Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Project 365: Week Final

Today is the last day of Project 365. Did I finish? I will this afternoon when I take a family photo of us! Did I stay current posting on here? Nope. I didn't stay current posting on Facebook, either. But the photos are complete. I am in the middle of December's edits. As soon as I get current with the edits, I'll post the completed product--a video of the photos--on here.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Celebration Day!

Yesterday we held this for the first time.

After 7 months of praying, reading, classes, PAPERWORK, interviews, and waiting, it's official! We are a licensed adoptive home! This means we can start the matching process with children! Yesterday I send out 4 inquiries--requests for more information--on 2 sibling groups and 2 individual little girls. It is definitely becoming a reality, and we are so excited!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Don't Swim Sick!

It all started  on Saturday the 11th. Snapper had a big swim meet. She was really excited because she had a decent shot at qualifying for state championships in 50 Butterfly, 50 Freestyle, and 100 IM. The meet was considered a last chance meet, because it was the last meet our swim club was attending before State. I should have known something was up when Snapper rolled out of bed that morning in tears. I chalked it up to nerves, gave her some encouragement, and headed out to the meet. It was freezing. Seriously freezing. The air temp was a damp 42 degrees when we arrived at the pool. While Snapper warmed up with her team in the 85 degree pool, I set up her "throne" for the day. I took her folding chair and lined it with a huge, thick, flannel quilt. When she came out after warm-up, I dried her off really well, wrapped her in a towel, zipped up her parka over the towel, put fuzzy socks on her feet, stuck a warm hood on her head, sat her in her throne, and completely buried her in the quilt. I even had a thermos of hot water to keep the warm tea flowing into her. We were ready and prepared for a cold day meet.

But it was not to be. There were delays prior to the start of her first event, Butterfly. By the time her heat was called, Snapper was visibly shaking with cold on the starting block. This girl is 62 pounds of lean, solid muscle. She has no extra body fat to help keep her warm. She was the last kid to dive, and she looked awkward all throughout her swim. She came in a second slower than her personal best, and last place in her heat. Her second event, Backstroke was even worse. Her flip turn was slow and she hit the lane line twice, something she never does. Between events, she sat huddled in her throne, shaking and chattering. No amount of warm towels, hot tea, or direct sunshine seemed to help her at all. By the time she went out for Breaststroke, her lips were a purplish color. She insisted on swimming, though. Halfway through the race, I could see that she was crying. She came out of the pool sobbing. Breaststroke is her favorite, and she hasn't cried at a meet since she was 7. I knew something was wrong, so I decided there was no point in her swimming anymore that day. She was too cold and miserable. So we scratched her from her last 2 events and left. We decided to swing by our favorite restaurant on our way home to get lunch to go. When I asked Snapper what she wanted, she didn't want anything. That never happens! The kid has a man's appetite, and she loves eating out. I stuck my hand on her back and discovered that she was burning up.

Poor little girl! I felt so horrible! She tried her hardest to swim in the cold, but how can you perform well athletically when you're running a 102 fever, much less when it is super cold outside? Oh my, did I feel bad! Snapper rested quietly at home for 3 days before her fever broke. Then, wouldn't you know it, the bug hit me. And then it hit Matt. And then all the oak trees in Orlando decided to bloom. And what we have in our house is a never-ending series of coughs, headaches, snotty noses, and low-grade fevers. I haven't felt like doing anything at all. This explains my absence from the blog world. I am (thanks to Claritin and Sudafed) on the upswing, I hope. Snapper is back to normal. Though she missed spring state championships, she is now shooting for July States. I think there's a great chance she'll make it there! And July is not in the middle of cold and flu season.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

House Rules, Part 1

One of our weekly homework assignments during our foster/adopt classes asked us what our family rules are. While we have a few general rules that encompass most behavior and attitude choices, that type of rule is probably not going to be helpful in establishing expectations and routines with new children. So Matt and I sat down together and formulated a specific list of rules for our family. The goal was to base each rule on instruction found in God's Word. That way, when a child breaks a rule, we are able to direct them back to God as the source of instruction on how to live. Just another way to make Christ the center of our home and family.

Later in the week we held a family meeting to discuss the "new" rules. It happened to be a Sunday when we stayed home from church because a couple of us were under the weather. It made a great at-home church time. This week I mod-podged them onto a 12x24 canvas to be hung in our living room. Just about every offense committed in our home can be directed back to our rules, and dealt with accordingly using empowering, life-giving Scripture. It is awesome, and I'm really excited about it. The kids are responding really well to it, too.

1. Live with integrity.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

This rule addresses lying, deceitful actions, manipulation, exaggeration, and cheating

2. Be kind in word and deed.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, Philippians 2:5

This rule addresses kind speech, touching each other gently, and getting along.

3. Obey your parents.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1

This rule speaks for itself. Obey right away, all the way, with a happy heart. If you question the instruction, move first to obey, and then make your appeal.

4. Be considerate, respectful, grateful.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. Hebrews 13:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

This rule also addresses a number of things, mainly attitudes. Is insisting on being first looking to your brother's interests? Is whining treating Mom with respect? Are you showing an gratitude attitude when you complain about your food?

5. Clean up after yourself.
So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? Luke 16:11-12

This rule addresses responsibility. God has entrusted us with many wonderful possessions, and He asks us to care for them properly.

To be continued...

Friday, February 10, 2012

First Dance

Snapper went to her first dance tonight. I never thought I would let my daughter go to a dance at the tender age of 9. But the sweetest, cutest boy asked her. I know him and his family really well, I trust him, and I know he'll never break my little girl's heart. I also know he is head-over-heels crazy about her, and to say no would have been completely heartless. I'm so comfortable with him, in fact, that I was even willing to let them go without a chaperone!

The beauty parlor started as soon as she got home from school today. It took me 2 hours (and 3 tries) to get her hair right. We went shopping yesterday and found a lovely dress, cute shoes, a flower for her hair, and just the right color nail polish.

She was ready to go early enough that we were able to take some photos of her with her date before we left for the dance. She was stunning, and her date was quite handsome, too. They made the sweetest pair ever. Seeing them together made me think ahead to Snapper's wedding day. *Sigh*

Snapper's first dance was the Daddy/Daughter Sweetheart Dance at her school. Her Daddy was delighted to be her date, and on the way there he told her she is too beautiful, and she will never be allowed to date anyone but him. =)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

God Gives Good Gifts!

The focus of our ministry is to teach people who God is and why it matters. Because of this, I have been--for the last 18 months--immersed in lessons on the attributes of God. I have come to deeply believe that God is personal. I've known it all along, and I have seen evidence of His presence and His care for me. As an individual. However, as I have studied, I have become far more aware of Him. I recognize even the little things as coming from God. Matthew 7 talks about how God is personal. If you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him. You. Individually. He wants to be found by you. He delights in giving good gifts to His children. Yes, God's Word says that, too.

He cares for me. He has upheld me during this difficult season with my friend Bev. She is still hanging on, by the way. He has provided all I need--physical strength, emotional strength, finances, comfort, protection, peace, etc. As I am more aware of Him, I am able to see Him at work more often, and much more clearly. It is amazing, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Today I was reminded, yet again, of His love for me. For me. Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that I LOVE NASCAR. Not like...LOVE. I LOVE Jimmie Johnson (Lowe's #48). And I really, really, really like Martin Truex Jr. (Napa Auto Parts #56). He is a classy guy, a solid driver who I think is going to do really great this year. MTJ also reminds me so much of my brother, Brandon.

Brandon is on the top, Martin Truex Jr. is on the bottom. They aren't identical, by any means, but there is enough of a resemblance that I am reminded of B every time I see MTJ.

Anyhoo, Martin Truex Jr. is a great driver and I am a fan of his on Facebook. Today he did a giveaway on his Facebook page. The giveaway was for 2 tickets to the Daytona 500. In order to enter, you had to post a comment about why you wanted to go to the Daytona 500. Here is what I posted.

 I'd love to win tickets! 1. My budget is way too tight to be able to buy them, but I only live an hour away and could easily make it there. 2. The Daytona 500 is on my bucket list. 3. It's been a tough season of grief and loss for my family and me, and getting the thrill of going to a race would be an awesome pick-me-up. Thanks for doing this giveaway. I'd love to win, but even if I don't, I know the tickets will be really fantastic for the person who does win.

I really did not expect to win. There were 175 entries, and I only entered as a long shot. To my surprise and delight, I WON! I won 2 tickets to the Daytona 500! I am floating around the house on Cloud 9 right now. Yes, I send out a million thanks to the generosity of Martin Truex Jr. But more importantly, I send out my thanks to God. He knows me. He knows what I love. And He loves to give good gifts to His children. He loves to give good gifts to me, and this time He chose perfectly! Daytona 500, here I come!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Toothless Wonder

On Superbowl Sunday in 2008, Snapper lost her first tooth. It was an ordeal that involved a deluge of tears.
On Superbowl Sunday in 2012, Pepper lost his first tooth. It was a celebration that involved cheering and jumping up and down. It was made even more delightful by the presence of my dad and step-mom, who are visiting from California. The tooth fairy came and visited last night. She left a Tooth-O-Gram (just like she always left for me) and $3 (The California tooth fairy came with the Florida tooth fairy). Pepper asked for $1000, but the tooth fairy declined his offer. It didn't matter though. I was awakened by Pepper's squeals when he found the loaded pillow hanging on his doorknob. The tooth fairy left one perfect, tiny tooth in my treasure box, a bittersweet reminder that my baby is growing up.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Unexpected Surprise

In Florida, writing is the focus subject for 4th grade FCAT (standardized testing). She will also be tested in reading and math. Snapper has been working very hard with her incredible teachers this year to develop her writing. I am blown away at the amazing quality her writing has taken on, and I am so proud of her. She's meant to be a writer for sure! This weekend she had to write a story at home. It was meant to be a practice for FCAT. She had a two-sided paper to work with, and 45 minutes to complete her assignment without the help up dictionary, thesaurus, or her writer's notebook. After she finished, I was allowed to go through it with her to check spelling and to help her think through any suggestions I had. Apart from a few spelling mistakes on difficult words and suggesting she add a sentence at the end of the story, I had no suggestions for her. She is amazing, and she wanted me to publish her story on the blog. So here it is!

Unexpected Surprise
by: Snapper
February 5, 2012

           “Oh my gosh,” I stammered in my head. I was working in room 229 when all of a sudden I heard the door swing open and slam into the wall with a loud BOOM! Then when we looked up, we feasted our eyes upon a glorious surprise!
            Mrs. Expected, who has been my teacher ever since 2nd grade, came in with what seemed like 40 bags of stuff from Publix! Even better, instead of wearing her ebony black dress and black high heels, she came in wearing a vibrant purple dress with ruffles and teal high heels. Instead of her ordinary brown hair in a bun under her old hat with a daisy, she had apple red hair in braided pigtails with divine purple bows at the ends! Suddenly, at 9:20 a.m., I realized that my old, boring, predictable, stern teacher was no more. Then she announced, “Children, there is no need for work, let’s party!”
            Of course, before we could party, we had to set up. Those bags she had brought were full of party supplies. For example, there were 4 packs of streamers. She even brought luscious cupcakes covered with mountains of creamy icing, coated with an alluring variety of brilliant sprinkles. As soon as I had a glimpse of those babies I decided in my head that once I had one in my hand, I would devour it like a famished lion feasting on a juicy wildebeest in a desert! She even brought confetti and balloons in the shape of animals.
            At the party itself there was an outrageous jukebox that Mrs. Expected had bought at Publix! She said it cost about $200! So having the music blasting and the confetti going wild, we had a heck of a time partying in our room. We danced, stuffed ourselves, and batted at a bull shaped piƱata. The cupcakes tasted just like they looked...they tasted scrumptious, even extraordinary! But suddenly, we heard the intimidating sound of knee high boots coming down the hall. So Mrs. Expected shouted “Hurry kids, clean up!” I threw a tarp over the jukebox while the others stuffed trash into their desks and pulled out math papers. We had finished just in time for our principal, Mrs. Bossy Pants, to walk in and question, “What’s going on in here?” “Just noisy work,” our teacher replied while we looked as if we were working all along. Just as the principal was about to leave, the bell rang. Whew! That was a close call!
            The next day, when we came in we got another surprise! “Children, let’s go to Wonder Works,” Mrs. Expected exclaimed. So we had to change her name because she kept throwing surprises at us. Her new name became Mrs. Unexpected.