Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Today

Some things I want to remember:

  • Doing the first 'homework' w/my kindergartener, Colleen.  She still switches hands when writing, which is probably common for a kid like her.  I stole an idea from the therapist or teachers, or maybe both.  I used highlighter to write the words and she traced over them.  It was interesting for me to see when/why she switches hands!  Her name is like a mirror image of itself!  I wonder if that is a sign of something...no I'm not worried, I just wonder....I do not wonder about her teachers, therapists and anyone that works w/her at school!  They must be very patient, compassionate and patient.  Yes, I said patient twice.  I am grateful for them all!  
  • We made energy bites.  It was fun to watch Moses fill and dump measuring cups of ingredients.  PB was kind of tricky, so we discussed what to do when you don't know what to do!  =)  He was given a leadership role today and needed to apologize to his sisters for leading them down a path of poor choices.  It was nothing serious, but he thrives on leading them and lately we've been giving him more responsibility.  What is that quote?  With great power comes great responsibility?  According to wikipedia, most people think that it's from a Spiderman comic.  But apparently, Voltaire said something similar first, only in French.  (I like learning stuff, even if it may not be true!)  The wikipedia entry also references the Bible - The sentiment is also found in Luke 12:48: "from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (NIV).  I think I like that better anyway...
  • I washed the stove.  The hot water felt good, but I kept thinking about my crazy dry hands!  
  • I am resisting the urge to run out and buy all sorts of discounted/clearanced stuff - obviously most of it would be Christmas stuff....a few years ago I would have scrambled!!  I have slowly been trying to break my (self-diagnosed) addiction to shopping of any kind, but mostly the discounted-junk-I-don't-even-need kind.  Since we have 4 kids in the house, I allow myself to be slightly addicted to the food-on-sale kind of shopping addiction - it's getting harder since I have been working on eliminating junk-that's-not-good-for-our-bodies/you-can't-even-call-it-food!  Not too many sales or clearances there, but we've been realizing that good real food tastes so much better.
  • I am thinking about a goals update and a lessons learned in 2012 post.  I want to write more but housework is not getting done!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012


(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...)


Definition of ABIDE
transitive verb
1: to wait for : await
2a : to endure without yielding : withstand
b : to bear patiently : tolerate abide
such hatred
3: to accept without objection abide
your decision
intransitive verb
1: to remain stable or fixed in a state
2: to continue in a place : sojourn
— abid·er noun
— abide by
1: to conform to, abide by the rules
2: to acquiesce in abide by
your decision

Examples of ABIDE
abide in the house of the Lord
a love that abided till the end of their lives

Synonyms: stay, dwell, hang around, remain, stick around, tarry

 ****(I promise, this is our Christmas letter for 2012, 
not just a vocab lesson!  Keep reading…)****


       As I read through the letters of Christmas past (you can find the last 4 years on the blog – 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011), I was struck by the fullness of each year.  Like I always do, I scrolled through the photos from this past year to help compile a list of all that we have done.  To my surprise, the list was pretty short in comparison to years past!  I looked over our calendar, tried to think of any major life changing events that I might not have photographed, re-read past Christmas letters…but in the end I was a little sad to realize not much has happened in 2012.  Then I remembered that in some cases, that was a good thing!  No major heartbreaks, no major losses, no health issues…praise God!  As you may know, I enjoy writing special creative Christmas letters and at that point I realized I had little inspiration as to how or what to write!  No news is good news, but apparently not if you pride yourself on your mad Christmas letter writing skills.  I scoured pinterest, googled stuff and kept Dave awake with my questions, self-doubt and tossing and turning.  (Well, not really, that man can insert appropriate-enough responses into my monologues so well that I believe he’s listening!  How one can snore for 2 minutes, answer me in 30 seconds and go right back to snoring, I will never know…!)  Finally, I decided to chuck all of the amateur looking infographics and cheesy photo collages and just pray about the whole thing.  (Seriously, why didn’t I just do that in the first place?!)  Over the next few days I began to realize that this past year we have been holding steady in a lot of ways.  Have you heard the saying, “Keep on, keepin' on?”  Well that’s us.  As always, I wanted a better word to describe that state we’ve been in and I went to my thesaurus.  (The online one – I do still have and use the ‘real’ one but when there is a baby running around it’s easier to use the laptop than holing up in a stack of books.)  The word ABIDE jumped off the screen and I didn’t need to look any further.  We’ve been abiding…each month of the past year has found us enjoying the little things in our daily lives…

January – We celebrated the 1 year anniversary of Colleen’s adoption and her dedication to the Lord on the same day.  Later in the month, Dave and I completed a massive 2000 piece puzzle! 
February – We introduced 3 new chicks to Pippa and Lois and finally got some snow for sledding!  Two of my cousins were so kind to come and make cut out cookies with the kids – they loved making different colored frosting and of course, eating them =)
March – I was in a church drama, the chicks grew into pullets and I got a little better at doing Curly Sue’s (and consequently Colleen’s) hair.  I played Tamar in the drama and was able say I achieved one of my goals for the year!  I also started kicking my butt in gear and going running, which means I can check off another one of my goals.
After a big storm, on the Gulf of Mexico in TX
Spring Break – We were in Texas again, for the second year in a row!  This time we checked out the beach in Galveston and visited the Space Center in Houston.  It’s looking like prices are really cheap again this year, but we might change it up and go somewhere else, assuming we can find decent prices. 
April – Moses began to ride a 2 wheeler (he flies now!), the tree fort was completed and the garden boxes were set up in the front yard.  (Grow food, not lawns!)  During the spring months I took entirely too many photos of everything budding and blooming, but what can I say?  When we moved into this house and the years following that, I planted so many of my favorite things!!  Sadly, though, I think I need to replant some tulips.  The 80 or so bulbs I started with have slowly been disappearing to the squirrels, yard improvement projects and probably just age.   Who wants to come help me plant this spring?
May – We were enjoying the spring sun and the end of the school year programs.  We attended our county’s celebration of foster families, put in some new windows, went for hikes and stopped at a covered bridge to take some silly photos!
Moses with the Lakeland College head football coach
June – We celebrated the first of 4 summer birthdays and traveled locally.  One of the bittersweet times we had this month was when my uncle passed away. These are the moments we feel sad, but blessed to be able to celebrate a life lived well with the rest of the family.  We delivered some roosters to a friend (yeah...maybe we should get sexed chicks next time!), hit a bunch of semi-local parks (including Bay Beach!), and Mo went to Lakeland College’s football camp.  It was both fun and nerve-wracking for this momma to see her sweet boy out there running drills and using his brain to outsmart some tackles.  He loved it and since it was one of the hottest weeks of the year, he also loved the free popsicles too!  Dave and I also celebrated our anniversary by staying in a B&B - special thanks to his Mom for babysitting!  
Me + You = 4EVER
July – There was an awesome triple birthday party (Curly Sue, Colleen and Dewey) and more local travel.  It was a another hot day for the birthday party so I was able to try out something I saw on pinterest.  Dave helped me freeze ‘treasures’ in blocks of ice and the kids worked on chipping them out!  It kept them busy and cooled them off =)  It was also a hoot seeing them strategize how to get the dollar store toys out…We continued to watch the garden grow and hang out in nature – up north, in Madison and Milwaukee.
August – This month contained quite possibly the biggest events of the year – Colleen was a patient at Children’s Hospital for 2 weeks.  I stayed with her while she was undergoing intense feeding therapy.  (There’s a few blog posts on that…)  We got a pass to get out of the hospital for the State Fair and to go to the zoo as a family.  We also had a backyard bash for Moses’ birthday – Army style!   We painted our faces, did a little boot camp workout, an obstacle course, tossed balloon grenades from the fort and of course deconstructed a cake with Army tanks and men on it. Our church celebrated local heroes/civil servants by hosting them, all their vehicles, and equipment.  Flight for Life even came! 
Goodbye kindergarten - movin' on to 1st grade!
September – This Momma saw one sweet boy off to his first day of 1st grade, as well as 2 pretty little ladies off to their first day of kindergarten!  It was such a blessing that Grandma could come and hang out with Dewey while I took photos at school.  Not only that, but Daddy even got to join us.  It was a pretty special morning…
1st day of kindergarten!!
October – We went to a pumpkin farm and watched the lake as the effects of the storm Sandy could be seen even here in WI.  The weather was still nice so we got out into the boat a few times.  We also went to Denver for Fall Break.  We enjoyed God’s creation at Garden of the Gods, a random park when it started snowing, Pikes’ Peak, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, and from the outdoor hot tub!
Pikes Peak, CO after the cog railway train ride to the top
November – We voted and boated!! In fact, Thanksgiving day was a beautiful 60* day – I hung wash, let the chickens out, saw a bald eagle and Dave went boating for his birthday!  The Sunday after Thanksgiving found us hiking by the lake.  It was a brisk, foggy day but we enjoyed moving around and seeing God's creation without her usual covering of snow this late in the year!
December – The kids’ school hosted a family dance party - it was so much fun!!  We also enjoyed school and church Christmas programs.   We fed the chickens some leftover pumpkins and ate kale out of the garden.  See, even the weather has been pretty much staying the same this year!
On the cordwalk at Kohler Andrae State Park
       Family, friends and random strangers reading – make no mistake.  The absence of big exciting events in our year doesn’t mean it was a bad one.  As you can tell – I started this post by saying not much happened and then I still wrote about a lot of good stuff!  I think one of the reasons I liked the word abide for our year was because it reminds me of a Bible verse…
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  
John 15:5  (KJV)
(Yes, I used the King James Version – don’t fret, it won’t hurt you.  Besides, you can feel free to pick up your own version of the Bible and read the same verse.  Better yet, I encourage you to read the whole chapter!  It’s that good!)  Apart from Our Heavenly Father, we can do nothing.  All glory, honor and thanksgiving goes to Him, for He sent a savior to walk on the Earth as one of us.  So whether we have a year jam-packed with action or a quiet one keepin’ on, we abide in Him and He in us. 
Merry Christmas and God bless you! 
Love from our family to yours!
Many thanks to my friend Hyori for taking our family pictures!
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...)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

DPP Day 16

This is one of the days of the year that I think my heart will burst with joy! Suit, Christmas tie, church, singing the songs we practiced a bunch - in Swahili!, seeing a crowd of those sweet faces looking for their families...after trying to process what happened in CT, I needed this. Merry Christmas - here's to celebrating the season, giving glory to God even in times of sorrow or pain. Nothing can take away the Gift of Jesus our Savior! Hallelujah!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

DPP Day 15

It doesn't have to be a rainy Saturday for him to enjoy his favorite activity...but it helps!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lucky you, lucky me!

Yes, I am posting again today...celebrating my kids who make me smile.
At dinner, we were talking about how kids grow so fast.  I specifically said that sometimes I look at Mo, turn away and when I glance back I feel like he grew noticeably in the seconds I wasn't looking. He replied, "Yeah, Mom, like with each passing moment..." and he lifted his hand higher and higher.  I gulped big and smiled.  "Yep.  With each passing moment..."  He's going to work for Hallmark at some point =)  I certainly could not have said it better myself.
Later Dave was asking if the kids knew who the Packers are going to play this weekend.  He was going to give them hints, but before he could, Colleen asked, "Germany?" and we all groaned and laughed.  As soon as that died down, she said, "I know!  The Packers are going to play BINGO!"  That was one of those moments where if I were to write the story out, like I am, I'd say I laughed like this - BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA puffing up my cheeks a little at the beginning!  That girl is so silly and smart!
Curly Sue was a cheerleader/Barbie for Halloween and still has the pompons in her room.  Frequently she will jump around making up cheers.  For the month of December, we asked the teachers to keep an eye out for any of the kids going out of their way to do acts of service.  Each time they are 'caught', we put a quarter in the 'shepherd's bag' w/their name on it.  At Christmas they get to combine their $ and pick a gift out from the World Vision catalog - you know, a goat for a family to sell milk and earn some income, some chickens to sell eggs or eat, mosquito nets, Bibles, clean water, etc...Well, Curly Sue's teacher told me that she wasn't sure if it would count, but she wanted to tell me what our girl was up to...apparently she was using her zip up sweatshirt outstretched like wings.  She was dancing around, telling kids she was an angel, Christmas was coming and that meant baby Jesus.  She was saying that they should celebrate and honor him and that they should have joy!  (Or something along those lines...I was trying to keep an eye on a few other kids at the time, but that's the gist of it...)  The teacher said she thought it should count - she was sharing the Good News!  That's awesome!
At some point, this little bundle of boy energy named Dewey is going to be gone from my house...but until then, I am loving hearing him learn how to talk.  Just the other day he walked in to the room and asked, "Whayoudooo-eeeen?"  He wakes up from his nap and immediately asks for the others - "Mo?  Eeeen?  Lee Ooh?"  When no one answers, he woot-woots (our families way of finding each other in a crowd) and when they don't answer again, he tells me, "Le's go.  Ride.  Butts.  (bus)  Ool."  If I don't get the message, he tells me what we need to get and pass on the way.  Jacket, shoes, boat, train...ool.  I think my favorite though has got to be anytime we go to a store that has a huge aisle of decorated Christmas trees, or down a road w/lots of decorated houses.  "OOOOK!  Mom, Momma, MommEEEE!  OOOOHHH!!  IGHTS!!!  IGHTS!!!  OOOOK!!"  His whole body wiggles and feet stomp and head waggles and he just keeps going until he is satisfied that everyone in a large radius pays attention to the eye candy that is around us!  It's a lot of fun...

I am one blessed mom.

DPP Day 14

When I don't know what else to do, I pray and read...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

DPP Day 13

Sunshine
+ A stiff breeze
+ Temps above 40*
___________________

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

DPP Day 12

Please ignore the messy kitchen! It is so very rare I do anything cooking like this....but YAY for Aaron Rodgers Day! (Rockin' the T from my cousin!). And YAY for the hot pepper apron I picked out to motivate me to bake/cook probably 15 years ago! (Quite possibly the cleanest thing in the house...). My kids were CHEERING at the idea of homemade pizza! Can't wait to eat it together!

DPP Day 10 and 11

 
Yep - it's December and I still have kale!  I wonder if a hoop house would do anything for them at this point...still figuring out of I can buy some at a place nearby.  Lord knows I don't have time to make any!

Wearing a Christmas tie to school, just like Dad!  They make my heart melt =)  When I see this pic, I can't even believe he is that big, missing teeth and doing multiplication w/me.  But!  He is!  And I love it!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

DPP Day 9

Sunday, at 'the other church'...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

DPP Day 7

Two tired best friends who finally solidified their Christmas travel plans.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

DPP Day 6

Notice anything missing???? Times 2!!!! One fell out during the night and Daddy helped the other one a bit. :). What a sweet wake up call! Oh and my boys are so silly! I love them!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

DPP Day 5

Hoping someone likes the special gift we ordered!

Monday, December 3, 2012

DPP 2012

I have decided to participate in the December Photo Project (yes, I know it's already Dec 3!).  I know me and I know I will not post everyday, but I will try =)  Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 are all included in this post...

DAY 1
Music time!  As I type this, there are 5 instruments behind the couch I am sitting on.  Next to the couch is a crate full of kid instruments too.  It's rare that we bust out the 2 you see in this picture, but when we do....you can bet the neighborhood dogs are all ears!  Would it be weird if we gave an accordion/flute Christmas concert?  No, seriously...would it?


DAY 2

We went hiking!!  It was so good to be outside, even if it was foggy.  And you know it's not a day enjoying nature w/me if you don't find some FUNgus =)

We made our way to the beach to find some sun peeking through.


DAY 3
A very happy day, courtesy of Grandpa/my Dad.  The kids were so excited!  Dewey danced and kept squealing about 'freh fies'!  Maybe you won't believe me, but Colleen ate EVERY.SINGLE.BITE of her meal w/the exception of 2 apple slices!  I'd say it was a happy meal, indeed!







Sunday, December 2, 2012

I should have taken 2 plates.

I didn't finish the 30 days of thankfulness this year...I know.  I rarely finish things, much less finish them well!  I have a few half written attempts to catch up but I have decided to give myself permission to leave it the way it is.  There are too many other things to talk about.  Do you know how you go through the line at Thanksgiving, especially if you are planning to share some of your food w/the baby, and you find your plate rather full?  So you think you should have just gotten a second, separate plate?  And where are you going to put all the tasty desserts??  This time of year I think I do that w/life.  I just keep adding to the plate...but as I get older, I am more aware of this and I am trying to fix that.  I like to remind myself of my goals as a way to stay on track.  This is an informal goal update, for myself mostly.  I hope to write up a detailed one before the end of the year...
I was doing well getting to bed on time - not so much over the past month or so.  Need to get back to that.  I did really well on my Hello Mornings Challenge this time!!  Can't wait for the next one.  Exercising went well until it got cold.  I could have gone to the Y but didn't, although I just signed up for classes 3x a week starting in January.  Eliminating packaging?  Enh.  Dave said he's on board a lot more (we watched the movie Bag It) which should help for the future.  I am helping organize a women's ministry conference - so much fun!  Well, I should say that it is fun b/c I am enjoying watching it all come together and how God works through so many different people and uses their many talents.  Monday will be the first practice for a play I am going to be in!  One of the pastors at church starting talking about this community project earlier this year and I didn't think it would actually happen.  Not that I didn't believe him, mind you, but I thought all along that it sounded a little too good to be true.  I waited until the last minute to make a decision about being a part of it.  If I gave it too much thought, I would have talked myself out of it!!  What else?  Drinking water?  Yeah, I don't know if I ever get better at that...!  That's all I can think of right now.  Lately I have been working on our online Christmas card and getting outside to enjoy the mild weather.  I have been letting the chickens out a bunch and walking around w/them to see what plants think it's spring!  There's still kale and Brussels sprouts in the garden...I think it's only good for feeding to the chickens at this point though - we had a few hard frosts and they look droopy.
Well, we are about to go for a walk by the lake today!  I was hoping to write more but it will have to wait =)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Blah....

DAY 17
(Sitting on the couch, watching the Packers...I'm sick!  And so are some of the kids!  I really don't feel very thankful...but I don't want to slack...so...here goes...)

I am thankful for the Hello Mornings Challenge and the ladies with whom I have shared different seasons of the challenge.  I think I have mentioned it here before, but if you haven't checked it out already, you really should.  I know not everyone can get up early, but you could do it at any time of the day, really...this past season was the first time I participated in the Bible study they offered.  I am really glad I did!  I got so much more out of it and I think I will do that every time from now on.  It helped me stay disciplined too.  I was chicken  - thought I couldn't keep up before so I always read whatever was on my mind.  For years I have wanted to be a part of a women's Bible study but I just couldn't seem to fit it into my schedule.  I have only met one of the ladies in my group since we do things online and they are from all over, but I am so grateful I can participate in my jammies and not have to leave the house that early in the morning!  

DAY 18
(This cursor has been flashing at me for a while...)

I am thankful for my cousins.  I am fairly close w/some of my cousins and it always seems weird to me when people my age say they don't even know who their cousins are!  I have been so blessed to see my cousins a lot growing up.  I suppose this post should extend to my aunts and uncles too, b/c they helped make it possible for all of us cousins to see each other often.  It is truly a beautiful thing when a family like mine has invested the time and energy to build and maintain relationships between the different branches and generations of the family.  Now that we're older and a little bit more spread out, I enjoy calling, skyping and yes even facebooking my cousins!  I love you cousins!  Here's to many more years of sharing our lives w/each other in healthy relationships!

Friday, November 16, 2012

A house full of Georges!

DAY 15
(Once again doubling, up on posts...)
Today I am thankful for the curious minds of my children!  Just a smattering of the topics we have discussed today: how and where to start when gutting a deer, the current map of Israel and why it doesn't have clear borders, what type of people the banks are willing to give loans to and why, pineapples and how some were designed to open at night so bats can pollinate them, how the word Palestine comes from the Hebrew for Philistia, how a combination lock works (still investigating that one), where does the water go when you hang laundry outside, the average weight of a wild turkey (one sat on an electrical line and today an entire small local town and large plastics plant were w/o power!!), why germs are called bugs, etc...They also wonder things like what would happen if they put the mesh hamper on their heads, how can they use couch pillows to build a castle, and what kinds of cool things can you do when you string a strong rope between your awesome fort and a nearby tree branch?  The answer to the last one, if your mom sees you anyway!, is NOTHING!  But it's still neat that you were curious =)

DAY 16

Today I am thankful for the orchard nearby.  I stocked up on apples, blueberries and apple cider donuts!  The kids love dried apple chips and I make a lot to throw into oatmeal too.  I'd be willing to bet about 4 apples a day are eaten in this house!  I have made applesauce a few times.  One thing Dave's brother taught us was to eat apples w/peanut butter as dipping sauce.  MMMMmmmmm good!  If I'm feeling permissive, I pour out a few chocolate chips too =)  I keep meaning to bake w/the apples but everyone eats them so fast!!  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Once upon a time...

    I met this girl the summer after 8th grade.  (Side note:  I went to a private school.  I didn't have a lot of friends, thanks to cliques and me being a wallflower.  Going into a public HS was kind of a big deal.  I wasn't really sure I would make many friends but c'mon, there had to be someone like me!  Going from a class of barely 30 to a class of almost 600?  Odds were that I would find a friend.  Or two.)  My mom worked in a hospital and they were having like a health fair, so I was going along to get service hours or something.  My mom saw a group of girls in these pom pom/cheerleader uniforms, about my age, and just walked right up to them and asked them what grade they were high school.  (Another side note: as I've said before, my HS was really 2 on the same campus.  So it was common for people to ask which one you went to and then heckle you for being the from the other one.  It was obvious from the uniforms that these girls went to the other one.)  She proceeded to tell them I was going to be in the 9th grade at the other school, but maybe we could still talk to each other.  As it turned out, there was a girl named Dawn who was going into 9th grade too.  I was embarrassed, I'm sure of it, but what teenaged wallflower isn't?  I think we walked around a bit together or something, or maybe someone gave us a project to do together.  I don't remember!  But I do know that when I arrived at the first day of HS, I knew at least one other person who hadn't gone to my grade school.
    Dawn and I had band class together.  We were band geeks.  I don't think we had any other class together, ever!  As most high schoolers do, we found ourselves spending free time w/other band/choir type people.  We had the same lunch hour and saw each other every day as a bunch of shared a table.  (Side note:  despite being a band geek, Dawn was also in the popular crowd, due to being on the pom squad.  But she ate lunch w/us.  No idea why.)  I have to admit, I didn't really talk much to Dawn and honestly?  We laugh today about how annoyed I always seemed to be at her.  She coughed a lot and I always glared and covered my drink!  At one point Dawn was dating my friend Kevin - who made fun of the way I ate.  At any rate, b/c we traveled in the same circle, Dawn and I were frequently hanging out w/each other and all of our other friends.  I don't remember when, but we got a little closer through band and sometimes even rode the bus to functions together.  Did we room together when we went to FL?  I think so...but we hung out a lot then.  Dawn and my boyfriend got along, too, so that was nice.  So the 4 years of HS rolled by and we were in each other's lives a bunch, but I wouldn't say we were best friends or anything.  Graduation came (side note: graduation ceremonies for the 2 different high schools were separate.) and I played in the band for hers and I'm pretty sure she played in the band for mine.  I went off to college and I was rooming w/my best friend (not Dawn).
    So...move in day.  I made up my mind not to be a wallflower.  I talked to people, made an M over my head so they would remember me and probably embarrassed my best friend.  (Side note:  after about 2 weeks on campus, meeting people and going to class, I'd be walking down the main mall and people would go, "HEY I KNOW YOU!!" and make the M over their heads.  Not surprisingly, I had no idea who most of them were.  See people, this is why you do silly things - so people remember your name when they meet you!)  Dawn and my boyfriend were both back at home and apparently they were keeping in touch.  They came to visit me a few times and when I broke things off w/him, I'm guessing Dawn was getting a clue about the bad decisions I was making in my life.  (Long story, I'd be happy to share it some time, but I was valuing the wrong things.  That pretty much sums it up.  Feel free to ask if you want to know more.)  At the same time, Dawn had met a guy and was interested in him.  He was a Christian.  She told me about him and I told her about the Christian girl who lived across the hall from me.  Tracy had invited me to some stuff...but I hadn't gone.  Dawn was talking about how this guy was teaching her some things and causing her to really think about her life.  She 'got saved' one night and I think I snorted when she told me that.  Saved from what?  Godzilla?  Being swept away at sea?  I had no clue.  Things w/my roommate were going south (due to my stupid choices), I got wrapped up in some other dumb stuff, it was hard being that girl who put the M over her head, yadda yadda yadda...I felt like a double agent.  Go home and be me.  Go back to school and be the other me.  I was getting exhausted!  School was easy so tons of other stuff easily distracted me.  Dawn kept calling, telling me about the Bible and asking why I wanted to do the stuff I was doing.  She came up once and while we were sitting around I remember thinking that she was my only HS friend left.  It was a pretty big deal so I told her a bunch of stuff you would tell a best friend.  She spoke to me pretty harshly (so I thought) about my choices.  When she was gone I told myself she was a hypocrite.  It was like we switched personalities a little bit!
  I was stressing out about everything but felt like I had a handle on it.  Dawn kept calling.  I felt like the world was spinning too fast and why did she want to hang out w/me if I made such bad decisions?  She encouraged me to go talk to Tracy and her boyfriend had some classes at UWO....I met him and he gave me some rides home on weekends.  Over time, I realized I couldn't keep going at the pace I had set for myself.  I cried out to God and wanted what Dawn had.  I started attending Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship w/Tracy and some friends and it wasn't long before things got better.  I realized that Dawn was a better friend than any I had ever had and I didn't want to lose her the way I had lost others.  Don't misunderstand me, I didn't go from one extreme to the next and I certainly didn't immediately snap right out of my bad decision making streak.  It took time...I learned...I listened...but I did stop being the girl who had to work at being someone.  I wanted to be the person God intended me to be.  It took a while to figure that out, and of course I didn't really trust Him yet.   At Christmas, Dawn and Tom gave me my own Bible.  That thing went a lot of places w/me...it fell apart.  I still have it all rubber banded together!
    Dawn and her boyfriend got engaged and my for 3rd year of college, Dawn and I moved in together off campus.  Those were the days!  So many funny stories!  We had a blast.  In the beginning we had no TV.  We moved in during the summer and spent a bunch of time being lazy and not getting up until noon.  Dawn would listen to VCY on the radio.  At first all the Bible talk and hymns annoyed me but I gave up and came to enjoy it =)  If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have heard my now favorite hymn.  I cried when I heard it for the first time!  I don't think Dawn even knows that.  "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow..."  The whole 'facing tomorrow' was a big deal to me.  For a while, I hadn't wanted to face tomorrow and at that point, living w/Dawn, I was the happiest I had been in a long time!  Even if we had no TV!!  At the end of the summer, I was re-introduced to a tall skinny guy w/big curly hair that also went to IVCF.  He laughed so loud and I secretly had a crush on him.  I told Dawn I was 'over' boys and was just going into the semester 'solo'.  Turns out the loud laugher and I had at least one class together that semester, in which he would bring the newspaper opened to the cross word puzzle.  I would sneak it off his desk before he got a chance to sit down.  He offered to give me a ride home after a few classes and said it was on his way home.  "Well, if you're already going that way...."  (Side note: it wasn't really on his way.  Not that it was far off his path, but...not on the way.)  Eventually we would sit and talk in the car outside my apartment.  That always ended by our stomachs grumbling for dinner and he said he would have to go.  I started inviting him to stay.  He'd come in and us 3 would eat.  We found out quickly that we were all comfortable enough to burp and fart in front of each other!  (Don't be embarrassed, Mom, it was funny!)   =)  I remember later in the year the skinny guy told me that Dawn had asked him what his intentions were w/me.  That's a true friend!  After 4 months or so, that guy proposed to me and 6 months later, both of my best friends stood right next to me at my wedding.
  Obviously I have left out so many things to make this long story shorter...but it was Dawn's birthday and I really wanted to write about her.  I am so thankful for her!!!  God used her in my life and I know it would not have turned out the same if she hadn't been willing to remain my friend.  There really aren't any words I can use to describe how I feel about that...but 'joy' comes close =)  Happy Birthday friend!

Location, location, location

DAY 12
(I'm falling behind - in order to catch up, I'll include 2 here!)
I am thankful for our pediatrician!  I remember when Moses and I were in the hospital and we saw a fair # of them.  It wasn't that I didn't like the others (there was a really neat guy w/a thick German accent, that would have been cool), I just feel like she is someone I would be friends w/anyway, so seeing her and talking to her about my kids feels natural.  I am grateful to her for helping us so many many times when Colleen first came to us - there were so many medical things we needed to figure out!  The first doctor we picked moved away before Moses was a year old, I think...she was awesome too and we were sad to see her go.  But I am thankful to feel just as comfortable w/this doctor!

DAY 13
I am thankful for books.  Have I said that one already?  I haven't been able to read as much for entertainment lately...but I noticed there is a new Charles Martin book out.  I'll need to restock the tissue supply before I pick it up, but hopefully soon!  Some other books that I am thankful for would be When Love is Not Enough, The Connected Child, and pretty much every book I read about pregnancy and basic baby care.  That stuff can be scary and if you're like me, you need to read about it in a book to feel really ready!  We also have leaned on the Healthy Sleep Habits book too.  In this house, the Bible and various Bible story books get read a lot too.  Over the past year, some books that really impacted me were Kisses From Katie, The Mission of Motherhood and 7.  Some books I would like to get my hands on would be Get Wisdom, Long Story Short, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, Learn Your Letters - Learn to Serve.  If you want to know more about any of the books I talk about here, just ask!  Or I suppose you could look them up on your own...=)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sticks and stones

DAY 11
Today I am thankful for this house!  There are so many times I wish for a mud room, more space, a second bathroom...etc...and I see a house in an area I like...etc...but seriously?  We've been here 10+ years and it is home.  I remember pulling up wet soggy carpeting, scraping mold from between what is now gorgeous hard wood floor boards, painting, and figuring out where stuff went.  I remember laying on the floor upstairs when I was pregnant.  I remember falling asleep in the green room (that my girlfriends painted to be a nursery for us!), a sleepy infant in my arms.  I remember demo-ing the kitchen/LR wall and watching our new kitchen being installed.  I remember watching my family and friends help to fix up our garage.  We have been so blessed to share family meals here and host friend gatherings!  I think the thing that I love the best is that every kid who has lived in this house has their height measured on the nursery door frame.  I think part of that might need to be pried off when we move!  

A feast for a giant!

DAY 5
Today Colleen ate 2oz of yogurt in a tube, a 1 oz bag of cheesy puffs (Pirate Booty!), 3 Fig Newmans, a mini bagel w/lots of cream cheese and she drank 8oz of whole milk w/chocolate 'breakfast powder' in it!  I am thankful for that - and the fact that she also drank 4oz at breakfast and ate a cup of cereal for breakfast!  There have been some 'off' days since we were on vacation and she wasn't feeling well, but today?  Today was a good day of eating and drinking =)  I am also thankful for Andre the Giant.  I know, weird, but if it wasn't for me googling him this morning (I wanted to know why/how he died), I wouldn't have remembered how my family used to watch wrestling (the soap opera kind!) and then tease each other...I am pretty sure it was just mostly my brother who watched wrestling, but somehow we all knew enough of the characters.  I remember being in FL one time, on a family vacation, and being silly and laughing about wrestling each other.  I often wonder if my kids will remember things like that!  It probably won't be wrestling though...!!  The other thing I am so thankful for is a son who loves music and frequently makes up silly songs (a la Veggie Tales) on the piano.  "There was a man, named Chulupagus, oh yes...he liked the Indianapolis Colts...and I can tell you, he was a hundred feet tall...do you know how much he weighed?  Well, a hundred pounds...was just his ears!"
(published late...so it may appear out of order...)

The sounds of the season

DAY 10
I am grateful for cough drops.  And honey.  I am not grateful for the lack of sleep caused by the sound of others coughing!  I am grateful to be able to play nurse, though.  Hopefully, later I will be able to say that I am grateful for a nap...

Friday, November 9, 2012

I'm not going to waffle anymore.

DAY 9
(Hang on...I ramble a little, but I think you'll get the point...)

Today I am thankful for my infertility.  

(Go ahead.  I'll let you re-read that in case you think you misunderstood me.)

I guess I should clarify that, yes, we do have one child who was born to us naturally, so I agree that it is not a complete infertility.  But before he was born, we did lots of tests and all that and we know of at least one reason why it is not easy for us to have more children naturally.  If you don't already know the story, you're just going to have to believe me that we are certain that the arrival of our son Moses is a miracle performed by God...I am thankful for Moses, in so many many ways!  

Over the years I have gone through many emotions about my infertility.  Confusion, anger, guilt, talking about it, not talking about it, being okay w/it (fake), ignoring it (impossible) and letting it defeat and define me.  I'm done w/all that.  

I have been going through an intensive study of 1 Peter.  I have been doing my best to get up early earlier every day so I could pray and read my Bible.  This is the 3 or 4th time I have attempted this challenge and so far it has been the most successful.  Have you read this book of the Bible?  There's lots of good stuff in there!  So far I have found many verses that have spoken to me, but here's some that really keep rambling in my head.   (I've highlighted some words...I think you'll see why.)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Verses 6 and 7.

You know, I am not a patient person.  I may be reading this all wrong here, but I am pretty sure I just read that there is something big and really special waiting for me.  Whatever is going on down here, heaven holds something really special for me.  I can choose to walk away from God, be impatient and angry, wallow in my infertility-ness or I can choose to rejoice, praise, give glory, etc...I can be faithful, just as He is.

So I'm done.  No more pretending to be okay w/this.  No more acting like it's not an issue.  It is!  And it's more than okay.  B/c I know my God has the best thing in store for me, and even if I suffer grief for a while, I'm going to thank Him.

Thank you, Father!

Thank you for drawing me near to you, Lord!  Thank you for all those nights my husband and I just held each other.  Thank you for the miracle that is our son!  Thank you for the people we have met through the foster care classes.  Thank you for the children who have touched our lives, even if for a short time.  Thank you for our sweet adopted daughter!  Thank you for the adoption and foster care contacts we have made, both near and far.  Thank you for opening our eyes and giving us a chance to serve.  Thank you for my infertility.

(ps - please do not misunderstand me in thinking that I do not want to get pregnant.  If God delivers such a gift again, I will receive it w/great joy and dancing =)  Also, please do not think I have given up hope on that, but understand that I am thankful for where I am/we are on this journey.  It's been a long road.  Also please don't think that I'm upset at my pregnant friends or those that are adopting - I love you ladies (and your families)!  I am truly excited for you even though it may be hard for me to rejoice w/you sometimes.  And like always, if any of you want to talk about this, you know I could talk a blue streak about infertility, foster care, adoption and all that...I'm willing to share or listen.  Thanks for reading my words.)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A purposeful web

DAY 8
Today I am thankful for the connections we have made in our community.  Thanks to the recommendation of a friend's dad, we have a mechanic we trust and appreciate.  Just today he put a new fuse in our brake lights for free!  I am thankful for the former student who does my hair and took our family pictures.  I am so blessed knowing we have friends who are police officers and fire fighters - they've answered lots of our questions about the community and other issues we need info on.  We've been maintaining relationships w/people in other local businesses and fields that have proved useful.  A high school classmate who lives in town did some masonry work on our house and we would recommend him to anyone!  We've had carpenter friends do work on this house, we've had friends give recommendations for other needs and we've certainly enjoyed and learned a lot from the company of other teacher friends.  

Just push on

DAY 7
(This is a day late....)  Yesterday I was thankful for stuff that does the work for me.  The dishwasher, washer and computer were all humming!  We washed sheets and a load of dishes.  The computer allowed me to communicate w/people cheaper and more efficiently (in my opinion) than the phone.  I am also thankful for hair dryers, curling/straightening irons, lamps, the furnace, the toaster, microwave, stove/oven, fridge, freezer and even the TV.  There are lots of other things in this house that do not use electricity but still help me do the work and I am thankful for them as well.  There's the laundry lines in the basement, the drying racks, the can opener, the towels, stamps, the little people and my husband!  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The tiny farmer

DAY 6
Today I am thankful for my garden boxes on the front lawn.  It is Nov 6 - we have no snow (just a tiny dusting that melted quickly the other morning) and I don't think I'd call the ground fully frozen yet.  I have 2 garden boxes still open - one contains Red Russian kale and the other has curly kale and Brussels sprouts.  Almost every week I try to make spinach pie.  Since the kale is so prolific and I need to make 2 pies each time (I probably could make 3 and we'd still have no leftovers!), I have been adding kale.  I'd say that last time the pie was 60% kale and 40% spinach!  Again today I was out in the misty, gray, 40 degree weather cutting kale!  I am so thankful that I can do that.  What's for dinner?  Hmmm....look out the window...what looks good?  =)  I am also thankful today for my friend Tracy, who was the first one to introduce me to spinach pie.  Back then, I really didn't think a meal was a meal if it didn't have a hunk of meat in it somewhere!  Now, we easily eat 3-4 vegetarian meals a week and we are so much better for it.  But I think spinach pie is the most favorite for everyone in my family!  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Say Cheese!

DAY 4
So much to be thankful for today!  One year ago today, we accepted the current foster placement of 2 kids that are still in our house - Curly Sue and Dewey.  A month or so before that we had made plans w/one of Dave's co-workers.  She does all kinds of photography!  We were really excited to be getting a professional picture taken of our family...but then that weekend we got the kids and we went from one box of mac and cheese to two, a half-full van to an all-full van, one cart of WIC stuff to three, maybe one load of laundry a week to I-should-really-be-doing-three loads a week.  Needless to say, our family was happy but a little crazy that weekend!  So of course we canceled the photo shoot b/c how could we ask the co-worker to suddenly wrangle all of us in our new state of chaos?  I must tell you that I was pretty sad.  I know the costs of foster care (I don't mean financial) but I guess it had never crossed my mind that family pics would go by the wayside.  In the foster care circles we joke...You know you're a foster family if every year there are different kids in your family picture!  It's easy to laugh about it and we enjoy having them each year, but the fact that there was going to be no family photo was like getting hit w/the Grinch stick, you hear what I'm saying?  Anyway - (you're wondering where the thankful part comes in, right?  Hang in there...!) this past week, a former student of mine (the only person who is allowed to touch/cut/style my hair!) who also does photography sent me a message saying that she was doing a day of photo shoots on Saturday and would we like to come?  

*STOP RIGHT THERE*

Did you catch that?  Let me help you connect the dots a bit.  One year ago to the day, we took this foster placement and canceled a Saturday Nov. 4 family photo shoot.  Today, Nov. 4, TODAY!, we were able to get all sorts of family pictures taken!  God bless that girl, I don't think she even gets how huge this is!  God used her to bless us in a really big way...I personally think it is NO COINCIDENCE that this all went down one year TO THE EXACT DAY.

So I am so very filled w/thanks today!  Thankful for the bond Ms. Chang and I forged as a teacher and student.  I have no idea why, but from the day I met her, she was more like a friend than a student.  I mean, let's face it, I wasn't that much older than my high schoolers anyway.  But I watched that girl sing, dance, cheer, grow and mature, find her life-mate, cut my hair and just go through life.  She shared things w/me and I shared w/her.  Today I am thankful for her friendship and also thankful she is willing to serve my family in this way.  I am thankful for the timing.  I am thankful for these kids - all 4 of them - and their smiling faces!  I am thankful for my friend's fiancee, who is super supportive and involved.  He was so great w/the kids and he was right!  The squeaky bathtub duck is the best trick!  I am thankful I will have some no doubt gorgeous pictures of my family to hang on the wall, to share w/family and friends and also some pictures of the foster kids to share w/their birth family...I once heard the saying that doing something kind is like throwing a pebble in a pond.  The ripples that of happiness and further kindness spread out farther than we could imagine!  That's a perfect example for this situation...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Blood is thicker than...

DAY 3
Today I am thankful for family.  Family that comes together to celebrate and mourn, family that prays for each other across the miles, family that holds you when need it, family that counsels and guides you, family that babysits your kids, family that shaped you/me into who we are.  I don't know what I would do w/o being close to my family, both physically and spiritually.  Today we were able to go 'home' to be w/my mom's side of the family.  There was an auction of some of my uncle's possessions - he was a handy guy and he loved horses, which meant lots of big ticket items.  My family had never really experienced something like this before, although my uncle used to go to a lot of auctions!  I think it's safe to say he may have even purchased some of the tools and such at an auction!  It was an interesting sight...I think for me it was bittersweet, I won't even speak for my cousins.  My uncle is gone and soon, his stuff will be too.  That's happening a lot more as I get older...like sometimes I miss going to Grandpa's house, but other times I think, "Why go, if he isn't even there?"  And then I remember that all this is just stuff.  The best parts I want to remember are the relationship and the impact it had on me.  So yeah.  Today I am thankful for family.  =)  

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ch-ch-ch-changes

DAY 2
I am thankful for a God who watches out for 'my kids' when I can't.  I am thankful for people in my life who are supportive and understand me, 'the system' and the crazy way it works.  I am thankful for the chance to share a parking spot w/someone.  I am thankful for bananas that are brown, even more so b/c I am w/o one today!  A PB and apple sandwich is not quite the same...I am thankful for this house.  Sometimes I cannot believe that we have lived here so long and made these changes.  I am thankful for the show 'The Big Bang Theory' b/c Dave and I laugh so hard...I am also grateful it is in syndication b/c we are catching up on older episodes!  I am thankful for 2 very dependable babysitters so we can go out on date nights.  They are such good kids and no I will not tell you their names!  They're too busy babysitting for us!  =)  I am thankful for my phone, which keeps me from getting lost.  I am thankful for breaks and times of rest, especially since we know there will be many changes soon enough.  

This one goes out to Matt Nygaard...

...wherever he may be these days*.  Once, in some random class I had in West** w/Matt, he told me to spark up.  I'm guessing I was spacing out and tired, and I'm also guessing it was an after lunch class.  I have no idea why, but I laughed out loud at the expression, earning us a stern look from whatever teacher.  From that day on, the saying 'spark up' has been in my bank of sayings that I find funny and randomly use on others.  I'm pretty sure I called Matt 'Sparky' for a while after that...
If you are like me, you barely noticed that it's November.  Until, of course, everyone in your F.B. feed started posting 30 days of thankfulness statuses.  If you are like me and don't like feeling left out of something that you have done in the past, you'd want to join, but you would also know that you are not in the mood for that social site right now.  So you'd think of your long neglected blog...if you were like me...and you'd start your own 30 days of things you are thankful for over there!
TA-DA!  I am me, and that is just what I am doing =)
DAY 1
I am thankful I married a man who is willing to cook after a day at work!  I am thankful for painkillers that help take the edge off of sore muscles after foolishly thinking my puny arms could hold my hanging body weight.  I am thankful for a boy who loves to read, a girl who is learning to trust, a girl who is so smart and kind despite her circumstances, a boy who keeps learning new things and just wants your snuggles and tickles.  I am thankful for the YMCA and their programs, I am thankful for the bilingual school and the teachers, I am thankful for the other families and friends who walk this journey of life w/us!

*I could have swore I saw him at a mall near the children's hospital this past summer...but I was too chicken to go up to the guy.  What would I say to him anyway?  I wasn't/still am not that memorable of a person and I don't do awkward.
**My high school was 1 out of 2 in the nation that had both an East and a West (2 separate schools!) in the same building.  We had classes that were on either side, friends from on either side, we could eat lunch on either side, etc...but our sports were completely separate.  Yep...odd...but we were used to it!