Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Easily Amused

Although we were promised a call today with the results of Grace's M.R.I., we heard nothing.
But lest you think that Grace is down and discouraged, I had to show you what I found in her room tonight.
She decided to go up in the attic and get down a tent and "camp out" in her room. Her younger brothers thought it was the coolest thing ever. Neither of her sisters decided to join her.

So here she of the few patients, I'd wager, who ever did dialysis while sleeping in a tent in their bedroom.

Monday, 29 December 2008

What Now?

We had to make an extra trip to Children's Hospital this month. Grace has an unidentified lump on the back of her neck. The doctors in Nephrology didn't know what it was, so they sent her back to her old doctors in Hematology/Oncology and they weren't sure either. She had an M.R.I. and we'll wait for the results.
Grace has been worried. That's a first for her. She has sailed through a brain tumor, kidney failure and ovarian tumors without blinking an eye, but she's 15 now and it's different. Grace will have to find her peace in knowing that Jesus is in control of her life, like I had to learn long ago with her roller coaster medical stuff.
Say a prayer for her if you think about it.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas Family/ Take 2008

I have a friend that also does foster/adoptive care, who said in an email,
"We have the same kids in our Christmas picture for two years in a row!"
She has an amazing family and I know she's enjoying some much deserved stability.

We don't have the same kids as last year, but I do love the family we have this year.
Here we were on Christmas Eve at my parent's house. Some regulars and some new to the game.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Getting to Know You

As our new boys have become more comfortable here they've decided it's safe to come out and be themselves.
That's always an interesting time in foster care. Affectionately called the end of the honeymoon period. I know that personally I could have used a few more weeks of honeymoon.
But here we are in what often seems like the clash of planets.
Such as....
Lots of kids are amazed that lying is considered bad.

Stealing is as practical a means of attaining things you want as is purchasing and actually preferred. I know I've said 453 times, "If you didn't buy it and no one bought it for you and you have it, it's called stealing."

Our family is as foreign to these kids as sushi. They don't understand forgiveness, putting others first, humility and certainly not vulnerability.

We took them to see The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol and had to talk with them about clapping for the people on stage. They thought it was weird.

We were wrapping presents for the boys' teachers and one of them was a little embarrassed. He wondered what "all the other kids" were going to think about him giving the teacher a gift. I explained that lots of the kids would bring the teacher presents. He was sure that was wrong.

As our cultures and values run head long into each other at first, I wait for them to fall in love with us and therefore our faith and beliefs as well.

Is it too much to hope that they give up their wrestler affectation?

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

I Could Be In the Know

I want to keep up with current events, but I only know what's going on in Jeremiah's kindergarten class this week.

I want to understand which countries are at war and the political reasons behind it but I only know which kid is mad at the other for using the Wii too long.

I want to spend time sipping tea with my friends and hearing about their lives and loves but I only sit and listen to what happened when the boys went around the block on their bikes .

The food network has incredible meals that I want to cook (or have someone cook for me) but we have to be at church early on Wednesday nights so chicken nuggets on a cookie sheet will have to do.

I want to pray for missionaries around the world but my heart is full of petitions for my kids.

There are shelves of books I'd love to read but Curious George and the Pancake Breakfast is the current favorite.

The world is moving on and managing without me.

It's a small job, but someone has to do it.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

My Kids are Clowns

Every year the Nephrology Department at Childrens Hospital hosts a big Christmas party for all their frequent flyer patients and families. As Grace's guests, we headed down to D.C. for the festivities.
The boys only b
roke one thing and were generally within socially acceptable boundaries. They loved the clowns and magic performances.
The girls were per
fect of course.
All the patients got to sit on Santa's lap.
Wonder how many of them a
sked for a transplant for Christmas?

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Nope, not there!

I've Christmas shopped all over the internet and the FedX and UPS men have learned to parallel park around White Boy and dodge my ferocious dog as they deliver box after box of- free shipping- 80% off- goodies for all the people on my list.
I piled it all up in my room.
Then today I had to go out and I wasn't taking the kids. I know them - I was one of them.
So I hid them. In a great place that they'll never figure out.
So all my lovely children who read my blog.......
Give it up. You'll never find them this year.

Nothing was stirring, not even a mouse.....

It's cold outside and everyone is staying in to keep warm - including a large, I'm guessing Catholic, (since they obviously don't believe in birth control) family of mice.

As we took the boys up to bed last night, one little mouse was running up the stairs in front of us.
We screamed.
He panicked.
He ran around like crazy,
which made us scream louder
and so on.

As I tucked the boys into bed and read the next chapter of Mr. Poppers Penguins I could tell I didn't have their full attention. Their eyes were darting around looking for the upstairs mouse. Isaiah decided to sleep with his brother in the top bunk after asking many questions about how high a mouse can climb. (Absolutely not to the top bunk)

I promised to set a trap outside their bedroom door.

This was not the upstairs mouse, but his second cousin from the downstairs pantry, who had managed to eat into a bag of candy and empty a snack size M&M bag and was captured a few days ago. He died with chocolate on his breath.

It could be could be ants.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

"Book Ens"

I took this picture today at Scarlett's birthday party.
My father, Ensley, is holding my grandson, also named Ensley, on his lap.
My Dad is 86 and my grandson is 4 months old.
They are both pretty laid back guys.
I'm so glad they got to know each other.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Big Stiff

Isaiah discovered today what happens when a hoodie is left at his friends house in the backyard overnight when the temperature dips below zero.
I found it very amusing.

Wonder how long it will take to thaw?

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Grumble Be Gone

Just like everyone else, the pace of life has quickened and I'm juggling a million things.

How do you add the holidays on to an already crazy pace?

Having some of the kids in public school and some homeschooled means I teach all day and then start all over again with homework when the kids walk back in the door after school.
And I HATE all the junk the school sends home for us to do.
" Help little Johnny decorate a gingerbread man with the with "things you have around the house."
How about you stop telling me what to do!!

And I'm so afraid I'm going to drop one of the balls I'm juggling. What if I forget something or someone? What if the teacher says my name in vane because I forgot to put gloves on the 5 year old and they go out to recess and he cries because his hands are cold? What if Christmas morning there's no present for someone? What if..........

It's too hard. I'm laying awake thinking about all this.

Then the verse God somehow put in the devotional I'm reading for today said,

Do everything without complaining.
Philippians 4:16

Shutting my mouth here.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

What They Need for Christmas

The devotional that I'm using had readings for the four Sundays of Advent. We decided to celebrate and we got out the candles and all sat Sunday night and read about the first messengers of the coming Savior. I noticed that our new boys didn't seem to understand what we were talking about so we asked if they knew why we celebrated Christmas. They mentioned everything red and green and threw in a few -"to show other people that we care" kind of answers.

It amazes me that kids right here in our community don't know that Christmas is about God's gift of Jesus.
So, we watched the movie, The Nativity tonight and we'll get out our little nativity set so we can tell the boys the good news that Jesus came to earth so that they can have a home in heaven.

Our misson field is down the hall sleeping in our Ikea bunkbeds.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Mercy and Forgivness

James and I visted one of our daughters yesterday. Unfortunatly this daughter can't live at our house and it makes me very sad. She came to our family when she was only 7 and had already lived with 12 or so other families. She was so little and cute and very broken.
This daughter is now 16 and has been to three residential placements and just recently a therapeutic foster home. She was not successful with the last family and our visit yesterday was at a shelter where she waits. She waits without hope and assumes she'll fail wherever she's placed.
Somewhere is her biological mother and I'm sure she has no idea that the little girl that she neglected to care for has had a life of hurt and hurting others.
It's hard to pray past our daughter to the mother.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Made to Play

Having had mostly daughters in large groups and recently a run of toddlers, I have obseved something in our three new elementary age boys that I'm really liking.
As soon as they finish their breakfast, or upon their return from school, they are in the house only long enough to yell, "I'm going out to play."
And they go.
I like little boys.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Come On Winter

Last night, and today for less than five minutes each episode, we had snow.


It brings instant jubilation, hopes for no school, dreams of sledding.

Is there anything that falls from the sky that has more p

The five year old as he ran out in his pajamas...... "Mom, is it Christmas?"

Me...."Yea, and this is your big present. How do you like it?" (It was worth a shot)

Sunday, 16 November 2008

A Dad By Any Other Name

Most of the kids that come through our home have a mom before they get here - so figuring out what to call me can be a little awkward. Most have just joined the rest of the household and gone with the "mom" name. Some never have and never will and I'm just "Kate".
Now, the Dad thing is a bit different. Many kids have never met their biological Dad and some have and wish they hadn't. James has never gone by "Dad" but has always been "Poppa". Everyone calls him Poppa. Not a single kid has ever referred to him as anything else. It's like you wouldn't dare. Maybe something to do with James' former life as a Colonel in the military.
However, our new youngest kid thinks Jame's name is "Pops". When he says it - everyone stops.
This morning as he came racing through the kitchen he yells out, "Hey Pops." James patiently again explains that it's "Poppa" not "Pops".
Little guy slips into the bathroom and we hear him practicing as he sits and does his business.
"Poppa, not Pops." "Poppa not Pops."

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Well Here You Are

Our three new boys are settling in perfectly.

In a foster care home, perfect means there's been no blood and nobody has run away.

It's hard moving to a new home for reasons you don't really understand. Grown ups don't usually tell these kids things. Things like, what your life is about to become and for how long.
So the littlest guy jumped in my arms and said, "Hi Mom".....the oldest tried to become invisible and the middle boy adjusted in a middle kind of way.

It's actually been great. Beyond great.
The boys have run straight into every rule and way we do things and have tried very hard to make it work.
They now know that..
1. You should sit down while you eat your dinner.
2. You aren't allowed to give each other the finger when you're mad.
3. Urine must be flushed - every time.
4. When a parent calls your name they expect you to respond in some tangible way.
5. Touching the breast of every girl mannequin in Kohl's is unacceptable.
6. Mom will be home every day and even cook dinner.
7. Poppa won't hurt you.
8. You can't sleep with all your Halloween candy.
9. Having sisters is great and they can turn the Wii on.
10. This family loves Jesus.

I give this group an A+ for adjusting.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Goodnight Moon

Since our last group of little ones has left, it's been peacefull and quiet. No diapers, or crying or bedtime stories. We've all felt so relaxed.
But there were the empty bedrooms. We cleaned them out and then shut the doors. Whenever I walked down the hall I noticed them. Quiet and empty.
We have this big house for a reason and empty rooms have never felt right.
So yesterday, before we began school I asked the girls to pray with me that God would send just the right kids to us to fill the rooms. And I asked if He could do it that day. I think I annoy God sometimes like that.
The girls and I went bowling in the afternoon and James took the call. They needed to place 3 boys ages 5, 9 and 11....Were we interested?
I didn't need to ask many questions, I mean how could I doubt how that all came about.
So tonight I tucked three very adorable boys into bed. And not one of them wears diapers or cried. I'm a pushover for a bedtime story though.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


The missonary house next door has been awesome. We've met people from around the world and been inspired and challenged.
And we've learned to serve.
Anna and Grace were encouraged to serve the Jessurun family by raking leaves. (made to)
Hey, it's better than

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Stepping Away

Life is a blast with tons of kids. Never can I complain of being bored.
But, to celebrate our 35 years together, James and I have left them all behind and are enjoying just each other.
Cape May, New Jersey is a perfect ocean town of beautiful Victorian homes.
And it's a quiet town. Just perfect for walking together or sitting by the ocean.
We can talk about everything o
r nothing.
One of the things that has made it possible for us to be able to withstand the pressure of foster care has been the strength of o
ur marriage. The times when I want to run away and join the gypsy circus - James steps in and lightens the load. No matter the difficulties, and some have been very very difficult, we're in it together.
So this time away is not just to celebrate our years together, but to take a breath before plunging back into the chaos.
And nobody has said "mom" in the last 48 hours.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Take a Bite My Little Pretty

James and I have been doing weight watchers on line.
Oh sure, it works. I've lost 11 lbs and he's lost 9.
But that means you can't eat anything. Not anything good.
So my solution is to just not eat. I have to feed the kids, but I sure can't eat much of the food I make them. It's easier to just go hungry.
But James is a food genius. He makes good food that is low in points. And we can eat lots of it.
This is one of the many reasons we've been married for so long. He feeds me.
Here's his latest delicious and low calorie creation.
He even makes it look good on the plate.
Oh yea. James and I just celebrated our 35th anniversary. Others have said sweet things.
Me....I'm about the food.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Look Mom!!

My friend Adela's mom hasn't been feeling good and so Adela has gone to spend some time with her. Her son, who had many pressing social engagements, stayed with know, pre-school halloween party and trick or treating....things too good to miss.
Tonight right before he brushed his teeth, I convinced him to let me pull his very very loose tooth.
He wanted his mom to see how cute he looked.
So here he is Adela.
And thanks for letting us enjoy him this week!!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Saying Goodbye

This year we outwitted all the hundreds of deer that freely roam our backyard and had 3 huge, productive tomato plants.
The taste of that first of the season home-grown delicious tomato - red and juicy - sliced, still slightly warm from the sun...incredible. Every day this summer we picked some..they came a few at a time. I had them every morning for breakfast, sliced on the homemade bread James makes. Every lunch they made my turkey sandwich perfect, and they laid beautifuly on top of our dinner salads each evening. Every bit of summer was captured in each succulent bite.
A few days ago we had a frost warning.
We picked all the tomatos, both red and green.
Here's the last one.
I promise not to take a single bite of the disgusting bland faux tomatos they sell in the store.
Till next summer - goodbye
sweet thing. I loved you.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Pumpkin Stuff

Our homeschool group went to the coolest pumpkin farm yesterday in the horse country of Northern Virginia. (read ...only really rich people live there)
It had it all, animals, hayrides, slides, apple cider, petal tractors and pumpkins.
But our kids loved the giant jump on thing best of all.
A chilly day in fall with friends and kids and pumpkins....who needs Christmas?

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

History Right Before Your Eyes

Our family is using Sonlight in homeschool this year and we're doing Eastern Hemisphere Explorer, (which FiFi is going to be using too when they start back to homeschooling. Yea!)
We really really love i
t. Although my girls don't love to read, they've enjoyed all the great books we're tearing through.
We're reading "Commodore Perry and the Land of the Shogun" now and the girls are way into Japan. We read about the steamboats going from America to land in Japan and the girls weren't very familiar with them. Just so happens that James Rumsey, the in
ventor of the steamboat, made his first trial run, right here in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
So you know that me
ans.......field trip!
We were given the key to the museum because it was closed on Monday and we had it all to ourselves. We visited the place on the Potomac where he launched his boat and hiked all over town.

To reward ourselves for learning so much, we had lunch at an authentic Japanese restaurant with the girls promising me they would try somethi
ng "real Japanessy". Miso soup all around!

Driving home we passed the High School and I was thinking how much nicer it is to learn history the way we were, rather than reading a few paragraphs in a text book.

Homeschooling is the bomb!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Hop In

We have a 12 passanger van - all white. We call it "white boy". As in play that funky music..
We also have a Jeep Wrangler.

I spend a large portion of my life inside the van. It's great. You can take anyone who wants to go with you and it has a huge way back for tons of stuff. But it uses lots of gas and well, you can't be all about your image when you drive it.

Rarely I drive the Jeep. It's too small. Why is it when the mom wants to go somewhere, all the kids scramble for their shoes? My husband can go out ten times in a day and the kids don't even notice. I quietly take the keys out of the box and they're all lined up ready to go.

Yesterday I took Grace and Anna to their swim clinic. Just the three of us, so we took the Jeep.
We ran into Walmart to get a few things. It wasn't until I was rolling the full cart out that I remebered the Jeep has ZERO room in the back for groceries. No problem, we'll pile the groceries in the back seat with one of the girls. My cell phone's Kelly, she needs picked up from school. No problem, we'll just put bags on everyone's lap. The phone rings again. David's car has broke down and he needs a ride back from the car shop. Now we have 5 people in a 4 person car with 8 bags of Walmart junk.

White Boy looks good on me.

Saturday, 18 October 2008


Layla gets to stay with us until her mom and dad and new sister come home from the hospital. She doesn't mind staying here and told her mom that she needed to come to Grandma Kate's house, because "Grandma Kate misses me." She's right.
And Kara came up for the weekend to visit with her two kids.
Layla and Scarlett had a wonderful time just being cousins.
And I'm on a grandma high! Lots of kids equal lots of grand kids....sweet!

Friday, 17 October 2008


Late last night a little girl joined our family, looking much like her sister Layla.
Her name is Lauren and we fell in love with her in an instant.
Josh and Lane were tired but happy.
Welcome sweet baby.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Counting Contractions

It's starting to feel familiar. Sitting again in a hospital room with a daughter, waiting for a new grandbaby to be born. Lane's baby will be grandchild #12. Each one is as exciting and sweet as the first.
I can't wait to hold and kiss her.
I'll update with pictures as soon as she arrives. I love wireless internet in hospitals! name yet. Josh is still searching for just the right one.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Ready for Launch

After a long 4 day visit, the adoptive family for our little ones feels ready to commit to the kids. I was glad to hear that the attachment issues that we've seen, were evident on the visit. Kids with these problems are difficult to parent, even at an early age and the parents need to know that they can handle it. We recommended that they get training in dealing with RAD kids now, so that they have the best chance of helping her be successful in their family.
The social worker came out yesterday and gave her blessing on their move. The girls were excited to have a forever family and they truly love their new mom and dad. The little guy on the other hand, at two, doesn't have a clue. He did know, from being moved often, that the worker meant something bad was going to happen and cried in terror and clung to me. He will have a hard time with this move....hopefully the last of his life time.
This will be our second- in- a- row good pass off, of our foster kids. I'm happy for them. But my heart is getting as tired of this as my knees.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Loving Fall

Last evening we got an impromptu call from our neighbors inviting us to a campfire. They have a little stone pit that they use for fires, and they drag a bunch of plastic chairs around it for sitting.
There were a couple of bags of stale marshmallows which only the kids ate.
We sat and talked and laughed. Nothing big.
Just the first fall night, cozy in our hoodies, being with our best friends.
Okay - perfect!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Quiet on the Home Front

Our 3 little guys are having a long visit with their perspective new family.
They walked out the door with suitcases and blankets and toothbrushes and car seats.
When the door closed there was this strange thing.
It's day two and it's still quiet here.
Last night James and I had a date.

I got an email from their new mom and she said they're having a great time!
Bet it's not quiet there.
I'm still praying.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

I AM Watching (sorta)

Everyone with kids does it and if your like me you do it a lot.
You drive kids piano and guitar lessons and soccer and speech club and dance and swim clinic and a million other places that kids have to go and we have to take them.

I'm not complaining. Really.
There's something about sitting for a half hour with nothing whatsoever to do that's appealing.
It means I'm not cleaning or cooking or basically thinking.
I've spent an entire hour waiting on a child and didn't have a single thought. And I liked it.
A complete soccer game has been played not 3 feet from where I've sat in my lawn chair and I didn't see a single moment of it. I looked up and smiled when the moms who were paying attention cheered.

Today I sat in the driveway of Anna's piano teacher's house. I didn't go in because my shirt was actually my pajama top that I never took off although it was 3:30 in the afternoon.
I forgot to bring something to read so for the first time in my life I played the games on my phone.
I didn't know they were so hard. They gave me stress.
And they were all demos, so just when I felt that I wasn't a complete moron, the game would end and then invited me to buy and download the real game.
I didn't. Mostly because I didn't have a clue how to download them.

What do you do when you wait on your kids?

Sunday, 5 October 2008

A Plan to Prosper Them

Our 3 new kids have begun the transition to their much prayed for adoptive home.

It was a difficult decision- to let them move on - or adopt them ourselves. I prayed and thought about it so much I didn't know if what I was hearing was from God or my own thoughts. When we laughed and played, I felt like I could keep them - even though I'd be 70 when the youngest graduated. And there were times when I felt all of my 53 years...bending over and picking up dolls and Fisher Price Little People for the one hundredth time that day.
God sent a young couple to us who are madly in love with the kids and willing to take on their special needs and hurts.
I covet your prayers for these kids as they have to move on, once again. No matter how perfect the new mom and dad are, there is loss for them. The little 2 year old guy especially, who hates when I leave the room, let alone leave his life.
I'm trusting God to love them more than I can imagine.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

What Does Your Bible Say?

Our 5 year old has been attending an Awana program at a local church and she loves it. She has been learning verses and carrying a Cubbies bag back and forth. For the past couple of weeks she's been bugging me about getting her a "little Bible".
So I've told her, "yea sure" about 20 times and guess what, I never got her a Bible.
So last week she took matters into her own hand and went down to our library and got what she thought was a little Bible.

We caught her going out the door with this in her Awana bag.

The leaders would have been talking! Time to go to the C
hristian Book Store in town.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

In a Shoe Parenting Tip

When your shoe overflows with kids, you find yourself with not enough time to do all the things you need to do.

Teens need to tell you the latest drama in the Youth Group and they need a ride and a poster board. Toddlers run their head into the kitchen table and cry and do it again an hour later and they need a drink every 12 minutes on the hour.

As I answer all these demands I glimpse my house out of the corner of my eye and it needs me too.

So here's my advise if you're raising a large group of kids.

Water the kids and forget the plants.

Monday, 22 September 2008

P.E. 101

Grace and AnnaClaire are under an umbrella school in Maryland so that when we finish homeschooling their high school years, they'll have a Maryland high school diploma. We really like it. It not only gives them the diploma, but I like the support and oversight during these years.
The only problem for us is the P.E. credit. The girls have to have 120 credit hours over the 4 years of high school.
Seems easy enough.
Not for Grace and Anna. They aren't exactly what you would call athletic. We tried soccer - they hated it. The only thing they liked was the t-shirt and the bag for carrying all their equipment. Mostly they stood around watching the ball go up and down the field.

We tried cheer leading. They loved the outfits! They loved putting their hair in pony tails. Other than that, they mostly complained.

So this year they picked swim clinic. They do like to swim, but more than that, they love the coach, Ms. Pam. Anna doesn't really know any of the strokes, but is learning. Grace can barely keep up with the rigorous work out (kidney failure tends to do that), but they love it. Not just the swim caps or the goggles, they really love the clinic.

My little athletes!

In the picture, the girls are the two on the far left, biting their nails.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

In a Shoe Cleaning Tip

Having lots of kids is both good and bad when it comes to cleaning.

Bad: Lots of kids = lots of mess.

Good: Lots of kids = more you can make help clean up the mess. Sing with me..."clean-up, clean-up, eveybody..."

And here's my cleaning tip of the day:

Host a baby shower at your home once a month. This will force you to clean all those hard to reach places in your house. Like the kitchen sink and the counter top and the floor.

Okay, so maybe they're not hard to reach, but who really wants to.

Pictures of my clean house and Lane's baby shower to follow.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Your Breaking My Heart

It's not been the best day.

I took our foster kids on their first visit with their biological mom since they've been here. Mom has voluntarily given up her rights, so I wasn't really understanding why we were doing visits but delivered them as I was asked.
The girls were happy to see her, but the little guy cried hard when I left....I assume he had forgotten her. (I felt so sad for the mom).

An hour later when I picked them up, I heard the oldest crying even before I saw them. She was devastated to leave her mom. Her face was swollen and red and she was heartbroken. She cried most of the way home and I had nothing I could say to comfort her. Her mom wasn't working to get her back. The middle girl never cried. She was angry. She kicked, she screamed she disobeyed. It was horrible and I knew that her grief was all wrapped inside her furry. The little guy was clingy the rest of the afternoon as he always is when he's unsure of what's going on.

When we got home the social worker called to see how the kids were. We agreed that in this case seeing their mom would only make the healing take longer.

This world stinks sometimes.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

A Little Confused

Our three new kids have had to learn a lot all at once. All the rules of a new house and all the new stuff about Jesus and God.
We had this conversation today while driving the older girls to swim clinic.
"Mom, Malyia took her arms out of the seat belt."
"Malyia, put your arms back under the belt."
"Cause it's very dangerous and if we got in an accident you could die."
"Would I die on the car for you Mom?"
"No Malyia, this isn't about Jesus on the cross, this is you not wearing your seat belt right, now put your arms back in."
"Okay Mommy"

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Go Away You Scare Me

Yesterday afternoon I looked up and saw a bat hanging from the ceiling of the front porch.
I have no idea why he choose to be there in broad day light - maybe he was lost or maybe he just wanted to creep me out for the fun of it.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Pleasant Distractions

It's been a much easier to homeschool since the two little girls have started pre-school a few mornings a week. They were very excited to get their book bags and set off into their own world.

The youngest has informed us her teacher's name is "doodle"....not Miss doodle, just doodle.

So things are quieter. A little quieter.

However, the too young for pre-school guy is still at home with us and he's ready for action!
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Saturday, 30 August 2008

Isn't any one tired yet?

Our granddaughter, Layla, has joined us for the weekend while her parents have a time away before the new baby comes. The other 3 toddlers are happy to have her over and it's very lively here. They have a limitless supply of energy and being in our 50's, James and I don't.
Yesterday after a full day of playing and eating and reading stories, only James and I were tired. So we put on every one's shoes and hiked around the block, hoping that it would run their little batteries down.
No such luck.
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Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Pool Games

Summer is fast fading (I'm crying too Joanne) and everyone is sick of the pool.
You can only play Marco Polo so many times.
A friend Helen, gave us some noodles last week that she didn't want and the kids have come up with a unique game with them.
I think it's called "Blow the Other Person Up".

Here's how you play:
1. Fill the noodle with water
2. Each person places the noodle to their mouth and blows as hard as they can.
3. Loser is the person who runs out of breath first and therefore gets their mouth and entire face blown up.
It's fun to watch.
Here's Jessie taking Grace DOWN!

Sunday, 24 August 2008


I'm registering a fashion complaint. Or maybe a confession.
I have a few pairs of really cute flats that I've worn all summer. They're so just slip them on and off you go. Very comfortable too.
The thing is, that with all that slipping on and wearing feet stink. Really bad stink that other people around you can smell.
I found a can of odor spray in my husbands closet. I think it kills athletits feet too - just in case your feet get really gross. The smell went away for a day or two, but the stink showed back up when it got up to 90 degrees.
I'll be glad for winter and stink absorbing socks.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Eye on the Sparrow

Sometimes the sadness of what some of our little ones go through overwhelms me. Knowing the hurts and not being able to fix them. Dealing with behaviors that are driven by fear and insecurities and mistrust.
And thankful for a God that can heal all scars and renew broken hearts and who despite everything, preserves delight inside a child on a playground.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Baby Control

A few days after our daughter Kara had her baby, her husband had to go out of town on business. Kara needed some help and we really really wanted to be with her and the kids, so we brought them all out to West Virginia while he was gone.
The house is lively to say the least.
We have 3 adults and a 20 and 18 year old and two 15 year olds and a 4 and 3 year old and two 1 year olds and a newborn.
Everything has been running fairly smoothly except for the morning. The one year olds decided that they would wake the household up at around 6am by yelling loudly. That was not popular with the rest of the house surprisingly.
After several mornings of this, Kara and I agreed to just let them cry it out and even though it might wake everyone else, we wouldn't get them up. Kara's daughter Scarlett would lay on the floor and put her lips under the crack of the door and cry. Our one year old would alternate between yelling "Moooommmmie" and knocking as hard as he could on the door. We all lay awake listening to the racket for several days.
The pay off finally came and we now can count on quiet until after 7.
Next project....whining.

Monday, 11 August 2008

It Looks So Perfect

I was sitting here staring at the Back to School add from Target....looking at the adorable children in their perfect clothes with their new back packs and lunch bags....getting ready to run off to school and leave the house empty all day so that the mom has complete silence and she can start a project and work on it all day listening to her Ipod and sipping a cup of tea on the couch when she takes a break.

Okay......somebody remind me why I'm homeschooling.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

I'm Just Saying

There are certain natural differences in people that no environment or culture affects. One of these is whether your belly button is an "innie" or an "outie". You don't pick it, you just have one or the other. Another one of these segregations is what I call "hard head" or "soft head". This is particularly observable in girls. I have had daughters who when I was brushing their hair and putting in pony tails had no reaction at all. I could brush hard enough to make their hair nice and smooth and use those tiny little rubber bands and their little head would snap back and forth and they would have no reaction at all. These are the hard head people. The soft head people on the other hand would react to the slightest combing as if you were killing them. They feel so much pain in their scalp you hate to touch their head. I had one daughter with a soft head and she drove me crazy when I brushed her hair. One day while trying to hurry with her hair I heard her mumbling something. Listening closely.....she was praying that I wouldn't get mad at her. I'm a naturally hard head person and I have to force myself to be tolerant of the softies.
So what can be done about all this? I've been told that you can tape a fifty cent piece to a baby's belly button to make their "outie" smaller and I would just steer clear of corn rows on a soft head person.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Little Ensley

Ensley Samuel Smith decided to show up this morning at 5:30am. He screamed as loud as I imagine a baby can….looked around at everyone and began to nurse like he’d been doing it for days. He promises to be a wild and fun grandchild – my favorite kind!

And his important statistics are: 6 lbs. 14oz. and 21 inches long. (I’m very glad the practice of announcing our weight and height ends with birth announcements.)

Check out the rest of his debut here.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Almost Time

After a few days of waiting...waiting...waiting interspersed with contractions, Kara was finally admitted to the hospital a few hours ago. Baby Ensley should be here soon! Kara is sailing through labor with grace and as beautiful as always. Nate is nervous about the "game plan" (relax Nate) but did find something funny on tv. And I'm ready to hold a new baby!!
I'll keep you posted.
(I was way happy to find wireless internet at the hospital!)
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Sunday, 3 August 2008

The Waiting Time

It's almost midnight and I'm laying on a couch in Baltimore waiting for my newest grandchild to be born. Kara was having some contractions earlier, but has now gone to bed to get some rest. Her mother-in-law is here also and her and I are having a nice sleep over together in Kara's living room. I'm thinking how lucky Scarlett and the new baby are to have a grandmother like her.
Time for us to sleep too. Maybe tomorrow the little guy will decide to come.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Little People Update

We ARE surviving the invasion of the toddler trio. (Thanks for asking Emily.) It does take all of us to pull it off. I told AnnaClaire and Grace that they have to go to the store with me when I take the" littles". That makes it one on one and it's almost doable. These 3 have been moved often and they are very dependent on each other and clingy to us. Getting them to sit and play anything for more than 5 minutes is difficult. All three are on hyper-alert to what the adults around them are doing. Kids raised in chaos have a hard time relaxing and concentrating. Our living room is decorated in Little Tyke and Playskool because they're afraid to go downstairs and play without us.

But wow...are they fun! We got to go to Toys R Us yesterday and is there anything cuter in the world than little kids wearing "swimmies" bobbing around in the pool? They smell so sweet after their baths and teaching them about Jesus and saying prayers is a heavenly privilege.
And where else but in toddler-ville do you have conversations like this -
"What honey?"
"Me-member that gum you gived me?"
"Yes" (I'm already worried at this point)
"When I got all done chewing it I put it in a paper and put it in my pocket."
"That's good sweetie."
"Yea, but when I went potty it fell out of my pocket and into my pants and now my underwear is stuck to my butt."
"Okey dokey."

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Nip and Tuck

Witt's a great dog, but he had a problem. It was his ears. They were gi-normous! He looked like a bat actually. People were whispering "bat dog" around him and the other dogs in the neighborhood were teasing him with the usual - "Hey Dumbo"-" why don't you fly over there and catch that stick".
We made a decision. Witt had a surgery date already to remove any chance that he would ever make any new little Witt's and we talked to the vet about cosmetic surgery while he was knocked out. There was also a discussion of a botched tail when he was a baby that needed looked at. (Witt won't let me show that end of the problem.) So, under the knife he went.
And here are the before and after pictures.
Witt's happier now. Everything in his life isn't perfect - he still deals with being smaller than almost every dog he meets - but he feels good about himself. And we think he's adorable.

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Friday, 25 July 2008

Just When Things Were Nice and Boring

We hadn't even gotten all the bath tub toys put away and there is still a trash can in the garage labeled "Diapers go in here only - please close the lid tight".

We got a call. 3 kids... ages 2, 3 and 4. I wanted to say "NO" but I'm always a sucker for the story.

So - we have 3 new faces around here.

And I'm changing diapers again and giving baths and I won't be working out in the morning any more and we've seen our last movie in the theater for awhile and my social life is shot and I can't finish or return a phone call (right Joanne?).

But they're so cute.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Dog Days

It's been hot.
And there's nothing better than laying by the pool.
I found Taylor and Witt, soaking up the rays.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Sick of Being Sick

Grace and I are spending a day and night in Washington D.C. but we won't be seeing the sights. Apparently Grace brought home a nasty germ from Kings Dominion and she has peritionitis again. That means 2 days in the hospital so they can run a stronger than life (germ life) antibiotic and then we'll get out. Grace isn't feeling very bad. Actually she's laying in bed watching the Disney Channel and eating Salt and Vinegar Chips. I've taken apart the phone and disconnected a few machines that didn't look important and hacked into an internet connection. (So don't bother calling the room - the phone is dead...but I'm online!) So if you get bored (I already am) call my cell phone or leave me a really long comment to read.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Put Your Hands Together Now

James and I and the kids just returned late last night from 3 days at Kings-Fest in Richmond, Virginia. This is 3 days of all day riding the rides at Kings Dominion Amusement Park and 3 nights of Christian rock concerts. So basically, you throw your brains around all day and destroy your hearing in the evening. It was great. We worshiped with Casting Crowns...danced with Toby Mack and rocked out with The Newsboys.
James and I have been taking our kids to Christian rock festivals for years. In the 80's at Creation we saw Mylon LeFevere, Amy Grant, Petra and Carmen. The 90's big name was D.C. Talk.
I don't jump as much as I did 20 years ago. I'd probably break something.
But I LOVE the music.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Latest in Swim Accesories

Every year at the pool there's a new "in thing". Last summer our friends the Nicholsons came over wearing masks instead of goggles for swimming. They left them behind (we have a pile of Nicholson left behinds) and the kids loved them. They fought over them. It was actually a problem, especially when we had to give them back. I had to explain that finders keepers didn't apply here.
So this year I went to Wal-Mart in February to purchase all the pool things for the summer and stocked up on masks. (If you wait till March the aisle switches over to Thanksgiving stuff)

The kids still love them. But....

Well....this is what they look like when they wear them. (The word "hideous" comes to mind) keep them from getting fogged up and to keep the water out you have to suction them to your face really hard. This has led to what I refer to as mask hickeys. Most fade in a few hours, but could be worse than pool hair.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Night Swim

Growing up in Maryland in the 60's was unremarkable. Our family had just the right amount of money....I didn't have everything and I didn't know what anything cost. We lived in a neighborhood of new split-level homes with 3 different models to choose from - the only nod to random was the color of the shutters and whether the house faced left or right.
Summers in the Maryland suburbs were hot and sticky.
There was no central air conditioners and only a few houses had window units, but we did have an above ground pool in the backyard with a little deck running around it. And on hot nights, my Mom would use that pool and make it into a magic night.
We would come home late from church (we went twice on Sunday and Wednesday evening) and my Dad would go off to bed. My two sisters and I and my mom would slip off our dresses and slide quietly into the pool in our bra and underwear. The water was never crisper or cooler and the only lights were the stars and moon. We swam and floated and whispered to each other. I was a mermaid those nights.
When the last of the hot day was gone from our bodies, we climbed out and into our pajamas. My Mom would set up four cots on our screened back porch and we would drift to sleep - cool and tired.
We have a pool in our backyard now and the kids still love "a night swim." Everybody has to wear their bathing suit and the house is air conditioned (you actually freeze to death when you go in after a night swim) and we don't have a screened porch, but it's still their favorite thing. The kids should be in bed earlier and they have terrible pool hair in the morning but who can resist the magic of a night swim?

Beach Souvenier

One of my favorite things I brought back from our beach vacation is my granddaughter Taylor. She lives in Florida and we don't get to see her nearly enough. Her parents have kindly lent her to us for a few weeks, as she is old enough to be away from them now. She has two sets of grandparents and aunts and uncles in town and there has been no end to the fun. Taylor is sweet and made to spoil.
Every time I hear her call, "Grandma Kate", I feel like the luckiest person on earth.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

It's a Dog eat Dog World

Witt our puppy is settling in from his week at the kennel. I would have taken him to the beach with us but he hasn't completely mastered the art of only peeing outside. He always acts surprised when I catch him, like "oh whoops, I thought this was the yard."

I don't know if I liked his whole kennel experience. Witt hasn't been around many other dogs in his short 5 month life. He's always been here, protected and loved and taught how to act. He was kind of homeschooled you might say. Then, he gets to the kennel and he's hanging out with a black lab, a German shepherd and even a guy poodle. And let me tell you, these dogs had been around. They had different values than we do. They saw someone they didn't know and just like that they were barking and saying crude things. Scary things even, like..."I'm gonna jump on you and hurt you." Witt had never heard violent and ugly things like that. He had been kind of innocent, but they taught him to lift his leg when peeing and paw at the ground like he's some tough guy. One of the dogs passed him their chew toy and Witt was afraid to say no to it. I mean come on...he's a min-pin and an eighth their size. Talk about peer pressure.

He was happy to see us when we came to pick him up. He jumped in my arms and in his excitement cut my face. He pretended the cut was from one of his claws, but I'm pretty sure he was still carrying a shank and dropped it quickly.

He's back to normal now, hopefully no worse from the exposure there. Next year, he'll be at the beach with us....

Monday, 30 June 2008

You Aint so Sweet

We arrived home from the beach Saturday evening to be greeted with a thunderstorm. We had barely unpacked the car when the electricity went out. A few hours of staring at each other (which wouldn't have been so bad if we hadn't just spent the last 10 hours in the car together) and we all went to bed.
It was hot upstairs and we opened all the windows to catch any breeze that might have existed. I normally turn the air conditioner on the first warm day in Spring and turn it off the first cool September night - so this open window thing was weird. I may live in the country but I like to be homogenily sealed in my house breathing fake air.
At 5 something the next morning I woke with a start to the sound of a bird shrieking to the sun rise. My first thought was..."get me a gun so I can blast it in it's stupid beak". I knew that wasn't kind. Then all the birds and animals started up. Sounded like I was in the freaking Amazon Jungle. And James was laying next to me sound asleep calling back to them with his snores.
I got out of bed and went into the kitchen and stood staring at the coffee pot. Still no coffee...I'm gonna die.
When James got up he tried to engage me in pleasant conversation and soon left for 7/11. He came back with 2 slightly warm cups of coffee. One for him and one for me. As I gulped it down I was thinking, "Buddy, I sure hope you have one of their stolen coffee pots hidden somewhere." He didn't.
The electricity came on around 11 and I got busy washing the beach out of everything.
It was good to be home.
My dog was happy to be home from the kennel - but that's another not so pretty story.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Sibling Revelry

Each day at the beach has been perfect. Warm days, warm ocean, waves not too rough and no jelly fish. All that has been great for most of us, but not for Grace. This is her second year at the beach that she can't get in the water because of her cathater for dialysis. And Grace really really loves to swim. She's had a great attitude (we only found her sitting and crying once) and there's lots of people to distract her, but it's been hard.
Two days ago her very nice brother asked her to go night fishing on the pier with my son in law and grandson. Girls never get to do this. (Actually, none of us want to)
Grace was thrilled!! They didn't catch a single thing but that wasn't what made it an awesome night for Grace.
Thanks David. I won't tell anyone that you did a nice thing...I promise.
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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Better Than Tupperware

Last night the gang climbed the giant sand dune at Jockey's Ridge. (Know for the place where the Wright Brothers test flew their airplanes.) We carried the babies and helped haul up the pregnant women and made it to the top.
As I look at the picture of everyone together I am grateful to my parents who shared the love of God with me. And I see how that love is flowing out to the next and next generation.
God has a rock'n pyramid scheme!
(Can you find my next 2 grandkids in the picture?)
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