Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good Friends on Easter Eve

801. My kids having the privilege of taking martial arts classes
802. Snapper really excelling at it

803. My husband getting to do something fun, just for himself. He and his buddy Wayne are taking Kempo karate together.

804. That three McDonald's deluxe breakfast platters will feed our whole family on a Saturday morning (plus three extra hashbrowns)
805. Seeing signs of growth in my when I'm able to tolerate a whole lot more from the kids without losing my temper
806. The safe arrival of some of our very best friends from Tennessee!
807. That we get to spend a whole week with Brian and Carol and their four girls (poor Pepper is so outnumbered this week)
808. Watching Snapper and Pepper pick up with Brian and Carol's girls like they were never apart (B&C were our best friends in Arkansas before they moved to Tennessee and we moved to Florida)
809. Seeing Bubbles, Piper, and Sunny fall in love with Brian, Carol, and girls. They've met before, but today it was like they've always known them!
810. Reading one of my favorite books --Tickle Monster-- to Little A (age 4), Sunny, Piper, and Pepper, and tickling them until they were screaming
811. Snapper and V (age 11) snuggled up together on my bed playing Sudoku and talking big girl talk
812. Country style ribs on Matt's new grill
813. Good conversation
814. Friends with whom distance doesn't can see each other only once or twice each year and still be as close as ever
815. My wonderful camera
816. Flat iron and curling iron, which began the process of Easter beautification tonight (Snapper and Bubbles wanted straight hair for Easter)
817. Making pretty hair bows for my four daughters' Easter outfits
818. The pure delight of my husband tickling our four younger kids before bedtime

819. Two soft, purring, adoring cats who make me so, so happy
820. That because of Jesus and what we celebrate at Easter, I don't have to fear the future

Friday, March 29, 2013


791. My kids' heart for adoption
792. Having a lemonade stand and bake sale to raise funds for a friend's upcoming adoption
793. Selling out!!! 2 gallons of lemonade, 96 chocolate chip cookies, and 24 brownies
794. The overwhelming, supportive response from our neighborhood
795. Beautiful weather for our lemonade stand
796. Continued healing for Bubbles' throat
797. A beautiful outfit for Easter...the first new outfit I've bought for myself in a very, very long time
798. An exciting report from Piper's therapist
799. Wonderful best friends for each of my children
800. The sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. For me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Praise Him in the Good TImes

My heart is soaring today! Three of my daughters carry heavy baggage from their years spent in hard places. For the last month two of them have been unpacking some of their baggage, which is a good thing, but manifests itself in some very difficult behavior. I've had some desperate nights where I've wondered if we'll ever make it through, if they'll ever be able to just go to sleep at night. Like the tide, the emotions and behaviors ebb and flow. Right now we're enjoying a peaceful phase, which is welcome after a very difficult week with Sunny last week. I'm feeling more rested and at ease than I have in quite some time. I thank Jesus for His blessings and for this much-needed period of peace in our home.

771. Five children tucked in on time, without tears, without fight, without excuses, without struggles
772. Five children peacefully asleep within minutes of getting into their beds
773. Amazing growth in the girls' ability to relax and focus for longer periods of time
774. 250 pages read out loud to the kids over the last three days
775. The kids' delight in the wonderful classic, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
776. Five children begging me not to stop reading after I had been reading for an hour! I must add that when we first got the girls in July, they could not sit and listen to even a short picture book!
777. Making a gallon of strawberry jam with Bubbles
778. A sweet play date with Sunny's BFF today
779. Pretty new potted plants on my front porch, given to us by a friend who is moving to Texas
780. That three of my five kids have fallen in love with reading on their own
781. Piper's desire to serve me today. She vacuumed the kitchen, living room, and dining room and cleaned the living room baseboards...just because she wanted to help Mommy!
782. A spectacular photo shoot with my kids yesterday. I dressed them up all pretty, did hair fancy, put makeup on the girls (they were delighted!), and took glamour shots of them. I never post photos of Piper, Bubbles, and Sunny because this blog is public and they come from a dangerous past. But I will post my favorite of Snapper and Pepper. Snapper's was more glamour, and Pepper's was just plain fun!

783. The luxury of taking a 30-minute nap today
784. Roast beef in the crock pot
785. Italian Sweet Cream coffee creamer BOGO at Winn Dixie today
786. Finding out my (due in June) niece's beautiful name!
787. Hearing my kids genuinely fighting over who loves me most
788. My two notorious-for-bickering kids deciding in the car today that they would rather play together than pick on each other. Wonder of wonders!
789. Bubbles' innocent question: "Mommy, what kind of animal do strawberries come from?"
790. Four of my kids parading around the house wearing underwear over their pants and on their heads...and being willing to pose for the camera!!!


In other interesting notes, Snapper woke me up from my nap today by gently playing with my hair, which is my very favorite thing in the whole wide world. But then she started plucking the "silver" hairs that she found. At last count (in the fall) I had five of them just above my left temple. Today she pulled out 30 of them from all over my head. At 30 plucked hairs I told her she was fighting a losing battle, and to just let them be. My kids are apparently affecting my hair follicles...

It's a good thing I'm not sensitive about growing older. Gray hair and wrinkles are a part of life. I'll do my best to wear them gracefully. And no, dear Snapper and Bubbles, I am not planning on coloring my hair. LOL!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Thankful: The Spring Break Edition

741. A delightful day at Field Day at the kids' school
742. Getting to help Bubbles' teacher with the class during Field Day
743. Our school's family picnic: time enjoying the families of our children's friends
744. A dress-up play date with the neighbors across the street. Snapper, Bubbles, Piper, and Neighbor Girl C wore their pretty dresses, big hairbows, and danced together. Pepper, Sunny, and Neighbor Boy C wore their pirate costumes and terrorized the dancer girls.
745. Popcorn and fresh oranges for snack time on the lawn
746. Mockingbirds, cardinals, warblers, and finches filling the air with song
747. A gentle thunderstorm to wash the air clean on the first day of spring
748. A gentle ENT to do Bubbles' surgery yesterday
749. The happy surprise of finding out that the anesthesiologist used to go to our church!
750. That our adopted grandparents from church showed up to be moral support for Bubbles and me during the surgery
751. Successful removal of Bubbles' ginormous tonsils and adenoids
752. No vomiting in response to the anesthesia
753. Hydrocodone...Bubbles' best friend for the next few days
754. That she is having no trouble with eating or drinking
755. Waking up to the beautiful sound of rain this morning
756. That Matt is having fun taking karate with three of the kids
757. Diligent workers during morning chores today
758. The feeling of triumph that comes upon completion (cycle, fold, put away) 16 loads of laundry over the last two days. Oh yes I did! For the next three hours there will be not a single piece of dirty laundry in this house.
759. The detailed schedule I made for our Spring Break.
760. The security this detailed schedule gives my adopted girls, for whom fear of the unknown is a difficult trigger
761. Lovely anticipation of sweet times spent with my kids over the next week
762. Homemade play dough--peppermint scented green and orange scented orange play dough
763. Two hours of argue-free entertainment for the kids playing with the play dough
764. Wonderful creativity!!!
765. An Easter box in the mail from Nana
766. A card in the mail from my very best friend--just to encourage me
767. Watching Snapper practicing her karate self-defense series on Daddy
768. An hour reading to my kids
769. A nice, cold Dr. Pepper, brought to me by my husband who knew I needed a treat
770. Being able to use my teaching skills to help a friend whose child is struggling in school this year

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thinking Hard

731. A long chat on the phone with a fellow adoptive mom friend of mine who is dealing with one of the same frustrations we deal with in our house. It's so great to have a friend who has walked the same road and truly understands.
732. An encouraging instant message from another exactly the moment I needed to hear it
733. Finding out that a special friend from church will be going to Snapper's new school next year! He's in the same grade as Snapper!
734. Small steps of progress with Sunny's behavior. The steps are small, but we'll take whatever we can get.
735. Having spring break all scheduled out and planned so the kids are less likely to struggle with the lack of structure
736. That the library is a 1-minute drive from our house
737. A lovely, gentle thunderstorm today to welcome the first day of spring
738. Compliments on Snapper's focus, strength, grace, and maturity from both of her karate instructors
739. A phone call from the nurse who will be assisting with Bubbles' surgery on Friday. She and the surgeon both want to make the surgery a low-stress as possible for Bubbles, and she called to find out more about Bubbles' history and what they can do to help her. I am super impressed!
740. That today is over. Sometimes you just get through a day and be thankful that tomorrow has a fresh start. Today was one of those days.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Good Update

721. A really good occupational therapist. I was totally impressed with his thoroughness and knowledge at Sunny's evaluation on Friday.
722. Answers to our questions about Sunny. She has sensory processing disorder, on the border between moderate and severe. Now everything makes sense.
723. That the OT offered to train Matt and me in all sorts of therapies so we are equipped to work with her at home in case our insurance doesn't give her extended coverage
724. A good appointment with Bubbles' ENT, confirming that her tonsils and adenoids need to come out
725. That they were able to get her in for surgery on the first day of spring break so she doesn't have to miss any school
726. A long chat with my friend Traci
727. A fabulous swim meet for Snapper in which she was focused, determined, and really seemed to grasp the concept of competing! It paid off...big time!
728. Ten personal best times out of ten swims!
729. 7 ribbons (the top 8 in each event get a ribbon) and a silver medal!!!
730. Hearing these magic words from her coach: "Snapper seems to have made the leap from casual swimmer to serious swimmer. She has grown up in the last month! I'm so very proud of her!"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Another Sick Day

711. It's hard to be thankful for being sick, especially when this is my 5th illness in four months. This time it's Fifth Disease. I's a childhood disease. But a small percentage of adults get it, too, and I'm part of that small percentage. I guess I'm thankful that it isn't something more serious.
712. Prescription strength ibuprofen, left over from when I had the flu...I think.
713. A gray, cloudy, rainy day. The soft light is much easier on the migraine than Florida's usually bright, sunny days
714. Soft rain that fell for most of the morning
715. The beautiful bouquet of flowers that Matt brought to me this morning, just because
716. Turkey bacon arranged in a smiley face to perk me up
717. Feeling too bad to do chores this morning, which gave me a nice chunk of time in which to read through a very helpful new blog I recently discovered
718. My friend Traci's offer to come help me with the kids tonight since Matt will be at an alumni event for his college. I'll be managing homework, dinner, swim team, swim lessons, cheerleading, baths, and bedtime all by myself. Methinks I will be accepting Traci's offer!!!
719. Completed occupational therapy intake evaluation paperwork for my three adopted girls
720. Finally getting their OT evals scheduled for Friday!!! Answers are coming...I can feel it!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Post about Snapper

My firstborn is 10 1/2. I haven't written about her in quite some time. This morning as I was watching her getting ready for the day and my heart was overwhelmed with love, pride, and awe. She's growing up in front of my eyes and I am loving the young lady she has become. At 4'7" and 69 pounds, she's on the petite side. Snapper's 4'7" is mostly leg. She's lean and muscular from swimming, and is the picture of health.

What does Snapper love? 
Snapper loves the color turquoise. Her favorite animal is a cat. She loves to eat savory foods. Her favorite food in the whole wide world is cheese souffle. Lucky I have a good recipe, right? And lucky for her the other kids don't care for it! Her favorite lunch is roasted garlic hummus with chips, cucumber and bell pepper slices, white cheddar cheese, an apple, and yogurt. She's a big water drinker, though she loves chocolate milk, too. She doesn't eat sweets very often...she never has been big into the sweets. When Snapper has free time, she loves to read stories filled with adventure. She's currently two chapters into the fourth Harry Potter book. I anticipate she'll have the book finished by tomorrow night. She loves riding her bike, roller skating in our driveway, and swinging on our big tire swing. She likes to play with Bubbles, especially if they're playing with their Barbies or American Girl dolls. Her best friend is Bubbles. There's a boy at school--Ryan--who is her other best friend. She and Ryan are on swim team together, so they see each other almost every day. We know and adore Ryan's family, and love how Snapper and Ryan really bring out the best in each other. They have a no-drama friendship. Their focus is on the books they're reading, and engineering plans they are making together. Ha!!!

Snapper is a good student. I wouldn't say she's an excellent student because she rarely puts in full effort. However, she's very, very bright--IQ on the exceptional/genius border--and she doesn't have to put in very much effort to get excellent grades. While she's a well-rounded student, her forte really is math. She loves math an grasps the concepts easily. She's in 5th grade, but she's taking 6th grade math this year, and came in national 99th percentile on her latest benchmark test. Snapper currently attends our neighborhood school, but she'll be going to a Christian college prep school next year. She needs the high challenge educational setting in combination with the small class size. It's going to be a great fit for her.

Snapper is a competitive swimmer. She practices four days per week and does very well. She's not the strongest swimmer in her age group on our team, but she still in the top 20% of the age group in all strokes, nationwide. She brings home ribbons and an occasional medal. But the real benefit of swimming for Snapper is therapeutic. She has sensory processing problems, specifically that her muscles and joints do not relay enough information to her brain about her body's location in space, and her inner ears do not send enough information to help her balance and coordination. Prior to swimming, Snapper was clumsy, awkward, and fearful of most physical activities. The swimming has accomplished for her what hours of occupational therapy would accomplish. She understands that whether she loves swim team or not, she will continue, because swimming brings her freedom in other areas of her life. She is committed to it, and just happens to excel at it in the process, which is fun.
Snapper also take martial arts classes with Bubbles and Pepper. The martial arts studio allows her to participate for only $20 per month! How could we turn that down? The martial arts is building more discipline in her life, and is also helping her with sensory processing. As she is progressing, we're seeing her grow in confidence. She holds herself straighter, makes better eye contact, and is regulating her emotions better. Hooray for martial arts!

This is perhaps Snapper's greatest strength. She loves God passionately. He has given her the most generous, compassionate, caring heart. She is constantly on the lookout for ways to meet others' needs, and to show them the love of Christ. I just love it! I love her! Snapper is in AWANA at our church. She has committed hundreds of verses to memory over the last 7 years, and God's Word is a real, important part of her life and decision making. She hasn't decided what she wants to be when she grows up, but her #1 criteria is that she is doing what is most honoring to God. Wow!!! I wasn't like that as a 10-year-old!!! I wouldn't have understood her when I was a 10-year-old. She has such depth! She boggles my mind.

Since we brought Bubbles, Piper, and Sunny home last summer, I have watched Snapper grow so much in strength of character. Her selfishness has greatly diminished. Her temper fuse has lengthened...a lot. She has figured out how to control her emotions most of the time. She has learned how to use her words to express what she is feeling in a healthy manner. She has become a more willing to help around the house. She is beginning to see needs at home--such as noticing when a sister needs help getting dress, or when the cats are out of food--and respond to them without being asked, and without me having to point out the needs. She has developed a heart of gratitude, thanking me regularly for the things I do to make her life better. She has become so much more respectful in the way she responds to Matt and me! I can't remember the last time she spoke a sassy word! Her manners are just about flawless. Oh, the growth! Snapper is still a bit socially awkward, but she is a pleasure to be around, a delightful companion, and such a blessing to have in our home and family.

I love this girl so much! Many parents quake in their boots as they approach their children's teen years. Not I!!! I am excited for the growth and change that will come in those years, and I am looking forward to walking that journey with my sweet, beautiful daughter.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mommy Bragging Here!

701. Two A's and three B's for Piper, whose ADHD and SPD drastically affect her ability to focus and learn. This is a victory!
702. Two A's, a B, and two C's for Bubbles. This child repeated kindergarten, due to educational neglect with her birth family. She skipped 1st grade because of her age. To earn all passing grades under these circumstances is a HUGE thing to celebrate!
703. Both of her C's were in the C+ range!
704. Straight A's for Pepper!
705. Straight A's for Snapper!
706. That Pepper passed his gifted program screening with flying colors and now moves on the the IQ test stage. I have no doubts that he'll be accepted to the gifted program.
707. Pepper completed his three Awana challenges tonight! His next challenge is memorizing Psalm 1.
708. The fun of designing the tickets for our church's ladies' tea
709. Dinner at Five Guys Burgers and Fries
710. Plane tickets from Florida to California purchased! $129/person, each way, nonstop!!!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Normalcy...I Think

691. An uneventful weekend. In our house, uneventful means that there were no tantrums. I didn't have to break up any fights. Chores were done without any meltdowns. Everyone went to bed without a fuss. We had two whole days and nights of uneventful!
692. For the renewed strength and energy I had starting this week. It's amazing how refreshing uneventful is...
693. A good (hard) conversation with Snapper this morning, discussing appropriate responses for when her sisters harass her.
694. That Snapper so badly wants Christ to lead her and to help her make good decisions
695. A new level of normal in our home
696. Getting to see one of Snapper's best friends play the role of the Baker in Into the Woods Junior last night. So much fun!
697. The anticipation of our trip to the West Coast this summer to visit friends and family!
698. Sunny's desire to learn how to write her ABCs. Until yesterday, she was not interested at all.
699. Yet again, I thank God for my crock pot. It makes my life SO much easier.
700. This photo of Pepper--one of my favorites ever--which is on this month's calendar page on my wall.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Doctor Friday and Quiet Saturday

681. That Bubbles' sleep study was normal
682. A proactive doctor who tested her for allergies right then to see if allergies are causing the big tonsils
683. That the allergy tests--all 40 of them--were negative!
684. A referral to an ENT so we can get Bubbles' tonsils and adenoids out, since there is no explanation as to why they are so huge.
685. That Bubbles was very brave for all of the examining, testing, and blood draw today
686. The fun of eating ice cream for lunch together as a reward for her courage!
687. Some epic parenting teamwork that snapped Sunny out of a massive tantrum, got her regulated, and calmed her enough that she could go to sleep. It was very satisfying!
688. That today is Saturday, and the only thing on our agenda for the day is karate this morning!
689. Gluten Free Cinnamon Chex for breakfast!

690. Hearing Pepper working so hard on his extra credit challenges for Awana! For those of you who know Awana, Pepper completed his second year Sparks handbook in November. He did the whole handbook review in one club night! He took his time working through all the extra credit verses, and finished the extra credit book on Wednesday. Now he has three challenges to complete before moving on to the next thing, (which I think is memorizing Psalm 1). His challenges right now:
1. Recite the Sparks Code word perfect, without a single prompt. (S is for Savior, 1 John 4:14; P is for Power, Psalm 147:5; A is for According to the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:3; R is for Raised, 1 Corinthians 15:4; K is for Keep, James 2:10; S is for Saved, Acts 16:31).
2. Recite the books of the Bible, word perfect, no prompts.
3. Recite Psalm 23, word perfect, no prompts.
Right now he's ready to go with the Sparks Code and the New Testament books. We're working on pronunciation of a couple of Old Testament books (transition from Ecclesiastes to Song of Solomon, and transition from Habakkuk to Zephaniah). He's almost perfect on Psalm 23...just need to practice it a few more times. I love his determination, and his enthusiasm for hiding God's Word in his heart!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Team Barfy

671. A brave little girl who was willing to bare her soul at therapy yesterday
672. Positive steps on the journey toward healing from the trauma she experienced with her birth family
673. That we live 1,000 miles away from those I can honestly reassure the girls that they are safe.
674. An A+ on a math test for Snapper. What an awesome confidence builder for her, as she is in the most advanced math class the elementary school offers!
675. Bubbles zipping through a chapter book that was on a lower reading level...a book that she couldn't handle just three months ago!
676. Two playdate invitations for Piper! It's so much fun to see her developing good friendships.
677. This one is going to sound awful...but I am extremely thankful that when Sunny got sick tonight, she barfed on Matt and not on me. Vomit makes me vomit. Matt handles is better than I do.
678. For our high capacity washer and dryer, which are working overtime because Sunny refuses to barf in a bowl or in the toilet
679. For the $5 shampoo attachment Matt got for our vacuum at a rummage sale...we need it today.
680. The sweet drawing Bubbles just made for me. It's a picture of Matt and me holding hands and smiling. It says "I love you Mom and Dad" on the top. She also included close-ups of our faces, in which I am smiling, and Matt has a goatee. I love it!!! She's home from school with a fever, by the way. Ugh. I'm praying she doesn't join the barf gang...