Sunday, 30 December 2007

What Do You Love?

I started out planning to write about all my electronics and to whine about how little time I had to use them. My husband not only gave me great photo editing software but a new gi-normous lens for my camera. The kind of lens that leaves people wondering..."paparazzi?" I was going to tell about the great shot I missed of a perfect row of pine trees lined up against the setting sun because my 3 year old didn't want me to stop pushing the stroller. James also put an mp3 player in my stocking. The kids all have various brand mp3s as well and I had to download from Itunes and Window's Media and load everyone up with their favorite music. I was going to complain about the fact that there is essentially no time in my day that I can stick two ear buds in and not listen to anyone. (I once counted and "mom" was said 39 times in a half hour.)

Then we went to church this morning.

We sang, "Jesus, Be the Center" and we were invited to come down to the alter and commit to making Jesus our consuming desire for the coming year.

I did.

He needs to be what I read about and get just right.
He needs to be what brings me joy and excitement.
He is what I should get up before everyone else so I can have uninterrupted time for.

Jesus needs to be my passion.
(And He never needs charged or rebooted or downoladed!)

Friday, 28 December 2007

Lane's Song

Lane became our daughter at the beginning of her 10th grade year and has kept things lively every since. She's now married, is a nurse and has an adorable daughter, Layla. We've always thought that Lane had a beautiful singing voice and last month she decided to see where her talent might lead her. Her husband went with her to Nashville, Tennessee where she met with a music producer and recorded a few songs. I'm excited to see what God has in store for her!

As you can see, Layla is following in her mom's footsteps!
To hear two of Lane's songs, click here.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Time to Relax

The flurry of Christmas is over and now begins my favorite part of the season. This week there is nothing to do but relax and enjoy each other and play with new toys. Our boys each got a Craftsman tool box loaded with tools and are changing brakes and taking apart everything they can get their hands on. Grace got an electric guitar and Anna a keyboard and they've been living in imaginary "girl band" mode. Gabby is happily creating masterpiece after masterpiece with all her new art supplies.
With so many siblings it would have been difficult for them to buy gifts for each other so my Dad suggested that they all had to exchange gifts from the Dollar Store. It w
as great fun and the big popular items were the the disguise nose and glasses and the "Bling Grills".
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to play with my new photo editing soft
ware before anyone wakes up.

Friday, 21 December 2007

I'm Thinking Coal all Around

This year I ordered about one third of my Christmas gift giving on line and my husband did all most all of his. The best has to be Amazon where I can sit at my computer and order in the morning and my package is delivered the next afternoon! It's almost scary, like you just think about something and it shows up on your doorstep. It certainly beats loading everyone up in the car (do you ever get out alone?) and parking (my van fits in basically no parking spots and we park far away from the door and hike to the store - I figure that I walk off about 14 cheese curls every time I park) and then trying to find exactly what you need. Even the most obscure gift is available via the internet.
But sometimes you just have to get out there and touch things and last night my husband and I went out to finish up Christmas shopping. We provided the kids with pizza - the "aren't you feeling so good with your tummy full of cheese and pepperoni drug" and admonished them that they all had to get along.
No fighting.
You know where I'm going with this.
At our house it's always the boys versus the girls. Age and personality has no bearing on their battle lines, it's always the battle of the sexes.
We shopped for an hour or so when the calls started coming in. The "he said/she saids". They call my phone and not my husbands - safer for their lives. I beg for them each to be peace makers but I can tell it's not going well. I pretend we're childless for awhile but the phone keeps ringing. Now I'm dreaming up horrible punishments to inflict upon our return while enjoying my salad at Olive Garden. We linger shopping till we're sure they've put the little ones in bed and head home, making our plan of attack.
James leads the family meeting and imparts the guilt to the offending parties - everyone says their apologies, forgives each other and it's over.
There is so much less drama at

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

It's Party Time at School!

Our homeschool group had our Christmas party yesterday and it was great. We took the entire group bowling after the party and realized it's the perfect homeschool activity. Every age has fun. Gutter guards for the youngest and fierce competition for the oldest. Merry Christmas to the Shepherd's Flock Homeschool Group!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Jesse & Kara

When our family moved to West Virginia over 20 years ago, I met my forever best friend Anita. She had two boys the same age as my two girls. Our then youngest two, Jesse and Kara were also the best of friends. They even looked alike. As they grew they remained friends, went to the same college and both got married (not to each other as Anita and I had planned) and both began their families at the same time. What's the chance that Jesse's son will marry Kara's daughter?!

Friday, 14 December 2007

2 Cans, Cream of...

5 days in a row of trial run casseroles for freezing and I'm dreaming of biting into something that you have to really chew. Like a steak or even a hot dog!

We're on cream of chicken soup here. (Why DOES every casserole have either cream of some soup and grated cheese in it?) We've explored the many casserole toppings including tater tots, corn flakes and stuffing.

We've had some bigger winners, especially, my friend Joanne's "Beaulieu Kid's Favorite Chicken and Rice Casserole" or better know as "4 out of 4 casserole". At our house it was 8 out of 9.

Running a close second was Julie's, "Spaghetti Pie".

So we've picked the favorites and I'm freezing them in case we get the call for Grace's transplant.
Anyone out there have a freezable casserole dish that doesn't have a can of soup in it?

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

We Know You're In There

In August when our three year old came to live with us he had very little ability to communicate. When ever he wanted something or was upset he banged his head really hard on the floor and he had a permanent huge swollen knot on his forehead. He wore a helmet and we were told he needed to have his environment padded and he would do best contained in a playpen during the day so as not to hurt himself. He was a sad little guy and we were sad/frustrated.
We have a organization in our area called, "Birth to Three" that comes into the homes of kids with special needs and works with the parents to teach them ways to deal with and help their kids. When we got him they came to our home and gave us much hope that with a lot of work and patience (emphasis on patience) we could see him progress. And did we ever!! Trent is now signing as many words as we can teach him. He signs, "eat", "more", "thirsty", etc. and he waves "hi" and blows kisses. He has started to vocalize which is really exciting. He has said, "Poppa" and "Good boy", "Da Da" and "Thank you". The head banging has completely stopped and he has a smile that lights up the world (our world, anyway)! Being a foster parent doesn't get much better than this!

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Waiting for a Call

At a Christmas party today at Children's Hospital, the transplant co-coordinator told us that Grace was third backup for a kidney that came available two days ago. Apparently they consider the top 4 on the list when a kidney comes in case there's a reason the first few don't want it. That really hit home that it could happen at any time - we would get the call and would have to go immediately to the hospital. As wonderful as that call would be, it also means that someone has just died. Our happiness made possible by some families tragedy.

Getting the call would also mean that Grace and I would be out of the house for about a week or so which leaves brave husband James home with the rest of the six kids. That should be interesting. The last time I left him home with six kids for a week, they told me when I got back that he kept making them go outside. He claims that it's good for kids to be outside but in my experience basically it's only good for the Dad. I let them in when they press their faces against the windows and look sad.

We do have to come
up with some meals that I can freeze ahead of time. James suggested that I make two of everything for awhile and put one in the freezer. Okay, I'm feeling good making one dinner every night....I'm not seeing this doubling thing working. I suggested frozen pizza and oodles of noodles and cereal for dinner.

It will be n
ice not to have to do dialysis every night. Each month they deliver a gazillion boxes of stuff we use to do the dialysis and Grace can only get to her clothes about half way through the month when some of the boxes get used up. She's looking forward to sleep overs and baths again when she's done with dialysis.
Maybe soon.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Who Needs Perfume when you have Softener?

A number of years ago a friend, Angela, was selling natural products from home, which, as with all those, "you can make money at home" schemes was a total flop and her husband ended up paying more than she ever made, and she told me about a laundry softener that was natural - no dyes - no perfumes. What?!! No perfumes?! I've been known to stand in the laundry detergent isle for 10 minutes huffing each and every bottle to fine just the right scent for my clothes. Why would anyone want a scent free softener? On the other swing of the "green" pendulum is my friend Lizbeth, who doubles the recommended amount to make her clothes smell so so so very good. She's my hero. I'm not quite up to the double mark but have been experimenting with half as much as allowed. All this softener does have some side-effects. Towels aren't really as absorbent as they should be....the water kind of beads right off and right back onto your skin - who needs to be dry when you can smell that good? You can also slip right out of your jeans they're so soft.

My favorites at th
e moment are:

#1 all time best for smel
l appeal Ultra Downey, Cashmere & Silk Fresh or when you want your clothes to be even more special you say it in French, Fraicheur Cachemire et soie.

#2 Ultra Downey Simple Pleasures, Vanilla & Lavender is also excellent but you then have to make the decision to buy the matching detergent or not.

#3 My third runner up is very very smelly but can be a bit over-powering like an old ladies
perfume if you're not careful - Suavitel Ultra, Morning Sun.

And I HATE dryer sheets! What do you use?

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Cold, Wet and Perfect

Snow day!! We woke yesterday morning to a light dusting of snow and watched as it picked up through the day. Everyone was EXCITED, especially when the public school dismissed two hours early. Our Homeschool strictly follows the public school schedule as 3 of our kids attend and we would have mutiny if one group did one second more or less school than the other. We rummaged through the attic and drug down boots and snowsuits for everyone. Gabby wanted to sled because in her 5 year old experience even a flurry equaled a sled ride and was disappointed to learn differently. We spent the required half hour bundling up the three year old who like the snow for 3 minutes after refusing his mittens and freezing his hands. One of the kids put her hand on a neighbor’s woodstove and came home with blisters and cried and whimpered for about an hour afterwards. She asked at one point if I thought she was going to die and I assured her that I knew of no “hand on the woodstove” fatalities but that she should consider stopping all the crying or someone may dispatch her to her room for awhile. David and Steven argued with each other and annoyed us all but did get a wreath with a red bow hung in each of the front 13 windows. They wanted to have some fun while removing the window screens with one throw them sailing down to the other on the ground but James put an end to that amusing game. By the afternoon we were back up in the attic, this time hauling down the Christmas decorations and listening to our favorite Christmas music of all times, The Soundtrack of the Grinch who Stole Christmas.

Gabby said it was a perfect day when she caught a snowflake on her tongue!

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Schools Out for Sonja

My best friend's Anita's ten year old daughter is having surgery at Children's Hospital tomorrow and won't be able to get around for quite awhile. My girls and I were thinking of things we could do when she got home to make things a little less boring for her. We talked about them playing board games and doing crafts and watching movies with her. Grace said, "Well, we'll have to do all those things after we finish school." Absentmindedly I agreed with her but really, I'm not so sure about that.
I ran through the lesson plans for next week...The Crusades in Europe, changing percentages to decimals and Brazil.....all important things for 8th graders to know...while Sonja sits not able to do anything.
I really don't know how all hopped up Jesus is about my kids knowing the capital of Brazil but I do know that He wants - no, expects, them to have compassion and to encourage and to love. I doubt one day they'll have to give an account of how many times they failed to compute a percentage but...
"The king will answer them, 'I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.' Matthew 25:40
So schools out early next week and we're going to work on some real things. And Sonja would appreciate your prayers tomorrow.