Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sunday Favorites

Today's favorite can be summed up right here.

He is Risen Indeed!

Meet Mollie!

Party of 5!
Nothing says Easter like new life and nothing is as redemptive as a newly hatched little human. Our son and daughter in law welcomed Mollie E this past Thursday weighing in at 8 lbs. 2 oz. and 20" long. If you have read here you will know that our son is battling a crippling disease and has had a rough year including IV therapy for Crohn's disease. He has been having a rough go of it lately including having steroid shots in his back up to the day before Mollie was born. Mollie came as a surprise to them but not to God. Can you say perfect timing?  Mollie is hope, a fresh start and screams (literally..heh) the goodness of our God who doesn't forget us. What a kind God who gives us gifts in the mist of hardship. They are incredible parents and handle all this birth stuff in stride. I must the risk of her getting mad at me.....M gives birth with no drugs, not even a Tylenol. This one was FAST and I have so much respect for how she handled it all.  (Caroline, their last one was born on a couch in the waiting room. Came too fast.....uhm, yea. ) I got to be at the birth from beginning to end and believe that it adds to the incredible love and bond I feel for all our grands. This never gets old! Babies have a way of making everything right again. Enjoy the pictures of Miracle Mollie!
Only minutes old....bonding with her Daddy.
Already Mimi's girl......
Quite possible my fav pic of her so far. She was literally minutes old, already decked out and snoozin!

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cell Phone Dump

When I clear out my phone it's fun to look back at just what we've been up to this past week or so.   Here's some absolute randomness.....
No, this isn't a church meeting. This is our school meeting! Uhm, yea, it's incredible. 
Gym meet. Wish her birth family could see. Sigh.
Warmin' up!
Three Moms + a coach waiting for meet results. We looketh stressed...heh.
Little feet sitting on her Mimi. We are all not so patiently waiting for Baby Mollie to be born by distracting ourselves with some March Madness. Come out, Mollie!
She's absolutely not listening.
Riding through puddles. Ew.

She is Crazy! (Capital C)
 Cousins adopted from Russia and China. Be still my heart!
No caption needed. Heh.
Hard workin school Mamas.
In jammies at noon + something we never do= Spring Break
Front row seats to see Belle at Disney= *Super Happy Sigh*

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sunday Favorites

Today's Sunday Favorite will warm your heart. If  you LOVE adoption AND love photography I hope you will check out Ordinary MiraclesThis fam has 7 kiddos....all still at home. Four are bios, 2 are adopted from Vietnam and the most recent from China's SN program. I love their heart for adoption but when you combine that love with a mom that is exceptional at photography you have a blog I check in on often. I live vicariously through this mom's camera lens! I am pea green jealous over how she juggles 7 kids and composes photographs many times on the fly with such extraordinary results. Take a peek and you'll be hooked too.....

Friday, March 22, 2013

Margin--Not the kind you find on notebook paper.....

     Our pastor is a remarkable teacher. When I think he couldn't give a better sermon he does it again...week after week. In fact, the first time we attended a service here I sat in the back and cried. The spirit of grace was so evident. The guy really has a gift and our church has a great balance between the understanding of our sin, and living daily in the light of a resurrected Christ. When you live and walk in this freedom and grace it's incredible. You can't shut me up about it if you start up a conversation on the topic. There is one lesson though that has stuck with me these last several months and that was Pastor Mike's message on "Margin" based on the book Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.
     What exactly is this? Well, let me explain. I'm hard on myself. I like all my ducks in a row, I want to work my job at the school, have a perma-clean house, laundry done, meals scheduled and ready when the troops come in with 'Leave It To Beaver' playing on the TV. Yea, right. Never happens. I over schedule and place heavy expectations upon my own head, then beat myself up when I fall short. Boo me. It's really hard to live inside my head. Until recently I had the mentality that doing more, better and better was always the answer for acceptance by my superiors and God. After all, this is what had been hammered into my head for years. I kept on that hamster wheel turning and turning, hoping God would see and accept all I was doing. One day I felt I would arrive to the magic point of maturity, right? I absolutely cannot STAND to waste one minute of time. I wanted to do well and it was killing me doing it.
      I was raised in a very legalistic denomination and spend a great part of my adult life in one as well. Very little grace and freedom of expression were allowed and constant 'correction' was the norm. Not a very freeing way to live and it's certainly not the gospel message. Legalism (you have to always do more to measure up, but when you try it's never right or never enough) vs Grace (there is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus) are the total antithesis of each other. Jesus died and conquered hell so that you and I can live free. We are free to live with the personalities designed for us, doing the jobs and having the gifts created for us uniquely. Christianity was never meant to be a one size fits all. In fact, it's just the opposite. Legalism strangles and cuts off your oxygen supply. Legalism is critical, judgmental and says 'you can't'. Grace is encouragement and rejoices in 'trying'. Grace empowers no matter what your talents are.
     Enter Margin. I have spent my days being so concerned about 'getting it all right' that I rarely if
ever scheduled breaks to just be. I have always scheduled time for what I call a daily 'quiet time' for personal Bible study.....but Margin is so much more than that. Having 5 kids, grandkids, a job, volunteer responsibilities and the old standby named 'Laundry', prohibits much time to myself. The Doc runs two businesses, works another part time job for a different company, in addition to being a lay Elder at our church. Left over chillin' time is just not in abundant supply around here. We LOVE to work. Life is so short and there is so much we want to do, that sitting or simply taking time to NOT work is a foreign concept to us.
      When and if I ever did take any time off (in Mom language this means simply to sit on the couch), I always heard that condeming voice telling me I was lazy so get back to work. That is until Pastor Mike spoke on the need for God's people to stop dead in their tracks and examine their time. Stop the legalism cycle of 'having to get it all done' that our society and even our modern day church can feed us. Schedule in daily time of withdrawal to renew and refocus. That's what Margin (with a capital M) is. (I know people who have lived their entire lives as 'margin' thus being lazy, not ever really working, and never really accomplishing anything. That's just plain wrong people. This is not 'Capitlal M' Margin. I'm assuming that you reading this are a Type A personality like me.) Margin recognizes we are human and all humans based upon their DNA, makeup and personality have a stress threshold. When we are maxed out we need to pull back, setting aside time to renew and restore or we're not going to be able to function at our peak, much less be able to serve anyone. Margin is pockets of time reserved for study, read, sleep, exercise, keep your finances in order, pray, whatever your body needs to be renewed and restored so you can enter back into your work life ready to tackle what comes at you WITHOUT running stressed 24/7.
     Here's an excerpt from the book that gives a great definition of how our rat-raced, modern day lives are killing us as a society.

     "The conditions of modern day living devour margin. Marginless is being thirty minutes late to the doctors office because you were twenty minutes late getting out of the bank because you were ten minutes late dropping the kids off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from the gas station and you forgot your wallet. 
     Margin on the other hand is having breath left at the top of the staircase, money left at the end of the month and sanity left at the end of adolescence.
     Marginless is fatigue: Margin is energy.
     Marginless is red ink: Margin is black ink.
     Marginless is hurry: Margin is calm.
     Marginless is anxiety: Margin is security.
     Marginless is culture: Margin is counterculture.
     Marginless is the disease of the new millennium: Margin is it's cure."

     Margin is needed every day in our stress filled world. Margin is grace to a weary mom. God knows you are weak. He knows. He wants you to schedule moments of Margin into your day so you don't grow weary in doing what is good. You'll be better for it, I promise. Margin breathes grace and says, "Yes you can breathe for a few minutes before you climb that next mountain."
     I am older now and much wiser. Daily I schedule (key word schedule or it doesn't happen) breaks of Margin. Some days it's harder than others but I have learned that it's ok to say no to others to make sure Margin happens. Gasp, It's Ok To Say No?!! I try not to allow my schedule to 'max me out' and know what my thresholds are so I then can plan my Margin breaks to keep myself from getting too overloaded. I am not a loving, kind, consistent wife or mom when on overload. Ask my kids and husband. So if you don't think you have time to schedule Margin breaks I would ask you......would it make you a better Mom? Dad? Teacher? Worker? Financial planner? It has radically revolutionized my way of thinking and the way I plan my days. It is living by grace instead of legalism. I have found that by taking a few 'Margin breaks' during the day I am able to accomplish just as much as before, but with a more loving, focused, calmer attitude free from the 'gotta get it all done' prison of legalism.
     So what does it look like for me? Here's just a few ways I have lived Margin in the last couple of years since giving up the rat-race life. Remember, Margin isn't doing necessarily doing LESS, it's planning BETTER.

1. Get up earlier than your alot. On school days I get up at 5-5:30. (The Doc is up at 4-4:30 every. single. day). The girls get up at 7. On non-school days I get up by 6 and let the girls sleep till 7:30 or 8. Those couple of hours of pre-dawn QUIET while the earth is still.... and all is asleep, do wonders for my psyche. I look forward to those hours and suffer withdrawal when I don't get them. I am hooked on the serenity, peace, wisdom and study I gain before the sun rises. This precious time is soul food for me.

2. Turn off the TV including the news. You will still know everything you need to know. Promise.

3. Simplify. Get rid of stuff. I don't keep alot of clothes for me or the girls. Less to keep track of = more Margin. The same goes for household goods (furniture, toys, dishes, containers, even groceries). Our motto is "Live on and with Less." It's a fabulous way to function. You'll be amazed at how little you need to get by.

4. Have a daily time of Margin with your spouse. Instead of TV, we walk the neighborhood every night after the girls are in bed to go over the events of the day. I love this time together to reconnect and
prioritize. Simple yet spectacular.

5. Go to bed early. We have our girls go to bed super early for their ages. They are allowed quiet reading/drawing time in order to learn to set their own 'Margins"as a habit. We parents do the same thing. With the exception of the Doc's business, we try not to schedule multiple meetings on nights when the next day is an early day. We tell people no. Nothing raises the next day's stress level for the entire house like a Mom who hasn't gotten her sleep.
     Even with Margin scheduled and implemented, life can still get out of control. Yesterday I had a day like that. Buy you know what? When the crazy hits and situations come up that tempt us to spiral downward ......IF you have been recently scheduling in your Margin in all areas, you will find that those crazy, wacko moments (days) are really doable WITHOUT life unraveling or making life miserable for those around you.
     I had someone recently in a 'little-girl-should-have-been-stressful-moment' tell me, "Wow. You are the calmest Mom I have ever seen." I think I actually laughed out loud at her and mumbled something stupid back ......but it got me to thinking. The answer is yes, I am alot calmer. I am older and smarter, and things don't worry me like they used to. I am comfortable in my own skin and know the job I am on this earth to do. I don't care if others 'get it' or not. Thank you Margin!

How do you make Margin in your own lives?

P.S. You can read Kelly, the Pastor's Wife's blog here. Love these people. They get it.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Favorites

     Don't use your stomach as a trashcan. Sooner or later you will have to pay the pauper. Most of the time this comes in the form of premature aging, chronic disease, terminal disease, or simply living day by day never feeling 100%. The Doc and I don't want to go into the aging process knowing 'a bunch of meds in order to survive' is ahead of us. In fact, the Doc has built an entire medical practice based on Functional Medicine which includes using herbs, bioidentical hormones, and compounded medicines, replacing what your body naturally makes while healing you 'from the inside out'.
     In our house we like to think of our food as medicine. Sure we splurge now and then on treats and things off our 'food map' but 99% of the time we eat all organic/non-GMO/Gluten Free. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it can be expensive but go back to the first sentence in this post. Do you really want to be putting garbage in your gas tank? Do you really want to be sending Little Bobby to school to do great on that spelling test but you filled his bowl with sugary GMO laden corn cereal topped with BHT laced cows milk from factory cows? So many times we fill our kids plates from the latest commercials and current coupons, that we don't really read the labels to see what exactly we are feeding our families. Our brains and bodies cannot function in the long run on processed chemicals made and colored to look like 'real' food. America, I think we can do better. In fact I know we can but it takes effort.
      We have some with food specific medical issues in our house so everything that goes in our mouths has to be monitored. Since eating this way we have seen auto-immune disease both in myself and our children almost eradicated. We can't expect to think clearly, have our cells be optimal and function correctly if we are feeding them processed, chemical laden junk.
     Which brings me to today's favorite. Orlando Organics is a home delivery organic produce service. There are many in our city but this is the one we use because it came with a great reputation. And yes, you read that right. Seasonal organic produce is delivered right to your front door! Seasonal is important because this is how nature works. If your produce is available year round from the same place and source chances are it is being tampered with genetically. No thank you. Our delivery comes either weekly or bi-monthly.....or I can choose to have it as often as I wish. You can go to the website and see what the next week's delivery is ....choose the size box you want.....decide add-on's and will show up at your door the next week. Since we eat primarily vegetarian this has been a lifesaver for us as I'm not having to run around town trying to piece together all the best prices/produce myself. Love, love, love having this at my fingertips!
     One of our favorite sayings at home is, "Come Winter you will find out what you were doing all Summer." This is so true. If you don't eat correctly and take care of your body......if you don't teach your children the same it will show up sooner than later. We are determined to make our efforts count both with ourselves and our kids! Check around your city and see what's available similar to what we have found. It may be a delivery or a co-op.....but definitely worth the search! And by buying Organic you are saying NO to GMO's, pesticides, gov't run food systems and YES to sustainable farms for health!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Favorites

Today's favorite has to do with money management and a very simple tool to help you keep track of what you have and what you spend. The last few years we've seen God bless us immensely, but it has not been without hard, hard work. We are grateful and want to be as faithful as possible. Our goals are pretty simple. Live simply and way below our means, pay cash for everything, pay off any remaining old debt  FAST so we can spend more and more time on the mission field, where our passion lies.  We made a plan and it's working phenomenally but we know it only will if we are faithful stewards. We are fans of Dave Ramsey, (the guy who has made millions helping others pinch pennies),  and others like him such as Crown Ministries, etc. They are all pretty much alike and operate on the same basic principles. With the onset of smartphones the old envelope system has gone the way of the dinosaur. Enter They have a fabulous FREE app that keeps track for you (with a little set up and input from you at the beginning of each month) and it actually tracks your spending and places it into each category for you. A marvelous way to keep track of every penny including savings and investments. This is so much less work than the old cash system yet still holds you accountable down to the even sends you a weekly progress report and pie chart of where you are money wise. Some of you smarties may be able to do all this in your head. I for one cannot. These whoever -they -are app makers made this app for me. For busy on the go lifestyles it can't be beat, and you can reach your reports with the click of a finger. I am very frugal and practical so for me this has been a God-send to keep all the household spenditures in check, and not have to carry around cash or envelopes. Every purchase can be planned for using my phone AND, no more leaking dollars here and there. Everything including Starbucks stays in check. If you have little you are called to be faithful. If you have alot you are still called to be faithful. As Americans we are rich, rich, rich wether you think you are or not. Happy Budgeting! And a disclaimer......these numbers are from the website. They. Are. Not. Ours. Heh.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Book List-Part 2

This second list is a work in progress. I'm constantly finding new reads and switching them out for those less interesting. I'm also a reading 'purist'. I don't read fluff.....not because I wouldn't or am opposed to it but because of the time factor. Because we have a big family with young children still at home I have to be deliberate with my reading....scheduling it like I do any other activity on our calendar. I don't watch much TV (the exception would be my relationship with Lord and Lady Grantham of course). I  definitely have more time during the summer so I plan accordingly and schedule the more intense studies and longer more brain intensive reads for then.

Here are my planned reads for Non-fiction and Novels again in no particular order:

1. Super Freakonomics by Steven Levitt
2. Abandoned and Forgotten by Evelyne Tannehill
3. A Chance in the World by Steve Pemberton
4. Emily of New Moon Series by L.M. Montgomery
5. Priceless- A Novel on the Edge of the World by Tom Davis
6. Questions Adoptees Are Asking by Sherrie Eldridge
7. A Mansion in the Mountains by Phillip T. Noblit
8. The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis *re-read*
9. Smart But Scattered by Peg Dawson
10. Wounded Children Healing Homes by Jayne E Schooler
11. Parenting the Hurt Child by Gregory Keck
12. Helping Your Anxious Child by Ronald Rapee
13. Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen
14. Silent Tears by Kay Bratt * re-read*
15. China Lamb by Sandra Moats
16. Factory Girls Leslie T. Chang
17. Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam
18. Quiet by Susan Cain
19. Wild Swans by Jung Chang
20. Fatherless by James Dobson
21. China Cry by Nora Lam
22. For Those Tears by Nora Lam

and anything else I find interesting. Please comment or message me your favorites!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book List 2013-- Better Late Than Never Someone Once Said

I always do a 'want to read list' at the beginning of each year. It's really a wish list of sorts which I usually make a big dent in. I am typically a voracious reader but this school year I've had to slow waaaayyyyy down due to my work schedule. It is totally cramping my style reading wise! So the way I do this is to make a list usually so much longer than I'll ever get through, then start reading! I get a feel from what I would like to read next just by perusing my list. I usually have one Biblical topic and also one non-fiction/novel going at the same time. So, without further delay Here's my list for this year (since it's already March but y'all are so full of grace aren't you!!) two parts, but in no particular reading order. I've already read several of these and will be doing reviews of my favs in the near future.

 Part 1:Inspirational
 1. Finding God in Hidden Places by Joni Eareckson Tada
 2. Erasing Hell by Francis Chan
 3. Paul by Beth Moore
4. Out of the Spin Cycle by Jen Hatmaker
 5. A Woman's Wisdom by Lydia Brownback
 6. Healing the Wounds of Trauma/How the Church Can Help by Margret Hill
7. The Reason for God by Tim Keller
8. Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchividjian
 9. Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler
10. Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian
11. Half the Church-Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James
12. Unfashionable by Tullian Tchividjian
13. The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman
14. Counterfeit Gospels by Trevin Wax
15. Bonhoffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
16. Follow Me by David Platt
17. Live to Make a Difference by Max Lucado
18. Shaped by Grace by Max Lucado

 Read thru the Bible at least once.

 In Part 2 will be non-fiction and novels.

 Any others you are reading that you recommend?? I'm always looking for new finds!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

If You Vacuum Up Your Hamster.....

     I have been asked for an update on Snowball.....the hamster that survived the great vacuum attack of '12. Snowball is doing fabulous, although it was touch and go there for a while.....not to mention a little bloody. Oh, and did I mention that Snowball now has one eye? Only at our house. 
     Here's the story. I had asked Nature Girl to vacuum up around the hamster cages because they make such a mess and 'throw' their food. The next thing I know she was screaming and bringing me a mangled, bloody hamster that I thought for sure was a goner. (For all you visual people I had NO IDEA a hamster could bleed that much!!) She had taken Snowball out of the cage to vacuum around the cage and well.....let's just say it was the tube part of the vacuum that the little rodent took her trip in. Oy vey!  Oh, and did I mention that the Doc was out of town on a business trip??? (Of course he was.....)
     Between screaming girl and bloody hamster, I did the best I could to restore sanity and try and figure out to deal with Snowball and what I thought would be imminent death. Well, with a lot of TLC, carrots and apple slices she is better than ever today.....although..... be gross and literal....the vacuum sucked her eye out. She doesn't seem to mind though and goes about her daily business as usual.....even coming for snacks when we call her name. She stays busy on her wheel and keeping house by tidying up her nest, you know, doing all those little hamstery things hamsters do that bring joy and delight to their owners. (Just a touch of sarcasm here.) I will have to say, this is the world's best hamster in spite of what I previously thought about them. Why this hamster still likes us is beyond me. Stay tuned for the story about the day I accidentally froze the iguana......

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Favorites!

My goal on Sundays is to post something that we have found as a family that we LOVE! It may or may not pertain to children but just something that we find ourselves not able to think about living without.
Here's today's fun find.

We have a daughter that is NOT sensory sensitive except for one area. Her head. Oh the drama of the head every morning as we get ready for school. She would be in tears with brushing no matter what type of brush or comb we used. It was AWFUL .....until someone recommended this. I have to admit, I was skeptical. This was an item I would just walk by if I saw it in a store. However, I was DESPERATE and this poor kid needed help fast. Insert.....The Tangle Teezer. It honestly has rescued our mornings and now the girls fight over who gets to use it first in the morning. Amazing how a little piece of plastic can save the psyche of Mom and daughter every day! Highly recommended if you have a sensory sensitive head at your house!!!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What Do Your Big Kids Think?

One of the most common questions we got about adoption was, "What do your big kids think?" I could go rambling on about orphan statistics and our heart for the poor and needy and meeting that need through adoption.....but instead I decided to go straight to the source. The source being J one of our "Big Kids" who our adoptions affected directly. This is her story unedited in her own words.

              I remember when my parents sat my brother and I down that night to tell us they wanted to have more children. I was thrilled!! I wanted so badly to have a sister to play with, play barbies with and dress up in pretty princess dresses with. I wanted to grow up with a sister and have a best friend that would be there forever. Years passed. No sister. I prayed and prayed for one. Nothing happened. 
      As I entered my teenage years I had pretty much given up hope that I would ever have one. Then my parents told us they were praying about and considering adoption. Adoption? Really? I mean I was already 13! Why did they want to start all over again? I mean I was excited about having a baby in the house, but had my parents really thought this through? I was still a kids who needed parents too! Would they still have time for me with a new baby? I had been the youngest for so long! How was I going to be a big sister? My parents got asked all of these questions a lot. And they still do. How did adopting affect your older kids? Did it ruin your relationships with them? Did your biological kids bond with the adopted ones? During each adoption of my sisters, I don't know that I could've given accurate answers to these questions. 
     As soon as the oldest of the Princess Collection, Nature Girl as she is known to you all, was brought to us, our family immediately changed. Alot of my days at home involved feedings, diaper changes, picking out cute little outfits and helping my mom. I loved every minute of being a big sister. When sister Blondie came along, my daily baby tasks doubled. I loved coming home from other activities in time to rock my baby sisters to sleep. I laughed when Nature Girl poured an entire jar of honey on the carpet right before my parents left for a wedding. By the time we got our little slice of Asia, I was a well seasoned pro. 
      In the years that followed I said "no" to a lot of things because of my new sisters. I said no to having leisurely talks with my mom about life. I said no to going out with friends because my parents needed me to babysit. I even said no to my own high school graduation ceremony so that I could go to China with my parents. And during those years of saying "no" I often complained. I loved my sisters of course, but a lot of the time I felt like a teenage mom. Cleaning up after them, changing diapers, disciplining bad attitudes, telling them to go back to bed over and over. Oh how I wish I could have my 25 year old self speak some sense into my 14 year old self!!

      Now, 11 years after Nature Girl was handed to us, here's what I would say to 14 year old me. It's worth it. Saying 'no' to all those things, is worth it. Here's why. Those 3 little girls love me. They are proud to have me as their big sister. I know because they tell me. They fight over who gets to spend the night at my house next. They know that when they are on a date with me they get a Starbucks treat. They wave and smile at me when I'm singing on stage at church on Sunday Mornings. They leap up from their schoolwork when I stop by on a home day. They send me get well cards when I'm sick. They give me the best hugs in the world. And every time they tell me they love me, I can't help but think 'where would they be if my parent's hadn't started over? My life would be so empty without them. Yes, I may have gotten to go to more parties and movies with my friends. I may have had a few more conversations with my mom without being interrupted. I would've sat through a really boing graduation ceremony. But I wouldn't have gotten them. These 3 beautiful, precious, one of a kind sisters that love me. They don't know all of the things I said no to when they came along. But they do know that I love them. See, God knew what I needed in a sister. He knew that I needed to be 14 years older. He knew that I needed to learn how to sacrifice my life for them. And He knew that I needed 3 of them. Remember what I prayed for? A sister I could grow up with, play girly things with, and have as a best friend forever. God answered my prayer. I grew up when my sisters came along. I do play Barbies, and tea parties and dress up with them. And I know that the friendship I have with them will last forever. God answered my prayer. The answer looked different than I thought it would, but I am so glad!
      So to answer the commonly asked questions. Adoption has affected me to the very core of my life. Seeing the joy that these girls bring has only increased my desire to adopt my own children some day. My relationships with my parents didn't suffer at all because of my sisters. I respect my parents so much more now because of the sacrifice they chose to make and still make everyday. As for the bonding question.....well, I would never doubt my bond with my sisters and I hope they never doubt it either. These 3 girls have utterly changed my life. I would not be the person I am today if God had not allowed me to be their big sister. I am so grateful. And yes, they still drive me crazy and there are times when I still think my parents are nuts for doing this. I hope to be just as nuts as they are one day.

                                                                                                                                   by J