Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in Review

This was so much fun. It is amazing how much life has changed this year!

Just a few weeks after returning home, we welcomed little Juliana into the Church on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. For us, it was the final welcome into our family!

Juju celebrated her first birthday and started to grow some hair!

March was a difficult month for us as we found out Aunt Missy was in heart failure. We have come to appreciate more fully every moment we have with each other.

We celebrated the Resurrection of Our Lord.

We decided to "get in line" for another adoption from China. We expected it would take 12 months to 18 months before we were matched with our newest child. We were quite surprised when it took little more than 18 hours before we saw Joseph's beautiful smile.

We were again surprised this month with the news that not only would the adoption come faster than expected, we were also going to be welcoming another little baby into our family. The girls spent their first days of summer beating the heat in the basement.

We enjoyed some family time at the State Fair.

Our first ever soccer season began. Soccer practice four nights a week, games on Saturday.


Unbeknown to us, Joseph has surgery to repair his cleft lip.

We enjoyed hayrides, pumpkin patches, apple cider, and college football.

We celebrated All Saints Day.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings to all our dear friends and family as we usher in a new year and a new decade!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday

If only it were this peaceful around here today...

Unfortunately, today has been anything but peaceful. Dh is frantically trying to book tickets to China. Not an easy task considering we have 6 days notice. I am trying to figure out how to get them packed in less than a week. Normally this wouldn't be that bad, but being nine months pregnant, I move slow and I can't concentrate.

My sister is back in the hospital after a very rough morning. They are running some tests now, but I know she was really hoping to avoid going back. I think the way she has been putting it lately is "It is easy to get in, but impossible to get out." The ten-year old son of my step sister is also in the hospital on a ventilator and feeding tube.

I have this terrible pit in my stomach from worry, anxiety, and being overwhelmed-- either that or the bazillion Christmas cookies I keep eating with all this stress. With all I have to do, I still just want to go to bed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Four Calling Birds

We have some dear friends who refer to their youngest daughter as "the hen." For some reason dh has always liked this nickname. While yesterday was the day for "three French hens," I have four girls and we aren't French. So perhaps "four calling birds" is more apropos. Either way, the title was just an excuse to post a few pics from Christmas morning. After all it is still Christmas. We are playing Christmas music, enjoying the new fallen snow, and yes I am still eating Christmas cookies- there seems to be an endless supply of them around here.

Juju really enjoyed opening presents, any presents, whether they were hers or not. She just enjoyed finding out what was inside.

Bophie, our princess, needed a new stroller (mostly for Bella) as the old one had seen better days. She and Juju spent the morning racing their strollers around our first floor racetrack.

Bear's smile can light any room. She was the best guesser and knew package contents much too quickly.

Banana was delighted to finally get some new books to read. She found it hard to open new presents and preferred to lose herself in the first book she opened. I think she liked the doll too :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Christmas Carol
by G.K. Chesterton

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)

The Christ-child stood at Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown.
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Travel Approval!!!

DH here as guest blogger.

We received our travel approval yesterday evening! This means we'll leave for Beijing on January 5th and return on January 22nd. God willing, Gotcha Day (the day we meet Joseph) will be January 10th.

In honor of this event, I'm breaking Nikki's long-standing rule of this blog being a 'no fly zone' and posting some NetJets pictures. :) The picture below is of Nikki's dad and Bear leaving New York for Columbus a few years ago.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Counting Down the Days...

This evening we received a call from our adoption agency. They expect our TA (travel approval) to arrive any day now and believe dh and Banana will leave around Epiphany and be home around January 22. Nothing is definite, we can't book tickets yet, but things are starting to take shape. The fact that the agency called to make sure our ducks are in a row is a good sign things are moving forward. My c-section is currently scheduled for January 29, so barring going into labor early dh should be home in time for the birth.

I have been so anxious to bring Joseph home. I came across the following video this morning. It reminded me how fortunate we are. In a few days my children (and dh and I) will be showered with gifts. We will eat thousands of cookies because my sisters and I were silly enough to bake thousands. We will adore our Lord in one of my favorite Masses, we will sing, laugh, eat, play, and feel the love of a family. It will be just another day for Joseph, he will still be in a place he doesn't know well, with no family to shower him with the love every child deserves. While he won't be here for Christmas, I am so happy he will be home shortly there after.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pregnancy Brain

The girls have joked time and time again about my "pregnancy brain." They have, of course, heard this from me. I seem to feel more and more out of it as this pregnancy progresses. During this pregnancy I have received two tickets from red light cameras for running red lights. The thing is, I ran the same light twice-- TWICE!

I also got a notice from the bank this week correcting a deposit I made. It seems the amount I thought I was depositing was about $70 short of what the actual total was. If the bank hadn't caught it, we'd be short that money. Everyone makes those mistakes, but again, this is the SECOND time in a month I have done this. Last time I was almost $100 short. Those who know me well, know these are not the types of mistakes I typically make.

Not only am I making silly absent-minded mistakes, I can't seem to think through or accomplish anything well.

Here I am six weeks from delivering this little one and I am starting to panic. I spent the first part of this pregnancy so overwhelmed at the thought of two little boys. I then went into denial. I threw myself into getting ahead with schoolwork and other projects. Now I am asking myself how I will accomplish all I need to finish in the next few weeks. There are clothes to sort, but I haven't decided how I will organize them. Do I need another dresser or can I make do with what is there? Where will they sleep. Is it better to put the crib together for Joseph and the cradle for the new baby? Or should I just plan on using a pack-n-play? Or do I move Bophie to a big girl bed and let Joseph use the toddler bed? Whatever we decide, all that furniture needs set up and organized.

I thought I was finished Christmas shopping. After a conversation with dh last night, I realized I still had quite a few gifts to pick out. There were some glaring holes in my shopping list. Not only do I have to purchase them, but then I have more wrapping to do. I had thought I was a little ahead in that department. I was also going to order and address Christmas cards this week. I am now wondering if that wasn't some sort of pipe dream. I hope to put in our first batches of Christmas cookies today, but even that is a paltry start.

I also realized I am completely unprepared to start packing dh, Banana, and the necessary items for Joseph and their trip to China. I had totally forgotten about all of the gifts I would need to buy for orphanage workers, registrars, and such. I also had aspirations of sending an extra box of supplies to donate to the foster home Joseph that cared for Joseph. Thankfully I am so blessed to have friends and family who have already given me a good start on clothes for both boys. The last time I really had to worry about clothes was almost 10 years ago when I was preparing for Banana. There is also the question of what supplies Joseph will need. Bottles, sippy cups, snacks, entertainment for a 30 hour flight home?

With Christmas and this trip so close together, and then a birth so soon after that, the crazy ride is really just beginning, I'm wondering if I'll ever think straight again...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Christmas cookie baking has begun.
Think she sampled some of the snicker doodles?

Bear's Polar Bear Party

My first warning, if you are pregnant, really pregnant (I love the gospel description of Mary being "great with child" and that is truly how I feel), all birthday parties should be postponed or simple. Being six weeks from delivery, anemic (meaning ridiculously tired), stressed from an impending adoption, and worried for a sister at the top of the heart transplant list, do not leave much room for birthday party planning.

This party, however, needed to be this year. We try to limit big parties to years when the child turns 5 and 10. Poor Bear is turning 7 and for the past two years we have put her party off. Last year we left the day after her birthday for China with promises of a grand party next year. Here it is next year and even though we had so much on our plate, we needed to follow through.

Our Bear is especially fond of polar bears, and in another post I will have to tell the story of how this fascination with them came about, but for now I will stick to the party. I found some really cute polar bear and penguin crafts online and at Target. We played pin the hat on the polar bear, we made polar bear and penguin ornaments, we went on a bear hunt. My favorite was supposed to be putting together your own polar bear cub-cake.
All the other activities went very well, except the cub cakes. I found the idea here. I think it would have worked well if there was more than one mom (or at least not a "great with child" mom) trying to help 11 girls. I also know that in the future, the cupcakes need to be frozen or left out overnight so they are not so soft. As the girls tried to frost the cupcakes, they fell apart because they were too fresh. They tasted great, but next time I will know better.
Despite the momentary cub-cake disaster, Bear had a fabulous party. She enjoyed just getting a chance to have friends over to play and it was a great way to celebrate turning seven. Banana's birthday is in the summer, and she turns ten. She wants a panda bear party now, so I am saving all my polar bear ideas to turn into panda bears.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Can You Believe It Has Been a Year?

A year ago today our more than three year wait had ended and this little one was brought to the thirtieth floor lobby of our downtown hotel. Four little girls were placed on two chairs, and four families were changed forever. Juliana didn't cry, she barely made a sound. She was bundled in clothes that I think would still be too big on her. She spent most of the next few weeks being pretty quiet. There were brief glimpses of the personality that is still emerging, but she was mostly still in shock and somewhat frightened at her whole world being turned upside down. We had to work hard to get a smile, sometimes we worked harder to get her to eat, and we worked most of all at letting her know how much she was loved by us, by her siblings, her extended family, and friends.

Today quiet is not a word I would use to describe little Juliana. Her smiles come so easily and are often followed by giggles and full-blown baby laughs. She sings, she babbles, and sometimes even yells to get her sisters to hear her. She is happy to give kisses and hugs, she wants to be held, she knows she is loved by so many. We also no longer have any trouble getting her to eat. She has definitely taken to our American cooking, although she can be quite demanding about what she wants to eat. Our family would not be complete without this little one and her smiles, sweetness, and demanding ways. She is truly a treasure.

I didn't give you the gift of life,
But in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.
For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true!
No, I didn't give you
The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Morning After

Yesterday morning I thought I would be spending today looking at fancy new washing machines. Instead of sugar plums and fairies I had visions of 26 pairs of jeans or 32 towels per load. Alas, dh spent his day yesterday looking on the Internet for how to repair the machine. Darn that Internet. He actually found a You Tube video that demonstrated in detail how to pull the machine apart and fix the problem.

Less than $20 in parts and an hour or so worth of work and this morning I am back in business. My laundry pile is diminishing little load by little load. My handy husband saved us quite a bit of money. He also cleaned out the laundry room/closet while he was working, and since he had made such a mess, he mopped the floor. All while I went to coffee with a good friend. With all that, I'm okay with waiting for a new machine.

On a more serious note, please keep my family in your prayers. My sister had the last of her transplant tests yesterday and all went well. It seems that she will be moved to the top of the list next week and could be called in anytime thereafter for a transplant. Also, we learned this week that Joseph was moved from his wonderful foster home (1 caregiver for every 2 children) back to his orphanage (1 caregiver for every 15 children) sometime in November. The foster home is the only home he has really known. He was sent there because his orphanage was not equipped to handle his cleft palette and lip. While he has had the lip repaired, he still has a bilateral cleft palette and I am worried this will cause additional problems with an already difficult move. I am sure this transition is scary for a 20 month old little boy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Day has Finally Come

After a few months of whining, moaning, and loud high-pitched squealing, the day is finally here. The anticipation of this day has caused dh quite a bit of anxiety. I, on the other hand, have been anxiously awaiting it for at least five or six years as visions of upgrades and fancy new devices filled my daydreams. I was hoping it would wait till after we had out tax return...

Just last week, after the whining and squealing had reached a new level, dh said that he had been praying our 13-14 year old washing machine would hold out until we recovered from the many adoption expenses that just seem to keep piling up. I told him that was funny because with the thought of the laundry piles that await me with six little ones, I had been praying we would be forced to get a new, much bigger, machine. Today we discovered who was praying harder :)

This morning I had everyone bring down their absolutely overflowing laundry bins. After last night's "I don't have any clean pajamas" debacle, I thought it was time to get to the amassing piles. I put in my first load as I was preparing breakfast. As we sit to eat a strange sound came from the laundry room (or closet- as it should be known). Dh gives me a look of dread and asks, "Is that new?" To which I had to say yes.

The drum isn't spinning and poor dh, who already wasn't feeling well, is stuck in the closet trying to see if he can fix the thing. I still have hopes for high capacity, high efficiency, and easy to load machines, but with Christmas a few weeks away and an adoption and new baby a few weeks after that, this is not the best timing. Here's hoping dh can fix it, but that the fix only lasts till March :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Bear!

Along with the great feast today, we get to celebrate the birthday of our second daughter. Little Bear made her much anticipated debut on this day seven years ago. She was determined to cause a stir even then. I had to have an emergency c-section and she was so attached to being with Mom, the doctor had to use his foot, the operating table, and whatever else was handy to leverage himself to pull her out.

Now she is our bubbly, affectionate, always full of energy little girl-- always full of energy. She's the first in line for hugs, always willing to help (almost always), and our all around sweetheart. This year will be quite a year for her. She will celebrate her first confession this weekend and is preparing to receive her first communion. I am so proud of how well she is making those preparations. She is learning more about her faith and putting forth a genuine effort to put that faith into practice.

We will have a small party for her this weekend, polar bear themed at her request. It has been fun to keep my eye out for little polar bear items for her party. She is a game lover, so I am still on the hunt for some polar bear party games.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee-- especially our little Bear.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

God's Timing and His Blessings

Friday was dh's birthday, and what a day it was...

The last few weeks a lot of what if's and second guessings have been floating through our house. It seems we are on the final countdown to welcome our little boys and that has caused some anxiousness. On Thursday I had an OB appointment where we scheduled the January 27th delivery of our littlest boy. I am amazed it is already time to get it on the hospital calendar (I have scheduled c-sections because of a previous rupture). I also now have to go in for check-ups every two weeks. These milestones seemed to come so slowly in past pregnancies, I am amazed at how quickly they have arrived this time around.

I also found out on Thursday that my sister's heart transplant process is speeding up. The original plan had been to start the final testing to move her to the top of the list in February. The transplant team at the hospital decided those tests should be moved up because of the recent complications she has had. She has a heart cath this Wednesday and it is expected she will move to the top of the list after the holidays. This means she will be on call for a transplant the month of January.

I was starting to really get overwhelmed with all that lay ahead in our family the month of January. It seriously will be one for the record books. I was a little worried how we would get through. I had been trying to be a trooper, but I felt as if this was asking a little much.

On Friday we were once again shown God's faithfulness. Our adoption paperwork had been at the step that has the most variance in time. We were told this step(called an I-5 authorization) could take anywhere from two to six weeks. The due date of baby 6 is such that if this step took six weeks, dh would be in China during the delivery or we would have to postpone his trip. We were really struggling with this decision. Banana, being the sweet girl she is, suggested we pray a novena for God's timing in their travels. She even downloaded a novena to St. Therese and was in charge of bringing it out at our family prayer times. Just a few days after finishing our novena, and 14 days after beginning this step, we received our authorization Friday afternoon. This hopefully means that dh will be leaving in early January and should be home in time for the delivery.

Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Poor Neglected Blog

It isn't that I don't love you, or that there isn't much to say; it's just that I am busy, and tired, and it seems at the end of the day I just want to sleep, not blog.

We had a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend. We feasted, we rested, and we did something I have never done Thanksgiving weekend-- we decorated.

I am an Advent nazi. You know the type-- always battling the ever earlier Christmas displays, won't put up the tree till the week of Christmas, doesn't sing Christmas carols until it is actually Christmas. I love Advent. I want to wait for Christmas. All the early celebration leaves my heart feeling like I gorged on candy and cookies rather than a beautiful, well- prepared meal.

I was already past my due date with Bear on the first Sunday of Advent seven years ago. We had a wonderful priest (Fr. Trigilio) who gave a homily that Sunday that has stuck with me ever since. He encouraged us to think of Mary, who during Advent was preparing for the birth of her first child. Oh the anticipation she would have been feeling. Our Advent should have some aspect of that. Mary wasn't partying, or shopping, she was nesting. She was preparing her home in joyful expectation. Being pregnant and on the verge of our next adoption this Advent is such a blessing. It allows me to meditate on that expectation of Advent at a whole new level.

That being said, I am typically the sole decorator in this house. The combination of my perfectionist tendencies and dh's just get it done tendencies have led to my putting up the decorations to keep the marital peace. Much the same way dh takes care of mopping the floor, meal planning, and car maintenance. This year, I just couldn't do it alone. I can't carry boxes up and down the stairs, I can't vacuum my mess, and I am too tired and overwhelmed to get it all done. I needed his help. He was happy to help, but December is going to be a busy month for him at work. He has a very big project due Dec. 31. We also hope to be moving forward with adoption paperwork and packing very soon. So the decision was made to take advantage of the holiday weekend and get done with what we could.

I don't think we had any other choice, but it was hard to be decorating so early. I still won't let the girls turn on the lights, other than during our nightly prayers. I only hope that now that most of the decorating is done we can get down to our real Advent devotions. I also figure it is time for some nesting of my own. My mom gave me my first boy clothes this weekend and it somehow brought out the reality that there are two little boys joining us very soon and I am very unprepared. Clothes, cribs, car seats, all need to be organized, put together, and installed. I can't think of a better preparation for Advent-- making a place in my heart for the infant Jesus, while I prepare a place in my home for our new infants.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Our Nightly Entertainment

This was too funny. Almost as funny was watching little JuJu laugh at herself as she watched the video.

The Monday before Thanksgiving....

(I really needed to be reminded of these things this Monday morning.)


Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings, thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf.

Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as possible, thank you, Lord, that I can see. Many are blind.

Even though I huddle in my bed and put off rising, thank you Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedridden.

Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned and tempers are short, my children are so loud, thank you, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.

Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced, thank you, Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry.

Even though the routine of my vocation(job, life) is often monotonous, thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job.

Thank you, Lord for the friends and special times that touch my life in so many ways. There are many who are not so lucky.

Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my circumstances were not so modest, thank you, Lord, for life.

Author Unknown

H/T to Michelle

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Next Step

Yesterday we received our 797 Provisional Approval for little Joseph. While I know this is the next step in our paper chase to travel to Joseph, I am still not sure it brings us any closer to determining travel dates. Our next set of paperwork was sent off last night to Guangzhou and we now wait-- again. This wait though, is the most variable. We really need it to go quickly if we want dh to have traveled and be home with Joseph by the time baby is born. If this wait is slow, we will be faced with some tough decisions. Do we postpone his trip so he can be here for the birth? Do we send him anyway, knowing Joseph needs to be home? We can only pray that God's will be done. He is total control of this timing.

My sister has been back in the hospital with some complications. Please keep her in your prayers. I know it cannot be fun to have to spend weeks at a time in the hospital. I also know it would be especially difficult to have to spend Thanksgiving there.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Food For Thought

The Mother Theresa Edition

If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own power. Your self-sufficiency, your selfishness and your intellectual pride will inhibit His coming to live in your heart because God cannot fill what is already full. It is as simple as that.

Try to put in the hearts of your children a love for home. Make them long to be with their families. So much sin could be avoided if our people really loved their homes.

When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now.

Be humble and you will never be disturbed. It is very difficult in practice because we all want to see the result of our work. Leave it to Jesus.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Response to Questions about Joseph

Joseph is currently 19 months old, he is about a month and a half younger than Juliana. There will be about 21 months between him and his baby brother, we are still deciding on little brother's name. The update we received said he is not quite 25 lbs and about 31 inches. This is actually a little bigger than Juliana. Receiving those measurements reminded me I really need to get moving on getting things together, especially for dh's trip to pick him up. I am close to an expert on little girl clothing, shoes, and accouterments, but the boy thing is a whole new world.

Joseph was found when he was a few months old. He was taken to an orphanage in the province of Henan. His cleft lip and palette made feeding him very difficult and he was soon sent to a foster home in Beijing that was better equipped to deal with his special need. He has been at this foster home for over a year now, and seems to have received absolutely wonderful care. At the end of October he had surgery to repair his cleft lip, which seems to have been very successful. He will have to have his palette repaired once he is home.

Because Joseph is in a foster home, it will be necessary for him to return to his original orphanage before he is placed with us. Dh will have to travel to his province (Henan) after he arrives in Beijing. Then the orphanage workers will most likely bring him to dh. Dh is planning to visit his foster home in Beijing, even though there is a good chance he will not be there. We do not know the timing of his transfer back to the orphanage, but would appreciate your prayers for him in the coming months. I can't imagine how difficult it will be for him to leave the only home he has known to return to an orphanage he cannot remember, only to turn around and be placed with a family he has never known. All this for such a little fellow.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Only My Children

Yesterday, Grandma stopped by with dinner and some other goodies. Aunt Missy had sent some little trinkets for the girls. She can't visit herself until I get over this silly virus. She sent little Bophie a charm bracelet. Bophie has been wanting one since her older sisters got one and started collecting charms with the Little Womens Hospitality Program. She also sent bangle bracelets for the older girls.

Banana, being my bookworm, and clearly a home schooler, took one look at the sparkly pile of bangle bracelets and said, "Look, I can use these to make Venn diagrams!"

Earlier in the day, I had made "coffee" for the girls. The coffee is essentially frothed milk with a scoop or two of decaf instant cappuccino mix. As we were all at the table enjoying our coffee Bear and Bophie kept sliding out of their chairs to the floor under the table. After a few times, I finally asked them to sit up and drink their coffee like ladies, after all, did they ever see Mom do that when she drinks her coffee?

Bear thought a minute and piped up, "No, but you wouldn't fit."

I chuckled with her for a moment, but then warned her that was a dangerous thing to say to a pregnant woman :)

Friday Food for Thought-- Thankulness

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” - W.T. Purkiser

I was saving this quote for the week of Thanksgiving, but I have had so many little blessings this week I decided it shouldn't wait.

I have been feeling pretty lousy the last month or so. The girls all came down with some little bug at the beginning of October and promptly got over it. I seemed to catch it, but have been unable to shake it. I am tired. Unbelievably tired-- more so than I was my first trimester. I have been schooling my girls from the couch. On those few times I attempted to go into public, I found myself not enjoying things I normally loved to do.

It turns out I did have the flu, it had gone on too long to bother to check for H1N1. I also have had a nasty sinus infection. And because of a fluke at the doctor's office, I had my blood drawn and they found I have some anemia. I know this is crazy, but I am glad to know all this fatigue is not in my head. It seems baby boy is still doing well, he sure is kicking up a storm, but I am lightheaded and tired, bone tired. I will be seeing a hematologist in the near future and until then I just have to take it easy--which is about the hardest thing for me to do.

Why did all this mess make me thankful? Because I have been so blessed by friends and family in the last few weeks, if I tried to list them all this post would be pages and pages. My mom came by last night with dinner (again), she brought an amazing meatloaf and my favorite pumpkin roll! She also brought a whole slew of food from my sisters. The girls and I had homemade banana bread for breakfast, and we have dinner (and yummy desserts) for the next few nights. I had a dear friend loan me saint costumes for two of the girls last week so I didn't have to worry about making or gathering them. She also lent me many much needed maternity clothes. It is such a relief to know I don't have to worry about dinner and I don't have to do the wash every three days.

On top of this my girls have really pitched in. Banana has taken on vacuuming, I can't do this at all during pregnancy or after the c-section. Bear has become proficient at cleaning up the kitchen and is even trying to help fold the laundry. On top of all this is my unbelievable dh. He has so much going on at work, but he has really taken on so much more at home. Preparing dinner, cleaning up dinner, bathtime duties, bedtime duties, he's pretty much had to cover them on his own.

So now I am asking myself how am I going to use all these blessings? First, I am going to have pumpkin roll for lunch :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Feast of All Saints

From my little saints in the making...

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

St. Scholastica

St. Apollonia

And one grumpy bumblebee... She was much happier after seeing all the loot :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Food for Thought

A few snippets from beloved saints.

"If I am not in God's grace, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there." -- St. Joan of Arc

"Since Christ Himself has said, "This is My Body" who shall dare to doubt that It is His Body?" -- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

"Love God, serve God; everything is in that." -- St. Clare of Assisi

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It Figures...

I splurged today on an extra bag of candy to hand out to the trick-or-treaters this week. I know it is a little dangerous, a pregnant woman in a house of Halloween candy when there are still two more days till trick-or-treating, but I was already at the store and it is better to consolidate trips. Since I was completely out of laundry detergent, the trip could not be postponed any longer.

I am not sure if dh will stay and pass out candy or not, but he is especially fond of handing out large handfuls of goodies. The smaller and cuter the kid, the more candy he delves out. Poor teenagers in lame costumes are lucky to get him to hand over a single little morsel. I tend to be the pick two kind of candy giver.

I bought mostly the good stuff, but I spied the big bag of Tootsie Roll Child's Play and couldn't resist. I know most people consider this the cheap stuff, but it was more than $5 for the bag. I happen to have a huge weakness for vanilla Tootsie Rolls, and this is the only time I can get them. So even though I probably had enough candy (could someone provide a good formula for finding the perfect amount of Halloween candy?), I went ahead and bought the bag for insurance-- and the promise of a few vanilla Tootsie Roll treats.

Just my luck, there was one, little, lone vanilla Tootsie Roll in that ginormous bag of cheap candy. O.N.E. That just isn't right...

Signed, Sealed, Soon to be Delivered

Yesterday we waited and waited for our package from the adoption agency containing our LOA from China. It was overnighted to us on Friday and we needed to sign it and get it in the mail overnight back to our agency. Time is of the essence for us if we want dh to travel and be home with Joseph before the birth of our next child. At 5:00 the package had still not arrived. We had two packages last week which both arrived at around 2:00 so I was baffled as to why it was nowhere to be found.

Dh started calling. We had rearranged all our afternoon and evening plans to get this thing out the door, and it wasn't here. Turns out the delivery man left it two or three doors down the street. Thankfully, the neighbor across the street saw him at the wrong house and let me know. I was able to traipse down the road and see the package on a neighbors doorstep. I didn't think anyone was home, so I just grabbed it and ran home-- if you can call a pregnant lady waddle running. I would not make a stealthy thief, I can assure you of that!

The package consisted of two letters in English and Chinese. We basically just had to write in, "We accept Hu Hui Cheng" and sign our names. It all comes to that. Such simple words, with an eternal impact on our lives.

Amazingly, we still got it in the mail and it will be delivered to our agency sometime this morning. They in turn will send it back to China, and other documents to Immigration. We will wait.... again.

Friday, October 23, 2009

We received our LOA

For those not in the international adoption community, LOA means our Letter Seeking Confirmation of Adopter. It means we have been approved by the CCAA to adopt little Joseph. It also begins to bring into focus our travel time frame. Our agency estimates travel will occur in the next 10-13 weeks.

Today, I am 26 weeks along in this pregnancy. Add 13 to 26 and you can see that it seems that this little one from China will be here about the same time as our little one in utero. January is going to be quite busy around here. What a way to usher in 2010, two new little boys.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ever Had One of THOSE Mornings?

Yeah--I'm having one. Running a fever, again. I can't seem to kick whatever this is. Thankfully, I go to the doctor today.

In the midst of trying to maintain order while feeling crummy, I hear my three-year old is brushing her teeth while on the potty. What is the logical consequence of that? I am now trying to figure the best way to extract the toothbrush from the toilet-- a used toilet. To flush or not to flush?

I guess I'll be stopping on my way home from the doctor for a new pink (the girl will have no other color) toothbrush.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Friday Food for Thought-- the Long Edition

Have you read Jen's post about breaking the will of God? If not, do so. It is amazing. I haven't been able to get it off my mind. I was preparing a comment and thought that instead of rambling on in her combox, I would post my protracted response here so as not to bore her readers.

This post obviously strikes many chords with me personally. The caller and I have much in common. I have three biological children and recently adopted a fourth and am in the process to adopt a fifth (special needs) child, and pregnant with the sixth. Do I ever get that nagging voice in the back of my head that says I am really doing this for some prideful reasons? Yes. Do I ever feel as though I am thwarting the will of God by adopting? Do I worry about the impact these decisions have on my other children? Are there moments I think we must be crazy? Yes, yes, and heck yes.

I had those feelings more intensely prior to Juliana's adoption. I felt I was somehow tempting fate bringing into our family a child I knew nothing about. If God wanted me to have more children wouldn't he have given us another pregnancy or spared us the pain of so many miscarriages? I would have moments of doubt, and then I would feel guilty for having doubts. I worried about our intentions, I worried we were biting off more than we could chew. I constantly prayed we were doing God's will, but since God doesn't send us handwritten messages giving us detailed descriptions of exactly how He would like us to carry out His will, I worried we were off the mark.

Then I realized God gave me these desires, he put in my heart the desire for children. My desire to be a good mother was precisely because it is through that vocation I could best serve Him. Yes, I could still be prideful, but that didn't mean He didn't will for us to adopt a child. In some ways, those doubts were more temptations to pride. I needed to accept who I was and who God was. Without Him, I don't even have the power to make mistakes. To expect that unless I am perfect in my intentions, I am not carrying out God's will simply cannot be true. My intentions will never be perfect, I am human. I have to trust that God will bring good as long as I do my best to serve Him now, which means acknowledging my failures, confessing them, and then working hard to serve him better next time.

Perhaps my favorite paragraph from Jen's post was:

"What I eventually learned that has brought me immeasurable peace on this subject is that it's more important to ponder how God can bring good out of any situation -- even bad, sinful situations that are the result of fallible humans' mistakes -- than it is to ponder what the details of his will are for any specific scenario. I've stopped spending so much time asking "Was this God's will?" and am trying to spend more time asking, "How can I serve God in love at this moment, right now?" Maybe the situation I'm in is the result of a bad move, but as long as I keep turning to God there will be an opportunity to bring love out of it."

I can't say it any more eloquently than that. Her recommendation of the book He Leadeth Me is one I heartily second. I read and blogged a little about this gem of a book last spring. There are any number of issues in our little household in which we find ourselves looking for God's will and asking ourselves are we clouding His will with our own desires. They come in the form of how we manage our finances, how we manage our time, our discipline techniques, our schooling choices. Really, the list is endless. As I quoted in that older post,

"To predict what God's will is going to be, to rationalize about what his will must be, is at once a work of human folly and yet the subtlest of all temptations. The plain and simple truth is that his will is what he actually wills to send us each day, in the way of circumstances, places, people, and problems. The trick is to learn to see that-- not just in theory, or not just occasionally in a flash of insight granted by God's grace, but every day..."
From He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Ciszek.

Now that Juliana has been part of our family for almost a year, so many of those doubts have melted away. Before the adoption, even on the plane ride to China, I worried about our decision. Now I can't imagine life without her. On the plane ride home, Juliana had a terrible fever. It was higher than any of my children had ever experienced. I was worried sick for her and I was tired from the whirlwind trip we had taken, and an exhausting plane ride. On the 11 hour flight from Tokyo, I sat next to a Korean man. He had two daughters of his own. He asked about Juliana and was shocked to learn we had three more little girls at home. He asked if I really thought I could love Juliana as much as my biological children. Had he asked me that question two weeks earlier on the flight to China, I might have been hesitant. However, after two short weeks, looking at that dear sweet child, sick as she was, I already knew the answer, I already loved her that much.

When I think back on the process, the moment I truly realized this was without a doubt God's plan-- Juliana's baptism. No matter what my intentions were, no matter how flawed I was, this child, solely through God's providence was welcomed into the His family, His church. That moment was so monumental, I knew that my intentions were completely insignificant and I thanked God for taking them and making something of beauty beyond comprehension.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not at all Wordless Wednesday*

* but a good picture nonetheless.

Today, I was elated to finally get a post-surgery picture of Joseph (now isn't the time, but we are rethinking the name, is that wrong?). He looks amazing, doesn't he? I'm no doctor, and I know it is only one picture, but I still am so thankful at how successful the surgery seems to have gone. His palette was not repaired, which we fully expected, but one surgery down.

I can't tell you how odd it was to find out the child we are praying for, preparing our home for, who in many ways is already a member of our family, has had surgery and we couldn't be there to offer support and comfort. I am eternally grateful he seems to be very well cared for. The foster home works very hard to take undernourished kids and fatten them up before sending them for surgery. This certainly seems to be the case with our little one.

Now if only we would get some word from China... We are waiting on our LOA (letter of acceptance), this means another round of paperwork before our TA (travel approval) which allows us to travel to pick up this cutie. Each milestone Juju crosses, each new word, each new bond that is established, each kiss she offers, reminds me of the milestones we are missing.

Today, Banana's Literature lesson introduced the phrase, "All in time." I submit this process is "All in God's time..."

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Pencil Dilemma

It's Monday morning in our home, after clearing the breakfast dishes and getting myself a second cup of coffee, it is time to get back to school-- Mondays ugh. I printed off a cute pumpkin activity for Bophie to keep her out of my hair as I begin Math with the older girls. Math and Monday, not a favorite combination in this house.

My dilemma? Inevitably, as soon as I want to get down to task, neither girl can find a pencil. I am an organization junky. I strive to be sure there is a place for everything. I have a pencil basket to return pencils when finished. The only pencil in the pencil bin this morning was a nub of a thing with no eraser and all of an inch long. BTW, it is not a nub because I work my children to the bone. It is the way it is because some of my girls get too much of a kick out of sharpening the things. The eraser is missing because other girls chew on anything they get their hands on.

I buy pencils by the truck load. Last week, I pulled out at least a dozen new pencils. Where do they go? Are they eaten? I wouldn't think my cooking was bad enough my children would resort to eating pencils. Still, this morning, no one could locate a decent pencil. Last week, I gave each of them two of my favorite mechanical pencils. I let them choose a color so they could keep track of the pencil. Banana chose blue, Bear purple, Bophie of course chose pink, and I was left with orange. This morning, none of those eight pencils are in the bin. They even lost my orange pencils!

Being the frugal (dear readers know I am cheap) mom I am, I purchased hundreds of pencils when the school supplies went on sale in September. I have a secret stash of pencils, some traditional number two's and other coveted mechanical pencils. I know this morning I could pull out new pencils for everyone. I could replenish the stash again. I could get everyone to work, but how long will my stash last under such conditions? If I put out 20 pencils today, will there be any there on Friday, let alone next Monday?

So, here I am at 10 AM, asking myself what to do about the pencil problem, when it occurs to me that there must be other more important things to dwell on... I think the next time I'm out, I'll buy a thousand pack of pencils (do they sell such a thing?), then maybe I won't care when there are no pencils to be found. I am also making sure my favorite mechanical pencils get a new home, safe from grubby, pencil-hungry girls.

Back to Math lessons...