Monday, December 15, 2008

Decking the Halls

We're starting to get settled here in TX, though it's kinda hard to feel Christmasy when the needle outside points to 72 degrees. I can't say I'm not enjoying it though, because I am! We all are! I felt a little down this weekend as my family celebrated together with my Grandparents at their annual gathering. The first one I've ever missed. My sister called me and told me about the feast and how everyone was doing, and everyone shouted, "HI, JODY!" so that I could hear them. I felt a little better.

Last week we were able to locate the box labeled "Christmas Tree" and then the boxes with the ornaments, and we set our tree up last week. The kids and I had fun making the house look festive, even if it's only one corner of the house. The other corners are still decked in brown boxes!

We even made a few batches of cookie dough together.

I'm also working on our Christmas letter. First up, I needed a family picture. I had outfits in mind. Rob had a great idea for a location. We stopped by after church, since we were all dressed up. Unfortunately, the wind didn't give pause to our plans, so we'll try again later, maybe later today. This is an actual, untouched picture of the wind and my hair duking it out. Definitely NOT Christmas-card worthy.

Saturday, the youth activity center had a Christmas party for the kids. There were pony rides (of which all but Lily said, "No, thanks." Not a novelty for the boys, but Lily, a girl after my own heart, can't say no to anything equestrian.)

Of course, they all got a turn sitting on Santa's lap. Even Caleb and Gabe, who had eyes only for the goody bags he was handing out. Seth ran in and grabbed Santa in a huge hug and shouted, "Hi, Santa! I would like a toy robot!" A little too enthusiastically for this mom who is trying to teach her children to embrace the true meaning and spirit of Christmas. Yet I happen to know personally that Santa is looking for a robot to fill a certain red-head's stocking.

That morning the children from our chapel performed some Christmas songs for the crowd, and they repeated the performance Sunday morning. The crowd favorite: "Go Tell It On the Mountain." Gabe is a natural, and he performed like a Broadway star. Caleb played it coooooool, man. Great fun was had by all.

And as the children shared the true meaning of Christmas by song, their sweet, precious hearts kindled in me the hope and peace Christmas brings, even without the Currier and Ives view out my window. Even with family and friends who are so precious to me miles and miles away. God is near, WITH US even, and there it is, the Christmas spirit my heart was looking for.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The bird has landed...

...and the mama bird is reassembling the nest.

We made it. The cable guy just left so we have internet...hooray! The movers got here this morning around 9:30, unloaded an unbelievable amount of boxes for about five hours, tipped their hats, and left me surrounded by mountains of items I have no idea where to tuck away. This is the first house we've had that does not have a room designated as an office, so I'm having to redefine our living space. Not necessarily a bad thing, but an overwhelming task, to be sure.

Our home is adorable and we all love it. It's very different having neighbors just a few feet away and a backyard that is barely big enough for the dog, much less four children. But we are adjusting already. I think we're really going to like it here.

Today's weather in Corpus Christi: Warm and sunny. It feels like we're on vacation...for the winter. I feel chilly for my friends and family in the northern midwest who are hunkering down for winter's fury. I wish I could just bring you all down here with us. You'd have to bring your own towel, though, because I can't find mine yet.

Or the coffee filters.

Or the bedding.

Or the vacuum cleaner...which is supposedly coming by freight any day now, along with several other items that would not fit in this shipment.

I would love to send you a few pictures, but we don't have all our computer parts put back together yet.

I just wanted to let you know that we're here and doing well.

We miss you!

I'll update more soon. Back to the boxes I go...

Friday, November 14, 2008


That's how many days I have left until the movers come and start loading up our stuff.

I'm ready. As ready as I'll ever be.

I'm so tired. I have some funny stories and I remember thinking, "This would be a good blog entry to entertain the masses." But I have no energy to share tonight.

And our internet will most likely be disconnected sometime Monday. Let's call that time of world wide web detachment "The Dead Zone." I hope I can cope.

Don't be alarmed if you don't hear from me for a little while. I'm probably in a van with many children. In the next two weeks, I'll be logging in 3557 miles. Some by plane, most by van.

I'm a travelin' woman.

See ya on the flip side!

Monday, November 3, 2008

All I Want for Chrith-math...

Gabe's first toothless smile in seven years!

(He's actually already lost two bottom teeth, but the adult ones were already there to fill in the holes, so we didn't get any of the fabulous toothless smiles that I cherish so.)

The other front tooth is getting pretty loose, too...I can't wait!

He asked me afterward, his brow furrowed with concern, "So, how'm I s'pose' ta say the letter 'z?' It doesn't sound so good."

He's so cute and sweet he makes my heart ache.

Calling All Pinks

I'm answering Jeny's pink challenge today. I must say that nearly everything in my home that blushes in any shade of rose is of Lily. I just don't gravitate towards pink. But Lily LOVES pink, and as mother of three sons...I love that I can bring pink into my home.

Lily loves her pink camera. And boy, does she have an eye for detail!

I see pink toes peeking out of the pink blanket I bought for her when she was still waiting for us. We took it to China with us so that she would have something familiar to cuddle when she came to her new home.

This is the pink section of a gorgeous portrait Rob's mother painted of all of my children. She gave it to us on Lily's first birthday home with us. It is a family treasure.

These are some of the pink squares of fabric I've collected from family and friends--and some strangers from adoption groups--to make Lily's 100 Good Wishes Quilt. It's a tradition from Northern China. I have many different colors, but I just pulled out some of the pink ones to show you. Hey, some of you haven't given Lily a square yet. I'm hoping to finish this for her next Gotcha Day (in February). I would love to have an 8 inch square of fabric from each of my family and friends, along with a wish or prayer for her written on a card to go in an album with the quilt. It will be an heirloom for Lily to treasure, to know how wanted and loved she is.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Blogger Vacation

I took one. A long one. But I'm back. I hope ya'll didn't give up on me.

These autumn days are all running into one another. Only 27 more days until I fly out to be with Rob for his graduation from the chaplaincy school. Only 30 until we're all together as a family! Woohoo!

The boys do have a trick-or-treat date set up with a friend of ours who works for a local nursing home. Caleb and Lily's costumes are finished. Gabe's is going to be the most work, but I should be done soon. And Seth...well, he said that wants to be a "blue cat with blue stripes who's a "NINJA MASTAH!" Um...Can we say redirection? If not, we'll figure something out! I do have some blue face paint and I know we have ninja costumes from the boys' dress up box. I may be able to make this work...

We carved our pumpkins two days ago. The experience was a study of the effects of sibling birth order in action. Does anyone else find that as interesting a topic as me? We have a little loop-d-loop in our family, since Lily joined our family last, but she is older than Seth.

Caleb, the oldest, set about making an index of all the possible jack-o-lanterns he could think of. List-maker. (When thinking of a Halloween costume, he also drew out all the possibilities so that he could pick on.) He probably drew about 10 different jack-o-lanterns. I thought, "No way are the rest of the kids going to want to pick one of his ideas." But true to his take-charge leadership skills, he convinced all the other kids that he was actually doing them a favor by designing all the jack-o-lanterns, that there really weren't any other viable options, and he was being gracious enough to allow them to have a choice at all. I kept quiet to see how this would play out. They all sat down together outside to draw their designs.

Gabriel, middle child #1, was happy to go along with Caleb, to make him happy, people-please that he is. However, he added a couple extra features to make it stand out and be unique. Peace-maker. Yet he still wants to make his own mark in the world. (This is the same kid who carved last year's jack-o-lantern face upside down so that it would stand out from everyone else's.)

Lily, middle child #2, picked out a traditional face for her "pumpkin night-light" but didn't want to use Caleb's list. Caleb convinced her that she needed to. She also wanted to add something unique to hers, in that she wanted hers to be a girl and have hair, which of course Caleb did not include in the list of choices. She went to great extents to blaze her own trail, separate from the others. She definitely wants to do her own thing, follow her own ideas, rejecting other good ideas, just because she's not the one who came up with it.

Seth, baby of the family, picked out a face, but he wanted to pander off any of the work, like carrying the pumpkin to the table or scooping out guts. He also wanted me to draw his chosen design. He couldn't help, he said. He was "too little." Yep, he played the baby-of-the-family card and got out of all the work somehow. And somehow, I let him.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Road Trip

The kids and I just returned from a 2100 mile round-trip road trip. We journeyed out from Michigan to Rhode Island to witness their dad graduate as a Naval officer. The trip there was full of excitement and anticipation, and the kids behaved so well. My mom and Rob's mom came out with us--I doubt I would have been able to do this without them--and we drove Rob's jeep to him so that he would have transportation during the next section of his training. So we divided the kids between the two vehicles to ward off conflicts. It worked. On the way home, all seven of us were crammed in the van, and there wasn't a lot of fighting, but OH, THE NOISE. It was quite the challenge to drive through NY City and then down the New Jersey Turnpike with squeally Lily and yelling Seth and giggly Gabe. Caleb was the quietest one...unless he was sitting by Lily, who engaged him in her loud and physical play.

But other than the noise, the kids did great.

Oh, the joy of that very first glimpse of Rob dressed in his summer whites. Hubba hubba. Caleb and Gabe tried to leap out of the moving van. Lily and Seth screamed and laughed. My heart was full and my smile was large.

The first words out of Seth's mouth: "Dad! You're a captain!" (Not quite...) Later he told me, "Daddy wears a pilot's costume!" Seth and Lily clung to Rob the whole time. Seth especially couldn't stop touching him. Lily said, "Can we please bring Daddy and his red jeeper home with us? Pleeeeeeeease?"

We had the best time with him. His graduation was as full of pomp and promenade as you can imagine there would be in a Naval ceremony.

Our time together sped by, and too quickly we had to say good-bye.

Seven more weeks...six and a half now...and we'll be a family together and not apart.

We're so proud of him and the sacrifice he is making to answer God's call.

The sadness of departing Rhode Island (a gorgeous, highly under-recognized destination) mixed with excitement about our next stop: historical Philadelphia.

WE LOVED IT! Standing in the same room that held so many American Greats gave me goose bumps. Being so close to the bell that rang out its announcement of FREEDOM! swelled my heart with thankfulness to the God who gives true freedom and the people who have sacrificed so much so that my children can live in a free country. In the midst of economic unknowns and election-year divisions, still I must stand up and say, "God bless America, land that I love!"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cardboard Testimonies

::Watch this only if you want to feel so thankful to God for what he can do in a broken person's life::

He uses cracked pots. And we're all cracked pots.

He delights in redeeming prodigals. We have all at one time or another left the side of the Father who loves us to seek out our own desires...and failed.

He loves to lift the humble. If only I will humble my heart in obedience, He will do miracles in my life.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Praising God today,

Thursday, September 18, 2008



After...still wet

Pretty Lily

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Peddling Pedals?

I told the kids to go outside for "recess" and ride their bikes.

They decided to play store with their bikes instead. Each bike was a different mechanical booth. Spin the pedals which spins the wheels, and out pops a treat. Very Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang-esque. I was wondering why they asked me if I wanted to buy a cookie.

This isn't exactly what I had in mind when I sent them out to get some exercise...

The New Justice League

Three of these crime-fighters are my sister's.

Conversations heard throughout the day:

"Have you seen Super Lily?"

"I Spiderman!"

"Mom, Seth took my gun!"

"I am NOT a bad guy! Mom, Caleb says I'm a bad guy!"

"I need a cape, too!"

"Can you help me with my mask?"

Plus multiple sound effects including flying, shooting, swording and webbing.

::Evil-doers beware::

Monday, September 8, 2008

My Little Wild Man

*Notice Lily in the second frame trying to get away from the inevitable splash.

Don't you just L.O.V.E. the goggles???



I'm still mending, but much to my boys' chagrin, a little tiredness on mama's part does not stop school from coming to our house.

Caleb's says: "Hmph. I hate school."

Gabriel says: "I can't wait until summer vacation so I can get back to my real life."

Lily says: "Mommy, can you help me with my school?" while poking me with a pencil out of a deep sleep at 6:00 in the morning.

Seth says: "I don't have any pencil sharpeners," grinning and holding all four of them behind his back.

I mailed copies of these pictures to Rob so that he could see them all hard at work.

They are too precious. I SO love being their mom. When I die, if these children are all I have to show for a life's work, my life will have been full to overflowing and completely successful.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rob's two

Two exes on the calendar.

Two colorful, construction-paper chain links clipped away.

Only 33 more until we see him again.

The kids and I are doing okay.

Lily asked on the way home from the airport, "Is Daddy going to church with us tomorrow?" "No, honey, Daddy will be in Navy school." "What?!" she exclaimed incredulously. She asked if we could go back to the airport tomorrow and pick him up. She keeps asking for confirmation that we are going to go see him on Seth's birthday, which we are. Over and over she asks. I gently reassure her over and over.

Seth said, "I miss my daddy. He's my favorite kind of daddy." I'm with ya, buddy. Then after church this morning, my mom picked him up from his class. Rob usually does this. Seth asked her, "Where's my dad?" She told him, "He's in Navy school." He didn't say anything, but just looked straight ahead, suddenly remembering.

Caleb said, as we watched Rob's red and gray plane fly off into the blue, "This is the worst day of my life." He posted to his blog: "Today my dad left to Rhode Island for Navy training. I feel a little down, but I'm glad he's going into the Navy, because the Lord Jesus told us to go." Rob's obedience is having a tremendous impact on our children.

Gabriel posted to his blog today. His post is titled "When Dad Left" and it reads simply this: "Dad left. It was hard. I was sad." He's mostly quiet and introspective about his thoughts, but on the page he expressed himself clearly and effectively, nearly breaking my heart.

We miss him. I still sleep on my side of the bed and reach over for him in the fogginess of early morning. Then I suddenly remember, too. 33 more days.

When Rob got to the Newport naval station, he checked in, got his orders signed, and was then told that he is on leave until Monday night because of the holiday weekend. His lucky roommate only lives an hour from the base, so he checked in, and then he went home to spend the weekend with his wife and child. I am happy for the leave time, because at least Rob can call me when he wants to. Here are a couple tidbits from his new experience: the food is not good, he is surrounded by water and noisy seagulls, the dark of evening comes a lot earlier in RI than MI, and he can't seem to find a coffee maker anywhere on base. God have mercy! He's got another whole day of nothing...and then he's going to be thrown into the deep end.

I'm doing better. I'm down to needing pain meds only a couple of times a day. For me the worst part is how easily wiped out I get. I hate the blah feeling of exhaustion with nothing to show for it. I have a post-op doctor's visit this Friday. I can then talk to my surgeon in length about my surgery and the cyst.

Thanks again to everyone for their thoughts and prayers. We're still prayer needy...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Wanna see? ***Warning: Graphic Medical Photo

I'm still recovering. Feeling a little better sometimes, a little worse others.

You know, healing pains.

Did I tell you that I sent my camera into the operating room with one of my nurses? She took some pictures of the mega-cyst they removed from my midsection.

I was curious. Maybe you are, too?

Can you believe this thing?

I was seriously wondering why my pants kept getting tighter. I think I figured it out.

What do you think?

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Hi. I'm home. Very glad to be home.

My mom drove up from MO to stay with me for as long as I need her. I'm so thankful. Boy, do we need her.

Rob and the kids are taking great and gentle care of me.

I'm laying in bed right now with my sister-in-law's laptop propped up on a pillow. Ah, I feel connected after three days of hospital isolation.

All is going well. Wow, I'm really sore. But God is so faithful.

I'm off to rest...

P.S. Thanks to all my faithful pray-ers out there!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Today's the day

Okay, so I'm showered. I have several books stuffed into my purse. I have toothpaste. I'm not able to enjoy a cup of coffee because of the pre-surgery fast, but I can at least smell it. I'm doing some last-minute laundry. I think I'm ready.

I'm ready for it to be over.

My sister is coming over today to watch the kids while Rob takes me to the hospital.

My mom is coming over Wednesday before I even get home to stay for as long as we need her.

I'm holding tightly like a little child to my Father's big, warm hand. He's very near.

I'm feeling a little blue that I'm going to the hospital and I don't get to come home with a baby. (What am I, nuts?! Maybe a little...)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On the Calendar

I have a surgery date: Tuesday, the 19th at 2:00 p.m. I'm really nervous about it now, more nervous than I ever was giving birth. That was natural. This is not.

I am, however, thankful for the gift of medicine and technology that God has given to talented individuals. I'm thankful for insurance coverage. I'm thankful that my family is stepping up to help in whatever way they can. I'm thankful for Rob's support and kinds words of encouragement that keep me light-hearted.

God is very good.

I'm really feeling sad about Rob 17 days.

The Good, the Bad, the really Ugly

The Good: The OB surgeon is AWESOME. I love her. I just accepted whatever referral my family doctor gave me, 'cuz we're in a bit of a time crunch here. And if I were given a hundred smiling, scalpel-wielding OB's, she is the one I would have picked. Also, she is going to do whatever she can do to get my surgery done before Rob leaves. Thank-you, God!

The Bad: Okay, I'm going to be cut open from above my navel, around my navel, and then down below my navel. Rob's getting ready to leave for Naval training, but I'm the one who stuck with navel warfare. (Get it? Navel? Naval? Oh, never mind.) Anyway, it's a huge surgery. Three days in the hospital. Three weeks of no driving, little or no stairs--good thing I live in a ranch house--no laundry, no standing and cooking for any significant length of time, significant pain, and lots of bedrest. Six weeks of no lifting or vacuuming. Help.

The Ugly: 17 cm X 13 cm X 9 cm. Yeah, that's how big this growth is. No wonder my pants are tight despite aggressive dieting! (Okay, aggressive is relative.)

I'm expecting a phone call this afternoon or tomorrow telling me when my surgery is going to be. I'm collecting reading material now. And getting caught up on laundry. And planning some serious freezer-meal cooking.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another appointment

1. Blood tests for cancer: normal.
2. Swab test: normal.
3. Ultra-sound: looks like a cyst.
4. CT Scan: still looks like a cyst, but with the addition of some solid parts that look a little ominous. Yet, see number one and number two above, so don't be too worried.

Next step: Another appointment on Wednesday with a surgeon/specialist.

Still praying to get this taken care of before Rob leaves for Rhode Island.

In 19 days.

Keep posted...

My Weekend: In Photos And Captions

My baby is 9/Nine/Nueve/Neuf...growing too fast!

Celebrating Caleb's birthday at the playground with friends.

"Oh, no! Rain clouds up ahead!" This time she was right!

Jeremy and Caleb: best buds.

Wonderful commissioning service for Rob at church, with Lt. Carmichael.

Just gotta slide.

Movie-star smile.

My Lily. Forever.

Skater....with blankie.