Friday, June 23, 2006

Family Reunion

Six and a half years ago my husband and I were widowed. Yes...Both of us. Only six weeks apart. The really crazy thing was that we were already attending the same church; had kids in the same Sunday School class; but we had never met. Obviously word of such tragic events travels fast, and we ended up meeting. Some time later, we both attended "Family Camp" with our church, and to make a long story short, here we are.

One of the blessings that we have been fortunate enough to be a part of is my late husband's family. They're a pretty terrific group. Don't get me wrong, they have there flaws just like any family, but when the rubber hits the road, the are pretty great!!

We are leaving in just a few hours to go to a Family Reunion with them. There are over fifty cousins in my late husband's generation (not including spouses), and the next generation just refuses to stop growing, so I lost count of how many there are a long time ago. We always look forward to getting together with all of these great people, and we are very grateful that they have been so loving and accepting toward our family. It should be a lot of fun!!

PS We are continuing on after the Family Reunion to Colorado to visit with my family. We thought it might be fun to introduce Grace to some of the people that prayed for her and our family as we worked through the adoption process. I am not sure if I will have the opportunity to post while we are gone, so if you don't here from me for a couple weeks, don't think I am slacking off again! ;^)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006



I'm not officially allowed to blog about this, so it will be a photo essay. I don't want to say anything that could be held against me.

Which led to....

Friday, June 16, 2006

Old Faithful

Last Sunday, Will and Grace went out first thing in the morning to get us all some breakfast. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling quite so chipper. I was still in bed, in that place between sleep and waking when you have all the weird dreams. Will came in the bedroom to let me know he was home. I had every intention of getting up, but somehow I ended up fading off to sleep again. Finally, he told the kids to go ahead and start eating, but he waited for me. How sweet!

I did finally get out of bed, but our food was in need of some re-heating. Since he was ready first, Will nuked his food and then came back to get mine. As son as he pushed the "Start" button we started to hear a horrible sound. Neither one of us had ever heard a sound quite like that, so Will stopped the microwave and then tried it again. The sound was back, followed by a terrible electrical burning smell. Oh No!! Not only did this mean I was going to eat luke-warm breakfast (I earned that one), but the microwave was DEAD.

This might sound silly, but I was kind of attached to this microwave. It was the first appliance I ever bought. I made homemade baby food for three of my kids in this microwave. We even tried to replace it once before, but were so unhappy with the replacement that we ended up leaving it at the old house when we moved and started using this one again. I wasn't convinced that we would be able to find a suitable substitute. In fact, I hid in Grace's room sorting through baby clothes while Will looked up microwaves on Consumer Reports.

Will searched me out a while later to let me know he had found a good possibility. All of a sudden, I realized that I might want a say in this transaction. I asked him to tell me what made this particular model the "winner". Not only did he tell me, he brought me all the printouts from Consumer Reports, Sears, Lowe's and Home Depot. Wow! It only took me a couple minutes t realize that his choice was the ONLY choice for our family. It was perfect. Will was going to order the microwave from Home Depot because that was the only place that showed they had it in stock online. When he called them, they said that they wouldn't have it until Friday. That would be SIX FULL DAYS without a microwave. Yikes! He decided to check Sears. It turned out they had to order it too, but they could get it Wednesday. That sounded better already. Then we found out they would price match + 10%. That meant we could get the microwave two days earlier for $55 less. SOLD!!! This whole experience gave me a chance to see a new side of my husband. He. Is. The. Man!!

We went to pick up the microwave on Wednesday evening, and promptly realized that the installation might be a little more than we bargained for. That part got rescheduled for Thursday.

Will aligned the template, drilled multiple holes, lifted the microwave up to its' spot on the wall multiple time and used just a handful of PG rated cuss words. All in all, I think the installation effort was pretty successful. The most important parts, the fact that it works and hasn't fallen off the wall, have definitely been taken care of. We had a new microwave to use by Friday morning!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Two Down

We had the pleasure of attending Tyler's 5th Grade Completion Ceremony today. The school did a great job of including just the right amount of pomp and circumstance (not very much), and the whole thing went off without a hitch. The multi-purpose room at the school was ample for the large number of parents, so we were even able to avoid the SoCal heat. The principal shared a great poem to remind us parents of what we are about to get into. Overall, it was a nice event.

Tyler earned a spot on the Honor Roll all three tri-mesters this year, which earned him a President's Award for Educational Excellence.

Way to go Tyler!!!!

Tyler is our second kiddo to finish up elementary school. Just three more to go. Of course, that also means we will have two kids in Middle school next year and three the next. Heaven. Help. Us.

BY THE WAY: For any of the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. out there that might be wondering why they didn't get an invite to Tyler's big day.....we almost didn't either. I caught wind of the fact that there might be something going on and finally asked him at 8:00pm the night before. His teacher assured me that a flyer was sent home on Monday. HMMMM....didn't make it to our house. Oops!


Grace loves her brothers!!!

More on Cars

A couple weeks ago, my husband was on his way to work when the ABS light came on in his truck. That was one he wasn't familiar with, so he dug the owner's manual out of the glove box to look for the proper course of action. After finding the correct page, he discovered that this was a light to take seriously. The manual instructed him to take the truck to the mechanic ASAP. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Not being one to ignore such warnings, he called to let me know about the problem, and took the truck in as soon as work was over for the day. Since it was so late in the afternoon, it was necessary to rent a car, as the mechanic was not going to have a chance to look at it until the following day. ARGH!

The next day, while my husband was at work, I got a call from the friendly service man at our local Ford dealership. He said that "a rock or something" must have been kicked up while my husband was driving, and it had nicked the brake line. Apparently, duct tape doesn't really fix everything, because the whole thing had to be replaced. The next hurdle was whether they would be able to get the part in time to avoid the delay caused by the upcoming holiday weekend (Memorial Day weekend). That would have led to four extra days of car rental. Yikes!! Fortunately, we got lucky, and the phone call that came later that afternoon was to tell us that they got the part, and the truck was ready to be picked up. WooHoo!

Since it was late in the day, we decided to pack everyone up in our Suburban, and head over to the dealership. The plan was to pick up the truck and find somewhere to stop for dinner on the way home. Once we got there, we realized that there are very few places to stop between our house and the dealership. So we figured it made sense to drive both cars back home, leave the truck there, and ride to dinner in one vehicle. Since that was the new agenda, and Grace was getting fussy in the back seat, I dropped Will off to pick up his truck, and started driving home.

Fortunately, the drive lulled Grace into a nice, peaceful sleep, and the rest of the kids managed to ride in the same vehicle without killing each other or encouraging me to join in on their games. I knew that we would arrive home before Will, so it made sense to me to have everyone stay in the car, since we would be leaving again momentarily. I sure wasn't going to wake the baby! That plan started to make less and less sense as the time grew longer and longer that we were waiting in our driveway. The potty request from the 3-year-old in the back seat was the final straw. I released my captives, and we all went in the house.

Boy was I glad we did! We had been home for almost 45 minutes by now, so I was definitely getting a bit concerned. When I walked in the kitchen, the answering machine was flashing a like a beacon of hope that I might figure out what the heck was going on with my husband. It turned out, the message was actually from the AAA operator. He said that he was just letting me know that my husband was OK, but he was waiting for a tow truck. WHAT??!!!

After my initial FREAK-OUT, it occurred to me that my kids were probably getting really hungry. Remember, we were originally planning on going out to dinner on the way home from the dealership. Fortunately we had a pan of chicken enchiladas in the fridge from the night before (Thanks Elizabeth!), so I popped them in the oven and did my best to placate the kiddos until Will got home. An HOUR later, I finally heard the tow truck outside.

I went outside to get my first glimpse at both the truck and my husband. I had no idea what had transpired between the time I dropped him off at the Ford dealership and the time he found himself in need of a tow truck. Thankfully, I saw that there was no visible damage to him or the truck, but the picture became very clear as the tow truck driver lowered the tuck from his flat-bed. You see, he had put the truck in park, but had not set the emergency brake. Now, I am no mechanic, but even I know that the truck should not roll when it is in park, even without the brake. Well, ours did. The driver quickly jumped into the driver's seat and slammed the e-brake to the floor. It came to rest at a strange angle against the curb, partially obstructing the entrance to our driveway. Things were not looking good.

To make a long story short (OK, a little bit shorter), the truck is HISTORY. With over 170,000 miles on it, we just didn't think it was worth paying $3000 to replace the rear end that had "grenaded", to quote the friendly service man at Ford. The hunt for a new car was on.

I am pleased to say that our search was successful! We will miss having a pick-up truck, but all 7 of us fit in the new car and the gas mileage is. So. Much Better!! We will also be able to tow it (on a dolly, Dad) with our motorhome when we go on vacations. So, other than the unexpected car payment (BUMMER), we really like the new car!


Over the last couple days, my husband and sons have been spending as much time as possible cleaning the garage. On Tuesday, the kids walking up the street from school in the afternoon were asking if we were having a yard sale. One boy even offered $10 for Justin's bike. No Sale! Wednesday, Will loaded up the truck, and we went on a "hot date" to the dump. Too. Much. Fun. Actually, we only had to take Grace along, and since it was nap time, we were able to enjoy some adult conversation. I guess it is all in how you look at things. As the day was drawing to a close, I was hanging out on the family room floor, when Will walked in and said I should come check out all their hard work. He scooped Grace up off the floor and headed down the hall. I pried myself up off the floor, and dutifully followed. I expected to see the new shelves set up and far less clutter on the floor. I figured that the sawdust from cutting the moulding for Grace's room would finally be swept up. In general, the improvements in organization and cleanliness would be noticeable. Imagine my surprise when I opened the garage door and saw this....
We have not had space in our garage for a car to be parked for over 5 YEARS. We even moved from a house with a two car garage to a house with a three car garage last summer, and still didn't have room!

Now every time we go somewhere in our other car, we come home to a beautiful sight....MY CAR IN THE GARAGE!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Grace's Current Favorite

Baby Shower

My friend Jileen called a few weeks back to remind me that she had promised to throw a Baby Shower for Grace and I when we got home. She was concerned about pushing Grace into seeing everyone before she was ready, but I assured her that she would be fine. It was sweet of her to think of it though. That's one of the reasons she is such a great friend!

Normally I like to make invitations (birth announcements, cards, etc.), but that was just not going to happen right now. Jileen told me about this great website that she found recently. It's call They have just about anything you might think of as far as printing goes. The best parts about it are the flexibility and price. You can REALLY customize your project, and they don't charge an arm and a leg for it. In fact, I would almost say the invitations were downright cheap! Fortunately that is just price, not quality. They turned out VERY NICE!!!!

Next, we got together to brainstorm on games and other ideas for the shower. Our husbands were nice enough to agree to keep the kids for us while we went shopping. Those were Jileen's kids in the pool with mine in the previous post. We practically moved into JoAnn's. I love that store!! We got things to decorate nametags and came up with the cutest idea for a keepsake book.We bought a plain scrapbook. I decorated the cover and then put a picture of Grace on the inside. I wrote her a letter on the facing page. At the shower, we had all the guests write a note to Grace and leave the facing page blank. We will put a picture of Grace with each guest on the appropriate page. This should make it much easier to remember the details of the day when we look back in 20 years. My friend Colleen was ouroffic ial photographer.
At first Grace was happy to visit different people, but after a while, the only way to get a picture with a happy baby was for me to hold her and be in all the pictures. That was not part of the plan, but as my husband would say, "We must adapt, improvise and overcome!"

All of the food was provided by family and friends that came to share in the day. It was SOOO yummy! Jileen had a cake made with Grace's picture on it. She said it didn't come out the way she had planned, but it was still adorable.

We are so blessed to be surrounded by so much family and to live in such close proximity to many friends that have been a part of our lives for what seems like forever. There were more than a few guests exchanging stories about when I used to baby-sit their kids. I missed those that couldn't make it to the party, but I had a good time visiting and reminiscing with the ones that made it. We truly were SHOWERED with gifts. There was so much stuff that we didn't have enough room in our car. So we had to have my sister-in-law load it all up in her pick-up to get it home. Wow!!

Will and the kids even got to come try out some of the goodies before we wrapped up the party. A big THANK YOU to Jileen and everyone who made this a very special day. We love you all!

(Almost) Summer Fun!

We spent all Winter and early Spring having a pool built in our backyard. There were struggles along the way and a delay or two, but in the end, it was all worth it. The pool was ready in time for the kids to play with Grandma while we were in Ethiopia. They forgot their sunblock, but had a great time before the sunburn showed up. They have learned their lesson now, and I make them wear far more clothing that anyone should have to wear for swimming. They don't mind though. They are having a ball!!

We had some dear friends come out to visit 3 weeks ago. They have six kids to add to our five, so you can imagine that the house gets to rockin' when we are all together. The pool was the perfect diversion. The kids had a great time playing together, and the Dad's even watched them for a while so us Mom's could go shopping. All around, a pretty great day!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Another First

Part of the reason for my LONG absence from blogland was EXTREME EXHAUSTION. When Grace came home, she seemed very content to go to sleep in her little bed in our room. She woke up once or twice each night to eat, and promptly went right back to her own bed. This actually had not been the way we planned to do things, but she seemed pleased with the arrangement. Who were we to argue?! A few weeks ago, Grace began waking up 5 or 6 times every night. My husband is a great Dad, always willing to take on the dirtiest of parenting tasks. So, he drug himself out of our nice, warm, cozy bed each and every time she wimpered. Sure, he was walking around during the daylight hours looking like a zombie, but our daughter never had any doubt that her parents were but a call away. Now THAT is dedication!! Unable to bear the sight of my husband's half-mast eyelids any longer, I suggested that we put the girl in our bed. I'm not sure why it took us so long to come to this conclusion, as it had been our plan all along before she got here, but I am happy to say that we are all getting a lot more sleep.

Unfortunately, that did not solve the second sleep-related problem. Along with her refusal to sleep in her own bed at night, Grace also decided that she could not nap unless she was in physical contact with me. I could hold her, lay her on the couch beside me with my hand on her chest, allow her to fall asleep sitting upright against my side or carry her around the house doing just about anything I wanted. The activity or noise level did not seem to bother her a bit. The only unacceptable alternative for napping was being placed somewhere without Mom. This might sound very sweet, but it gets a little hard to get anything done or spend time with any of the other kids with a constantly attached baby. She even went for about a week when she would only hang out with her Dad if I was in another room. Poor Dad!

Now, before I get a whole bunch of comments about how this is very normal, and all of the extra holding and cuddling is great for attachment.....I KNOW!! Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled to hold aand cuddle and love on my baby. I don't even mind sharing my bed. It's just nice to be able to take a shower on a fairly regular basis. I don't even mind taking her to the potty with me. She is fascinated by the "boing!" sound that the doorstop makes. I am just opposed to smelling bad and having greasy hair. I like the idea of putting on clothes that are spit-up and odor free at least once each day. I don't expect them to stay that way for very long, but it is the principle of the thing.

Now that I have had my rant, there is good news to share. Grace still sleeps with Will and I. She naps draped across me, or in the very familiar textures and smells of my bed most of the time. However, today we had a new development. She played with her toys in her crib while I was sorting through some of her clothes. I mean the full size baby crib that is in her nursery! She was really enjoying it. She started to show the usual signs of needing a nap, i.e. eye rubbing, yawning, the occasional whine. I scooped her up right away. I definitely don't want her to have a negative association with this wonderful place that will someday allow me to cuddle up to my husband again at night. She layed in my arms, polished off her bottle and slipped quietly off to dreamland. She and I sat there on her bedroom floor for a few minutes, as I tried to decide what to do. I was hoping to finish the task at hand, but I also knew that putting her down rarely allows enough time for a potty break, let alone an actual task. I'm not sure what made me do it, but I layed her down in her crib. She hardly even wiggled. She laid there looking very content, and very much asleep! She napped in her crib for A WHOLE HOUR!!!!