Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our stay-cation highlights!

It's peach season! WOOhoo!!

We visited the World's Largest Treehouse!
This was the view from the top!
Guess who's afraid of heights? Yeah. Me.
We have the same smile!
Nashville Walk of the Stars (or something like that)
Pathetic attempt at a photo of all the kids.
Playing tourist!
Baby boy crying because I won't make him cake. 
We finally got our new van!! Look! All in ONE vehicle!!
It makes me feel VERY short.
That's pretty much the update! New van, staycation, peaches!
And while we were downtown...
three of my kids got to meet....
Our cousins were in town and they don't want to be on the internet... 
therefore the cute little hearts. So, no... that's not just a bad picture of me. ;)
She was very nice to everyone and my kids were super excited to have met
Hannah Montana's grandmother.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What's been going on?

I realize I have not posted much lately (other than the last few days...)
and while I could give you a long list of reasons WHY...
instead, I will give you some ideas of what's been going on around here!

My baby brother got DRAFTED to the Arizona Diamondbacks! Woohoo!
He's played baseball for as long as I can remember and we are all super proud of him!
I've been trying my hand at some new recipes and things! 
I took the kids strawberry picking and I made jam!
Note... I gave each child a bucket...
didn't really think they could/would pick 25 lbs of berries!
See?? I made jam!
#1 got a cast for a fractured growth plate in his left hand.
He's missed several weeks of baseball and is trying out for the high school team with the cast on. Hopefully this determination will pay off for him and the coach will see that any kid who will put a glove on over a cast and go play short stop at tryouts is worth having on the team.
Cast #1. Cast #2 not photographed..
but it's neon green.
More cooking/baking experimentation... homemade Dulce De Leche from Alton Brown's recipe online! Too lazy to re-google it and stick the link here... but trust me...it's there!
3/4 gallon of milk = 3 1/3 -12 oz jars of yummy goodness!
I started running using a program (condescendingly) called "Couch to 5K".
Yeah. That's the real name. So, anyone currently holding down the couch can supposedly be ready to run a 5K in 9 weeks of following their program. Unless you are starting the 4th week when you get killer shin splints that make you wince and almost cry in front of your children, hurt to the touch, and make you loathe the day you ever laced up your running shoes. 
Yes, frozen chopped onions and peppers make great ice packs!
Seeing more and more of #6's real personality as she heals and grows and gains confidence... it's such an encouragement!

All that, and my coffee telling me to go back to Africa...

This one thinking he can fly...
To finayee and ee-yon!!
And this one thinking she's the queen of our castle...

And easing into summer with the big kids at home...

It's been kinda busy around here!!

Hope your summer is going well so far!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

You say potato...

Growing up in the south, there are a LOT of phrases and words people say that you just don't hear elsewhere.

Well, bless his little ol' pea pickin' heart!!
(That's my Granny's phrase...)

So buck toothed he could eat corn-on-the-cob through a key hole.

Nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full o' rocking chairs.

As scarce as hen's teeth.

Plumb tuckered out.

Run round back real quick and turn on the hose pipe.

I think you get it...!

There's things you say just out of habit too.
Someone sneezes... "Bless you!"
How are you? "Fine... how are you?"

But I have to tell you...
because I know that you may be reading this blog as a non-adoptive parent...
I had someone actually SCARE my child the other day
and she meant NOTHING by it (other than maybe a compliment).

We were at the pool and this lady said how beautiful my children are. (why thank you, I think so too!)
She then turns to my baby boy who was a little closer to her than to me and touches his head and says:

"You are so cute! You wanna come home with me? I bet you'd love to come to my house!"

I've heard it countless times...
from friends...
from strangers...
with my first four kids...
It's just something people say.
Maybe it's just in the south...
but I've heard it forever.

But this day...
he looked up at her and said "No..."
and then turned to me and the look on his face spoke volumes.

"Would she take me?"
"Would you LET her?"
"Am I really staying with you forever?"
"Can someone show up with a better offer?"

Oh, my baby boy.
Ripped my heart out.
I grabbed his hand and pulled him into my lap and gave him a big hug and kiss... and told him he would ONLY EVER stay with mommy. 

And then I said I silent prayer of thanks that he had said "No" instead of "yes" at her offer. 
Plenty of adopted kids would have said yes.
They think it's actually an option.

So, please...
I know we live in a WAY over-politically corrected society.
This isn't politically correctness gone awry.
This is... 
just another one of those things that makes our situation different.

You just can't always say or do things with children with traumatic pasts the way you always would with any other child. It just doesn't work the same way.

I know you don't want to upset any child by saying something like that...
which is why I am telling you this.

My children -all 7 of them- are MY children and there is no offer on the table for them to go live anywhere else. 
And at least 3 of them don't know you are kidding. 

So, just tell them how gorgeous they are and what a lucky mommy I am. 
Because that's the honest to goodness truth.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer "bucket" list

So, summer began with the emergence of the 13-year cicadas...
and (equally as frightening) the shock to my system that this year I will have 7 children home for 3 months. 


as a matter of self-preservation of sorts...
I have a small summer "bucket" list.
A list of things to-do before summer... well, kicks the bucket.

Go strawberry picking We picked $60 worth. Yeah. I didn't realize how many lbs an Easter basket could hold. 
Go blueberry picking
Go peach picking
Make jams and assorted frozen fruits after picking them (kinda done-ish. I made strawberry jam!)
Picnic at the pool
Visit a waterfall
Catch lightening bugs (aka fireflies)
Sprinkler on the trampoline (aka "jump-o-lene" to the littles)
Go spend a day with Granny
Make BLT's with my heirloom tomatoes once they grow and ripen
Can stuff...other than jam  (I also made Dulce de Leche sauce!)
Go camping 
Visit a lake "beach" here in TN for a day trip
Grill artichokes
Make exercising a habit (almost 3 weeks into a jogging/running training program now!)
Take more photos with my good camera
Plan for the August/September birthday boom in advance!
Bug Jamey to death to make me nap mats for the girls to take to Kindergarten!
Host a fire pit Smore making evening with our new neighbors
Plan Christmas gifts that I can (and will actually) make
Grill dinner LOTS of times
Ice cream for dinner, outside, on the deck

That's about it! 
The hardest part about transitioning into summer this year was the change in routine on the little kids.
We went from basically having our weeks really predictably the same to having each day up in the air to the point that they don't recognize weekends anymore (since the weekend-marker was having the big kids home).
Not that this makes much of a difference...
nearly 11 months home and they still wake up by 6am at the latest. Every day. Holidays, weekends, week days, whatever. And almost in unison. In different rooms even. Crazy.

The cicadas are gone which means it's been enough days of summer to begin to say we are obtaining some level of routine around here again. Which is much needed. And much appreciated.

Oh, and I have a list of chores for anyone who wants to tell me "I'm bored!!"
Because we just don't DO "bored". As my sister says...
Only boring people get bored.
But around here...boring people fold laundry. And wash dishes. And clean bathrooms.
Because that's how I roll.

Monday, June 13, 2011


There was this commercial on the radio when we lived in Colorado Springs years ago.
It was this guy interviewing another guy about the zoo and asks if he likes giraffes.
The man answers, "I would say I am generally pro-giraffe."
For whatever reason that always made me laugh.

We spend a lot of time in our relationship circles discussing what we are for or against.
Pro-gay marriage..
Pro-animal rights...
Pro-eating animals...
Pro-wearing animals...
Cloth diaper-ers...
Disposable diaper-ers...

Get the idea?
We compare.
We contrast.
We label.

We judge.

I have a few close friends.
You know the ones you call when something awful happens... or when you are so excited you just can't hold it in anymore!

One is mostly "imaginary"... existing online and over the phone, one travels for work most every week, and one lives near by and stays super busy with doctors and such for her own family.

I can tell you, of these ladies... we don't always match up on all of those talking-points.

My friend Jamey and I are about as mis-matched as they come!
We don't match up on almost any social or political issues and she's all crunchy-granola with her cloth diapers and cooking real food for most meals. But she loves Jesus and she will tell me when I'm being insane. She calls me when she has 5 seconds just to vent and hear me tell her "It's going to be okay... you can do this." and I call her (when her phone is charged up...) to have someone who knows my whole story and can listen and then tell me when I'm over the edge, or if I am right on track. She makes me laugh and cry and I pray for her and her kiddos.

Another friend has 4 children at home ALL with special medical and educational needs... and she just applied to adopt a Down Syndrome baby! She's so excited to finally be on this journey and I am jumping up and down for her! And me? I'd be more comfortable adopting with a medical need like HIV or limb differences or deafness... but Down Syndrome isn't what I'm called to. SHE IS! And she loves Jesus and she makes me smile.

Another friend is constantly challenging me to be a better wife, a better Jesus-lover and a healthier ME! She's like some kind of super-hero Energizer bunny, traveling and speaking, encouraging others with her words and her little messages, and she won't let me "go there" when I'm slipping down hill into my pit of yucky stuff. She says cute things like "trap the crap" and "hairy butt satan" and she's a super awesome example of how to live a life constantly having an on-going conversation with Jesus. She lives her prayer life and it's challenging to me to do better in that area. She asks for MY opinion on stuff and trusts me with things she needs prayer for too... because I can be a safe place for my friend. And I love that she is a safe place for me too.

I'm pro-friends.
I'm pro-having women in your life that you can call and spill your "junk" to.
I'm pro-being a safe place for your friends.
I'm anti-gossip among friends.
I'm pro-encouraging my friends and those who need a friend.
I'm anti-superficial how-are-you's.
I'm pro-accountability.
I'm pro-using-up-40K-of-your50k-words-per-day with a friend (unless your hubby is a talker...).
and I'm pro-encouraging our girls to have good, Jesus-loving friends in their lives that are after the same things. Life is messy and it can be hard whether you are 12 or 52 and we were made for community.

Go be a friend to someone today, and tell your friends how much they mean to you!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shameless plug

My baby girl and her BFF (She says I can't say "bff")  best friend are co-writing a blog here in blogland!
They are awesome young ladies and I think you will enjoy their perspectives on the devotions they are reading!
Check it out, and click "follow"... you know how all teen-girls love followers, right? ;)
Click here... go read... be encouraging!

Friday, June 3, 2011

16 years!

16 years.
16 years ago today 
I married my best friend.

Well, he wasn't my best friend at the time...
we had only been dating around 100 days or so
on the day of our wedding.

But now...
now, I can't imagine ever coping with this
sometimes stressful
always blessed
life we have together 
without him by my side.
Wedding shower in NY

16 years ago I nervously walked down an aisle
in a church that was WAY too big for number of people
we had in attendance.

16 years ago today I worried about
messing up my vows,
tripping down the stairs,
dropping the ring or the flowers in the transfer,
kissing in church,
kissing in front of my parents,
or if my hands would be too shaky for him to be able to put my ring on.

16 years ago today
our photographer took WAY too long taking staged photos,
cheesy photos,
and our guests waited downstairs in "Fellowship Hall"
for a simple, classically Southern, "cake and punch" type reception.
With hors d'oeuvre...
of course...
because I DID marry a chef.

16 years ago
I had never heard of wedding favors.
And therefore didn't provide any.
And therefore felt utterly embarrassed when my 
new in-laws asked what type of favors we were having.

16 years ago 
I figured we would have two or three children.
In a few years.

16 years ago
I was still a little girl playing house.

16 years ago ...
Who IS that girl I was back then?
I barely recognize her.
I have certainly grown and matured to the point
that I no longer identify with who I was back then.

he married me anyway.
He didn't have to...
I was fairly certain he was going to run away.
I'm fairly certain he thought about it.
I'm glad he didn't.

16 years,
13 moves,
5 states,
3 time zones.

16 years...
7 gorgeous children.

Thank you for sticking it out with me these past 16 years.
I know I'm often times crazy,
many times difficult,
sometimes impossible ...
but I know you love me anyway!

I love that I get to do this life-thing with you,
that you aren't afraid to dream big with me,
that you know what I want when I want "something that I want",
that you are SUCH a great daddy,
and that you can make me laugh!

Happy Anniversary, honey!
Here's to a whole bunch more!