Sunday, January 23, 2011

Outside my window: It's dark and BRRRR cold. This seems to me to be the coldest winter we've had since moving here. Or maybe it's because it started getting cold almost a month before it usually gets this cold. Regardless - I'M READY FOR SUMMER!

I Am Thinking: About Ryan's birthday. It's really hard for me to believe the apple of my eye just turned 13. Oh how I prayed for that little guy. But what am I saying, I've prayed for all my babies. I'll forever remember the prayerful pleadings to God to please bless me with a child. Now here we are 13 years later with 3! Every time I talk about another one, pretty much the first thing Brian asks is if I've been praying. Haha.

I was teasing Ryan about a week before his birthday that 13 years ago from that time I couldn't sit comfortably. I couldn't sleep comfortably. Heck, what am I talking about - I couldn't sleep period. I had moved to the sofa because it was the only place I could get some relief on my back. Only later did I find out that I had back labor, something I'd never heard of. When I went into labor all the contractions were in my back, I never felt a single one in my abdoment. Ouch-o-marama. The one main thing I was planning on for the maternity ward was to be able to sit in the whirlpool. Ahh, a relaxing and natural birth. Who the heck was I kidding? That didn't happen since my water broke and at work nonetheless and so the whirlpool was out. And why my mind ever thought it wouldn't hurt that bad is beyond my comprehension! Why is that a simple thing like labor can't go as planned? :-)

I Am Thankful For: Friends! We spent Saturday night hanging out with some friends. Brian made deer chili & then Marla and I made some pizza rolls for the kids. Although I think all the kids had some chili too. She had also bought things for the girls to make a fruit pizza - which they LOVED doing and Emma had taken her little juice maker and made fruit smoothies for everyone. The kids had so much fun & I sooo enjoyed the time just hanging out, visiting and letting the kids make all their treats.

From The Kitchen: Emma & I have been on a baking kick lately but we're either going to have to slack off or buy me some bigger jeans. Goodness. We've made brownies, homemade rice krispy treats. raisin oatmeal cookies and a coffee cake. She is having a blast & I SOOO enjoy her company in the kitchen!

I Am Wearing: Black sweats, gray t-shirt & wishing my comfy socks weren't upstairs in the closet.

On the 'Go Organize' Front: Finally got around to going through the girls clothes. There were some sweaters, sweatshirts & things like that they had worn when we were in China back in 2009 that they were also able to wear last year & had gotten a few wears in this year as well. But as sentimental as I am I knew that I had to hand them down sooner than later. We have some friends at church that have the most adorable little twin girls and so I make a point of handing down the things that match. Today they had on the girls favorite monkey sweatshirts - oh my how it tickles me to see them wearing things of that were the girls. There really is something to the phrase "it's better to give than receive", because I can say I get just as much enjoyment seeing the little ones wearing the things as I did our girls!

I Am Going: To bed soon, can't believe another weekend has come and gone.

I Am Reading: Lost on Planet China: One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation - Still reading this. Enjoyed it at first, but having a hard time sticking with it right now.

I Am Hoping: That spring arrives early! Our family is needing some sunshine.

I Am Praying For: Some extended family members who have been on my mind in and my heart - going through a rough time right now.

I Am Hearing: Avatar. Brian is not feeling well so he's already turned in for the night so Ryan is watching it.

Around The House: Kithcen clean - I'm so weird about the kitchen. The entire rest of the house can be in shambles but I absolutely cannot go to bed without first cleaning the kitchen. Not trying to say the rest of the house is in bad shape though! Almost all the laundry done, but a few more loads to do & it still needs to be put away. The upstairs was cleaned yesterday but still need to do a little more downstairs. We're making a bigger effort to keep it picked up during the week and that seems to be helping some.

One Of My Favorite Things: Watching Ryan with his friends. We took him and some friends ice skaing for his birthday party & all the boys seemed to have a good time. There were several other families there who we know and thankfully Emma had a her best little buddy to skate with - she did really well too. But watching Ryan and the other guys playing, messing with each other - messing with some girls from our church ... it just cracked me up. They're getting so big!

A Few Plans For The Rest of The Week: Another deacon meeting for Brian tomorrow night. Basketball practice for Ryan on Tuesday. Gymnastics for Emma on Wednesday. Dance for Emma & Bex on Thursday. Game for Ryan on Saturday. After church on Sunday, a nap hopefully!

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Whoaaa - We Now Have a Teenager In The House!

Today we celebrate Ryan's 13th birthday!!! A teenager in the house again, YIKES! It's been a few years since we've had that!

Ryan is

Funny - Love that little guys sense of humor

Tall - Guess I should quit referring to him as 'little guy' as he's now at least as tall as me if not a little taller.

A Wonderful Big Brother - He of course has his moments, as do all of us - but generally speaking he is helpful with the girls, watches out for them, loves wrestling with Emma ... with a tad bit of bossy thrown in for good measure.

Fun - Even from the time he was little, he was always fun to take places. He has one of those dispositions where he's pretty much happy wherever we go and like us, loves checking out new places to explore, visit or try.

Smart - Very smart. May a mother brag for moment? He's never made less that an A on a report card!!! Not that there hasn't been a few iffy grades in between, but he manages to get his affairs in order before report card time.

Talkative - Lord have mercy that child is talkative. I can easily see him being a sports commentator or something along those lines. He can talk at length over nothing! LOL - I know he's gonna get me for that but it's true.
Go - LOVES to Go! Anywhere, anytime - just say the word go and he loads up.

Near & Dear - But the thing most near and dear to my heart, is that - HE LOVES HIS MAMA WITH ALL HIS HEART!!!! And of course the feeling is mutual :-)

Happy Birthday Ryan, I sure love ya'!

Three months old - my handsome little honey bunny.

Six months old - that's when his little personality really started coming out!

I think he was 2 in this one. It's weird, I didn't think I needed to mark pictures because I would always KNOW when they were taken. Now here it is 13 years later and I think I know, but not sure I know.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What Will Matter

Ran across this today and thought it most worthy of sharing.

What Will Matter

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.

There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten
will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations
and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

It won't matter where you came from
or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought
but what you built, not what you got but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success
but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned
but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity,
compassion, courage, or sacrifice
that enriched, empowered or encouraged others
to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence
but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.

What will matter is not your memories
but the memories that live in those who loved you.

What will matter is how long you will be remembered,
by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.
It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

Choose to live a life that matters.

by Michael Josephson

The PDF of this can be downloaded


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2nd Anniversary of Rebecca's Forever Family Day

Tonight we celebrated the two year anniversary of adopting our youngest daughter Rebecca. She really enjoyed all the attention as well as looking back through the pictures of our trip. We typically take the kids out to the destination of their choice for dinner to celebrate their adoptions but the roads were a bit icky tonight with snow so we opted to stay in and enjoy cupcakes instead.

There's such an array of emotions when I think back to the night we were united with little Rebecca. We had just arrived at our hotel and hadn't even checked in. The child of the family we were traveling with was already in the lobby when we arrived and while I was busy taking pictures of them, Amanda walked in with Rebecca. On my end, I had prayed for Rebecca - read everything I could about her, traded emails with many volunteers from the Starfish home and I was more than ready to finally meet our new daughter. She knew she was coming to meet her family and had been as prepared as any 3 1/2 year old could possibly be prepared. She had skyped with us and had a picture of us that Amanda had used to prepare her for meeting us. But she was one scared little baby girl as she entered that lobby and she was so obviously trying to be brave. While I wanted to scoop her up and show her how much we loved her, I knew that I needed to take my time and not overwhelm her. Everything she knew was about to change and bless her little heart she had already had at least one upheaval in her life. She was 18 months old when she came to live with Amanda and here another 18 months into her young life and she was about to experience another upheaval. You could tell so very much how much she loved Amanda and it was equally obvious how much Amanda loved her. Rebecca had been one of the older children there in the foster home and she was Amanda's little buddy. While in my heart I knew that by being in a family, being our daughter and being loved so dearly were the best things for her - I couldn't help but have a quickening in my heart about taking her away from the ones she knew and loved.

It took her a while to warm up to me. Actually it really wasn't until we were home that I felt her let her guard down with me and allow herself to become attached. Her inital attachments were with Emma - it was really instantaneous. She also was pretty much a daddy's girl while we were there. But here we are two years later and she is a mama's girl deluxe! She sits by me and puts her little arm around me and she will lean over and either kiss me on my cheek or kiss me on my arm. Her favorite parting words each morning are "Have a good day mama lovely".

Pictures from 2009

2 year adoption celebration - 2011!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rebecca's Dance Recital

Back when Ryan was in diapers he asked to play baseball and now more than 10 years later, he still loves baseball. We started Emma in gymnastics when she was almost 3 and she loved it from the beginning. Little Rebecca on the other hand has struggled a bit in finding her favorite activity. I had her in gymnastics too and while she had fun, it wasn't something she just loved doing and quite honestly really didn't want to follow the teachers instructions. She did enjoy t-ball this past summer - at least when she was up to bat that is, but that's only about 6 weeks out of the year. What we do know though is that she LOVES music and has from the time she came home. The funny thing is that she doesn't love just any music. For instance she certainly doesn't have much of a reaction when country music is on but turn some good ol' rock and roll on and baby girl claps, twists, turns and wiggles up a storm. One of the first songs she sang along with was the Eagle's "Heartache Tonight". Several times she mentioned that she wanted to dance like a princess so we signed her up for dance back in the fall. Her first dance recital was back in December and she was one happy little dumpling being up there with her buddies & dancing to "Supergirl"!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

For Today

Well hello Sunday - really enjoyed you today & hate to see you come to an end!

Outside my window: It's dark and BRRRR cold. On the way to church this a.m. it was a balmy ol' 8 degrees. C'mon summer, we need you.

I Am Thinking: About Rebecca. This week we will celebrate our two year anniversary of us becoming her forever family. How can two years just flash by in the blink of an eye? When I think of those first few days with Rebecca, I think of her instantly bonding with Emma and of her pushing me away. She would walk with Brian but she kept me at arms length pretty much the whole time we were in China. But two years later, she's a mama's girl! She loves to say to me "Have a good day mama lovely" when I drop her off at daycare in the mornings. Of course that just makes my day and puts a little pep in my step. Could there possibly be a better start to the day? I'm so thankful to God for answering my prayers and allowing us to be her parents.

I Am Thankful For: Brian. He & I will celebrate 16 years of marriage in a few months. I love that sweet man just as much today, if not more - than I did back in 1995. He's a wonderful husband in so many ways and is just fun to be with and be around. I'll never admit to him that all those times I roll my eyes at his jokes, I'm really laughing inwardly. Have I ever mentioned he has a really odd sense of hummor?

From The Kitchen: Little Emma also received a chocolate making set for Christmas and we finally got around to breaking it out today. We had great fun making little chocolates! And of course trying one or two as well. Yesterday we made Ginger Cookies, a recipe shared by a friend from our travel group to China 2 years ago & they were delicious! Tomorrow I'm making chicken friend deer steak - my family loves it! Then some taco soup with venison burger. Not quite sure about the rest of the week.

I Am Wearing: Gray sweats, pink t-shirt.

On the 'Go Organize' Front: Finally got the toys semi-organized in the basement. Still needs decorating - any one want to come over & offer some suggestions?!

I Am Going: To bed soon, can't believe another weekend has come and gone.

I Am Reading: Lost on Planet China: One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation - Haven't really gotten that far into it yet but the author's style really cracks me up. Hopefully the whole book will be as good as the first few chapters.

I Am Hoping: That we do not lose any more days to snow this year ... poor kids are going to still be in school come June as it is. Ugh! I would sooo much rather start back to school the first of August than for them to still be in school in June. Any school board members out there who can adequately explain to me why they can't be out by the end of May? There's just something mentally that seems to change after Memorial Day & I know last year that Ryan's classes specifically were watching movies, going swimming - all kinds of non-instructional activities after Memorial Day. Wouldn't it be easier on everyone to just let them out instead? Okay, okay - off my soap box.

I Am Praying For: Our church. Brian has been reading a book called 'Missional Renaissance' and I have liked what he has shared about it so far!

I Am Hearing: Vince Gill - something Brian turned to on TV. Such a welcome relief to football.

Around The House: Almost all the laundry done, but still needs to be put away. The dishwasher running. But other than that, pretty much picked up.

One Of My Favorite Things: Both girls were sitting with me today as we looked through folders of pictures on my laptop. Little Rebecca was leaning over and kissing me and loving on me. What a sweet sweet baby she is! Hard to believe that two years ago today we had left for China to get her. We had left early, early that morning and were already weary of traveling by this time. That is one long flight!

A Few Plans For The Rest of The Week: Deacon meeting for Brian tomorrow night. We'll celebrate our two year anniversary with Rebecca this week!!! Basketball practice for Ryan. Gymnastics for Emma. Dance for Emma & Bex. Dinner out with some really good friends on Friday - just adults - What a treat!!!! Game for Ryan on Saturday.

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kentucky Youth Assembly

Ryan attended 'Kentucky Youth Assembly' back in December, I can't even begin to describe how much it tickles me that he enjoys going to things like this. I'm not so sure he even really has that big of an interest in how government works as much as he just likes going places, learning new things and being around a bunch of other kids. I would like to note however, that my baby boy won an 'Outstanding Speaker' award. Guess all that talking he does has paid off :-)

Have I ever mentioned how very proud of him I am?

Here's an excerpt of the letter sent out from their teacher:

There were Thirty-two TAG (Talented & Gifted) students from Shelby East and West Middle School, along with 8th graders from Martha Layne Collins High School, attended the Junior Central Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA) at the Louisville Holiday Inn Crown Plaza on Dec. 9-11, 2010. Along with 800 other youth from across the region, the Shelby County students participated in this hands-on student government assembly by writing and presenting bills to be passed into law. The students prepared five bills to present at the assembly. Bills were ranked according to its merits of feasibility, debatability, creativity, presentation, and importance to Kentucky. All five of Shelby County’s bills were ranked high and were presented in the House and Senate Chambers at the Capitol in Frankfort on Friday, Dec. 10. The bills were narrowly defeated in their second hearing. Of the 80 bills that were presented by KYA delegates, only 6 were passed into law. “The students who attended KYA were very aware of the economic strain that both our state and federal government is experiencing. The delegates were very reluctant to pass bills that were not fiscally feasible or caused strain on existing structures. It was a tough crowd!” stated Terry Walther, KYA sponsor for East and West Middle Schools.

The students who attended not only learned first hand how a bill becomes a law in our state, they also demonstrated their leadership skills and made friends with other youth leaders in our state.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Missin' My Dad

Today would have been my dad's 85th birthday and even though he's been gone many years I still can't help but want to call and wish him a happy birthday.

Dad - to you, as I kissed my babies this morning I couldn't help but wonder what your reaction would have been to them. Would Ryan crack you up with his offbeat sense of humor as he does me? That twinkle in his eye sure reminds me of the one in yours.

Even with the absence of a dna link - Emma shares your 'never meet a stranger' and 'pester one - pester all' approach to life. I can only imagine the fun the two of you would have had & the trouble you two could have caused.

And with little Rebecca, I can almost feel your smile from heaven when she pairs her tutu with her cowgirl boots that she is so proud of. She has a sixth sense with horses that I know you would have loved and appreciated too. Miss ya' and wish you were still with us.

(my dad is the gentleman on the right)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Downside to Being Number 3

By the time I finally got around to having Ryan, I was 32 years old and I was more than ready to be a mom. Every little thing he did was a 'scrapbook moment' and I filled up several of the big 12 x 12 scrapbooks. Additionally it seems like I kept just about every little masterpiece he made. Things were saved from daycare, trips, Sunday School, school - you name it. Each and every event had some sort of memento and was duly noted in a scrapbook.

He was 7 when Emma came along and by this time I was a little wiser about not saving so many things. We were also pretty busy with his sports schedule and I no longer seemed to be able to fit in any scrapbooking time into my schedule. I still continued taking pictures but found that I was becoming less and less sentimental about EVERY piece of paper that was written on. Subsequently, I didn't keep nearly as many of the papers and keepsakes for Emma that we had for Ryan. At some point I was able to make one scrapbook for her that covered our trip to China and I also made her a lifebook. A scrapbook was started but never completed ... guess it'll be one of those things I'll have to go back to later.

Then along comes little Rebecca and at the same time we realize we have way too much stuff in our house. Her arrival was shortly followed by our beginning to deep clean and throw away a lot of the things we had saved/kept. Even after all the purging there are times I feel absolutely overwhelmed with the number of papers that come home for the two girls and in the back of my mind keep thinking that at some point I need to set aside a place for some of Rebecca's papers. I recently noticed how much she has progressed in drawing things and am a little sad that I haven't saved some of her earlier drawings so that we could show her how well she is doing.

A few other things I've noticed about number 3 vs number 1 (and even number 2 for that matter) - which makes me feel like a terrible mother:
  • Very few pictures are of JUST number 3.
  • The first child had all kinds of Christmas ornaments. First Christmas. First 5 Christmases. Grade school series. Ornaments made in preschool. Ornaments made in Sunday school. Ornaments ... ornaments .. ornaments. Almost as many for Emma since she was the first girl although the grade series has not been started. For Rebecca, don't even ask. Part of this has to do with her age at adoption and part of it has to do with me just not getting around to starting any of the series for her yet. I did make a point this year though of buying some that represented her interests.
  • Reading time - I read to Ryan while he was in the womb and continued to read to him every day for years it seemed. Which is probably why he scores so stinkin' high in the language arts category. While I read to Emma, it wasn't nearly as much as I did Ryan because it took a while before she would sit still enough to be read to. Thankfully she finally did get to the point where she enjoyed being read to and can now read to herself. Reading time for Bex just doesn't seem to happen much at all.

It just makes me wonder ... how do people who have LOTS of kids handle these things because I for one am feeling like a terrible mama!

So, my two main New Year resolutions are to:

1. Make a scrapbook for Rebecca, even if I have to do a digital one that is just for her. Since we have the basement cleaned up, I've noticed that all three of the kids have been enjoying getting Ryan's scrapbooks out and pouring over them so I think she would really enjoy that.

2. Establish a reading routine with her and stick with it!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

For Today

It's been a while since I've done this little exercise and since I'm behind on blogging and behind on really a lot of things - thought I'd take a few minutes to gather my thoughts.

Outside my window: It's dark and cold. Not as cold as it has been, but still pretty darn cold! I promise to never, ever complain about the heat and humidity again!

I Am Thinking: About the holidays and how much our sweet children enjoyed themselves. Now here we are in a new year already and have so much to look forward to. Ryan will be turning 13 in a few weeks, then I'll be turning (???) in February. We'll celebrate 16 fabulous years of marriage in March. Then little Emma turns 7 in May. So, the next few months are going to be busy busy!

I Am Thankful For: My family and friends. We had such a wonderful Christmas even though by dollar standards it was down from some previous years. But it seemed like everyone enjoyed that even more than some of the bigger celebrations we've had. It was just a good time all the way around. Some friends from Texas came and stayed with us a few days and we enjoyed visiting with them and enjoyed watching the kiddos interact with them. Emma in particular really took up with Ron, and you could tell he was quite smitten with her as well. We rang in the new year with some of our best friends who have also adopted from China and laughed so much I thought I was going to be sore. Good, good times! And I'll have to say I learned a lot of new things about these friends. 'The Not So Newlywed' game is a wonderful way to find out LOTS of things about people!

From The Kitchen: I love cooking in the winter! So I've been busy making venison stew. Also tried a chicken and dumplings recipe from the Pioneer Woman site. The dumplings have corn meal in them - a little weird, but good. The second time I made it I used gnocchi instead and that was pretty yummy as well. Did quite a bit of baking during Christmas and not sure I'm going to want any more sweets for a while! Emma asked for and received a Jamba Juice maker for Christmas so we've also been trying various smoothie recipes. I just love watching her whipping up her little concoctions! Emma and I were out running around with our friend from Texas the other day & ran across a set of really cute little antique glasses which I bought for her to serve her goodies in. Quite tickled that my little one likes to cook!

I Am Wearing: Black sweats. OU Sooners t-shirt. BOOMER SOONER baby!!!

On the 'Go Organize' Front: Oh my, seems like one step forward and 10 steps back at times. We do have the halls undecked - trees taken down and put up, mantle un-decorated. Window lights all down and packed away. But the confounded basement is gonna be the death of me. Brian had taken everything out and repainted it and now the shelving is back in and we did organize the books shelves which was desperately needed. But the kids toys are still not organized. Nor is anything 'decorated' yet - nor do I even have a decorating plan. I tried working on it for a few hours this afternoon but just wasn't in the mood.

I Am Going: To bed soon. Can't believe the holidays are over and it's back to a normal schedule already.

I Am Reading: Recently finished The Water is Wide. I realized after I was part way through it that I had read it before but enjoyed it so much that I went ahead and read it again. Great read! Time to catch up on some magazines before I delve into something else.

I Am Hoping: That we can decide where we're going on vacation. I need something to plan!

I Am Praying For: Patience. In many ways.

I Am Hearing: Football on the tv ... sigh. Shouldn't the season be over by now?

Around The House: A little messy, but manageable. Can't really complain since we did get all the Christmas decorations put away.

One Of My Favorite Things: Christmas! I just love buying things for our family and seeing their enjoyment when they open the packages. It really tickled me this year that some of the really little things I got the kids were the things they seemed to enjoy the most.

A Few Plans For The Rest of The Week: Ryan has a make up band concert. They had one scheduled before the holidays but it was cancelled due to the weather. Still have a few more weeks before gymnastics starts back up but I think dance does start back this week. I need to check on that! Then a basketball game for Ryan on Saturday.

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

2011 balls Pictures, Images and Photos