Thursday, January 31, 2013

On This Day

511. Spending an hour holding my Florida bestie's new baby, Evan. He is precious and just melts into my arms!
512. Enjoying frozen yogurt with my favorite 2 1/2-year-old, Tracie's other son, Isaac
513. A few close friends who know my heart, listen to my struggles, and lovingly encourage me
514. The peace of God that passes all understanding
515. The ability (today) to stay completely calm and be totally not bothered by Piper and Sunny's bickering this afternoon
516. The soothing effect of a warm bath on a crying child
517. The sweet nurturing times I get with my girls when I wash their hair and scrub their backs. I missed their babyhoods, nibbling their tiny toes, kissing baby cheeks and noses, snuggling them when they fit close in my arms, enjoying midnight feedings, singing lullabies in the glider at 2 a.m., whispering words of love into their tiny ears. They enjoy snuggling now, but helping them with their baths is the most nurturing thing I get to do with them. I massage their scalps, gently comb their hair, protect their eyes from the soap as I rinse their hair, and scrub their backs and in between their toes with a shower puff. I know they'll only be little enough for this for a short time, so I'm making up for lost time and making the most of it. When you adopt a child who is not a baby, there is so much that you miss!
518. Bubbles' diligent work and dedication to her studies. Every day I am more and more impressed with her!
519. The secure feeling that comes with return to our routine
520. A clean kitcehn

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Halfway to 1000!

501. The gift of a little girl home from school with tummy trouble. A gift because the tummy trouble passed quickly, and we were able to have some concentrated time together.
502. God's crystal clear direction in a decision I have been toying with for months
503. The spectacular, beautiful, mature, wise, selfless heart of my 10-year-old Snapper. She is an instrument in God's hands, showing me where I lack faith and pointing me in the right direction.
504. The incredible privilege of being a mother
505. A Facebook chat with a missionary friend in Peru
506. The intoxicating fragrance that fills my house at this time of year because the orange grove across the street is beginning to bloom
507. An afternoon of laughter from the bathroom as my four younger kids beautified each other with Piper's new hair chalk
508. Reviewing sight word flashcards with Bubbles...and finding that she knew 200 words in 7 minutes!!! When we last reviewed them the second week of December, the 200 words too 9 minutes!
509. My 6-year-old Pepper, completely absorbed in and cruising through a 400-page book with a 6th grade reading level!!!
510. Being able to zip up shorts in a size that I haven't been able to wear since before I had Snapper. Last time I could fit into this size was...December of 2001!!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Our Weekend--I Am Thankful!

491. A week off of making school lunches because my mother-in-law is in town. She's an early bird and made their lunches for me all week!
492. A gorgeous tea party for my little Piper's 7th birthday
493. Six little friends, three sisters, one brother, one grandma, an adopted grandma and grandpa, and two of Mommy's cousins, who had a ball helping Piper celebrate her special day
494. A rich time of fellowship and prayer with my cousins John and Daisy who were in town from Nevada on Saturday
495. Falling asleep in the sand at the beach and sleeping like a log for 3 hours
496. My wonderful MIL and hubby who kept the kids far away from me so I could take that much-needed nap
497. Gorgeous new bedding for our bed to replace the set that Miss Sunny tore up in one of her rages
498. A delightful day at SeaWorld today, just my MIL and me
499. Concerta for Piper, the first step in helping her work with her new ADHD diagnosis.
500. The success we experienced with her first three days on Concerta, and a glimpse of the quality of life Piper will be able to enjoy when we find the right balance of medication, diet modifications, and exercise for our sweet girl

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Growing Up

Every now and then, a child will do or say something that makes me realize that they are growing up. I have seen a lot of that this week.

481. Bubbles got her first phone call tonight, from a friend at school. They chatted on the phone about 8-year-old girl things for about 15 minutes. I loved watching the delight on her face!
482. Pepper earned a special award in his class for being responsible with his studies.
483. Snapper had her entrance interview at the college prep school she'll be attending next year. She handled herself beautifully as she interacted with the principal.
484. She also received top marks on her entrance tests and earned placement in all the honors courses that are available for 6th graders!
485. Piper persevered through learning a few difficult Bible verses for Awana, and earned three jewels in one night! She couldn't memorize anything when Awana started in September. She has grown in perseverance!
486. Sunny's teachers told me she has figured out how to appropriately enter into a group of playing kids. She has stopped grabbing toys and being demanding, and she is being welcomed in by the other little girls in her class!!!
487. Snapper tweaked her knee at cross country practice yesterday. At swim team tonight, instead of complaining to her coaches or giving it a half-baked effort, she asked for a pull buoy to put between her legs to immobilize her legs. Then she swam the whole practice using only her arms! What a mature choice that required tremendous effort!
488. I haven't picked up a single piece of Piper's dirty laundry off of the floor this week. She has remembered to put her laundry in the dirty clothes basket every evening, and has put her pajamas away every morning!
489. Instead of having a fit when I disciplined him for yelling at me yesterday, Pepper humbly apologized and thanked me for loving him enough to be tough on him when he needed it. Wha???????
490. Bubbles hates taking tests on the computer. But today she decided she was tired of being the lowest reader in her class. She tackled the SRI test, and came up 87 points over her last test in December!!! 

I am so proud of my kids! And I love the glimpses I get of who they will become as they continue to grow.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Warm and Fuzzy

472. Safe flights home from our adoption
473. Good friends who met us at the airport
474. Everyone sleeping until 9:00 the next morning
475. Three new personal best times for Snapper at her swim meet last weekend!
476. My mother-in-law doing my laundry and dishes for me
477. Finishing the shopping for Piper's birthday party
478. No issues with Sunny since we arrived home on Saturday!!!
479. The diagnosis of Failure to Thrive being nullified on Piper's medical chart yesterday!!!
480. An amazing conversation with Bubbles tonight. I asked her if she feels different since we finalized the adoption. Her reply: "YES I FEEL DIFFERENT! For the first time in my whole life, my heart feels loved and safe."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Last Time

This is it! The last time I post as a foster mother (for now).
One last day.
One last dinner.
One last bedtime.
One last night.
Tomorrow is a day of new beginnings! A day of firsts.

This day is bigger to the girls than they knew it would be. All day long they have been ecstatic, asking every hour or so how many more hours until the adoption. Kate said over and over that she has never been so excited in her life! We counted down all day. It was difficult to get them all to unwind at bedtime, so they ended up falling asleep later than they should have. Fortunately, Meghan, Lexi, and Jackson all took long naps today. They're all peacefully asleep now. The special clothes are a laid out and ready. New hair bows are waiting for the girls. Jackson is looking forward to being extra handsome in his new outfit. It's going to be a special day!

We picked up my mother-in-law this morning and spent the day with her. The girls loved her, as I knew they would. We went to Mardel's so she could stock up on books. Mardel's has a wonderful clearance section. While we were waiting for her to make her selections, the kids spotted the Willow Tree Collection section in the store. We went over and started looking at the beautiful figurines. Each child found one that he or she wanted. They got me inspired, and I put together a collection of figurines that looked like our family. I wanted it. The kids were super excited and wanted me to buy it. Meghan tried to convince me that our piano needs it. I didn't want to spend $100, so I said I would think about buying it later. I was greeted by five crestfallen little faces. Shortly after, Kate and Whitney approached me. They wanted to pool their Christmas money to buy it for me. Their faces were so full of hope that I couldn't turn them down. I also didn't want them spending their money on me, so I decided to buy the set as an adoption gift for our family. All five kids were jumping up and down and cheering as I put the pieces into our cart. When we got back to Karon's house, they asked me to set it up so they could see our family. We can't wait to get home and put it up on top of the piano!

Travel Mercies

461. Uneventful flights
462. Compliments from three random strangers on the trip on how good our kids are
463. Good friends to meet us at the airport
464. God's protection from a hostile person who had the potential to really mess up this trip
465. Icy roads--which are also empty roads--that provided us with a clean getaway from said hostile person
466. The familiarity and comfort of staying with dear friends
467. The best pizza restaurant ever!!!
468. A safe flight for my mother-in-law
469. A cooperative, happy, obedient 4-year-old
470. That the end of this journey is almost within my grasp

Monday, January 14, 2013

These Are My Children

451. I am thankful for Snapper. 10 years old. 5th grader. 4'7" tall. 69 pounds. Clothing size 10. Shoe size 6. Blonde hair that everyone tells me will go dark, but shows no signs of doing that yet. Beautiful blue eyes that don't see very well, but are alive enough to be windows into her soul. Passionately loves Jesus, and plans to use her life to serve Him. She doesn't know what that looks like yet, but whatever she ends up "doing with her life," she insists it will be to glorify God. She's an excellent student who brings delight to her teachers. She enjoys swim team and is very good at it. She loves to ride her bike, roller skate, climb trees, play with her dolls, and look pretty. Looking pretty is easy because she is a gorgeous little girl. She is compassionate to a fault, generous, kind, and outgoing. She struggles with her ADHD, staying focused, remembering important details, verbalizing her thoughts, and following through with a task. But she faces it head-on and is totally teachable when we address it. In the last 6 months since the three younger girls came to live with us, Snapper has grown TREMENDOUSLY in patience, self control, and impulse control. She asks the Lord for help, and we're watching her grow in strength of character, and she has become a truly lovely young lady. I am so proud of her, and so blessed to be her mom.

452. Glasses. They give the gift of sight to Snapper and me.

453. I am thankful for Bubbles. 8 years old. 2nd grader. 4'3" tall (she has grown 4 inches in the last 6 months!). 58 pounds. Clothing size 7/8. Shoe size 2. Brown hair with natural blonde streaks. Brown eyes that are no longer able to hide what she's feeling. Loves Jesus and soaks up every Bible story and memorizes Scripture like a parched dessert. She is learning to trust Him with her fears, and is starting to see Him in the day-to-day stuff of life. Bubbles, like Snapper, is an excellent student who has made tremendous strides in school this year, having skipped a grade (due to age, not academic prowess), and she is almost up to grade level in all subjects! Her progress report this week? All A's and B's! This is a VICTORY for this child, who came into 2nd grade with a pre-primer reading level. She is the ultimate diligent kid, working hard on her studies every day. She is excited to play softball this spring, and I know she'll be good at it. She loves riding her bike, roller skating, gymnastics, climbing anything that can be climbed, playing with her dolls, drawing, making projects, and being with Snapper. She is intelligent, creative, funny, honest, perceptive, observant, and loving. She struggles with fear at night, which is the result of a horrific 6 years with her birth parents. We're working with a therapist to help her heal from the trauma she has experienced. She is unbelievably courageous, facing her past, letting her fears out into the open, and dealing with them honestly and frankly. We're watching her grow in all areas of her life. She was like a little wilted rose when she came to us, stunted and afraid to open up and grow. Now she's uncurling and stretching and blossoming. She's amazingly sweet and precious. How blessed am I to call her my daughter!

454. Art supplies. They take on amazing shape when they come into Bubbles' creative hands.

455. I am thankful for Piper. Almost 7 years old. 1st grader. 3'11" tall. 47 pounds. Clothing size 6. Shoe size 13. Light brown hair. Eyes that are either blue-gray or green depending on the light and her mood, and can speak without words. She loves Jesus with the blind trust of a little one. If God said it, I believe it kind of faith. She loves to sing, and all her made-up songs are about God and His love for humanity. Bubbles is not a good student. Her ADHD prevents her from being able to make steady forward progress in school. How can one learn to read when every little thing is a distraction, and one's head is filled with confusing, incessant noise? We begin interventions with her next week, and I am excited to see her come to life, just as Snapper did when we began interventions for her three years ago. Piper takes gymnastics classes right now, but her burning desire is to do cheerleading. She loves to play dress-up, do her hair, nails, and makeup, have tea parties, and play house. If it is pink and pretty, it makes her happy. She adores music, and is very affected by certain songs. Some have positive connections for her, and some songs make her cry. She has a heavenly little singing voice. Piper is sweet, affectionate, gentle, silly--she defines silly--ditzy, cute, and generous. She sees and appreciates beautiful things like butterflies, tiny flowers in the weeds, sunsets, and people's facial features. She struggles with ADHD, not only in school, but in just about every aspect of daily life. She is unable to complete simple tasks. She forgets everything. She has no common sense or logic. But she can't help it, and I know that. We're doing our best to work with her, and the series of interventions that will begin when we have our adoption decree in hand have the potential to turn her life around and bring her all sorts of independence and freedom. Piper shares her memories freely and loves without reservation. She is a delightful, imaginative little girl, and I adore her. She is an amazing blessing to us.

456. Our professional team. We're working with a therapist, pediatrician, two teachers, one principal, and a guidance counselor to provide the services Piper needs. They are all amazing individuals, and they are dedicated to meeting Piper's needs.

457. I am thankful for Pepper. 6 1/2 years old. 1st grader. 4'1" tall. 43 pounds. Clothing size 6x/7. Shoe size 2. Light brown hair. Dark brown eyes that are possibly the most expressive eyes I have ever seen. Then again, his eyebrows are super expressive too, and they might be what make his eyes so expressive...
Pepper is becoming an encyclopedia of Bible knowledge. He asks deep questions that shouldn't be coming from a child his age. He longs to know more about God, and he sees the spiritual wherever he looks. Pepper is an outstanding student. Unlike the rest of my kids, he is a passionate learner. He reads constantly, and his interests range from Star Wars, to geology, to ancient history, to zoology, to aviation, to the acquisition of new words. He is interested in everything, and absorbs knowledge at an alarming rate. Pepper loves his gymnastics class and running cross country. He likes reading, drawing, anything mechanical, building things, and playing with his sisters. He is the most relaxed, kind-hearted boy I've ever known. He is unfailingly patient, generous, kind, forgiving, joyful, and content. He's also unselfish and flexible. His weakness is laziness. He does not like to put forth effort, and he strongly dislikes doing physical labor. We're working with him on completing a chore with excellence, without complaining. He also can get so involved in a book or a project that he has difficulty transitioning when it is time to stop doing what he's doing. Pepper has grown this year in his efforts at school. We love watching the awakening of his mind, and the sky is the limit for him with the high intelligence level he has, combined with precocious curiosity. Pepper is an amazing brother to all of his sisters, and I am so proud of the loving boy that he is. God certainly knew what He was doing when He gave us this child!

458. My huge collection of books. There is never a shortage of reading material for Pepper in our home!

459. I am thankful for Sunny. 4 1/2 years old. Pre-K kiddo. 3'6" tall. 37 pounds. Clothing size 5T. Shoe size 12. Blond hair. Sparkling blue eyes that tell the truth, even when her lips are lying. Sunny is very interested in the Bible, and anything having to do with Jesus or God. She is learning how to pray, and she retains Bible stories far better than she retains any other kind of story. She could care less about school and learning. Right now, all she wants to do is play. Because of her social/emotional developmental delays, this is not a surprise. She is as interested in school things as any other 3-year-old. Sunny loves to do anything that is considered a "boy thing." She likes boy toys, pretending she is a boy, dressing up in Pepper's boy dress-ups, and digging in the dirt. She loves her big brother and big sisters, and does everything in her power to keep up with them. Sunny is cheerful, boisterous, curious, observant, energetic, loud, and goofy. She is also extremely affectionate, and loves hugs and kisses more than any of the other kids. Her weakness is definitely her tendency to act like a baby. This takes the form of baby talk. whining, tantrums, and behavior you would expect from a 2-year-old, not an almost-5-year-old. This is not her fault, and we are working with two therapists to help Sunny progress to her proper developmental age. Sunny is a ray of sunshine in our home. She has the brightest personality of all the kids, and she adds so much depth to our family. I am so thankful she is ours, and thankful for the growing she has forced me to do. I am a better person, a better wife, a better mom because of this precious, little girl.

460. A big back yard that provides lots of space for Sunny to run in, and lots of dirt for her to dig in. And a privacy fence that keeps her safely contained.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Little Things

441. A thought provoking message at church this morning
442. Seeing the length and intensity of Sunny's tantrums really decreasing, now that she has figured out that Daddy and Mommy do not appear to be provoked by tantrums, and that Mommy and Daddy can be trusted not to get angry and smack her around.
443. Understanding Sunday School teachers who didn't mind that Sunny came to church with no shoes today

For the record, she was given 10 minutes in which to put on her velcro strap shoes, with the consequence for disobedience being not getting to wear shoes to church. She spent 10 minutes whining and fussing about wanting her boots, which weren't an option because she has lost one of them. Therefore, she went to church in her socks, and she was good and mad about it. She had a tantrum in the car for about 10 minutes, and then it was done. When she was placed with us 6 months ago, her tantrums could last for 3 hours or longer! A 10-minute tantrum is huge progress!

444. Four kids playing together without a fuss for two hours while Sunny napped
445. A back yard filled with laughter and happy squeals as the kids wore their bathing suits and chased each other around with ice cubes.
446. Five kids who willingly and cheerfully pitched in to get our house whipped into shape before dinner
447. Five packed suitcases awaiting our Tuesday trip to go finalize this adoption!
448. Dinner with our friends Jay and Traci
449. Encouraging emails from a few of my closest friends who are helping me process my pre-adoption jitters
450. The very soft blanket that is on my bed right now. It makes going to be extremely pleasurable. I think I'll head that way now...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sweet Saturday

432. Enjoying spending two hours deep cleaning my kitchen
433. How even doing mundane chores is a pleasure after 10 days of being sick
434. The peace the accompanies a clean, fresh-smelling house
435. The first orange blossoms of the season wafting their rich fragrance into my home
436. A day where very little child discipline was required because they lived in harmony with each other and with us today!
437. Homemade guacamole
438. Being able to pick a fresh lime from the tree in our back yard
439. Being current on laundry
440. An afternoon and evening spent with friends and ministry partners from California, Sean and Judy

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday Stuff

421. No fever today!!!!!
422. Chicken stock and prime rib soup simmering on the stove.
423. The video I made to post on Facebook on our adoption day. It turned out amazing!
424. No significant homework for anyone but Snapper this week
425. Three out of four teachers sending only light homework with us on our adoption trip
426. Another out-of-state friend coming into town for the adoption!
427. A free photo calendar from is really beautiful
428. My video editing software
429. Advice from a good friend about how to deal with pre-adoption jitters
430. The fun of planning our summer travels

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tooth Fairy Flies In

401. Another tooth lost, another milestone for our little Pepper boy.
402. This precious face. Oh, how I love this boy!

403. Homeopathic remedies that actually seem to be helping me
404. Feeling well enough to get up and do some stuff around the house without feeling like crap
405. The fun of making beautiful things for Piper's birthday party. Today I made place cards, goodie bags, tissue paper flower napkin rings, and I embossed gold flowers onto the pink napkins. It is going to be a lovely, elegant tea party for my girliest girly girl.
406. That Snapper's 4th grade teacher from last year won Teacher of the Year for the school!
407. She is now in the running for the same award at the county level, and she needs a letter of recommendation from a student. She bestowed this great honor on Snapper.
408. That Snapper writes beautifully, and wrote a letter that made me cry and represents Mrs. N exceptionally well.
409. Oregon Chai tea that my husband is making for me right now
410. The hand mixer--a gift from my step-mom for Christmas--that Matt is using to froth up the chai
411. My husband's delightful silliness with the kids. Today he put Piper and Sunny in his Angry Bird pajama pants and paraded them around the living room. That's one cute, giggling pair of pants!

412. Our gracious friends Jim and Karon who are opening their home to our family while we're in Arkansas for the adoption.
413. Did I mention that they're loaning us their Suburban to use while we're there?
414. This patient cat, Zoe, who loves generously, even when a few of the kids are less than gentle with her, and that this little girl has finally learned how to treat a cat perfectly. The cat has come to love her. Quite a feat, considering how much the cat was terrified of her 6 months ago!

415. My sweet friend Erin who has adopted two special needs girls, and completely gets me and the struggles I have from time to time. Her encouragement lifts and carries me.
416. Getting two compliments at a restaurant last week, on how well behaved our children are!
417. I just realized I haven't had to blow my nose in over an hour! This is progress, people!
418. Breaking out the new flat iron Matt got me for Christmas. I didn't realize how long my hair has gotten, or how pretty it looks straight!
419. That the kids go back to school tomorrow. I love them dearly. I'm glad they're going back.

This next one is a stand-alone, a quote from my 8-year-old, Bubbles, whom we are officially adopting this month!!!

420. "Mommy, I am SO READY for Adoption Day. I just want to be yours, like, you know, officially?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Choosing Thankfulness

Today is Day 6 of the flu. The Tamiflu is responsible for dramatically reducing the severity of the symptoms. The body aches are gone, as is the sore throat. However, I have a lingering headache and a relentless fever that wipes away every speck of energy that I have. I also fight waves of nausea several times throughout the day. All I can do is sit. Even walking to the bathroom increases my heart rate and makes me feel winded.

My first tendency is to complain.We are leaving to for adoption court in 9 days, which requires flying all seven of us to another state. In order to do that, I have to have a whole lot of ducks in a row. There's paperwork to be done. Laundry to be done. My family generates 10-12 loads of laundry each week. Housework to be done. I have to pack. I also need to shop for a few clothes items for the trip because a few members of the family are growing faster than I can keep up with. Seven people in 1800 square feet warrants daily cleaning tasks to keep the house manageable. Piper's birthday and Matt's birthday are both a few days after we get back from the trip, so there are preparations that must be done before we go. I need to go grocery shopping. All the Christmas stuff needs to come down. It wouldn't take much for me to burst into frustrated, overwhelmed tears.

But I refuse to wallow. I want to wallow, but that won't do any good. Let's see...what do I have to be thankful for in this flu bug?

I guess my body needed to rest. I've been on a never-ending merry-go-round since the girls came home in July. I am thankful for the opportunity to just sit without feeling {too} guilty.

I have had the fun of working on a 1000-piece puzzle. I think I'll finish it tonight! It has definitely been fun, and when do I ever have the time to do puzzles?

This sick week has been a great reminder to me about what a wonderful man I married. He has loved me and served me well. I don't know what in the world I would do without him.

I am thankful for good health, and that it won't be too long before my body returns to that good health. I don't have a chronic or life-threatening illness.

I am thankful that this bug hit me now and not when we are out of state for the adoption.

I hate having the flu, but when I look at how really blessed I am, the magnitude of my trouble shrinks. Dramatically.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Just Another Saturday

391. Waking up in the morning and realizing that my whole body is not in pain
392. Chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie for breakfast
393. Clean sheets with that fresh bleach smell
394. A good intake session with Sunny's new therapist
395. The promise of help as we work with her newly diagnosed developmental delays
396. Freshly mowed grass
397. Sweet neighbor kids
398. Trustworthy older daughters who can be counted on to speak the truth, even when they could get in trouble
399. My fleece-lined boots
400. Hobby Lobby

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sick Day

381. My new primary care doctor...I already love her
382. A negative flu test and a negative mono test
383. A second flu test, because the doctor examined me and saw classic flu. The second test was positive for Influenza B.
384. Tamiflu and prescription ibuprofen
385. Orders to totally rest for at least the next 3-5 days. She said no working. No going out. No housework. I'm supposed to totally rest and let my body recover. She said I'm worn down and it is compromising my immune system.
386. A comfortable couch
387. Our vibrating neck works really well on knotted leg muscles, too.
388. Snapper's Christmas gift books. I did some fun reading today.
389. The fun of starting to plan for Piper's 7th birthday party!
390. Hours of crafting inspiration, courtesy of Pinterest

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

This is a Big One!

322. Birthday breakfast for Jesus
323. Opening gifts one at a time in order to talk about them, enjoy them, and think about the giver of the gift
324. Five delighted faces
325. Beautiful gold earrings, a gift of love from my husband and son
326. Technology that will allow me to transfer my childhood home movies onto DVD!!!
327. He remembered that I like a chocolate orange in my stocking!
328. Christmas afternoon spent with our closest friends in Florida
329. That Piper, Bubbles, and Sunny have good friendships here, evidenced by their interactions with the other girls at our friends' party on Christmas
330. Comments from the girls that prove they understand the true meaning of Christmas
331. Hugs of gratitude
332. Our first whole family session with our therapist
333. The verdict is in: we do like her!
334. My husband's help with packing for our trip
335. An uneventful, 15-hour drive to Washington DC
336. Five kids who napped in the car
337. Two portable DVD players
338. A reliable car
339. My iPod with its 800+ hours of music
340. GPS
341. A big atlas, because it is fun to study maps
342. The hospitality of Matt's Uncle Ron and Aunt Michele
343. The sleep number bed in their guest room
344. That two of Matt's cousins and Matt's grandpa were all there at the same time
345. A dusting of snow for our Florida children's delight and entertainment

346. A whole day spent relaxing with family
347. A 3000-piece puzzle
348. Uncle Ron's generosity
349. A car freshly tuned up, oil changed, tires rotated, and diagnostics from Uncle Ron
350. Fresh strawberry cheesecake
351. Watching the older cousins interacting with the little cousins
352. Grandpa's camera click click clicking away as he captured the faces of his grandkids and great-grandkids
353. Board games with our cousins after the kids were in bed
354. The understanding of our extended family when one of our children (not the usual culprit) had a whopper of a tantrum for 2 hours at bedtime
355. Warm winter coats, purchased on big sale or at consignment stores before we went to cold central
356. Cute, warm hats and gloves for the kids
357. A fun day in Washington DC
358. All the men and women represented on the Vietnam Memorial
359. The wonder and awe of our kids as they experienced the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument
360. Cheap hot cocoa bought from a street vendor, relief from the 20-degree windchill and gusty wind
361. The unexpected gift of time with dear friends who moved to Pennsylvania a year ago
362. Getting to see the beautiful 100-year-old farm house which is now their home
363. Dinner at a lovely restaurant in the heart of Amish Country
364. The fun of seeing the Amish people driving in their buggies, and the conversation is sparked that allowed us to explain to the kids about how beautiful it is for all different kinds of people to have the freedom to worship God in their own way
365. Listening to old favorites via Grooveshark via my phone plugged into the tape deck
366. Flexible extended family members
367. That Pepper isn't squeamish over losing teeth. He pulled out two this weekend!

368. Breakfast in Richmond with a sweet friend
369. That we were able to easily find a hotel room when I felt myself starting to get sick
370. A comfortable hotel in Savannah, GA
371. An attentive husband
372. Advil and Tylenol Flu, for when my fever hit 104
373. Access to cold compresses
374. That we were able to control the fever and keep it below 101 for the drive home today
375. My own bed
376. My own pillow
377. Long phone calls with my cousins John and Daisy today
378. My friend Kathy who made and delivered hot chicken soup for me
379. That my husband already unpacked all the suitcases and cycled all the laundry from the trip
380. A doctor's appointment scheduled for 8:15 to confirm my suspicion that I have mono, or else diagnose me with something else.