Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Home Forever Day!!!

I was supposed to publish this yesterday but I forgot..... 
but when you read further, you'll understand why :)

This is another bit of a cross post,
but again, when you read further, you'll understand why :)

Four years ago (yesterday), we touched down in Newark airport with the 5th sweetest gift we had ever been given. Happy Home Forever Day, Li'l Empress!
And I think it's so fitting that (yesterday), we officially accepted the referral of the 6th sweetest little gift God is entrusting to our home. Welcome to the family, Brynna Rose :)

So, as you can imagine, we've been really busy since Monday night doing our "due diligence" researching and educating ourselves on the need of our new daughter. All while praying for wisdom and guidance AND checking the pulse of all the Gang members here in the house for their thoughts and feelings. There's a lot I can (and maybe some day will) say about this journey, but for now, I think that the God moment of saying YES to this sweet little one on the same day that our Little Empress became a US citizen AND joined our whole family's crazy gang is testament enough to how He loves to put the details together for us.

And now, I move to preparing Shaggy for his big adventure. And I guess I should catch up on all the laundry and paperwork that has piled up around my ears while I was crash-coursing on all things medical!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Did The Ugly Cry Today...

... and it's only Wednesday. Shaggy doesn't leave till Sunday. And we don't have to say good-bye to him till Monday night in Colorado.

This is a bit of a cross post from F@cebook, 
so forgive me if you've already been exposed to my pathetic-ness. :)

It has struck me more than once over the last 48 hours that researching and studying up on the special need of a child we may be bringing home to join our family at the same time that I'm preparing to pack up and take my oldest child far, far away from home is a strange and difficult place to be.

(Yes, we received a file from Monday night's release to review.
Yes, it is a good solid file. And an adorable child.
We just need to determine if she's meant to be our child.)

Today, he spent a good portion of the day prepping for the "sermon" he will share at tonight's youth group meeting. And just now, he was drumming in the basement, practicing for the worship service. His last worship service with his youth group. Gulp.

I've gotten used to these daily private concerts. Over the years, I've enjoyed hearing his technique improve and his style develop. This afternoon, it struck me that there aren't likely many more of these private concerts happening in my basement for the next 6 months.

And I lost it. I sat here at my computer, doing the big ugly Momma cry. (Why, oh, why can't I be one of those cute dainty cry-ers?) How on earth am I supposed to say good-bye to this kid on Monday night? I'm just not sure I can do this gracefully.

I mean, I know it is going to happen. I know it has to happen. But I just don't have any clue as to HOW it is going to happen? I'm really not looking forward to leaving him at his dorm Monday night and walking away. 

Flying out of Denver on Tuesday morning without him might just require some sort of intervention. Or very strong meds, at the least. And tissues. LOTS and lots of tissues.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pinning It for Wild Olive Tees

Those crazy amazing gals are at it again, over at Wild Olive Tees.  First they announced the release of several GORGEOUS new tee designs. My word, where DO they come up with this stuff... The beauty of the designs alone give awesome glory and honor to The Father.

But then, their hearts! Their sweet, giving, over-the-top generous hearts are SUCH a tribute and honor to God, don't ya think? I mean, did you SEE this brand new give-away they just posted?

It's up and running through Sunday, Sept. 30th and you can win some beautiful new tees. And don't forget, we are still partnering with them to raise funds for our adoption expenses. So while you are entering to win free tees, you can pick up a couple tees to help us wrap up our fundraising. (Details are on the left sidebar, if you are interested.) That'd be nifty.  Go. Enter. Good luck to you :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's MONDAY!!!!!!

Oh, I woke up so ridiculously early. I was disoriented and foggy for at least the first 20 minutes, laying there trying to figure out what would rouse me even before The Boss was moving.

OH. Yeah. It's Monday! This could be THE Monday.

And I've had this sense of weight and anticipation since then. I've been creating a big To Do list in my head ever since, finding things all scrambled and jumbled in my mind and trying to bring order to the thoughts that are swirling.

I need to list the awesome new "big ticket" items to Cr@igsl!st that were donated over the weekend for my on-going online selling.

I need to print up and post the family calendar.

I need to update the inventory of the existing yard sale site and get some of those big ticket items cross-listed.

I need to make a "game plan" with Shaggy for the final days of wrapping up his To Do list.

I need to keep praising and praying in the midst of it all.

I REALLY need to start thinking of a bloggy handle for this little one. I am not fond of using their real names here, and though it's certainly no secret who we are, I like capturing little names that tell a bit of who they are.  What do you all think? Maybe I should start a bit of a contest.

I need to think about an event for my 1,000th post.  It's coming up soon and I want to do something fun for that, too.

Hmmmm, I hope this all keeps my mind busy today.... In addition to all the regular every day Momma stuff I get to do for my Gang, that is!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

This Momma's Heart

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again. My happiest days are the ones where my family gathers together to celebrate. This time, we were celebrating Baby BlueEyes. Who turned ELEVEN on Friday. Yes. Eeeeee.LEV.EN! How on earth did that happen. I can't believe it. Which is trite and redundant because every mom says it, but it's true. I can't believe he's 11 already. This momma's heart was brimming all day at the true gift our boy is to us all.

We had a huge pasta dinner and some yummy pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting. It's his traditional favorite and of course, seasonally super appropriate. He got some awesome gifts and then we took some time to share what we all individually loved about him. Oh, my momma's heart was overflowing... Such loving, encouraging, and character-strengthening things were said to and about my little guy.

Another part of the gathering was for the family to spend a bit of time with Shaggy before he leaves next Sunday (sigh.sob.) for his YWAM experience. My sister left her two oldest boys here overnight with my folks to allow the older cousins some hang out time. And again. Oh, my momma's heart... Somehow, these kids all got grown up on us. But what fun to see their friendships deepening and and taking on a life of their own. I got the biggest kick of just sitting back and observing their interactions together. It's especially meaningful knowing that this season of their lives represents so much change and transition. I love that they have similar, concrete foundations to come back to and to build upon together as they continue to grow and discover the path God has for them. They will always have each other and I'm tears-at-the-back-of-my-throat grateful.

If you are thinking of the Gang in any way this week, we'd ask that you remember us in prayer. First, the next release of the Shared List is scheduled for this Monday, the 24th. We'd sincerely love for our Brynna to be found on this month's list. This momma's heart deeply desires for Shaggy to be a part of the process of adding a sister to the mix as much as possible. At the same time, I'm also trying to remember that HE knows my heart and HIS plan will unfold in HIS timing.

And speaking of Shaggy, we could all use your prayers in these final days of having him home. Shaggy is ready to move on to this season of his life. We are confident that he is ready, we are grateful for, and proud of, (is that cheeky to admit?) the training and work we've done to help him get ready. We know, if only in small part, that the many years of molding and shaping his character and stewarding his heart for the glory of our Father have led to this week. 

But this momma's heart is no longer swimming happily in the river of De Nial. This momma's heart is starting to grieve the reality of long weeks between super great bear hugs and thoughtful late night conversations. This momma's heart is freaking out at the idea of days without any chatting or checking in. I'm not okay right now. No, I'm a blubbery mess. And I'm not even trying to hide it anymore. So, if you ask me this week how I am, I might not have a lot of words. But you might want to have a tissue on hand. I will need it, I'm fairly sure.

This momma's heart will be okay. I know it, just as I know this is what He created me to do - to ready my Gang for the world and the calling God has wired into each of them. I knew that the journey would be long and hard. I just never pictured it being so.danged.hard. to actually do. And it's still a week away.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Twinge.

This week was the first of three Back To School Nights for The Gang.  The Boss and I went to Li'l Empress' kindergarten class, sat in her little chair, wrote her a love note, and learned all about the exciting things she'll get to do this year. I couldn't help but feel The Twinge as I sat there, remembering all the years I got to teach kindergarten to the older kids. Sigh.

I really loved home-schooling in the early years - watching my kids blossom as their confidence and love for learning took root. I know that the public school setting is the best choice for our girl. The services and therapies that are available to her in that setting are invaluable toward setting her on the best path possible for developing a love for learning and meeting her needs in light of her hearing loss.

I know all that, yet I still feel a teensy bit of mourning that I have to share that place in Li'l Empress' first experience with school and learning with her teacher. I am terribly grateful for this teacher - she is so in love with her kids, you can just see it. She has a true teacher's heart. I know that Li'l Empress will bloom under her care and teaching. And our hearing and speech support team is amazing. I can't wait to see what progress they make together. But I still feel The Twinge.

After our kindergarten session, we headed upstairs to the 5th grade class for Baby BlueEyes' session. Already, I can tell that this kid is going to have a phenomenal year. His teacher is so keen on getting to know each kid as unique and respected individuals. In fact, she had each parent fill out a little survey asking us particular questions about our student's strengths, weaknesses, fears, skills, hobbies and so on. She talked a lot about personal responsibility, giving the kids a voice and letting them learn in their own creative ways. And get this! She's known in the building for NOT giving a lot of homework and for NOT giving standard end of the unit tests!

As she was talking, I felt The Twinge again. Sheesh, I've never home-schooled for 5th grade but all the excitement that she was sharing and the creative ideas that she has for helping kids really know the material were just getting me all tingly. I don't even really WANT to home-school, let alone home-school for 5th grade, which requires a much higher level of math than I would ever feel comfortable doing, let alone teaching. But there it was. The Twinge.

I should be well familiar with The Twinge by now.... As I was telling a friend the other day, I seriously spend much of August every.single.year. questioning the plans that The Boss and I have previously agreed upon (usually around March or April during my "yearly evaluation" of the coming year) regarding The Gang's educational plans for the coming school year. Seriously. The Twinge almost ruins my August almost every year.  If we didn't have a ton of family birthdays, a pool, and a bottomless iced tea jug, it WOULD ruin my August. (Yes, it really IS that easy to redeem my summer. I'm a simple gal, what can I say?)

But then I came home. All The Gang members were already settling in to bed, backpacks were lined up neatly in the laundry room and lunchboxes were stacked on the counter. Laundry was humming along. Dr. D was overseeing the night-time routine from the couch and the house was hunkering down for a quiet night. I started my To Do list for Friday - big yard sale on the agenda, followed by laundry and dinner planning.

And The Twinge was gone. Just like that.

The peace of knowing that this year's plan is the right plan for us blankets The Twinge once again, settling any twitching and twinging with its weight. Its rightness.

Until about March. When I begin the examining and observing and analyzing of educational plans for The Gang all over again. And then? Well, then The Boss starts The Twitch. But that's a whole different post, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Where Have I Been?

We've had a great start to the school year! Li'l Empress gets up (mostly) happily every day, and practically skips her way through the morning routine. She's so pleasant and even the bus driver, Miss Lynne, commented on how she is enjoying Li'l E's sweet joyful demeanor. 

As far as we can tell, her adjustment to the bone-conduction hearing aide in the classroom setting has also gone well. Our hearing support teacher had me take pictures of the device and send them to her. She used the pictures to make a "cheat sheet" for all of Li'l Empress's teachers to reference. What a great idea, right?!  Li'l Empress also uses the portable FM system for in-class teaching time and is getting used to that along with her teachers. I get the impression that she doesn't love leaving her home classroom for specials (she told me yesterday that she cried in Art class because she likes Mrs. S's class room best) but I would expect that from most any Kindergartner and especially from MY kiddo - she's always more content with the familiar places that she knows Daddy or I have deemed "safe."  Both The Boss and I have been very pleasantly surprised by the easy acclimation to the new environment and routine. Compared to how she transitioned into last year at pre-school and then again this summer (to the new hearing aide) we were really expecting much more of a battle and a longer adjustment.

The older kids are all settling into their regular school routine pretty well. I think that having both Baby BlueEyes AND Li'l Empress on the same routine this year is really helpful this fall. I've seen a new level of maturity in BBE since school started, like he's growing into his role as Li'l E's primary touch point for both the morning routine and the bus ride. She calls him her "breakfast buddy" and her "bus buddy" and it's like he's preening in the attention. Tooo cute :)  Dr. D has turned into a serious morning person - up and moving and out the door almost before I can even get my stumbling self down the stairs. Must be all those early football camp days that formed a new habit!  And LadyBug gets herself up in time to perfectly coordinate her hair, make-up, and outfit for each day. Somehow in there she almost always finds time to eat and give the "big sister okay" to Li'l E's outfit, too. I have taken to keeping my bedroom door shut until my alarm goes off, to avoid the lights on in the hallway at the ridiculous hour she gets up to accomplish all that!

Shaggy has been working hard to organize his belongings and ready himself for his departure to Denver. When he's not working like a dog at Chick-Fil-A, he's sorting clothes, making lists, and cleaning his room. We've had some nice mornings here at the house together and it's going to be all.too.quiet. every morning once he's off to Colorado. There's a post about that coming but not now. I'm happy in my river of De Nial. :)

This week, he had a big chunk of time between shifts at work so he helped me sort over 14 bags and boxes of all kinds of baby paraphernalia, clothing, toys, and lots of other stuff for our fundraising efforts. So much stuff that I am actually doing another yard sale event.  I've been doing the F@cebook sales diligently all summer but the inventory was getting a tad stale. And in God's timing and provision, I got not one but TWO huge loads of donations that are almost all sure to be great sellers. (Both loads came from folks I barely know. How cool is that?!) Also in God's perfect timing, my new friend contacted me and offered to let me set up a bunch of stuff in her front yard at their neighborhood yard sale event.  I continue to be amazed at this gal's generosity, as well as the compassion and generosity of virtual strangers who just hear about our efforts and want to come alongside us and join in our purpose.  It's quite humbling.

 14 or 15 bins of clothing, most of them overflowing, 
from newborn sizes up through adult apparel.

Toys, strollers, bedding, home decor
We've got it all!
Join us in praying that it ALL goes, too!

The load of "Back to School" paperwork, before school even began, was overwhelming this year. I don't even want to look at Li'l Empress's IEP binder - it's a mess and totally unorganized after the scramble to close out her time with the Intermediate Unit, request a transfer from P.M. kindergarten to A.M., and amend her IEP for the coming school year. After all the phone calls and emails that the transition generated, I didn't want to touch the phone for a week! (Again, that stuff is a post in and of itself...)

I've been sorting, cleaning, purging, and organizing my way through bags and boxes and bins of STUFF. Lots and lots of stuff. It's always a huge chore to re-claim my home from the lazy hazy days of summer and this year the yard saling has added a huge new dimension to that. Somewhere in there we got to sneak away Labor Day with our friends, but that seriously feels like mooooonths ago already. We also had a big family wedding to prep for and sheesh, I forgot how much I hate school supply shopping. I sheepishly admit, we did not do one stitch of back-to-school clothing shopping this year. I just couldn't add one more thing in and really, except for sneakers that BBE seems to always need, the kids' wardrobes are fine for now.

And so, that's where I've been. August and now early September has been spent. Literally spent. Wrung out and hung to dry....  Which might explain why my blogging mojo feels like a wet dishrag.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Day, Round Two

The first day of Kindergarten got off to a great start here at home. She picked her own outfit out, specifically designed to  match the pretty new bow she found at the store last week.

Sigh. I can't believe how grown up she looks!

She did it. While we were waiting, she was hopping up and down in her little canvas Keds, giggling under her breath and chanting her little mantra, "I so excited! I so excited!"  She made it onto the bus, giddy with excitement and joy. Not a tear in sight. And only a teensy momentary hesitation when the bus actually stopped in front of her. A tiny quick look of panic until she saw "Miss Lynne (whom she had met yesterday) beckoning her on and realized Baby BlueEyes was already on his way to the stairs. Just a moment and then she was determined to catch up to BBE. So glad he will be there for her each morning!

"I so excited!"

I swear that back pack is bigger than she is!

Our awesome driver, Miss Lynne,
reminded her to turn around for a picture and a wave!

"Bye Momma! Bye Daddy!"
"Sit down, Li'l Empress!"

We all got so caught up in the fun that there were
almost no tears at all on the part of this quaking Momma and mushy Daddy.

Well, until the bus pulled away, that is.

Then, all bets were off. And Shaggy threw his arm around me and told me I'd be okay. She'd be great. Which made me cry more. Which made Shaggy laugh at his momma. Thank goodness Shaggy was here to lighten the moment...

I'm okay now. Hopefully, she is too. That bus is a really, really noisy place. And she's the only kindergartner for most of the route, because we had to switch placements. I'm really hoping for a great report from both Li'l Empress and Baby BlueEyes at the end of the day.

Poor Daddy, he drove off to work still a little teary.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

1st Day, Round One

Ooooh, dreary, cloudy first day of school for The Gang this morning. And sheesh, a wierd vibe to the day, all day, too.

For starters, this is the official first day for everyone BUT kindergartners in our district. So Li'l Empress was a little put out pretty much as soon as she got up, at the idea of everyone else getting to ride the big yellow bus this morning.

Then, we realized that this is the very first time EVER that Dr. D is starting a school year without Shaggy at his side. EVER. So strange to see him head out the door all alone. Stranger still to have Shaggy sitting on the couch with bleary eyes, wishing everyone well and folding his work clothes.

First day of Junior Year for Dr. D
(can you tell he is so.over. this tradition?!)

LadyBug is now an 8th grader!!! 

Baby BlueEyes is in 5th grade this year.
And so very excited to be "the big sibling"
on duty for Li'l Empress! Isn't that cute?

Even stranger, will be tomorrow when it's just me and Shaggy home alone all morning long. For a month of mornings, it'll just be me and my Shaggy. And no, we WON'T be talking about what it will be like when this month is over. Not yet, anyway.

Cuz De Nial ain't just a river in Egypt, my friends. Heh.

Li'l Empress' mood was slightly improved by the "Meet the Teacher" event in her new classroom, later in thes morning. She enjoyed sitting at her new space, checking out the classroom, and coloring the "I'm a New Wildcat" posters for her new teacher.

Round Two is bright and early tomorrow morning, with Li'l Empress FI.NUH.LEEEE! getting to head off to school with Baby BlueEyes on the big yellow bus. We had to have her original placement changed from p.m. to a.m. (that's another whole story that would require its own post!). So I will be driving her home every morning when her session is done. When she found that out this morning, she informed me with a very serious face that she's a big 5 year old now and doesn't really need me to drive her home. That she would be "just fine, Mommy" to ride the big yellow bus home all by herself.

(Yeah. Well, tough cookies, cookie. Take THAT up
with the district if you'd like. And good luck if you do!)

To which I said, in my head, "I'm just fine, Li'l Empress with picking you up every morning at 11:30. It's a very small price to pay to make sure you start your first year off with the best possible advantages. Driving you home every day is the LEAST I can do to make this work for us all!"