Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The ABCs of 2011

(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...I also wanted to let you know that there are not a lot of photos here, but if you click the links that are in blue, you will be taken to other posts I have written over the year and I promise there are more photos there!)  And now...

The ABCs of 2011

A - ADOPTION!  On January 14, 2011, our adoption of one precious little girl became final.  It was the best late Christmas present anyone could ask for!  WORTH THE WAIT.
B - Baptism.  In June I (Melissa) was water baptized.  I had been baptized as in infant and really felt that I was at a point in my faith where I wanted to do it again.  Many thanks to our family and friends who celebrated both the adoption and baptism with us.
C - Chickens.  Again this year Dave bought some eggs to hatch in his 4 year old classroom.  Only 3 hatched =(  But since it was such a small number, he asked if we could keep them.  He built this awesome coop and run with scrap wood and we enjoyed watching the feathered fluff balls grow into chickens!
Now we are 6!
D - Dewey and Curly Sue.  In early November, 2 new foster children joined us.
E - Eternal life.  Almost a year after the death of my paternal grandfather, my maternal grandfather passed away in February.  Then in July my paternal grandmother also passed away.  These losses meant I no longer have any grandparents on this Earth.  Grief may give us a heavy heart, but the knowledge that these people are born to eternal life is a true comfort.
F - Framily.  That's 'friends-like-family' smooshed together.  This year a lot has happened in our framily - adoptions, loss of loved ones, purchases of homes, and shared celebrations.  We are so blessed to be able to take mini-vacations w/framily, stay up late talking, and just share our daily lives with them.
G - Gymnastics.  Moses has been LOVING boys' gymnastics!  They get to use the pommel horses, bars, rings, etc.  I don't even know what all those things are called!  It's a great outlet for him and he does his best to keep up with some of the older boys in the class.  We're still working on cartwheels!  It's funny, I never thought about teaching someone to do one...I guess I thought they just watched someone else and picked it up!  Thanks to Coach Evan, I now know a technique to teach that fun skill! Colleen is also enjoying gymnastics, and of course she especially loves wearing a leotard w/a tutu!  Soon both Colleen and Curly Sue will be in the same class and Mo will continue on in the boys' class.
H - Harvested.  This year's garden was a little different than those of the past, but I did harvest a lot of pumpkins!  I learned a few lessons along the way again and hope to use them to my advantage for next year.  I feel very blessed to be able to grow some things for our family to eat and also blessed to harvest things like apples from others' trees.
I - Infants.  We had 2 foster care infants over the course of the year.  Both were only here a short time, but it was a treat to have babies that were days old in the house!  But it also kind of 'schooled' us...how quickly we have forgotten about getting up multiple times in the night and taking lots of supplies everywhere we go...
J - JESUS brings us great JOY!!!!  Most of my readers here already know that my family and I love Jesus.  To us, Christmas is a sweet time of celebration.  We are reminded that ever since the first sin that Adam and Eve committed, we are all in need of a Savior.  That God himself would come down to the Earth in the form of man, to be born in a simple manger, is the greatest gift!
K - KINDERGARTEN!  Moses started all day bilingual kindergarten this year!!  It has been interesting, to say the least, and there may be another future post about all that, but the best part is hearing our boy pick up Spanish words and phrases, watching him cruise through the sight words, and seeing the joy on his face when he talks about his 'specials' - gym, music, art and recess!
L - Lake.  We still love living by the lake!  Dave is considering the Polar Plunge again this year...
M - Math.  This year Dave started teaching ELL Math.  I know, I know, he was doing some of that before...but in the high school he did some 'center math' previously.  He taught the students with little to no English basic math concepts.  In the past he also facilitated what they call Tutorial, or a guided study hall.  No more!  This year, due to a mainstream teacher's retirement, he was able to begin teaching ELL Algebra.  It is nice because before there were 2 teachers (one mainstream leading and one ELL helping) while now there is only one.  He can go as slow or fast as the class needs.  It's a nice change.
N - Niece or Nephew?  Soon my brother and his wife will be having a baby!!!  We are ecstatic for them and can't wait to see if it's a boy or a girl.  The kids haven't quite gotten it that a new cousin is coming, but I'm sure once she or he arrives, they will love cuddling that baby.  They already beg to buy stuff for him or her all the time!  I think that baby will be spoiled.  (Edited to add - it's a boy!!!)
O - Opportunity.  I didn't have an O!!  So I'm going to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our family and friends who have prayed for us, helped us, supported us, laughed and cried with us this year.  We love you!!!
P - Purple Book.  We took a class at church, using the Purple Book as a study guide to the Bible.  It was really awesome!  I have done other Bible studies before but really didn't get into them.  This one was life-changing for me.
Q - Question - Is this the longest Christmas letter so far??  Maybe...but we're almost there!
R - Running/Reading.  There are 2 for this letter!  First of all, I resurrected the old me, the me who used to run in college and made a slow come back.  I was determined this year to get in shape and complete a 5K in less than 30 minutes.  I came close.  It didn't happen.  But I am not giving up that goal.  I plan to continue to press on and enjoy running, indoors or out!  As for reading, I am yet again bragging on my sweet son Moses.  With the exception of a few Hooked on Phonics sessions, he pretty much taught himself to read.  Obviously, he has 2 teachers for parents.  English/language teachers to boot!  But we didn't do much besides the ordinary.  On our August trip to the northern/midwestern states, he sat with a bag full of books and just keep reading them out loud.  When he didn't know a word, he'd spell it and ask us what it was.  We'd tell him and much like us when we were little, once he learned it, he didn't forget it.  I don't know how many hours he did that in the back of the van, but it was a lot!  It really is amazing the way God designs the brain to pick those things up...
Mt. Rushmore
S - South Dakota.  Our summer trip included other states, but this was the one we spent the most time in.  There is so much to say about it!!!  We enjoyed the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, other National Parks, Sturgis, the mountains and the YMCA of the Rockies.  We fed donkeys, had a coyote run through the area while cooking dinner over the campfire and climbed the Black Hills.  We saw motorcycle after motorcycle and sweat buckets while climbing one of the Rocky mountains.  We laughed a lot and visited Storybook Gardens twice.  We would love to go back...especially to the YMCA of the Rockies.
T - Texas.  We spent spring break in Texas w/Dave's mom.  We visited some good framily, some cousins and the Gulf.  We were quiet at the JFK memorial, in awe at the Alamo and loud in the Gulf waters!  We saw stadiums, flowers and plants, more missions, the Riverwalk...we were blessed by one of our pastors to stay in a timeshare.  We got to swim and relax and visit.  We went to bilingual church! We will never forget..."Si Dios te satisface, DALE PALMAS - (clap clap clap!)"
U - Ulysses S. Grant.  He was one of the presidents we learned when we did our flashcards!  As we were planning our South Dakota trip, we knew we would be seeing Mt. Rushmore.  Then I was *cleaning* the drawers by the phone and found this box of flashcards...so I thought I'd pick a few and Mo and I would learn (or re-learn) their names and one fact about what they were known for.  It went well!  I think we learned about 20 of the presidents' faces and facts.  It was funny because I couldn't help reference the presidents who were on our money.  Mo kept asking to see the bigger bills....and I'd say, "Get a job kid!"
V - Van.  It has been approximately one year driving our new 8-seater van!  We have learned a lot in this one year...we really like the 8th seat.  We love the electric door!  Despite having an electric door, the drivers' seat is not electric.  It takes 13 pumps to boost the seat up!  (For those of you that don't know, Dave is almost a foot taller than me, so every time a new driver gets in, the seat gets adjusted.)  Having a back row that drops down for storage is pretty sweet too.  All these new features!  We also learned that red is a very popular color for mini-vans!  And red vans that are the same make and model as ours are also popular!  Once I couldn't figure out why my door wouldn't unlock...wrong van!!!  Luckily no one saw me =)
W - Working with wood.  This year Dave built a chicken coop and a tree fort. There was a lot of sawing, drilling and hammering going on!  It was great to see Mo following him around with his own toolbelt and toolbox.  The kids all are helping measure and everyone wants to be a 'gopher'.  "Go get me a screw.  Go get me the drill.  Go get me a glass of water."  I am really proud of my smart husband for pretty much designing and building these things!  There's a little engineering in his DNA after all.
X - No X-Rays this year.  Maybe you remember the summer of '08?  So glad we didn't have any X-rays this year!!!
Y - YMCA.  This year was the first year we got a membership.  We have been taking advantage of the classes, the workout machines and the pool.  It feels so good to be active!  Some nights when everyone seems a little stir crazy, we go to the racquetball court and let the kids loose with a baggie full of bouncy balls!  They're much less painful than a racquetball and they bounce all crazy!  Everyone chases the little balls and giggles...best free activity...
Z - Zee End.  =)  Much love from our family to yours!

Merry Christmas!
May God bless you in the New Year!
Love, Melissa, Dave, Moses, Colleen, 
Curly Sue and Dewey

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!)...here's a few:
1) Save postage. We love you, but we're cheap!

2) Save paper. You just recycle those cards after you read them...you 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...)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


November 29
Well, it's been a few days...but you've been too busy to notice, right?!  Me too.  Today I am thankful for gifts.  I don't mean physical objects, but I mean gifts given to us by God.  Mostly I am referring to the ones listed in Romans 12:6-8.  From Biblegateway.com...

Romans 12:6-8

New International Version (NIV)
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

There are so many people in my life who have these gifts and share them w/me and my family!  Just the other night I had an inspiring conversation w/a friend who has the gift of prophesy.  I am constantly encouraged by my friends and family.  I find that being involved in foster care and adoption, it is easy to see the mercy shown by others to many. Other people I know are amazing givers while still others are humble servants.  I am so thankful to be around people who use their gifts in my life, my kids' lives or in the body in general.  

Friday, November 25, 2011


November 25
I am thankful for God's creation.  Yesterday we spent a good hour outside exploring my Uncle's property.  We find lots of black mud, animal trails in the woods, mossy rocks and trees, piles of decomposing materials, places where the deer lay down and a turkey feather.  There were brown things, black things, green things and gray things.  We climbed, slid and walked.  We splashed mud on our boots and laughed about how we sank into the Earth.  We felt the cold wind and the warm sun on our cheeks.  I don't get to spend a huge amount of time outside these days (I always wish is it was more!) but if I lived in a place like that, I think my life would be a little different.  I am so grateful we can go visit people who live in the north woods, on a huge property, or on a lake.  We can visit people who live in the city and the country.  We can visit people who live near a Gulf, an Ocean, a desert and a volcano.  Of course I wish we could do it more often!!  Anyone want to fund our future outdoor adventures?!  =)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey cake!

November 24
Today I am thankful for the birthday boy - my husband!  Have I told you much about him?  (If you say yes, and you think you've heard these stories already, stop reading!)  

When I saw him for the first time, I of course thought he was the cutest boy I had ever seen!  He was the piano player at Intervarsity, a Christian fellowship group I started going to in college.  Because he sat down to play the piano, I couldn't really see him during the worship part of the service, which was probably good since I was supposed to be singing anyway.  My favorite part about going to IV was the end.  Dave and 'the band' would play a fun song or just 'jam' and after they finished, he would stand up and you know my head snapped right around!  He was always laughing, loudly, and I wanted so badly to be part of that crowd.  He seemed so happy and here I was, not so happy.  Our first meeting didn't go too well but I can't blame him (I hadn't accepted the Lord yet, so I was the 'old me', as in trying to be something I wasn't.).  Despite being cute, he seemed arrogant and I figured that he was just another guy to add to the eye candy list.  

The next school year, I was the on my way to being the new me and we met again.  As it turned out, we had many classes together and had many things in common.  He used to come to class from his job as a teacher at a Christian school, where he got a free newspaper every day.  The paper was always folded, open to the crossword puzzle.  I'll never forget the first time he set it down on the desk next to mine and didn't sit down right away.  YOINK!  He came back and looked on the floor for the paper.  Then he noticed me w/a big Cheshire grin, the crossword already started!  After that it kind of became our thing...he'd sit next to me and we'd whisper clues and answers back and forth.  Then he started to offer me a ride home and since it was cold, I wanted to say yes.  He told me it was on his way - LIAR!  It really wasn't that far out of the way, but it wasn't ON the way either =)  Our first real date started out as a group date.  He asked if I wanted to go to a Badgers' football game w/a bunch of people.  Later he told me no one was available or wanted to...so it turned out to be just us.  Before the game, we wandered around the Madison farmer's market and he asked to hold my hand.  

(Time out - I am leaving huge chunks of the story out.  If you want to know more, you can always ask.  But one background detail is that before I got saved, I wasn't exactly...um...boyfriend-less.  Let's just say I had a few boyfriends or just plain boys in my life.  I was...rather relaxed w/the boundaries, when it came to boys.  I am not proud of that fact, but it is part of my past.  I had pretty much come to the conclusion that was what an adult relationship entailed.  Despite asking forgiveness for sins and inviting Jesus into my heart, I hadn't revised my definition of an adult relationship.  Time in.)

HE ASKED TO HOLD MY HAND.  Did you catch that?  MY HAND.  I couldn't believe that he asked to hold MY HAND.  Not some other body part, but MY HAND.  He had more respect for my hand than most other boys had for any of me!!!  This is the part of the story where the girl who thought she had fallen in love w/the boy fell a lot harder.  

I am so thankful for my husband.  Truthfully, when I had gotten saved, I pretty much made a deal w/God that I would 'quit boys'.  I just was going to focus on school and stay out of trouble and someday I would find the man I would marry...less than a year later, I met my husband.  Less than 6 months after that I was engaged.  About 6 months after that, we were married!

To the hottie behind the piano - 
     Thank you for giving me a second chance.  Thank you for asking to hold my hand.  Thank you for being a happy, cross-word loving, gentle man.  Thank you for saying you weren't afraid to have 12 kids.  Thank you for playing frisbee w/me on our wedding day.  Thank you for holding me when I cried over not having a baby right away, and then all those months after either.  Thank you for supporting me as a new teacher.  Thank you for helping me when I was sick and pregnant.  Thank you for always singing to our boy and reading him the Bible.  Thank you for taking the leap into foster care w/me.  Thank you for allowing me to be home w/our kids while you work.  Thank you for all the hard work you do around the house.  I would be so lost w/o you.  Thank you for leading this family in the way the Lord leads you.  Thank you for your faithfulness to the Lord, to me, our kids and to the church.  Thank you for sharing so many trips w/me, even if I have forgotten the details of them!  Thank you...for your love.  I have many flaws, some of which only you know.  But that doesn't stop the look I see in your eye when you hold me.  Besides the Lord, you are my best friend.  Happy Birthday!!!  I love you.  XOXO

Dear Heavenly Father - 
     Thank you for this man, this man who has curly hair and blue eyes and a laugh so infectious...thank you for this man that respects and cares for me.  Thank you for putting this man in my life at a time when I was quite broken and newly learning about you, Lord.  Thank you for making my husband the kind of leader and servant who is calm, gentle and compassionate.  I pray you bless my husband in a special way today as we celebrate both his birth and Thanksgiving.  Amen!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


November 22
Today I am thankful for the Peanuts' Thanksgiving episode.  I went to Dave's school today and he put it on for the class.  I must be in a really good mood today because I couldn't stop laughing at Snoopy!!  No I mean I had tears streaming down my face!  When I was a little girl I can remember rushing to get my PJs on so I could get set up on the couch w/a blanket to watch a Peanuts' program.  Each one started w/upbeat music and Snoopy dancing happily!  I had a stuffed brown dog that looked a little like Snoopy so I named him Droopy.  He was pretty droopy - floppy and filled w/beans or something =)  Maybe my love for Snoopy and friends will go on another 30+ years...!

Monday, November 21, 2011

What's the plan, Stan?

Today I am thankful for God's plan.  I was reminded by a friend today that God has a plan and even when we don't know it or are bitter about it, we believe it is the best plan, regardless, because it is from Him.  There are so many things in my life now that were not part of my plan.  I really didn't plan to be doing foster care and adopting.  I really didn't plan to marry that guy.  I really didn't plan to go to school for that.  I really didn't plan to be living in this town.  I really didn't plan to make choices that got me labeled as one who cares for creation so much.  I really didn't plan to be so heavily involved in church or any kind.  I really didn't plan to be a clutter-bug.  (Who does?)  I really didn't plan to consider home schooling.  I really didn't plan to lose touch w/those good friends.  I really didn't plan to...you get the drift.  But despite all my emotions and anxieties about what I didn't plan, I am so grateful for what God had planned!  And not just for me, but for my friends and family too.  It's absolutely amazing when you can see God's plan unfold for someone else.  I find such joy in the fact that that family was able to adopt, or that family was taken down the path of a new job, etc...maybe they see it at the time or maybe they don't, but being outside of the situation often allows others to see God where they might not.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

for the love of tech stuff

Today I am thankful for technology.  Again one of the kids are sick and my husband and I are skyping church!  It is so nice to hear my pastor's voice and keep up w/the sermon series.  We also use skype to 'talk' to Grandma and Grandpa some nights and of course I am on face.book, connecting w/friends.  Yes, sometimes these things can take away from our lives, but I argue that they can be useful too!  I am also thankful for the technology my husband has in his phone.  Many times on trips we have looked up our route on a map program on the phone, or we've looked for a phone listing online so we could call ahead.  I am thankful for photo sharing capabilities - it is so cool to see pictures of a friend's baby or something when I know I won't get out to meet him/her in person any time soon!  It sounds so silly and unnecessary but to a super social person like me, it's really special.

Friday, November 18, 2011


November 18
I don't know if I mentioned it here, but today is the day some college friends make the adoption of their 3 girls official!!!  We have so much joy for them!!!  And on top of that, today I went out to the farm where we used to buy our eggs (!!) and found they have a first time foster placement, w/a possibility of adopting him and 2 siblings somewhere down the road.  I am so happy for these families!!!  Another thing I am thankful for is deer hunting season.  I used to eat a lot of venison summer sausage sandwiches growing up and I am thankful my dad went deer hunting.  Well, not thankful that he was gone, exactly, but thankful he enjoyed himself and brought back some meat.  He told some funny stories, about skunks in his boots and the deer that swam into a river to go die on an island...and then him dragging it back!  I remember seeing the trailer or truck loaded down w/frozen deer, their tongues frozen hanging out of their mouths!  I pray everyone and anyone going this year will stay safe.  I also secretly pray some friends would like to share their venison w/me!!!  So yeah, today I'm thankful for adoptions, fostering families and um...venison...ha!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Heart, soul, mind and strength

November 17
Today I am thankful for this body God gave me.  Many times I complain about it - it's too mis-shapen, it's too weak, it's doesn't look like what our culture defines as beautiful - but truly, I am able to do so many things w/the body I have!  I have not lost hair, or at least not that anyone would notice!  I do not need corrective braces to walk, I do not need a wheel chair nor do I need assistance to feed and dress myself.  I am also thankful for my mind, my mental health and stability.  Yep, I have ca-raz-ay days like everyone one else, but I don't have an unnatural fear of the what ifs or an unnerving sense of suspicion all the time.  Anxiety is present in my life but I think I have come a long way in taking care of myself (and allowing myself to be taken care of) so it doesn't get the better of me.  I am thankful for these things and I pray for those that are not able to say the same.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

If I'm being honest...

I am super thankful for laundry baskets.  But probably not for why you think!  I use laundry baskets for EV.ER.Y.THING!  Switching winter to summer wardrobe?  Put winter clothes in laundry basket, empty seasonal bin into drawers, empty laundry basket into bin.  Working on a project (baby book!) but need to stash it somewhere not on a counter top?  Laundry basket.  Have 4 kids and lots of library books?  Laundry basket.  Can't carry a lot of pumpkins?  Laundry basket - or not!  Taking everyone's boots along but don't want mud to get on the carpet of the van?  Put them all in a laundry basket!  Have a million papers you need to go through but don't want them on the counter top (seeing a theme here??)?  Laundry basket!  Oh yeah, and then I forgot about all the laundry I do!  So there you go, I'm being totally honest about my habits, or lack there of, when it comes to organization!

Monday, November 14, 2011

An Addendum

In my last post I talked about my best friends.  I failed to include some!  There is my pen pal from 4th grade, though we are still not physically close, many letters have passed between us over the years.  Now in the face.book age we leave comments for each other here and there.  I still think of her as one of my closest friends!  Also, my husband's best friend and his wife/family are so important to me.  I am very thankful to be raising our family alongside theirs and sharing so many life experiences!  I couldn't leave these people out...

It's a gas!

November 14
Today I am thankful for best friends.  I am blessed to have more than one.  But it is the day of birth for one in particular...I have known this friend for going on 20 years.  We met the summer before high school.   We were not best friends right away - she was a poms girl and I was a bookworm.  As it turned out though, we were both band geeks!  (Don't take offense at these cliquey terms, I am describing us and we're ok w/that.  I won't use these words to label you.)  We ate lunch together w/a large group of friends every day and we knew each other pretty well.  But still - we didn't really become best friends until college.  Most of my bookwormedness (it's a word, I just used it!) started to fall away and I made some dumb choices.  Most of my high school friends didn't stay in touch and I was making new ones.  But this friend, she didn't lose touch.  She came to visit and called and seemed to care.  When things started to fall apart for me, when I felt like I couldn't reconcile the old me and the new me, she was there, pointing the way.  She got saved before I did and she was like a mentor to me when I became a completely new new new person!  Mentor, counselor, life coach, best friend.  We used to sleep in, talk, watch the fish tank...I could tell you stories!  I think I've already written some of them here.  We rode a tandem bike, rode the city bus, slept in bunk beds and argued over who would clean the toilet.  She grilled a potential mate, who turned out to be my husband.  She was my matron of honor who cut her own honeymoon short to stand by my side.  I am so thankful for her, I can't even begin to describe the reasons!  I love you!!!  I also have other best friends.  My best friend from college I met the first day on campus.  He saved my butt more times and ways than I probably even know.  In so many ways he is the opposite of me.  I was the silly fun girl and he was very serious and calculated.  HA!  Every girl needs a best friend like that.  He is like a brother to me.  His family and mine are good friends now - I love his wife - she is truly an inspiration in motherhood.  Another best friend is here in town.  I want to be her when I grow up.  She and her family just became homeowners - of an RV!!  I am planning on removing a spark plug from that rig before they drive away for good.  Or maybe it will be something else...?  SH!  Don't tell, ok?  (I know she is reading this and hopefully laughing!)  But seriously, I don't know what I would do w/o any of my best friends.  Last but not least is my husband.  My best friend.   When we first met, I was the old me.  He didn't like me.  He really thought I was an airhead.  I thought he was HOT and out of my league!  When we met the second time, we found out we couldn't be apart much.  Engaged after 4 months, married after another 6.  We talk all the time...he is so considerate of me and has grown with me in many ways.  I change our diets, I quit my job, I make plans for future changes....he goes w/it.  He supports me.  Us.  He helps me live the good life, the life I dreamed of.  Another best friend like him cannot be found except in Jesus.
***edited to add - I failed to include some of my best friends, so I added an addendum =)***

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's a wonderful life that gets more beautiful every day!

November 14
Today was an AMAZING DAY!!  I almost can't believe it after our week of mega-sickness.  Don't get me wrong, it seems everyone has round 2 of colds and noses are running and shooting boogers everywhere, but today was still awesome.  At church we enjoyed the music and the girls colored quietly during the sermon.  After church we met my mom to pick up Moses from a sleepover.  I am so thankful my parents live close and can do that!  Then we all had hot ham for lunch - second week in a row!  Tasty.  After lunch we went to the children's museum here in town.  The kids all got to run around and go down slides!  We came home to an improvement in the weather so we let the chickens out and spent some time outside - sunny, 50+ degrees and little wind!  Dave worked on the tree fort, I raked, Mo helped carry boards, the girls rode bikes...then a friend came over and we went for a quick walk.  I am so thankful for friends who like to walk and talk!!  I really needed to get out of the house and have a few minutes of momma time today.  We did a quick errand and had chicken and bean quesadillas.  Dewey ate lots of chicken and some tortilla while the kids and I shared a quesadilla or 2.  The best part of the meal is that it was cheap.  We laughed a lot during dinner =)  Silly stuff but we were all laughing!  Now it is past 7 and all the kids are in bed and I am feeling like this day was long, but in a good way.  I needed a day like this. I am grateful for it!  And now I'm watching Simpsons w/my hubby, who laughs so hard!  I love it!  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On trees and fruit, things you can grow...

November 12
I am thankful for the huge trees that are in our backyard.  For about 2 months Dave has been working on a tree fort out there.  I used to hate the big pine tree - actually I prayed it would fall on the garage.  The garage was in such poor shape that I was thinking if the tree fell on it, we'd get to start all over again.  Not to mention that if the tree fell in the direction of the garage, it would hopefully be far enough away from the house.  Anyway, then Dave went and sided the garage and now I pray that no trees fall down.  Another thing that bugs me about the pine is the sap.  It gets all over the kids clothes when they are playing!  But I do know how to get it out now, so all is not lost.  I am also thankful for the apple trees out front.  Those are the trees that we take first-day-of-school pictures by =)  I am thankful for the blueberry bushes out back, even though we've never gotten a blueberry off of them since we planted them years ago.  I am thankful for the asparagus and raspberries out back.  Sometimes I wish we had more food-related plants, but I can't think of much else that I'd want/that grows well in this climate, besides what you can find in a garden.  This is the first year I noticed the neighbor had a peach tree!  Weird.  I guess he has a hard time getting to the fruit before the birds, but I can't believe I never noticed that before...thankful for the little surprises in life too!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Viernes de paz

November 11
I'm thankful for peaceful days when everyone is feeling better!  I am thankful for things that make me laugh, things that make me smile and things that energize me.  I am thankful for holding my husband's hand while the kids run on ahead.  I am thankful for obedient kids who impress people at the mall =)  I am thankful for babies who clap and sing every time they hear music.  I am thankful for coconut oil!  And I am thankful for my rubber boots.  It is so muddy...I feel bad for the chickens, their whole pen is muck.  But I know they are animals and they're fine...it still seems weird.  I am thankful for popcorn too - we haven't had any in a while....it was really good last night.  Hit the spot =)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I think I can, I think I can...

Can I be thankful when everyone in my house is sick, w/a vast array of symptoms and illnesses??


November 10
I am thankful for these 4 beautiful children that God has brought to me through different methods.  I can't believe I get to parent them, hold them, serve them and clean them when they are sick.  Friends, not everyone gets to be a momma.  I hate days like this but then I remember the days when I was dying to do anything for any child and I had none.  Yes I said hate.  Yes I said dying.  Yes I can be over dramatic but I don't think I am here.  I am an incredibly social person who hates to fail and lately I have barely been able to converse w/anyone and I look all around and see failure - dirty stove, dirty dishes, crumbs on the floor, things in the wrong place, unfinished projects, papers littering the counters and chairs (!), towels on the floor, used tissues wadded up near the trash but not in, etc.  So I hate these days.  And I was dying on the inside (a lot!) back in the kid-less days.  So many people talked about my job as a teacher, it was such a great job, life as newlyweds must be great, yadda yadda great great great.  Um, no.  The best job is a mom and I know I snapped back towards at least one person when they said I had such a great job.  I am working on forgiving myself for that.  But the 'me' I knew was shriveling....wow, now I'm off track.  The point is, I am so grateful to be here.  Even though here may not be where I feel like being, here is so fulfilling.  I kept telling everyone that all I wanted to be is a mom.  And I am.  Thankful.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


November 9
Today I am super thankful for SNOW!  I love it!  I am also thankful for some relief from sickness.  I am thankful for two 4yo girls who love to play together and are excited to dress alike, eat alike and keep each other company.  I am grateful for our RV, in which we made many memories!  Some friends just bought a motorhome and it makes me miss camping!  Yes, I know, I'm excited for the snow today and lamenting the summer...I'm a muti-faceted person!  Another thing I am grateful for is my washer.  I talk a lot about my wash lines and how much I love hanging wash, but now w/4 kids I am truly appreciative of the washer too.  I thought I did a lot of wash before...phew!  I suppose having a baby again increases the loads.  I forgot how many times a day we change babies' clothes!  Plus, Dewey drools.  A LOT!  Well, it's quiet in my house right now - baby in the crib, maybe asleep, maybe just working on getting himself there - but NOT crying!  Huge improvement!  Everyone else is gone - I need to get cracking on the housework!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kicked when we're down

Yeah, I bet you didn't think you'd see that as the title for a thankful post...
November 8
Today I am thankful for encouragement!  We are all varying degrees of sick.  Best?  Curly Sue, she has maybe a sniffle.  Worst?  Dave.  Flu.  Not the nice kind.  So here I am, feeling crummy myself, administering no less than 3 different types of antibiotics and other assorted OTC meds, running this show.  I feel like yelling at someone, whining, complaining about how these new kids have just arrived and we could really use a break from the sickness to settle into a routine.  We're all tired.  Doing too much on too little energy.  Surprisingly, we are not really arguing much, even the kids have been so good.  You probably don't believe me but it's true =)  Maybe we're too tired!  Anyway, I am so thankful for the encouragement our friends have given to us!!!  As much as I feel like this is hard, I honestly think that it's kind of easy when people say nice things, pray for you, and just in general are supportive of you.  I was coming here to write this big list of nice things but that pretty much sums it up.  So thank you to all of my friends!  

Monday, November 7, 2011

November 7
I'm thankful for lovely sunny days!!  I am thankful for peanut butter.  Moses requested PB and bananas in the oatmeal today!  And not to mention we all eat PB sandwiches just about every day.  You can imagine that we go through a jar a week.  Maybe more.  Do you think peanuts would grow well here?  Probably not.  I am thankful for neighbors who are so kind to get up in the middle of the night, grab some bread and put our hens back in the pen.  We're still not sure how they got out.  Maybe they were left out.  Either way, the neighbor mentioned a coyote and I know I've seen hawks, so it's so nice that he did that.  I am also thankful for kids who are super polite.  =)  It seems to come naturally to all of them to say thank you and please.  I am very proud of them!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Still here!

November 6
Ooh, did you think I was going to miss a day??  Nope!  Busy as ever w/4 kids in my house, but I'm still on track.  Today I am thankful for the dishwasher!  I can't believe how many dishes we all use in one day...but it's so awesome not to have to handwash them all.  I am also thankful for so many people who have helped give suggestions for doing Curly Sue's hair.  I am not quite as worried, but I just need an afternoon to practice or something.  I am also grateful for the extra clothes we saved from when Mo was little.  Right now it helps that I can just dig into a bin and find some things for Dewey.  Some of those things are hand-me-downs from the sisters-in-law and their sisters, so I am really grateful for that too!  We have been blessed w/some nice things we can use for our kids.  I am also grateful for the apples we collected at my aunt and uncle's house up north.  Free apples!  The kids have been eating about 4 a day.  I made some applesauce, dehydrated some and got some ready for a pie.  My first attempt was awful.  I need to figure out what I did wrong.  We couldn't even eat it.  It was really dry.  Blech.  But I will try again!  Another thing I must say is that I am so thankful for everyone's prayers.  I appreciate knowing that many of you are lifting us up each day!  Keep it up!  Thank you!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lucky guy

November 5
So many things to be thankful for today!  Thankful for extended family, for services to help and protect children and families, for friends in our community, but also for the community of friends we have built in the foster/adoptive world.  Today I am thinking about my maternal Grandpa.  He has passed away, but is still on my mind a lot.  When I read in the newspaper about Andy Rooney passing away (he was one of my Grandpa's favorite reporters!), all I could think of was how my Grandpa would be so delighted to meet him in heaven!  But I hope he doesn't ask him for an autograph!  Those 2 old guys would have a lot of fun together.  Anyway - I remember how my Grandpa would always love Rooney's commentaries.  Sometimes when we'd visit, the TV would be on the news in the background, volume low.  We'd be talking, but if Andy Rooney came on - the volume immediately went up and the conversation was suspended.  We'd laugh or nod soberly at whatever the topic was...I found myself tuning in to Rooney's last broadcast.  Pretty sure my love for my Grandpa brought me to make sure I didn't miss it.  Just like I can't watch Wheel of Fortune w/o thinking of Grandma whispering the answer as the rest of us fumbled around to spit it out.  =)  Well, this thankful post has gotten a little of track.  I am thankful for a lot of things today but I guess I am thankful for special memories!

Friday, November 4, 2011

New math


Today 2 foster kids joined our family!  We have a foster daughter who is 4yo and a foster son who is 17mo.  Since it is almost positive they will be here long term, they are going to need blog names.  Is it weird if I call her Curly Sue?  She has curly hair!!!  =D  And he will be called Dewey.  As always, we appreciate your prayers as we all adjust to our growing family.  There will be stories of our adventures to come!

Full of it

November 4
I am thankful for date nights and reliable, consistent babysitters.  It means so much to be able to out of the house w/my husband, no matter what we do!  Sometimes we just sip coffee and work on crossword puzzles, sometimes we stroll through a store, and sometimes we eat.  I am also thankful for SUN and laundry lines!  Have I mentioned them in my thankfulness posts yet?  =)  Today is a good day to hang wash.  I am thankful for the bond between my kids.  This morning they were both in one bed, snuggling and giggling.  When I tried to tell them to come in by us, they didn't want to!  They were having too much fun on their own.  It's not every day that they play harmoniously, so I need to remember that.  Last night I was also reminded how thankful I am that my kids are good eaters.  Moses is not a teenager yet, but he eats like one!!  Should I be worried?  He doesn't seem to care that I only offer fruits, veggies and decent sources of protein as snacks, he'll take one of each.  Dinner was soup and I was being adventurous (again - 2 nights in a row!  I'm becoming a regular chef!) and no one really complained.  I heard, "What is that thing?"  Garbanzo bean.  "What is this green stuff?"  Kale.  But they ate it.  The sausage was a little spicy for them so they ate one and then just polished off the beans, kale, and potatoes.  I was very proud of them.  The night before it was veggie sushi rolls.  The seaweed paper was a bit difficult to chew/bite through, even for me, but I think we'll do it again.  It's a great way to let everyone build their own and gets lots of veggies in our meal.  I'm thankful they are all willing to go along w/my adventures!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Yours, mine, ours

November 3
Today I am thankful for adoption.  It's national adoption month and I just have been thinking and praying about adoption lately.  A lot of friends and family have been involved in adoptions one way or the other.  Most of you know me in real life and you know I'm more than happy to talk your ear off about it =)  Other things I am thankful for today - a family who is willing to try new foods, progress made by my girl when it comes to eating and drinking (she still has the McKey button, still getting tube fed, but there's progress!), slippers, and day light savings time switches.  I am also thankful for laughter.  Yesterday morning I was asking Moses about his ear, if he was having trouble hearing since he kept saying, "What?"  I was grumbling about how he couldn't hear well and wasn't listening.  The alarm went off and the weatherman said, "Brad the umbrella...it's a wet one out there!"  I wondered out loud why he would name his umbrella after his co-anchor on the news show...???  Or why he would call poor Brad an umbrella!  I just didn't get it!  Moses started laughing at what I said, especially b/c we had skyped w/my friend Brad just the day before.  "BRAD THE UMBRELLA!!!!"  He thought it was the funniest thing!  "Mom, he didn't say BRAD, he said GRAB!"  Oh.  Yeah, pot calling the kettle black.  Or Brad.  Needless to say we laughed pretty hard for a while and it was a great way to start the day =D!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 2 - haven't forgotten yet!

November 2
I am thankful for my son's school.  He is in a bilingual school and rapidly picking up Spanish!  I am also thankful for my daughter's school.  They have many services and teachers/therapists who are truly inspiring in the way they are constantly seeking new ways to help her grow.  I am thankful for lots of different ways to treat/prevent illness - antibiotics, immunizations, medicines, vitamins, probiotics, tea, good food, exercise, etc...I am thankful for the multitude of options I have when it comes to shopping in this town.  I never thought about it much b/c it seems I don't shop (for fun) much anymore, but when I need something, I can usually find it here.  There's consignment shops, thrift stores, grocery stores, a co-op, big box stores, department stores, international food stores, home improvement stores, etc.  I am also thankful for a former student who cuts my hair.  She has become a friend!  I don't know why but I am thinking about her right now.  Maybe it's b/c I am growing my hair out, probably for the last time in my life.  Since I trust her more than anyone else right now w/my hair, it's getting to be a bigger deal I guess.  Finally, today I am thankful for the 4 seasons.  But of course fall is my favorite!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gracias, merci, danke, xie xie, toda, arigato, takk, dziekuje, spasibo, efharisto

Today marks the first day of the month that includes Thanksgiving (in case you didn't know!).  Many people are writing one thing a day that they are thankful for.  I like this idea and have tried it before...this time I'm just going to try to write each day about whatever comes to mind - so it may be more than one.  Not exactly a list, just essay style.
I am thankful that a church friend has come out of her coma and is starting to talk.  I am thankful I serve a faithful God who hears our prayers and who I know can heal any and all in His time, if He wills it.  I am thankful my son loves music and legos.  I am thankful for good friends, with whom we can go on family dates.  I am thankful for a big bed that all my kiddos can climb in on frosty mornings and we can giggle and laugh and snagul (as Moses spells it) as a whole family.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Before winter, there's fowl...

I thought it might be time for a chicken update!  They are getting so big and we are learning a lot.  We are getting 2 eggs a day now.  The dark brown one is from Lois, the black hen (an Australorp?), while the lighter one is from Pippa (????).  I don't know why I am so surprised that they regularly lay an egg a day each, but it is pretty amazing!  
The chickens love the treats I bring them, even the half rotten pumpkin from the garden!  I have brought them warm oats, kitchen scraps, kale, dried smashed eggshells, plain popcorn, etc...When the girls are out in the yard and I come out the back door, they come running to see what I brought them =)
Here's a pretty good picture of all 3 of them.  DeeDee is the stereotypical teen male, giving orders and keeping the girls in line.  He hops on the wood pile and tells the whole neighborhood who is boss.  
This is a weird one...so they have apparently been digging a hole.  Not like a hole to escape or anything, just a hole to sit in, I guess.  From what I have been reading, chickens like to take dust baths to combat the bugs they get or something (if you are a chicken owner, correct me if I am wrong!).  Anyway, I knew the hole was getting big but so far I have only seen DeeDee sitting in it.  Well, on this day I couldn't find Lois in the pen!  I looked in the coop...in the pen...did she get out????  Then I saw her red comb!  She almost blended in!!  Her whole body was in the hole and her black feathers seemed to match the ground.  You can't really see it well in the picture but trust me.  It looked so weird that she was eye level w/the other chickens' toes!!  So it doesn't seem to be anything to be worried about, but it's still weird nonetheless.

Harvesting knowledge

Originally written on the 18th of October...finally downloaded the photos to add and publish!
 Today I went to the garden to harvest any remaining vegetables.  The day time temp has dropped to about 50* and soon there will be frost.  I knew there were going to be plenty of pie pumpkins so I needed a sturdy method of transporting them, not just a weak plastic bag.  So I got smart and brought a laundry basket!  Anyway - I spent a good 2 hours puttering around in the garden and I think I have learned some lessons for myself that I need to record as a reminder for next year.

1) Don't bother planting peas.  Or if you do, you really need to find a stellar rabbit-proof technique.
2) Plant more kale.  It rocks.
3) The cukes and melons don't stand much of a chance next to the pie pumpkins.
4) Harvest the cilantro much much much sooner.  Never got to eat any this year =(
5) Don't plant carrots under the brussels sprouts.  (Why does spell check put an s at the end of brussel?)  They are nearly impossible to dig out!!!

6) You would never survive as a carrot farmer.  They break off way too easy in the dirt and you really need to find another method of digging them up.
7) Put some old carpet, cardboard or something down between the garden boxes.  The prickers were not kind to you while harvesting.
8) Don't load all the pumpkins in one laundry basket.  Unless that is of course you want to find yourself dragging, pushing and pulling it down your friends' driveway while hunched over.  And don't even think about trying to lift that basket, your back will not forgive you!!!
9) If you have chickens again, plant more herbs for them.  Even ones you don't eat.
10) Don't lose your best, sharpest, most expensive garden shears somewhere in the tall grass next to a garden box.  You will not find them again, even when said grass gets dry and blows away.
So - there you go, self.  Lessons to be learned!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Which came first?

YES!!!!!!!!  The very first egg from our chickens!!!  So exciting!!! 
Most of my readers are on Face.book with me so you probably already saw this....but it needed to be documented for posterity here =)
The egg was still warm when I picked it up!  I am pretty sure it was from Lois, whom we believe to be about a day older than Pippa.  DeeDee, if I haven't already said it here, is a rooster.  I am hoping that Pippa will lay tomorrow or soon!  Fresh eggs!!!  A friend asked who will get to eat this one and I think it will have to be me - it has a tiny peck dent in it.  It hasn't leaked but I am worried it will get weird if I don't scramble it up right now.  And yeah - I need to get more bedding in the boxes for the girls!  Poor thing had to lay her egg right on the wood.  It's getting colder out and we have a light in the coop to give them the needed hours...but it's not a warming light.  Oh I'm so excited, I don't even know what else to say!  I will post a longer one about the chickens soon.  Have an egg-cellent day!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Breaking my heart via note.

Moses has been crying at school.  Not every day, not all the time, but...it seems to have lessened by now but about 3 weeks ago one of his teachers told me she saw him crying at lunch and invited him to stay in for recess to write me/us a note.  They handed the note to me and I worked really hard on controlling my own tears!  "Mom.  I feel sad Mom.  I want you.  I really want to go home and snuggle with you.  Moses."   (Loosely translated, that is...)  He had started a similar note on the back for Dad too, but didn't get to finish.  Snuggles solve everything and you can be sure there have been plenty of them around here =)  I'm glad to hear his sadness seems to be taken over by his zeal for reading everything he can get his hands on in the classroom lately, which is of course plenty!  He is also picking up lots of Spanish from the other students and the teachers.  But I will miss this day when he graduates and goes off to college!  Maybe I will write him a note like this.  "Moses.  I feel sad Mo.  I want you.  I really want you to come home and snuggle me.  Mom."  You never know....

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

34 reasons my life is better than good

  1. Every day I wake up and I get to work at my dream job.
  2. I am able to do this thanks to my husband who treats me like a queen.
  3. God has answered my biggest prayer through the birth of my son.
  4. God has also answered some pretty big prayers through foster children, an adopted daughter and many other children I have the absolute pleasure to care for.
  5. I have the freedom to read my Bible, attend worship services, and discuss my faith.
  6. I am able to keep chickens (and a rooster!), buy from local farmers and grown my own food.
  7. I live in a house filled w/stuff beyond my needs.
  8. We drive 2 vehicles, one of which is a minivan that can accommodate lots of kids!
  9. My family is almost all relatively close - physically and emotionally.
  10. My church family blesses us in so many ways.
  11. I live by one of the Great Lakes, which is beyond great.
  12. There are 4 seasons, where I live, 3 of which I love =)  Some more than others!
  13. There are many things to do in this community and we live close other communities that have pretty cool activities too.
  14. My closets and dresser drawers are filled w/clothes.  Some I like, some I never wear.
  15. I am never hungry or bored.  (Well, I get hungry, but it's not b/c I don't have food.)
  16. I am fairly well educated and can figure most things out.  But not why my son must wake up every day at 6am or earlier, regardless of his bedtime!
  17. I turned out to be pretty confident in who I am.  
  18. Despite some big hurts in my life, I am still able to love and be loved.
  19. Despite some big mistakes I made and hurts I have caused to others, I am still forgiven.
  20. I have been able to travel to some absolutely fantastic places!  Spain, many National Parks, Niagara Falls, Mexico...etc...
  21. I have made people laugh through my antics on the drama team at church.  I miss that!
  22. To my knowledge, I am healthy.  I suffer no illness or disability.
  23. I really haven't had to work hard at much in my life.  Yes, things have been hard, but most everything has come pretty easy to me.  (I probably shouldn't say that 'out loud'...)
  24. I have a place to hang wash outside.  (C'mon, it's one of my favorite activities - you didn't think I would leave it off the list, did you?!)
  25. I have a husband who cooks, helps w/the kids, and likes to do things I do too - camp, travel, be outside, watch sports, play games and do crosswords!!
  26. My whole family loves music - frequently I get free concerts.  My husband is an amazing piano player and my son is astounds me w/the skills he genetically inherited.  From my husband, not me!
  27. I am always learning new things.  Since I am a willing student, my teachers can be anyone - from my kids, my parents or my friends, to complete strangers.  
  28. I have had the opportunity to serve as a teacher in both school and church.
  29. There is a friend (well, more than one, but she was the most persistent!) in my life who shared w/me the greatest gift of all - salvation.  This friend is beautiful, inside and out, and she put up w/a lot of junk from me.  We talk and laugh about stuff other people might find stinky and I don't think she understands how much it meant to me that she was my first off campus roommate.  We had more than one little room to clean and I never did!  She mentored to me in so many ways, it was like having a sister.  I love her.  I may never be able to repay her for all that she is in my life, but I pray I have been able to pay it forward, even in a small way.
  30. I have survived 3+ decades!
  31. I have a space like this to write.  
  32. I live in a town w/multiple consignment shops and thrift stores, but also a Target, to feed my shopping addiction!
  33. Thanks to my parents, scholarship and grant money, I have no school debt.  I even shudder a little as I write that!  So many of our friends still have that...the fact that we don't has freed us to do so much more over the years.  
  34. Last but not least.  My life is better than great b/c of the people in it.  Chances are, if you are reading this on my birthday, you are one of those people =)  Thank you for being a part of who I am!  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Making marbles

Tonight we are starting once a week respite for twins!!  They are only 4 months old.

My mind is reeling at the thought of 2 babies in our house =)  It will be interesting.  Of course that word doesn't do it a justice!  I imagine we will learn a lot about how life w/twins works.  I am excited (again, of course!) and I am also really glad we moved furniture around last week and stuff...it wasn't necessary to do that before they came, we just started some cleaning and it led to moving furniture for the winter.  I know it's only once a week, but my guess is not much will get done when the boys are over.

I am writing this post at the Y.  Colleen is in her gymnastics class!  She loves loves loves it!  It's pretty cool to see her doing a bunch of new things and getting stronger.  Moses has been going to boys' gymnastics too...I cannot believe what some of the bigger boys are doing!  The kid is certainly strong enough to do those things, he's just working on some of the coordination!  Last night it was cartwheels.  It was humorous watching the coach teach how to do one.  I was thinking, "Yeah, how do you teach someone to do that??"  Now I have my answer!  I'm not sure I could even still do one myself.  I'm not really planning to try any time soon either!

It is my absolute favorite season here!  We are going to pick apples soon, leaves are starting to change, the air is getting crisp and cool, my birthday is coming up, the garden is getting ripe, etc...We're going to a Brewers' game, having a family reunion, watching the Packers on TV, getting our school schedule down...I can't wait!

Well, I hope to keep writing here on Wednesdays.  Maybe I can catch up on some of the summer posts!  Sorry this one is so random and not interesting...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Joke's on me!

Remember yesterday when I was singing the all by myself song?  I believe God has a sense of humor b/c today we got a phone call about a new foster care placement...I picked up a precious baby girl today!  So much for being by myself!  I am so not complaining, so God if you are listening, please do not misunderstand me...I just seriously did not expect this!  So now we get back into the routine of bottles, diapers, car seat carrying, blanket snuggling, etc...please pray for us as we adjust!  We are unsure of how long this placement will be.  It's possible there will be an update next week.  For now, we're pulling baby gadgets out of storage and figuring out what works for this little girl!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


The song says, "Don't want to be...ALL BY MYSELLLLFFF!"  But I do!  Sort of....Today was the first day I had all my kids and husband in school at the same time.  I had told everyone that the first thing I was going to do when all of them were gone was to clean out the silverware drawer!  We only have 3 drawers in our whole kitchen and the top one is for the silverware.  It is full of crumbs!!!  I fully intended to tackle that....but...I had a to-do list w/lots of other perishable/timely items on it.  So I did other stuff instead.  I peeled and cut peaches and apples to put in the dehydrator.  I took scraps out to the chickens and the worm bin.  I organized a huge pile of papers.  I got a stack of mail addressed and stamped for the box.  And then I looked at the clock.  Colleen is only in school half days and it was already time to go pick her up!!!  So...I still have a long to do list.  I need to create things w/2 large zucchinis, 2 bags of kale and 1 bag of basil.  I need to wash dishes.  I need to blog about our summer.  I need to wash the floor.  I need to fold laundry.  I need to clean out the van.  I need to go through 2 bags of junk in the upstairs hall.  I need to put away laundry....yada yada yada...I want to be alone b/c then I can focus on what I'm doing and not have to stop and start or whatever.  Yet, I miss everyone!!!  School is going so well for Moses, light years better than the beginning of last year!!!  It is awesome but doesn't make me miss him less.  Dave hasn't been home a bunch of nights since he's been doing home visits and Colleen isn't here to keep me company w/her chatter.  Is this how it's going to be when everyone goes back to school each year???  I'm waffling =)  I'm glad everyone is doing so well and now I just need to kick it into high gear to make the best use of the time.  I said it before and I'll say it again - there are more interesting posts coming...probably not until next week when I settle into a routine!  Sorry for the boring to-do list today.  I just wanted to mark the passing of a very important, emotionally torn day...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Breaking hinges

I am avoiding the dishes that need to be done.  If you know me (Mom!), you are not surprised =)  There are so many things I want to write about tonight!!  But where to start?
SHORT VERSION:  School starts soon - Dave will be in 2 new classrooms.  Mo will be in all day bilingual kindergarten.  Colleen will be back at preschool, only in an integrated class this year.  Chickens are big!  One is a rooster.  Yep, no doubt about that!  No eggs yet.  Summer vacation was a BLAST.  Moses read about 100 books out loud to us as we drove everywhere.  Yes, I packed 100+ books.  We are that family.  We love to read!  It is not an exaggeration.  I do not regret for a minute those 3 heavy backpacks b/c I know it kept us sane!  Some of the books were the special photo books Nana compiles for us =)  We treasure them!  Kids are signed up for gymnastics and swimming.  They are both taller and it's all I can do to keep up w/the changing shoe and pant sizes!  Local fun has been had...birthdays came and went...my hair is still growing long...what else??  Can't believe I managed a short version!!  The long one is not pretty.  But it is great blog fodder!  More posts coming soon!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A new view!

As I alluded to in the last post, we were able to get a second look at the lighthouse!  We took the boat out on the big lake and 'drove' around the lighthouse.  Again, I made a mosaic...and again, a few of the pictures were trimmed a bit.  So please forgive me for that, but I still think the mosaics are pretty cool!  In the top row, you will see Colleen and I snuggling (she's not too fond of the waves), as well as Moses helping Daddy w/the steering wheel.  There's 2 shots of the lighthouse, too.  The right hand column shows my 2 kids behaving so well on the ride back!  Then I asked Mo if I could take his pic on the beach w/the lighthouse in the back and he chose to put his hand over his heart =)  In the middle of the right hand column, you will see a piece of paper I found under about a foot of water.  (It was the 5th of July, so I'm assuming the paper had been under water all night!!  I couldn't believe it hadn't disintegrated...)  There's another view of the lighthouse on the horizon.  One the bottom row you can see Dave's arm pointing to our 'secret beach', us on the beach and a closer look at a sailboat.  In the middle - us!  And the lighthouse!  An awesome shot to sum up an awesome day =)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Our summer adventure begins!

Aside from the usual cool stuff we do over the summer, we have decided to use the book 101 Places You Gotta See Before You're 12 by Joanne O'Sullivan to inspire us.  We hope to knock off a bunch of the places this summer!  We have already been to many of them, but we've decided to re-visit them or go to new examples of them...(in case you haven't read the book, they offer both general and specific suggestions...)

The first place the book suggests is a lighthouse, and since we have one in our home town, it was an easy one =)  I made this mosaic from a free program online and I noticed that it cut off some of the tops or sides of the photos, but I took so many that I thought this would be a good way to share them all!  The top row of pictures shows sailboats (#1), the beginning of our walk (#3) and a huge fish (#4)!!  The right hand column shows some boats in the harbor and the boys checking out the geese.  The bottom row shows both kids getting ready for a long sunny walk by putting their hats on (Mo was silly and put on all of them =)!) and proof that both of us girls were there.  In the left hand column, Dave and the kids are crouching down (sorry it cut your head off, honey!)...there you can see some letters in the cement.  When Dave and I first moved here, he went out to the lighthouse on a lunch break.  There was wet cement and he wrote our initials in it!  He later took me out there to surprise me...since then, it's been really special to go out there and see them.  It was an awesome day to go out and see a lighthouse!  Now we're down to 100 places...

Stay tuned for a new look at the lighthouse....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Like a college class at 8am on a Monday morning

I am here.  Present.  Just not awake and not very interested in participating.  Wishing I was still in bed.  Wondering why on earth I actually got up and shoved my feet into some form of footwear and stumbled over here.

Sorry - I have so many things I want to blog about but life happens!  I have a bunch of photos to show off too, but it seems to take a lot of energy (read:time!) to put them together right now.  It's summer break, and despite the weather not acting appropriately, we are still doing the usual break stuff.  Vacationing/camping, boating, swimming, T-balling, attending to all those details/projects we've been putting off during the school year...for instance, Dave hadn't mowed the back 40 in at least a month!  The grass back there was at least knee high!  The one benefit to that is that the neighbor's daisies had seeded themselves all over behind the garage and I got the sheer pleasure of wading in a field of one of my favorite flowers!!  Since he finally mowed yesterday, I was out there rapidly grabbing fistfuls to put in vases all over the house.  Such happy flowers!  They have sunny centers and since we haven't seen the sun in a REALLY long time, so we need them in the house to remind us of what we are missing!
Ok, since I seem to have at least 10 minutes right now I will keep typing...the chickens are outside in their new coop.  We don't plan on leaving them out there to long yet, but they are getting too big for the box!  It's still not really warm enough but they seemed to be okay for a few hours.  What else is new?  We had a really fun family vacation in my hometown last week.  The kids got to see Grandma and Grandpa a lot and we visited so many parks and things I had been to when I was young.  We got to go out in the boat and participated in a video for the park and rec department -  we are famous, and may be even more so if they win the contest!  They are trying to win an award...I'll keep you posted!

Well, 'class' is almost over so I am going to mosey on back to my dorm room...I may or may not be going back to bed...come find me for dinner...

(Please note that any resemblance to real college/dorm/class life is purely an accident.  I have never stumbled to an 8am class.  I just never went!  Or I was really smart and never signed up for them!  Ok, just kidding.  The classes that I had the most trouble attending were the evening ones.  Well, ok, the after lunch ones were difficult too....I always fell asleep!!  Whatever.  I still graduated and did just fine =)!)

Friday, June 10, 2011

The ultimate sweater.

Today is the last day of school.  The weather is still stuck on spring, 50* and gray.  The kids are wearing sweaters and sweatshirts, long pants and warm socks!  We just shake our heads...the variety is nice, but at times we wish things would line up a little better!
I have wanted to write a lot of things for a long time, but for 3 weeks now I have been kind of off kilter.  I keep mumbling about being busy, which I sort of am, but not really.  We haven't had any foster kids, haven't gone on any major trips, haven't dealt w/any 'crisis' type of situations.  What has been going on?  Not much really report-worthy!  But a few things here and there...so if you want to read another rambling list of moderately interesting happenings...follow me!  (And w/such a stellar set-up as that, how can you resist, right?  ;)!  Here goes...)
- The chicks are now 3 weeks old.  They have developed a mix of fluff and feathers!  They stand quite tall and are able to fly/jump/throw themselves into the air quite well.  They like shiny things and until we put a feeding container in there, they would make all this noise until I fed them every morning.  Soon (I think) we will be able to put them outside for a bit each day.  I will be asking my niece (our chicken expert - she has MANY chickens!!) about this soon.  In a week or so, Dave will be working on some sort of tractor/coop type structure...still researching that one...
- Colleen can almost say the letter S!!  She has made so much progress!!  She can identify the letters in her name, the letter M, and a few others.  She knows her colors (mostly), some shapes and a bunch of fun songs.  She recently had a doctors' appointment at Children's about her hips/knees/legs/ankles/feet to see if she needed to start wearing braces again (or bracelets, which is what she calls them), but they said no.  They recommended high top shoes, however, but despite Dave's pleading, they will not be Air Jordans!  Goofball.  Colleen recently got her hair cut to about chin length, making her look quite a bit older.  There may be a picture post on that coming soon...In general, we have loved listening to this girl sing!  It seems to be a new thing that she wants to do all the time now =)
- Moses reads.  Not just tries to, he reads!  If I'm busy doing something, he'll pick up a book and quietly whisper-read most of a book to himself!  I said it before, I know, but it's a pretty amazing thing to watch/hear.  Now he also writes to us a lot - "I love the ranaan suott you hav.  Lov, Moses"  (I love the running suit you have.  Love, Moses)  I'm constantly finding adorable notes like this in his backpack, on the floor of his room, on my pillow, etc...He loves to send mail in hopes he will get some!  We are slowly working our way through the family and friends - when he is in the mood, we make pictures and notes to send to someone new.  If you haven't gotten one, summer is coming and we'll soon have more time to write!  Mo has been enjoying piano and swimming lessons and soon will start T-ball.  I will say this though - I have been pitching to him in the yard and when my pitches are decent enough, he can hit it and I nearly pass out from heart failure trying to get out of the way of the ball!  I got hit w/one once and I'm not sure which is worse - getting beaned or dropping to the ground to avoid getting beaned!  I'm too old for this!!  He laughs so hard and I get up off the ground, brushing dandelion fuzz off my clothes, marveling at how far the ball went...his hand-eye coordination is MUCH improved from last year!!  My pitching is not, so really out of 50 pitches, I only need to worry about 5 of them going anywhere near the bat.  But it is a ton of fun and if I had as much energy as he does, we'd do that every afternoon.  Sometimes I feel like I am failing him by not spending more time teaching him to ride a bike, but then I remember my own experiences learning that.  It took me forever!  And then my brother just watched me, hopped on a bike and did it w/o barely any teaching at all.  Maybe he'll be a late learner in that.  Until then, we are having fun w/the plastic bat and whiffle ball!
- This is the part where I update you on me.  But I feel weird talking about me!  I will say this - I've been slacking a little in the running department.  Only running about 2-3 times/week, but wishing it were more.  I got water baptized this past Sunday!  That was pretty awesome!  I'm so grateful I could celebrate w/my family, friends and church family and friends!  I am sort of twisted up about summer vacation.  On one hand, the kids bicker and drive me nuts at times, but on the other hand I am hoping we can do some fun activities together.  I always wish for a routine - maybe do activities from a different subject each day...Monday - math, Tuesday - art, Wednesday - science, Thursday - history/govt, Friday - Spanish.  But I know me - I know that won't happen!  So maybe we'll just work whatever into each day.  I like having things that keep them from being bored, just little things that keep them learning.  I know Dave will be taking us to the beach and the lakes in the afternoons - no complaints here!  We will also be doing some camping too, of course!  I think the biggest thing that I am looking forward to this summer is my regular date nights w/Dave.  We have been going out each week and it's a good break for me.  Now that summer is here, we hope to go play mini-golf, walk on the beach, ride bikes, etc...That stuff is fun to do w/the kids, but it's also nice to remember how things were before kids, before marriage, when we did all that kind of stuff on dates!
- Dave is currently packing up school stuff to move into a new room next year.  Actually, he will be in a new room at both schools!  That's a little bit stressful right now, but thankfully it seems we will be done right on time.  He got the boat ready for the season and the few nice days we had tempted him to skip out on the packing and hit the open water!  But he has been very responsible which means there will be more time for boating later.  He has been teaching piano a bunch, going to men's prayer breakfast and men's group, playing a little softball and church music...I know that he is looking forward to summer break more than any of the rest of us!!
- The high school friends who were matched to adopt an infant got to bring their baby home the other day!  She (the baby) was born a little early but w/no complications!  Such sweet pics...other friends from church are going to be adopting their grandbaby and maybe his brother.  Keep them in prayer - it's an exciting time but also a transition for them.  Also heard word that other acquaintances are looking into adoption and other friends are serious about foster care.  It's such a blessing to see and hear about God raising up families, regardless of whether or not they are related.  When I feel frustrated that we don't have more kids in our house, I remember all the others that have such great news and I pray that the lack of need for us as a foster home means that things are going well for kids in our area.  I am constantly in awe of the adoption news I hear and I am so proud and inspired by the people around us!