Tuesday, December 30, 2008

We Have Been Blessed

How often can you pick up a whole suite of living room furniture for $100? Well, we did today. Will's wonderful Aunt gave us a queen sofa bed, love seat, coffee table and end table for free. Our only expense was the U-haul truck to go pick it up.

A Little Bit of Techie Stuff

So, I'm sure it hasn't escaped anyone's notice that I have been a serious slacker in the blog department for quite a while. The reasons are numerous, but some computer issues were certainly a significant part of the problem. First, Grace ripped the "C" key off of my laptop some time back. It was a pain, but I lived with it. Then the dumb thing started overheating and randomly shutting down. When I went to Colorado at the end of March to spend time with my sister and her family after the birth of my niece, I came home to the surprise of a new laptop (well, refurbished actually). That didn't seem to be a problem at first. In fact, I REALLY liked the new laptop. It had a fingerprint scanner to sign on, and it had a "C" key. Yippee!! It even stayed on until I turned it off...every time! That would be until I had it for about 3 1/2 months. For anyone out there that doesn't know, warranties on refurbished laptops are pretty much always 3 months (not 3 1/2)). GRRR!!!

For a few days, I was just bummed and computer-less. Then, it occurred to me that I might at least get by with the old clunker. Once I figured out that I needed to have the front lifted up off of the surface it was setting on so it could get better ventilation, it quit shutting down at random moments. Of course, that was soon followed by the power plug malfunctioning. It seems that whatever the problem was with that, it fried the battery too. I was not about to spend any money on this dumb machine, but I did discover that if I used electrical tape to hold the plug in "just so", It would stay powered up. I was still unhappy that I lost everything from the refurbished laptop (pictures mostly), but at least I could read and reply to emails.

So, this brings us to yesterday. Kyle (our eldest) has a buddy that works on computers. He felt pretty certain that he could replace my missing "C" key, and even get it to work. I jumped at the chance. I spent my day without my computer, but that was OK with the hope of a working "C" key for the first time in ages. Kyle got home well after I went to bed last night, so I had to wait until this morning to have my own little personal celebration for the newly resurrected "C" key. But NO!! There was no "C" key, and now there were 8 (yes...E-I-G-H-T) other keys that did not work either. WTF?! Well, I woke Kyle up out of bed and had him call his friend right away. He suggested that we blow the keyboard out with compressed air. We did...no dice. I even called my Dad (the Jack of all trades), and none of us could figure out why the keyboard took a sudden turn for the worse. One thing I did learn though; you can't just replace the keyboard in a laptop. It is part of the motherboard, and they only can be replaced as a unit. $$$$$$, and I don't have much right now.

Fortunately, I have a smart husband and Dad, who both suggested that I hook up a regular USB keyboard to the laptop. I didn't like the idea of having a bunch of cords hanging off of the laptop, but then Will reminded me that we had a wireless keyboard attached to the computer that the kids used to use. Yeah!! It works beautifully, and it even has a "C" key that works. I guess the laptop keyboard going wonky was actually a blessing in disguise. Plus, since I was in techie mode, I decided to pull the hard drive out of the dead refurbished Gateway. DON'T BUY A GATEWAY!!!!!!!!!!! (BTW, each word in the previous sentence is a link to a different page that will tell exactly why I have the opinion I do.) I remembered from a previous dead laptop experience that we got an enclosure for the hard drive, and it instantly became a big ol' external hard drive. I was even able to save most of the files. Why not do it again? So, I went onto www.newegg.com and ordered the necessary part. It cost all of $12.75 and requires two screws to put together once it gets here. Not bad for an 80 gig external hard drive.

With all that said, I have just one technical problem to overcome now. My camera is in need of a visit to the shop. I can't afford to take it in right now, but in the mean time, I will do my best to at least keep you all updated with writing. Thanks for sticking around. Ü

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our Weekend...Do, Re, Mi Style

(Sung to the tune of Do, Re, Mi)

Doh...the sound, as Grace hits the door
Ray...to see far down the throat
Me...the one who has to look
Fah...the way to Urgent Care
Sew...the thread through Grace's head
La...we say in disbelief
Tea...a drink to soothe the throat
and we're on the road to the party, Yay!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Success....Sort Of

Grace made it into panties. Her joy was immeasurable. She even insisted on wearing them over her diaper at bedtime. She made it about 48 hours with no accidents. She was even dry after nap. We expected a wet diaper when she woke up in the morning, so that one doesn't count against her. So, as you can see, all was going well until all of her siblings were home for the weekend. All of a sudden there was much more to think about than just trying to go potty every few minutes to earn an M&M. She needed to bowl in the foyer with Justin, and she needed to play magnetix with Daniel in the loft. We also can't leave out watching Kayla play Wii. Three activities = three puddles. Grace was VERY upset about having wet panties, and frankly did not have a clue what to do about them. So, after cleaning the tile and carpet, showering the child, and adding to the laundry pile three times, it was back into a diaper for Grace......with Dora panties over it, of course!!

Hopefully, today will go better.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dora-liciousness

If Gracie makes it through today with no accidents, she will be entering a whole new world. What is it, you ask? It would be the world of no diapers, no wipes and wearing only big girl panties. Of course, when one has Dora and Boots plastered all over their underwear, I'm pretty sure a more accurate name would be little girl panties. Don't tell Grace though. She thinks she 6 feet tall and the queen of the world right now!!!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

On Our Way to Freedom

Grace has used the potty for #1 and #2 for the last three days. Of course, she has used her diapers for said functions as well. I am under no delusions that we are anywhere close to having her potty trained, but the baby steps mean an awful lot to her, and us, at the beginning. Go Gracie!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Christmas Guilt?

I have struggled off and on with Christmas guilt ever since we started our adoption journey to bring Grace home in October 2004. The more I learned of the realities of so many people around the world, the more guilty I felt for that silly CD I just HAD to have; and the book, and the sweater. After we returned from Ethiopia, I regularly looked around the house we are blessed with, and felt a certain sense of disdain for our spoiled nature. How could I have peace in this house after seeing so many people living on the streets; begging and starving. We even saw a dead, naked man that everyone was simply walking around. Why wasn't I hearing about these things as the lead story on the news every night? How could human life be so worthless.

Eventually, I came to the understanding that it is OK to be blessed. God didn't do that by accident. However, I can NEVER live a life of complacency again. Even if these stories aren't plastered on the front page of every newspaper, I know. I've seen children sing and dance in thanks for the gift of 1 Birr (worth about 8 cents when we were there). I learned that it is important to have left-overs boxed up at the end of a meal because there will always be a beggar that needs them before I can get back to my hotel room. The world may turn a blind eye to these tragedies, but I can't. My daughter is one of millions of children in the world that deserve to have a family to love them; and I need to do whatever I can to make that happen.

My efforts are often rather small. We don't have extra money in our bank account to send cash off to all the worthy organizations that could do good with it; but we do have family and friends that have been inspired by our adoption story, and have made their own contributions. I am awfully busy with six kids living in my house, but the kids' grandparents have put in time and effort to make sure that some great things to bring awareness and cold hard cash to the adoption cause happen. So, now as we walk through another Holiday season, I don't feel the guilt. I am doing the part that is mine for now. I am advocating, and lovingly raising children with the knowledge that there is a great big world out there, and they are going to need to give back for all that they have been blessed with.

My old friend, Eileen, left me a link for this video in my "We are the World" comments. It is a good reminder to all of us that this isn't a new issue (the 80's hair-dos kind of give it away). The world still needs us, and that means in whatever capacity we can muster up. If everyone did a little bit, we would live on a very different planet.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Typical Exchange With a 13 Year Old Boy...

BANG!!!!!!! (from upstairs)

Mom & Dad: What was that sound?

No answer...

Dad: (now yelling) What WAS that sound?

Oldest Son: I dropped a book.

Dad: (sarchastically) Was it a dictionary or something?!?

Oldest Son: Actually, it was.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We Are The World

Grace has a new fascination. It isn't based on any real life experience, but rather on the title of a show that she has seen approximately three times. The show is "Angelina Ballerina". She now insists on being called 'Gracie Ballerina" (or in her pronunciation 'Dadie Ba-rina'). No other name or nickname will do. So today, I told her that there was a song called "Ballerina Girl", and that I would play it for her so she could dance. She was fascinated, and even wore her ballerina tutu to fully experience the occasion. She danced, hummed, and promptly returned to watching "Yo Gabba Gabba" as soon as the song was done.

I, however, had a different experience. I was reminded of my undying love for all things Lionel Ritchie, and proceeded to watch a half dozen videos from his songs of the past. By the way, all of this was much to the dismay of my daughter, who complained that she could not hear her show!! Bummer, girl. This is Lionel Ritchie after all. Anyway, the last video I watched was "We are the World" by USA for Africa. I listened to this song over and over as a little girl, but I was never moved by it like I was today. It suddenly occurred to me, as I had tears streaming down my face, that this movement in the mid-80's probably saved my daughter's birth-mom, which is the only reason that she is part of our family today. Oy! I was just trying to please my three-year-old's new ballet obsession, but instead ended up having a serious "come to Jesus moment". So, with that in mind.....Thank you Jesus. Thank you for the song that saved a generation. Thank you for the generation that we have had the pleasure of helping as well. You are so good, God, and lest anyone forget what our their mission here on this planet is, here's the song....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Memories

My dear friend Valerie posted this on her blog and I loved the idea....so have fun!!

1. Leave a comment on my blog to share one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you know me a little or a lot, anything you remember!

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. If you leave a memory about me, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one about you.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Can't Help Myself

I know this may alienate me from some of my readers (the few that are left), but it speaks the truth of my heart.

"At some point in our lifetime, gay marriage won't be an issue, and everyone who stood against this civil right will look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black."
--George Clooney

Within the last 50 years, my daughter would not have been allowed to marry any man but a black man here in the state where we live. Mexican and Asian citizens were faced with similar restrictions. Finally, Armenian people were not permitted to own homes in the "central valley" of the Los Angeles area. What the heck?!?!?! Historically, California has been a trendsetter in the lawmaking process. Would any of us stand for those same restrictions today? Of course not! They are hateful, divisive, discriminatory laws that don't have any place in our more modern, enlightened society. However, we have voted as a state to take away a fundamental civil right from thousands of the citizens in our state. I can't help but look back over the racist, hateful and discriminatory history of our state and nation, and hope that Mr. Clooney is correct; not to mention Mr. Olbermann.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes We Did....

...Make History Tonight!!!!! Our new president elect....Barack Obama!!!

Monday, November 03, 2008

An Explanation?

"Every now and then the things I lean on lose their meaning, and I find myself careening, into places that I should not let me go." James Taylor (Something in the Way She Moves)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Times...They are a Changin'....And FAST!!!

Time for a little catch up post. I'll do my best to remember all the details.

Our school year started in shifts around here. Since Will is a teacher, he had to go back on August 11. Kayla had to be registered for High School (I cannot believe I just typed those words) on August 13. On August 14 she had to get her 2nd Gardisil shot (no HPV/Cervical Cancer for her), and then we went out to do some girle things. I made the mistake of promising she could wear some make-up and get her eyebrows waxed when she started high school. Of course, she was not about to let me forget my words. The funny part about the day was the scene she made about getting a shot, even though she hardly flinched when the lady ripped the hair off her face. What a goofball!! The following day (August 15) Daniel and Tyler got registered for 7th and 8th grades respectively, and Justin got to go over to the school later in the day to meet his 1st grade teacher and check out his new classroom. Not to be outdone, Grace insisted that she needed to meet her teacher too. I explained that she would be going to school at home with Mom. She was satisfied when I reached out my right hand to shake hers' and said, "Hi Gracie. I'm Mommy, and I will be your teacher this year." Her grin could not have been any bigger, and she has told everyone that would listen all about it ever since.

The weekend was a great time of hanging out with old friends and just spending time relaxing at our house. Saturday was a super fun birthday party for our freinds' son. The food was yummy, and the kids had a ton of fun playing in the water and on the trampoline. The theme of the party was "games and puzles", so once it got dark the kids played together for hours. All of us grown-ups, some I hadn't seen for years, hung out talking and watching the Olympics. I think our cheers raised the roof when Michael Phelps, and the US relay team, made history by winning his 8th gold medal. What an exciting moment and perfect atmosphere to experience it in. Thanks Lee and Val. After being up VERY late, Sunday was a sleep in late and lay around in jammies kind of day. That seemed like a perfect way to wrap up the summer.

Monday was the beginning of a seriously chaotic week. I was up until 3:00am filling in paperwork for the 4 kids that started school. Of course, I probably would have been up anyway since it was Kyle's last night with us. He left early Tuesday morning for Colorado. The story is long and twisted, but the gist is that the recruiter here would not do the work necessary to get Kyle into the Army. Kyle has been trying to make it work through every channel he could think of for the last 6 months. Fortunately, my brother-in-law Joe (who is active Army) has some connections in Colorado that have basically guaranteed Kyle they can get him signed up. They are even pursuing some much better job and education options in the service than had ever been presented to him in the past. Obviously none of this is official until the papers are signed and Kyle is off to Basic Training, but we are prayerful that he will be able to pursue the path that he feels God is calling him on.

The rest of our week was full of getting settled in for the new school year. I wrote about 15 different checks for this fee or that yearbook. Will and I had a marathon school supply shopping trip (it took 3 HOURS). The kids and I sorted through our bounty the next day, and I think we got everyone set up with all the things they need for now. I am amazed by how much stuff is required to go to school now-a-days. I just don't remember needing anywhere near this amount. I guess it's just one more thing that proves I'm getting older. The week was wrapped up with Kayla's first High School dance on Friday evening. She went with her friend Emmeli that she met on the water polo team this summer. She had a lot of fun, and heeded her Dad's advice to "stay away from those creepy boys". If ever there was a case of TGIF, we had it by the end of that week. The weekend has been relaxing, so I guess I'm ready to start a new week in the morning. We'll see how I feel when my alarm clock goes off. 8^)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hair Time

Since Grace is not a big fan of sitting still, or getting her hair picked out, I have kind of avoided hair time for a while. We still moisturize it and make it look presentable before we go out somewhere, but that has pretty much summed it up for the last few months. It is just not worth the fight when we don't have anywhere to go. I assume she will outgrow this hair phobia phase somewhere before she goes to high school, so I am not too concerned about it for now.

Anyhow, today Grace came up to me from out of the blue and asked me to put "pretties" in her hair. I almost fell over. After asking her about 12 different ways if she was SURE that's what she wanted, I got the appropriate supplies out and got started. She did a decent job of getting through the comb out part (better than usual anyway). I parted her hair into boxes and banded them while she ate lunch. That worked fairly well until I was about 2/3 finished. Basically I just took advantage of the fact that the highchair was holding her prisoner to get through the rest.

After a much needed break (for both of us), we sat down with a couple episodes of Clifford and started working on the braids. That was great until I had about 4 braids left. I finally convinced Grace that she should let me finish by telling her that Aunt Shannon (my sister who is visiting with her family) REALLY wanted to see the "pretties" in her hair. After that, she couldn't get enough of telling me which clip to put on each and every braid. It was super sweet. I only hope that the day will come that the process does not take 4 hours (with breaks), and no longer requires multiple wrestling matches.

Here are some pictures of the final product. She is very proud of her new 'do, and I.....am tired. Enjoy the photos. I'm going to go take a nap. 8^)



Sometimes a girl just has to shake things up a bit!!!

Worn Out

Playing with cousins for a week can really make a girl tired!!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

All is Well!!!

Just in case you were wondering....I have not gone on another hiatus. We have just doubled the normal population in our house because my family is out for a visit before my Brother-in-law deploys for Iraq. I'll do my best to check in from time to time, but family time is at a premium right now. Thanks for your understanding. I'll be back ASAP!!!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What Color Are You???







You are most like:


You are Orange


Brilliant and stunning, you provide a pleasant surprise to any room into which you walk. This is a hard color to pull off, but you do it well.


Take this quiz: Which Crayola Box of 8 Color Are You?


Monday, July 07, 2008

The LONG Weekend

***I have no idea why I didn't post this when I wrote it, but at least proves I haven't been quite as delinquent in my blogging reponsibilities as it may have seemed. Of course, if you believe that, I have a bridge or two that just might be for sale. 8^) Thanks for skicking around.***

It's been a weekend of relaxation and rest mostly. Of course, during the Summer, our weeks and weekends just kind of blur into each other. With Will being off work, it is REALLY easy to forget what day it is entirely. The 6:00am Water Polo practices have helped keep us on track for the most part, but we still stray from the path now and then.



Since we live in the VERY fire prone area of Southern California, no fireworks are legal here. No...not even the "safe and sane" variety. We can't even do sparklers along side our pool for God's sake. The kids had to be satisfied with a dip in the pool and a few Snap Dragons (the things you throw on the ground and they pop) to celebrate the 4th of July. I know; WooHoo!!!



Fortunately, we had no commitments for the past few days, so we figured we would spend them in the pool. Oops! No such luck. Our pool system decided that this would be the opportune weekend to take a crap on us. There was no chlorine. It needed salt. After the salt was added, it needed conditioner. Then, just to add some excitement to the weekend, the clear coating on the slide started to chip off. This requires no less that sanding the surface of the slide down to bare concrete, doing an acid wash on the newly sanded surface, possibly painting it, and then finally sealing it with a two step epoxy product. Let's just say that this news did not make Will's weekend.



Fortunately, for the kids and I, the chemical situation in the pool was resolved nicely today. We had a great day of swimming and playing Uno Splash in the pool as we tried to beat the triple digit heat. Unfortunately for Will, he had to spend the day sanding the slide. He did take a couple nice dips in the water, but the sanding job pretty much sucked. He is off to some far off town tomorrow to purchase the amazing new coating for our slide that should last from 5 to 7 years (a far cry from the 2 years that the original coating lasted). I only hope it lives up to its' claims.



On a brighter note, Gracie is becoming a swimmer. She has spent most of her outings in the pool shivering or clinging to any bigger body that was willing to cart her around. All of a sudden, today, she decided that she could swim. Keep in mind that we have her in a heads up vest any time she is in the backyard. She has spent more than her fair share of time flailing and floating around on her back in the water, kind of like a turtle stuck on its' back on land. It was kind of funny and sad at the same time. After a little instruction by her brother Daniel, she was kicking and paddling her arms like a pro. I'm not sure what made that lesson click more than the 50 or so lessons that Will and I have given her, but I sure am grateful that it did. Pool time ought to be a whole lot more fun for all of us now.

PS The new coating worked great, and we were able to enjoy it to the fullest while my family was out visiting. Thanks, Will, for all your hard work!!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Time to Show Some Love

I received an email from the great folks at AHOPE this morning. For any of you not in the know, that is an HIV+ orphanage in Ethiopia. They were the first to receive antiretroviral drugs for children in the country through Dr. Jane Aronson and the Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO). They are also facilitating the first international adoptions of HIV+ children through Adoption Advocates International (AAI). What it really comes down to is that these people, both in the US and Ethiopia, are doing some amazing work. Will and I had the pleasure of visiting AHOPE when we traveled to Addis to bring Grace home a little over 2 years ago. The children are vibrant, and obviously well loved and taken care of.

There are many ways to give to AHOPE, but there is a brand new one that is super easy, and even helps get the word out to those around you. They are selling T-shirts. The logo is simple, but is definitely likely to be a conversation starter. Even if you are not a person that feels equipped to take on a child through adoption, know that you could make a difference for many children, for less than $25 and a few minutes of conversation. I think most of us can do that. So, click on the box below, or over there on my sidebar, and let's show some love to these very deserving kiddos. OK Peeps?!?!?!?!


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Is it Worth the Savings?

The economy has made things tough for a lot of people lately, and our family is not immune. Thus far, we are not talking foreclosure like so many other families around us, but with the rising cost of gas and groceries, we have decided it is time to tighten up the budget a little here and there. We are trying to combine errands to conserve gas. We are choosing to eat at home instead going out as often. We have also decided that certain grocery items might just be luxuries, not necessities.

For example, bottled water can get awfully pricey for a family of 8. If you consider that the best price for Sparkletts (my preferred brand) is about $1/gallon, and each person should be drinking about 1/2 gallon per day, that adds up to at least $120/month just for water. We decided it was time to seek an alternative. Will headed over to our local Wal-mart, and called with the choices he found. After going over the pluses and minuses of each item, we decided on this and a package of these. Altogether they will filter 160 gallons of water, and would provide a permanent replacement for just about half the cost of one month worth of bottled water. It seemed like a no brainer to us.

We followed all the directions included in the package. We soaked the filter. We disposed of the first container full of filtered water. We then filled it up, and prepared to enjoy our new, economical, filtered water. I tried to enjoy it. I really did. For 3 days I sipped at the weird tasting stuff. Slowly I found myself drinking more soda to avoid the water. I finally had to break down and tell Will that I am apparently an incurable water snob. In fact, it was so bad that I thought I was actually getting diarrhea from the water. That might sound crazy, but there did not seem to be any other explanation for my recent issue. UGH!!

Well, today Kyle noticed that it seemed like the Brita water tasted like it had chlorine in it. He and Will even came up with a plan to find out. They broke out the chemical testing kit for our pool. First Kyle tested our tap water, and found that it has three times the level of chlorine in it that is in our pool water. Now granted, we have a salt system on our pool which means there is less chlorine than the average pool. However, there still has to be enough chlorine to keep all the ickies away. Next, Kyle tested the filtered Brita water. The box claimed that the filters would reduce the chlorine in the water, and they do. The problem is that they only reduce it to the same level that is in our pool water. I don't know about you, but I don't think it can possibly be healthy to be drinking 8 glasses of pool water everyday. Perhaps the new water really is the source of my tummy troubles.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

They're at it again!

Kids really do say the darnedest things, and mine have been on a roll lately.

Justin was watching a cartoon yesterday (I honestly don't know which one; oops!), and after hearing the name of the dog on the show he said, "That is a VERY unfortunate name!" I have no clue what the name was, but there is no doubt about Justin's opinion.

Grace has only recently be given the honor of traveling up to the second floor of our house. It's not that the stairs are a problem for her, but rather that she is a problem for all of the items once she gets there. Our second floor consists of one LARGE loft, and that's it. We have affectionately named it "Kid Land" because that is where toys, game systems, etc. live in our house. We don't keep these things in bedrooms (eliminating much bedroom chaos and bedtime distractions). The bigger kids (Justin and up) are not allowed to bring their toys downstairs. Then, when one of you decides to drop by unannounced, you can't see the disaster that inevitably exists in a home with this many children. That gives me some peace of mind, and the children are thrilled not to be nagged by Mom nearly as often as they would if the mess was on the main floor. So, back to Grace. She can only be upstairs if one of the older kids is directly supervising her. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Grace does have a bevy of toys on the first floor. We aren't evil enough to keep all toys away from the under 3 set just to keep a neat house. In fact, she has even earned the nickname "Hurricane Gracie" because of her amazingly fast ability to cover the entire first floor with her playthings.

Well, yesterday, one of my big kids decided to bring Grace upstairs with them. That was fine until they got caught up in the activities of their other siblings, and left Grace's supervision to Justin. Let's just say there is a different level of respect from a 2 1/2 year old for 11 and 13 year old siblings, than there is for a 5 year old sibling. Grace spent the better part of an hour screaming at Justin, spilling whole bins of toys on the floor, and taking anything and everything that he picked up and claiming it as "MINE!!!" Finally, I could not stand the assault on my ears any longer, and called Justin and Grace downstairs. I was waiting at the bottom of the landing as they worked their way down. Before I could ask any questions Grace mustered up all the indignance a 2 1/2 year old is capable of, put her hand on her hip and informed me that, "Justin is annoying me!!"

Heaven help us!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Kayla the Multi Talented

Kayla has had an awesome week!!! She received 4 awards at the 8th Grade Awards Ceremony. She was honored as a member of the California Junior Scholarship Federation. She was chosen as Student of the Year by her PE teacher. She was included on the Principal's Honor Roll for maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or better for all three years of Middle School. Finally, she received a Presidential Acknowledgment for maintaining a 4.0 GPA for all of Middle School. Wow!!!

The school held an recognition assembly for all graduating 8th graders on Friday morning. It was a bit chaotic, and more than a little warm, but we were proud to watch Kayla graduate from Middle School. It is a pleasure to parent such a self-motivated kiddo. We know she will continue to do well as she looks to the future.



PS High School water polo practice starts at 6:00am on Monday. Do I get some sort of award for leaving the house at 5:30am every morning, all Summer, to take her there?!?!

PPS I almost forgot to mention Kayla's latest hobby. She saved her money for a nice digital camera, and has been having lots of fun taking shots of the local flora and fauna. (By the way, she also took most of the shots in the "Ball" slide show below.) Here's a sample of her work...

Family Fun

The 6th McC Kid

In case your wondering who the extra kid is in the ball slideshow below, I thought I'd take a minute to fill you in. When Will was married to his late wife, Karen, he had the honor of being a Step-Dad to her son Kyle. He raised him for 8 years, but when his wife died, Kyle's Dad insisted on him coming to live with him. That was a really hard thing for Will, but he had no legal recourse. We have worked hard to stay in touch with Kyle over the years, but it has not been easy. He was in an environment that did not support the idea of him maintaining and building bonds with our family. Fortunately, he is older now, and has chosen to be part of our family. In fact, he is living with us right now. The kids are thrilled to FINALLY have their oldest brother around, and this time has been a great way for Will and I to catch up with Kyle after such a long time apart. This is such proof that God's timing is ALWAYS perfect.

Cup/Mush/Wiffle Ball

Hiatus Over

I'm not sure if it's the arrival of Summer Vacation, the fact that we've been hanging out in the pool an awful lot lately, or the idea of one of my faithful readers putting out an APB on me because she was so concerned; but I am feeling inspired to blog again. I'm not sure how regular I'll be here, but I can assure you that it it will be more often that the 3 months that passed this time. 8^)

Rylee Rae

Friday, March 28, 2008

A LONG DAY!!!

After 27 hours of labor, and 4 hours of pushing, Rylee Rae made her debut at 10:17am. She is 7 pounds 6 ounces and 20 inches long. Dad says she would probably only be 18 inches long if not for her "major conehead" though. 8^) I can hardly wait to meet her!!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My sister is having a baby RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Impressive


Kayla has had a VERY good week! After trying out for her Middle School Talent Show with 75 other students last Wednesday, she found out that she was one of the 20 people selected to perform in the big show. She will be singing Mississippi Girl by Faith Hill. Then, when we picked up progress reports at Conferences last night, we discovered that she has a 4.0 grade point average right now. Yippee!!! We are SOOOOO proud of our oldest kiddo. She is a joy to parent (most of the time)!! 8^)

Where HAVE I Been?!?!

Soooooo sick...and then in the frozen Rockies. Updates to follow soon. 8^)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Priorities

A couple hours ago Grace went down for her nap, Will headed off to the grocery store and Tyler was busy with some chores he owed his Dad. Justin was hypnotized by the TV in the family room, so that left Kayla, Daniel and I with nothing but time on our hands. Daniel asked if I wanted to play cards, and since the laundry wasn't due to be switched for another 45 minutes it seemed like a good plan. First, he and I played a game of War, which I WON!!! Then we moved on to Crazy 8's. At that point Kayla joined in on the fun. Daniel did a fine job of whooping us game after game, so when it was Kayla's turn to deal, she declared that we were switching to Go Fish. It was close, but I was victorious in the end!! Yippee! At this point, we were all ready for a different game. We brainstormed for a couple minutes, and were not coming up with anything.

Finally, I asked them if they knew how to play Blackjack. They didn't, so I thought it would be fun to teach them. The only trouble with that was that I have a VERY minimal knowledge of the game. I can't stand all the cigarette smoke in the casinos, and gambling for money practically gives me an anxiety attack. I figure that all those fancy hotels were not built because most people win, and I have a major issue with putting our hard earned money in the proverbial trash can; but I digress. I knew enough about playing to know that we each started out with two cards, and wanted to get as close to 21 as we could without going over. That was good enough to get us started, but we would need to employ Will's Blackjack knowledge upon his return if any of us were going to really learn something.

So, Will came home and the kids went outside to help carry in the groceries. As they were putting them away, I asked Will if he would do me a favor and deal through the deck one time so we could all learn a few things. After looking at me kind of funny (he knows how I feel about gambling), he happily agreed. So Kayla, Daniel, Will and I gathered around the table for our Blackjack lesson. All was going well for the first couple hands, but then Justin announced that he had a nose bleed. Now, lest you think we are horrible parents, this is a VERY common occurrence at our house. Justin was already in the bathroom with tissue pinched on his nose, and was in no jeopardy. With that in mind, Will told him that he would be there is just a minute.

A moment later, Justin yelled from the bathroom, "I'm in mid-nosebleed here!!!" Will encouraged him to keep the tissue stuffed under his nose, and assured him that he would REALLY be there in a minute. After all, we were having a serious Blackjack lesson and we had to finish getting through the deck.

Finally, no longer able to be patient, and with much indignance Justin shouted, "It's not funny to joke about coming to help someone!!!!"

Needless to say, that was the end of our lesson. ((blush))

7

So, today is our 7th Anniversary. It would be great if I could say that we had some fancy special plan to celebrate, but the reality is that we pretty much layed around like slugs all day. We enjoyed it thoroughly. We'll probably go take a dip in the jacuzzi after the kids go to bed, and cap the night off with a little cheese, cracker and sausage snack.

The fun thing about today is that neither of us has ever had a 7th Anniversary. We made it!! If the next 7 years are as great as the first, I can hardly wait. 8^)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Little Things

Valentine's Day is usually a big day at our house. It is one of my favorite holidays. However, this year finances have dictated a smaller celebration. At first I felt a little sad about that, but then something great happened. I started noticing the little things. I watched Justin carefully preparing his valentines for his classmates for the very first time. He wrote his name on each one in his neatest penmanship. He told me that since his name has a J - U - S - T - I and an N in it, he is the MASTER at writing those letters. After perusing his efforts, I would have to agree.


Then, this morning, I poured myself a glass of juice. That wouldn't usually be anything noteworthy, but the little air bubbles that sometimes make a little foam on top of a drink formed a heart right on top of my juice. What a sweet, random valentine. My picture isn't the greatest, but I had to share it with you.


Finally, just because she saw that I had the camera out, I had to take Grace's picture. Her hair is not combed, and I had to make sure to focus on the top half of her because she soaked through her pants a few minutes ago and is wearing just a diaper, but she is as cute and sweet as ever. I love this girl, and all the rest of my family too. I am one blessed lady, and have no more time for sadness on this day.


Happy Love Day Everyone!! Enjoy it!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

One of the Important Questions in Life

Why is it that the drawstring on my sweat pants only gets a knot in it when I have to pee REALLY bad?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Crud!!!

Last week it was a stomach virus, and this week seems to be the cold with cough virus. I participated fully last week, but plan to abstain this time. Really, Mom being sick two weeks in a row does not bode well for the smooth operation of our household. Will tries VERY hard, but he just can not be a Mom and a Dad. Plus, we have a most anticipated event planned for this upcoming Saturday. We will be reuniting 5 babies that were all at Wanna/Layla House (AAI's orphanage in Ethiopia) at the same time. We have all stayed in contact by blog and emails for the last two years, and will be getting together for the first time this weekend. I can hardly wait to see everyone, and plan to be totally healthy when I do. (Yes, I did just knock on some wood!!) Wish us well. 8^)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Democracy (w/ disclaimer)

Disclaimer: I have participated in every election that I was eligible to participate in since I turned 18. My increased interest in this year's proceedings is just rather significant, and I thought I'd note it here. I couldn't stand the idea that I had represented myself as someone that just now decided to care about democracy and freedom at the age of 32. I was raised by passionate, educated parents; one of which was a Vietnam veteran. I could never have gotten away with apathy. A big thanks to my Moms and Dads!!

For the first time in my life I find the election process in our country truly fascinating. Perhaps I should feel a bit ashamed about my indifference to our democratic process in the past, but frankly, it can be horribly tedious and confusing. I just never felt the need to agonize for a year (or even two), over the 10+ people that might eventually be mudslinging, lying and grappling for my vote come November of the big election year. The ones that would force me to choose the lesser of two evils. I try to live a life of honest dealings and Godly principles. Not much about politics ever seemed to include those things.

So, what could possibly spark my interest now? Well, it's the historical significance of the moment. Even if neither Hillary nor Barack make it to the White House, this is the closest that a woman or minority has ever been to the ultimate position in our country. That is huge, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of it. I am truly excited to be able to talk to my older children now, and discuss with my younger children later, about how there is nothing out of their reach. Everyone of them could EVEN reach high enough to become the President of this great nation. That sends my spirit soaring with hope for their future.

I am proud to be an American. There have been a lot of things that happened over the past couple decades that made me want to hide my head in shame, but we still live in a country like no other. We live in a place that more people want to come to than those that want to leave. We live in a country that is often misunderstood by foreigners, but still helps more people around the globe than any other nation. I was embarrassed when the Ethiopian people discussed the follies of our president, but thrilled to hear they wanted nothing more than to win the "lottery" that would allow them to come to the US. They truly saw it as their one ticket out of the tragedy they live in everyday. I only hope that those we met while there will have the opportunity to come here one day. We would love to share the opportunity with them that we so take for granted. They have earned it, and would definitely appreciate it.

So with that, I will return to my daily fascination with our electoral process. I will continue to wonder why some states use primaries, while others employ the caucus as their method of choice. I will surely keep struggling to explain to my children why the Republicans award their delegates one way, while the Democrats use another. All of that is OK though. Those are the very signs that prove that we live in a democracy. The fact that we come to a decision, that is somehow accepted by all, is the very proof that shows the power of the freedom that is enjoyed by all in this country. God bless the democratic process, and God Bless the USA!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Monday, February 04, 2008

Need a Good Laugh?

I tried to hold myself back. Really I did. I just can't help it. This made me laugh so hard that I had to call Will at work and play it over the phone. I will warn you in advance that it is not exactly politically correct, and has a few uses of the "A" word included. So, if that might offend you, please don't watch. Otherwise, watch away. Just make sure you go potty first. We don't want any accidents, now do we?

100

Justin made it to the much anticipated "100th Day of Kindergarten" today. They made these lovely hats, and even got to make necklaces with 100 Fruit Loops on them. Then they got to eat them. Justin reports that this was his FAVORITE part!


Just in case you're wondering...Yes, Justin is pretty much always as goofy as he looks in this picture. That must be part of his charm though, because we sure love him!!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Fevers Suck!!!

We were invited to a super fun Superbowl party today. We would be hanging out with some great old college friends of Will's. Our kids like to play together, and us adults enjoy each other's company even more. Will and the kids had a ball at the party, but I had to stay home. Because of the Eli Manning/Chargers scandal a few years ago, Will, the kids and the hosting family were all rooting for the Patriots. They even had Gracie going against the Giants. Unfortunately, I woke up with a temperature of 101 degrees today. My whole body hurt, and I was freezing. I felt like I was going to die!!! The worst part is that I wasn't there to help support Ramee and the Giants. I'll be the first to admit that I do not like Eli Manning, but I like the cheating Patriots even less! The Giants are the NFL Champions, and I wish them the best. Here's to next season, and an amazing Charger team!!!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Moving Right Along


That is a picture of my younger sister's belly. She is the one that got married last December, and has kept us on our toes ever since. The great news is that she is married to an absolutely wonderful guy, and they are expecting their first child together in April. They already have two girls (11 and 4, his from previous relationships) that they (and we) love dearly, but this will be the first time that I will become an aunt in the "blood" sense of the word. Mostly it doesn't matter, but there is a little part of me that is enjoying the anticipation of a pregnancy. So far in my family, I have always been the one getting pregnant or adopting. This is a first for me, and I'm LOVING it!!!!! Shannon (my Sis) actually sent me a more recent photo (almost 30 weeks), but due to my cell phone's stupid malfunctions, I can not get it transfered over here. Bummer, but this pic will do the trick for now.

It's fun to get to see my sister with a "baby bump". She has never worn any size over 5 until now, and she is feeling like a HOUSE. The rest of us all think she looks adorable! BTW, she and Joe did decide to find out the gender of their impending arrival. Honestly, they were really hoping for a boy since they already have two girls; but no such luck. They felt a tiny bit of disappointment, but soon realized that they were still super excited. All babies are miracles, after all. They struggled a bit to figure out a name, but alas, have made a choice. This new little person will be a beautiful baby girl, named Riley Ray.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Deterrent

For those of you reading this that don't know our family well, profanity is not something that is tossed around lightly at our house. I will not go so far as to say that a curse word is never uttered, but they are very few and far between. The "F Bomb", as it is referred in our home, is considered especially vile. All of our children are well of this. However, as most of us know, children (especially those of the teen and pre-teen variety) like to test the limits and try things out from time to time. This morning started with an especially egregious attempt by one of our kids, so the following assignment was given in hopes of eliminating such ideas from said child's head in the future, and possibly even educating them a little...

Step 1: Look up the offending words in the dictionary, and copy down their definitions. If said definitions are filled with complicated words, look them up too, until you have a satisfactory understanding of the true meaning of what you said.

Step 2: Write about why saying such things is inappropriate, and in fact completely inapplicable.

So, here is the finished product. I have done my best to sensor the offensive words (to protect my readers), and have eliminated all names (to protect my children's privacy). I am only posting this in hopes that some other parent that comes upon this issue with a child in the future might find help in how to handle it. Plus, it is just a tad funny. 8^)


F@#%ing Moron

Definitions:

F@#% - 1 to copulate, 2 meaningless intensive

Intensive - tending to strengthen or increase; emphasis

Moron - feeble-minded person or mental defective who has a potential mental age between 8 and 12; a very stupid person

Why is it inappropriate and inapplicable?

A f@#%ing moron is essentially an extremely stupid person. ***** quite obviously does not fit this description. It is taken offensively by most, and rightfully so. When used in this manner, it has absolutely nothing to do with anything sexual, though that is it's more common definition. Calling someone a "f@#%ing moron" is insensitive, inappropriate and vile. In other words, it is 100% wrong no matter whom one is addressing.

It doesn't apply because ***** is a very intelligent person, and this has been proven in many ways. He has had special testing done, he gets good grades, and he knows quite a lot. So in the end, calling someone a "f@#%ing moron" is inappropriate, and it certainly doesn't apply to a person such as *****.


AAAAHHHhhhhh!!! The joys of parenting!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Answers

I figured it would be easier to just write a post in response to the comments on the previous one, so here it goes.

To my parents....I'm glad you enjoyed your granddaughter's shenanigans so much. Perhaps you would like to babysit her on a regular basis. Or better yet, you could purchase the finely decorated couch from us, and save it in case it does end up increasing in value. After all, Grace is quite gifted for a child of less than two and a half years. And Dad, if Justin has a future in critiquing art, he may need to come hang out with you on a regular basis as well.

Mom and Julie....NO!! You do not get to see a picture. I wrote the lengthy post as therapy so I would not harm my child. Just be grateful that you will see pictures of Grace in the future.

Heidi....If it had been poop, I very well may have taken you up on your adoption consideration. The thing is, the rate of return would be sadly less than we had to put out to bring her home. Something about being two, and having an obsession with poo (like ink pens aren't bad enough). I guess we'll have to keep her.

Christy....I have just one simple thing to say. Thank for feeling my pain.

Cheryl....While my Dad suggested calling ServiceMaster or Coit, those places charge a lot of money. That is not something that we have in abundance right now, so that left me with the home remedy type solutions. Your suggestion of Windex got my brain working again (I'm afraid it had stopped after the shock of seeing my couch), and I remembered back to a sharpie incident we had a few years ago. At the time, we discovered that rubbing alcohol will take permanent ink out of just about anything. I was feeling a bit concerned about putting that all over my dark brown cushions though. It's not like it was one little spot that could be strategically covered up by a throw blanket if the color bleached out. But then I remembered my favorite quick stain remover for those inevitable times that we're out somewhere and get something on our clothes.....BABY WIPES!!! They never take out the color, and almost always take out the stain. Well, with the help (elbow grease) of one of my other children that had earned a consequence, I discovered that baby wipes do, in fact, remove ink from a very large sofa. I guess Grace gets to stay for now. 8^)

2 Year Old For Sale...CHEAP

A little while ago, I had terrible stomach cramps come over me. While this is surely more information than you wanted to know, it was one of those situations that required an immediate trip to the bathroom. I quickly assessed the situation; Grace was sitting on the couch, quietly watching Dora the Explorer; and made a mad dash to my destination. I'll be the first to say that it was a longer than average bathroom trip for me. I'm usually an in and out kind of girl. I promise to fill you in on why I'm sharing this lovely moment with you by the end of this post.

I recall thinking more than once while I was in there that it was strange that Grace had not come tearing down the hall after me, with the full expectation of being allowed to participate in the field trip. It even crossed my mind that it was downright weird that she had not at least come to the door and knocked while calling, "MaMa!" However, in my state of discomfort, I decided I was perfectly fine with the idea of my little angel sitting on the couch, watching Dora. Imagine my amazement when I returned to the family room, and actually found Grace doing exactly what I had envisioned. She was the picture of innocence. It was time for us to go pick up Justin, so I scooped her up, told her what a good girl she had been, and we headed out the door.

After we waited in an extra long line for Justin (it's raining cats and dogs here today, so all the usual walkers drove too), we were greeted by my happy boy. Grace is always thrilled to see her "Justee", and the two of them got right to the business of discussing what they would play when we got home. As we headed up the road, the clouds even started to blow over, revealing a lovely bit of blue sky. I hate to sound cliche, but since my stomach was also feeling better, it was definitely a smiles and rainbows kind of moment. So, we pulled into the garage and all headed inside from the car. As is his latest routine, Justin held the door for me like a little gentleman. Life is sweet.

As we got to the family room, I realized that Grace had a wet diaper. I sat down on the floor to change her, and asked Justin to get the things out of his backpack that I needed to see. He was very excited because he got his progress report today. So, as soon as I was finished with the diaper, he hurried over to show me the paper. He is doing super well in school and his teacher gushed quite a bit about how smart he is, and what a pleasure he is to have in class. Yippee! I gave him a big hug, told him I was proud of him, and asked him to take his jacket and backpack in his room. That's when it happened.

As Justin approached the couch to pick up his things, he asked, "What's that?"

"What?", I inquired quite nochalantly. After all, I had no reason to think anything was amiss.

"That!", he said, now with some force to his voice. He added an oustretched pointing finger for emphasis.

Now he had my attention. I turned to look where he was pointing, and for just a moment, could not form an answer.

"Look, Mom! It's there and there and there too!!"

"Yes it is, son.", I answered with far more self control than I felt.

"How did it happen?", now appearing to be enjoying the moment.

"Well, son, I would guess that Grace did it while I was in the bathroom earlier.", I said as I surveyed the ink drawn ALL OVER most of the cushions on my couch, and it's a BIG COUCH!!!! And I bet you'll never guess what came out of Justin's mouth next...

"Nice swirls, Gracie!"

AAARRRRGGGgghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stuck in My Head

Sometimes I get a song stuck in my head. It might be a catchy toon, or just the last thing I heard on the radio before I turned off the car. During the day, it is often the theme song from one of the many kids' shows on PBS, Noggin or Nick Jr. For the most part, I'm OK with any of the above options. That was, until today. Last night, I went to bed right after seeing the above commercial. I dreamed about it. I could think of nothing else as I took my shower this morning. It keeps invading my thoughts.

THIS IS NOT OK!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I Wish I Was a...


...weather man/woman/meteorologist. This week in our little So Cal burg, the weather report has changed almost hourly. We went from expecting rain Sunday and Wednesday, to expecting rain everyday through this next Monday (at least). The latest is that we had some rain last night and are expecting more Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday. What other job would allow a person to change their mind so often, or be plain wrong most of the time?! As much as we could use the rain in our drought laden area, is it too much to ask for a reliable forecast? This Mom of 5 would sure appreciate it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Oh My!


Justin just ran into the room to inform us that, "Tyler said the 'C' word!!"

Hesitantly, Will asked, "What is the 'C' word?"

Said with GREAT conviction, "Kill!"

Sunday, January 20, 2008

So Sad...

...the Chargers beat the spread, but alas, victory eluded them.



Here's to next season!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Crazy 8's

8 things I'm passionate about...

1. God!!!
2. My Husband
3. My Kids
4. My Extended Family
5. Adoption
6. Blogs!!!
7. Sleep
8. Scrapbooking (passionate but not consistent!)


8 things I want to do before I die...

1. Love my husband beyond his wildest dreams!
2. Give my kids the loving, self-esteem building, start they need.
3. Adopt an older child from Ethiopia.
4. Do everything I can to promote Ethiopian/African/HIV+ adoption.
5. Educate my peers about Africa, and the differences, between its' nations.
6. Get a College degree.
7. Finish scrapbooks for each of my kids.
8. Enjoy my husband's retirement with him.


8 things I say often...

1. "I love you!"
2. "Good morning."
3. "Good night."
4. "Get a good nights' sleep."
5. "Did you have a good sleep?" (Is there a trend here? We like it when our kids are sleeping!)
6. "Tell me the truth." (Said with the menacing Mom tone.)
7. "That is something I never thought I would have to say!"
8. "Have you lost your mind?!?!"


8 TV shows I’ve recently watched (this list would be SOOO different if the writer's weren't striking!!...

1. SpongeBob (Is there ever a time that this show isn't on?!?!)
2. Dora the Explorer (Anytime Grace gets to choose the show!)
3. American Idol
4. Anything by Ken Burns on PBS
5. Project Runway
6. Live with Regis and Kelly
7. The View (I can not get enough of Whoopi Goldberg!!)
8. Make Me a Super Model


8 songs I could listen to over and over (In no particular order)...

1. Black Flower - Salvador
2. I Can't Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt
3. I Can Only Imagine - MercyMe
4. Your Love is Extravagent - Casting Crowns
5. Beauty From Pain - SuperChick
6. It Was You - Trace Adkins
7. Wheel in the Sky - Journey (or pretty much anything else by Journey!!!)
8. God Bless the Child - Shania Twain


8 things that attract me to my best friends...

1. They’re real.
2. They’re fun.
3. They're honest.
4. They're creative.
5. They listen.
6. They're always "there", no matter what.
7. They make me want to be a better person.
8. They love me just the way I am though.


8 things I’ve learned this past year (or previously, with a strong reminder this year)...

1. Tomorrow is never a sure thing.
2. I love my husband more everyday. My marriage is a most precious gift from God.
3. We have our trying moments, but my kids are amazing.
4. My parents love me deeply, and show it in the most wonderful ways.
5. Cancer Sucks!!
6. I need to quit taking back the things I give to God.
7. I can't be an island, no matter how hard I try.
8. I have a lot left to learn.


8 people I think should do '8'...

1. Amanda
2.
Perri
3.
Christy
4.
Jessica
5.
Jane
6.
Cousin Julie
7.
Julie G.
8.
Jamie

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Another First

Justin lost his first tooth this afternoon. In fact, he was actually brave enough to ask me to pull it out for him. It only took a couple little tugs.



My "little" guy is sure growing up fast!!

Something New on the Horizon



It's been a little while since I talked adoption here. It's a subject that is never far from my thoughts, and has a permanent place in my heart. However, the business of running a home with 5 kids seems to take over a lot of the time. A little while back, I chose to scale back on my participation on the various adoption Yahoo groups. It was just taking too much of my time away from the kids that are right here in my house. As much as I care for all of the waiting children and families, my family deserves my all. With that said, I did not completely disengage. I still follow many blogs, receive digest messages from the AHOPE and SoCal Yahoo groups, and receive the Holt International newletter. I could never completely walk away.

This brings me to the point of this post. A few months ago I learned that Holt International was working on establishing an adoption program in Ethiopia. I was thrilled! You see, Holt was our first contact with international adoption. We went to church with two different families that were in the process of adopting from China through Holt. While we knew we were definitely called to adopt from somewhere in Africa, there was not a placing agency in our state. That left us with the task of finding an agency to do our pre and post-placement work for our adoption. With a few kind words from our friends, Holt was more than happy to take on the job. And what a job they did!

The main California office, in Sacramento, was extremely efficient. Our social worker was an absolute dream. Our first meeting was two days post sinus surgery for me. He was not the least bit put off by my swollen nose, slightly black eyes or somewhat drugged speech. He was always extremely professional, but personable as well. He kept a very flexible schedule, and even drove an hour south when we moved and needed to ammend our homestudy. Our post-placement work went just as smooth. I could not give Holt a better recommendation. What a great convenience they will provide to California families that want to adopt from Ethiopia. To my knowledge, there is no other placing agency in our state. It would surely be nice thing to be able to complete the entire adoption process with one agency.

Please understand, this does not change our opinion of AAI in any way. Our process to bring Grace home, through them, could not have been smoother. The staff is kind, professional and attentive. The children at Layla House are extremely well cared for. Due to their long presence in Ethiopia, they have connections that most other agencies do not. When the the time comes for us to adopt again in the future, you can bet that AAI will be on the top of our list. Merrily Ripley and company will always be up high on my list of people that I am grateful to have had dealings with. They are the cream of the crop!

Anyway, for those of you that made it this far into my post and have an interest, the following is a little blurb from the monthly Holt newsletter....

Ethiopia Adoption Opens
Officially registered as an adoption agency with the Ethiopian government since early January, Holt International is now accepting applications from families ready to begin the adoption process from this African nation. Families are needed for both boys and girls of varying ages. Holt's program is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital city, with humanitarian aid projects focused on serving the southern region of Ethiopia.


To learn more about Holt, and its' history, please click here. It is a fascinating story, and without their founders' work, International Adoption might not have been possible for the rest of us.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Amen!


So, Justin is "Star of the Week" in his Kindergarten class. The first day he brought in a cut-out version of himself (whole body). We made his eyes appropriately hazel, and his lips sufficiently pink-orange-peach-red-brown. His body double had a lovely pair of manly khakis, and a handsome forest green shirt. Of course, the shirt was covered from top to bottom with stickers. They represented all the things that he is interested in. He wore matching clothes to school on Monday, but never took his jacket off, so his teacher and classmates never knew.

Today, Justin took a framed picture that he keeps on the shelf by his bed. It is a sweet drawing of a baby folding his hands in prayer, along with some bigger hands wrapped around the them. It says, "May the Lord bless you..." It was given to him by Grandma Carroll and Grandpa John right after his birth. He was in the hospital, sick as can be, and they were 1000 miles away. It was to remind us all that they were praying for him, and that we should continue to do so.

When Justin came home from school today, I asked him how his class liked his picture. He said they liked it. He explained why it was special to him, and that led to a class discussion about who prays at their house; more specifically, who prays at meal time at home. It turns out, some do, some don't. The fact that they even had this discussion in a public school is rather impressive. Justin had just one thought on the matter...."I don't see why everyone doesn't pray before meals. It's not that hard, after all!!!"

Sunday, January 13, 2008

It Wasn't Supposed to Happen...

.....BUT IT DID!!!!

The Colts were supposed to win by at least 9, but the Chargers took this one 28 - 24.

YES!!!!!!!!!


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Will's New Passion


If any of you out there happen to be sports fans (mostly football and baseball), Will has been writing a blog for a while now. He usually writes about the Chargers and the Padres, but their opponents get their share of coverage too. With the playoffs in full swing, he's been burning up the keyboard. I'm afraid I've created a monster! Feel free to stop by and show him (and the Chargers) some love, or go over and have it out with him. He'll be happy either way; as long as it's sports talk. 8^) There's even new a link over there on my sidebar. Happy Blogging!

Happy 13th Birthday


Tyler made it to 13 today. In case you're keeping track, he's the second one at our house to reach that milestone in the last 8 weeks. We're doing our best to stay sane around here!! 8^)




My Heart

Will,

8 years ago this week, my heart was dealt a most devastating blow. I was crushed; physically broken; emotionally overwrought. Life could never be the same. The only reason to get out of bed each day was to care for my 3 and 5 year old kids, and I couldn't always do a very good job of that. The thought of even trying to look to the future seemed impossible. I trudged through the days, retold the story, waited for each new piece of information to come in. Nothing filled the hole. Half of myself had been ripped away, and I could feel every last raw edge where the connection had been. I didn't know it was possible to feel so hollow.

As the months started to pass, and lots of friends and family encouraged me, I started to take little peeks out of my emotional hole. I cried through every service, but I went to church. I went to a grief support group. I tried my best to make it through all the "special" days. Sometimes I did great, but sometimes not. I spent a lot of time sitting under a tree, talking to a headstone. I asked God for just a tiny glimpse so I would know heaven was REALLY there. I KNEW it, but what I would have given for just a smidge of proof on those extra lonely days.

Eventually, a Thursday could pass without me remembering that it was the cursed day. I started to see a glimmer of light here and there. I took some interest in taking care of me, as well as the kids. I started going to some church activities. I went to Colorado for a month to bask in the loving care of my family. I had the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends and make some new ones. I even went to the gym everyday. Finally, I got a hint that life was actually going to move on. The hollow spot was still there, but it was a little smaller, and I was learning to live with it.

Late in the summer, right before the kids would head off to school, I got up the guts to take them camping with our church family. I was afraid of taking it on by myself, but I knew my friends would be all around to support me. We stayed in a forested area, just across the road from the beach. When night came upon us, and the kids were tucked safely into bed, I had the strongest urge to go take a walk along the water. I could hear the waves crashing, and I needed to go soak up some of that power. I quickly found someone to peek in on the kids from time to time, but struggled to find anyone to head over to the sand with me. They all had their families there, or were involved in other activities. I knew I needed to be respectful of the "buddy" rule that had been put in place by our pastor for safety reasons, so I resigned myself to try again the next night.

Much to my surprise, a few minutes later you asked me if I still wanted to go for that walk. I did, and we went, but the journey out of the campground and across the road was a little awkward. I knew your name, and a little of your history; but only because it was infamous like mine. What did it mean that you wanted to walk with me? As we walked across the beach toward the water, we fell into a rhythm of conversation. We talked for hours as we watched the neon waves and more shooting stars than I had seen in my lifetime before. What was happening? I didn't know, but I knew I wanted you to hold my hand so bad. I was afraid though, and could only bring myself to mention that my hands were cold. Apparently, you were scared too, because you couldn't bring yourself to reach out your hand either. Regardless, the foundation was set. We hit the beach again the next night, and haven't stopped talking since.

I'm not quite sure how we made it through those next few months. There was no time for sleep because there were too many subjects to cover. We poured our hearts, souls and minds out for the other to examine, analyze and love. We had a bond in our brokenness, and little by little, helped each other figure out how to pick up the pieces and love again. It was the most wonderful, and most terrifying time of my life. With each new revelation you could have left, but you stayed, and so did I. There is nothing that I will ever be more grateful for.

I finally came to the time when that ever important "one year" mark was going to pass. They weren't easy days, but they were made so much more palatable by your presence. As silly as it might sound to some, that date was important. I had survived. A full circle around the sun had passed, and I was living, breathing, and even flourishing. That had been an impossible notion a year before. There was one more thing that I hadn't accounted for though. You were now very much a part of what surviving and living again looked like for me. I HAD to be with you. So in spite of the the fact that my need ruined your original plan to propose, you welcomed me with open arms. I am so thrilled that you came up with a new plan though, and asked me to be your wife 7 years ago today.

I realized the other night that we have now been married to each other longer than either of us had been married before. I even mentioned it to you at the time. The things I didn't say were these. I figured out on the day we got married when this time would come. Somewhere deep in my heart, I figured this time would, somehow, make you more completely mine. I have never been jealous of the past, but more likely, afraid of the future. Could we, possibly, pass the threshold that we hadn't before. Now I know, without a doubt, the answer is YES. I still feel afraid sometimes, and I still have to give you up to God everyday until you come home safely to me in the afternoon; but my heart sings with the love, growth and uplifting you have given me in the last 7+ years. I am truly a better woman for having had the opportunity to be your wife. Thanks for asking.

Love,
Blaine

PS As is typical, the details of things don't always turn out exactly the way we'd hoped. I searched for the perfect song to go with this letter, and almost found it. The only trouble is, it is called "Better Man", and is sung by a guy named James Morrison. Oh yeah, and Blogger wouldn't let me embed it in this post, so you'll need to click on that little box at the top of my sidebar over there on the right. So, if you could do me the teeny, tiny favor of overlooking those details, this song is dedicated to you for all the things you do to make me better.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Year (School Semester)


All of my kids (not Grace) are back to school; Tyler at school with Will. It was a nightmare getting him registered, but he had a great first day. Now we'll pray for some awakening and responsibility on his part. Dad will be right over his shoulder, regardless. Kayla has a little 8th Grade-itis. She isn't quite sure if she wants to push for the straight A's that she has had throughout the rest of Middle School. Fortunately, she wants to qualify for CJSF (California Junior Scholarship Federation). It is the only award that can be included, from the Middle School level, on college applications. That should pull her through. Daniel is doing so well with his new IEP in place. Seeing his lighter mood and happy demeanor makes all the hard work worthwhile. There is such a great Resource staff at our school. Justin tells me he is the "Orange Paw King". That is because their school mascot is the Lion, and in Kindergarten, he can earn an orange paw for good behavior and a brown paw for bad behavior. He has earned nothing but orange paws all year. Yippee!!!! This all makes this Mom's heart light and happy! 8^)

BTW, Grace spent the day getting into everything, and writing on my couch with a ball point pen. GRRRrrrr!!!

Monday, January 07, 2008

I Might Need an Intervention!!

71%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Public Service Announcement

This morning, while Justin was eating breakfast and Will and I were lost in our own little cyber worlds, Grace passed by Justin's seat. All of a sudden, he announced, "Stink Bomb! Stink Bomb on Gracie!!!" I think I better go change a diaper. Ewww!

Will's Karaoke Personality


Your Karaoke Theme Song is "Livin' On a Prayer"

You believe the best things in life are mostly forgotten, and you're definitely more than a little nostalgic .
You're likely to still like the same foods, fashions, and music as you did when you were a teenager.

You have a knack for knowing what elements of pop culture people have missed, without them even realizing it.
It's great to remember the past, but don't forget that not everyone is as stuck in it as you are.

You might also sing: "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Cherry Pie."

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Round 1....Down!


They won!! They actually won!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Go Chargers! Go Chargers!! Go Chargers!!! Go Chargers!!!!




Our Team in the Playoffs

I can hardly believe I care this much, but I am seriously rooting for the San Diego Chargers in today's playoff game. There was a day that I was a SERIOUS Denver Broncos fan. I lived there from age 5 to age 15. Considering I still had family there, it seemed only right that I would maintain my allegiances. However, I married a man that had a LONG (from its' earliest days) history of being a San Diego Chargers fan. His WHOLE family (even those in Oregon) are Charger fans. Considering his passion, I had to make the switch. Our kids have been taught to yell, "Go Chargers!!!" from their earliest days, and we are all properly outfitted for the games whenever possible. So I ask you all, in spite of your local allegiances, to join us in our quest. Watch the game later today, and root for our Chargers.

Go CHARGERS!!!!!