brown eyes and her sweet little rosebud lips. And the scar just under her lower lip. The scar that halts  my admiration of her beauty and her sweetness every time I notice it anew. The scar that reminds me just how different parenting this child of mine really is.

You see, this particular scar doesn't fit with all the other little tiny scars that dot her face and torso. Those scars  tell me the tale of a nasty case of chicken pox while she still lived in China. They remind me of my own experiences with pitiful little patches of drying and crusting skin. I have quite a few similar scars of my own. I can empathize with her misery. Those scars make me sad for her itchy, feverish days in someone else's care but they don't really evoke any other response. They feel common. Normal.

But this scar? This scar is very different to me.

In pure physical appearance, it looks different. Not much larger than the chicken pox marks, it is noticeable for the way it interrupts her lower lip just ever so slightly. It's whiter. Longer. Jagged. I can easily assign it to a nasty fall. Or maybe a tumble down the stairs. After all, I do have five kids. We've had our fair share of bumps, bruises, and split lips. And my girl is really physical. It's not a hard conclusion to reach, with very little "connecting the dots" necessary.

But underneath that simple conclusion? There is nothing simple about it. In its physical appearance lends itself to contemplation of its origins. And that, my friend, is where it feels so very important. So markedly different for me.

What happened to split that pretty little lip?
Who held you when you cried?
Did you feel reassured and comforted?
Is that the first big boo-boo you ever experienced?
Did the blood from that cut make you freak out as you do now?
Is THAT where that comes from?

And so many more... so. many. more. questions. Questions on top of questions. That lead me to more questions.

I stop that train of thought in its tracks. Screeching halt, throwing the brake till smoke billows. I can almost taste the acrid smoke as I swallow and change the course of that train that wants to barrel on ahead, down the tracks.

Because that train is going nowhere good. Nowhere because these are the questions to which I will never have any real answers. I will likely never know definitive conclusions to my mother's-heart questions. That's the hard part, isn't it? The part that is so incredibly different about parenting this girl of mine. That's one of the risks, the unknown, that we take on when we sign up for this thing called adoption.

You see, each of my older kids have scars. I know that the little orzo-shaped scar under Shaggy's eye is from the headboard that fell on his head. I remember praising the Lord for His protection that night, that the rails of the headboard missed his nose, grazing his cheekbone instead.

I can see the scars on Baby BlueEyes' lower lip and instantly remember the pain and fear we all struggled through that awful summer day. I know the heart-scars that the experience left behind.

Because no matter how old they are or how tall they tower over me, I was there from.the.very.beginning. for each of those little life experiences that scarred my precious ones. I remember it all, in my momma's heart,  in many ways as if it were yesterday. A momma doesn't forget, does she?

So I stop that train. And change the tracks. Change my thoughts. I go down a different railroad all together. I turn my train of thought to gratitude.

Thanking the Lord for the care she did receive.
Praising Him for protecting her, from the worst outcomes
of things like chicken pox and falls.
Honoring the Maker who created those pretty little rosebud lips.
Glorifying The Father that knew her and held her
before I even knew her, preparing her heart for mine.

And I take an extra breath of a moment to go back to her deep and bottomless black-brown eyes. I kiss those lips, taking care to plant my kiss on the scar. And I tell her again that I love her. In my heart, I whisper that I love the scar, too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

We're At It Again!

Another home improvement project has begun....

The older boys' room was the first one we tackled when we moved to our current home. It was unfinished and empty, the "bonus room" over the garage. Not even any carpet or switch plate covers! So the jungle theme, however funky it felt at the time, is really passe for them now. Bye, bye, tropical green, King of the Jungle posters, zebra-striped lampshades, and tiger striped throw pillows.

I found this in my archives - from the weekend that The Boss
and my cousin painted the room amid new carpet fumes.
I canNOT believe it's been 7 years already!
And I CANNOT believe how little my gang all was then.
Aren't the matching VBS tees so cute?
(Baby BlueEyes was too little for that particular VBS project, I recall.)

Stay tuned for the final product. We've got a quick turn-around on this one planned, as The Boss took time off work for dedicated focus on the room.  I'm busy selling the accessories from the old room to give us some extra cash to for finishing touches. And scouting the Salvation Army and second hand stores for ideas.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

We're up to something around here.....

It's making me look back a bit.

Here's a hint.

head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

For the answer to the riddle,
come back tomorrow :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {oh yes she did}

Sunday Snapshot

I've mentioned a time or two around here that I love hymns.
I have them playing in the background
of the busy pace here at The Gang's Home quite frequently.

You know, when I'm not blastin' my country tunes and singing along to those.

Apparently, my hymn lovin' self is rubbing off on my kids. Well, at least on the girls.
Seems that about a year ago, LadyBug taught Li'l Empress the words and the tune
to "Amazing Grace." And last spring, her pre-school teachers
delighted in telling me that during circle time,
they could hear Li'l Empress singing it to her friends.
She even stood up and did a concert for them all.
Yeah, that girl doesn't like the spotlight or anything.

And it seems that, even though WE haven't heard her belting it
out any time in recent memory, she's still preaching the Word
through song to her pre-school buddies.

Below is the daily update I get from her teacher.
She didn't just sing the Word over her classmates.
She made a microphone out of papertowel tubes first.
And then she preached the Word.

And why not? After all, there is a whole new crowd that needs to know the Truth.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Good Night, Sleep Tight, And Pleasant Dreams to You...

Heh.... Are you singing the Lawrence Welk good-night song in your head now?!  I am.  I loved that show when I was little. I have delightful memories of watching it on Saturday nights, sometimes with my Grandpa when we'd be in to their house in the city for a dinner.  Hmmmmm, I can see the bubbles and the beehives now....

Ummm, yeah. Back to the point of the post. I found a new blog recently that I've really enjoyed. This week, she wrote a post that made me gasp and tear up almost before I even finished the opening paragraphs... I know that many, many of us are struggling, or have struggled, with sleeping issues with our kids. Adopted or biological. Too much (really, does any one have that?!), not enough. Fitful, night terrors. Co-sleeping, sleep sharing, sleep training, and so on. OH! The so on.

I highly encourage you to take a moment and GO HERE to read a really sweet vignette about this family's sleep issues.  The long and the short of it? It doesn't last forever. But then, neither do the snuggles. Nor do the moments that we get to stop the speeding bullet of growing up are too few and far between. Grab them when you can.

I hope the post encourages you as it did me. Stop. Take a breath. Hunker down and snatch the cuddle time when you see it staring you in the face. When you see your sweet children staring you in the face. You might just find your own dam breaking and healing flowing forth.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

21 {and counting...}

Happy 21st Anniversary to my best friend and my love, The Boss.

Who could have ever imagined, all those years ago,
where this winding road would have led?
I can't picture traveling it with anyone else but you.

Love ya, babe.
Here's to {at least}21 more!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday {Dr. D}

My Dr. D has earned a new definition to his bloggy name. No longer will he be known as Dr. D for "Doolittle." That ship sailed a long, long time ago. I'm just finally getting around to fixing it...

NOW? He's Dr. D for "DEFENSE!"

That's right. At Monday night's game, his first game back since his hand injury in the middle of Sept, my boy snagged his first interception!!!!! Yes, this football momma was screaming her brains out!

(This pic is actually from that game in Sept. when he injured his hand.
Our camera battery died shortly after kick-off this week. Ugh.)

Way to Go, Dr. DEFENSE!
His team is undefeated, with only two or three more games to go.
I love being a football momma!

that is rarely truly wordless,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.
Leave me a comment and 
I'll come by to say hi!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How Sad Is That?

The other day, we had a torrential downpour. I'm talking, the kind where the rain is driving sideways and the hail is flying freely. The temperature dropped several noticeable degrees in minutes. It was windy, dark, and not just a little startling. But we were warm, safe and dry, so we thought little of it, except to marvel at the ferocity of it.

Later, when things were settling down a bit, I had to run Dr. D (which now stands for Dr. Defense.... pics coming tomorrow with a fuller explanation of why...) over to football practice.  On the way home, I noticed a local utilities worker packing up his truck. He was working under some trees, was thoroughly soaked and I really felt bad for the poor guy. The temps had not climbed back up at all - and wet and cold is probably the worst combination of "states of being" that I can think of in moments like that.

I pulled over to the shoulder of the road and rolled down my window.

"Excuse me?"

"Yes, ma'am?" He got an almost angry look on his face, immediately as I opened my mouth.

"I just wanted to stop and tell you that you guys do great work and I'm thankful you are out here today."

Now he had a puzzled look flashing across his face, "Are you serious?"

"Yes, I'm serious. I'm pretty sure you need to hear it today."

"Seriously? Ma'am, NO ONE ever tells me that. Usually, they stop by to tell me exactly the opposite. Wow. Thank you very much."

I smiled, and put the car back in drive, "Well, I am thankful. And I'm glad I told you. Have a great day."

As I drove away, I was chuckling a bit to see him standing by his truck, watching me drive away. He still looked dumbfounded. And all I could think was how sad it is that folks actually stop on the side of the road to tell a random utility worker what a terrible job he (or, to be fair, his company) does to take care of its customers. And how sad it is that he was genuinely shocked that I wasn't doing it, too.

Really. How sad is that.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sleeping In

Feel my pain... I stayed up waaaay too late last night, squeaking in some all-too infrequent time with the oldest two boys. We watched crime mysteries together till midnight. I had a great time.

Yeah. That came back to bite me in the hiney.  I only did it cuz there is no school today. The clouds this morning were dark and thick. The whole house was silent. Until...

A little voice piping through the monitor at 6:55 a.m. "Sum buddy.... I haffa go potteeeee."

I stumble in the dark to her room.

Little voice pipes up in the darkness, "Mommy? Why sum buddy leaf my shade metted up like dat?"

Her shade was askew. A teeeny tiiiiny shard of light, clouded and foggy light at that, was peeking through. Ugh. Really?

"Come on, Li'l E. Let's get to the potty. Then you can snuggle in bed with Mommy for a while."

(Until it actually becomes, you know, morning. With light and all?)

Seating her precious little hiney on the potty, she starts chattering. Really. CHATT.ER.ING. I don't even know what she said. I just know there was a lot of it. A.LOT.

I stumbled my way through assisting her, with little to nothing coming to my lips by way of conversation. Kind of the "if I don't respond, maybe she'll stop?" mentality. It never works. But I keep trying.

I hustle her precious little hiney into the big bed, and get her settled with her puppy and The Boss's pillow. She's quiet. I settle myself in, close my eyes.

And then? She's not quiet any more.

Nor is she still. As in, not one moment of her waking hours is that little body ever motionless. EH.VER.

For the next 45 minutes, she beats a rhythm on the mattress, in time with the nonsense song she's singing in her head. Only she's not. Singing in her head that is. She's whispering it. Over and over.

This is where her unilateral hearing loss really cramps my style.
Heh. She has NO idea that her whisper at 6:59 a.m. 
is like a roaring train whistle through my brain.

I nudge her and say, "Shhhhh."

She says, oh so sweetly, "Okay Mommy. I will."

The cycle repeats every few minutes. The only variation is that once in a while, the puppy whispers the song. Or the puppy's ears beat the rhythm. Or so she informs me seriously, when I nudge her and say, "Shhhhhh."

Thank goodness, LadyBug is an early riser. No matter how late she goes to bed, she's up by 7 or 7:30 a.m.

At 7:50 a.m., LadyBug rescued me. She and Li'l E headed off for a breakfast date. I rolled over and pulled the covers over my head.

At 7:59, I got up. This darned episode was turning itself into a blog post in my head.

I hate it when that happens.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Pretty much the saddest sight of the year.
Every year.
No one at The Gang's House
likes this particular sign of the changing seasons.
Even though we all LOVE fall.


For more Wordless Wednesday links,
that are likely a whole lot happier than this,
Leave a comment and I'll drop by
to say hi and commiserate over
summer's passing!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gotta Get My Groove Back

I wasn't even sure what to title this. Or where to start to get myself back into the swing of regular blogging....

I mean, I could go with the "bad blogger" theme, beating myself up for the woeful neglect of my little blogging community of peeps.  But I beat myself up enough about far more weighty things, like bad hair cuts (Heh. Keep reading...) and impulsive emotional eating. And all that self-flagellation in the public blogosphere would make me want to eat more chocolate. Which, I think we all agree, is pleasant but not a permanent solution to well, blogging irregularities.

Or I could go the stream-lining route and lead you all to believe that the lack of blogging is directly related to the re-prioritizing of my time and my energies toward making my home more efficient and more productive. But that would show itself false by one quick glance at the piles of paperwork and the un-fiinished editing project(s) still parked on my counter.

I could, with a little stretching, head down the pious path. Tell you all that the Lord has been nailing some of my personal issues to the Cross, re-working my heart and my mind toward His plans for my days and my hours bent on further glorifying Him. That I've been too busy praying and leading my three little day-time charges into endless hours of praise and worship at the feet of Jesus. But that would just be, well, pious. And a gross exaggeration of what my days lately have actually looked like. And gross exaggerations are, well, Not pious. So there's a big contradiction goin' on there that doesn't sit well. (Instead, picture referee uniforms, whistles, and all! kinds! of distraction techniques being winged about everywhere!) 

Truth is, I'm struggling. I'm working to find my new groove. To develop a new routine with lots of new factors played in and accounted for in the process. And every.single.time. I think that this new routine is starting to hum along, a hiccup occurs. Normally, I can deal with hiccups in the schedule fairly well. NOT, mind you, that I like them. Or even adapt to them easily. But I get over the initial angst and move on. It's what moms do. There is little choice in the matter, when considering the six other folks that these hiccups include... 8 if you add Little Gal and Little Guy into the mix.  Which I have to do, considering that they are here for the majority of the week.

I'll say it again, it's a good, good thing that those two cuties are so flexible and easy-going. They've had to deal with the hiccups in the house right along with the rest of the Gang. And I must say, they handled this week's big hiccup fantabulously. The big hiccup of which I speak was Dr. D's hand injury from Monday afternoon's football game. That meant a morning off and on the phone and emails galore: with the school nurse, the coach, the trainer, The Boss, the sister, and the pediatrician. All just to coordinate a quick (hahahahaha) trip to the pediatrician. That resulted in a not-so-quick trip to the orthopedist. Seems that the loss of feeling in two of Dr. D's fingers during said injury was enough of a concern that the docs involved needed x-rays and consultation with the specialist. Thankfully, on so many levels, there is no break. Just a deep muscle/tendon/nerve bruise that made for some ugly swelling and limited movement for the week. Play for this week's big game is doubtful but he's not out for the season.

Another minor hiccup (that did NOT feel minor at the time!) was a last minute run to the salon to have my bangs trimmed and blended.  I loved the long sweeping bangs across my forehead but they got too thinned out in my last cut and the humidity of late has been creating little frizzy curls across the forehead. So before I left for a weekend at Women of Faith with my sister, I ran out to have them trimmed and blended. Those were the words I used, repeatedly to the stylist.  That is NOT what I got when I left.  Let's just say, when the stylist stops and stares at what she just did in dismay (Oh, yes, that was dismay and confusion I saw on her face. It was.), you pretty much know that it's NOT gonna be a good hair cut.
My history with bad hair cuts is well-documented here. And here, part II... Cuz yes, a bad hair cut is never just a bad hair cut for me. Seriously. I don't know what my problem is. And saying that is not me asking for your input. Thankyouverymuch :)
So this time, the hair cut debacle wasn't really about forgiveness. Although, I probably do need to letitgo and forgive the poor gal for her mistake. Turns out, after some contemplation and introspection (Ugh, I hate it when I do that.) it was really about, well, about life. Real, gritty, dirty, life. Mistakes happen. Ideas and plans get thwarted, even miscommunicated. Stylists have no style. (Ooops, that was snarky. Sorry!) But it's life.

And that, my friends, is the real reason I'm so erratic and neglectful of my blogging. Life. I am starting to think that the new normal around here will show itself in its own good time. And along the way, hiccups to the plan will have to be dealt with accordingly.

I guess I am just going to have a lot more time to deal with those hiccups, big or small. You know, since my uber-short hair takes all of five minutes to wash, dry, and style.

Heh. Heh. Sob. sigh...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

Sunday Snapshot

Oh, what a week it has been....More on that tomorrow.  In the midst of it all, I missed putting up a post to celebrate Baby BlueEyes' big entrance to the double digits. Yes, Baby BlueEyes turned TEN. Yes, he did. I know, seriously. Cuz I look at him, and sometimes I still see THIS:

I know. He's NOT that little anymore. But gosh, wasn't that just last month?! I mean, I do know. But I still don't KNOW how this happened. How he got to TEN!

Sigh. I know. I know. Life goes on. At the speed of light. Without stopping for momma's heart to catch up or catch a breath.  Anyhoo...

Without further ado, here is what TEN looks like 'round here...

Heading out the door, with the newly minted "ten-ness"
sitting well on his shoulders.

Birthday cake number one.
A spiced pumpkin cake with home-made spiced butter cream
frosting. Our family's sign that fall has arrived!

Celebration number two, house full of family, and cousins galore.
All eyes were riveted for several minutes on the
intense game of napkin basketball volleying across the table.

My sister sunk the first shot.

Cake number two. Not really a cake at all.
Rather, dark chocolate brownies smothered with
home-made vanilla butter cream frosting.

And topped off with four different flavors of ice cream.
Yeah. Can we say sugar coma?

THE.BIG.HIT. of the evening.
A Nerf Stampede.
All the boys, even the grown up ones,
were a little in awe.

Food. Family. Fun.
That's what TEN looks like 'round here!!!!!