Sunday, 27 December 2009

Cooking with Kate (Don't Come to Class)

Last night we had 21 people over for dinner. It wasn't really planned - people were asked at the last minute or they just dropped in. Not a problem. There was plenty to eat - I made Lasagna.
This all is basically boring, but you have to understand how far I've come.

When we got married 36 years ago I had a 5 item cooking repertoire.
It consisted of:

1. Pop-tarts (toasted or cold and I preferred the chocolate ones with the vanilla icing)

2. Lady Fingers (This was something my sisters and I invented. You take a piece of buttered toast and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar and cut it into five strips. We had this for lunch every day one summer while my mom worked and I think I actually had an addiction to it for awhile.)

3. Oatmeal

4. Hamburger Helper (This tasty meal I had learned to make while baby-sitting for my neighbor's kids. Their mom actually served this garbage on a regular basis. I can personally guarantee that no box of any kind of helper every made it into my mom's grocery cart.)

5. Okay there was only really 4 things I could make. I thought I could make hard boiled eggs, however, that wasn't entirely true. One of the first times I attempted to make them, I put them in water to boil. I waited patiently a full 3 minutes before getting bored with the whole process. That's when I decided to go out and take a swim in our apartment pool while waiting for them to finish. A few hours later when I returned there was a spectacular black smoking mess on the stove. 30 years later when they tore down the building on Claremont Mesa Boulevard in San Diego, there was still a lingering odor in my old apartment. So I won't count the eggs as one of my accomplishments.

We did eat back in those days - James did all the cooking. We both worked and until we had kids it was a great arrangement. I became a stay at home mom and it started to annoy James to have to work all day and then come home and start dinner.

But that was then. Now I make huge meals every day and people actually take seconds and sometimes thirds.
But I have a plan! I don't want my daughters to end up like I was, so I'm teaching them to cook. I'm thinking this could be my way out - for awhile anyway.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Bad Choices

Last night was the big Awana Christmas party at church and my 5 boys did not attend.

Instead of Christmas cheer, they had - "Poppa fear".

Seems that while James and I went next door for dinner with Kara (who unlike her mom is an awesome cook), the boys decided to give the sisters a hard time. There were reports of running through the house, slamming doors, yelling, and hurling the infamous statement, "I'm not listening to you.".

Foolish move on their part.

While the two older brothers wrote "I will respect people in charge" hundreds of times, the three littles sat on stools staring at the wall.

A bad time was had by all. As it should be.

Meanwhile the 5 sisters had a wonderful time at church and we hope to see much improvement in brother behavior when we go out.

Yea right.

Monday, 21 December 2009

He'll Be Home for Christmas

David, our oldest son at home, left for basic training in the Air Force this summer. He graduated in September and James and I flew to Texas to be with him before he left for his tech. school, also in Texas.
Meanwhile, back at home there were alot of kids missing their big brother! The little boys missed their wrestling and playing buddy. They kept a countdown "till David gets home" on the white erase board in the kitchen. We all missed his ability to hook up and fix all the game systems and our v.c.r. sat not working, waiting for his return.
Yesterday, despite a huge snow storm and a sleepover in an airport, David made it home for Christmas. He was greeted with signs, shouts and much anticipation. When he stepped out of the car in his uniform he got a hero's welcome from all. I know in a few days he'll have the kids so wound up that it'll drive me crazy - but that's okay!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

No Bah Humbug Here

Each Christmas is different. Some feel blah and some feel like.....Christmas.
I don't know why, but this ye
ar feels the most Christmassy of all Christmases I can remember.

Maybe it's because of all the little ones we added to our family. I have to admit that doing the bulk of my Christmas shopping at Toys R Us makes me happy. I may look 54 on the outside, but on the inside - I drool over Playmobile and Fisher Price. And this year it's all about boy toys. Before this group, most of my sons have come to me with facial hair and size 10 shoes and have asked for things like CDs and Arepostle shirts for Christmas. This year I have spent hours shopping in the Hot Wheels and Spider man isle and who knew Geo Trax were so cool?

Maybe it's because of all the snow. Right now, outside, there's about 28 inches
on the ground and it promises to keep snowing for another day. There are hills to sled and hours of hot chocolate and board games. It's worth the effort of finding, drying and putting on hats, gloves and snow pants for 8 happy kids.

I know all the gingerbread men and houses and cutting down the tree have added to the merry mood.

And maybe it's because we have spent so much time with this group teaching them about why God had to send Jesus to us. Most of these kids haven't heard the story and talking a
bout it each night has settled a new gratefulness in me for our amazing Savior.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Mouths To Feed

It's no secret that I don't love to cook....which is unfortunate for me with 12 mouths to feed each day. I have a huge list of meals, a giant professional oven/stove and every appliance imaginable and yet.....I come to the kitchen reluctantly every day.

There has been one bright spot lately. This group of kids we now have are either blessed with no taste buds or are just grateful for any meal. I've noticed that every time we start to eat I hear a chorus of - "This is good", "I love this", "Thanks Mom, I want more please".

And the ultimate compliment is heard often these days...."I want this for my birthday meal".

I'm not letting all this go to my head. I'd still trade most of my possessions for a cook.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Manly Boys

I love a man who isn't afraid to drive a Barbie car.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

A Little Away

There's a most perfect time of day for me - 3:15 in the afternoon.
I've finished schooling the girls...we've done all our together work and they're busy putting things up and they wander away to their rooms. The five kids in public school are also shutting their books and are boarding the bus for home.
It's a very small empty spot. A quiet moment between the day and the evening. Nobody needs me.
And James and I sit on the front porch and we don't have anything important to say. And it's a little breath before the whole house comes alive with homework and papers, school stories and kisses and dinner.
It's James and me and it's perfect.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Our family, our church family and friends have been praying these last few months that we would soon get a decision from the judge on whether our 3 boys would stay with us or return to their mom. The boys went before the judge 2 months ago and asked that they be able to stay here. They have been with us a year and it's been a wonderful year. Not only has everyone grown close to each other, but the kids have come to know the Lord and grown in their relationship with Him. We have been praying that God's will would be done in the boys life.

We got a call two days ago and the boys will be going back to their mom.
It was hard. We all sat and cried. We cried for them leaving and for the hole they will leave behind. Little boy crying about losing a new big brother....sister crying for her best pretend buddy. Me wondering how to stop being their mom. (A year is a long time to love a kid)

But we had to tell them that through the pain, God has a plan. A good plan...even though we don't know or understand it right now.

This will be a tough transition.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Now that's Gross

With such a large group of males living under one roof, I'm rarely surprised at the gross things that go on. The noises and smells and pranks no longer alarm me.

But this was too much. Yes the toothbrush was stuck to the ceiling.

Of course....nobody did it.

And worse. Jeremiah brushed with it immediately after it's retrieval.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Mostly Great

What am I supposed to be learning with all the waiting?
No word from the judge on whether our boys are staying or leaving.
No word from the lab on whether Grace's new kidney is working or failing.
99% of the time I say, "Over to you God...I'm trusting"
1% of the time...throwing a big old baby fit.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Some Day

Our youngest biological daughter is 30 years old and left home for college when she was 18. I'm saying this to point out that if James and I had not been called into foster care/adoption, we would have been living alone together for the last 12 years.
And on those really hard days when I think about that - how would I picture my life?
Traveling in something smaller than a 12 passenger van that doesn't fit in any parking garage? Quiet evenings reading together by the fireplace and the book isn't a picture book or sonlight required reading? Cooking food that contains no cream of anything soup? Decorating with potted plants instead of lego tables?
No to all of them.
Here's what I dream of. Putting my scissors down somewhere and oh my goodness - 2 days later they're still sitting right exactly there where I put them.
It's only a dream, but it's sweet.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Some people you love because they're your family and then there's those people that you can't believe how fortunate you are to have in your family. James has relatives like that - Auntie Weez and Cousin Tony. They love us completely and that includes every new person we bring into our house. Not only do they fly down from New Hampshire to visit us, but they are among the brave few who invite our entire group to visit them. And did I mention that Auntie Weez is 95 and Cousin Tony is 60? They see our group of kids and encourage us in what we do, tell us that the kids are great and take the time to get to know all of us.

Last weekend they invited us all to their small bungalow on Portsmouth Harbor. Auntie Weez had bought candy and doughnuts, pizza and soda for the kids-so of course they think she's beyond cool. I'm sure we drove them just a little crazy and I'm sure we loved every minute of our visit.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

What We Don't Know

Grace had a regular kidney transplant follow up visit at Children's Hospital today. She has been allowed to stretch the visits to every other week now that her new kidney is 2 months old in her body. The visits have been routine to the point of boring, but today I sensed something was up. Her doctor explained that her creatine number was climbing. That's scary and signals that the kidney isn't working correctly. The transplant team was concerned that we might be looking at early signs of rejection. It was hard to hear. Other causes of the higher creatine could be a blockage of some kind or too high levels of one of her medicines. She had an immediate ultrasound which showed no blockage. We were sent home with orders to lower the medicine amount and to repeat her labs in a week.

Wait and see.

Grace was worried and I was scared. Not another set back for her.

I called my friend Adela on the ride home and after listening to my recount of the bad visit she simply said, "Well, I guess God isn't finished with Grace yet."

She's right. We have no reason to doubt God who has brought her through cancer and tumors and kidney disease.

Wait and trust.

Monday, 28 September 2009

We Really Worked - We Promise

Our family is the first on the block every year to open our pool - April Fools Day for our annual "Fools in the Pool" swim. It's fun and everyone is so excited because summer is right around the corner.

Unfortunately we are also the very very last family in the universe to close our pool in the fall. Which isn't fun at ALL! We live in the beautiful Shenandoah Vall
ey which means beautiful and abundant trees, which means leaves and those leaves fall every where...including into our pool.

Last night at our family meetin
g my husband explained to the kids that starting today, there would be no television each day until the leaves were picked up around the pool. Seemed easy enough. School was over and everyone went out to do the leaf thing. Grace used the net and got all the leaves from the water while the others picked and swept off the cement around the pool.

Then the wind would blow and they were back to square one.

I watched this go on for almost two hours. I was actually mostly amused.

Then I took pity and came up with a solution. I had them get every single leaf up and quickly snapped some pictures. They then told their father that at that moment in time they had completed their task for the day.
It worked and he believed that they had worked hard even though the p
ool was again covered in leaves.

The kids are so ready to have the pool closed.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Count it all JOY

Some of the kids that come to our family are angry....really angry. Like screaming, kicking, hitting, cussing angry. Like grown ups have hurt them, let them down, sent them away angry. And the very last thing that they believe is that what you tell them is true- for their good or because you love them. All which makes parenting awfully difficult at times.
And I'm not real good at not getting my way....actually really terrible at it and these angry kids and I have come face to face with no winner.
Lately God has been whispering things into my heart. (Notice He whispers-never demands) He suggested that the goal isn't about making them obey and line up to my way. WHAT?? He couldn't possibly mean I should not have these kids UNDER MY CONTROL.
What about extending mercy?
Mercy that lets them fail and be encouraged.
Mercy that says although you screamed "No !" at me, you then did what I asked and that's a reason to be celebrated.
Mercy to count myself out of the picture and allow my every response to paint a picture of a Savior Father who loves them extravagently.
These angry kids are making over my heart and it looks much better on me.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Awakening Fest

For months we have been excited about taking our kids to a Christian music festival..."Awakening Fest" in Virginia. Most of the kids have never been to a concert and they have been so ready to hear some favorite bands- Jeremy Camp, Skillet, and tons of others. Our "middles" are 9, 11, and 12 and they were especially delighted to be included in the group going.
We drove to the park under grey clouds and I was praying that they would move out and it would that it would be a perfect night. The clouds not only didn't move out, they opened up and began a steady downpour that outlasted us and most of the others there.
We stayed while our outer layers got wet and persevered through the drenching of the next few layers of clothes. When our skin was wrinkled like a long bathtub soak and the sun began to set and bring in the cool weather we gave up.
We did get to hear 3 bands and the kids went down to the front a few times and jumped and screamed and probably did permanent damage to their ear drums. I sat with a friend who I never have enough chances to be with and we talked while the rain soaked us to the core.
No pictures - I wasn't about to pull my camera out in all that rain, and the kids all thanked me for a great time. Nice.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Make Up Your Mind...please

I love foster care and highly recommend it to any family that wants a "close to home" ministry, but there are parts that make me.....CRAZY!
The most important decisions that effect you and the kids in your care are made by social workers and sometimes by a judge. Like now. We have been through four months of hearings and now we wait and wait and wait for a judge to decide if three of our boys will be living with us or returning to their mom. We wait, we comfort, but this is hard on the boys. Does the judge realize that every night the boys pray that tomorrow the judge will call and say they can stay? And then what if he says they are to leave?

I'm learning to live in faith as I teach it to the kids. So hard.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

It's All Relative

James and I attended a fund raiser for our local crisis pregnancy center last week and there were replicas of 8 week old fetuses for each person to take home. Some were black and others white. Very cute.
I left them laying on the kitchen counter and Elijah, our 9 year old, picked them up and said, "Hey look, foster brothers".
Families are the people who love you!!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Start Your Engines

When a friend called to let us know he was driving at our local car race track, we thought it might be fun to take the kids to see him. We knew the little boys would love the cars and noise and speed but the teenage girls were just as thrilled. was I.
And the best part for a family of 12....their was no admission charge!!
(click on the picture for an up-close look)

Friday, 14 August 2009

Our New Baby Girl

AnnaClaire arrived here almost 4 years ago. Luckily we live far out in the country or she would have run away. She thought we were "strange" and certainly our family was nothing like what she was used to. I overheard her speaking to her mom and saying, "They won't even let me listen to hip-hop music!". But little by little God worked in her heart until the things that she thought were weird became her heart's desire as well.
Anna loves the Lord and that loves spills out to everyone around her. She is kind and thoughtful and always ready to serve others.
And not only has she been adopted into God's family, last week she became our legal daughter as well!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Teach Me!

Is anyone else getting excited about school starting?

I love the summer and wish the lazy days would never end......but then there's the Sonlight Curriculum for this year sitting on the shelf waiting for us and we want it!! Never before have we loved schooling like we have since using Sonlight. The kids look at the books they're going to be reading and imagine the people they will get to know and what their lives are about. And that's what makes Sonlight so a
wesome. History isn't just facts with this curriculum, it's people and missionaries and their thoughts and struggles. It's a very personal diary of a time in the past.

I found this on the classroom blackboard.
Thanks Sonlight!!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Many Hands

Sometimes the amount of work involved in raising so many kids at once is staggering - but equally as impressive is the volume of labor that a group this size can accomplish. We first noted this on vacation when we unpacked at the beach house. In a matter of minutes the van was empty and the house full.

Yesterday we were happily surprised as well.
The largest of our Bradford Pear trees in the front yard split and fell to the ground. James took advantage of the huge mess and trimmed the trees around it providing a job for every person in the family. Most of us had to haul the branches down to the brush pile where even Grace got in on the action and stacked the limbs and logs we brought her. The kids were awesome and the sheer number of them working accomplished the job in no time.

And what better way to finish work than a cool down in the pool.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Tight Security

The Vacation Bible School that 6 of my kids are attending this week has an elaborate security pick up system. Each child's name is in a log book with a number. Each parent gets a laminated leaf with a corresponding number, color coded to their child and his team color. The log book also requires the team leader to put a check by the child's name when you come and show them your leaf. This is all quite complex and wonderful, but necessary? - I'm not convinced. It's almost the end of July, the kids have been home for almost two months now. I'm pretty sure that nobody in their right mind would be even remotely interested in stealing kids that didn't belong to them. These kids are hot, sweaty, whinny and tired by the time VBS lets out.....but there you are with your numbered leaf and you have to take at least your own home. I'm just not seeing an anti-kidnapping plot needed here.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Working on the Chain Gang

James has thrown out some big jobs for the kids this summer and they come with a big pay-off. He offered $100 to any kids who stick with each job through completion. The rules say that if you work for 99% of it and quit the day before it's have to finish to collect any money.

The first job was moving a very very very large rock pile. 5 kids began the job. 1 kid quit because she had a kidney transplant (tough luck Grace) and 2 kids quit because
"AnnaClaire was bossing them." So 2 kids collected $100.

The second job is filling in 5 very very very
long ditches in the yard that were made when we put in the Geo-thermal heating system. 4 kids have started the job. So far, they've put up with the bossing, but the gnats are driving them crazy.
Well, driving the girls cra
zy - the boys are just ignoring them.
Here are the girl's very creative anti-gnat outfits. Scary.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Should You Be Doing That?

We are home from the hospital and Grace's recovery is going fantastic. She has a pile of medicine that she must take for the rest of her life to ensure that her body doesn't wake up and kick her new kidney to the curb. She's moving a little slow...but for Grace that takes on a different meaning than for most transplant patients.
Yesterday, 9 days from surgery, Grace rode a scooter around the driveway and fell out of the hammock in the back yard.
She's on to the next challenge!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Facebook Protest

I love Facebook as much as the next guy...or girl, but I'm seeing a sad side effect. Facebook is causing blog abandonment. It's easy to write a sentence and pop a picture up, but where's the real writing? Where's the deep inner thoughts and profound statements? I want more than a status update....I want to know people. Sure, you "just got home and you're tired and going to bed", but how do you feel about that and what amazing things did you do all day that made you that tired?
If you haven't written in your blog since June....I'm talking to you. I know you're on Facebook everyday. At least blog once a week.
Facebook is Hannah Montana.....I want CSI.
So go write in your blog.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Transplant !

As long as we've been waiting for the call, it came as a complete surprise. There was a kidney for Grace! Our celebration was saddened by the realization that a young man's life had ended for this gift to be given. Seven different children here at Children's Hospital received an organ transplant from his death and we are forever grateful that he checked the donor box on his driver's license.
We arrived at Children's Hospital at 5am as instructed, only to learn that her surgeon was on vacation in Florida. The earliest flight back had him landing at 7pm which delayed her transplant all day. But it was worth the wait!
Grace's new kidney is working...she's peeing like never before. Her pain level is very manageable and everything looks great.
Thank you for all the prayers and calls. We are awed to see God's hand in Grace's life once again.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Tired of Hanging Around

With summer well under way, I have come to realize that young boys like to do stuff. They don't really care so much what, as long as it involves movement, sound and a chance to be better than every other person in the universe. When I see just a wall, they see a challenge to climb faster than Spider Man and certainly quicker than all their brothers. With a group of boys here this large, things can happen.

Did I specifically say not to take the keys out of neighbor's parked riding lawn mowers?

If you take all your stuffed animals outside and hide them in your fort for a week, they will smell worse than zoo animals.

I never gave permission to have a yard sale and sell all their toys and buy their friends toys when their mom had no clue either.

I could go on and on.

I try to have lots of planned activities. We swim in the pool every sunny day, go to the park and take family walks, play games, etc. And all this doesn't seem to touch their need for doing stuff.

So for the next 3 weeks my boys will be doing the VBS tour. 3 different churches - lots of games and crafts...they'll be happy - not to mention me!

And if any of you are working in a VBS this summer, anywhere in the country, let me tell you might be the front line between mom's and their summer sanity!! So THANK YOU!!!!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Go David! and come back when you're done.

Our last two sons to reach adulthood have left our home in a rather undesirable manner. They caused much pain and sadness on their departure.

But yesterday was different- a reason to celebrate!

We drove David to the airport to head to Texas for Basic Training in the Air Force. He wants to follow in his father's footsteps and be an officer in the military.

I am sad to have him leave...but it's the right time. Just looking at the last family picture, he and I joked that he was "too big for the nest" and he remarked that he had stayed so long in the home oven that he was darker than the rest of the blue eyed kids.

With David gone, the house will be cleaner (much cleaner) and quieter and we can't wait till he returns!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Happy Independence Day

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Splish Splash

Our summer has been going swimmingly....literally. We started off the season with a large number of boys sporting "swimmies" to stay afloat in the pool. They were bobbing every where you looked. But all that has changed! With just a few hours of instruction and aided by the all powerful male ego, they boys have shed their swimmies and are doing the real thing. We have diving board jumpers and touching the bottom and front flips and lots of good old swimming.
So our very large pile of swimmies is sitting untouched and I'm sitting poolside most days playing lifeguard.

Come over and keep me company!

Monday, 22 June 2009

That's What Makes You a Father

My husband celebrated Father's Day this weekend in an unusual way. He and I drove 7 hours to pick up one of our sons upon his release from prison. We brought him an outfit to wear on his release, but forgot shoes. Our first stop was at Walmart so he wouldn't have to walk around in socks. We then drove him 3 hours to a place that had a program to help get him back on his feet. It was great to hug him and sad to leave him far away once again. We gave him pictures and our love and promises to call.
Not a normal Father's Day weekend but one only a father would do

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Just Make Up Your Mind

Three of our boys joined our family in October of last year. We were told at the time that they were "adoptive". That was perfect for us. We've been in foster care for over 20 years and I'm ready to stop the in and out traffic. The older I get, the harder it is to let the kids go. Shortly after the boys moved in and we formed our family, the social worker informed us that their mom was actually still on an improvement period and was working diligently to get them back.
We worked with mom and realized that "going back" for the boys would not be good. And everyone agrees with us....the boys, and the entire social work community. Today we had our 2nd "this is really the day when the judge decides" day. And again, he didn't decide. We now wait another month and I can't begin to tell you how hard this is on everyone. It would seem to me that when you hire an array of professional social workers and they perform their job by spending time with the families involved, that you would rely on their opinion of the disposition of the case.
In the meantime, we go back to being a temporary family.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


Yesterday my daughter Kara arrived in Chad, Africa to visit her sister Kirsten and family. I know the two of them are as happy as two sisters can get right about now. Kara is the first of our family to make the long journey over there and she goes with not only suitcases of goodies from all of us, but our love and wishes to wrap everyone of them in the tightest hug ever. While Kara is being our ambassador to Africa, the Grandmas and Poppas get to enjoy the grandkids she had to leave behind.
Here at home, I hear the voices of brothers and sisters arguing and it reminds me of a time when those same voices were that of Kirsten and Kara. There were moments while they were growing up when I thought they hated each other. I would plead with them to get along and love each other.
Now, all these years later it turns out that the greatest gift I could have sent to Kirsten would be to have her sister by her side!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Sardine Time

There couldn't have been a better way for our "new family" to get to know each other than spending 2 weeks away together at the beach. With 12 people together all day and night, we are learning about each other up close and personal. I am watching little groups forming and friendships being forged. Disagreements are quickly addressed and there is a peace in our large family. I don't always know which underwear belongs to which kid and I suspect there has been some cross toothbrush use, but we are rubbing elbows and loving it. My biggest concern this week is keeping sunblock on so many wiggly bodies.

All the grown kids have come down this second week with their families and they are learning all the names and personalities of their new brothers and sisters. My 16 year old grandson Cameron has found it amusing having a 5 year old uncle. My oldest daughter Margie (36) picked up her new brother Samuel (5) and said, "Hi my new little brother, I love you!"

It is impossible to sit and watch our 13 kids and not feel blessed.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

One of my favorite things about our vacation at the beach is my time alone with God early in the morning. As I sit and look at the ocean and read His Word, I am drawn into worship! The waves crashing over endless water that meets the sun at the horizon makes my heart sing to the Creator. I get a sense of His power and magnitude and it thrills me to know that I belong to Him and He knows me. I am also reminded of the fact that He has taken my sins and put them at the bottom of the ocean. I like seeing how vast the waters are, as I ask Him for forgivness one more time! Even I can't fill the ocean up.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Our vacation is going great....the weather has been almost too perfect - hard to keep everyone covered in enough sunblock. The little boys love the waves! They get so tossed around that every part of their body and every pocket in their swimsuit gets jammed with sand. We de-sand them in the outside shower before they get to come in the house.

Everyone couldn't be happier, except for Grace. This is her third year that she can't get in the ocean. Her doctors insist that the ocean is teeming with bacteria that could give her peritonitis. And of all the kids, Grace loves the ocean the most. It breaks my heart for her and I promised that she would have a transplant by next year. I'm so praying for it. One of the bright spots in her day is when her Poppa and her take longs walks down the beach looking for shells.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

R & R

After days and days of packing we've made it to the beach! Most of our kids have never seen an ocean and their delight while running down to the waves was infectious. They all plunged imediatley into the waves and were shocked at the salty taste.

With 6 boys and 4 girls, we're loaded up with sand toys, lotion and books and are ready to have a relaxing two weeks.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Falling In Love with Each Other

Our new family is adjusting to each other in mostly positive ways. There has been a little rivalry for who's the baby. ( There are four here who were at one time the reigning youngest of their sibling group.) Our 6 year old has decided it was as good a time as ever to be dethroned and has graciously given up mom's lap to the 5 year old. Amazing if you knew him! I see bonds forming and our new 11 year old daughter wrote a note to each of the other kids telling them that she's happy to be their new sister. And there has been sides taken and jealousy and noise and chaos and joy. With so many, I have to be deliberate about taking time to listen to each one. Some demand my time and others would stay in the background without my drawing them out.
One of the quiet ones, our 9 year old, has been called "Mr. Aloof" by his worker. He works hard to stay just out of everyone's heart reach. I absolutely adore him. And his little walls are starting to crumble. He called me yesterday to come outside because "He had something for
me and I didn't have to keep it if I didn't want to."
This is what he had in the driveway for me.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Watch Me Float

With our 3 additional kids, we have a "Swimmie" swarm. Swimmies are the little arm flotations that you buy at Wal-mart for a dollar. Although a dollar sounds cheap, I can tell you with great certainty that Wal-mart is still making a substantial overhead on them. Their life expectancy is about 10 swimming hours. On a boy who bites and chews things, the number drops to about half hour. And the stores completely run out of them by the end of June, so I have to buy at least 50 of them to last the season. This year I could end up short.
Still, you have to have them. And with my kids swimming so early this year, I'm not about to jump in and save a "drownder" while the water is this cold.
I'm hoping to teach at least one or two of the boys to swim by the end of the summer, thus reducing the swimmie consumption for next year.
And it takes a manly boy to wear pink swimmies.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Who me Scared?

I've spoken to some moms who are a bit nervous about their teens starting to drive. I may have been nervous at one time, but over the years I've seen the tremendous value of a driving teen and I encourage my kids to get their license when they're ready. I've had very few teen driving problems, although at one time we counted and 5 of our kids had a fender bender while Grace was strapped in her little car seat with them. One of the accidents was before she had more than a 50 word vocabulary and she repeated, "Car...go go boom" for days afterwards.

With 10 kids in the house and only one kid driving, I've been pushing Grace and AnnaClaire to get their permit. And they tried. Repeatedly. Apparently the West Virginia learners test is difficult.

But yesterday they did it. Both girls passed the test!! There was a little screaming going on at the D.M.V.

So I now start the part where I teach them to drive. I tell myself that it doesn't matter if I die, I know I'll go to heaven. Actually, our first drive wasn't that bad at all. I've had way worse. And soon, I'll have two more drivers to run people where they need to go. Yea!!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Saturday Soccer

Today was Jeremiah's last soccer game in the Upward League. His first game was awkward - having never played before, he stood on the field biting his shirt. Over the last few months, his very kind and patient coach has made him into a real player.
I love when he stops in the middle of the game and waves to me. And what could be more perfect for a 5 year old with 64 times more energy than his mother, than spending the day running up and down the field? I sit in a chair and do nothing (I do sometimes watch the game) and he plays. I'll miss soccer.

Friday, 8 May 2009

About Lawn Care

James and I went to a Focus on the Family marriage seminar many years ago. The speaker,
Dennis Rainey, made the comment that "You can't raise kids and a lawn at the same time." At the time we had two elementary age daughters and they were easy. They were so easy that not only could we raise them and a lawn, but we had a great vegetable garden and I canned all of our own tomato sauce. Dennis Rainey obviously didn't know about our superior parenting abilities.

Here we are these many years later with 10 kids in the house to include 5 boys under the age of 11. Things have changed. James works hard to mow the lawn between work and church and taking kids to their various activities. And when he finally finds the time to mow, he's zig-zagging between footballs and buckets and swords left hidden in the grass. He does take some small pleasure in running over plastic toys to see how they shred under the blades.

Our superior parenting skills have been so dilluted that I feel good when we arrive at church and everyone is wearing shoes. Forget canning when you can buy a jug of Ragu at Wal-Mart for less than $2.

Dennis Rainey was right....that's my excuse.

God's 3 Ring Circus

I have been having a text discussion with my daughter in Chad, Africa, about being called to extreme living.
She certainly qualifies, as the heat this time of year never goes under 100 degrees, even at night. They have not had electricity for many months and now the same rebel forces that caused them to evacuate the country last year, are on the move again.
Our family life is extreme in size. Yesterday we added the two young brothers of our new eleven year old to the bunch. That gives us....(counting) 10 kids at home.
My daughter and I were remarking how interesting it is that this extreme living certainly does not come through our own abilities. Kirsten is a home-body (hard to be in Africa) and I told James when he asked me to marry him that I would, but that I wasn't interested in having any kids.
Wouldn't life be boring without God?!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

New Face at our House

We got a new kid a few days ago. She's cute and 11 and came with a social worker "rap sheet". Of course they only need her to stay for a short time. (Social workers don't actually lie to foster parents, they just have very few homes for way too many kids and telling you what you want to hear is the easiest way to fix the problem.)
So far, all has been great. We're all still in the courting stage. She has joined the tide in the house and has calles us Mom and Poppa already. Her age puts her right right between the teens and the tots and she seems to like the middle ground. We've seen none of the "problematic behaviors" yet and has instead been the smoothest entry ever.
Tonight she had some opinions and questions about her future and so I asked her if I could pray with her before she went to sleep. I told her that there was only One who knew her future and He had more pull than the entire foster care system. She was good with that and I tucked her in at our mission field down the hall.

Monday, 27 April 2009

The Small Picture

I teach my kids science...I know the problems with global warming. The temperature rising in the polar oceans is causing ice to melt and flooding can occur along coastlines throughout the world. The warmer climate is wrecking havoc with animal habitats and behavior. It's all terrible.

But in my little "Kate world" it's hard to not love global warming. I understand that I have a microscopic self interest, but when it's 95 degrees in April and after the soccer game everyone comes back to the house and we lay around the pool and the kids are swimming, I have difficulty worrying about global devastation. Swimming in April is fantastic!! I'm already working on my tan.
It's true that we should care for the environment and I'll be very sad if the house that we rent every year at Nags Head is gone because Nags Head is no longer a peninsula in North Carolina, but merely part of the ocean floor. But for now, my biggest pain with global warming is getting the kids to hang up their wet suits and towels and not throw them on their floor.
I'm shallow.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Visit Day

One of my least favorite, but inevitable parts of foster care is "visit day." Among the kids we've had, these days have ranged from fairly unpleasant to a nightmare. For the kids, the visits are a collision of their two worlds- each with their own separate rules and roles. I have sent in a perfectly compliant 6 year old to mom, to have him emerge as a sullen, demanding beast. It takes awhile afterwards and a few reminders that "you don't act that way with me." I've also had the unbearable task of putting a child in the car who is screaming that they don't want to leave their mom. And it's confusing to have two moms, especially when you love them both. The biological moms are at a disadvantage. They're desperate and make promises that they couldn't possibly dogs and video games and assurances that they have changed and you can't blame them at all really. And then there's my attitude. I don't handle visits well...they bring out the worse in me. I don't like turning them over to another mom, even if it is their own. The evening after a visit is never perfect. It's a good night for everyone to go to bed early.
Good night.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Why a Shoe?

  When James asked me to marry him in 1972 I said "yes!" with a caveat - I wouldn't cook, or sew and I DID NOT want any kids.  He agreed with my terms thinking he could live on love alone.
   Four years later we decided that if two were great, three would be even better and we had our first daughter Kirsten.  Within about two seconds of having her in my arms I knew that being a mom was about the best thing I could do.  Kara came along within a year and a half and our family was complete.  The girls grew and went off to school and I was bored.  God had a plan to fix that and we started foster care.  Originally we had no intent to adopt but of the 60 some kids that have come through the house, a few seemed to need to stay.  A few like 16.  

Who's In The Shoe

This is Margie our oldest.
She came to us as soon as we opened our home to foster care and didn't have a clue what we were doing.  
She smiled and I loved her instantly and do to this day.
Margie and her husband Barrett live in Florida with my grand-kids Cameron and Taylor

Kirsten is our oldest home-grown daughter.
World traveler and changer, Kirsten and her family have been missionaries in Israel, France and Chad.
She now lives with her husband Stephen and my grand-kids Eleanor, Elijah, Silas, Annelise and Jocelyn near Orlando, Florida.

Kara is our second homemade daughter.

She is so like me that it's scary but much smarter and handier with a drill.
Kara teaches at a school in her neighborhood and lives with her husband Nate 
and my grand-kids Scarlett and Ensley in Maryland.

This is Lane

Lane came to live with us as a teen but I believe she was really mine all along.
She is the perfect daughter-sister-aunt and makes everything we do a zillion times more fun.
Lane's a nurse and lives with her husband Josh and my grand-daughters Layla and Lauren 
right around the corner from us.  See, I told you she was perfect.

Here's Big Jake

Jake is one of the sweetest kids ever. 
He is sweeter than he is smart and has had to learn some of life's lessons the hard way.
He lives in West Virginia and we see him as often as we can.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Working at the Car Wash

How many Aclys does it take to wash White Boy?

All of them................ and they have to squirt each other and have a blast and it doesn't even matter if the van gets that clean.
Yea for Spring!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Blog Vanity

My blog background is noticibly plain now. It's a sad story and a warning.

I was tired of my old blog background and while we were on spring break I had some extra time to search online for a new one. I found one I really liked and started the download. As I sat watching the screen something weird and wrong happened. A page came up that said SEX MUSUEM and I couldn't click it away. There was no "Xing" it out and control alt delete did nothing. Two of the girls walked by and were alarmed at the screen. I was stuck! I finally had to turn the computer off to get rid of it. And that's when it happened. I had invited a BIG BAD VIRUS in...the kind that wrecks everything. Out antivirus software cleaned it but the damage was done. Tomorrow we have to move everything that we want to keep to an external hard drive and then wipe the computer clean. This is all giving me heart attacks. All my music on Itunes and my pictures and files and every science lesson I've written for the last 5 years.

And of course James is so pleased I've dumped on him the mechanics of all this mess.

My blog may be plain green for a long time.