Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

All day long my thoughts are on the story--the true story--of God, born in human flesh, in a stable, so many years ago. He didn't choose to come in pomp and glory. He didn't enamor the world with his good looks, charm, or wealth. In His infinite wisdom, He chose to come in a way that everyone could relate to. He came as a baby, and was born in the humblest of settings. The world was changed that night, as God gave us a direct line to Him. Through His birth, perfect life, death, and resurrection, all people can experience forgiveness of sin, a personal relationship with The God of the universe, and the promise of eternity spent with Him.

There is no greater gift!

Tonight our family will put out cookies for Santa, and carrots for his reindeer. We'll listen together for bells in the sky and hooves on our roof. The kids know it's a rather elaborate game of make-believe, but it is still fun to play.

But before we do any of that, we'll carol our neighbors and deliver treats we have made with love. We'll celebrate Christ's birth with our family at church. We'll have a Bradley the Bear puppet show at home (another tradition) to talk more with the kids about the true meaning of Christmas. We'll read a few more Christmas stories. I love today!

This Christmas I have one thing for which I am so thankful that it deserves a post all its own...

321. Getting to hear a precious, little heartbeat. The promise of a new niece or nephew, arriving in 2013!!!!!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

301. A new gluten free flour mix that perfectly duplicated my aunt's sugar cookies and my Oma's gingerbread. It tastes exactly the same as the regular cookies!
302. Colored sprinkles and drips of icing on my kitchen floor...because they are evidence of a sweet time with my kids
303. 8 dozen delicious cookies ready for Christmas and for our neighbors
304. Instant messaging
305. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I really, really love our Christmas tree this year!
306. A pediatrician who loves our family and gives our kids excellent care
307. Steroids and nebulizers and inhalers

308. A pajama ride to look at Christmas lights after bedtime
309. The sweetness of sleeping children
310. Beautiful Christmas dresses for the girls
311. A lovely time of worship at church this morning
312. The GINORMOUS box that came from my dad and holds my Christmas gift from him. When I say ginormous, I mean that I could probably fit all five kids in it. It must have cost a fortune to ship. I can't wait to see what is in there!
313. Jim Carrey as The Grinch
314. Our friends Ron and Christina and their kiddos D and C
315. The joy in keeping traditions
316. Seven small gingerbread houses built. This is Snapper and D's third year in a row to make gingerbread houses together.

317. The beautiful ornament from Christina that says, "Family is a Circle of Love," and has 7 joined hearts on it with our names in them. I LOVE IT!
318. My precious mom, who even though she is in Heaven, continues to impact my life every day
319. Words of love and encouragement from several friends on Facebook who knew and loved my mom. They told me I am so much like my mom. No better compliment could be given.
320. 23 years with the best, most wonderful mom that ever lived. She has been gone for almost 10 years now, and the pain if missing her is still as horrible as if she had died yesterday. It isn't a constant anymore, but when it comes it washes over me like a flood and overpowers me. Oh, how I miss her! Today would have been her 63rd birthday. In this photo, I was 8 months pregnant with Snapper. and she was in the middle of a particularly brutal round of chemo. But look at the joy on her precious face! She's my hero. I love you, dear Mommy. Happy Birthday.

Friday, December 21, 2012


281. Feeling well enough to go shopping
282. Having Target and the mall less than 10 minutes away from my house
283. Gift wrap at Dollar Tree
284. Impromptu dance party in the living room with all five kids
285. Only four school days for the kids in the next month (winter break + adoption trip)
286. Daily signs that my littlest chick's attachment to Matt and me is growing
287. Being totally finished with Christmas shopping and wrapping
288. The pair of muscovy ducks that has taken up residence in our front yard. They are so cute!
289. Five willing house cleaning helpers
290. The week's accumulated grime has been vanquished. It's amazing how filthy a house can get in one week! I have my regular housecleaning routine that involves vacuuming, wiping down bathrooms, and sweeping almost every day. One week of being too sick to clean made a mess of the house. The kids worked very hard to help me clean it!
291. New socks and underwear
292. A generous gift card in the mail from a friend!!!
293. Another choice by Bubbles to let go of part of her past in order to move forward
294. A sweet note from Pepper's teacher telling me how much she loves getting to be his teacher. (He came home today glowing with pride because she told him what a smart, special kid he is)
295. Our DVR
296. Oregon Chai Tea
297. A very sweet email from Bubbles' teacher
298. The family of raccoons that is chattering outside my window
299. Clean sheets
300. Stepping on the scale this morning and realizing that I have lost 35 pounds since July, I am more than halfway to my goal weight, and I weigh less than I have in the last 8 years! And jeans are as comfortable as sweats, which has not been the case for many years!!! Yay me!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December Morning

261. Bleach. It gives me confidence that all the bacteria are killed...the bacteria growing in Sunny's carseat from the whole cup of chocolate milk she dumped in it
262. 5-point harnesses in contain children who otherwise won't follow seatbelt rules
263. Our first adoptive family therapy appointment (the jury is still out on how well it went)
264. Our across the street neighbor who is giving us her notary services for free
265. Our adoption petition, the document that needs notary services!
266. Winter Break afternoon R&R...the hour (or more, depending) all the kids spend in bed reading or writing every afternoon
267. A delightful evening spent with Snapper last night
268. A sweet high school friend of ours who is a wonderful babysitter
269. The Foster Parent Association in our area's provision of a pile of gifts for our kids
270. A lunch date with my hubby. It was so nice to get out of the house for a couple of hours this morning
271. Afternoon nap time (coming up for me)
272. The gift of a s'mores kit from Bubbles' teacher
273. New photos of Bubbles, Piper, and Sunny to hang on our wall
274. Lysol wipes
275. The beautiful, dark wood of our dining room table
276. Creativity to make costumes...Joseph, an angel, two wisemen, and one donkey
277. Indoor plumbing
278. Glittery snowflake art on my wall, made at school by Sunny
279. December evening neighborhood gathering
280. Flavored creamers for my coffee

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


This thankfulness thing has been really good for me. Now that my eyes are more in the habit of looking for blessings, I am seeing so much more! I have to post for a second time today so I don't forget.

241. A lovely, long chat with my step-mom when she called me this morning
242. Knowing that she prays for me every day
243. The Christmas cards and letters that are filling my mailbox every afternoon. I LOVE THEM ALL!
244. A sacrificial gift to our ministry. Sweet giver, I know you read this blog. We know the heart behind your gift, and we are grateful!
245. A Starbucks gift card in the mail from a friend who just wanted to encourage Matt and me
246. The laughter of the four of my kids who are roller skating in the driveway. They are laughing because they are making up their own version of Rudolph, in which Rudolph has a shiny red bellybutton full of lint that looks like pieces of Santa's beard...okay...???
247. That Snapper's grounding and my pneumonia are giving us an evening alone together
248. The depth and quality of our network of friends in Florida. I realized again today just how blessed we are by the people who are part of our everyday life.
249. A cup of Emergen-C, made for me (without being asked) by a concerned daughter
250. Pepper losing track of time in his afternoon book rest and reading for an hour-and-a-half
251. The amazing creativity of my 8-year-old daughter, Bubbles. She built a nativity scene out of construction paper, staples, and tape.
252. 6-year-old Piper offering to prepare snack for her brother and sisters
253. Concerned love pats and run-by kisses from Sunny all morning
254. Spending a whole morning watching Christmas movies, just Sunny and me
255. A newsy letter carrying my love to my 95-year-old Granny in California
256. My January project for work completed
257. A series of delightful emails between my sister and me
258. Packages in the mail from family and friends all across the country
259. Afternoon sunshine brightening my living room
260. Dinner prepared for our family tonight by a good friend

See? My heart is just overflowing. I am so very blessed!


Last night two of my younger girls got themselves all tangled up in a lie. It was over a stupid thing. But they broke a rule and tried to cover it up. What they didn't know was that Daddy was standing right outside the door, listening to their conversation as they planned the cover-up. He put them straight to bed for the night. This happened at 7:15. Early bedtime is pretty much the cone of shame in our house, especially for Bubbles, who likes to feel bigger than the younger kids. When I came in to say goodnight, the girls tried to tell me they had forgotten the rule that they broke. Again, Daddy was listening just outside the door. He came in and set things straight. I expressed my disappointment in the girls, especially in Bubbles, who has not ever lied to me before. She burst into tears. She was horrified that she had broken trust, and devastated that I was disappointed. While I was getting Bubbles and Piper tucked into bed, I told Sunny to get her pajamas on. Several minutes later when I came out of the bedroom, Sunny made a mad dash for the bathroom to put her pajamas on. As soon as she had her jammies on, I put her to bed. Snapper spent her evening in Daddy's office completing a homework assignment that she turned in late and incomplete. Not only is she losing out on two fun events this week, she also had to complete the work and turn it back in. That left Pepper as the only child awake and with free time. We let him pick what he wanted to do with his time before bed. To our surprise, he didn't choose to play on the Wii...he chose to read! He stretched out on the living room floor and read the dictionary for a solid 30 minutes! When I questioned his choice of reading material, this is what he said:

 I love reading the dictionary because learning new words makes me a smarter, more capable child!

After I assured myself I had heard him right, I worked hard to hold in the laughter. That kid is so, so cute!

231. Good Earth Tea
232. The awakening of Pepper's mind
233. His 1st grade teacher, who has been so instrumental in this awakening
234. 12 hours of sleep for three little girls who clearly needed it
235. A comfortable couch for nights when I just can't get comfortable in my bed
236. The warmth of the kitty sleeping on my feet
237. That the obnoxious, noisy, dirty neighbors across the street moved out
238. A kind, attentive landlord
239. "Prep and Landing"   Have you seen it?
240. That the stuff in my chest is starting to loosen up. Painful, yes, but a good sign.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I went to a conference with Piper's teacher and the school psychologist yesterday afternoon. In January we will have a 504 committee meeting to put an IEP in place for Piper. Her learning needs and ADHD require that she be allowed unlimited time for test taking. This IEP will travel with her through her years of school. It will be especially valuable once she starts taking the state's standardized tests. At the end of the meeting, I was walking out to my car when I broke into a cold sweat. I started coughing and couldn't stop. Once I was in the car and the coughing had subsided, I got chills. I've had plugged ears for a few weeks now, and my ears have been hurting for the last several days. I always cough a lot when I have an ear infection. I figured I had let it go long enough, so I pulled out of the school and headed to urgent care to get my ears checked.

An hour later I walked out of urgent care with a clean bill of health for my ears and a wad of prescriptions in hand to treat acute sinusitis and pneumonia. What??? I was shocked at the diagnosis. The sinus infection wasn't shocking, but pneumonia? I didn't feel that bad! My cough was dry and not painful. But the doctor knew what he was talking about. He warned me that it would start to hurt, and that I could expect even to cough until I vomit. What??? I filled the prescriptions and went home.

This morning I realize that the doctor was indeed right. My chest hurts. I feel like there are bricks on it. My upper back hurts. A strong, non-narcotic cough medicine is easing the intensity of the coughing. But every tiny thing I do takes a massive amount of effort. Walking down the hall to the bathroom leaves me winded. Even eating breakfast required concerted effort. This is not fun, people. I have had some pretty intense sicknesses in my lifetime, so I try never to take my health for granted. But being bad sick is a good reminder of how wonderful it is to be healthy.

221. My Christmas shopping is completely done, so I can relax and get well without worrying about gifts.
222. An excellent urgent care clinic close to our house where I was able to walk in without an appointment
223. Medications to help me heal
224. That I got sick this week and not next week
225. Medications that will increase my comfort as I recover
226. Medications that will chase the pneumonia away. How many people throughout the span of time have died from this illness?
227. The other room moms for Bubbles' class who were willing to step in an take leadership of the class party at a moment's notice
228. A husband who can keep the household running while Mom is down for the count
229. The comfort of talking to my daddy on the phone last night. Sometimes a girl just wants her mom, and when Mom is gone, Daddy is the next best thing.
230. My general good health. I thank the Lord for a healthy body.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Processing It

In my adulthood, I have gotten really good at putting in filters to help protect me from emotional overload. Over the last few months, those filters have been put to the test as I have had to learn how to display absolutely no emotion when dealing with a raging child. The filters are good quality filters. They are very strong. And unfortunately, they have begun to get stuck at times when they shouldn't be there. As I sat and talked with Matt today, I realized this for the first time. The events at Sandy Hook Elementary should have awakened every emotion in me, but they did not. And I didn't really notice. Sure, I thought it was a horrible tragedy. I shed some tears. Those families have not been far from my thoughts, and I have prayed for them several times throughout each day since. But it didn't grip the depths of my heart.

Watching my husband cry again today while reading a poem about the little ones who were killed on Friday, I realized that I should be crying, too. After all, I have two 1st graders. My Pepper and my Piper are both 6 years old. I broached it with Matt. He lovingly made me talk about the situation. He pushed the envelope. He ripped out the filter that should not have been there. And out it all came. I found myself sitting on a park bench outside of the grocery store sobbing and gagging, so overcome with stored up emotions that I couldn't even catch my breath.

Can anyone else relate?

After the flood had subsided, we talked some more. It is unbelievable the relief that comes from being honest with one's emotions, and from allowing release to happen. It is 1:45 p.m. I am sitting in MY chair in the living room. I am utterly exhausted. All the crying stopped up my already congested ears, so I feel like I'm living underwater. But I'm at peace. I don't have to avoid the photo collages and gut-wrenching posts on Facebook. I can listen to the radio again. I can have honest conversations with my older kids about what happened on Friday. All because I finally dealt with my own heart.

211. A loving husband who knows me as well as I know myself...and sometimes knows me even better
212. The healing power of tears
213. The comforting presence of God's Holy Spirit
214. Knowing that my kids' teachers would die protecting their students. I know this because I would have died to protect my students when I was a teacher. These teachers are no different.
215. The knowledge that God loves my kids more than I do
216. That God's plans are higher than my plans, even when--like in this situation--I don't understand
217. Pepper's words to Matt when the two of them discussed Friday: "I'm not afraid to go to school. If someone came in and shot me, I know where I would go. I would be with Jesus, and I'm not afraid of dying."
218. A very precious bonding moment with Sunny this morning as she snuggled in my lap while I had my coffee and read my Bible. We found "her" verse, the one we have decided to claim for her.
219. Sunny's real middle name is Brielle, which means "God is my strength." We chose that name for her knowing that she has a very strong personality. We wanted to channel it and use it for good, and what better way to help channel it than to claim truth in the meaning of her new name! As an adopted child of God, this biblical promise is for her. It could not suit her better.  Isaiah 41:9b-10  You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
220: A cup of hot tea

Sunday, December 16, 2012

This Post Makes Me Hungry!

191. A wonderful evening out with our dear friends Brad and Kathy
192. Artichoke crusted steak medallions with a mushroom marsala sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and a wedge salad with bacon, tomatoes, and gorgonzola cheese and dressing. OH MY YUM!
192. Pumpkin creme brulee for dessert
193. The Hobbit
194. Two delightful, competent high school babysitters who took fabulous care of the kids...for free!
195. The priceless blessing of dear friends
196. Phenylephrine nasal spray
197. The softness of Kleenex...the kind with lotion in it
198. My heating pad
199. Bacon for breakfast
200. A wonderful church in which God's Word is proclaimed honestly, deeply, and without shame or apology
201. Reclining seats in my van
202. A 6-year-old daughter who is so comforted by being close to me that she was able to fall asleep on me in our van in the church parking lot this morning
203. The effectiveness of children's Motrin for relieving bad headaches
204. A delightful day spent doing Christmas activities with my family
204. Two solid hours of my kids running, playing, and climbing a cargo net play structure
205. All five kids asleep within two minutes of being put to bed, thanks to the cargo nets!
206. The satisfying home feeling I get when I drive into our neighborhood
207. Hot chocolate
208. The big chair in my living room from which I post 90% of my blogs. This chair is MY chair and I luff it.
209. Cold, fresh water to drink whenever I am thirsty
210. My kitty's obvious adoration of me. There's nothing like her sweet meows, purrs, and weaving in and out of my legs whenever I come near her. It is fun to be adored!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 14th

171. Our Sam's Club membership
172. All the Christmas gifts for my extended family members all packaged up and waiting to picked up by the postman
173. A generous gift from a dear friend in California
174. The anticipation of Christmas
175. Really nice Christmas cards at a really great price (thanks, Sam's Club!)
176. Each friend who will be receiving those cards
177. The courage of one of my former students as she reminded people to extend forgiveness to the school shooter yesterday
178. Her strength as she stood up for God's truth when she was blasted, mocked, and cursed at
179. God's joy that filled her in the midst...and spilled over, putting my perspective in check
180. I am thankful that my kids were waiting for me safe and sound at the car line yesterday.
181. Polar Express
182. That Bubbles got to go to a birthday sleepover for a good friend
183. 100% on a difficult vocabulary test for Bubbles...a major accomplishment!
184. That Sunny had nine good days in a row before she broke the streak
185. The knowledge that we get to start family adoption therapy this week!
186. A delightful staff meeting yesterday
187. Getting to use my creativity at work to make an eternal difference in the lives of families
188. White lights on my Christmas tree
189. Cold pizza for breakfast
190. Free babysitting tonight!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Very Good Weekend

161. Living close enough to SeaWorld that we can spend a day there every now and then without an ordeal of a drive
162. Spending Saturday at SeaWorld with out-of-town friends
163. A wonderful babysitter who can handle Sunny whether she is stormy or sunny.
164. A fresh bucket of disclosure from Piper. She couldn't hold the hurt anymore and told me a bunch more pain from her past. More room for healing!
165. Approval for adoption therapy services for our family
166. Scholastic's warehouse sale. I got $180 of books for the kids for Christmas for $50!
167. An opportunity to show the love of Jesus to a lady in Target who was down on her luck. Who knew that buying a $5.84 bottle of shampoo for someone could make such a big impact?
168. Living in a town that has tornado sirens for days like today when you actually need tornado sirens
169. Safety in the storm
170. The autosave feature on Matt's computer that saved Snapper's big project before the computer froze

Friday, December 7, 2012

Feeling Blessed Today

151. Watching Snapper being herself with a group of swim team friends who completely love and accept her.
152. 104% on Snapper's Science quiz (This is awesome because Science was rough on her for the first trimester of this school year)
153. Lunch with Snapper's teacher from last year, who has become a cherished friend
154. The wonderful smell of fresh laundry
155. Two hours of sewing this afternoon
156. The other room moms from Bubbles' class who are such a great help to me as I lead the team of room moms
157. Christmas cards from friends in Florida, Washington, Missouri and Louisiana
158. The huge bathtub in the master bathroom
159. Seeing wonderful progress in school for Bubbles, the hardest working kids ever!
160. A good day with Sunny. I do not take good days for granted, because bad days are really bad. Those bad days make the good days all the more precious to me.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Today's Blessings

141. My childhood Christmas books being enjoyed all over again by my children
142. Windows full of homemade paper snowflakes

143. Two American Girl dolls high up in my closet, ready to give Piper and Bubbles the Christmas surprise of their lives!
144. Lunch date with my hubby
145. Reminders of how far we've come with Piper, Bubbles and Sunny since we got them in July
146. Buffalo wings
147. Auntie Maggie's potato salad recipe
148. A long phone conversation with my cousin Daisy
149. 35 mastered vocabulary words for Bubbles this week
150. A lifelong friend joining our ministry support team. THANKS STEF!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


131. The first, stuck cartwheel on the low beam at gymnastics for Bubbles!
132. 100% on last weeks reading and spelling tests for Piper (this is a big accomplishment for her)!
133. Winning the Golden Kick Board award at swim for Snapper, the award for being the hardest-working swimmer on the team in the last week!

134. The times Sunny looks at me and decides to make a good choice instead of throwing a fit
135. Pepper being the only kid in his class to as the spelling pre-test
136. A drizzly, foggy morning that makes my coffee seem that much better
137. My fleece robe
138. Beautiful Christmas artwork on the fridge, made my three of my budding artists
139. Friends who cook dinner for our family every Wednesday night before Awana, just to take the pressure off me
140. A wonderful relationship with my adopted girls' former foster mom

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Daily Details

121. My high capacity washing machine
122. A dryer that dries a high capacity load in 35 minutes
123. My dishwasher
124. Three kids who do about 75% of the household dishes load
125. My vacuum cleaner
126. A little bit of daily kid mess left out that results in kids doing chores on Saturday to earn their things back. (This is a blessing because they do the obscure chores--like washing windows and baseboard--every week. My house has never been cleaner or more organized!)
127. A home with lots of big windows, resulting in lovely light in my house all day
128. The cute squirrel that runs along my back fence about 500 times each day, flirting and teasing Pixie
129. A comfortable desk chair that allows me to work on my computer for hours without back pain
130. Parenting wisdom that comes from God when I am completely at a loss for what to do.

Two bickering girls. Both spread the Sunday paper all over the living room. Both pointing fingers, blaming the other
"It was Sunny's idea!"
"But Piper said I could!"
"But Sunny started it!"
"But Piper made the bigger mess!"
Two bickering, blame-casting girls, both 100% responsible for the big mess, must clean it up together.
"Mommy, Sunny won't help me!" (As Piper picks up the first piece of paper)
"But Mommy, I didn't even get a chance to help!" (As Sunny wads up a piece and throws it at Piper)
Piper screams in total drama, "OW OW OW OW OW!!!! You hurt me, Sunny!" (The paper bounced harmlessly off her back).
Both girls erupt into tears.
So Mommy gets creative, with the help of God. The two girls wore my shirt together and picked up all the papers. They were required to hold hands with their hands that were inside the shirt. They continued to bicker and fight each other, making their job difficult. When they finished the job, they were still grumping. I had them sit together in the shirt on the living room floor for 10 minutes. They still had to hold hands. After about 5 minutes, they were giggling and loving each other. Before I let them out of the shirt, I had them say five nice things to each other. That solved the issue. To make sure they had learned, I asked them to work together to clean up the Lego mess they had made in the Florida room. They did!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chest Cold

111. Tylenol Multi-Symptom Severe Cold liquid
112. The big, cozy chair in my living room
113. Chamomile mint tea
114. A husband who takes care of me when I feel lousy
115. Three kids who ran an awesome first race of the cross country season
116. Dr. Pepper
117. That God stopped the preterm labor and brought down the blood pressure and protein level of my friend's sister, who is 21 weeks pregnant
118. Another miraculous provision from God...truly miraculous...that I can't detail here and now
119. Sweet Piper's willingness to do more chores that I asked of her
120. The fun of having a 10-year-old who also happens to be a very, very cool kid