Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Years

Christmas is over, as far as the frenzied gifts, parties and visitors goes. I am hoping the Spirit of the season lives on throughout the year ahead.

So many blessings surrounded us this year. We were able to wake up to the joy of our 7 kids on Christmas morning, along with the three added blessings, our grandsons, Kaid, Keegan and Keane. It's hard to describe the massive amounts of paper, packages and noise when there are 10 children in one livingroom. Awesome!! It was a wonderful feeling having our oldest son, Scott, his wife Britt and their boys home. We missed having Jenni home, and kept the cell phone clicking all day sending pictures back and forth to her, and she to us. Ash and Andy were able to be here for the festivities too, so it was a full day of fun. Many memories,for sure.

Now we are in the middle of the holidays week, planning our family get together for New Years eve, and cramming in just as much as we can before Scott leaves on Monday. Britt and the boys are able to stay until the 11th, so there will be a little more time to enjoy watching the boys play.

I have been very aware of the two little boys missing from our holidays this year. Last year, Gborlee was a new hope in our family, and by March, Mohammed (Isaiah) was also added to our "joy" list. It's been a long, hard year, working toward bringing both boys home from Liberia, and as much as we tried to get all the ends tied up this year, we still came short of finalizing their adoption and bringing them home to our family. We have been discouraged, frustrated,and angered, all the while longing for the day we can begin their healing in America. I realize that once my eyes were opened to the plight of the children in Liberia, and the basic needs they are lacking, the harder it is to live out my typical day in such a blessed country. When we have excess food, I am sorry for their struggle day to day to eat. When I snuggle into my warm bed, I remember the harsh surroundings my boys are living in. When I close my eyes at night, I can't help but wonder how they are sleeping and what activities their days held far across the world from me.

It just was obvious someone was missing.

Now we are looking forward to a new year. New challenges, new hope, new opportunities. As I form the beginnings of the year in my mind, I contemplate what it holds for our family. Of course, none of us will ever be able to know exactly how our days will unfold, but some of the things I hope to accomplish are these: look for ways to help others in need, find someone whose life I can make a major impact in, and rely on God's provision to do my best to alleviate stress and hunger for another human being.

I know I can't change the world. But I do believe I can stand beside ONE person this year and help meet the needs of that person to the best of my abilities. Maybe if all of us could find one person to help, we would see a major lessening of need in our world and we could each grow by giving of ourselves.

Happy New Year to my family and friends. Let's make it a year we can look back on and be proud of. Let's help someone less fortunate than ourselves. I plan to. I pray blessings on each of you as you try to do the same in 2012.
Posted by Faith at 6:03 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's beginning to feel alot like Christmas!

Coming back from Africa during the holiday season has really thrown me off! Seeing Christmas trees there in the 95 degree heat, and hearing traditional American Christmas songs on battery operated radios in the village made me realize how close it really was!

And now it really is!! This is the countdown week!! We have spent many weeks remodeling the house and switching rooms around, preparing for the new boys. So, finally, we put our little tree up last night. I found the star this morning, and now I am looking for the tree skirt. And stockings. And deco. My kids were starting to beg me to put the tree up, and likened me to "Scrooge!" Oh how simple it is to bring joy to their little lives. Bella walked in and saw the tree lights up and stopped at the doorway. Her eyes widened and she said, "Wowwwww!" Just like she had seen the real star of Bethlehem. I had decided not to put alot of decorations out, mostly because it means bringing a ton of bins up from the basement. Yuck! But also, I am trying really hard to streamline our lives for at least a little bit. I expect it to get kinda crazy once the boys do come home, with doctor appointments and therapies, so it's in my heart to keep things a bit more simple than usual.

If you know me, you know how very much I love this time of year. The lights, songs, gifts, wrapping...ah, it's the highlight of my life. I LOVE to find special presents for my loved ones, and I work hard to keep the costs low. It's challenging but it really revs my engine! I began wrapping yesterday and spent most of the day trying to complete it. Unfortunately, I had to stop to sleep last night, so I will have to jump back in on that again later today. Tonight we have our friends family over to celebrate the holidays with them before things get crazy!

We will be missing our Jenni this year, but thankful for the two weeks we shared with her before, during and after our African trip together. She is always too far away, but at least we did have precious time together. Wednesday night we travel to Chicago to pick up Scott, Britt and those adorable grandsons. As of this writing, the boys have no idea they are coming to Michigan for Christmas! How exciting when they all figure it out! They will be taking their big German shephard dog home after this visit, so it will feel like we have one less horse in our home. (he's huge, but a well behaved dog. The last 6 months we have bonded!!) The boys will make our christmas VERY MERRY!! I can't wait. In pictures they look like they have all grown so big in the last six months and I am so excited to see them! My kids are giddy, waiting for them, and I probably won't see much of the boys since they will be off playing with their little aunts and uncle!

I have many things to look forward to in the new year. The ministry of Forget Me Not Children encompasses much of my thoughts. I am blessed to have enough money donated now to ship some orthopedic supplies to Liberia, and I know my heart will continue to reach out for ways to help the unfortunate children there. I am thankful that God lead me to the boys, and to the greater needs in their villages. I will continue to pray for what I can do to alleviate some of their suffering.

I also am working with a dear friend on a new business venture. It will allow us to help others tell their adoption stories, and we are excited about that! I am grateful to be surrounded with so many wonderful people who encourage me and help me grow! Stay tuned for the updates on both! Exciting times ahead!

I have baking to begin, and alot to accomplish yet this week, but I wanted to wish everyone of my blogging friends a Merry Christmas, and a peaceful happy New Year. How will you spend 2012? My advice (and I am taking it to heart too!) is to always take time to make memories, and look for ways to change someone else's life.

Love and Peace to you all.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ahh, Africa!

Just returned last night from my second trip to Africa. I must still be on Liberian time,(it's past noon there!)because I could not sleep past 5:30 this morning!

As I write this post, Mike is at the Emergency room with Tommmy (7). He was so excited to have me home, he bought me a Slim Jim treat at the store last night, and while trying to open it this morning, he cut his hand with the scissors. I figure it will be stitched, but it sharply brought me back to the contrast of living in America to living in Africa.

The day we got to Africa, which is a story in itself, we were loving on the FMN kids and a little 4 year old showed me a cut on her hand. It was raw, and had dirt in it already. We put neosporin and a bandaide on it, but thru the week I watched it get puffier and infected. We kept adding salve and bandaides, but it really has little hope of healing well without a big scar. I am praying the infection can be less due to the salves we applied. I hope my Tommy comes home with stitches, and I know we can get the help he needs here for that type of injury. Such a sharp contrast.

Delivering a walker for a 5 year old, and a wheelchair for a 6 year old, my mind kept racing to how different life is for my children here. A cerebral palsy child in the states will have therapy and medical care from the beginning of their lives. For these two precious African children, the help they receive must come across a large ocean, from a continent away, from concerned and giving people who feel as if it is never enough to meet the needs we so wish we could. But for Karin and Barry, it will help to change their little lives in their communities. It makes me hope to do so much more.

We fired our agency for our adoption while we were there. Sad to return again without our babies, however, we are at peace that we were able to stop the insanity and corruption that was prevelant from this american agency. What a shame. We are encouraged that we can pursue the adoption through a different angle, and we are grateful for the brilliant minds of the team that God assembled together for the time we were there. We were never alone in our struggles and emotional pain, and we have a plan for bringing the boys home in the next few weeks. We hope what we endured will put an end to the pain this agency could have caused many others had it not come out in the end.

What did I learn? I learned that my daughter Jenni has the biggest heart ever, is capable of keeping me grounded when our world was falling apart, and that she loved the African church service as much as I did! She spent a week on packaged snacks from the US and never once complained. Our airconditioning didn't work in the 95 degree heat, and our refridgerator in the place we stayed never did cool. Our lights dimmed, we lost all power, we couldn't access the internet, our water stopped working and our toilet clogged. Jenni reminded me what a blessed life we have in America each time she said, "well, it's a third world country, after all." She graciously accepted our daily changes, cried with me, laughted with me, and comforted me more than she will ever know. I love the way God has given me such lovely daughters, and thankful for her selfless ability to "vacation" with me in Africa. I will never forget our precious time together.

I learned that sending an email home and having to wait for a day for a reply made me realize how much I rely on my friendships and family connections on a day to day basis. When I would receive a letter from Ash, or Britt, it made me know of their prayers and support from across the world. We all shared in the mission to bring home our boys, and the joy and then tears were between us, even though the miles separated us from each other. Although our grief at leaving the boys behind was thick enough to choke on, our hope for a quick return turned our tears to joy and hope renewed was like a medicine to our hearts.

I learned that I will never hear a honking horn again without thinking of Africa. I learned that the most simple tasks here are darn right hard if not impossible over there. I watched sweat droplets hit a dirty cement floor in africa, as the beautiful christians in a simple church service blessed our hearts with their joy, their songs and smiles at a time when we desperately needed to hear a word from our God for the boys we had hoped to bring home. I learned that our timing is not necessarily God's timing, and it's ok to be disappointed but joyful at the same time.

I saw tears on their faces as my boys were forced into a bad situation, and smiles when they returned to the homes that have securely cared for their needs for the past year. I grew in appreciation for the foster mothers who have begun a beautiful journey of change for my boys, and their desire to change the impressions in their villages of handicapped children and their place in this world. The boys who must be discarded are accepted and loved by a foster family and have bonded well, and they will become healthier bonded children in our family because of the love they have developed there.

I met a biological mother whose eyes showed so much love and emotion for a child she knew she could not keep, and was able to ask her how she felt about giving her child to an American mother who would be responsible to let this child grown with the knowlege of just how precious his birth mom's sacrifices would improve his life. I would deeply touched by the impact of the gift she was giving to me - this precious damaged life who will soon thrive in all we can offer in health that her own village and resources never could do for him. An African mom and an American mom, working together. He got his beauty from him birthmom, and I will love and remind him of his start there. It was a treasure from God to have had the opportunity to meet her and to accept her gracious gift. She chose life for us all. I am grateful.

It was a big trip to a big continent, on a huge mission and a failed attempt to bring the babies home. But our God is bigger still, and we trust the plan to return soon. The big brown eyes in the tiny bodies of our African children draw me back as often as it takes to complete the plan. And the other children and people I meet along the way enriches my life. It is the icing on the cake to trust our minute by minute lives to a knowing God who only works for our good. I will continue to praise HIS name and fight for a people who He has placed on my heart.

Monday, October 24, 2011

a Heart Divided

Today I feel like my heart is completely divided in so many different places!

My oldest daughter lives the closest, but I haven't seen her in more than a week. She has college courses, a husband, a ton of animals who squeak and sqwauk for her attention. I miss her.

My next daughter lives in Oregon. She will be joining me next month for our African Adventure to bring the newest ones home. It can't happen soon enough for me! I miss her and wish all the time that she was close by.

My son lives in Puerto Rico. His wife is more like a daughter to me than she realizes, and those beautiful grandsons live in the sunshine and rain there. I get pictures all the time, and am thankful for the daily interaction on the computer and cell phones, but boy oh boy, I sure do miss them all.

My kids are all in school now, even baby B goes half days. It seems like I could get alot done at home during the long days, but usually I get started on something and have to remind myself to stay with a project. I miss the noise and lonliness when the kids are gone.

My baby boys are in Africa. I wonder if they will remember me when I go back, and if they will ever understand how long we have waited for them, and how much we have gone through to make this plan happen. Will they be completely overwhelmed, or will they know the places we have created for them in the family, and fit right in just perfectly?

So today, I sensed how many parts of my heart has been divided,and how many impossible miles separate me from all my babies. It will be wonderful when we can all be together someday, all under one roof, and share together in this big family.

My heart is divided, but I look forward to the day all the pieces fit back together. Whenever that may be.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Something is Missing

I hate it when the house is in disarray and we can't find things. Working on getting things ready for the boys to come home has me scrambling at times and saying more than once a day, "Now where did I put that?"

Organization is one of my most loved skills, but don't look at my house to find it!

You would think planning on adopting these two angels for the last year would mean I had plenty of time to get it all in order, right? Not so much! Let's just say I spent most of that time on paperwork, mental stability, and more paperwork. It has been the longest road of my life, and we are finally coming to the end of that road.

At dinner the other night, Nicole (almost 14) sat down at the table, looked around, and said, "It really doesn't seem like there are that many of us anymore. It really feels like someone is missing, doesn't it mom?"

Now, to be honest, two highchairs have flanked both sides of the table for the entire summer, and no one can enter our home without seeing the photos of the boys lining every empty tabletop in the livingroom. Although we have anticipated their arrival, it is now feeling like things are just not right until the babies come home. It consumes my waking thoughts, and Bella spends alot of time talking about "our precious babies." Mere draws little brown babies in blankets with sweet words of love encircling them, and Tommy even plans to share his trucks with his new brothers. Still, it was nice to hear the perspective of one of the older kids, and the reality hits home that much harder.

My flight is booked. Jennifer, my older daughter from Oregon, has her flight booked. I have my visa, shots, medications. She is ready, too. I know where I am headed and what to expect, thanks to my initial flight in August. It will be exciting to have Jenni with me, and viewing the things I have already seen through her eyes again. Introducing her to her newest little brothers, and watching their bond begin. Seeing the world from a different standpoint than where we are right now, and seeking ways to further elliviate the suffering of our african neighbors.
Spending time with my far distance daughter, and loving the time to reconnect on another level.

Then, realizing that in a few short weeks, our lives will include 2 more lives, two boys who will begin a new chapter, two souls who are worth every bit of investing we can do to make their lives better than where they started. And it's just about time to begin that new journey. Together. Forever.

Yes, Nicole. It does feel like someone's missing, but they will be joining us very soon, and our Christmas this year will also include the thankful hearts of all of our family for the two little babies who will be the best gifts we could ever receive.

Friday, September 30, 2011

the BLUR

As I sit in yet another airport, waiting for yet another flight, I look back at the last few months since I posted and realize how much of that time has been a big blur!

With my grandson's relocated to Puerto Rico, I expected my next to be headed in their direction. God had other plans.

I was able to make a quick decision to fly to Africa to meet our boys when a wonderful opportunity afforded me to go. I had pictures only, until that first time in August when I actually held them, talked to them, and promised to return.

I have said it before, but let me repeat: International adoption is hard!!! Just when I think we are on target to bring them home, some other force upends the process, and things go "stinkingly" south!

There were so many things that came from my trip to Africa. I met the director of the foster homes my boys are housed in, and caught a whiff of her strong heart and bold spirit of advocation for these special needs children. The 17 kids whom I only knew as names are now alive in my heart, with my mind constantly trying to figure out just what I can do to help them all. I have been blessed to be a part of this ministry, new to me, and so full of promises for the children.

Midst the pain and despair of the villages we visited, I saw hope and love for a project that would encompass children who are normally discarded by their parents, abandoned by their villages, and left to die of starvation. It turned my stomach to see the wretchedness, yet in the very center of it all were brave, God-fearing families who want to make a difference in the children's lives. By accepting them into their foster family, little lives are saved, and the hopeless become strong and valued again.

I had never seen a starving child in real life. It is a vision I can never erase now. The protruding bones, the vacant eyes. We have so much, I can't ignore their suffering.

By partnering with this ministry, I have been able to present photos and plead for the funds needed to keep this a vital project in Africa. I am joining other ladies this weekend who have committed to pray and plan for good things ahead that will be able to encompass more lost souls, give them food and shelter, an education and a future. As I wait for my next flight out, I am mostly thankful, along with excited about the days ahead.

My boys are not home yet...their needs are great. I carry their photos in my wallet, and the feeling of their little hands in my heart. I left them with kisses and the promise to return as soon as I can to bring them home. It's hard to walk away and know they could benefit from so much in our country that they will never have the opportunity to experience there. The therapies, the medical interventions, and the services are just waiting now....waiting to begin their new lives, and join a family full of life that is ready to embrace them.

I knew I was going to meet my boys, and I had hoped to have them home by now. But I am grateful that God's plan is perfect, and He will continue to keep the hearts of the decision makers in HIS hands, and all I have to focus on is HIM. He will do the rest.

I met my boys, I accepted the passion God placed in my heart for the other children who will be left behind, and I willingly walk forward into whatever God has for us now.

It's hard work. But I have the assurance I am never alone.

Thanks for your prayers for the children of Africa.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Diapers, Diapers, Diapers.....

I have been thinking a lot more about them these days.

My oldest daughter wanted to do something to help the orphanage in Africa,(since she will never be the daughter who travels with me to far away places), so we reviewed the needs list and decided we could make diapers.

We went on a several day material procurement plan, and located flannel of all designs to begin our project.

We studied a few websites, then made our plan. Using a trifold diaper as a pattern, I began cutting material, placing doubled fabric in the center of each cut piece, and handed them over to Ash to stitch.

She recently worked as a factory seamstress, so she was able to figure out the most effective way of sewing each piece for maximum efficiency of time and material. I love the way her mind works!!

We have now finished stitching together over 10 dozen cloth diapers of some of the most colorful fabric I have ever seen! Now we have the task, in the next week, of sewing on the velcro strips that will allow for fastening on the children. I must say, it has been a big task, but each diaper has been sewn with the love and hopes it will be a practical blessing to each recipient.

Doing the math, that means in a week's time we have to sew 3 velcro strips on 120 (plus) diapers, making it 360 more details to finish before I can pack them for the trip to Liberia.

If I had calculated all the details from the beginning, I probably would have stopped before I started! (Ash wouldn't tho. She's determined like that!) I would have bought, maybe, 2 dozen diapers and packed them, feeling like I have done what I could do.

But with my daughters encouragement, we are now looking at many more useful items that are so needful, and all it took was time.

Now I know we all have restrictions on our time. My father-in-law used to say we all have 24 hours in every day. How do we used them?

Those of you who know me, know my heart is softened toward the orphaned child. I know it's where I want to focus my efforts and plan my giving. It's not because of me, I am not special in any way, but I really believe when I asked God to give me purpose, this was my answer.

I also know several people have said "you're crazy" or "what about children in America?" or "you can't save them all."

Yes, maybe I am a bit crazy. I do know there are children suffering in America (sad, but alot of them would suffer less if their parents made better choices, but that's not the subject of this post!), and my heart and efforts look for ways to help them too. And I realize, sadly, that I can not, in any way, save them all.

But what if a choice I made COULD help an orphan?
What if my efforts, big or small, made a difference for even just ONE child?
What if my friends, or family, could catch a bit of caring too, and help in a small way?
Could we all make a difference together?

Sewing diapers has been a good time for me to reflect. I am using my abilities (so far from perfect, but I am getting better at stitching!!) and I am seeing how much one, or two, of us can accomplish.

Many yards of material (on clearance!), a couple of hands and sewing machines humming together on my diningroom table, something we definately take for granted here (diapers)will be headed to Liberia to cover the tiny bottoms of babies who will feel the softeness and warmth from the work of our hands. I love that!

At one point I told Ash that I was getting into the whole cloth diaper thing, and it reminded me of when she was a baby. There were disposables back them, but it was much cheaper to wash and reused cloth diapers, and we needed everything cheaper back then! I was even contemplating making some for our new boys!

Who knows? I think we proved to ourselves that whatever you set out to do, if we do it will all our hearts, we can accomplish "great things!"

And to a wet baby, a nice, dry diaper is a great thing!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Liberia on my mind

Not that I am counting the days, but exactly 13 days from now, I will be in the air and on my way to meet my boys!!

I am sooooo excited!! I have been packing bags, making diapers to take to the babies, and deciding what else I can possibly fit in the suitcases that might be useful there.

I am also thrilled to finally meet the stateside director whom, until this trip, has only been an encouraging voice on the other end of the phone! I have enjoyed getting to "know" her, and now meeting her is going to be awesome!! I already love her concern and heart for the orphans, and she amazes me with all she does for "her kids."

Since our boys are housed in separate foster homes, I hope to spend as much time as possible with each little man, and get to know their individual foster families. I have a few gifts for the boys to take with me, but mostly, I am so thankful for the time to love them, hold them and get to know these little miracles that God has blessed us with.

We have a few items that are still hanging out there from the government before we can complete the adoption, but things are moving forward. Unfortunately, we can never guess what that time frame is, but we continue moving on until it's all complete.

I can't wait to look into my sons' deep brown eyes and do my best to convey our love to them. Although they are an ocean and many miles away, our hearts are connected to them and I hope they can feel the arms around them in our place as God's great love for them, protecting them and guiding their futures.

So, as I prepare for my trip, I have alot on my mind. I am excited about the donations that have come in for the ministry that houses my boys (and 15 other special needs children!) and know they eek out as much benefit as they can from each penny!

My heart cry is that no child would be without.
Without parents.
Without a home.
Without food and water.
Without love and care.

I know in an imperfect world, there are those who suffer.
But I thank my Heavenly Father every day that two more orphans are coming home.
And I am so very blessed to be making this trip to Africa to meet the boys who have captured our hearts and prayers.

Soon, dear baby boys, I will be back to bring you home! But for now, I just can't wait to meet you!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Puerto Rico

Well, the time I dreaded is here and gone. My grandsons are now in Puerto Rico.

I fought it, I dreaded it, and now it's done. Am I thrilled about it? NOPE!

I have come to terms with their move in one way. I believe it is exactly where God has placed them, regardless of how much I wish they were closer.

I know when my first grandson was born nearly six years ago that he had ambitious parents who would do everything in their power to create a good life for him.

When baby number two was born, his parents, my son, Scotty, and his wife, Britt, were already living a full life in New Jersey, with Scotty as a thriving member of the US Coast Guard. They welcomed their third child in Jersey too, and will continue their adoption path to welcome, perhaps a girl, to their lives while in PR.

We have been thrilled to be a part of every one of the boys births, even managing visiting them two or more times a year. Somehow we will do our best to get to Puerto Rico to welcome baby #4 when she/he joins their family and keep up the tradition of being on the spot when the baby arrives!

We loved vacationing in Jersey, meeting their friends and being a part of their lives. We knew the time was waning for their stay in Jersey, and saying our goodbyes to their friends was sad for us too! Of course, the appeal of Jersey, to us, was not the shore. It held our grandsons, which is exactly where we wanted to be as often as we could get there. The friendships we made along the way was icing on the cake!!

Yet, nothing could have prepared us for the goodbyes at the airport. The tears are not because we won't see them again, it's just that we got so used to them being close by and now we are not sure when we can see them again.

I am glad for texting, for SKYPE and all the phone calls we maintain contact through.
I am sad that you can not feel a hug or wipe a tear over a computer screen.

I am happy for the opportunity they have to explore a beautiful island and live among a beautiful group of people. I am sad it is that much farther away.

I am proud of the good work my son has completed as a Coastie. He has made us proud with his accomplishments, and we believe Puerto Rico got one of the best!
I am just sad that we can not be closer to his family.

As always, my God has soothed my fears, and dried my tears. I have no doubt that Scotty, Britt and those beautiful boys are in the hands of an almighty God who will care for them and love them even more than I can. And I am convinced HE has a great plan for them there.

It will be exciting to hear how HE meets their needs, gives them hope and builds them up to serve in a new capacity. As they meet friends, we know they will be building wonderful relationships because of the wonderful friendships they had in Jersey. They are stronger for all they have seen and done this far, and will continue to grow and learn.

Kaiden starts a full day of school next month! He will be bilingual much sooner than I could ever be!! He will make friends and experience a part of life that will be including all he has learned to love so far: sand, sun and surf!

Keegy and Keane will grow up near a rainforest, and experience tropical lives!! How cool is that??

So as I miss them all terribly, I know they will live an enriched life that no one else in our family has gotten to experience yet!! Life in Puerto Rico!!

Thanks for prayers for their safety. My grandsons may not be close to home right now, but they will always be closest in my heart.

And NOTHING can separate that!
Gramma loves you, Kaid, Keegy and Keano.
Never forget, no matter how far you roam, home is always where you are loved. And for you, that is alot of places already!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I am still in a bit of a fog...I booked my first flight to Liberia!!

The significance of it is that I finally get to meet the loves of my heart, the two boys that have captured my focus completely for the last several months.

I talked to the director of the foster home where they are living, and asked her if I would be referred to as their Mommy. YES!! I am just so excited to take pictures to them of their siblings, to hold them, to read books to them, to LOVE them!

I know the week will be full of adventure, but mostly, I am excited that I will be able to physically connect with my babies, and assure them that I will be back soon to bring them home!!

I love traveling, but this has to be the icing on the cake for me! Prayers are appreciated, as always, until the time they are here with the rest of us!

Of course, photos are coming soon!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Flying the Friendly Skies

Southwest Airlines has the funniest stewards and stewardesses.

While reviewing the safety procedures, the steward discusses the oxygen masks that drop from the ceiling of the craft in the event the cabin should lose pressure. Making sure that everyone was aware of the correct protocol, he said adults should secure their masks first. Then, he proceeds with, "And if you have children traveling with you......I am sorry."

Mere was very interested in the safety procedure leaflet. Looking at all the pictures, she got excited and said, "Oh, can we do the slide to get off the plane?" A man behind me said, "I sure hope we don't!"

Shortly after her comment, a stewardess came on the line, assuring us we were facing a short flight, and she hoped we enjoyed our time together. She also reminded us if our flight unexpectedly became a cruise, we could find life jackets under our seats.

As passengers milled in the aisles looking for their favorite position on the air bus, another stewardess came over the loud speakers, trying hard to contain her aggravation that we were waiting on several folks to be seated so we could begin our trek.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please find your seats....Attention, passengers, everyone needs to be seated so we can secure the overhead storage compartments and ready the craft for flight.....come on folks, you are not picking out fine furniture. Please find a seat....You will only be in this seat for just about an hour...please, set your rumps in the closest facility to where you are now standing....there are no more seats that will appear the closer you get toward the restrooms...."

It was definately a fun flight, and gave us all a chuckle. I don't usually recommend any airlines over the others, but this past trip for us was quite enjoyable...and the free diet coke was delivered at just the right time!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20th. Are you kidding me?

What a whirlwind this month has been!

There are so many highlights, I would probably feel overwhelmed if I thought too hard about it.

Tyler, Nicole and Nelly all graduated from their current grades with the A/B honor roll. Wow. And I mean, WOW!! Now I house a freshman, 8th grader and 7th grader!!

Tara finished her year on a high note, and moves to the "big" school now. She has done so well and we are entering the 3rd grade without an IEP. Another HUGE WOW!

Mere' is excited to be going into her first grade, full day year in the fall. Sans her "twin", and protector, Tommy. It will be the first year they will be going separate directions. First grade. It hardly seems possible that my "dinky" baby and my brilliant boy are going to school all day this next year. Mere' is a bit unsure how she will manage "on her own," but Tommy assures her she can do it. He has such a confidence in his abilities that he shows no fear like she does. However, she has grown so much and makes a friend whereever we go. I know they will have a great year.

And the baby...Bella is sooooo excited to go to school in the fall, her first time without momma. I do believe she will handle it far better than I. There is something that brews in my heart (separation anxiety!) that makes my knees shake and my head ache!! She will do great and is so ready for school.

Hopefully, by the time school starts, I will have the boys home from Liberia. What a long journey this has been. Mike and I tell each other it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen! Right now, the hold up is our fingerprints expiring. Another slooooooowwwww process, but praying for God's favor and expediant government workers as the papers pass along the way.

I was blessed to spend my birthday in Jersey with those beautiful grandsons. The kids treated me special and it is a birthday I will never forget!! Scott and Britt bought me my first pair of TOMS shoes, which I LOVE!!! The neat thing about them is that for every pair you buy, they donate a pair to a third world country. How cool is that? We had brunch at OC Cafe in Ocean City, and went to a bunch of garage sales!! We walked downtown with their friend Adrianna, whom I adore, and for dinner Scotty grilled Bison and Shrimp Kabobs! Fabulous! My sugars were doing so well that my birthday treat was a piece of cheese cake with fresh strawberries on top. What a great day!

While I was there, Keegan became my new best friend. Kaiden was busy with Mere and Keegy decided gramma was kinda fun. I love his dimples and impish smile. It was so sweet to see Kaid and Mere run to each other each morning with a huge hug and start their days as best buds. I loved it. Keane was so fun with his new sounds and silly faces. He kept me laughing every day. They are all so precious. When we are apart I feel like part of my heart it hanging in the air, waiting for one of them to catch it and keep me alive. They mean so much to me. They really handled the move much better than I expected, and we return this weekend to bring them here. They hope their crates will be in Puerto Rico by July 20th, since Scott has to report by the 15th. Who knows?? They will be welcome here as long as they can stay, and we hope to build on more summer memories before they head out to their new adventures in PR. I know I will miss them terribly until we meet again.

Kaiden finished preschool just before I got to New Jersey. I can hardly believe that first blonde that captured my heart and soul is now going to kindergarten!! He will be attending a school run by the military, and even learning spanish!! What a gift to have the experiences in Bayamon, PR. I will look forward to hearing all that he will be learning, and watching him grow. He has become a good little surfer in Jersey, and I imagine that will be his big focus for a while. He LOVES the water.

Keegy took off on his bike early this summer, without training wheels!! Go, Keegy!! He goes so fast it was hard to video!! He will be home with Mommy and Keane this fall, but that's just fine with him.

Keano continues to amaze me with how much he learns and how funny he is. He is quite the corker, and very amusing!! Too fun!! I know Britt will keep sending me videos and pictures to keep up with their new lives on the Island!

Getting on the plane, Mere could hardly contain her excitement. She wanted a window seat so she could take it all in. She buckled, listened to the safety instructions intently, and positioned herself with the best view.

As the plane took off, Mere braced herself, grinning ear to ear.
"Listen, Mom. We are blasting off!!"
"Oh, oh, look, we are flying!! We are flying!!"

It was worth everything to see her excitement. To watch her face light up and remember the doctor telling us when we left the hospital 7 years ago, not to be discouraged if she "didn't make it." She was flying!! I couldn't have been more excited for her.

It seems like we are all flying these days. Busy times ahead, but we are soaring high and watching the clouds below us.

Life is good.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

School Daze

The school year is coming to a close in the next week, and I was thinking back about the milestones each of the kids has made this year.

Tyler, although a few detentions have frustrated me, has brought his grades up to honor roll status. Just yesterday he informed me he had gotten a 100% on his powerpoint presentation. I think that's impressive, but I was especially glad to hear that the report he chose to focus on was about a physically handicapped young woman. He called her one of his heroes. I liked that. Good job and a great way to end his Jr. High career. He will be a freshman next year. Wow.

Nicole has been in three musicals this year. It seems our van knows the route to practices better than I did! She has determined acting is her LIFE, and knowing her dramatic flair, I think I agree!! She is almost on the all A honor roll, except for her advisory class, which she didn't know turning in assignments was really what the teacher has developed a mature singing voice, and loves singing and playing her keyboard. Choir has been her favorite class this year. We bought a piano last month so hopefully some lessons are in the near future. She is much taller than me, much prettier than she believes, and much smarter than she gives herself credit for. She will be in 8th grade in the fall, and wants to be an adult more than anything in the world. Sigh...

Nelly, sweet Nelly, is more capable of making friends with strangers than anyone I have ever known. She has had many highs in her school work, and just as many lows. She has no problem doing homework, but it never makes it to the teachers desk until it's marked down to half credit. She scores very high on all her tests, but her method of daily work will need MUCH encouragement when she enters Jr. High in the fall. She enjoyed playing band this year, with my old flute, but wants to try choir next year. She is looking forward to her 6th grade graduation ceremony next week, while I am flying to Jersey. Bad planning on my part, but Daddy will be the videographer in my stead. Big year of learning, growing and changing. She is excited about moving to the big school next fall

Tara. The Reactive Attachment Disorder child that would have trouble attaching and bonding. Wow...she fooled them! Her teacher refers to her at sweet, gentle and bright. She is still the biggest dog lover on the planet, and perhaps the most mischievous of all the kids. She has maintained her strong friendship with a boy named Phoenix that has got to be her exact match in energy and spunk. She is hoping they have the same teacher next year too! She is making great strides in her hand control and writing assignments, and has even caught dad in his misspelling a time or two! She LOVES snacking, making her own ramen or mac and cheese, and can smell candy where ever she is. She is a strong leader, and learning to be a positive one at that. She is going into 3rd grade, and we are excited about the wonderful progress she has made. My blue-eyed beauty, that I swear has a little bit of snake inside of her!!

Meredith, Meredith, Meredith. What a stinker she has become this year!! She is the most loving of all the littles, and wants to hug and kiss everyone. She found out that whining gets her attention, whether or not it's negative!! She is still best friends with Tommy and relies on him probably too much. It's part of the reason they
will be going into separate classrooms for first grade, and she is already nervous about it. She is learning to sound out words, and write her numbers and alphabet letters the right way. She is a lefty and hates her glasses. But her best friends again this year are twins Cali and Cash. She is loving and kind and has been heard to ask others if they have birth moms too! She is starting to understand the whole adoption picture, and is excited about welcoming our new boys this summer.

Thomas prefers to be called Tommy. Not Tom. Not Thomas. He is the smartest kid and has gotten extra attention in school to challenge him. When I asked him how his special reading class was going, he said he wanted to quit. I asked him why would he quit something that he was so good at? He is a tremendous reader! This is how the conversation went:
Me: It's special to have someone extra to read with.
Tommy: I don't' like it.
Me: Why not?
Tommy: My teacher doesn't know anything.
Me: What? Why do you think that?
Tommy: She keeps asking me what a word is. She says, "Tommy, can you tell me
what this word says?" She doesn't even know as much as me.
Me: sigh...
He is the one I ask to fix the TV when I can't understand the remote. He is uber-independent. He loves being outside, bugging the dogs, or searching for a treasure. He is kind when he wants to be, and rowdy when I don't want him to be. He is sensitive and can get his feelings hurt, but he's also quickest to laugh at a joke that the others wouldn't get. First grade. All day school. It just happened too fast for this mamma.

Bella-Boo. She is so excited about going to preschool in the fall. She is registered at the same preschool that started with Nelly and all of the kids since that. She has been in that room for 4 years with parties for the other kids, so she is excited that it is finally her turn! She gave up her pacifier finally, but every now and then will ask for it. NOPE~ sometimes I think she just needs the reaffirmation that she really is a big girl! She is also looking forward to our babies coming home, and prays diligently for them. She rides a bike without training wheels, and exhibits more Independence than I wish she had! She calls me "her majesty" (without prompting!)and gives me tons of hugs and kisses all day long. I know she will change once she gets to school, and I treasure these days with her.

Our two African Angels will be joining us this summer. It's been a long almost 3 years of waiting. The longest pregnancy yet! But we are excited and ready to welcome them into the family and start their healing.

The days are full and busy. Once school is over, the summer fun begins. I am looking forward to the days ahead, making memories and watching the children grow.
I just wish I could keep them from growing up so fast!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Of Frogs and Princes

The Frogs are out.
Or In.

Meredith loves critters. Any kind. All kinds. Bugs, worms, butterflies, frogs and toads. Especially toads and frogs.

This must be her favorite time of year. The frogs and toads are everywhere. Every day after school gets out, she heads to the back yard, lifting rocks and finding all the hiding places of the frogs she found the day before.

A rainy day is devastating to Meredith, because it means she can not roam the yard looking for her friends. I think, however, the frogs are loving the rainy days!

I usually hear a "whoop". Then the back door slams, and Mere's feet across the tile floors, bringing her newest friend to show me.

"Not so close, Mere. I prefer seeing them more than three inches away from my nose."

"Oh yes, Mere, I believe that may be the same one you played with yesterday!"

"Wow, a baby frog! Maybe you should find his mommy and get them back together."

"No, he can not live in your room."

"As a matter of fact, he needs to be outside. Now."

"Well it may be a girl or boy frog. It's hard to tell with frogs."

"Yes, sweetie, I am quite sure if you kiss him he will NOT turn into a Prince."


Life is so beautiful when you can catch a frog and believe in the impossible.

Diabetes Diatribe

I hate diabetes. I hate being diabetic.

I have watched various family members struggle with controlling their diets, their sugars and their insulin. It's time consuming, self absorbing, and emotionally defeating.

I have spent months trying to lose weight. It is always one of the first comments out of the doctors mouths. OK. So, I have worked really hard to lose 60 pounds. I am proud of changing my eating habits and increasing my exercise. Success!

But it has not been enough. I am still having a hard time controlling my sugars.

I really don't want to live on insulin. I hate it. I hate how I feel on insulin.

I don't mind taking the oral meds, since that just is easier to deal with twice a day. But my bloodwork proved it has not been enough. Fortunately, there doesn't appear to be any negative effects from my sugars running too high. I can feel my feet, I have no damage to my eyes and my internal organs do not seem to have suffered yet.

Except the doctor can not approve me to fly to Liberia.

That hurt. That devastated me. We were suppose to fly in July.

Immediately, the kids faces floated through my mind. They need me there! They need to come home! I feel like I have betrayed them.

And my body has betrayed me.

So, I regrouped. I am checking my bloodwork 4 times a day again. I am seeing a new doctor this week. I will do my best to overcome what my body is dealing me right now...

Mike asked the doctor what we need to do to change her opinion of when I can fly. It's looking like 3 months at least. Maybe August? Maybe September? It really will depend on how well my body responds to the new plan.

I hate that. But I will continue to do whatever is needed to get those boys home.

But something I wish the doctors would understand about diabetics, is that we are not lazy. We are not trying to sabotage our lives, and we know better than you that we want to be healthy. We understand how difficult it is to live with diabetes, and if you are not diabetic, you have NO idea how hard that is. A doctor may have the technical knowledge of our disease, but living it out is much more difficult than you know. Watching other diabetics lose their eyesight or a foot is sobering. It's constantly in our minds when we take a bite of anything.

I work hard, I struggle daily. I know I can't win this battle called diabetes. But I will keep fighting it every minute.

And I know that in spite of this disease, it does not define ME. I am a child of the King, who has purposed in my heart to follow as He leads me. I believe it is a part of His huge plan to bring home my two little boys from Liberia.

Diabetes will not defeat me. I will hate it and fight it with a vengeance.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Hair Appointment

My niece and I are going to get our hair done tonight. It has been one of those weeks where the gray is showing up more. Somehow, gray on my head looks far from sophisticated or mature.

My mom grayed early. She has the type of hair anyone (except her!) would love. Thick, naturally curly, and fast growing. She always had dark hair, but tried coloring it as she aged, but truthfully, the gray has looked the best by far. It's such a pretty color white now, and full enough to flow nicely even though it has thinned.

My dad has nice hair too, but stick straight, thinner now that he's older. It is mostly gray, but it truly does look wonderful on him. My brothers all inherited my moms thick, curly hair, while I got dads straight, thin mane.

Yeah, I hate it. I always felt like I got cheated out of mom's good hair.

Today, I realize I will never gray to white as nicely as hers. So, I am headed back to the beautician.

This is my dilema, however. What should I choose?

My hubby loves red hair. Flaming red. I have had several shades and he loved them all, but it's too hard to keep red looking great between colors. Red's out.

Black. There is something mysterious about black hair, and the time I had it, most people complimented me. I don't really require that, because I like different things all the time, but a compliment is always nice! I felt too much like my mom when I was black.

Due to the black, I also tried various browns. I have probably had one shade of brown most of my life. But it's too predictable, too boring anymore.

Blondes have more fun. Well, I don't know if that part is true, but I have found that a lighter hair tone is easier to balance my makeup routine on, and, it actually hides the gray when it's beginning to peak through.

Oh, the choices. It would be easier to turn back the clock of time, than to pick the perfect hair color.

But tonight, I am in the mood to be different. Who knows? I have yet to try green or purple. Or pink....

It could be that I would find the perfect color tonight, and never want to go back to basics again.

One of the least complex decisions I have had to make lately. I think I like that part the most!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Dreaming

It's such a beautiful way to start spring.

Our Easter this year started with church, and ended with a bonfire at our oldest daughters house. It was the first year that we have had Easter dinner with her at her home, and it was nice to see all of Andy's family there too. Ash had gotten the flu on friday, and my kids were very worried we would have to cancel our dinner plans there. They were soooo excited to go to Ash and Andy's house for the day, and had spent several days drawing pictures for them.

Although the weather forecast was gloomy, the temp was perfect for the kids to play outside in her yard all afternoon. They ate some, but played alot! Andy had organized games that brought laughs from kids and adults alike, and the bonfire at the end was just icing on the cake! It was different from our traditional Easter sundays, but a wonderful day in all!

The kids are divided this year on the Easter bunny. Half of them know for sure HE is not real, the other half are convinced he most definately is! They were so excited to see the goodies he brought, and none of them denied liking the treats in their baskets. I always appreciate the bunny bringing more crafts and things to do in their baskets rather than more candy. Of course, the candy is the favorite, by far, of the children. I think most of it is gone today, except the jelly beans! No one seems to like those, except daddy!

I was poignantly aware of the grandkids missing from our family Easter. I don't think there was ever a time they actually spent the holiday in town with us, but this year, it was just so obvious they were missing. Watching the games with the kids at Ash's house, I just kept thinking how much fun it would be if the boys could be here with us. Having been out there last month, Jersey seems even farther away now, and we all are missing them so much. They are growing, but I wish is were here instead of there. They have wonderful opportunities in their town, but our town just doesn't seem as bright with them not here.

I am so glad that Britt and Scott are great at keeping us in the loop, but I sure with we could be closer. How fun it would be for all of us to be together for holidays. Jenni, instead of Oregon, living just down the road. The grandsons, able to bounce in and out of our house whenever they wanted a gramma fix, and me, (needing a grandson fix nearly every day!) wouldn't have to miss parties or special occasions at all!!

Of course, I am dreaming. It's spring, but awfully rainy for the last many I let my mind wander. I am thankful for our loves and lives, but wishing we were not so far apart.

Happy Easter, Happy Spring. Whether near or far, you are all in my heart everyday and always.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Preemies and hats of love

We have finally finished our goal of crocheting hats for the preemies at the local hospital. I have bagged the blanket and hat sets together, and the tiny hats separately. As I was putting them in the bags, and looking at each one, I had a strong sense of what each stitch has meant to me through these last winter months.

I love a plan. I do well on projects, and enjoy gritting it out until they are completed. This one was not my plan, but the idea of my niece, Tona, who had just learned to crochet. She and I have both had the agony of preemie babies laying in hospital beds, in isolets, where your whole world revolves around the sights and sounds of babies and families in limbo. It meant the world to us when we spotted the kindness of strangers who wrapped our babies in homespun creations, so we wanted to pay back the favor. When I finally stopped crocheting hats for the babies, I had the most awesome sense of accomplishment. For now. I am taking a summer break, hoping to start again in the fall. It kept my hands busy waiting for my own babies to come home, and it was something I could do on the days where I felt there was simply nothing else I could do.

I know the medical advances that save younger and younger babies each year is mindblowing. The babies are healthier because of the advances of medical science. We were thrilled to team up with the March for Babies this year for the same reason. We were given hope when our babies came into this world too soon, and the March of Dimes is doing the same thing for many other families in our area.

Now that the March is past, and the hats/blankets are done, it's time to deliver them.

I pray as each one goes to the babies they select them for, the families will feel peace and comfort in knowing there are others who have sat in their seats, too. We know their fears, their hopes and their pain in the waiting and wondering. We hope and pray each hat touches a life as ours were touched by strangers long ago.

Total for this year: 12 hat and blanket sets, 110 single hats.
Thanks, Tona, for the encouragement (and a bit of competition!!). You had a great plan, and you should be proud of what we accomplished. Thanks to my friend Pat who donated about 10 or so of her hats too!

As I was putting the hats in the bags, I zipped each one to within a fraction of closing, then hugged the bag to my chest to release as much air as I could.

Bella, 4, watched me as I bagged a few, then put them in the box to carry them to the hospital. She came up to me and asked if she could do that.

I said, "Do what, Bella?"

She said, "I want to hug them all before they go to the babies so they will know I love them too."

Yes, we all love those babies, Bella. And they will be getting a bunch of hugs to encourage them until they can go home.

Peace and love to the preemies.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The History of Two Babies

After we adopted our 7th child (making 10 total children that carry our name!), we both strongly felt this would not be our last adoption.

We sought God's plan, asking HIM more than once the path we should take to the next child. We knew large families were not typical, but for us, it worked. The state system would no longer allow us to adopt within their system, because they have a number requirement that we had already reached. It forced us to pursue an international adoption.

So we began, in the later part of the fall, 2008. My heart has always hurt for the African people, due to the wars, poverty and illness that was rampant in that country. I prayed, specifically, for Liberia, feeling a deep connection to their people. I researched, felt the tug to begin, and we discussed it with our oldest children that holiday season. By January 2009 Mike and I had a plan to begin the process, and officially made our first moves.

Liberia had closed their adoption program.

Was this a closed door? Should we walk toward another path?
Our options were limited. We had 10 children (although just 7 at home) and we were nearing "old age" in many adoption circles. Who would allow us to bring another child into our family?

We started with a homestudy for international adoption, hitting a brick wall in the summer of '09. Many months of paperwork was for naught, and we were sadly forced to start over, losing the first half of that year. In the adoption world, rules do not always seem fair. And time stretches out in front of yearning hearts, compounding the ache for a child.

I wanted to give up several times. It was so hard to stay focused, especially when many around us couldn't understand our desire for another child. Were we being selfish? We searched our hearts and continued on our journey.

In January, 2010, the birth family of one of our adopted children notified us that another sibling was coming to a birthmom who was incapable of parenting, so we switched our plan to include the adoption of this half sibling. Nursery ready, papers waiting to be signed, lawyers hired for us and the birth mom, everything in place! We were excited, ready to welcome a new little girl, when the out of town judge allowed the birthmom to take the baby home. (She has since lost her parental rights and the baby girl will be placed through the state system after all.) We were devastated at our loss, fearful for the terrible life we felt this baby was destined for, and took time to lick our wounds. I was shaken in my faith, hurt beyond my understanding. Just what was God leading us toward?

As painful as it was to dissect a nursery and bury our adoption dreams, we still felt someone was missing from our lives. Who? How? When? Impossible to know. We stepped through the open door again, making vulnerable our aching hearts. We hid our tears, fought through the pain, and continued on with the international plan.

One of the hardest times of my life...but God comforted me through a beautiful friend who also knew deep loss, and helped me refocus our plan. Ethiopia would allow us to adopt, and as we committed to MORE paperwork, we studied and pictured the child/children who would be coming home to us. It soothed my heart, and I pursued the plan with determination renewed.

Fast forward (although it felt extremely slow and discouraging during this time)to November 2010. God had been working in our hearts to be a part of an orphans life. We had been lead to support a child in Uganda, Africa, and a teacher in that area, also. Although small to us, it felt good to be able to begin making a difference in a country so close to our hearts. We prepared health care packets for Haiti refugees, and found items that would benefit struggling orphanages. It felt good, but still left us thinking there was something more in Africa waiting for us.

We sought an ophan to support through the holidays, but God lead us to the boy who had been waiting for us all along.

Gborlee was born in November 2008. Exactly the time that we first sought God's plan for our lives in regards to adoption. We just didn't know it until he was 2 years old. Coincidence? I don't think so.

He has already become a part of our lives as we reach forward to bring him home. We asked about another child in January, Mohammed, that had just come into care, but he had a family already seeking him. I continued to pray, preparing for Gborlee to come home.

Last week, we got word that Mo was now available too, so we quickly knew it was an answer to our prayers!

We are to be blessed with two!

Maybe all of this history is boring to my readers. It has been a wild ride for us! I know until I have these boys in my arms, I will be fearful about it all actually coming to pass! We have suffered loss and are a bit shy to shout it out from the top of the mountain like we want to! And now, our Ethiopian angel will be coming to us as a grandchild! Scott and Britt are walking their adoption path towards a child waiting for them in Ethiopia, so God, in HIS infinite wisdom, is blessing us in a different way. God is good! HIS timing is perfect!

God, in HIS plan, is blessing us again, with angels from Africa. We couldn't be happier! This will go down as the longest "pregnancy" for our family, but the results are simply amazing.

I wonder just what God has in store for our family in the days ahead?
What are you asking HIM for today?

April 14th already?

I am sitting in the middle of April, wondering how to stop time flying by so fast!

We have been so blessed in the past two months.
I was thrilled to go to Oregon to see our second daughter, Jenni, in February. With her living so far away, I am never sure just when I will see her again. It's usually far between visits, but just 6 weeks later, we were able to be together again in Jersey.

We had scheduled for Nicole, Bella and I to fly to Jersey over spring break so we could help with Scott and Britt's adoption awareness event on the first of April. As final plans were being made, Mike decided he just couldn't miss out on this opportunity to see those adorable grandsons! We talked about taking my great nieces with us, because Macy and Keegy have this adorable friendship and it seemed like a great time to get them together. Well, that plan transformed to Macy's whole family going! 15 of us, 15 hours one way, for 10 days! AWESOME! It is always the longest trip in the world, but nephew Billy was a great chauffeur and delivered us safely to their doorstep!

Britt and Scott were fabulous hosts, housing all 21 of us in their home, by cooking, laughing, playing guitars and chasing kids! Jenni had flown in the night before us, so was able to have a day with the nephews before we got in. It was so great to have everyone together. A bit hectic at times, but more laughter and joy than anything else.

Being at the adoption event was awesome. They are on the path to adopt a special needs child from Ethiopia. Sound familiar? Our path has gone on for the last 2 1/2 years now, but that does not scare them off! God has placed an awesome desire in their hearts to open their home to a child who needs a family, and we are delighted to travel this enormous journey with them. Their good friends, Ted and Holly, are on the same path, and sharing this event with them all was truly a gift! We wish them all the blessings of God on their journeys, and that their financial needs will be met as they move forward. How exciting for us, as grandparents, that the Ethiopian child we dreamed of will be coming home in the form of another grandchild! God is so good!

Sending Jenni back to Oregon was hard. I always hate goodbyes. Leaving Scott and Britt and those beautiful grandsons was hard. I will return in June to help them pack for their next assignment with the Coast Guard, getting them ready for the next phase of their lives. Scotty was just sworn in for 3 more years, and as much as I wish they were closer, I am thankful that a powerful and loving God will never let go of their hands. They have more adventures awaiting them, and HE knows exactly where that will lead them.

Coming home is always a let down after all the excitement of a vacation, but it was wonderful to see our oldest daughter, Ashleigh, who kept the home fires burning in our absence. Looking at each of our children, we feel extremely blessed. God is at work in their lives, they are sharing their talents with others, and they share a great love of life. As parents, who could ask for more?

We are blessed. Thank you, dear Father, for the ways you enrich our lives.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I mean, really, it's just hair!

I am always amazed at what teenagers can come up with.
My 14 year old spends most of his time in trouble.
Often, it's minor offenses at home and school.

But lately, it's been mounting to more and more serious.

The part that is so frustrating to us as parents, however, is that even in the midst of his punishments/consequences, he is clueless to why he's in trouble.

Last week he was suspended for the entire school week. He had mooned the bus driver from a neighboring school, from his bus. The principle was not amused. We were not either. He didn't think it was a big deal at all.

Although it was a prank years ago, it's considered "indecent exposure" now. NOT GOOD. This comes on the tail of other offenses on his school record, typically relating to how poorly his choices are. He usually tries to blame it on someone else, but come on, he is old enough to make his own choices.

So, he's been on house arrest all week, doing hard labor at home. Raking, moving stacks of wood, pulling out bushes. One day he thought he had done all he needed to do for the days chores, and started shooting baskets at 1:00 in the afternoon. OOOPS. NOT . He ended up raking until nearly dark that night when his dad got home.

We thought by giving him this type of work, he would be able to reason that his schooling was important enough to do his best, otherwise this is the type of work he will do for the rest of his life, for lower-than-he-thinks-he's-worth paychecks.

I don't think he's getting it.

He also complained all week about needing a haircut.

He has thick hair, too curly and unmanageable, unless it's short. We gave up taking him to the barber shop because we pay so much for a cut that never suits him. We tried salon's - same thing. He complains. We all agreed he needed a haircut.

What he hated was his dad doing it.

What??? We have been cutting his hair for the majority of time he has lived with us. Over 5 years of haircuts, and all of a sudden, he thinks he's being punished by getting his hair cut.

Really??? Like we have nothing better to do with our time than cut his hair to make him mad?

He complained. He nearly cried. He got sooooo mad.

Come on! It's just HAIR!

The saddest part is that he is more concerned with his hair than his behavior.

I overheard this conversation during the haircut.

Him: "Why can't I get a hair cut that I pay for?"
Dad: "You could. You have enough in savings for one. The bank is not open tonight and you need it cut. What happens in 6 weeks when you need it cut again?"
Him: "You hate me."
Dad: "It's hair. I would rather you were more worried about what you are on the inside instead of the way you look."
Him: "I'm not."
Dad: "I know."

He sees himself as a ladies man. He's a very cocky guy. And he really does not care what people think of him as a person. It's all about the look.

Well, he got his haircut. He's still mad this morning.

Welcome to the land of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The world where brains don't function like they should, and being a teenager just makes it all the more difficult.

Times like this, I would love to meet his birthmom. I have ALOT against her.

I wish I could say things will get better. Usually I am just holding my breath until the next offense.

Hair or no hair, I love him, but won't tolerate his bad behaviour. It's terribly disturbing to see him self destruct when he has so much potential.

And that, folks, is a typical weekend with this kid.

I am so thankful for my fellow bloggers that have encouraged me along this path. It is tough to go it alone.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ahhhh, Spring...

It seems like March has gone by so fast in our world! We were complaining about all the snow (ok, I was...) and now at the end of the month we are finally seeing sunshine! If we can get the temps back into the 50's I think I can be happy for a while!

Spring. Ahhhhh, I love it. New growth, warmer temps and the promise of summer coming soon!

Another part of the end of March is our trip out east....New Jersey! Since our kids are going to be stationed in Puerto Rico this summer, this next trip is our last family time heading to the coast. We probably would never have spent time in Jersey had our kids and grandkids not ended up there, so we cherish the memories of the times we have had together. We are already saving up to fly to PR sometime in 2012, but until then, we have 10 days to enjoy time with the kids/grandkids before they move.

We are specifically heading out for an Adoption Awareness/Fundraiser. Scott and Britt, along with their dear friends, Ted and Holly, are hosting this event on April 1st. They have an evening planned of music, Ethiopian coffee, desserts and alot of door prizes plus raffles. The community is coming together to help both families succeed in their Ethiopian adoption plans, and we couldn't be more excited! Being with them during the event is such an awesome opportunity, and being a gramma/pa pa to an Ethiopian angel is so exciting! We are proud of the kids for their loving hearts. They are great parents to our 3 grandsons, and we are thrilled to see them step out in faith to bring this new baby into our lives.

Our second daughter, Jen, is meeting us out there. Our niece, Tona and her family are going with us! 15 coming from Michigan, one from Oregon and the 5 already there, we are packing their house to the max!! 21 people for 10 days!! What a full, exciting time!! We have already decided if it gets too complicated, us girls are going shopping!!

Spring is a time of growth. This is how our family is growing. Stay tuned for more...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Blessing from Uganda

I was so blessed to be able to take several of my children, along with my niece Tona, and her oldest daughter, to listen to a children's choir from Uganda.

What a treat! The children were traveling with the African Renewal Ministries as ambassadors for their hometown villages and the ministry that has impacted each of their young lives. They were ages 9 to 14, and I fell in love the moment I saw their dark faces and beautiful shining eyes!

These children came with sad stories of their lives of poverty, AIDS and hunger. They sang their hearts out and recited beautiful words of the Bible, in testament to the ministry that brought them words of salvation in their darkest days.

Most had lost parents, survived extreme poverty and know what it's like to go to bed on empty tummies, without a loved one to tuck them in and offer them hope for tomorrow.

They were rescued by the words of strangers, offering food, warm beds and a word of hope. They were not alone.

I was so blessed by each of their songs, these talented youngsters that had so much to cry over, but stood before us with wide smiles and a song in their hearts.

They danced, paying tribute to the Americans who provided food. They beat their drums, raising young voices to the sky in praise of their Father God who has met their need for food and shelter. They shouted with enthusiastic voices for the opportunity to thank their supporters, and the hope of gathering more people who could give a portion of their income to send to a far away country, so that their villages would have a hope for their futures, too. We are connected in this big world.

At least 600 children have been privileged to get this type of support that allows them food, schooling and the knowledge that someone a long way from their homes was concerned about them. Concerned enough to do something for someone else.

My Nicole was moved, as I was, to give what she had to give. I have carried their songs and beautiful smiles in the deepest part of my soul this week. I have prayed for them, asking MY Father what HE would have me do to alleviate the suffering of a child I may never meet, in a town I will probably never travel to.

I know the people in Japan are suffering greatly. The devastation is immense. Lives have been lost, ruined. I have prayed and my life has changed in the past year that I have held up the Haitian people before God in prayers, midst their pain in the tragedy of the devastation they suffered last year. I hear the stories of suffering, loss and grief. It moves me deeply, knowing my offerings to be so small, even insignificant in the monumental scheme of world suffering.

But on this night, I also heard the story of hope. Of Love. Of belief in a God who has never failed. A peace in the midst of life's storms.

Henry, one who benefited from the support of people he may never know, is such a man. He speaks softly in his home village in Uganda, but has a big voice for his people while in America. He loves Africa, his home. He is grateful for America, the people who gave what they could give, so he could LIVE.

He told us of a time when he was nearly blind. The glasses provided by a missionary had broken. In his country, losing his eyesight in Africa would be the end of providing for himself, his best option would be as a beggar on the street. He went away to pray, seeking God to restore his vision. God, in all HIS infinite power and grace, restored Henry's sight.

Henry, bringing us into his circle to pray, is thankful for his eyes. He was healed because GOD had a plan. As Henry speaks and prays to our small family group, he is bold and confident in Christ Jesus. God had a plan. Henry is part of that plan.

Henry prays for the child that has captivated our hearts and minds in Liberia.
Henry prays for our family, our health, our concerns.
Henry, as part of God's plan, holds our hands as he intercedes on our behalf.
God is using Henry.

My Meredith was fascinated with Henry's hands. They reminded me of the long, strong hands of my oldest son, Scott. She repeatedly counted his fingers...1,2,3,4,5. He laughed as he held up his other hand, allowing her to count all 10 of his lean fingers again. In the simplicity that Mere is known for, she said, satisfied, "your fingers are just like ours!"

Just like ours. Henry was just like us.

Had Mere' been born in Africa, she would not be the curious 7 year old who is growing and thriving.

Who would Henry be, had he been born on American soil?

I know we will never know those answers, but the thing I DO know for sure, and carry confidently in my heart is this: God spared Mere's life for a reason. HE has a plan for her.

Just like his plan for Henry. A man who walks with God.
A warm, kind and soft spoken man, who is grateful he can see.

And I am grateful that in God's plan, I met Henry. I will probably never see him again this side of heaven.

How many more Henry's are in Africa, praying for something that I could give?

What can I give for Africa?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Let's Talk T.P.

I think I am developing a morbid obsession with toilet paper.

I know, I know. Well-mannered folks do not discuss toilet paper. But I have to get this out of my mind.

We have a lot of butts in our house.
Mike and I have the largest, and then there are the seven smaller ones who live with us. Counting all the people who enter through our revolving front door, (and most all of them need to use the potty) and the occasional party, there are numerous butts to consider. But I have come to believe their sizes are not the issue here.

I just want to go on record and say I believe our family must be the largest consumer
(is that the term for t.p?) in town. We buy the largest pack, after many years of scientific research, of Scot Tissue. It has the most sheets per roll, has the best breakdown ability so our toilets won't clog, and it is perfume free for all the sensitive skin. It's a bargain per roll that I can not pass up!

I can stock up on everything in this house and can whip up a soup or sandwich, plus dessert, with what I keep on hand, for any one who stops by and needs to eat. I never run out of snacks, tooth paste or dental floss. I can find meat in the freezer, and there is at least a half box of cereal some where. But somehow, we are always on the last roll and have had, more than once, someone stranded.

It's usually me.

Now, I am the one who buys the TP in bulk. I feel like I am carrying pure gold as I labor to stash it on the highest shelf, out of reach of the ones who think it makes an excellent crafting material.

I have accused the older kids of stashing it in their rooms for evil TPing events.
I can never find it there.

The littlest of the kids are apt to be the stingiest users, and actually, the majority of the time I have to remind them what it is for.

But today, TODAY, I proceeded to the Throne Room just to find out the last roll, indeed, had been shredded on the floor. The ENTIRE floor. Although Scot Tissue is not known for its cloud-like softness, I believed as I traipsed through the shreds that I must be walking on clouds. No one in my family would have shredded THE LAST ROLL!

Since everyone but Bella and I were home this morning, and we had not had any visitors yet, I suspected immediately it was her.

You know who she thought it was? Carl.

He's our dog. In his cage. Sound asleep.

What would you do?

So, I gathered up a sufficient amount off the floor to finish my business, checked the supply in hiding, realizing I would have to make an emergency visit to the local Walmart, AGAIN, and turned the light out as I left the restroom.

I thought briefly of the money I am saving while I turn off every glowing light, and I tried not to obsess about the money we have just wasted on the choice of usage on that last roll.

However, I also wondered, how many rolls do NORMAL families send to the sewer on a regular basis?

And, would it be entirely weird if I labeled each one, dated the rolls, or some other way
try to account for how much TP our family uses? Kinda like a library system, although not one where they had to return anything. But, you know, a certain number of sheets per person, checked out on a daily mind wanders with the possibilities.

I am thinking the Scot Tissue company should be sending us a great big thank you note any
day now.

Hopefully when it comes in the mail, I will not be stranded!

Spanish Lessons

Ever since hearing that my oldest son and his family had received their orders to transfer to Puerto Rico with the Coast Guard, we have talked about learning Spanish.

It will be needful for them, of course, to be able to communicate with the locals there, but I am so glad it's not me.

I feel like I struggle sometimes just finding the right words in English, although I had always wished I could speak another language. I just feel too old to tackle something that big at this point of my life.

But I do know it is much easier to learn an alternate language the younger you are. Scott and Britt are turning 25 this week, so they could learn fairly easy. Their kids are 1,3 and 5. They will learn it even quicker!

So, as we watch Dora, The Explorer (which is mostly referred to here as Dora, De Esplora) we learn common words in the easiest way possible. We know a lot of our color words, numbers and what to say for open and close.

This week, I couldn't help but chuckle when Bella asked, while watching Dora, what did "Da mucus" mean?

In all my Spanish language wisdom, I was stumped. Da Mucus?

In the background I heard Dora singing to her friends.

"Way to go, Amigos!"

I turned to Bella, and said, "Oh, do you mean Amigos?"

"Yep. Da Mucus."

So, that's how she has learned it, from the expert Dora.
Please, do not be offended if she calls you da mucus.
She is really just saying she wants to be your friend!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Life and Death

My uncle is dying.

I went to lunch with my parents this week. I try to do that as often as I can. This week we discussed death, and all the things no one really wants to talk about.

It was hard.

It is hard to see my dad's last brother slipping away. As he struggles finding the reality, he is living day to day knowing it's getting closer. Of course, we all are getting closer to death each day of living, but once you get that actual "Dr. Said" notice, it must be frustrating living out the last of your minutes in vague understanding of what is happening as your body fails.

I saw my uncle last summer. We have had a long distance relationship with him for years, as he has lived a solitary life (of his choosing) many, many miles from home. My generation has spread out far and wide in this world, but most of my aunts and uncles continue to live close by.

Except this one. We maintained contact via emails, and occasional visits. The last one was when he returned for my grandma's funeral. He was struggling with clear thinking back then, and I began to realize the days were getting shorter. I probably will not see him again before he's gone.

I look forward to the reports I hear of how he's doing. My cousins, his children, are doing good at keeping the rest of us updated on his health. He sounds happy and is being well cared for.

But it's hard to see.
And it's getting harder for my dad.

He lost his first brother almost 16 years ago to a tragic auto accident. It reshaped the lives of our entire family when he passed.

Now, Dad is realizing the memories they have always shared are mostly now in his own mind. When his brother is gone, he remains as the oldest of the siblings, but what he shared with his brothers will be his alone.

It makes him sad. He is grateful for his 4 younger sisters. But he seems to feel like a lone wolf, in charge of a dying pack.

Death is hard.

I look at dad, strong and proud. He is slowing down, his health is poor. He doesn't ask for pity, he just needs someone to talk to. I know his days are not long for this earth, and I know his passing with be difficult for me.

But I also know that I have been loved and cared for over 50 years now, by a loving father, much softer in heart than he appears on the surface. Many of my life values have been shaped and polished by this man. He says he carried me the first five years of my life. I hope to help carry him the last years of his.

Life. Death. It's all we have. I hope I am making the most of mine.
I know my examples have been the family men that I have looked up to.
Heaven will welcome them when it's their time to enter the pearly gates.

And God will bottle our tears. Psalm 56:8

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dancing Beauties

When you house alot of females, there tends to be alot of talk about dancing. At least here, anyway.

Last Saturday night Mike accompanied two of our young gals to the Daddy/Daughter Dance at the school. It was put on by our Partners for Children group. The theme this year was Mardi Gras, and each girl received a feather mask and colorful beads. They also had their photo taken with daddy, and I am excited to see how that turns out! Daddy still has sore leg muscles today from all the hopping, jumping and dancing around the gym. The girls didn't complain at all!

The planning for this event has gone on for weeks, here at home and at the school. My girls do not get alot of new clothes, so a new dress was a huge part of the excitement for them. My niece, Tona (her daughter was attending too) and I searched for the perfect dresses, and found little princess dresses for all our tiny girls. My girls had to look at their dresses for 2 weeks before wearing them, and carefully hung them after the dance so they can be princesses again for Easter Sunday.

Another fun dance is at their ballet classes. Miss Jenny has been involved in teaching ballet since my Nicole was young, and it's been fun seeing the next ones have the instruction she provides for early dancers. They take 6 week classes and enjoy the fun of tutus, ballet shoes and sweet recitals. I have so many pictures from all the classes, and the best part of them all is the smiles on their faces as they prance around and show us what they have learned in their classes. Is there anything prettier than a ballerina?

Sometimes Tommy feels pretty left out. He really wants to take a gymnastics class at the local YMCA. We will look into that when the girls dance classes finish. I think he will enjoy it, and there are many times he's left out with all the others his age being girls!!

So, tonight is their 5th week of dance class, and then we'll get to enjoy their recital in 2 more weeks. The girls don't look ahead to what's coming. They are just enjoying living in the moment, just like a child should be.

Dance, little princesses, dance!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I am Moving!

I am moving!

In our marriage of almost 31 years, we have lived in 14 different homes. Most were rentals between Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana and Michigan. We have bought 4 homes, each time selling to move up in space or to better accomodate our growing family. Currently we live in the farmhouse my grandparents built from the rugged ground up in a sparse neighborhood in the 1940's.

We have painted, scraped, remodeled, added on, and thoroughly lived in every space of this house. We switch rooms around about every 6 months, rearranging the way we utilize every inch of the place.

Now it's my turn.

I have been blessed to be married to a guy who has always supported my craftiness. I enjoy painting, sewing, cross stitch, decoupage, stamping and scrapbooking. I actually have the biggest room of the house for my hobbies, and I do share the space
by storing kids craft items too.

But now I am moving. I am moving into a much smaller space. I will have to downsize or reorganize alot of my stuff to fit into this new space. I may have to part with things I have had for years.

And I am thrilled!!

You see, by moving from my old "office" to my new (and much smaller) office, I am making the first huge step into physically preparing for our newest addition!

We are currently waiting for a foreign government to issue a visa for a special needs child. He is just over 2 years old, and we have been waiting for him since November. We are hoping the government that holds the keys to his future will make the decision really soon to issue a visa that will allow me to go get him and bring him home into our family.

By moving my office to the smaller room, the newest addition to the family will be on the ground floor with all the children, and as he learns to walk, he will not be hampered by stairways. He will have the noise of the house as he learns about us, and yet he will have the back room that will allow him some peace when he needs it.

We have chosen the material for his curtains, and we have discussed the paint colors and are ready to make a decision. He has a giraffe print rug and a toy box already full. We have stacking blocks, shape toys and plenty of soft stuffed animals to cuddle. I have made blankets, and have clothes from 6 mo to 18 months, separated in containers for easy access. We have toys to help him learn and grow, and plenty of folks ready to love and encourage that growth. We have contacts for his medical needs, and are ready to start the therapies that will help him gain strength. We are waiting. We are ready.

With every stroke of the brush as I painted my "new" office today, I kept thinking of this child that we have already fallen in love with. Will he love us? How long will he be afraid of all the "firsts" he will have to go through here? How long will it take him to attach to us, while detaching from his current caregivers? Is the emotional and physical neglect he has suffered already in his little life going to hamper his future growth and development? Can he sense that he is loved clear across the world by this family, and can we ever show him just how much he was wanted and treasured all these many months of waiting for him to come home?

I am so glad to be moving. With every box and shelf I carry to it's new home, I think of him. I picture exactly how his new room will look, and I can not wait to be done with the move and start putting his things in place. It will be warm, and comforting, and full of life.

And soon we will welcome him home. But it's not soon enough for me!

"Are you scared?"

Anyone that knows my Tara knows how much she hates to be in any confining situation! We started parenting her at 17 months old, and have been thrilled to see how much this Reactive Attachment Disorder, Intermittent Rage Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder kid has grown, and thrived!

For the most part, she is a beautiful blue-eyed blond, tiny features and sparkling spirit! But we know, underneath it all, she still hates to be confined. Getting seat belts on her and keeping them on has always been challenging, and there were many years that even a hug would send her reeling. Now, happily, she seeks out hugs and affection. What a change and what a blessing!

This weekend we were able to go spend some time at an indoor water park about 45 minutes from our home. We planned a day to swim, a night at a hotel (with more swimming!) and the next day of waterpark fun again. What we didn't plan was the fever that hit 3 of the kids on the morning of the second day, forcing us to come home (plenty of tears too!) with a promise of returning to finish our second day soon.

We also didn't plan on the freezing rain that came overnight, and the extreme cold that set in (again!) It made our drive home somewhat treacherous. But we made it home. Gramma wasn't able to join us because of the weather, but we plan to see her again soon.

We also didn't plan the malfunction that could have ruined our entire weekend.

It started with Tyler knocking on the bathroom door, from inside. I was the only one in the room at the time, as the rest of the crew was getting in an evening swim at the hotel pool. No one but us were at the hotel, so it was like having this huge mansion to ourselves! Nice! Tyler had come back from the hotel weight room, and wanted to change into his suit to finish the night with a swim. I heard the knock, and wondered why he couldn't' get out of the bathroom. It seemed the lock had stuck, so I grabbed the only tool I could find, a plastic coffee stirring stick.

I poked it into the little hole in the knob about 3 times, finally triggering the lock that was stuck. It opened and Tyler went to swim.

About 9 that night, the rest of the kids came up from the pool, taking turns changing into warm jammies, and ready to settle in for the night. Tara was in the bathroom tub, so I was shocked when Mere tried to get in to change our of her suit and the door was locked. I asked Tara to unlock it.

"I didn't lock it mom. She can come in."

Right. The knob turned, but would not release the lock. Major malfunction. I tried every coffee stirrer I could find in the room, and nothing worked. Tyler insisted a credit card would work. Nope.

We assured Tara several times that we were working on getting the door open. I figured one of us would snap the lock at any time and free her.

Nope. Mike called the manager, who came up with her "key", assuming Tara had locked herself in the bathroom. That sounded like something the manager had dealt with before! After 10 minutes of her trying, she decided it was out of her league, so she called the day manager in. Apparently, the day manager knew something about locks, and wanted to try her own hand at it.

By 9;30, Tara was still stuck in the bathtub. We were keeping her calm by promising a trip to the candy machine and she assured us she was fine. As long as she could hear someone, she sounded calm. At one point, Nelly slid a piece of paper under the door that said "Are you scared? Circle YES or NO" The paper came back, with the NO circled. I thought it was funny that she sent a note under the door, because we had been talking to her the entire time!

By 9:45, both managers had been fiddling with the lock, unsuccessful at removing the handle like they figured they could do at one time. Finally, one of the girls twisted the handle, while the other one slammed her body into the door. Woosh!! It flung open!

There was Tara, crouched under the large sink and counter, shreds of toilet paper all over the entire floor! But she was calm!

We praised her over and over for how she handled it. I know, from the paper she had shredded, she was feeling the tension, but she handled it really well. And of course, before the manager left, Tara was out in the hallway headed to the vending machine and her promised treat!

I am glad that Tara came through the situation so well. I am thankful that the managers took good care to ducktape the lock shaft so it would not happen again.

What surprised me though, was that they never offered more than an "I'm sorry about that." We paid $130 for the night to rest and relax, but for more than an hour we had strangers in our room, and a bit of fear to boot! I thought maybe taking something off the bill would have been nice....

But I am glad it all ended well! And breakfast in the morning was really great. All in all, a successful mini-vacation!

Plus, Tara had an exciting story to tell her friends at school on Tuesday!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bella and Boo

The movie, "Monsters, Inc." is one of my all time favorites. The older kids have seen it numerous times, but this past weekend was Bella's viewing of this fabulous kids movie.

At first, Bella (4) didn't want to see it. The title scared her a bit. But we told her if she kept watching it, she would see a happy ending. Who doesn't love a happy ending, huh?

As the monsters of the movie scare all the screams out of their tiny subjects by sneaking into their closets at night, Bella really got into the movie. Then the baby Boo enters the scene, and Bella is completely hooked.

During a couple intense spots where the monsters are trying to out-scare each other, Bella huddled in a bit closer. But overall, she seemed to be enjoy the show.

Until the end. As Baby Boo is returned to her own closet, and has to say goodbye to Sulley and Mike Wazowski, the tears were flowing. For Boo, and Bella. The credits roll, and Bella is still sobbing.

I had to stop the older kids from poking fun at her. I want her to know it's OK to cry when something touches your heart, just like it's perfectly fine to laugh when something tickles your funny bone!

It was the first time I had really seen her tiny heart get sad at a movie.

But, the next morning, Bella was asking to watch it again. I said she could, and was waiting for more tears at the end. Instead, she turned to me, completely sad (but no tears) and said, "Poor Boo. She was left in that closet. Why doesn't she have a mommy and daddy?"

So, that was the part that saddened her. It wasn't having to say good bye to her new friend. It was not that she was scared. She felt empathy for little Boo that she was alone with no parents to care for her.

I know it's typical for her age to start really understanding a movie. And cry when it hits the Hallmark moment. But I am glad, at least for Bella, that her emotions were unleashed for the baby, whom she thought, was all alone.

She's so much like me, it's uncanny.