Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You need them, when????

Today my 11 year old comes home from school, shows me a picture in her history book of Colonial days, and says, "Mom, we need to make one or two of these dresses for school."


"Just one or two, my teacher said. Some kids are making posters. I told her you could sew two dresses."

After I picked my bottom lip off the livingroom floor, I tried to make sense of what she was asking. After all, I am somewhat creative, even if I am not a seamstress.
And, if there is enough time, perhaps I can get my mother in law (who is an excellent seamstress)to make them.

"Well, they are not due until May 3rd."

Oh, really? That gives me less than a week?

Why do kids do this? Here is my ideas on the subject:

I am so creative, my daughters think I can do anything.
I am so fast, they think creating a couple of period dresses would be no big deal.
I am so willing to help them succeed at school, I am not afraid of going overboard on a difficult project.
I never need sleep.
I have nothing else to do.
My house is spotless.
The dishes are done.
The dinner I am making for tonights birthday party for a friend is nearly done.
I have no other interests but theirs.
My sewing room is stocked with all the lace and silk needed to make a dress.
I have a hard time saying no.
I hate to let anyone down.
I usually get things done that have to be done.
I do not need to frost the carrot cake in the oven.
I can easily get their help straightening the house before dinner.
There is nothing I would rather do than what they suggest.

Being a mom has many privileges. I tell people I don't want anyone messing with the deal I've got!! And I do like to help them when I can. But, less than a week, with my already jam-packed life, to create two colonial dresses.....ugh!

So, I asked one more question.
What size do they need to be?

"They need to fit my BRATZ doll."

So, as the wheels turned, another thought occurred to me. Would the shelf size china dolls that used to be part of my old doll collection work? I mean, they look colonial, even though they are a bit smaller than her doll of choice.

She was ecstatic. Yep. Perfect.
"I think those will work, mom!!"

As she put them in her back pack for tomorrow, I realized maybe all the other things I mentioned were not even slightly a part of what she was thinking. She had something she needed, she had confidence that I would help her come up with a solution, and she had volunteered me because, well, I'm her mom! It's just another part of what moms do!

Whew...I still have time to frost that birthday cake after all!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Date

I am really excited that my husband and I am going on a real date tonight!

This is a real treat. Since we have 7 kids at home, getting away typically means either I am home with the kids, or he is home with the kids. It's just the easiest way to maintain a little bit of "me" time in the midst of so much "them" time.

The last time we were out without children in tow, we were sitting in the hospital waiting room all day, focusing on his fathers heart surgery. That was not my idea of a date. And I am sure his father would have rather we were out on the town instead of waiting to hear the surgeons recap of the day's events. (thankfully, the surgery was successful, and he's still on the road to recovery.)

I have learned that getting out a night or two in a weeks time makes me a much better mom, and more prepared to deal with the usual 24/7 of parenting. Mike's job gets him out daily, and he has a few service opportunities that he enjoys being involved in, so that has really been a fairly good solution to parenting a large family.

But tonight we get "us" time. It's a rare treat. We tell our sitters we don't mind paying them well for staying, and we try to make it worth their while. Our biggest problem with that is, simply, it's hard to find sitters who can handle 7 kids at one time. Hard, because it's really too much responsibility for even the best teenage sitter, and hard, also, because we have a young teen in our home that resents having a sitter.

And night times can be stressful here. Between medications for behaviour wearing off near dinner time, and nighttime medications not kicking in until bedtime, there are a few difficult hours in there that even we, who are much more accustomed to the issues, shudder at. It's that 5 to 7 night time "meltdown" phase around here.

So, my niece, a mother of three and familiar with our kids, has accepted the challenge tonight. I started praying this week for a sitter, and although she may not realize she is a direct answer to our prayers, she is allowing us some breathing time and couple time that we couldn't have without her. It's a huge blessing, to which we are very grateful.

I will have the meal ready for them when she gets here, (spaghetti usually works best!) and they will have their pajama's ready to jump into. They can watch a movie, eat popcorn in the livingroom, or read books in their comfy places. But when I walk out the door tonight to spend time with the most important person in the world to me, I can leave with the assurance the kids will be well cared for, safe, and perfectly fine in my absence. What a gift to us!

I think the night out for us includes a nice dinner somewhere, then landing for several hours after that at our local booksellers for some quiet reflection and reading time. We usually enjoy a late night coffee, and if we don't eat too much at dinner, a nice dessert to go with it. Usually we get so relaxed that we have been known to doze in an armchair with our feet up, a good book in our laps, side by side as people mill around us. It's a great feeling to know I will be with my best friend, reconnecting again, without any interuptions of little voices, sticky hands or minor squabbles.

It's funny, but after a couple hours together, both of us are ready to get back at it all again. We come home refreshed, and ready for the next round.

Here's to Date Night. Here's to Us!! Here's to a wonderful sitter! Here's to the promise of a great night out!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A serious blog: Intense content

I was told this week that my blog only records the good things in life.
I don't tell the whole story.

I was not sure how to answer that at the time. So I pondered the question and decided to put it to ink.

I am usually an upbeat person. I typically like to see the good in life, in people, in situations. Granted, not all days have those "good" spots, and sometimes life is just plain hard.

Sometimes the pain of what I go through makes no sense to me. Although I know God always has a plan and purpose for my life, I am sure I miss out on some of what He wants to do for me because I have my own agenda.

When my teenage son shows signs of anger, resentment or personal pain from his own boatload of past family (or lack thereof) baggage, I can't usually put it to words. How I feel for his pain. How lost he must feel. Or how inept it seems at times to try to parent a child who came to be mine because of a system that must often break family ties and create new ones for safety's sake. There are often no words to describe the struggle, the anquish, the resentment. How do I write about something where there are no words to describe what we are going through?

When my nearly-teen daughter struggles with her self image in a very self-conscious world, how can I put the most personal of our feelings in a format that anyone can read should they log onto my site? Is it fair to her to expose what she is going through, that surely will pass as she crosses into adulthood, because I needed to put my own words for her insecurities on paper?

When my 11 year old is wondering who she looks like the most - me, or her birth mom - is it something that I can discuss,with prying eyes, her most vulnerable feelings of acceptance into a family who, try as we might, she never will really "look" like one of us?

Or what about the 8 year old that still whines excessively, fantasizes about what her "real" mom did with her and all the fabulous places they went to as a family "before she came here," and the struggles she will have for the rest of her life in social situations, all because her birthmom thought alcohol was more important during her pregnancy than the life she had forming in her belly? How can I kindly write about something that angers me still?

When I discuss the fun that the little ones bring into our life, it's not without realizing the good days outweigh the difficult ones. Are their still difficult days? Oh, yeah. Without a doubt. When the 6 year old, who entered this world 13 weeks early as an extreme preemie, still cries with belly aches because of the issues caused due to her birthmom's drug crazed lifestyle as she carried her, and the scars she will carry for life that saved her, but also left her with pain because at less than 2 pounds, she had more than half of her small intestine removed. Bowel issues, anyone? How can I talk about that part of our day?

When we try to put the 5 year old to sleep, once again, with the aid of adult sleeping medication, because his parents regarded drugs and alcohol more important than a growing fetus, and blessed our son with issues that may cause him to NEVER sleep on his own, would anyone really believe (or care) what a night like that is like in this home? As he's a bundle of inconsistencies in behavior, and we politely turn down advice on the best way to "make him mind", we know on a moment to moment basis that his life could possibly be the toughest one we'll ever walk, but through no fault of his own, he faces challenges that most of us will never face just getting through each day. Who wants to read that blog?

Having a relationship with one of the smartest, sweetest toddlers in this world, who would care that she's been through so many different therapies to get to where she is today, and if I discussed it all, would anyone realize what a precious gem was hidden under her drug-infused tiny life, or would I sound like I was having a pity party for all I have done, and wanting sympathy for myself? Would a reader see how grateful I am for the lives entrusted to us, or would it be a redundant tale of doctor visits, therapy, counselors and pain?

So, to my friend who suggested I only write about the "good" things in life, I just have to say, if I spent too much time on the "real" part of my day, neither of us would come away from it enriched or blessed.

Life is hard for everyone. It's easiest for me to count my blessings, thank God for the good things, and try my best to focus on the ways I hope to make a difference in this world.

Yeah, I am not the best at reality. But I love the life God's given me, and if I choose to ignore the pain and count my blessings, maybe it's because that's the part of me I hope to share. Everyone has enough pain of their own. It's their choice if they want to write about it.

It's my choice to write about the best parts of my life. I hope it helps you focus on the best parts of yours, too.

Another day, another laugh

We had our weekly scrapping date today, which meant there were 8 children, 6 years old and under, including one infant, and one neighbor boy, playing together for hours.

It is getting less difficult for them to "get their groove" and for the most part, they are learning to play together nicely. The better weather helps alot too, since for the most part, the kids can play outside in the fenced back yard.

Today, a few squabbles had the kids running in and out, "reporting" who hurt who, why they did it, or what they thought we should do about it!

At one point, we noticed they were playing rather quietly, when I realized the back door had been shut. Once I opened the door, we were able to hear all the noise again. Shortly after the noise resumed, one child came running in with the announcement, "Matt tied Nila up with a bungie cord!!" Well, they were both laughing, but we took the bungie cord away. Solved.

A few minutes later, Bella had scratched Macy, although it sounded more like she had clawed her eyes out at first. Bandages, anyone??

My favorite phrase of the day, however, was when Tommy came barreling through the back door, nearly panicked and spurted out, "Mom!! Mere said the 'E' word!!" He was indignant.

The adults looked puzzled, and I know I heard one of them say, "What in the heck is the 'E' word...?" Before we could ponder that, Tommy finished his sentence with,
"She said IDIOT!!"

Well, he is only 5, after all.

Baths done, children falling asleep in their warm beds, cousins sleeping soundly on the couches or bouncing off the walls, (Macy, who never stops bouncing...), dark settling in comfortably while we finish our scrapping day - all told, another successful day of recalling memories while making new ones.

These are the days I love the most.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I had a smile on my face most of yesterday afternoon.
I had been on a 3 day binge of scrapbooking, while Mike did his best to keep the home fires burning. When he was home after work, he was cooking, cleaning, and trying to keep the kids away from all my scrapping materials.

The phone rang, and I immediately noticed the lift in Mike's voice. It was our oldest grandson, Kaiden, calling. I could tell he and Mike were having a wonderful conversation.

After a short time, Mike was laughing so hard at the things Kaid was saying that he even started wheezing!! It was the total, out of control, belly laugh going on. Once I got the phone from him so I could hear Kaid's voice, Kaid was still chuckling. I told him the things he was saying to PaPa was making him laugh so very hard that I called it his "belly laugh." Kaid said, "I know. When papa laughs it sounds like this: HOOhOOhahaha (really deep mimicking!) But when I laugh it sounds like this: hahahahahaha." His imitation of them both was so funny, it made me laugh like crazy too.

We love that boy!! Mike was asking him for an update on how his brothers were. Well, Keegan was still coughing, but doing good, and Keane was smiling and a happy baby. It was a nice summary of the grandsons coming from his wonderful 4 year old perspective.

But the thing that we will remember most is his final words just before he hung up the phone.

"Next time I call I will make papa laugh again really hard. Because that makes me laugh too!"

Is there anything better in life than adorable grandsons?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Play Dates and Nights Out

I have had so much fun lately going out with my nieces. Since they are the ages of my older kids, their children (my great nieces and nephews)are wonderful playmates to my youngest kids. Plus, the kids are so funny that we spend alot of time laughing.

Last week we had a cousins playdate and sleepover. That meant we had 16 people in the house for 24 hours, the majority of them under 8 years old!! It was fun. The adults (minus my husband) worked on our scrapbooks, but the children played, ate, played more and ate more. Sometimes they can stay so busy playing outside, but usually when we are scrapping they have more trouble being away from us! (wink!)

So, we got some scrapping done, but mostly we had fun. The night before our playdate/sleepover, the 3 of us ladies visited a new scrapbook supply store for the first time. It's one of those obsessions I found I can not live without. I TRY to be smart about the money I spend, and am learning to focus on photos that I already have printed out, but sometimes there is paper or stickers or some other type embellishment that just knocks me down and I HAVE to get it! I even find myself daydreaming about page layouts and title pages!

We shopped, ate dinner out and laughed until we cried. We came back to my house, still giddy but tired just before midnight, and planning for our scrapping/playdate/sleepover the next day. As soon as I walked into the diningroom, where my husband and daughter were sitting, I noticed it. First, I should tell you, my husband and I always compete with "how bad the kids were while you were gone," or "it didn't happen on my watch!" anytime we are in charge of the kids while the other is out.

This night, it was his watch. Bella, the 3 year old, had cut her hair. Off. Almost the whole left side. And also chunks throughout. Now, she had snipped bits of her hair in times past, and just the week before had pulled out a hunk of her little cousin's curls (on as-ki-dent, of course). We saved the curls for her scrapbook even. I ran my hand through the back of Bella's hair, and said, "Oh my, what did you do?" as a handful of hair came off as the words came out of my mouth.

Mike, without really even trying to defend himself, simply stated: "She found scissors and the next thing I knew...." Yep. She still had a few piles of the remains of her long locks on the floor of the mudroom. Next to the rabbit cage. Oh no, even the poor bunny had a trim. To his whiskers. Long enough to have missed his face, but short enough to frustrate the bejeebers out of him!!

What could I do? The main thing was getting her to bed, since it was so late anyway. The next thing was to get through our cousin's event, which would give me time to formulate a plan of action on the best way to proceed. My delicate baby girl looked like a teen punk rocker. Not quite the look I was going for...

It's ironic that her gramma and I were just discussing her long hair, especially pretty since she stayed almost bald for her entire first year. I was thinking we were in need of a trim, since her bangs were finally growing in from her last scissor excursion. But gramma had just said, "It's so pretty, you should keep it growing long." Yeah, right. Bella had another plan.

Actually, she probably didn't have a plan. Just scissors and a few moments alone.

On Friday morning, a really nice hair stylist repaired it as much as she could, giving her a short, layered cut that frames her face. In all truth, it's adorable. I had never considered cutting it this length, but since the deed was done, it looks really sweet and cute on her face. And the stylist did a great job with what we brought her!

So, playdates, scrapping, sleepovers. You never know what to expect around here. We find fun whenever and however we can.

And, I got a really nice hunk of hair for Bella's scrapbook too!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Break Reflections

So, we are at the movies this weeek during spring break, and the kids were ordering their snacks. Mere' said, "I want Milk Buds." The others start to correct her and I reminded them, everyone has said adorable things that I hate to see come to an end. When they stop saying cute things, it's usually because they are all grown up!!

Some of my favorite things that Tara says are, "I want a happy meal with a hangaberg." Or, "Can you make us some Pockporn to eat with our movie?" And the ever favorite, "pupcakes and icecream."

Tommy gets tired, and says, "I'm poofed." Or when frustrated, "Oh Varn it!!"

Nicole used to say, "bathing soup" when we'd go swimming. But she's grown up now :(

Bella tells me the other day that she has to be in her seat belt so the cops won't stop us and put her in jail "for life." She's 3. Not sure where she learned that, but it works!!

Alot of the things Nelly says crack us up. There are so many, we call them Nellyisms. Sometimes its the words she says, but mostly it's the way she says them.

Tyler came to us at 9 years old, so we missed out on alot of his funny sayings. But he has a great sense of humor and can make us laugh with his goofing off. He has a great singing voice, but doesn't know it. He can memorize any song after the first time he hears it, and he often sings things to be funny. Some day that will all be part of our family history too, and I will miss it.

It's fun to hear the grandsons talk now too. Kaid can be so funny when he's trying to get his mom to understand something he wants to say. "Mom, listen, you don't understand!" Too cute - and his brother Keegan, he jabbers all the time, and I don't catch alot of it, but one thing I love more than any of their words is, "I lub you gwamma."

The kids grow up way too fast, and this week of spring break gave me a bit of time to reflect on all their cute ways. But it will be nice when the bus comes in the morning and we can get back to our normal routines!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

USCIS Approval

We received the much awaited USCIS approval letter today in the mail. It has really been such a whirl wind of excitment and work trying to get all of our ducks in a row for the domestic adoption that this was put on the back burner for a few weeks.

But staring at the letter that said "approved" to adopt up to 2 children under 2 years old from Ethiopia made me realize just how close we have come to our dreams for this foreign born child of ours.

As I write tonight, we are waiting for the local call from our attorney that tells us our youngest daughters half-sister has been born, and we are nearly ready to take off within a few hours notice. We will have to travel for almost 3 hours to her birth town, and plan to stay in our RV until she is released from the hospital there. I have stocked the shelves with a few meals, can throw together the fridge items, and the kids clothes. I have the diaper bag packed, car seat bought, clothing washed for her to wear and bottles packed with the formula. I think everything is ready - at least it will be once I can remember how to get the bassinet cover back on the frame.

We have chosen her name, discussed who we will use as a pediatrician, and stocked up with diapers, burp clothes and booties. We have a beautiful outfit her grandma made to bring her home from the hospital, and a couple of blankets that will be just for her. We are definately excited about her arrival, pausing each time the phone rings, giving us a moment to hope it may be "the call" that starts the initial process that makes it more real than all the paperwork and dreams have created so far.

So when I got the mail today, I realized I had let my heart embrace this new child who is closer to becoming a part of the family, and allowed the Ethiopian adoption to take a close second seat to the domestic adoption. I wondered if I had let my passion and hearts desire slip away, and was I still hoping and wishing for the child who has not been born yet across the seas?

Due to the immediate need to prepare for the new baby, I had to replace some of my intensity for Ethiopia to accomplish all that had to be done quickly to make her place in our family. So much paperwork, and details had to fall in place quickly in order for this process to work. But seeing the final paperwork that links us to our Ethiopian child, my heart was revived again with hope and desire. It was the missing piece that we desperately need to continue on the long paperchase to bring home our foreign born child. I allowed a moment for it to sink in, and prayed immediately for the child who will be born some time after January 2011 that will one day become our child.

It's been an exciting, stressful, demanding journey. I can not even say that the international versus the domestic adoption process was harder or easier. They have both been intense, scarey, detailed and overwhelming. But we are closer now than ever before with both processes and it feels really awesome tonight.

Another phase is coming to a close, although there are more steps to complete before either adoption is final. But together we have chosen a path to walk, have walked it as faithfully as we were able, and gratefully, tonight, we can both see the light at the end of the long tunnels. One tunnel will bring us to our daughter in Indiana, while the other tunnel, though yet unknown and not yet conceived, will take us to our Ethiopian child/children. God's plan has brought us here. I pray for these children, asking HIS power in their lives and for HIS infinite wisdom in our lives, to complete the paths ahead. What a wonderful blessing to be in the shoes that are leading us to our babies.

I pray for the days ahead to continue on the path, faithful to HIS calling, and comfort to the mothers who will bear our children. Thank you , kind Father, for continuing to lead us.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Life, because HE has risen.

We are on week 38 now, realizing any day we could get the call about our new baby girl. Going over paperwork from both attorneys this week makes it all seem so much more real, making me aware just how much still has to be completed before we get "the call."

Seeing the paperwork also makes me sad for the birthmom. I know externally how much she is losing, and I really hope to convey to her how very much we already love her child. We will take care of her, envelop her into our whole lives, and yet also make her very aware of the woman who chose life for her, carried her for all these months and then gave her willingly over into our arms for safekeeping in light of the fact that she just can not care for her.

It's amazing that she has come so far in this decision. We know she wanted to keep this child, and raise her on her own. But she is not capable of that. It is for the baby's best interest that she is signing this mountain of paperwork that allows her baby to leave the hospital with us. I know her heart is breaking, yet we are rejoicing in this tiny life that will join our family any day now.

Today is Easter. Our family spent a wonderful yesterday over a typical holiday meal, and loved having several friends join us. We played games and laughed in the afternoon, and had company until bedtime. I had some wonderful cuddle time with my 5 month old great nephew in the evening, then went to bed peacefully, making sure all was set for the Easter Bunny to sneak into our diningroom to leave treasures for the expectant kiddos in our household. Morning came too soon (as always when the kids have something exciting in the morning), and we dressed for church to worship together. My heart was challenged as we sang praises,giving our thanks to JESUS who has given us life with the resurrection so many years ago.

So today, I am mindful of life. The life we live, as a happy, healthy family, and the life we are soon to welcome into our home. But I also know none of this would be possible without the LIFE that Jesus gave on our behalf, and HIS power he bestowed on all of us Christians by raising so that we can have LIFE in HIM!

Thank you, Jesus.
Jesus has risen from the dead. He has risen!!
He has risen, indeed!