Friday, December 13, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013


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



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

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

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

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


We hope you enjoyed this green version of our Christmas card! (If you still wish to receive a paper copy, leave a comment.) There are lots of reasons we decided to do things differently this year (again!)...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...)



Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's about time!

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

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


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

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

So that just happened...

We are in the process of transferring our foster care license from the county to the state.  It's a long story, but the short version is that for now we are only interested in growing our family through adoption.  It does not mean we are done fostering forever.  It does not mean that we think everyone should stop being foster parents or no one should consider doing it - it is a much needed and beautiful experience!  If you want to hear more (you know I'm always happy to talk foster care and adoption!), feel free to contact me (in person, email, comment, etc...)  Anyhoo - here we are.  Waiting.  =)  A necessary step in the process, I guess!
In other news - some friends just brought home their forever baby!!!  So amazingly excited for them - it's not my story to tell, but they have been through a lot of heartache and even in their joy, I'm sure they are still processing some grief.  It's a blessing that they are willing to share their journey w/us and everyone around them.  Please pray for them as they spend these first days together, allowing God to unite them in a way that DNA can't!  Thank you!
We've been hearing good news for others who have been granted TPR and are headed for adoption, families who are building relationships w/their foster placements and friends who are soon to deliver babies of their own!!  Very exciting =)  I am so thankful I can share in other's joy at a time when I am trying hard not to focus on the boring part of waiting!  This time serves a purpose though, I know that...getting a lot done around the house!  Well, not right now, per se, but....you know what I mean...
To all my friends in foster care - I see you.  I see how you are working every day in a crazy system, just to make a difference in your community.  I see you, the gallons and gallons of love overflowing from your tiny cup, how it never stops and how so few people pour their love into you.  I see you.  I love you.  I am cheering for you, standing behind you and praying for you!!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Respire, aspire, maybe perspire a little and hopefully inspire

If you read my blog or know me, you know I am a notorious list maker.  I make them, lose them, write new ones, compile them, file them, etc...I have written a life list, or a bucket list, of sorts at least 3 times on this blog and yearly goals for a few years in a row.  (You can read them here, here and my 2013 goals here - the second one is really the best.)  A lot of the things on the lists I thought I might actually have a shot at (like adopting) and some of them I may never get to do (like seeing a komodo dragon in the wild) but I put them on there anyway.  That being said, I realized the other day that a handful of my life list items are 'in progress' - I am in some way, shape or form actually doing 3 or more things I didn't think I would ever get the chance to do!  Recently I saw a FB post from a 40 days for Life type of group (can't remember which one) about starting a crisis pregnancy center in my town.  My eyes nearly jumped out of my head - I have always wanted to do something like that, ever since I 'met' Bethany.  She had written about volunteering in one and I put it on my life list b/c I really want to do that too.  I figured it would have to wait until I moved to a bigger city...I was wrong!  Thank God I was wrong!  I have been to a few meetings and we have a board, possible location and funds - more funds than I ever thought possible, thanks to the Teens 4 Life group we have here!  I cannot wait to go to each meeting and I have met some people filled w/compassion and love!  I know God will do great things...I am so grateful for the chance to be a part of it here, now...
...Another thing from my list was to get back to the drama world. I can’t say for certain when, exactly, it was, but I believe it was the summer of 2012 when a pastor from my church came to me and told me about an acting opportunity.  He had been working with a man from another church on a script…immediately intrigued, I told him to keep me posted.  A few weeks went by and I received notice about the auditions.  We were a small group that first night, but we prayed and God directed the steps of a few others to join us.  In spring of 2013, we performed the play for the first time, under my pastor’s direction.  We all felt exhausted afterwards, but sad that it had to end.  The author of the play reminded us that it didn’t have to end!  We have since performed it again and there are contacts being made and at least two more bookings seem forthcoming.  Our goal of performing for many people far and wide no longer seems out of the realm of possibilities…I've designed a website for our merry band of actors and we shall see where this takes us.  It's so exciting to be a part of this, to be doing something I love to shine the light of Jesus into the world!  
One of the things on my goals was to be a part of a women's ministry.  All my life I have had a wide variety of friends, but mostly they were guys.  I just found it to be easier to maintain those relationships - too much drama w/the ladies!!  I'm not a 'girly-girl' either so shopping and makeup and jewelry don't interest me much, but sports and stuff does.  I've managed to keep some very dear friends who are girls close and for that I consider myself blessed, but it's always been a challenge to attend anything women oriented at church.  I have generally steered clear of large gatherings of women!! but then when I did actually go, I started to feel encouraged, loved and happy.  I forced myself to try again and pray about relationships w/women.  The opportunity came up to be one of the 'founding members' if you will of the women's ministry team a woman is starting at our church.  I said yes, wondering if I was biting off more than my emotions could handle, but not a day goes by that I don't think of one of the other women on our team and how she has blessed me w/her friendship!  One night we were getting together to make some decorations for an event...a bunch of us arrived w/supplies and tools, but our fearless leader was not there yet so we didn't know where to start.  We sat talking, laughing, hugging and crying...when our leader came, we got right to work and the talking, laughing, hugging and crying didn't stop!  It didn't feel like work =)  Our hands were busy and so were our hearts.  I had to blink back tears when I thought about how I would feel if I had missed out on all of that, the friendships, the chance to serve others in the church and just to say that I was a part of a team who wanted to share what we had w/other women in the community!  How I had ached for something simple, just friends who could do stuff together every once in a while and actually cared about each other's lives!  And now that I have it, I will fight to keep it!  There are times when I feel like I'm such a goof and I don't fit in or I don't have the newest clothes or whatever kind of crap Satan made me believe all my life - but I kick him in the teeth and go anyway.  So there.  
As for all the other stuff on my list...still working on it.  As you know, we've adopted once already and are on the wait list to do it again.  (Please pray that God hurries...it's hard to wait!!)  I've seen a komodo dragon at a lizard zoo (or something like that), so I'm sort of counting that.  We've visited both Duke University and UNC (more specifically, the basketball courts), but haven't seen a game yet, so we are what - 1/4 of the way there?  I'm slacking in the exercise dept these days, so improvements to my 5K time will have to wait.  Some serious discussions (including price checks!) have been had about the house boat down the Mississippi River, but...trying to decide which items are more of a priority than others.  Buy a house in the country?  Get a new truck and camper?  Go on a super awesome trip down the river?  Go to Europe?  How do you go about deciding???  Apparently I am learning the lesson that you don't.  God opens a window or a door and you just go through it.  Then you write a FB post telling people to stop praying for your life list!  Then you write a blog post of how blessed you are to knock things off your list....

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Playing house



This is performance week!  Three rehearsals and four performances...people get a little crazy and apparently full of the giggles!  I snapped this pic from backstage during the fight scene.  If you haven't seen it and are near Plymouth WI, you should come!  Our goal is to perform this show in various venues and cities, so if you think you'd like to bring us into your community, please email me - I'd be happy to provide the storyline and basis for the show.  I am so privileged to be working with people who have many talents!!  I am tired too, though, so please pray for me, the others and our families.  Right now sickness is taking over...but we press on.  I am grateful I have this opportunity - not only am I fulfilling one of my goals for the year but I feel like I am flirting with one of my bucket list items. So in short, tired but happy.  It's hard to be away from family, but it fills my heart to be around people like me (performer types!), people I have come to count as close friends.  Just the other day I was working on little favors for an event with some of the women from the women's ministry team at church and we talked, laughed, cried and hugged while we worked.  I was only there for 30 minutes but those moments were like buoys for my soul!  So many times in life I feel like I am just playing house, not connecting to real people or stuck in my own issues...the family in the play is plagued with strife, stress, problems etc and they can't seem to find the value in relationships...I am blessed to have some strong relationships in my life!  I praise God for that and for the people by which I am surrounded!

SuperKALEifragilisticexpialidocious




Fall is my favorite season!  I have so many more pictures to share but I'm busy prepping food, going to school/gymnastics/swimming events, and practicing for the play!  And my birthday is coming up!!!  I am looking forward to breakfast at my favorite place (where they do both the prep AND cleanup!) and hopefully lots of hugs from my family I haven't seen in a while.  Hurry up October!  :D


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It's not Narnia, but there's a window in this closet!

Just cleaned a bunch of 3T and 4T dresses out of my girl's closet...I am in awe of her growth, both physically and emotionally.  Today she wore a dark teal shirt that said "Daddy's Little Darling" w/a purple and black tiger striped ruffled skirt and lavender leggings.  She definitely knows what she wants to wear and has no trouble expressing herself these days (about clothes or otherwise!).  Tomorrow may be our last food related appt at Childrens' and here I sit.  The quiet, nearly speechless little girl w/crooked bangs and a fear of just about everything is gone.  She used to smile all the time b/c it made other people happy and she had no clue how to process all the other emotions.  Heavy emotions she must have been feeling...over the past 4 years, this girl has come to know security and what amounts to never enough love.  She has gone from backing up as far as she could go on the beach to get away from the ocean to striding in and laughing when getting knocked down by the waves.  She used to whimper if you made any kind of motion while holding her - swaying or bouncing would get you a quick death grip and tears! - to loving to bounce on my exercise ball, jump on a trampoline or hang upside down from the rings at the park.  She drinks from her camelbak when she wants, devours ice cream, cottage cheese or animal crackers, asks for bites of some new things...gone are the days of wondering if she even gets hungry or thirsty.  Her legs are so long, her hands still not very steady but writing letters at school, her understanding and questioning more complex, her hearing perfect!  (She often will ask about things we talked about after bedtime...sneaky girl!)  Clearing the dresses out of the closet and dropping her off in first grade make me feel like we've successfully crossed the wobbly rope and plank bridge over rushing waters.  Don't get me wrong, the journey isn't over, I just feel like we've completed one of the challenges on that show Fear Factor!  The contestants would jump up and down (I'm imagining, never saw it) and then they'd turn to them and tell them about the next one.  Right now I'm in the jumping up and down stage - marveling at what God did and what we allowed Him to do.  I'm wishing I could bottle this feeling up for the next leg of the journey, just so I could use it to spur us on.  God is good and if you are clinging for your life on that rope bridge, hearing nothing but the sound of the water crashing on the rocks, I implore you to take a deep breath and remember the last big thing God did in your life.  If you wrack your brain and come up w/nothing, come talk to me.  I have stories of cancer disappearing, tumors that quit growing, babies that were never meant to live seeing years and years of life, empty arms being filled, wombs being opened, money appearing right when needed, hearts softened, families reunited and strengthened and more!!  And I can introduce you to these people - I didn't just hear about them on tv or read about them in a magazine...

This is why I never clean, people.  I wind up thinking too much and crying.  =)  A good cry, but it's hard to get stuff done when you want to tell everyone about the goodness and mercy of the Lord!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The three best decisions I ever made

1.  Decided to follow Jesus
2. Said yes to marrying the curly haired man who brought crossword puzzles to Spanish class in college.
3.  Planted a blackberry bush in the backyard.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Like a drunk knitter.

Well!  This summer (year?) has come together in an interesting way...hide your surprise as I compile a random update!
We haven't done as much traveling this summer for various reasons but there is a family vacation in the works.  We have done some stuff around the house though!  We managed to purge some items from the house, re-do a few things in the LR and get central air installed.  Right now the kids are finished up drama camp and bilingual camp, not to mention that Mo is loving gymnastics team practice.  Our adoption application is done and already we have been sent profiles for a little boy and a sibling set.  We talked about it and as hard as it was, we said no, praying a family will be found for them.  We've heard lots of good news - TPR for my cousin's little guy, a friend who is finally pregnant after miscarriages, another couple pregnant after waiting/wading through infertility, etc...but it all balanced out some sad news too.  We've enjoyed some local fun at the state park, on the lake and attractions near our house.
Half the year has come and gone and I've barely mentioned my goals!  I fell off the wagon for my morning Bible challenge but I have already signed up for fall.  I needed to sort out a few things in my mind before I could really be faithful and diligent.  Don't get me wrong, there was still plenty of Bible reading going on, just not according to a plan.  We've done some serving w/church and I am officially on the women's ministry team =)  We've been meeting and serving together fairly often.  I'm not even going to mention my lack of progress in the personal goals area and neither are you!  Physically, I was rocking the workouts at the Y until...May?  Then life got hairy and I have been a slug.  I miss running but my house/family are worthy winners of my time.  I'm hoping I can hit the re-set button in fall.  As a family we've booked a vacation, visited w/out of state family and looked at a house or 2.
Overall, I've been learning to live in the moment and forget the fact that this year is nothing like what I expected.  When life gives you yarn, a pattern and some wine, you make a wacky sweater, but hey, you made a sweater!!  =)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Peaceful

She asked him to read the captions in the pink photo book about her adoption. He complied.  My heart was happy!  I love them!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Adventures in cleaning attic vents

....I have decided to try and post more often over summer...hopefully pics of our adventures!  Today Dave tackled the attic vents, knowing there were bird nests...
...and he unknowingly sucked up the tiniest baby birds.  :(. We had a little science lesson and prayed over the babies...thanking God for His creation and asking Him to be w/their momma.  Dave apologized to me but there was nothing we could do... 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Today.

Today we say good-bye to Dewey and Curly-Sue as they are being reunited w/their mom.  I have a lot to say about saying good-bye, but not much time right now to write about it.  Please pray for their family as they begin their journey as a healthy family in our community.  When people hear we are foster parents, almost everyone says they could never 'give them back'.  We signed up for foster care knowing that the kids would only 'belong' to us for a short time.  We don't find it easy to say good-bye, and of course we love them.  Would we keep them if we could?  In a heartbeat.  But can we still find the strength to say good-bye?  Yes.  I am beyond thankful for the friends we have and the support network we have.  We lean on them and they understand the duplicity of the situation.  I know a lot of the people I am referring to are reading, so THANK YOU!!  Also, thank you to our families that deal w/the secondary emotions that are no less raw.  They are saying good-bye too...thankfully we are able to see some family members often and give and get all the hugs we need!  They didn't choose this and my heart hurts for them.  I do know this, though - I serve a God who is bigger than all of this and He hears my prayers!  For the families reunited, for those torn apart, for those that rejoice and those that mourn.  Thank you for your prayers...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Intricate

I saw a quote someone posted in a foster care and adoption forum and I just knew I had the perfect photo to go w/it.  Mother's Day in our house has always been a little bit of a wild ride, given our struggles w/infertility and all...and then 6 years ago, my husband's father passed away on Mother's Day.  Talk about taking a day filled w/emotion and then cranking it up a few notches!  (Notice I said 'emotion' and not just plain sadness.  Being that I have 2 children to call my own now, not to mention some foster children too, some of the pain of infertility has changed to joy - it's such a blessing to get handmade projects and cards from my kids!!  Also, we rejoice that my FIL is singing for Jesus in heaven!  I can still hear him taking the bass line when we sang hymns =)  So yes, there's still sadness but there is just a jumble of other emotions too...)  When I saw this quote, I felt like it hit the nail on the head.  Love is such a complex thing to show, feel and receive...Family is such an intricate group of people who we choose to love, but might not always.  For us, we consider a lot of people family who are in fact not even related to us!  We are so close to them, they have been given titles like Uncle and Auntie or Tia b/c they fill that role for our kids.  We choose to give them the respect and love we think they deserve.  The same can be said for kids that are not physically created of our own DNA but for all purposes are ours, for life or just for a time.  On days like Mothers' Day this year, my mind can't stop percolating like a washing machine w/too many clothes and more than the allotted amount of detergent.  How did I get to be so blessed to have these children in my life?  How can the 'solution' to my pain be something that may cause others to feel pain?  Why must all this be necessary - surely there has to be an easier way to sort this out...obviously these are all rhetorical questions...
Feel free to share but remember this photo belongs to me - thank you!
...if you are someone who struggles w/infertility, even if it was a thing of the past, please know I prayed for you this weekend.  I prayed for all the adoptive mommas and daddies, I prayed for those that are waiting w/empty arms, I prayed for those that are waiting for a court date and those that are fostering.  I prayed for those that are just now beginning to think about these things and the journey that may be ahead of them.  I also prayed for those men and women who are content to live life w/o children of their own, that God would richly bless them for the time and energy many of them spend pouring into the children of their extended family and friends.  
Thanks for reading my intricate thoughts today....I'm sorry I haven't updated the blog in a while.  The end of the school year is creeping up and I have a million posts I plan to write!  I'm just about to water some seedlings and hang wash =)  Two of my most favorite things about this time of year!  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Special interest...

(I started this post a while ago - months ago!  April, I think...)
Today is a day full of good stuff so I think it deserves a blog post!!

First and foremost, today is our niece's 18th birthday.  She was 4 when I met her...her uncle and I held her hands as we walked her to the park down the street.  We weren't really dating yet, but I know my mind couldn't help but flash into the future and think about the day when he and I would be walking our own child to a park.  She told me, "We don't say stupid."  I was chastised by a 4yo!  It was yet another reminder of how I was still a work in progress, someone who had been saved barely a year before and was still trying to fit into her 'new creation' skin.  This niece of ours, she still inspires me and amazes me 14 years later.  I can't believe the little red-headed kid who hated to wear jeans but loved rack dresses has turned into a woman who loves God, prays for her siblings and aims to be a music star!  Then again, I should believe it, given her upbringing and her first born spirit.  Someday this niece will be a star who is not just noticed by her family and friends, but one that the world sits up and takes note of.  It may be at a concert or a college graduation, or maybe on a mission field or a prayer team, or maybe as a wife and mom in her own house, but I'm telling you now that it will happen.  Nora, I wish you the happiest of birthdays!  May God bless you as you take charge of your life and decisions, may He guide your steps and keep you safe, but most of all may He give you many more happy birthdays!  We love you!
Secondly, today a friend of mine from the world of adoption support is sitting in a courtroom finalizing the adoption of her daughter.  I am overjoyed for her!!  As any who has adopted can tell you, the road can be long and difficult...but on adoption day you are swept away w/emotion and it seems like every last dream you ever had just came true!  Nothing matters in those moments, nothing but family and love.  Love wins.  Thank you Jesus!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A BIG DAY FOR US!!

Yesterday Colleen had a feeding team/GI appointment at the children's hospital and...

(...quick background for those that are new here...Colleen came to us at the age of 2 in August of 2009 as a foster/pushing for adoptive placement.  It wasn't her first time in foster care.  Her biological parents had taken her to the hospital this time b/c she was vomiting a lot.  She had been labeled failure to thrive in the past.  Due to an unfortunate incident in the hospital, it was decided that she would no longer be able to be in her bio parents' care.  An nG tube for feeding was placed in her nose and we were given all sorts of instructions about the tube and how to feed her through it.  
'Back in the day...'
Later they placed a G tube in her belly and shortly after that a MicKey button.  In January of 2012, our adoption became final!  We've been seeing the feeding team/GI doc on and off all this time and in August of 2012 we were admitted to the children's hospital for 2 weeks of intensive feeding therapy...and we haven't used the tube since.  When we had a follow up in November of 2012, she weighed 33 pounds and some odd ounces.  Things have been going really well, even at school, so we were hoping that they would set a date for the removal of the tube at this appointment.  We tried not to get our hopes up to high, but we'd be lying if we said we hadn't thought and prayed about it!  Back to yesterday...)

...she weighed in at 36 pounds 2 ounces!  We chatted w/the feeding team nurse, the dietician and the psych doctor.  I rattled off Colleen's daily schedule and what she usually eats.  They seemed very pleased w/her weight gain (almost 3 pounds in 6 months?!) and then casually asked, "How would you feel about taking the tube out today?"

How would we feel?
WE FEEL LIKE JUMPING OUT OF OUR CHAIRS AND GETTING RIGHT TO IT!!!

We quickly called some family members and took pictures!

Waving GOODBYE to the button

While we waited for the GI doc and nurse, we did some phonics work.  Colleen gets the rhyming concept, so I thought why not?  I used to do that w/Mo all the time...if this is 'at', what is 'hat'?  'Cat'?  Then we sound them out and do the whole list!  She had fun doing that!  The doc came in and said it was so exciting b/c this is the highest her BMI has ever been!!!  She's obviously growing both taller and heavier, so we checked on the growth curve...she had been following the lowest curve of the curves, but she has jumped up to almost the middle curve!  She is in the 30th percentile, which is amazing b/c she has only ever been in like the 3rd, or some insanely low number like that!  That was pretty awesome...then the nurse came in and we talked about what we were going to do and how.  Colleen laid right down and I gulped really big.  I knew that it wasn't going to be hard - I've taken a button out before to change it.  But I couldn't believe how Colleen wasn't showing any anxiety despite the number of times we had been in that room and all the crazy things that had happened there in the past.  I distinctly remember her clawing at me as she tried to burrow deeper into my arms one of the first times...she used to get so scared that she would lose her lunch...she would shake and wail and be a hot tired mess for at least a whole day after.  But here she was, laying down on the table, ready for whatever...I didn't cry, but I sure did swallow big!  I held her hand and the nurse told us the magic word - we were supposed to say sugarplum sugarplum sugarplum, but no one really said it.  Mostly we whispered, mumbled and breathed loudly!  Then *poof* it was out!  There was a gauze pillow and 1, 2, 3 pieces of tape in the place of the button!  
The gauze pillow
(Colleen makes sure to count them out as she recounts the story - tape is a big deal in our house.  When she had an nG tube, we had to put all kinds of tape on her sweet little face to hold it in place and keep it from coming out.  She would get these big sores, we would need to switch sides and there would be taping, wailing and shaking, re-taping and some serious reassuring cuddle sessions for a girl who had a whole lot of emotional hurt not to mention the sting of yards of tape being peeled off!  So, yeah, medical tape of any kind gets a big mention in the story.)  The funny thing is, Colleen didn't cry, she barely shook and she only let out a little yelp when it was actually pulled out.  She goofed around w/the tape and I marveled at how far she's come!  There were no tears, no huge hugging sessions and very little anxiety at all...bittersweet...for sure...
Playing with the tape 
 After it was all over, the nurse tucked the button into a glove and told Colleen she could throw it away and say goodbye.  Before you could say 'button' (and before I could say, "Let me take a picture...") that thing was slammed into the trash and a quick 'GuhBYE' was yelled!  She turned around like we do this every day, like it was no big thing and like she was ready for the next thing!  I just shook my head, hardly able to comment for the huge lump in my throat =)  Then the nurse came in w/some huge prizes to pick from - I love that another family had donated some big things for kids like her who 'graduate' from a tube or button!  W/a little hesitation, she chose the princess laptop...and we were outta there!  
A princess laptop for your troubles!

I cannot hardly believe that (Lord willing) we will NEVER have to go back to the feeding team!  And we only need to go back to the GI in 6 months - if everything is going well, we will NEVER see them again either!  Don't get me wrong, I am forever grateful for all the help and support they have given us...but it's nice to think that we will only need to see her regular pediatrician from now on.  We already have had one night of no problems.  I sent her to school today w/a note saying that they could call me if there were any problems, but really, I don't anticipate any.  When I changed the gauze this morning everything looked dry and normal!  I was worried about school, but I know that spring break is next week so I can monitor her closely if needed.  
I know so many of you have prayed and been praying for us!  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!  We are so very blessed to have this miracle known as Colleen in our lives!  She has worked so hard for this and we didn't expect to be it to be over so fast.  I wore my 'I love a tubie' sweatshirt to the appointment and little did I know that it would be the last day I would have a tubie living in my house! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

10 reasons I would like spring to come today

Friends, one week ago today we got 16+" of snow in a very short amount of time.  We were predicted to get anywhere from 3-10" more today but the storm missed us!  We have had more snow in the past 2 weeks than we have all winter so far.  For the big storm, our snow blower was in the shop.  Our 'guns' were not and we shoveled a lot!  Today I realized I am so very very behind on laundry (I blame Jesus) and it made me wish for spring.  I love snow very much!  I think most people who know me already know that.  I could never live in a state w/o the 4 seasons, unless it was just summer, fall and winter.  I really don't like spring much at all, but when you get more white stuff this late in the winter, even a snow-loving girl like me is ready to be done.  The list maker in me decided to take these precious few moments to to share w/you my 10 reasons I would like spring to come today.  (Don't worry, I loaded the washer before I sat down!)
1) I want to hang laundry outside!  Granted, I know I still could today, but when your lines hang over knee deep snow, it's kind of tricky.  Not to mention crazy.  I'm not that far off the edge!
2) Last year at this time I was thinking of planting...my garden boxes were on my mind a lot.  I really wanted to get a jump on this year, but again, when your garden is under knee deep snow, it's kind of tricky...(seeing a theme here?)
3) I miss running.  And I miss running outside.  I see people running outside sometimes when I get closer to the Y and I must keep my head from turning to see if they are being chased by a bear.  Yes, I have cold weather gear and some of the sidewalks/lakefront paths are not knee deep in snow, but...I'm a wuss.  (A lot of this same stuff could be said for biking.)
4) I miss the sun.  Not the rain though.
5) I would love to let the chickens out!  For a while there, their food tray and such was under water.  Then it all froze.  Their run was a mucky mess that turned into a sheet of ice.  Their day lamp/water warmer combo was shorting out the garage circuitry...or whatever you call that.  They haven't laid eggs in a while.  More daylight = more eggs.  And maybe if the yard wasn't knee deep in snow, I could let them out and manage the coop/run situation a little better.
6) I want to go camping and not have to run the heater all night!  We have been looking at some small, lightweight but hard-sided trailers and it's dizzying.  I just want to blink and find the right one and go camp in some warmer weather.  W/no snow on the ground!
7) I need to visit the secret beach again.  Not sure I could get down the hill successfully w/all the snow but I wonder what the beach looks like.
8) Spring training has started.  I see clips of the Brewers down in AZ and it reminds that most of the games I have been to up here in the recent years have been in the blazing sun and fiery heat.  I remember being a sweaty puddle and as much as I hated it at the time, I'd take that today.
9) I'm cautiously optimistic that spring will hold some much needed changes around here.  I've talked before about the hurry up and wait stuff in my life and that's really bugging me right now.  We'll get there - not my timing but God's!
10) Honestly, I just miss getting out of the house.  When the temps are a little higher and stuff is happening outside (flowers blooming, wind blowing, garden dirt calling me, people doing stuff, etc...) I try to avoid being inside my house.  Who wants to tend to household chores when you could be outside?  There's not too much to help when procrastinating during winter.  Nothing is going on out there.  No reason to go and check anything out.  So...back to work it is...*yawn*!
I'm sure I sound really bitter about all the snow...but I'm not =)  I love the strange cultural phenomenon of peeking around snow banks taller than my van, mail that doesn't get delivered for a few days b/c the snow/ice chunks from the plow are impossible to move w/a household snowblower or some really tired 'guns', neighbors helping neighbors clear out fire hydrants, and snowmobile tracks across farm fields!  There is none of that in some parts of the country.  I'm sad for them...they are missing out...but still I would like spring to come today!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The diligent procrastinator.

I have wanted to sit and blog for so long!  I have many large posts drafted...some are about things I feel passion for and some are about lame stuff like the massive clearance section I stumbled onto one day at Target.  (<---it -="" 4="" 5="" 90="" a="" about="" all="" and="" are="" ask="" at="" but="" clearance="" comment.="" could="" even="" facets="" feel="" font="" free="" going="" guess="" half="" have="" hour="" i="" if="" in="" it="" kay="" lame="" least="" leave="" life.="" like="" list.="" m="" make="" maybe="" me="" nbsp="" oday="" of="" off="" on="" our="" passionate="" question="" questions.="" really="" retend="" size="" some="" sort="" stuff="" the="" they="" think="" times="" to="" too...="" top="" update="" usually="" was="" what="" write="" you="">
Top 5 Questions (and answers) People Are Asking Me Lately
1) How much longer will you have those foster kids (Curly Sue and Dewey)?  Due to the nature of foster care, we don't know.  A lot depends on the progress made in the case...right now there is progress being made, but it could still take us into the summer, or even longer if necessary.  Is that hard?  Yes and no...we went into this (foster care and this specific placement) know it was temporary, even if by that they meant long term temporary.  We knew the kids were not going to be staying.  Will we miss them?  Of course!  But for now we enjoy the fact that a family is being built up and growing together in a healthy way.  We enjoy having time w/the kids and do what we can.  I have a lot more to say about all that, but feel free to ask me if you really want to hear more.  Are you going to take more placements after this?  Yes and no.  We recently submitted another application to adopt so most likely our next placement will be w/the goal of adoption.  After that, we'll see!
2) Have you started your garden?  Nope.  Only in my mind!  Shoot, it was only about a month or two ago that I was pulling frozen Brussels sprouts out of the garden!  I know I need to do a few things differently this year but I am intent on finding non-GMO seeds that Monsanto doesn't own, so I know it will take a lot more planning and such.  Any new chickens?  Nope.  Again, I would really like to add to the flock, but the timing is just not right.  Hopefully after spring break there will be some Barred Rocks available nearby and we can bring them here.  Lately we've been finding poor Pippa's eggs frozen and cracked - the weather has been so wacky that we just can't get out there fast enough!  Lois pretty much quit laying in the fall when she seemed to start molting...I think I've gotten 2 eggs out of her since then.
3) How are the goals coming?  Good!  I've been faithfully going to the Y and seeing results.  The morning Bible Challenge seems easy after last time and I am so blessed to be a part of it.  Practice for the play is trucking along and I marvel at everyone's talent.  Not only that but God has already done some amazing things in me, the cast and the community b/c of it.  I'm still working on the 'homemaker' duties...but the hot breakfasts are always a hit and I'm slowly getting better at other stuff.  I am falling short in some of the areas, of course, but I think it's part of the process.  Plenty to learn from the mistakes!  
4) What are you most excited about/inspired by right now?  All of the above!  The play, adoption, starting the garden, spring break...but also seeing people hold Life Is Precious signs by a local 'planning your life as a parent - or not' place near my house, sitting next to my 7yo as he works on the Purple Book while I do my morning Bible study, reading what my friends post about non-GMO stuff and healthy clean foods on that social networking site, talking w/friends about summer camping, some friends' pending adoption, hearing my 5yo read and spell her sight words, and many other things!  Aren't you busy?  Yes, but as I tell the little old ladies who see me out and about w/4 kids in various places and then remark, "My, you have your hands full!" - better full than empty!  That, and - full hands, full heart!  
5) Anything we can pray about?  Glad you asked!  This is what I wrote on Facebook today - "**I NEED A FAVOR** - in 6 weeks minus one day (EEEP!) will be our first performance. The closer we get to practicing the end of the play (really - the coolest part!) and our first performance, the more we feel under spiritual attack. >>>>PLEASE PRAY<<<< for all of us, our families and for those attending. If you have a small group or bible study, ask them to pray. (If you meet once a week, that's only 6 times you have to remember to pray for us. Of course we'd love it every day, but we'll take once a week!) Put a note on your calendar, in your phone, on your fridge, write it w/dry erase marker on your mirror, whatever you need to do as a reminder! Beyond that, invite people to attend! SHARE THIS EVENT on your own FB wall. Ask people to pray, even if they can't attend! This amazing play was written by one of the cast members. There are people from multiple churches involved which makes me extremely happy and proud to be a part of something bigger that supersedes my small circle of friends, influence and experience...THANK YOU for your prayers! I know many of you have already been praying =) Keep it up!"  Yes, as one of my cast-mates says, I can be a bit dramatic!  But in all seriousness, we would greatly appreciate your prayers.  Besides that, please pray for our family and our foster children's family.  Transitions are never easy on anyone, but for small children they can be so hard to process.  One final thing as my free time is winding down...please pray for Dave's heel.  When he broke his ankle a few years ago, we knew it wouldn't be the same.  He's been struggling w/plantar facilitis (sp?) and since he's on his feet all day, it's not getting better.  He has the shoe inserts, the pain meds and the goofy contraption you wear to bed at night, but even those and icing and putting it up in the evenings are not helping.  Pray that the heel be healed!  (Had to slip that in there...)  Also, the goofy contraption he wears at night causes him to sleep differently, causing him to snore more, causing me to sleep less...frequently I wake up thinking someone is sawing logs, or maybe there is large unhappy jungle cat in our room or something...the less sleep I get, the more panicky and odd things I think of when I wake up!  It's sort of funny when you think about it, but not when you're tired =)  Anyway - since you asked!  =)  Or since I pretended you asked...those are some of my prayer requests.  Thank you for your prayers!!  
Finally, if you are w/in driving distance and would like to come to the play...email me or leave a comment.  There is no cost!  And the audience gets to pick the ending!  Well, even if you are farther away, you are still invited!  Let me know and I can get you more information...and now I'm needed.  A messy basement awaits.  I can procrastinate no longer...

Monday, January 7, 2013

You would think...

I signed up for 2 classes at the Y.  Remember that whole 'get in shape' goal for 2013?  Yep, me and just about everybody else signed up for classes but I am one of the ones who tried to talk myself out of it all last night and this morning.  I'm glad I didn't =)  Today was the first class of R. I. P. P. E. D.  (The letters stand for something, I only remember a few - Resistance, Intervals, Plyometrics....Diet?  Maybe the E is for Endurance?  I remembered more than I thought!)  I figured it would be hard...last night I watched a bit of the Biggest Loser and since it was the first episode, people were falling off the treadmill and puking...I didn't think it would be THAT hard, but it IS Monday and I'm getting over being sick and only getting about 3 hours of sleep last week.  This morning I posted on 'that social networking site':

This cheese loving Wisconsin girl had a bad nightmare - someone at her first Y class actually noticed the dry, white, fuzzy, lumpy but smoooshy sticks below her waist! Praying it stays a nightmare and doesn't become a reality! EYES UP HERE PEOPLE!

So I went and like always, my brain has a running dialog I can't shut off.  You would think I'd be out of energy and just get to work, but no!  I like to remember some of the stuff I think about so that means you get to read it!
First of all, I was one of 2 women not in pants.  Well played, Wisconsin winter, well played!  Adding workout pants or capris to the shopping list....And how is it that at a little over 5'4" I am one of the tallest ones here??  Fe-fi-fo-fum, can't keep up and you look like a sore thumb!!  That's annoying.  But I'll get better at the stuff so hopefully I'll blend in better.  Oh, also, if Monica Seles was a mathematician, she was in this class.  I was like, "Who keeps grunting??  Really?  She's counting now?"  Then the woman next to me gave me the look that meant that she thought the same thing.  Suddenly I realized the noise was coming from me!  Yep.  Apparently I'm that girl!  It's healthy to laugh at yourself, right?  =)  Honestly I was having fun and I didn't care much.  But I do have one question.  Where do you people find this flexibility?  Is there an online store or something?  I need to add that to the shopping list!  And shoes!!  I need new shoes too!  My shoes didn't do much for me.  That was frustrating.  I don't want to wear my running shoes for this stuff, so it looks like I'm going shopping.  Right now my 'core' is pretty stiff and I'm trying to ignore the soreness.  It seems like this class will be good for me, hopefully strengthen up my back and well, pretty much everything else!  Next up:  Zumba.  I keep hearing about it and I figured I'd try it.  I like to dance =)  We'll see!  I also saw a friend there who helped me navigate some child care issues.  That made my day!  It was super helpful and I felt so much better seeing someone I knew and could talk to for a while!  I'm looking forward to all this - I won't talk myself out of it next Monday!   

Friday, January 4, 2013

It feels like yesterday.

Alright, I'm not feeling so hot today so what better time to crank out my 2013 goals?  It literally feels like yesterday when I wrote the 2012 ones.  I just re-read them and I kinda feel like I just want to say "ditto".  But I'm me and I can't ever keep things short when I talk/write so what fun is that?

2013 goals
Spiritual
-I will be joining Inspired To Action's Maximizing Your Mornings Challenge once again! 
-I'm hoping to do more scripture memorizing w/the whole family.  Out of all the verses I had memorized w/Moses, a little over half have 'stuck' in my gray matter.  I can do better.
-Still thinking about serving, whether it be on a missions trip away from home or here.  I have so many ideas!!!  Sometimes I wish God would stop giving me these ideas...I think of something or hear about it somewhere and I'm like, "That is so cool!  Someone should do that here!" and then I get the feeling like that someone should be me and my head nearly falls off b/c it's shaking NO so hard!  
-I don't think I will ever have time to be a part of women's ministry on a regular basis but I am glad I was able to be a part of this upcoming conference planning.  I do want to make it a goal to keep being in a small group or women's ministry in some way though.  

Personal
-Step it up in the homemaking department.  (Said the woman sitting on her couch w/2 torn out pages of a magazine, a binder, a highlighter, the remote, a banana peel, some laundry and a pile of kleenexes!)  This one is super broad so I need to break it down into smaller pieces...
     -Make more hot breakfasts.
     -Get better at meal planning and prepping things ahead.
     -Buy less cans, packaged foods and aim for more things from scratch.
     -Sew stuff.
     -Declutter in general.
     -Declutter/minimize clothing stash.  (I'm kind of a hoarder when it comes to clothes.  For everyone, not just me.  Stuff that doesn't fit, stuff that might fit, stuff that looks good or doesn't...stuff we wear or don't...I like options.  I feel better when their are a lot of options for everyone.  But I'm realizing it's ridiculous - many people could use the clothes that just sit there, taking up space.  I read a really good book called 7 and there was a chapter on clothes that convicted me way down deep.  I'm a work in progress and the more I talk about my clothing issues, the more I realized I need to pare down.  There's a whole lot more to this part of the 'story of me' but that's the short version.)
-READ.  Again.  I miss reading books!
-Get involved w/the Intergenerational Center.  
-Make it more of a habit to have Sundays be outdoors - hiking, playing kickball, going for bike rides...just keeping at least one day a week for family oriented stuff.  Not family oriented in the way that it's just us, but I mean that we're doing things as a family, maybe w/other families, outside.
There are others from last year's list that I just don't feel are as big of a deal for me this year...

Physical
Last year was a breath of fresh air in this category!!  I turned 35 and pushed myself harder than I have in a long time.  I didn't think I could still do stuff like running (I can, I'm just slower) or working out and still have energy to stay awake until 9pm!  (I don't know, I guess I pictured that since I haven't always taken the best care of my body that it might quit on me sooner than others!)  But I did that stuff and it felt good.  So this year my physical goals are to top last year's!
-DRINK WATER!!!  
-Get sleep - 7-8 hrs each night.  I know everything else in life goes sooooo much better when I do!
-Start and FINISH the R.I.P.P.E.D. and Zumba class at the YMCA.  No excuses!  
-Run a 5K in less than 30 minutes.
-Run five 5Ks.  (Not going to happen unless I find 5 I like =)  So...know of any no-hill, not too hot/good weather, for a special cause races near by?)
-Thin the thighs.  Ugh.  I did well for 10 months and crashed in Nov/Dec.
-Make a game plan so Nov/Dec doesn't turn into a SAD (Standard American Diet), SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), SAD (Surly, Annoyed and Depressed) cycle.

Family/Household
-Adoption.  Step one already done!
-Memorize Bible verses together.
-Save $ for a few things that are a little bigger than average.  It's time to take action and stop talking about what's important to us.  
-Out West trip.  There is a niece who graduates this year and more family we haven't seen in way too long.  
-As always, we're are moving in the direction of less waste, less plastic, less consumption of unnecessary goods, real foods, less chemicals, more garden boxes, more chickens, etc...just keep moving in that direction.
-Move? out of the city.  This is a long shot again this year, but it's still a goal and we can be taking steps toward it every now and then.

I'm sure there are others I am forgetting...and I think I need a nap.  But this is my list so far.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Best, Worst and Most Interesting (for Catherine)

When I was dating Dave, we went to Madison a bunch for football games and to visit his brother and family.  Being that his brother and wife are a few years older, they were/are ahead of us in life and already had a kid at the time.  Being that we both wanted to have kids, we'd visit and take mental notes and then talk about stuff on the long ride home.  I remember when one of the times we visited, their cute little family sat around the dinner table w/us and taught us a new 'game'.  We went around the table and asked/told each other what was the best, worst and most interesting parts of our day.  It was fun!  And it was adorable to hear my niece ask us and comment on our answers!  Well, she's just adorable so she could have been throwing the biggest tantrum and I would have said that anyway.  She still is adorable, even if she's about to go off to college.  (No, I haven't aged at all myself, it's some sort of time warp thing.  She got older, but I am not old.)
Anyway - fast forward to now, when I can't stand the fact that my own squirrelly kids do everything but make conversation at the table!  When I think of it, I remind them of the game and we go around the table and report on our day.  There is actual conversation shared, and it is then that I am reminded of how brilliant of a tool that is!  When we see friends we haven't seen in 10+ years, we ask them to summarize our time apart by playing the game!  It's really special to hear about their highs and lows and some really oddball stories...
I've decided to use this method to summarize 2012.  I worked on my goals for the year and had some successes, but some not so successful ventures too.  Always learning, always improving, it doesn't matter if I give myself an A+ or whatever!  So here we go...

2012's Best, Worst and Most Interesting
Best 
- went to a women's conference and am working w/a group planning another one in January of 2013.
- participated in 2 small groups - Courageous Parenting and a sermon based one.  AWESOME!!  The group of people we met and connected w/quickly became good friends and we are hoping to join/start new groups w/them soon!
- was the most successful so far in this season's Maximize Your Mornings Challenge.  We read through the book of 1 Peter and I am so glad I stuck it out.
- I did a super job of staying active and running in the warmer months, w/help from my hubby to free up some time in the schedule.  
- (other random stuff not on the goals list) I instituted a 5 bag policy for the kids (one ziploc for each day of the week, they pack the bags over the weekend so there is no discussion of what to wear in the AMs) and that is the best thing I think I have ever done!  I'd been doing well on getting enough sleep for most of the year but fell out of habit by the end (more on that later...).  I think I'm getting more of a hang of the rhythm of our days/life in general, which makes me so much happier.  I also feel like I have encouraged a lot of people to step out and try some things we've been doing - garden, eat better, etc...I try not to preach, I try not to criticize, but I aim to encourage.  I thought it would be so hard to break some habits or make changes for the better, but it gets easier every day.  I am no expert but I love to help people =)  Got that from my Mom!  I LOVE YOU MOM!
Worst
- I just can't seem to find time for my personal hobbies like reading, scrapbooking and sewing.  =(  I should say make time.  It's there...I just choose otherwise.
- I realized a few things this past Nov/Dec.  I do well for most of the year, but all my ambition, willpower and determination are gone by November.  It's like I just cave in!  I/We start eating SAD again (Standard American Diet), the days get shorter and we get less sunlight so we suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), life gets busy, I make excuses, I make poor choices and I just feel SAD (Surly, Annoyed and Depressed)!!  (----no, no link for that I just made it up!)  ***EDITED***  I had a whole paragraph here about food and feelings and it looks like blogger ate it.  I have no idea where it went!!***  =(
- Other worsts were the lack of progress on an adoption, a move, a trip out West, and reducing the amount of packaging in our lives.  
Most Interesting
- Well, I never thought I'd be part of the planning committee for a women's conference, nor going to practices for a community drama!  
- I also didn't think I'd get so good at french braiding hair, much less hair of someone w/a different ethnic makeup than myself.  But then again - at the least, it takes me an hour each week, so...I can say I have close to 60 hours of practice in!!  
- This last small group we participated in was hosted by a couple who were our first friends at the church we currently attend!  We hadn't hung out w/them in quite a while and rarely see them much anymore since we no longer attend the same church.  But it was sort of funny that we became friends by joining their small group back in the day, and here we were signing up for a group hosted at their house...it was sort of like old times =)  
- It was interesting that we had the same foster care placement for the whole entire year.  Most of our past placements were either a year long or for a very short time.  This one is turning out to be over a year, it may even go past a year and a half.  This is interesting...also, we're learning more about 'co-parenting'.  W/our previous placements, there was very little transition (for one reason or another) and very little reason to co-parent.  It looks like there will be plenty of both in this placement.  I can think of no better way to describe it than interesting.  We are learning a lot.  Not just about the system and co-parenting, but about ourselves, too.  
- Dave has a beard again.  It's been a while!  He's talking about letting it grow big again!  Due to his alopecia, it probably won't get as big as it was in college, but it's fun!  I like him w/a fuzzy face =)  We watch that show Duck Dynasty and I think he was inspired.  For as long as I've known him, he's never been able to get his beard to grow long/down b/c the curls are so tight!  It just gets dense and bushy, but not flowing like the guys from that show.  I commented that maybe since he's older now, it might grow differently.  I don't really care - beard or not - I love the guy and I just want him to be happy!  I have a feeling that by the time the heat of summer comes around, it will get shaved off, though, so I'm just sitting back and watching it grow for now.  Yep, that's interesting... 

Well, that's the goal recap for 2012.  I don't fret about the details, but I like to check on my progress in a relaxed way.  I was hoping to have time to write the 2013 ones before nap time was over, but...no such luck.  Maybe tomorrow =)