Monday, June 29, 2009

What Have I Done?

The things I've done are bold. Commentary in parenthesis

1. Started your own blog (obviously)
2. Slept under the stars (In a tent under the stars, but without covering? Nope.)
3. Played in a band (as long as school bands count)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland /world
8. Climbed a mountain (I've climbed on a mountain, but not any backpack and pickax action)
9. Held a praying mantis (and I don't plan to)
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child (X 2)
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France ( I'm 98% certain I saw the Mona Lisa in Italy. I thought that is where it is kept? Maybe she was just visiting?)
20. Slept on an overnight train (I've ridden an overnight train, but I didn't sleep)
21. Had a pillow fight (O.K., who hasn't?)
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping (the master says we will this weekend. ;0) )
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (how ancestral are we talking here?)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa (but I want to)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (when Ian ate rat poisoning...not a fun memory)
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud (favorite childhood pastime)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China (again, want to, want to, want to)
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (but not written one that I knew was going to bounce. They were written in good--albeit misplaced--faith)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (The master drove a motorcycle when we were dating, but he always observed the speed limit)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (but ne'er again thanks to Dave Ramsey)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (killin' the varmints is men's work)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone's life (I think I have played a significant part in saving Marina's life. I feel strongly that continued exposure to institutional life would have been devastating for her. I am so thankful God let us bring her home when we did.)
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (I ate dinner with Senator Phil Graham once. Does that count?)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one (This is a tough one. My grandparents were all gone by the time I was 17. I did love them, but I don't remember grieving much for their passing. I only recall feeling relief for them. I don't think I've ever directly experienced raw grief connected with death.)
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person (like any other red-blooded Texan)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit (We settled out of court, but did bring a case against the man who defaulted on his loan to buy our vending machine business.)
98. Owned a cell phone (If the pre-paid phones from WallM*rt count.)
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day (more times than I can count)

So how about you? What have you done?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dedication Service

This morning we dedicated Cara in the morning service, then we had her birthday party/adoption celebration following worship. Our court date won't be until the tenth, but it is so close, it made sense to celebrate them all together.

It was a very meaningful service for me. I asked only people who had been touched by adoption to participate. A young man who was legally adopted last summer by his maternal grandmother who raised him, read the scriptures. A grown woman who was adopted at birth sang, "There Are No Orphans of God," which made me cry the ugly cry, it was so beautiful. And a dear friend of the family oversaw Cara's dedication. We tried once, for the master to do our own kid's dedication, and it didn't work out too well. Rather awkward. The gentleman who helped us today, is actually who Randy is named after, and he and his wife adopted their daughter as an infant. But I think the most special thing was the testimony of a birthmother in our congregation who placed her firstborn as a teenager. I was nervous approaching her to share--it is such a sensitive and personal part of her past. But since she had been open enough to tell me that she had placed her daughter, I had just enough courage to ask, assuring her that I would completely understand if she said no. She took a day to think about it and decided to do it. She is so brave. Listening to how God worked through that whole situation was amazing and powerful. No one in the service could walk away thinking that women who make an adoption plan don't love their children; it was because of her great love that she chose to give her daughter a better life.

This is the only picture I have on my camera of the cake, though it is not very flattering of me. I was trying to get the master to come up to the table for the see my nagging, roll-of-the-eyes, look. I would do well to remember how unattractive it is! This was my first tiered cake. I have much to learn. I couldn't seem to get a smooth finish on my icing. My roses were nice, though. And it was my best tasting cake ever. I've never really liked birthday cake much, but this time I decided that if I was going to stay up all night making a cake, I wanted to enjoy it! For the chocolate layer I made a filling of crushed up oreos, cream cheese, and cool whip, and for the vanilla layer, I used raspberry preserves instead of the cookies with the cream cheese and coolwhip. YUM! I'm thinking there are about a million different flavor combinations I can try with this simple recipe. The top layer came off as her "smash cake."
Cara did not know what to think of the cake. We all crowded around her, and she kind of froze in the spot light. The master put some icing on her lips in hopes of encouraging her to dive in, but it only upset her when everyone began to shout with excitement. It wasn't until after the other kids were busy with their own pieces, that she dug a little hole with her fingers and nibbled a few cautious bites.
I love this baby girl so much.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Missing My Blog

I've had about a dozen posts run through my mind the last week, but no time to actually flesh them out. I have no excuse but this: VBS. I am returning to you soon, my sweet blog. Just as soon as we ride this Boomerang Express right on out of town. It's been great, but the strength of the burden bearers is failing and there is still two more days of trekking in the outback.
I missed Cara's birthday yesterday, for pete's sake! Not that I didn't remember it was her birthday, but I didn't get a nice, sentimental post up to commemorate it. Though come to think of it, we didn't even know about her on her birthday. Strange really, but one year ago, she was lying in an isolate waiting for her mommy and daddy to show up. Today is the day we got the call, and tomorrow marks the day we met C.C., and Friday will be one year since we first held our angel.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Backwards Night

The master has been gone for the last two days to youth camp. Hence, my performance in the culinary arts drastically declined during the past 48 hours. I just do not see the point of laboring in the kitchen for children who scarf up PB&J better than anything. You know, "cast ye not pearls before swine," and all. Today's lunch was hot dogs and tonight we had breakfast for supper. The banana bread came out of the oven first, right as the kids were starting to ask, "When's dinner?" I told them they could have a slice of warm bread while I fried the bacon and scrambled eggs. They said it was a double backwards night because, not only did we have breakfast for supper, but they were eating their "dessert" before their meal.
Backwards Night was one of our very first family nights and an instant favorite. The kids have asked for it repeatedly over the years. They come up with some pretty fun ideas about how to turn normal life to the opposite. I love Backwards Night, because the kids get the BIGGEST kick out of it, and it cost zero dollars.
When they realized that tonight's meal was backwards, they begged to finish off the evening in the traditional manner. It wasn't an official family night without dad (and it is customary on Backwards Night for the children to cook the meal), but I agreed. The kids read a chapter out of our bedtime book to me, supervised my evening tooth brushing, sang me lullabies, tucked me into bed and kissed my forehead. Then over the next 10 minutes, put themselves to bed quickly and quietly.
Did I mention I love Backwards Night?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I'm Pooped

Summer fun is killing me. Every day is non-stop action from dawn till dusk.
This morning started bright and early with a 8:30 drive to my in-laws house to pick up K from an overnight trip at his uncle's. Said a quick hi and bye to my MIL and then sped home for a church work day. I worked on the hedges and the men put together our nice new playground. YEAH! Just in time for VBS. But good heavens, was it hot out there today!
Carla stopped by and brought a sack of goodies from my mom on her way back home and we got to visit for a few minutes. Work stopped at the church around 2:00, and we decided to go swimming at a church member's house to cool off and celebrate a job well done. Two hours later, on our way home from the pool, I remembered Abby had a party, so we ran in, grabbed a ten dollar bill and a Happy Birthday card and headed back out.
We've given the kids a bath and fed them some dinner. I've clipped the boys' toenails and Marina's bangs. They had no nap today, so the are CRANK-EEE. The master is on his way to pick up Abby, and I think we will call it a night. It's not yet 8:00, but I am exhausted. It might as well be midnight.
How do you like my new blog skin?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Feeling Like a Mommy

Debbie and Suz posted this week regarding bonding with their children. Since this is a topic that has fascinated me for some time, I thought I would post regarding how I've bonded with each of my babies. At times I've been surprised, others amazed, and even disgusted by my responses to motherhood. I'll try to keep it brief, as it could get lengthy with six kids, and honest. This is a journey I'm on and I haven't arrived. Far from it! In so many ways, I'm learning to love my children more and more.
K--instant love vs. instant panic. I remember at first sight of him, from behind the nursery glass, pressing my hand to the pane and whispering with a post-anesthesia croak, "That's my baby...that's my baby." In the most literal sense of the word, it was an incredible thought. I couldn't believe I was a mother. I was just turned twenty and HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING WITH A BABY. Any ooey gooey "love" feelings were shadowed by an overwhelming sense of responsibility. I remember thinking, "There is no possible way they are going to let me out of this hospital with a kid," but they did. The master and I had taken a parenting class before he was born, and we clung to it for dear life. If the book said do it, we did. If it said don't, we didn't. Bless his heart, the child was treated more like a science experiment than a baby...but we were so afraid of screwing up! I just knew we were headed down the road to disaster when K didn't take to the breast well, and I had to supplement him with the bottle. I went back to class two weeks after he was born, which compounded my new mommy guilt. I'd failed him! It wasn't until he was around three months old that I stopped looking for the baby police to show up at my door, and it wasn't until six months that I thought, "Wow! This mommy thing is kind of fun. I think I'm going to like this job." As for K himself, he was an adorable baby with a happy, content disposition, which always helps. I do wonder if our stress in parenting him has made him put undo pressure on himself. He can be quite critical of himself. He is mature for his age with many responsibilities and I sometimes forget that he still needs to be treated like a child.
Abby--like mother, like daughter. When Abby arrived two years later, I was much more confident in my role as mother. I was out of school and only working a few days a week. She came on the day she was scheduled, a beautiful child, nursed like a champ and slept through the night by two months. It was easy to bond with her. As she grew and developed personality, we soon realized that she and I are very much alike--to an eery degree. With Abby there are few surprises. I can predict how she will respond to most anything; it's exactly as I would. Now, I'm not saying that is always a good thing, but it is comfortable.
Ian-my Mansie. Ian's pregnancy was not planned. It wasn't that we didn't want more children. We just didn't plan on them making an arrival any time soon. To be honest, I wasn't excited at all to hear I was expecting, and I felt guilty for that. It was my most difficult pregnancy physically (though I know that none of them were truly "difficult" when compared to others'), and I was swollen and miserable. The last two weeks, I was on total bed rest. I have no memories of his birth or the three days following his delivery that we spent in the hospital. What I do remember is the first night we brought him home. He became sick and I sat up with him all night in the rocking chair. That is when I started to fall in love with him. The next day, he was admitted back in the hospital. The nursery being full, we were placed on the otherwise empty pediatric hall, where we spent the next ten days alone together. Me and him. Him and me. Nursing, snuggling, and sleeping. It was the best thing that could have happened to us. To this day, he is my most affectionate baby and I have spoiled him terribly.
Marina--a process. I've tried to share openly on my blogs about our struggles and our victories. I don't know what kind of picture that leaves you with. There are days I'm not certain what our relationship looks like, and I'm living it. Please have no doubt that I love my daughter. I've loved Marina since the day we were handed her referral picture, or at least, I've been in love with the idea of her. And maybe that was part of the problem. I believe the unnatural length of time pre-adoptive parents are "expecting" hinders more than helps the attachment process. It wasn't that we were uneducated about attachment in adoption or the post-institutionalized child, we were. And it wasn't that we didn't know she could very well have special needs; her prenatal exposure and risks were clearly explained. But head knowledge and heart knowledge are two vastly different things. On the one hand, I can honestly say that--if anything--I love Marina more fiercely than the others because ours is a bond that has been tested by fire. On the other hand, in the day-to-day stuff of life, she gets under my skin the fastest and I stay irritated with her the longest. That's the ugly truth, but I'm working on changing it.
Randy--we're all good. I was battle worn and weary from parenting an angry, confused, traumatized toddler (none of which was her fault) and baby Randy restored my faith in myself. Here was something I knew, here was something I was good at. Believing wholeheartily that Randy would be my last infant, I made up my mind to savor the moments. From late night nursings, to first steps, and yes, even potty training...this was my last time, I might as well enjoy it. That philosophy made for a sweet, strong bond with my son. Wish I had caught on to it sooner!
Cara--miracle child. She was a surprise blessing which made her all the more special and, as with Ian, I was able to spend the first three weeks alone with her in the hospital. Being with her from the beginning, I can tell you there is no difference in the way I bonded with her and my birth children. She is my second "last time," and we are loving every minute. I have the most tender, protective feelings for her. She is a living, breathing miracle and not a day passes that I am not again awed that God chose us to be her parents. If she ever becomes ill, my heart will break in two.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Betty Crocker on Steroids

I give you the metamorphosis of the blueberry.

The blueberry as God intended it.

Behold the power of migrant--under age--farm labor. Can you believe we got all these blueberries for $25.00? A dollar fifty a pound. I did a little comparison shopping today at W*llMart, and blueberries were on sale for $1.98 a pint (that's two cups), and that was marked down from $3.35. There is nothing I love better than a good deal, except maybe a great deal, and I'm pretty sure this qualifies. (And yes, Carla, if you are reading, that is your son with the bucket on his head.)

Had the brilliant idea to triple the recipe. You see here the result. I haven't made it in a while, and I guess I forgot how much it makes. The original recipe would have been plenty to make two normal size pound cakes. Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT attempt to triple this recipe, unless of course you have a few extra soup tureens on hand, plenty of time, and don't mind destroying your kitchen in the process.

And finally: the blueberry as the devil intended it. The stuff is positively SINFUL!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, June 1, (how can it possibly be June?) 2009

Outside My, and muggy skies

I am thinking...that we have spent our last vacation in ONE hotel room. I can't do that kind of time again.

I am thankful for...a safe and refreshing vacation despite cramped quarters

From the kitchen...quickie spaghetti for supper tonight, but fresh picked blueberries in the fridge promise better, Betty Crockerish, things tomorrow. Blueberry Cream Cheese Pound Cake--just thinking about it can make you gain weight.

I am wearing...T-shirt and exercise pants--and I actually exercised, ladies! I've joined a dance aerobics class. Yeah, me! It's fun, and I should be able to stick with it. It is the exact same type of aerobics I did in high school, and I always enjoyed my classes.

I am creating...Vacation Bible School backdrops
I am the doctor as soon as possible. It is such a drag trying to find a new doctor, but its got to be done.

I am reading...not much to speak of. I need to find some good summer reads.

I am hoping...that this VBS comes off really well. I've kind of pushed the envelope with the church, changing things up from "the way we've always done it." That's considered taboo in most Baptist circles. I'm going to have some serious egg on my face if it turns out to be a flop. A wise old pastor once told us:
The first year, they worship you.
The second year, they criticize you.
The third year, they crucify you.

Words to live by! We are heading out of the honeymoon and into that second year. Though it is hard to believe we have been here almost a year.
I am hearing...the AC units purring away.
One of my favorite things...watching Cara commando crawl.

Around the house...Okay, so this is embarrassing, but we came home to a house full of gnats. I don't understand it. We left the house CLEAN, and made sure we set the empty garbage cans outside. I hate bugs in the house and have been frantically slapping gnats all day. The master says he doesn't notice them. HE'S TRYING TO MESS WITH MY MIND. Will setting a flea bomb off kill them, you think? How many bombs does one use to fumigate 4,000 square feet?

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...Still more school programs and ballgames (I can see the light at the end of the tunnel). School wasn't over for the kids last week, we just decided that since education stopped some time during mid April, they wouldn't be missing much. We were right. I think we have family parties with the master's side this weekend and VBS planning.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...
Next best thing to swimming with the dolphins.

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