Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Day 2015

Every year the girls receive their big presents with some kind of puzzle to be solved. Last year their gifts were at the end of an entire skein of yarn wound through out the house and even outside. Each girl had their own color and sometimes they were even intertwined with their sister's color. This year Melvin the Moose stopped by and hid ornaments describing each girl. When they figured out and FOUND their ornament it would lead them to their gift. Fun family tradition!  

Christmas Eve means we drag mattresses from the other rooms and elves mysteriously decorate a bedroom (usually Blondie's) to the hilt. The girls sleep together (saying that sleep word very loosely) and are up at the crack of dawn ready to go! This....is what the crack of dawn looks like. 

So excited to welcome Baby Lylah this spring. She will be named after my grandmother Lylah and my mom, Jo. 

The Wubbanator enjoying being two....and monkey jammies. 

Both Cade and Nature Girl received camera drones. Future CIA agents:)

She already has a balance beam but wanted a floor beam as well. We haven't seen her face up since.

This was the first Christmas without my mom. So hard not to turn around expecting her to shuffle through the door. This was her family Bible she kept on her foyer table. This was a Christmas of remembering.

With lots of help, later in the day we had dinner at our house for 20+ of our family. I LOVE having a big family and everyone close. I pray each of you experienced the wonder and love of celebrating our savior's birth. Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas from the Fam-i-lee!

It's nothing short of a miracle that we actually have family Christmas pictures of us NOT completely in pajamas this year. Not sure how we pulled off this feat but here they are. Can I just say that ONCE this year we all had clean hair, clothes and matching shoes on. Score!
Christmas Eve services at our church. Left to right Nature Girl, The Mom :), Wubba, The Doc, Blondie and Mei Mei down in front. Jon and Julie play and sing in the worship band so we were on Wubba duty for the night. It's rare for us not to have a house full.

Wubba technically belongs to these two. Daughter Julie and husband Jon. They are expecting a baby girl (!!!!!) this spring.

Son Jason, daughter in law Mel and the amazing Cade, Mollie and Caroline.

Our Christmas Eve service was incredible as we celebrated the birth of our savior. Look close and you will see Julie on vocals, second from left with Jon camo'd in the tree on electric guitar in the middle.

We hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Christmas!!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Six Kids and ONE Gingerbread House

Mollie, Caroline and Cade stayed with us for a couple of days this week. I love having no school....and time for them just to be. This year there's more of a distinct difference between the big kids and the littles. The bigs just want to play Jedi and Minecraft....constantly. The littles still love all things Christmassy like baking, decorating and being plain cute. I had bought ONE gingerbread house thinking the little girls would like to do this with me because when I had asked, no one else had wanted to participate.  Guess what happened? Yep, all of them decided that building a gingerbread house was the coolest thing ever. I was waiting for the giant debacle that can only happen when six kids argue over one toy.....but it never came. These six TOGETHER without a single negative peep built and decorated. Wish I could say it remained this neat....but who cares. They had so much fun!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas is Coming! And some changes!

I again feel the need to confess that I will never, ever, ever win any blogging awards. I apologize for the consistent inconsistency. In the last four months my mom passed away suddenly, another school year began (I work at the girls school as well), I had a cancer scare, and in October had a major car accident with Mei Mei in the car.  I am VERY grateful at how God has mercifully walked us through each of these scenarios.....yet we have been reeling.

This first semester of school has been a blur considering all of the above. The girls have done GREAT so far this school year, in large part due to our friend and tutor who comes to our house two days a week and helps keep school crazy sane. I couldn't have done it without her. We've had some huge adjustments with having two middle schoolers and Mei Mei requiring extra therapy this year for a learning issue we found at the end of last year. Did you know adopted children have a 50% higher likelihood of having some kind of learning difference? Yea, well, we are 3/3. We make it work and do what's necessary but it does take a ton of extra energy and effort both on the teachers part and the child's part. I am VERY grateful for patient teachers! Blondie played volleyball and basketball for our school this fall.  In January she begins club volleyball season for the first time. Nature Girl continues to volunteer at our local Science Center and LOVES being able to show her knowledge to the young kids that come through each week. Mei Mei is still training gymnastics and whenever she happens to have a day off guess where you can find her? Yep! Upside down. It's in her blood. Her birth family must have been a traveling acrobat group or something. Heh.

Christmas is in FOUR DAYS!! So hard to believe! We are knee deep in preparations and some much needed FUN! Cleaning up my mom's estate during all this has been something not so pleasant yet necessary. Much of my time this semester has gone to decisions, lawyers, more decisions and yes....grieving. This Christmas is definitely not going to be the same without her presence or her 1000 questions about what to get everyone for Christmas. Not gonna lie....this year is hard.

By far the biggest adjustment in the last two months is my recovery from the car accident. It is a SLOW process...and is cramping my style. Although Mei Mei and I walked away from the accident (the other driver was cited for negligence and taken to the hospital with injuries sustained from the accident).... we both had concussions and I have ongoing back/neck chronic pain issues. My car was totaled (a Suburban), with the bright spot being I am now driving a brand-spanking new one. Again....grateful. I am currently in rehab working to regain use caused muscle/tendon/ligament damage of my entire back. Because my job at the school required much physical strength, I will not be returning this year. This makes me really sad....but at the same time to be honest just getting through the days now requires a fortitude I have never had to rely upon. Everyday I am realizing how God protected both Mei Mei and I and how I can choose joy in spite of constant pain and what is not turning out to be a quick recovery. Joy is a choice. I will even go on to say that it can be used as a weapon to fight against despair when your body just wants to quit. This mom will not give up. This mom is grateful to be able to fight knowing the accident could've been so much worse.

Mei Mei is FINALLY doing better. This was hard y'all. It was hard watching her struggle with concussion issues, mental and physical fatigue and almost a depression. She is back now full force and for that we give thanks. The Doc has been my hero through all of this. He has stepped up to the plate when I just couldn't. In fact....just yesterday he pushed me through DisneyWorld in a wheelchair so we could continue our traditions knowing I would be unable to hold up an entire day walking.

Here are a few pics of our last few days. Fighting for joy....and WINNING the battle!
Cinderella's Castle during Christmas. Disney is truly a magical place and the nighttime shows are not to be missed during the season. The girls had fun seeing Anna and Elsa turn the castle into a frozen fairytale!

We were able to go to the beach an entire week during Thanksgiving. This was a turning point for me for my recovery. The beach has a way of doing that. 

We took Wubba to his first day at Disney yesterday! We stayed out way past his bedtime to see Playhouse Disney and all his favorites! Hollywood Studios was overrun with Star Wars fans. There are fans and then there are overzealous crazy people. Whichever you are.....BB8 reigns supreme at our house. Smile.

She can't sit still. Ever. Here we are waiting in line. This is Mei Mei 's first year competing as an optional gymnast with a trip to Las Vegas to compete in January. 

Tonight's fun isn't shopping or wrapping (or cleaning....haha.)We are celebrating Christmas and NO SCHOOL by having a sleepover for six. They get along so well. Right now they are into Jedi swords and Minecraft. And food. Lots and lots of food.

Friday, September 11, 2015

That Moment You Find Out.....

.....that you don't have cancer....yet you know someone else that very same day likely got news that was the opposite of yours. It's sobering, humbling and a constant reminder that this life is short.
     I had a mammogram. Have to admit, it had been a while which was entirely my bad. Still, when they call you back again and again for more X-rays, and a sonogram/ultrasound,  it puts you in a mode of 'let's see how high we can get your blood pressure today'. I was told I needed a biopsy because the mammogram revealed a suspicious area, so it was scheduled....11 days later. Waiting stinks. I could've had it a few days sooner but we opted to wait for the doctor we wanted, since it required exact precision to remove the section of tissue in question.  So, with biopsy done (YES, it hurt...mostly when the anesthesia wears off cause there's a hole now in your ****), there was more waiting.....something no one in their right mind wants, yet it comes with the territory.

     There is an upside to the wait God calls you to. You:  A. Get to do a lot of research and B. Get to pray....alot. With both of those done, I remained strangely calm. I felt like I was ready to face the giants should God call me to face cancer. I had made the decision and I truly believe that it is a constant decision to face the outcome without changing my lifestyle or my joy. When you know God and meet with him daily, I believe He enables you to you steadily, pray unceasingly, and have a peace with unwavering, grateful joy that remains unchanged despite circumstance.

      It's interesting. Our adult kids knew what was going on but the littles didn't. We didn't want to frighten them nor give them cause for worry when we had no diagnosis. After the fact we shared what had been going on and they had NO idea I had even been to the hospital....or had mini-surgery. The joy of the Lord REALLY is my strength!

     It's back to normal around here now.....except two hamsters died the same day I found out I am Cancer free. Like I said....back to normal. Heh.

     Know anyone with cancer? Pray for them, encourage them, take them chocolate and send them notes. Please, don't send them a hamster.

     I had a lot of time to think about what would I do.....if it were me in those shoes. I sat in the waiting room with many, many valiant soldiers who are fighting the fight. I learned more than ever,  it's a time for faith, friendship and family. This Mom is grateful this week.....this mom is whipped, nae'd nae'd, the Doc and I are tired... and for the record...... there will be no more hamsters here for a while. My heart can't handle it! Oh and for the LOVE.....go get yourself a mammo!!!!!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Happy Birthday Nature Girl!!

     Happy Birthday to this miracle today! Pardon my sappy reflections for a moment. You see, she by all statistics should not be where she is today. If statistics were our benchmark, she should be checked off the list as 'non-viable.' It's so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life that you forget to see the big picture of what God has and is doing. Markedly transforming a life. Making the broken whole. God delights in the business of restoration day in and day out. We humans continuously rely and work on a 24 hour system....but not our God. While we count in seconds, minutes, hours, days, even years HE knits together time and substance in such a way that one day we suddenly go, "Wow! Look what God did."
     Today, we are celebrating. Just a few years ago this one was so sick she couldn't hold her head up to think....much less do school. Jehovah Rapha, God our healer has made her strong enough. Just a few years ago she struggled to read. Today, that same God has enabled her and she is reading at grade level. Just a few years ago her muscle condition said she couldn't be strong enough to write and be in a classroom. Today, she's there writing along side her peers. Just a few years ago her sleep disorder kept her (and us) so disoriented that learning was almost non-existent. Today, it's under control and no longer a constant disruption to our days and schedules. Just a few year ago the normal seemed impossible. Today, God has made the impossible POSSIBLE.
     Don't get me wrong. It is HARD. Doing the impossible means putting your head down and plowing through hours and hours beyond most norms, to achieve what easily comes to you and me.    I am reminded every time I look at this girl the words of Winston Churchill, "Never, ever, ever give up." So true when you are dealing with people. Through prayer, discerning, and plain old work the impossible is being made possible. This girl toils harder than most at the normal in life.....yet as God touched her, we noticed something.
      It's really interesting because once the healing began.....once this girl began to learn.....once the layers were peeled back.....we discovered a gift. A brilliant scientific mind full of ideas, facts, and ability. Future biological scientist here people. Mark my words. She sees things no one else sees.....almost eerily so. I'll even bet she discovers a yet unknown species one day. It would not surprise me one bit.
     Happy Birthday Nature Girl! As we continue the day in and day out....loving you with all our being....we can't wait to see what God does next!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

And It Begins.....

School. Is. Here. I'm not sure if we ever feel ready Moms, right? I mean the epic mountains we climb as parents just to get these little people ready for the year is overwhelming. Sports forms, schedules, driving (oh the ever loving traffic!), teacher forms, physicals, shopping, shopping, shopping, shoes, uniforms, textbooks (making sure you got the right ones ...cause if you don't....oy!).....it's insane. Send in the caffeine.

I'm one of these people that after having multiple children for multiple years I like to be prepared. I order their books for the next school year the minute school is out in May. Prepared. No surprises that way and I can relax and enjoy the summer.  I try to get all the school supplies we will need for the year when they are the cheapest in July/August. I tote home bags and bags of what we will need at home for a fraction of the cost of what it would be if spread out throughout the year. Like any good mom I hide a lot of it from my 'crafters' who could and would blow through it in a matter of days.....and threaten their very existence if they touch what they can see. Great parenting. Our storehouses are brimming with markers, post-it's, tabs, folders, sharpies and the like.

We are ready. Even with a funeral and consequent ongoing closing of my mom's estate, we are ready. That is most of us. Here's to another year of successful brain input, encouragement and knowledge. Teachers you are amazing, remarkable and lifesavers of the best kind. We got this.....together.
5th, 6th and 7th grades. Sweet girls. They are doing so well. See the hugs? Genuine.

Now you see what they're really made of. I asked them to show me with their body language and facial expressions their opinion of the first day of school. Mei Mei is like, "I got this....no worries." Blondie is excited, scared and ready to see her friends. She would go to school all year long. Then there's Nature Girl.....who would be content stay home and study science books all year. Forget that other stuff like math, reading and literature. Real life.

Itty Bitty 5th grader. This year we're also training gymnastics several hours a day. Fitting all of it in is going to take some flexing. You can pray for us. Oh and please excuse the weeds and bad grass. We're working on it. Or not. 

6th grade. Ready to see her friends, volleyball player, excellent student. ADORES school. LOVES schoolwork (except math). Artist in the making.

7th grade. All legs (try finding pants for this one!). Brilliant when she wants to be (said every mom ever!) Will work REALLY hard in science and history and tolerate everything else. Just being honest. She makes us laugh so much. Love this kid! Oh, and those feet? Size 10.

Happy Back to School 2015!!