Monday, May 5, 2014

Slam! Creak...Woosh!

One of life's greatest pleasures is finding the time to do something you love...
I like to blog and keep track of what we're doing and how we're doing and all that, but sometimes we're so busy doing that I don't get the time to write here!  I miss it =)  I find myself w/a random 30 minutes now.  I don't want to clean.  (Don't act so shocked!)

The other day there were 3 meetings scheduled and I wanted to make it to all of them.  Gymnastics parent meeting at 6, women's ministry meeting at 6:30 and crisis pregnancy center meeting at 7.  I packed a bag, almost like I was moving out!  It turns out the cpc meeting was not until next week, which was a nice surprise, but the point is that the one hour + span of my life pretty much sums up the rest of it!  For years I have prayed for God to stretch me and help me do things I felt he called me to do.  Truth is, I didn't pray that hard b/c I sort of worried that I couldn't do it/them.  I have all my hang ups and idiosyncrasies/aka crazies and I wanted and didn't want some things to happen at the same time!  But - I'm learning to recognize the seasons of my life quicker and getting better at being obedient and having a willing attitude when it comes to being stretched.
Well!  With that said...God has been closing and opening doors in's been a crazy past few weeks!  I'm grateful for the open doors b/c closed doors can be very difficult to handle at times...

-My time w/the theater group has ended.  My choice - I'm mad, sad, frustrated...but the truth is, the joy was gone a while ago.  Sort of a long story, but I have been blessed by the friendships I made and I did enjoy doing something that was so 'me', even if it was only for a while!  The lesson I am learning is to trust my instincts and when given discernment, I should chuck my plan and remember that I serve a big God whose plans are better than mine.  He is my Rock, my Defender and as long as I am on His side, I've got the victory!  (sorry, I'm dancing as I type, well you can't see that, but just typing that last part I can hear one of my favorite gospel songs in my head so I'm dancing! on a Monday!  Yep!  Turning my attitude around =)!)
-One of my best friends is moving away.  I have a million things to say about her...but that's almost a whole other post!  I knew it was coming and it still makes me sad.  This woman is a huge part of why I am me and she inspires me to be better, to be more and to stop letting other random things hold me back.  What makes it harder is that she's not moving away to one particular place I could go visit - their family is going to be rocking the RV life on the road!  Oh I'll still go visit her, I'll just have to find her first!  Back in the day, the lesson I would have taken from this is that I should just not make friends!  But now, it's different.  I know that I can maintain a friendship wherever Tracy goes and that no matter what, I know she will follow God's call in her life.  That is the kind of friend I want, not someone who lets her emotions or fears control her and the choices she makes for herself and w/her family in life.  So it's a good thing, but still just hard for me.  You know how it is, right?  Let's all bust out in the latest greatest theme song...."Let it go, let it go, can't hold me back anymore....let it go...let it go..."  (Now it's in your head, you're welcome, just wishing it wasn't in mine too!)
-Dewey and Curly Sue are back in foster care.  =(  Only this time since we don't have a county foster care license, they didn't call us.  It was our choice to switch to the state adoption list only, and I know that they are in really good hands, but it still was like a big door closed.  I hadn't missed foster care much and was looking forward to adding to our family permanently this time.  But when this happened, of course I couldn't help but feel like I wanted to run to them and switch our license back!!  I was reminded though of the other doors that are being opened...and to be patient...

-There are many more things to do with the women's ministry at church, the crisis pregnancy center and Love Feeds OUR World, a mission group working in Haiti.  I'm excited to be involved in these things!  I've prayed about some of those closed doors w/my friends/sisters in these groups and I know they are praying for me about the other ones that they are not even aware of yet.  Never in a million years would I have believed I would be doing some of these things, but I am, and I am realizing that when I/we are operating in God's Will, He blesses us greatly.  I am so grateful to be able to witness some of these awesome things!!
-We saw an adoption profile that to us seems like it would be a good match.  Our study has been submitted!  That's all I'm going to say about that soon as I know something else, you know I will be shouting it from the rooftops!!
-Do you know that I have had a lot more free time lately?  It's amazing what you can do w/some bonus time!  Now don't go getting the wrong idea...I'm still me, not Martha is still cluttered...cleaner, but cluttered...I learned some things about iMovie, read a book I love, and we changed the orientation of the couch!  Yeah, even the boring things are new and exciting!

This past weekend the weather was half way decent and we did our first family fun run!  Mo and I ran 2 miles (mostly me chasing him!) while Dave and Colleen walked one mile.  It was awesome!  We're looking forward to another in June and then who knows?  Soon it will be summer and we'll see where we wander =)  Or what doors will be opened!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Goal setting for the year...

Yes, I know it's February but I started this post in January and have since had time to reflect on it.  In the past I have made lists of goals and this year is no different.  One year I think I chose one word to focus a theme for the year.  This year I am doing 'D' - all of the above.  I chose 2 words for the year.  One I'd like to focus on passively and the other actively.

This might surprise some people, but I am not exactly an optimist.  I tend to get anxious over things to come, to over-think all the pitfalls or ways things could go haywire.  When I do that, I forget to acknowledge God and His Promises.  There are a couple of big things coming up in 2014, some I am sure of and some that may not happen.  I am choosing to focus on the word PROMISE for various reasons - to remember God's Promises, to remind myself of hope and faith, to honor the promises I have made to others and myself and basically to flip my thinking.  I have been so blessed by God - He has kept and continues to keep many of His promises.  In my head over the past couple of days, I had much more to say about this one but I'm realizing that I'm not in a place to share it all.  But please trust me when I say that this word is needed.  This word is one I'm clinging to this year.  

In regard to the action word, I chose GIVE.  Part of me was thinking of people I know who are so very giving of their time, money, talent and themselves!  Many times I wish I was like them.  Then there are times I feel like I already do a lot of giving and it's exhausting!  Sometimes I think of my Lord and Savior on the cross and all that He has given to me and I can barely fathom it.  Many people will say things like "I don't know how you do it!" or "I could never do what you do!" when they find out we foster and have adopted.  (My response to their comments is a whole 'nother blog post, but that's not the point right now.)  There are few people who's opinions and feelings on the matter that count when it comes to decisions about whether or not we are going to continue or try again.  When it comes to the kids, obviously there are times when they get jealous or feel left out.  (Side note - go read the book 'How Are You Peeling'!  Everyone of our kids - bio, foster, adopted, babysitting, friends' kids, etc has LOVED this book!)  We talk to our kids about their feelings a lot.  It's ok to have feelings, it's ok to express them, it's NOT ok to be disrespectful and out of control when expressing them, etc...We always say that we love b/c He first loved us.  We receive so much love, grace, mercy, compassion, etc that tons of extra comes pouring out of our hearts and there's plenty of it to go around.  The fact that the kids tell other people that in their own words is...special.  Now, when I say GIVE here, I don't just mean money.  Like I said before, for me, I'm going to focus this year on how I can give support, encouragement, physical stuff, money, my time - all of it.  Not to the point of being empty, mind you, I still need to take care of myself.  But truly I/we have been so blessed and it's time we actively bless others.  Another reason I chose this word is for the last definition.  As I said earlier, I am not the most 'chill' person out there.  My brain cooks up these ideas of what the future could look like and then when reality doesn't match, I feel overwhelmed and stressed and I just hang on to those thoughts of what could have this last definition was for me.  GIVE - as in be flexible.  Life for me so far has thrown a lot of curve balls, some I handled better than others.  Admittedly I am still 'handling' or processing some of those curveballs b/c I didn't want to deal w/them at the time.  But I can see that now and I can see that I didn't 'GIVE', I wasn't willing to be shaped or molded by those events.  So I have learned something, even at my age, about how to go forward.  Whether I wanted to or not, many curveballs have already changed who I am and what I do when thrown the ball.
Like I said, I have chosen some words to focus on but also written out some goals.  Not much has changed from last year - w/4 kids in the house at the beginning of the year, it was a struggle to move forward on some things.  Then when they left, it was a different kind of struggle.  Some of you know what I'm talking about!  It's ok if you don't, in fact, I pray you don't ever have to struggle like that.  Even though many or my goals remain the same, I'm still writing them as goals for this year.

2014 goals
-I will be joining Inspired To Action's Maximizing Your Mornings Challenge once again! (REPEAT)
-I'm hoping to do more scripture memorizing w/the whole family.  Out of all the verses I had memorized w/Moses, a little over half have 'stuck' in my gray matter.  I can do better.  (REPEAT)
-I am serving as a part of the women's ministry at church.  I hope to be a part of a small group soon!  
-(NEW) I've been reading a lot more about accountability partners or mentors or just having a person in your life to talk to about spiritual's been a long time since I've consistently had someone like this in my life and I would like to change that.  Not sure where to start, but just by writing it down here and praying about, I believe God will give me wisdom and maybe bring a woman like this into my life.
-(NEW) As faithfully as possible, be involved in a small group.  I started going to one on Tuesday mornings and I am amazed at the ladies assembled there.  I really appreciate the diversity and the women who come together to pray.  

(REPEAT ALL OF THESE!! - we did pretty well at the last one, but there's always room for improvement!)
-Step it up in the homemaking department.  (Said the woman sitting on her couch w/2 torn out pages of a magazine, a binder, a highlighter, the remote, a banana peel, some laundry and a pile of kleenexes!)  This one is super broad so I need to break it down into smaller pieces...
     -Make more hot breakfasts.
     -Get better at meal planning and prepping things ahead.  (2013 was better...barely...)
     -Buy less cans, packaged foods and aim for more things from scratch.
     -Sew - do you think I can do 6 projects in 2014?
     -Declutter in general.
     -Declutter/minimize clothing stash.  (This is still so hard for me!!)
-READ.  Again.  I miss reading books!  (Doing better b/c I've found some 'old friends' to re-read and actually found some time to read them.)
-Get involved w/the Intergenerational Center.  
-Make it more of a habit to have Sundays be outdoors - hiking, playing kickball, going for bike rides...just keeping at least one day a week for family oriented stuff.  Not family oriented in the way that it's just us, but I mean that we're doing things as a family, maybe w/other families, outside.
There are others from last year's list that I just don't feel are as big of a deal for me this year...

-Get sleep - 7-8 hrs each night.  I know everything else in life goes sooooo much better when I do!  
-Run a 5K in less than 30 minutes.  
-Thin the thighs.  Ugh.  I've recently seen my weight go up by give or take 10 lbs.  No one else probably can tell, but I can.  Those 10 lbs are in all the wrong places and quite honestly cause physical discomfort at times.  Just being real people.  I'm not even going to get into the psycological/emotional disgust for those 10 lbs.  So - the goal is to kick them and a few other to the curb!!

-Adoption.  Step one already done!  At this point our license has been switched from the county to the state and our 'study' has been tossed in to the pool of those waiting for a match. 
-Memorize Bible verses together.
-Out West trip.  
-As always, we're are moving in the direction of less waste, less plastic, less consumption of unnecessary goods, real foods, less chemicals, more garden boxes, more chickens, etc...just keep moving in that direction.
-Move? out of the city.  This is a long shot again this year, but it's still a goal and we can be taking steps toward it every now and then.
-(NEW) Better record keeping.  I am so not organized but I do have a few binders and such...getting better every day at finding systems that work for me.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Do you remember that game?  It was recently 'unearthed' from a closet and the kids are loving it.  I personally never liked it much - you work so hard to put all those pieces in the correct spaces before it pops up and they get all mixed up anyway!  Not to mention how some of them are really similar.  The little kids call the game 'shapes' and are so very proud of themselves when they get them all put in (it's not running...).  That's the version I like =)  Low stress, just put them in on your own time.  Lately I've been seeing that game like a metaphor for life!  There's a lot going on here and we work hard to fit the pieces in just at the right time...
First things first - lots of prayer requests!  Please pray for our family, as our home study file was submitted for a possible adoption (foster-to-adopt).  They (the state or the county of origin) will call and let us know if we have been selected as a match.  More on that later when I am able to share details, but of course you know I will be quick to announce any updates =)  Also, please pray for Dave's mom.  She's been struggling w/a lot of migraines and they found what they believe to be a benign tumor.  If you would like, she has a caring bridge page where you could read more about it (let me know and I can get you the link).  This weekend she will receive IV treatment for the migraines.  Pray for her physical comfort, peace about the situation and that healing will come quickly!  Finally, please pray for the theater group...we are going to be filming the play and turning it into a movie!  It will eventually be sold on amazon, but we will be raising funds to pay actors, the directors and filming costs before September.  If you would like to be a part of the production of this movie in any way, please see our website ( or FB page!  We have seen the Lord's hand at work in all of this and we cannot wait to see what is to come!  We would appreciate your prayers, your encouragement and of course, if you are able, your financial support.  We are in the process of setting up a way for people to donate online, so I will let you know when that is up and running.
Things you can join us in praising the Lord about - recently Colleen was at the children's hospital and her BMI was AVERAGE!!!!  That is a huge deal here at our house!!!  The doctor and nutritionist told us we can 'back off' - no need to stress about calories and how much Colleen is eating.  (Easier said than done, especially when you've been doing it for years!)  It's pretty exciting to think that Colleen has reached her goal, now to work on maintaining it =)  Please praise God w/us that so far no one has gotten super sick or anything.  It's been a pretty good season so far of relative health.  Also that we are all enjoying our various activities - Moses' latest floor routine in gymnastics was much improved - he almost has cartwheels down!  And by down, I mean feet up!  The last couple of meets he struggled to turn his long self over like that...but he's getting a lot better!  At conferences, the teachers all had such good things to say about our kids.  The reading teacher showed me Colleen's writing journal.  I held back the tears as I saw the first few pages of chicken scratches compared to the most recent page.  There was at least one whole was readable, there were spaces between the words, it was in a straight line and I know it took a lot of focus and determination for her to do that!  My sweet girl is starting to read on her own and impress me w/her fortitude and stamina to do more in school than I thought possible for this year.
I have been meaning to write a bunch but it has been so busy lately!  AND COLD.  Many days of below zero and wind chills waaaay below zero.  We sort of go into survival mode on those days - check chickens more often, kids might not have school, check pipes and find indoor activities to keep us from getting cabin fever =)  Thankfully lately it's just been snowing a bunch and not too cold.  I started babysitting a friend's little girl 2 days a week - it's so much fun having a little one in the house again!  She found some of our favorite books and I was reminded how special some of those foundational things are to kids.  I started going to a small group of women, the women's ministry is busy serving and getting ready for our conference, play practice is in full swing since we have 5 shows over the last week in March/first week in April.  And then there's the movie!!  Busy busy...Moses just finished his 3rd gymnastics meet and both kids started practices for the kids' spring musical.  Dave is playing music for church again and starting a small group too.  He's been taking on a few more responsibilities at work and we're helping w/the kids' musical at church too.  We know that if we are able to add to our family, we may need to slow down a bit at first, but most of the people we are working w/already know that =)  We are very blessed to have friends and people we consider family here that are so supportive!  Best of all, we know they are praying for us!  I'm doing my best to 'lean in' and let God lead.  So many times, big stuff like this starts happening around here and my brain takes off - I think through all sorts of scenarios, good and bad, riding emotional waves as I think about each one. It's good for me to be busy, to keep my mind centered on what is important and keep my thoughts in the present.  I am very grateful to be a part of the small group and the group of people in our theater company.  I praise God every day for Dave and all the ways he helps me, not to mention keeps me on task =)  It's helpful for me to write here too - like therapy! - and to know that people who read here are praying too, so thank you!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Adoption day musings 2014

Do you know my birth mom?
Yes.  Well, I haven't seen her in a while but I know who she is.
Do you know her name?
Yes.  (I say her name.)


When I die, how will I kiss you?
Well, most likely I will be in heaven already so you can kiss me there!
How?  You will be there already?
Statistically speaking, yes.  But only God knows if I will be there first or if you will.
But how will I kiss you?
I hope it's just like you do now!  I love kisses!!!  I love you!!!!
I love YOU!!!!

It's been 4 years the adoption became official and out of all the celebration, these two snippets of conversation seemed out of the ordinary.  Well, conversations similar to this are not out of the ordinary for us, but for some reason...Colleen has never specifically asked about her birth family.  She asks questions about things that happened w/us before she came, but not about things on her end.  I really wanted to write these conversations down.  It struck me that on adoption day, she wanted to check if I knew her birth mom's name.  Upon hearing that I do, not really caring what it was, she went back to talking about other random things.  It's like she was just checking to make sure those little facts about her past were still there.  And once she knew they were there, she didn't really want to deal w/them, just make sure they weren't gone.  Does that make sense?  Well, I know what I'm talking about!  ;)  And the whole kissing me after she's gone...???  With her attachment issues, giving me kisses is not something she does regularly, unless of course she can use it to her benefit.  She pulls away or turns away when she wanted to know how we would kiss if ever separated...I had to choke back my tears =)  I wanted to run around the house, waving my hands in the air..."I think she loves me!"  I know most of you won't get that, but those of you that are 'in the trenches', loving a RADish or just a sweet child w/minor attachment issues, you know.  You know.
When I was getting into bed that night, I talked to Dave about the two conversations I wrote about here.  I feel like we are going to be having a lot more of them...that's not a bad thing, in fact, I am looking forward to them!  But I must admit to being a bit caught off guard by a few things, like the fact that she didn't care about the actual name, just that I still knew it.  I've read so many books and praise God that we've made lots of friends who get it.  I'm grateful we talk about our shared experiences and process all the stuff we go through...but none of that matters.  We're writing our own story here =)  And we are so blessed to be able to do that!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 so far...

2014 started w/me crawling into bed just as the clock struck midnight and the neighbors were yelling and stuff outside...
...then I was awoken by my sweet boy (as I am every day) at 6am.  A few snuggles and he was off to read.  My sweet girl came in somewhere around 6:30 to snuggle or should I say wiggle around next to me trying to find a comfortable way to act like she loves me.  (She struggles w/attachment issues, it's ok, I know she loves me but she has a hard time expressing that.  She wants to be physically close and touch and love on me, but she kind of hates it at the same time.  It's hard to explain.  So far I have learned not to make too much of a big deal out of it or it gets worse.)  This morning I encouraged her to roll over and let me toss an arm over her.  Content w/that she settled in for a few minutes.  My sweet boy returned and my sweet girl was quick to join him in some sort of hi jinx anywhere-but-our-room.  I slipped in and out of sleep for a while, finding myself alone in the bed around 8:30am.  Got out of bed, ate breakfast...we played on the rented Wii for a while.  Some had fun, some felt stressed by their limited abilities and some did not want to stop.  We piled into Champ (the new -but not newest addition- to our family) and made a BigBoxStore run.  We were just there, literally, yesterday.  We were also just there Dec 23.  Too many times during too crazy of times to be in that place if you ask me!  Today the place felt empty of stuff, but not really empty of people.  Came home, ate late lunch of leftovers and Daddy started building w/the kids.  Overall, it's been a pretty sweet beginning to the year! There are plenty of housekeeping types of things that we should have been doing, but honestly?  I would much rather enjoy time w/the people in my life than the dirt in it.  The dirt will still be there tomorrow.  The people all go back to school/work.  This winter break has been special - for various reasons, of course, but I think the biggest one is the people around me =)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

(Once again, we are not sending Christmas cards out in the traditional way - see the end of this post for more on that...We hope you enjoy this online version! If you regularly read my blog, some of these stories will sound familiar...)

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!  It has been an interesting year and we have a few stories we’d like to share.  After reviewing some of the events, it became clear that the theme was taking a few leaps of faith and trying some new things! 
         The first event (maybe even the biggest!) was when we said “good-bye” to Colleen’s McKey button !  (It was for tube feeding purposes.)  She had graduated from feeding therapy and we were no longer putting anything in the tube, so…freedom!  We are now living life solely doing oral feeds.  It was nerve-wracking at first, but I think it’s going quite well.  Then mere days later, we headed for Myrtle Beach, joining my parents for spring break together.  It was our first time sharing an adventure with them and some great family memories were made.  The weather was odd – it was about 40*, windy and misty, but that just meant we spent more time playing games and laughing together!  In April we resurrected and renewed our adoption application with hopes of adopting again – maybe more than one child this time!  Also, for the first time in a while, I returned to the stage…people from multiple churches came together to put on a play written by a local man.  It was pretty awesome to see various churches help serve desserts, encourage and pray for us and our message.  Then I spent the Saturday before Mother’s Day learning to shoot a gun!  (Bet you didn’t expect that one, did you?)  We hosted a ‘button party’ for Colleen’s feeding success, as promised, and ate cake with a big button on it! 
     In June, the foster placements we had officially went home. (There is much that could be said about saying goodbye to people you love, but we’ve already said a few words about it here and would rather not dwell on it in this post.  Forgive us for the abrupt transition…)  Later that month, we went to a butterfly festival and participated in our first large group release!  HA!  They were everywhere!!  We had a bubble party for Colleen’s birthday (HUGE bubbles were made!) and Moses ‘broke’ his ankle.  It was actually a tendon that disconnected from the bone…but it was still hard for this momma to go into X-ray, especially after Dave’s big break a few years back.  In July, Moses enjoyed Drama Camp – he played a great blind guy!  Then, it was the last 4th of July party for my extended family at my aunt’s house on the lake, which was bittersweet.  

     In August our family took a trip to Washington, DC.  We didn’t take any strollers, tube feeding equipment, pak n play, diapers, or big car seats!!  It was a first!  Again, bittersweet because we miss having small ones - but of course we really enjoyed traveling light =)  For his birthday, Moses had a buddy over and they stayed up late having boy adventures and eating s’mores to celebrate.
     September brought a new to us vehicle to our family and Moses competed in his first gymnastics meet as part of the team!  October included a second showing of the play with the group of Christian actors I now call friends.  We are working together in hopes of performing more often!  Moses’ 2nd gymnastics meet was a little bigger than the first and we learned even more.  Recently, we added 3 new members to our family – not humans, though, but chickens!  Lily, Jessie and Brownie now share what I have dubbed the chicken condo with Pippa and Lois. 
     There have been some ongoing new things too!  This year Dave was able to take some of his students out in the boat, thanks to a new incentive program at his school.  He’s enjoyed getting to know his students better this year.  He’s back on the worship team at church and has started giving piano lessons to Moses.  As I said earlier, Moses is on the gymnastics team at the Y, he’s joined the kids’ choir at church and he can’t wait to be on the stage again for the Christmas musical!  He is a big WI sports fan and loves to coordinate his outfits to support the Packers, the Bucks, the Badgers and even the Brew Crew.  Colleen is enjoying 1st grade – and living button free!  She recently discovered she likes sandwiches w/creamy PB, jelly and BUTTER! Her confidence grows every day – she can frequently be found playing school and reading some of her easy reader books.  As for me, I have been attending meetings about a crisis pregnancy center that is starting here.  I have ‘slid into’ leadership roles in both women’s ministry at church and the theater group to which I belong.  These things are all leaps of faith for me – I have always felt afraid to speak out about my beliefs, afraid to build relationships, and afraid to go beyond my level of comfort.  I have done a lot of all those things this year!  

Dear family and friends – this is the time of year where we recount our adventures and love reading about yours…but truly, our favorite story to tell is about the greatest gain of all.  The story of how the whole entire world gained a baby, a savior and king whose life began in a manger.  We could go on the greatest vacation, achieve every one of our goals, have the cutest kids ever and be super involved in some really great causes, but nothing – NOTHING! – compares to the free gift of salvation we have gained through the life and death of Jesus Christ.  We pray that this is a story you have already heard, one you personally know and experience in your life…but if it isn’t, please ask us to share this story with you!  It is our hope that your year has been filled with enjoyable adventures…and here’s to many more! 

God bless you and yours! 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We hope you enjoyed this green version of our Christmas card! (If you still wish to receive a paper copy, leave a comment.) There are lots of reasons we decided to do things differently this year (again!)'s a few:
1) Save postage. We love you, but we're cheap!
2) Save paper. You just recycle those cards after you read do recycle them eventually, don't you??
3) Save printing costs. See reason #1!
4) Save stress. Nothing to print, sign, stuff, address...
5) Expand our options! Now you can see a practically limitless amount of photos.
6) Our greeting to you is saved in cyber-space for posterity! Yes, we can be that vain sometimes!
7) It went so well the past years...we heard a lot of positive responses, and even some people who said they'd try it themselves. Welcome to the dark (green) side! (Sorry that was a goofy Star Wars joke...)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's about time!

Whenever I see people I haven't seen in a while, I usually say, "What's new?"  Most people say, "Nothing."  Even if there is something, it's easier to just say that....but around here, there are a few new things so I thought I'd give a quick update!
No that is not a greenhouse you are seeing in our yard!  A neighbor friend asked if we wanted his chickens - he had already built a sweet chicken tractor for his yard and offered to bring that too.  It's pretty amazing to see how smart he was - he used things like gutters and framing materials from the Habitat Restore in town.  I always love seeing how people use pretty ordinary things in new ways and we are so grateful for this!  
 Here are Pippa and Lois, our original two chickens.  They are taking a dust bath in the next door neighbor's flower bed!  It's one of their favorite spots and he says he doesn't mind.  =)  We are so lucky to have accommodating neighbors!
 And here are the 3 new chickens!  Jessie is the white one, Brownie is the brown one and Lily is the black and white one.  I have wanted to add to our flock for a while and truly, it is a blessing that the neighbor was willing to give us all of this for free!  We promised him some eggs anytime so come and get them whenever you are ready!  I think one of the best parts (to me) is that I really had my heart set on a black and white one like that - I know it sounds silly but I feel like God answered my prayer about what kind of chicken I wanted!    So Lily is my favorite - but I like them all b/c they are all very friendly and willing to be picked up.
 This is a closer look at Jessie.
 Jessie and Brownie drinking.  These 3 chickens came 'pre-named'.  I don't mind their names but I must admit that I find myself calling the white one Lily since that seems logical to me.  Lilies are usually white flowers!  I have to remind myself sometimes that Lily and Jessie are opposites.  Brownie is the easiest one to remember of course!  We have slowly been introducing the original and new girls to each other.  One of the first days there was blood - Pippa is by far the smallest hen out there but we think she was top of the pecking order for the original two.  Now?  They are hashing it out and Dave thinks that Brownie might be the highest rank...They have endured a few daytime hours here and there together and so far so good.  At night the original two head to bed in the original coop while the other 3 retire in the 'annex', or the new part of the coop.  For a few nights Dave was trying to put them together, but maybe they don't mind sleeping in separate quarters.  Either way, we are happy to report that we are now getting about 3-4 eggs each day!  I expect in summer we will be getting 5 a day.  YUM YUM!!

In other news, I believe this is the first year in a while that we have put up a Christmas tree.  Other years we may have had one, but just a table top.  No babies in the house means we can set up the big one =)  I cannot describe to you the excitement that ensued when my kids heard that!  "This is soooo exciting, Mom!"  I grabbed my new camera and took some pictures...I want to remember the excitement!  I get a little OCD about decorating the tree but I tried my best to let the kids help.  Now I'm glad I did of course b/c the little things make me smile!  There's about 4 ornaments on 2 close branches, clumped together...when I told Moses he could bend the fake branches up a bit so the heavy ones didn't fall off, he started to bend them up at a 90* angle!...Colleen wanted all the sparkly, dangly, pretty ones close to the bottom so she could touch them whenever she feels like one wanted to put any ornaments on the back side...very few of them are higher than chest height...etc...I went back and added a few tonight, but took pics first.  I think next week we will get out 'the kid tree' - we probably have 3 trees that are between  3-6' and then at least 2 that are little tabletops.  I'm thinking we try to decorate a new one each week?  I like the excitement!  And the others are small, so it won't be too much work =)

 The boys assembled the base.
 Everyone got into the task of pulling the branches down and apart!
 This girl was over the moon...she must have told me that she loved me about 100 times!!  (Trauma mama's/parents of RAD kids will get that more than others...)  She was also excited b/c she had found her sparkly Rudolph shirt and had chosen to wear it that day so decided that was why we put up the tree.  Yes, we put it up all b/c you wore that shirt...I had to get a pic of her standing by the tree - I wish it captured the awe on her face better but I am still learning to use the new camera.  She was bouncing and singing and just very happy!  This morning I found her sitting on the couch in the dark, basking in the glow of the tree lights!  I remember doing that as a kid =)

Well, I guess that was only 3 new things, but it's not nothing anyway!  I hope to post one more update before the Christmas letter...