Sunday, November 29, 2009

27 Days Til Christmas

I hit Black Friday Shopping with a vengeance!! I accomplished so much on Friday, and now the wrapping piles are much larger!! We do power wrapping after the kids go to bed at night, and hubby loves that part the most. We normally watch a cheesy Christmas movie or listen to the carols that I love while we wrap. Good family times!

We had a wonderful thanksgiving day with family. Both of our parents are in their seventies, so we cherish every holiday that we have with them all. We ate a big meal with alot of desserts and played games until bedtime. It was a memorable day, with our oldest daughter plus her husband plus his brother plus our kids plus our parents ... good times.

I love the holidays. Giving, wrapping, surprises, baking, cooking, family all around. I hope all of you are enjoying these special days too.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Time is flying by on the homefront. It seems like we had just opened our camper for the season when we emptied it and got it ready for winter. That's the first sign of November.

Planning for our thanksgiving feast is another sign. We know with a large family, it's usually much easier to host holiday events than to drag 7 kids to other homes. Besides, it's not like we get a ton of invitations anyway!! We sat down last week to prepare our dinner list, always including the standard fare, along with a couple of new dishes this year. We plan on having about 9 guests, so will be bringing all the table and chairs out of the basement, and washing up all the table covers. I think of the first thanksgiving and wonder what they would think of our use of paper plates, and disposable dinner wear. I love a fancy table, but when you feed a crowd, it's one of the sacrifices I am willing to make for it to be a day of fellowship, and not extra work.

We also started putting our Santa lists together this week. I admit, it's hard to write a wish list when the temps have been warmer than some parts of our summer this year. I think once the snow flies, I feel more in the holiday mood, and it seems much more real once the trees are lit. We started a family tradition last year with joining one of our children's birth grandma and taking an old fashioned wagon ride to the pine tree farm to pick out the perfect tree. Since we have a couple of asthmatics in our family, we put the real tree on the porch out front, and the artificial tree in the house. Both become spectacular sights, and we enjoy the decorating. Last year our house still had the outside wrap on it, since we didn't get the siding done until this spring, so we always teased that the lights on the tree made a wonderful advertisment for our local lumber company. I wonder if they will miss that this year? Our outdoor tree was (of course) the most expensive on the lot, and this year I hope to encourage the kids to find a perfect "cheaper" tree. Oh to be young again and not have to be concerned about money!

So, I started my christmas shopping, wondering how to teach the kids about the true meaning of the holiday, and still enjoy the American traditions that we all enjoy. We started by choosing 3 names of children off of our church Christmas tree that need some loving, and began purchasing gifts for them that may be the only thing they receive this year. We will begin our baking after thanksgiving, with the plan of making trays to give to our neighbors, and hopefully taking some to the women's shelter downtown. In times past we have made boxes that are sent to orphanages overseas, but this year I am looking for other ways to help the kids really be involved in helping some who are less fortunate than we are. I have asked them to consider what we can do either individually, or as a family, to help someone else. I am hoping they can come up with some good answers on their own.

In the midst of all the business of life, I am reaching into my own heart and trying to define the things I am blessed with, and express my thankfulness for them. I realize there are so many ways I am blessed by family, friends, and even strangers, and I hope that I am living my life as a blessing to others. The words I say, the things I do, the people I am around.

Our homestudy is finally nearing completion, and we hope to have the hard copy in hand right after the holiday. I hear rumors about international adoption closing its doors and I fight the panic response. I am more than ready to welcome our newest children into our home. I dream of them. I wonder throughout the day who they are, what they look like, when will they come home? I try to trust in an all knowing Father who knows our hearts and the hearts of Kings, and I won't give up the desire of my heart until I know for sure we have done all we can do to reach our children.

Until then, we go through our days, counting our blessings, reaching out to others, teaching the important things of life to our children, and praying daily for what is ahead. I hope you can do the same, and I look forward to hearing how you have succeeded in your life goals, also. God bless you and yours in this season of thanksgiving.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Travel, Homestudy and Steaks

I just got back last night from a 4 day power trip to North Carolina. Bella's grandma was going to visit relatives, and we tagged along. The mountains never fail to amaze me. The creeks running over stones, rough waters peaking in white foam over sharp rocks. Some areas the water meandered slowly around curves, while just around the mountain bend, it appeared to pick up speed and race to the next jut in the mountainside. Beautiful. Brought back alot of memories of our years in Coleman Falls, Virgina, living in a caretakers cottage at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I said power weekend, because the drive is over 13 hours one way, we visited with relatives for 2 days, and returned home the next. One thing I always enjoy about road trips is the hours of conversation you can have with the passengers. Some of the time Bella would sing at the top of her lungs, drowning out the words between her gramma and I. Then she would fall asleep, mostly content in her car seat with paci blanket in hand. I inherited Gramma with Bella's adoption, a first in our home of many adoptions. It's interesting to actually have biological information on a child not born to us, and it's fun to get to know how we are connected to others. An extended family. A new world we didn't ever think of 3 years ago as being possible.

Adoption does that. Opens you up to other people, other situations. Makes you think about things you would never consider otherwise. We want to shy away from these connections sometimes. Some conversations make me uncomfortable, and I find out things about her birth mom that I will have to explain someday. I pray that she will make better choices in the years ahead, because one day Bella will run into her, and I hope it can be a positive experience, not one that will cause her fear or doubts about where her life may have been had she not joined our family...

Then I think again about the current homestudy. Our caseworker said she was recommending that we are allowed to adopt two Ethiopians this time. That was our hope. As she completes the paperwork that we need to send to the Ethiopian government, I wonder how the picture of our family will unfold to the authorities there? Will they be assured that we will love the children they place here as if they were born to us? We intend to. Will they think we can provide to the best of our ability? We will. Will they recognize our home as one of laughter, growth and family times? It is. Will they agree with the social worker, and when can we begin this process of remaking and adding on to our family? We are ready.

So, where does the Steak come in?? I will try to give the shortened version here.
Our school is doing conferences this week, so several days are 1/2 days, which also means several days the kindergarteners have no school. Today was one of those days, and being that I just traveled from 8:30am to midnight yesterday coming home from North Carolina, and the morning needed to start out slowly so I could catch up...
Tommy doesn't understand S..L...O...W...and he hit the ground running. By noon I had cleaned the livingroom twice, chased 3 little ones out of the mud in the back yard, chased the dog (oh yeah, we got a dog...) in from the back yard, and picked wet fun fruits off the newly cleaned carpet in the livingroom. While I was doing that, the little ones were destroying the, at 11:30, I decided a trip to Taco Bell would break the cycle, and give me a reason to leave the mess for later. In the plan making stage of getting out, the kids needed a bath to get the mud off, they needed to get shoes on, and get into their car seats. We grabbed a half loaf of bread, knowing that we could also feed the ducks at the river while we were out. A party was forming now. Picking up our taco's first, we headed to the riverfront. Of course our town has a huge (house-high) boulder that marks the site of our historical place in this world. The kids promised they would be good if we could "climb" big rock after we fed the ducks. The party was expanding. After duck feeding, chasing pigeons and eating our taco's, we climbed big rock. It was a Kodak moment, especially rolling down the big hill in front of the big rock. The only way I could persuade them to leave the historical site was to promise we would go "deer hunting." Our version includes driving slowly down the back roads of town, towards the old Indian cemetary, looking intently for wandering deer. No such luck today. So we ended our excursion with a quick trip to the grocery store. Emotions were still high, energy levels no where near the downslide yet. I promised each a candy bar if they were good (well, sometimes a bribe like this works well) at the grocery. I was pleased to find steaks on a great sale price, so I picked up extra packs for the freezer. Out to the van, and we were on our way. We stopped at gramma and grampa's house for a minute, and that's when the steak incident happened.

Talking briefly with the grandfolks was enough time for Tommy, Mere or Bella to open a pack of cold steaks, but I didn't recognize what was happening at the back of the van until Bella pushed a hunk of steak at my face in her dirty hands, and said "Look what Tommy did!" (He denied it all.) It took me a minute to recognize the red meat in front of me was not road kill, or the catch of the season but the steak I had just bought. My dad was laughing til he nearly fell down, mom looked surprised, and the little hands held tight to the fresh steak that was going to be supper....

If I had thought of it, another picture would have explained it better. But suffice it to say, all in all it was a successful day off of school. And tonight we are going for pizza, after all....