The truth as I know it:

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands. ~~~ Kristi Larson

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ebenezer

Our Referral Photo
Mary Margaret, March 2008

I really just couldn't let the day pass without setting out some stones to commemorate what the Lord has done for our family. Although we have three court dates of Russian adoption finalization, readoption dates for the US, Gotcha Days, dates we landed at home, birthdays, and baptismal dates, all of which are important, special, and hold special meaning for us and each of our children individually; today, June 30, is the day that our family was completed. One year ago today, Brian and I stood in a St. Petersburg courtroom, watched God exercise His sovereignty over Russian officials and popular opinion to waive our ten day wait, and then floored everyone with the judges quick decision. Today, above all days, the day we KNEW our family was completed, that finally, after so many years, all of our children had beds, and food, and families, and a mommy and daddy forever! Today is the day that we will celebrate in our family as the day the Lord fulfilled His promise made to me, at least ten years prior to this date, when He spoke to my heart, in the dark pit of infertility, that He would fill our home with children if I would trust Him. He did! He has! And so much better than any plan I could have conceived! I just keep going back to Phillipians 1:6 and the Message translation is amazing, "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears." He appeared for us in that St. Petersburg courtroom one year ago. He appears to us every time we retell or relive the story of how our children came to us on the wings of angels. And he appears to us very vividly this day, as we look in awe at the work He completed in our family through the miracle of adoption!

So for me, today is all about just basking in the lavish extravagance God has given in filling our home with children. We aren't perfect parents and we don't have perfect children, but the children we have are perfect for us! This day, the Lord outdid Himself! This day, I will worship and thank Him. This day, today and every year, I will glorify Him for what He accomplished, what he set out to do to our lives through the miracle of adoption. What He taught us about loving Him and how much He loves us when He showed us what it is to love an adopted child, as we are adopted into His family (Ephesians 1:5.) I will glorify Him for how many lives He has touched outside of our family through my special and precious children. This day is my Ebenezer. This post is an Ebenezer, because the Lord has brought our family this far! I can't wait to see what He has between here and the next monument!



One Year Home, June 30, 2009
She chose these TWO pink tu-tu's to wear! That's my girl!

1 Samuel 7:12

"Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it "Ebenezer" (Rock of Help), saying, 'Thus far has the Lord helped us.'"

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Tiny, Microscopic Little Box

That's where I have God. Seriously, when I think about how I think of God compared to what He is seriously capable of, the size box I have Him in must be TOTALLY cramped for him. Proof? Well, it's all around me. How did I come to this conclusion? I am reading In A Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. A. W. Tozer says, "...the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like...." For me, that concept is pretty limited. Why? Because it all comes down to ME. I think God needs me to "feel" a certain way, be a certain way, have a certain thing, not have other things, etc. etc. for Him to fulfill His mission, His plans, for my life, for the world. See how limited and egotistical that is? Yes, God did set it up to use humans to fulfill His goals for humanity. He did place us here as His hands and feet. He is "needing" us to go out and complete the good works He has set aside for us, but it's not ABOUT us at all. And yet it is. It's set up that way so that we would be drawn into relationship with Him, right? Our dreams for our self, our yearnings, our longings, and all that striving is our spirit within us reaching for Him. It's beyond my comprehension, how it can be both. Batterson says, "Maybe it's time to stop creating God in your image and let Him create you in His." Whoa! That sounds about right, though, I have created a God that is wishy washy, indecisive, does not attend to detail, and is forgetful because that's who I am, I've made God in MY image. How many things that people spout off to you as "truths" or "of God" are really Scriptures that have been molded to their small understanding of what God is?

When I read things that remind me of how big God is and how small I am, what a speck of dust I am in the grand scheme of things, it always makes my "problems" seem so laughable. Of course, nothing in my life is difficult for God, nothing is beyond his ability. I tend to want to think that I need to be praying for bigger things, not bringing my small cares to the throne because others' needs are so much more "worthy" of His infinite power than mine. But then Batterson reminds us of the story in 2 Kings chapter 6. In this story, a worker loses an ax head in the Jordan river (an IRON ax head... hello, that's heavy!) and Elisha prays that the ax head will float and it does. Wait a minute... I've definitely read that story before and never thought about it in this light. God actually CARED that this guy had lost an ax head that he borrowed from a friend. So, my problems, though "small" and "easy" for God to solve, are also things He cares about. He is SO big and SO everything and SO perfect that He does have power over every single dominion and problem on earth, but He also cares about the little daily things that trouble me (and you!) enough to want to ease some of that for us. He wants us to "rest" in Him, and many times that rest comes from just knowing that you have a Father who does care about even the smallest things in your life. Jesus used his FIRST miracle to turn water into wine (and as a Catholic, I can TOTALLY appreciate why that was important... hahaha) He obviously cared that the folks at the party were having a good time, He cared that the bride and groom not be embarrassed by their lack of resources or planning. And it was important enough to the Gospel writers to impress upon us that God does care about these little things in our lives as much as He cares about us. Seriously, would it really have effected eternity if the party-goers had gone home a day early? No! But God doesn't miss an opportunity to lavish us with His love and this was a great way to record it for all time, that He actually cared that this wedding be all that this family wanted it to be. We don't know the family, they are anonymous, but they live throughout eternity as having thrown a heck of a party, so that God could illustrate for us how much He cares about the things that matter to us!

Time and again I am reminded that God is in the details of things. Really, when do you feel most cared for by the Father? For me, it's been during our adoptions and during my pregnancy. The small details that I would stress and be consumed by would miraculously fall into place and I would once again be reminded that God was in control. He cared about documents being apostilled, babies being born, and judges being persuaded. And I'm really trying to learn to live that dependent on Him without adopting... I am trying to find a way to serve Him through the passion He gave me (the God ordained passion) of caring for orphans! It's a big plan, I know He's moving because I feel it every time I'm in the presence of orphan-lovers, He just hasn't revealed it to me yet and maybe it's because of my small sized faith!

And I'm just sitting right now in awe of how much He cares for every single one of us in this lavish way. I watched last night as He moved and sat in a sanctuary on Franklin Road. Point of Grace held a benefit concert for my friend, Gwen. And WOW is all I can say! Gwen put me at the door collecting money because she thinks I'm a bully and wouldn't let people "sneak in" without paying. hahaha But in reality, God put me at the door to be blown over by the generosity of anonymous people in outpouring their treasures to help my friend bring her son home from Africa. These folks who came through the line, attending a concert that was billed as "ten dollars at the door" and handed me a $100 bill and said, "Keep the change." those those people were reminding me of God's lavish care for His children. I was continually moved all night by the willingness of folks to hand cash, anonymously (I didn't know these people and Gwen would never know who paid 10 and who paid 100) to help someone do something that would have no lasting benefit to the benefactor. But the Spirit led them to give and they obeyed and I know they were blessed, I know Gwen was blessed, but I was blessed too. Big! I didn't want the night to end, I didn't want to go to sleep when I got home, I just wanted to dance at the ball forever. I was reminded that God cares about all these little things. He cares that Gwen's husband's truck burned to the tires the day before the concert. He cared that Katie Davis spoke and then answered questions for an hour afterward and someone in that room was moved to do something that is only between them and God, we may never know what that big decision was, but I can tell you that I know that it happened. I can also tell you that those 1,000 people that filled that church last night were not strangers, they were a family. You have never seen so many adopted children in one place in your life. And it was beautiful! It was moving! And it was nothing short of the presence of the Holy Spirit reminding us that this is what God's immediate family looks like. We are all sisters and brothers and last night, that's how it felt, like a big ol' family reunion. Thank you GOD! You are SO good!

I want to leave you with a quote from Batterson today:

"God has considered every contingency in your life, and He always has your best interest at heart. And that sense of destiny, rooted in the sovereignty of God, helps you pray the unthinkable and attempt the impossible."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Favorite Photo Friday

First of all, I would like to observe a moment of silence while I pull the knife out of my heart... the king of pop is d.e.a.d.!!! I can't even believe I am writing this. He had a very sad and sort of pathetic existence in the past decade or so, but oh, the genius of that man! I can't believe the mind that created Beat It and the body that moved to Thriller is no more.... not that I am still listening to alot of Michael Jackson, but still, a big loss to our generation because he's really the first iconic figure that was "our age" (not that I'm 50... not that there's anything wrong with being 50, mind you) who has died. Right up there with Elvis for my parents' generation. Oh brother, I am really off on a tangent here aren't I?


Anyway, photos... yeah, right Ondrea... this was about the photos!

This week it's mostly about Liam because my middle baby turned 8 on Wednesday. I can't believe it. Such a short time ago it seems that he looked like this:

Now he is growing up, getting ready for 2nd grade, taking music lessons, working 500 piece puzzles without help, and he's moved to the 8-11 age range in the toy department. sniff sniff


Opening the Jimbe he got from "Maggie" (a jimbe is an African drum, in case you, like me, were not in the know on this.)


This is Simba, Liam's African Drumming teacher.

Liam had a two-day sleepover with his buddy, who the whole family calls by his first AND last name. This is a photo of the two boys watching TV and eating popcorn on the first night.
A tree fell in our yard on Monday night during a storm. This provided hours of entertainment for the neighborhood boys on Tuesday. I'm not sure if neighborhood girls would have enjoyed the downed tree... there aren't alot of girls around us to test this theory out, but I have a suspicion that girls would have just ignored it.


Ice cream cake and alot of kids from the neighborhood singing Happy Birthday.... where is Norman Rockwell when you need him?



Okay, this photo is obviously not of Liam, but when the crew came to take away the fallen tree, we had a Sycamore that was dead at the top and healthy at the bottom. This guy climbed the Sycamore, no harness or ropes, and wielded a CHAINSAW to cut the entire top out of that tree. I want you to note that you can't see it, but he has a chainsaw in his hand cutting off limbs and check out the size of the branch he has braced his left foot on.
NO THANK YOU!!!!!


This was the boys on Tuesday morning, in their pajamas, contemplating what death-defying act they will perform first on the fallen tree. I wish you could hear the conversation of how the tree must have fallen, they had some pretty funny hypotheses.
So, I have gotten a couple of questions from my friends in the comments section and I don't know how to reply to comments (Becky, care to give a lesson???) Anyway, I have NOT chosen a Bible study for us to do. What you should know about me by now is that I am great with ideas, terrible with follow-through. See, they pay me the big bucks to come up with the grand idea... they don't pay me to implement the idea. hehehehe So, if any of you want to just tell me what we are doing, I will happily go right along and figure out Mr. Linky and all that stuff so that we can participate together. I will set up a Yahoo group for us to be in continual talk with each other. And I will spread the word. But I am overwhelmed when I start looking into studies as to trying to narrow it down to one. I will say that on Beth Moore's site, the members there are doing a study this summer that seems pretty low-key. There was a deadline to participate so I didn't spread the word, but honestly, we don't need to participate with them, we could do it on our own. You can check out the authors web-site, here. Let me know what y'all think. I want to hurry up and get a book decided so Barb has a better chance of getting it while she is in Canada... seems like maybe she is having trouble getting stuff in Finland.
Also, Barb, have you ordered your necklaces from Gwen yet? If not, maybe I can stick a copy of Crazy Love in there when she mails them. What do you think? Let me know if you want me to do that so you can have it before you leave the continent! :)
Hope you all have a great weekend! Love ya!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Is that a "real" blog carnival somewhere? I think I've seen other folks participating in this titled post??? anyway, it sounds good. And I AM thankful for this.... last week I drove my two oldest boys 30 minutes in the morning (each way) to their performing arts camp. Each day I was thankful that 30 minutes in the car for me did not include any of the following: an interstate, traffic, street names or traffic lights. It was the most picturesque drive you can imagine, past Wynona's house, and through some gorgeous farmland. I took these very bad photos from the window of my car WHILE I WAS ALSO DRIVING. The photos don't do it justice, but trust me, it was amazing.

This is a "traffic jam" in Leiper's Fork, TN
See, no street signs, just gotta pretty much know where you already are and which direction you need to go... sorta like life.
Umph, romantic notions of childhood on the farm... oh wait, it was actually pretty boring most of the time... you know, when my daddy wasn't working my tail off!


The original Puckett's Grocery. We have a Puckett's in my town too, but this one is the original. This is a little slice of Americana, if you come visit me, you'll HAVE to have a Puckett's burger and some sweet potatoe fries.... my "drown my sorrows" food!


You can't see the detail in this photo, but this little place in the fork of two country roads, is about as big as my bedroom. Every morning when I went by, there was an old man (a different old man every day) sitting on the front porch reading a paper or talking to other old men. The sign out front, that was erected on Wednesday, read, "Catfish Dinner Friday, 5-7". I have no idea whether they draw a crowd, but if they do, I'd like to have seen where in the world they actually put people. Small town America at it's best!
This is the perfect passenger... he's quiet, he's gorgeous, and he doesn't ask me to hand him stuff en route. Although, in all honesty, he DOES leave behind piles of hair!


And that, among other things, I am thankful for today!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Because Kids Live Here....






Lynnette Kraft does a blog carnival on Tuesdays that includes a photo challenge... this is titled "Because Kids Live Here..." which I think is totally brilliant. Because, well, there are LOTS of things at my house that only happen because kids do live here. For example:
This paratrooper has been standing guard over my kitchen for a few weeks now. He never tires of his responsibility and he doesn't eat much!


That's alot of elbows and knees on my sofa. Good thing we have a sectional... and not all boys present are actually pictured.


Since my middle son is a puzzle addict, there is almost always a puzzle strewn around my dining room table. This would be less of an issue if this wasn't where we eat dinner!



And that's it.... these things happen in my home, only because children live here. And that's also what makes this house a home!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Not Me Monday - AND Lessons learned in the garden

It's Monday and you know what that means... actually, there are so many things happening on Mondays now that I don't even know what carnival to actually participate in. Lynette Kraft at Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground has a "Getting to Know You" carnival that I have really enjoyed every Monday lately. It's been so interesting to meet some new bloggers and just see what else people are saying that aren't necessarily in my realm of consciousness. If you get a chance, go check her out!

I'm not sure if MckMama is actually doing Not Me today, because, see, Stellan has been back in the hospital again! But even if she doesn't do it, I think you should pop over there and say a prayer for her.






So... what did I not do this week? Well, first and foremost, I absolutely DID NOT forget to call my dad and my father-in-law AND my step-dad for Father's Day. It would have been impossible for me to forget these three amazing men who have contributed so much to who I am today.


My dad, who I have told you many times, is practically responsible for who I turned out to be in life; an animal loving, barefoot, country girl at heart, gardening, outdoor living, rebellious, beer-drinking, argumentative, conservative, freedom loving, loyal, open-handed, authentic, Southern girl!


My step dad, who is giving beyond words, who loves my children and my family, who has loved me even though I didn't always do what he thought I should, who has spent countless hours in my service, who loves the Lord and my mama.


My father-in-law, who is insightful, funny, and tolerant of me, even though I am sure there are times he would like to ring my neck. He calls me his favorite daughter-in-law, and it's no less sweet that I am also his ONLY daughter in law! :) He's a fun guy to be around, he loves me and my kids like his own kids, and he always has wisdom to share when it comes to dealing with life.

So, you see, all three of these "fathers" in my life deserved no less than a mere phone call from me... and it would be so inconsiderate of me NOT to call, so of course, I did. :)

The big boys had their finale performance from their performing arts camp this Saturday. Jack certainly DID NOT have a drum solo at the end of his Latin Music performance. If he had been going to perform a solo, he would have told me in advance, there's no way he could have kept something like that a surprise! :) And by the way, I wasn't one bit surprised and astounded that my son could play the drums like that after one week of classes and I also wasn't one bit proud of him! :)

Now, on to the Gardening portion of my post.... anyone need any cucumbers? Or flowers?







Note to self, a family of six people do NOT need five cucumber plants to provide enough cucumbers for some fresh summer snackin'. And if they DO, in fact, decide to open a pickle factory, another good thing to note is that I need to make the garden bigger if I am going to accommodate five cucumber plants!

My granma always grew Zinnias in her garden, so I am too. I love cutting them and bringing them in because it reminds me of her so much. Her favorite flower was the carnation, but I think of her when I see Zinnias because we grew them together and picked them together when I was a child. These things are bringing me SO much joy this summer. I just have a little walk down memory lane every week when I am culling out the full blooms and bringing them inside. Arranging them in this pretty vase and having fresh flowers in my kitchen and bathroom has been such a joy this summer. Thank you, Granma, for continuing to give me joy in my life by the legacy of life you left me with!

Love to y'all! Happy Monday!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Favorite Photo Friday

We looked alot better this day 12 years ago... course we hadn't been in the yard all day either! :)



Our neighbor flies a hot air balloon so all summer long we get "fly by's". This was awesome with the sun setting.

Hey Alex M., look who's rockin' the big boy shorts! :) This one is for you!



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tantrum Tuesdays (on a Thursday)

Hey Michelle, this one is for you!
So Michelle and I tossed around the idea that we should have a summer-long blog carnival called "Tantrum Tuesdays" in which we document and highlight the biggest tantrum of the week (even if it happens to be our own.) Well, as luck would have it, I actually caught a major tantrum on camera this week... and it was actually happening on a Tuesday, lo and behold.

Also, I want to just take a moment to thank all of you who might have been concerned that I was grossly misinformed about the name of "duct" tape. I realize that the tape is intended for duct work, but I think the name "duck" is so ingrained in my head that I typed it subconciously, but I really and truly appreciate you not wanting me to continue on in my ignorance, because when it comes to me, one never knows if I might be actually dwelling in the dark... hahaha... now that we have that straight, we can take a look at this collosal tantrum, as only Connor can throw them. And what better (more embarrassing) place to exhibit his self-assertion than a swim meet, in front of not only OUR entire neighborhood, but the entire neighborhood we were swimming against as well. These images are straight out of my camera, I have not even bothered to edit them yet, such was my excitement to share them with all of you so that you could develop a deeper and more meaningful appreciation of my parenting prowess!

Waiting for his turn to swim...

Being PULLED into the water by his coach....

Being pulled through the entire lap of the relay by his coach...


Immediately after the race, with his crush cup.... totally fine!

Now before you feel sorry for the little fellow in the photos above, keep in mind that a) he had already swam one race, his hardest, the backstroke, and did not complain one bit, b) his main complaint about not wanting to race was that the water was cold, but not ten minutes after his heat he was asking if he could get back in (to which I promptly replied NEVER because you might get too cold!), c) this was a relay and if I had allowed him to pansy out of it there would have been three other kids getting the shaft because of his stubbornness, d) he does stuff like this all the time and it's more about control than it is about fear or him not wanting to do it, he just has to have everything on his own terms and e) "We're not quittters!" Which is what I tell ALL four of my kids all the time, Harrisons don't quit things, we finish what we started and we'll reevaluate next summer if you don't want to do it. (Though in truth, he's probably doomed to have to do it because the other two are doing it and I want him to be busy like them. Plus I believe it's good for him.)

So....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Where do they get this stuff anyway?

This child.... (that's a bee-bee gun by the way)


who was still in his pajama bottoms with no shirt on at 5:00 on the afternoon... could also be seen THAT SAME DAY with his head hanging out the window of the truck yelling, "New York City, here I come!" What the?


These three just would NOT shut up yesterday... and since it was our anniversary, Brian and I really really wanted some time to ourselves. They wouldn't leave us alone, but it was sure alot quieter once we got out the duck tape.
No, that didn't really happen. It sort of evolved to this from Jack betting his friend Justin that he could hold his breath longer than Justin... then they got out the tape to somehow prove Jack was, indeed, holding his breath (don't ask me, I don't "do" nine year old boy logic), and one thing led to another and all of a sudden I had three mute children. I will say, it didn't hurt coming off nearly as bad as I warned them that it was going to. What in the??
You would never, ever, see girls standing on the see-saw in order to slam her friend into the ground harder on the other end! Seriously, why do boys feel the need to take a beacon of wholesome childhood fun and turn it into a death trap? Every piece of play equipment is a potential trip to the ER... if you are just now venturing into the land of boy parenting, consider yourself warned!

"Now you see, little boy, this here is the safety rig. You put the riggin' through this eye-loop and you secure it to the thing-a-ma-bob over there and you got yoreself a real...." or at least I know it was something like that.
Just another day in the trenches of suburbia.
The question of the day is this... why are my photos getting WORSE since I started trying to teach myself more photography techniques?

AND
Mac or PC?




Sunday, June 14, 2009

Happy 12th Anniversary Honey

I have to take a brief moment to walk down memory lane here in what has truly been the greatest blessing of my life. I met Brian in February of 1994. I still remember what I was wearing the day I met him, I still remember what HE was wearing the day I met him. I remember exactly where we were and exactly the position he was sitting in at his desk, in his cube, in the State of Tennessee office building. He was wearing an olive greenish suit. (I will spare you - and myself - the embarrassing details of what I was wearing. I was only 23 so I'll just leave it at that, but let's just say that I was NOT wearing an olive green suit... but I think a banana clip might have been involved somwhere.) He had one leg propped on the other and his hand was resting on his knee, and I was immediately attracted to him. I am a hand person. I notice people's hands. I have always been attracted to guys, or not, based on their hands. And when I saw Brian's long fingers, his awesome hands that day, I was immediately interested in knowing more about this cute guy. I still love his hands.

I'm a country girl, I grew up on a farm, I never wore shoes until I left for college (I even went to the County Fair barefoot one time... ewwww), my dad is the Marlboro Man incarnate. I was raised in a Southern Baptist church where people who didn't think like us and believe like us were suspect. I had only met one Catholic in my entire life before I left home. I was 4-H'er of the year in 1984, for goodness sake... it doesn't get much more rural life America than that! I grew up going to rodeos and playing in the barn.

Brian is a city boy. He won't even walk across the yard barefoot and he hates it when our kids leave the house without shoes too (though to me, it often seems pointless.) Brian's parents grew flowers in their back yard around the pool. He went to Catholic schools from Kindergarten through undergrad. (There wasn't even a private school in my town, much less a Catholic one.) Brian's parents live on a golf course, my dad can shoot deer out his bathroom window, and in fact, has done so. Brian grew up playing little league games, going to the arcade, riding bikes in the neighborhood, and doing other citified stuff like that. I doubt his school even had 4-H, heck, his county probably doesn't even have an extension service, being a metropolitan county and all... there's probably not a farm in his entire county, other than the one near the prison where we used to walk the dogs. :)

Brian's family has memories of vacations to Florida. My family didn't take vacations, but we went trail riding with our horses where we often slept in the front of the trailer or the loft of the barn. Brian grew up going to college basketball games with his grandparents, I grew up spending hours on the fence of the hog lot watching the baby pigs that my grandparents had every summer. Brian's grandparents did have a garden on their Mississippi farm, but my grandparents plowed their garden with a mule and made their own soap.

Suffice it to say that we were not likely candidates for a relationship, much less marriage. Again, further proof that God has a sense of humor and a plan! :)

I wish I could tell you that I knew early on in our relationship that I had found a man who would be a caring and tender husband and the perfect father to our future children. But I am sorry to say that I was nowhere near that smart. I was 23 and wrapped up in myself and I can honestly say that God was simply protecting me from myself. If you could see the string of ridiculous choices in boys I had made before Brian, you'd understand. I think God went into crisis intervention mode when He created Brian and set him on a course to become my husband.

Brian has taught me so much in our life together. He is truly my best friend. When I see something new, visit somewhere I've never been, attend an event, or eat something tasty without him, the experience is always less than it could be if he were with me.

Brian has a joke that our marriage makes every year seem like two, but in reality, the years seem to have flown by for us. When I look around at our life, and everything God has blessed us with in 12 short years, I'm amazed at how quickly it's flown by. We've visited seven foreign countries together, almost every state west of Pennsylvania, owned multiple houses, been through job and career changes for both of us, and parented four kids. We've packed quite a bit of living into 12 years (and quite a bit of junk into our attic too.) But every moment of this journey has been better because I was sharing it with Brian.

Brian is an awesome dad. He doesn't spend his Saturdays on the golf course, he spends them coaching the boys or attending performances. He has given up pretty much every personal interest that does not involve our family or our children, and for that I am so grateful. He comes home from a 10 hour day at the office and he does whatever the boys want to do until they fall asleep. He has deep reserves of patience and energy and enthusiasm for them... whether it's pushing them on the swing, throwing the ball, or playing dinosaurs with Connor, he never says, "not now." ( I guess I can skip the Father's Day post I was planning now, huh?)

So, now that you're all gagging (or more likely, not reading... hello, are you actually asleep...) HEY, YOU, WAKE UP!!!! we can return to our regularly scheduled blog about nothing in particular. Happy anniversary honey, I love my life at the "Fun Factory."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Goodness Gracious, where has the time gone?

Oh goodness, I have SO many things I need to want to blog about that I don't think I'll have time. Plus I have to leave here in like 15 minutes because I'm supposed to take Jack (and okay, me too) to confession. Man is that one easy aspect of the faith to ignore. But boy do I always love it when I come out all cleansed and forgiven! :) Don't waste your time telling me I'm already forgiven, I know that! Duh, I know Jesus and what He did, but it feels really good to fess up to another human... so why do I dread it so much? Anyway... I'm digressing... chop chop... lots to say... little time.


First, let me update you on my fav. photos of the week. Actually, I can't show you my favorite one because it's of another persons kid and I'm not sure how she would feel about having it plastered on the internet (even if I am only viewed by two people daily, still.... ) Why, you might ask, is my fav. photo of someone else's beautiful child? Well, I'm so glad you asked because I couldn't wait to tell you anyway. I'm very distracted this week by all things photography and I'm playing around with a trial version of Photoshop Elements. I think I'm addicted and I think I have to have the real deal (only, it costs $149 and I have to finish my yard-sale clean out before I can have the money... more on that later.) So, for now, I'm playing with tons of photos of other folks kids while I learn photoshop, because, you know, I wouldn't want to accidentally screw up a great picture of my own offspring! :) So... here are my favorite un-Photoshopped photos of my chillen's this week....


We had our first swim meet of the season... my boys rocked the house! Seriously, Liam got the Sportsmanship award for the meet because he's such an amazing sport, and, um, he is a great cheerleader for his teammates. He gets real worked up about the heats, but he does great. He won several second place ribbons and a couple of third. Look how serious he is on the starting block... all focus! What a little stud muffin he is going to be in a few years. And by the way, with PSE I can totally take that girl's butt out of the background of this photo! :)


This photo is probably one of the best I took of the week from a photography standpoint. I love the composition of this photo, with the directional lines and all. I told you warned you I was off on a photography binge... I'm feeling all technical about my shot compositions this week for some reason. ?????

My father-in-law was off this week so he came into town to see the boys swim in their meet. I had originally planned to post a photo of him at the pool with the kids, but then I decided that I could possibly incite some serious inquiries from all you single ladies out there if I were to display his granite-like abs and enlarged biceps... so in the interest of keeping the competition down from my mother-in-law, I've removed the photo I had originally intended to post. Sorry ladies!

But speaking of amazing physique.... is there ANYTHING on earth cuter than this back-side? Seriously, my girl has such a tan already that her swimsuit looks like it's actually glowing. And that is not color enhanced. Please note the matching bow.... no outfit is complete without it!

And, this Tuesday, my yummy little nephew hung with us at the pool for a little while. He's very fair (I mean, he is Irish after all) so he's not going to be a sun worshipper anytime in the near future, but dang, I could just eat him with a spoon! Especially when I see him in that little hat, which was actually Connor's once upon a time. Umph!

This was Connor's first meet ever. He only swam in one race because he got pretty freaked out about making it the whole 25. I think they should start the little tikes in the deep end so that by the time they get tired they can actually touch. We'll work on the confidence and have more ribbons next week... but he did get second place in the race he swam in. Which is pretty good considering he held the rope for a good 50% of the way! :) Here's our little tuckered fellow, safe and sound in Daddy's arms!

One of my favorite things about swim meets is seeing them with all their markings! Here is Jack's back with his name and number. I know someday (when I don't have kids on swim team and I'm not sitting in the sweltering heat for hours of practice and meets) I will look back on these days with regret that I don't get to go to meets anymore. Or maybe not, but when I look at these body markings I know my heart will melt because there is something really precious about it to me. And it's representative of summer, which in our neighborhood, is the best!

Okay, you'll have to come back tomorrow if you want to know all the OTHER stuff on my mind, like:

Photography classes

Bible Studies

My man... and my 12th anniversary

Right now I have to run off and confess all my sins and cleanse my conscience!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Orphan" The Movie

I received a disturbing e-mail yesterday from a friend of mine who is a pastor and a fellow adoptive parent. First let me say that the movie industry as a whole has just started to get on my ever last nerve. I LOVE... L.O.V.E. going to the movies! Brian and I dated and spent the childless portion of our married life practically living in the cinema. I would often see a marginally interesting movie just for the popcorn, Coke and movie theater experience. So for someone like me to become largely turned off to movies is not like someone (like my dad) who could take or leave movies anyway. I'm a movie lover, but am just totally over Hollywood and their oversensitivities to certain groups while seemingly TRYING to offend others!

If you haven't yet seen the proposed trailer for the movie "Orphan" (scheduled for release in July) then you should probably check it out before reading further! Here is a link http://orphan-movie.warnerbros.com/ I think it speaks for itself why this movie is a concern to parents who have already or are considering adopting. It portrays older child adoption, in particular, in a very disturbing and extreme light.

The following release is from a domestic adoption advocacy group (italicized comments are mine):
Voice for Adoption Expresses Concern About Release of Movie, “Orphan” June 8, 2009 – Voice for Adoption (VFA), an advocacy coalition of state and national organizations, is concerned about the movie “Orphan” and the negative perceptions it conveys about the 130,000 children in foster care who need permanent families.
“Orphan” is not scheduled for release until July 24, but its marketing has already raised deep concerns because it is premised on the notion that an older adopted child is profoundly troubled and it portrays negative stereotypes about the families formed with such children (“It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own,” says the adoptee in the film). Organizations dealing with adoption and foster care – along with parent and family groups and individuals around the country – are criticizing the film and its trailer as offensive and potentially undermining to children in need of families. “It has been a long time since a movie caused this much angst and worry in the adoption, foster care and orphan care communities, even before its release,” said Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. “And I think their concerns are well-founded.” Efforts to date have resulted in a promise by movie executives for a new trailer. Scott Rowe, senior vice president of communications for Warner Brothers, admitted the company "messed up" in promotions for the film and that they will change the trailer. Possible Next Steps for adoption advocates:

  • We ask that you please forward this statement to all of your networks, professional and personal.
  • We also urge you to include the information in newsletters, updates, or announcements.
  • Seize the opportunity of the movie’s release to portray the positive stories of successful adoptive families.
  • Continue to monitor publicity for the movie to assure that changes have been made.
  • Continue to contact Warner Brothers (Susan Fleishman is the Vice President of Public Affairs; Sue Kroll is President of Worldwide Marketing) to express your dismay that the movie was ever produced. (I could not find phone numbers of e-mail addresses for these two women, however, I did find a Warner Brothers spokespersons contact information: Scott RoweVice President, Corporate CommunicationsWarner Bros. Entertainment (818) 954-5806 or scott.rowe@warnerbros.com)
  • While this movie is distressing to all adoption advocates, let us try to turn the negative into a positive, i.e. a chance to focus on the wonderful families that have been formed by adoption!

For more information please contact Executive Director, Nicole Dobbins, voiceforadoption@gmail.com or 202-210-8118. To visit our website: www.voice-for-adoption.org"

Right now I happen to be reading the book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. Taking on Warner Brothers for any issue certianly seems like chasing a lion to me. I simply cannot understand, with all the horrible evils that we face in our culture today, why a company such as Warner Brothers, with such a wide audience and large voice, would want to degrade an institution such as adoption, particularly domestic, foster care, orphanage, older child adoption (which already faces such difficult stereotypes) is beyond me. Is it the degradation of all that is humane and loving in our culture that they seek? Why such liberal organizations, who profess to push for the equal rights of every citizen, would choose to portray adoption in this light is simply beyond me. Whose brilliant idea was it to make a horror movie about an orphan in the first place? There is some discussion on the matter taking place at http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/article/why-did-warner-bros-have-to-change-the-trailers-for-orphan. You can read what some are saying, although I warn you that some of the commenting is over-the-top stupido! Here is a link to the ABC piece on the outrcy: http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/story?id=7702341&page=1.

I, for one, will be researching advertisers for the film and contacting them individually about my displeasure over the entire situation. Unfortunately, adoption, orphans, and foster care are not a "protected class" that has become so sacred to our society. You can argue with me that this is "just a movie" and that it's "fiction", but there are groups that could have been attacked to Warner Bros. total demise. And I'm going off the PC train here for a minute, so bare with me.... Can you imagine if the movie was titled "Muslim" and portrayed demented zealots running around killing Americans (oh wait, that actually happened, never mind)? What if the movie were entitled "Homo" and pictured a demented homosexual running around killing people? Wouldn't there be public outcry? Would there be ANY defense of Warner Bros. and artistic freedoms? Would there be a place to hide from that? Angelina and Madonna have made adoption vogue lately, but apparently it hasn't done as much to further the cause of the fatherless as one might hope. Please don't misunderstand me here, I am NOT advocating that anyone or any group be attacked in this fashion; I am simply pointing out that there are groups that are protected from this sort of insensitivity, and often when the adoption community rises up in defense or outcry, we are largely dismissed or marginalized. Again, we are not a "sacred" class to the liberal culture.

Okay, stepping down off my soapbox now! Resting in these promises....

Exodus 22:22-24

"Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless."

John 14:18

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

Monday, June 08, 2009

Not Me Monday

We are two weeks into summer already??? I mean, we are two weeks into summer already! Oh, I meant to say, we are NOT two weeks into summer already. Whew!



It's actually time for another Not Me Monday.... the THIRD one of the summer! Do you get that the summer already seems to be slipping away from me... busy, busy, busy.



Hop over to MckMama's to see what all the fuss is NOT about... after reading what I haven't done this week, of course!







I did NOT work in my garden ALL day on Saturday. I would never need to spend an entire day weeding and hoeing because I keep such a tidy garden and that means that I never have to spend vast amounts of time in one day trying to get it where it should be.



If I actually HAD worked all day in my garden on Saturday, I would certainly have worn plenty of sunscreen on delicate parts of my body. I would have realized that my T-shirt was riding up in the back just the tiniest bit and I would not have ended up with THIS across my back.



This painful stripe does not hurt one bit when I am trying to carry Meg. Her legs do not hit me right where this stripe is. And of course, I am not having to wear the lowest rise undies because, of course, as I already mentioned, it doesn't hurt at all for things to touch this. Now if only I could find my Britney midriff shirts....

I do not have a daughter who likes to disrobe. I mean, I know that my boys were nudists (and maybe still are) for a great period of time, but I would never allow my daughter to run around buck naked. There is just something WRONG about that when the girl has SO many clothes. She did not a) answer the door for the lawn guy, b) greet company in the driveway, and c) gallivant out to the garden au naturale this weekend.

We do not have our first swim meet of the season today. It's not today, because if it were today, I never would have scheduled to have dental work done in the morning and a physical in the afternoon just one hour before the boys have to be marked and ready for the meet. And that would be really dumb of me considering this is Connor's first meet EVER and he will definitely be a bit nervous. So, this can't possibly be the first meet of the season, can it?

Now, what have you not been up to lately?

Isaiah 17:7-8
"Yes, the Day is coming when people will notice The One Who Made Them, take a long hard look at The Holy of Israel. They'll lose interest in all the stuff they've made - altars and monuments and rituals, their homemade, handmade religion - however impressive it is."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Bible Study

Okay, I think we have enough interest in the Bible Study to make the next move.... so far there are 11 of us interested. I am still trying to figure out the best way to do it. I think the best thing would be to have some sort of on-line discussion capability.... would we use some sort of Messenger and IM each other or just blog about our lessons or what?

Also, obviously, we have to figure out what study we are going to do. I think there are probably several different denominations represented so I want to be sensitive to any specific needs anyone has. I am Catholic (as you likely already figured out), but I am really open to anything as long as it's based on Biblical truth. I've done Beth Moore and loved her, but she usually has alot of homework and I don't know if summer is the right time to tackle that level of work??? If this works well, maybe we could shoot for a Beth Moore in the fall.

Another thought is that we could all get a book and read through it at the same pace (say a certain number of chapters/week, etc.) and then discuss it (or blog about it) on a certain day of the week. Maybe we could do a Mr. Linky type thing where anyone who wants to join could just link in.

OR... what if we set up some sort of discussion group either through something like the Blog Frog (like the MckMama forum) or a Yahoo e-mail group like many of our adoption agencies have.

Anyway, if anyone has any great ideas for studies, let me know. Some I have been interested in doing but haven't found the time are Esther (that's a Beth Moore), the Good News About Injustice, any of the Priscilla Schrirer (I did "He Speaks" last spring and loved it) and there are a few others I can't think of off the top of my head right now. I am not good at making final decisions, so if anyone feels strongly about it, please let me know. Otherwise, we'll just sort of go with the majority. Please feel free to throw out your thoughts on studies you have been dying to do and we'll all chime in and see where we land... yay! I am very excited to get this going. I just know that I am getting ready to grow and God is getting ready to open my mind to some plans He has for me through all you awesome bloggers. I just love how He is using all of us as a community of believers, even though we've never met in person.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Lots of little ideas

First, I had an idea today to do a Blogger Bible Study. Would anyone be interested in working through a study together? We could possibly find one that does on-line video (like Beth Moore) or just get workbooks (like Five Conversations You Must Have with your Daughter) and do the lessons in sync. Then we could just chat via Mr. Linky or some other way if someone has ideas.... anyone?????

Also, just want to say that I had a tiny tiny part of planning the dinner for Katie Davis today. I am maybe going to sew about 300 yards of fabric for table covers. Anyone who wants to come for her dinner, please feel free to seriously consider bunking with us. It won't be the Waldorf, but you're welcome! Karyn? You might share a bed with a kid in a Pull-Up, but it's free! :)

**** Information, per Jan's request.... Katie is speaking just south of Nashville at The Factory on July 17 at 6:30 PM. Definitely worth the drive! The tables seat 8 and are $500 per table. There are only 12 tables left so if you are interested in coming, I really would love to know now so that I can be sure you get a seat!************

And I am thinking that I just want to have a Blogger moms and kids meet and greet. Anyone for a lake house over the summer or possibly meeting up at the beach for a weekend with all the kiddos? I am needing some time with my peeps! :)

Love you guys, e-mail me privately if you have my e-mail, or you can always comment if you like any of the above ideas and want to encourage me to make it happen. hehehe

Peace out, as they say!

Favorite Photo Friday


When several of you left me comments congratulating me on my new cat, I very smugly thought, "Oh no, I'm a sucker for dogs, it's true, but I will NOT be keeping this cat." But then, the cat started doing things that I don't think normal cats do. He is long suffering. Have you ever known a long-suffering cat? I personally have not. When I say long-suffering, I mean like he will tolerate (grumbling) the kids packing him all over this house, holding him upside down, making him "dance" around on the couch, and he has even convinced the 90 pound dog that he is not a force to tangle with (the dog literally puked last night from stress over having to be near the kitten.) See, this kitten, Mickey, will growl and meow from the near tortuous things being done to him, but he doesn't run away. When they set him down, he just snuggles up right where they are and sleeps off the stress of being loved by a four year old.
And this is one smart kitty. Almost instinctually, it's as if he knew who in our house would be the real opposition to his residency. He knew automatically who it was that he needed to win over, who to show special affection for, who to cozy up to and melt with his cunning kitten charms. I think I had sucker written all over me from the moment I picked him up off the asphalt, but he chose Brian. Do we ever really choose a cat, or do cats choose us? So in a very non-Christlike fashion, you have to earn the love around here (at least if you are not human) and this kitten has earned a place in this family by sheer patience, tolerance, and survival skills. He's cuddled up with a child every night and stayed where he was put. He has not gone outside the litter box this whole week (though admittedly he had a couple of accidents the first week.) So, Brian and I have agreed that he can live OUTSIDE and we will feed him and love him. Anyone want to take bets on how long it takes us to boot him out the door?


Swim season is upon us. We have our first meet next Monday and Connor is doing great in his first year of swim season. True, he's in it for the glory. He asks me every day at practice if this is the day he gets his trophy. But in working for that golden cup, he is getting good exercise, strengthening his swimming skills, and building community for himself. But one hazard of our pool is what we call "cherry toes." You can't see it too well in this photo, but the kids get these little raw spots on the ball of their big toes from the rough pool surface. I suppose it's from bouncing around on your big toes where you can barely touch??? I tried the aqua socks last year and they literally had holes in them after ONE DAY at the pool. So it's a right of passage that everyone in this family (and this neighborhood for that matter) goes through when they are around 3.5 feet tall.

I talk alot about my awesome brother and his precious wife, but I don't know if I have ever shown you how beautiful they are on the outside. Here is a photo of them from her graduation. Notice that she graduated with HIGH HONORS, not just any run of the mill beauty here. My brother is very smart to have chosen a mate who is more gorgeous inside than out (and obviously, as you can see, that's a pretty high bar to reach) AND she's smart. Seriously, I am so crazy about these two people and I can't tell you in words how incredible they are as human beings.

Last but not least, this is definitely the number one favorite photo of the week. After 9 years of parenting, I have learned one thing for sure.... kids would rather play with a box than almost any other item you can find.
Do you see anything weird about this verse?
2 Samuel 23:20
"Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab's best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion."

Monday, June 01, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

I am saddened to hear that someone shot Dr. George Tiller (known as Tiller the Baby Killer.) He was shot down in church. ļ¼©find this so hard to believe...first of all, I don't understand how someone who attends church can also perform over 60,000 abortions in his lifetime, but I also don't understand what makes someone walk into a church with a gun and take a life. I don't understand what makes the shooter feel that he is any different than the doctor in the first place.

I'm saddened because it also gives a bad name to pro-life advocates. This is exactly what the pro-life movement DIDN'T need and I'm ashamed that there are people associated with something I am passionate about who don't respect life.

But what saddens me the absolute most about this entire situation? Really, it's that reportedly, Dr. Tiller had killed over 60,000 babies in his lifetime. He took the life of 250 babies who were beyond 21 weeks into their pregnancy just last year. And guess what, he made over $1,000,000 last year for his efforts.

What's wrong with a world where killing babies makes you a millionaire and saving them makes you poor? What's wrong with a world where the Dr. Tillers of the world get rich while Katie Davis has to beg for money to feed children who are already here? Satan is a total JERK!

Not Me Monday

It has NOT been months since I participated in a Not Me Monday. Nope, not me, I would not lose attention for something fun like a blog carnival and then suddenly remember that I enjoyed it... oh look, there's a chicken....

If you aren't familiar with Not Me Monday, then you have got to head over to take a look at MckMama's blog. You might find that there are alot of other folks out there NOT doing all the same stuff you're not doing either! :)

I want you all to know that I absolutely DO NOT check all the comments on my blog BEFORE I read my other e-mails. I mean, how silly would that be? The folks who are e-mailing me directly probably have something to say in relation to something of relative reality... not just comment on what I have been thinking about. So really, it would be pretty vain of me to care more about what folks think of my thoughts than what they are reaching out to me for directly, right? So I would never do that, I just wanted to assure you all of that.

I did NOT attend my sister-in-law's Pharmacy School Graduation last Thursday. My sweet sister-in-law, who really, I am so lucky that my brother fell in love with so I could have a sweet sister to go along with my rockin' little bro! And while I was at her graduation in Memphis, I did not sit next to one of the most useless people on the planet. He did not yawn VERY loudly several times during the ceremony and he did NOT stay seated during the prayer AND the pledge of allegiance, as if he just couldn't be bothered to make the effort. And I was not thinking the entire time that I wonder what person there was lucky enough to be so important in his life that he gave up a whole two hours for them (apparently very reluctantly at that.)

And, speaking of my rockin' family, my brother and sister-in-law did NOT take, oh, say, 15 people, to Texas de Brazil for dinner after the graduation and PAY FOR THE WHOLE THING! (It's like they think she's getting ready to have a paycheck or something.) Seriously folks, they plunked down some major dough on this meal, but I think I found all the weight I lost when Meg came home while I was there. I'm pretty sure it had been left under that very table that I sat at this week. I'm still not sure how I left it there (or how it snuck back up on me), considering this was my first trip and all, but I assure you, that was, in fact, my weight. How do I know it was mine and not the previous patrons? Well, because it jumped right back onto all the exact same spots it was before Meg came home.... as if to say, "I've waited SO long for you to find me here." It's very happy hanging out right there on my butt. I can't say I was as happy to see it as it is apparently to see me, but it seems to be here to stay. Now, I think someone was doing a blog diet recently, maybe I need to go find them.

We did not go to the lake yesterday and take these fun photos. This is not the second time this season that we have had the boat out. I can't believe we've made it to the lake two weekends in a row, that's some kind of new record for us. Big fun, though.

Connor testing the waters
Liam and our buddy Luke, playing on the tube

It must be tough to be THIS cute!

Our sweet nephew, Brody, just chillin' on the boat

So much beauty in this photo my heart can barely look at it... Meg and our niece, Reilly


Have a great Monday. What have you not been up to this week?