Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Wedding Planner

Chloe tried her hand at being a wedding planner the other day while I was convalescing on the couch. She dressed Jordan up, wet his hair and slicked it all down. He cooperated briefly, then got a rebellious glint in his eye and began to misbehave.

Here Comes the Bride...

You may kiss the bride!

The groom gets a mischievous glint in his eye

Cracks begin to show as the 'groom' loses interest in the proceedings

The ceremony unravels as the 'groom' becomes completely uncooperative

Frustrated wedding Planner is reduced to tears

The gleeful groom is elated by his newly discovered ability to reduce his big sister to tears

The Call of God

I read this on a friend's blog today and wanted to share it.... Thank you so much to all of you who are a part of our adoption journeys. We could not do it without your prayers and support. You have made a difference in the lives of some precious little orphaned children.

Every call has a beginning
A quiet moment when God whispers a promise to a mother’s heart
A holy place where a father bows and faithfully accepts the journey set before him.
A miraculous morning that unexpectedly dawns…
Casting its first light on a chosen threshold.
A gentle knock..a closed door opens.
A sacred invitation sent by the Father..
Leads to the other side of the world.
Where lonely hearts stare out orphanage windows
Praying for someone to care..
And then one morning, On an ordinary day
An orphan’s life changes...
God sends them a second chance...
Through you..
--author unknown

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The trip in pictures

These are the shoes SaraGrace thought would be a good choice for the trip. I caught her clomping out to get in the car. She had begged for them the day before at a garage sale. She LOVES these shoes - but we didn't let her take them on the trip!

"Are we there yet? I'm running out of ideas for these pipe cleaners."

Hours into the trip, we realized that we would be driving very close to Niagra Falls, so we decided to make a detour and let the kids see it. We arrived just before nightfall.

Plymouth Massachusetts

Plymouth Harbor

The kids stick their toes into the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean for the first time

The Mayflower II -- an exact replica of the original Mayflower. It has even been sailed the identical route the first Mayflower took. I doubt that they convinced 100+ people to join them the second time though! It was such a SMALL ship. ugh... I can't imagine being trapped on it for two months with five people, much less over 100. I have even greater respect for the brave pilgrims who made the voyage.

Who could resist this luxurious stateroom on the Mayflower?

Here is where our trip took a very unexpected turn. While we explored the ocean and the Mayflower, I began to feel very sick. By afternoon, lying down during the boys nap became an intense longing. Jeff took the kids to the pool but when he returned, I was no better. They went to dinner and I stayed in bed, kicking myself for eating undercooked hamburger two nights before. I figured I had food poisoning and would be fine in a few hours.

By the kids' bedtime, the pain became very centrally located and I had my suspicions of what it might be. However, our insurance company will not pay for a visit to ER unless it's a life-threatening condition. Well, how do you know if it's life-threatening? I guess if you die, you'll know you should have gone to the hospital. My fear was that the doctor would just say, "You have a bad stomach ache, Dummy," and send me home with a huge bill to pay.

Let's just say that the night hours were not the stuff that dreams are made of. I waited until 7AM and then woke Jeff up and he took me to the hospital. In triage, they luckily did a few tests that alarmed them enough to bump me into priority, so I was able to have pain meds fairly quickly. What a relief! A CAT scan confirmed that I needed an emergency appendectomy, and by afternoon I was in surgery. Poor Jeff was running back and forth between the hotel and the hospital, trying to comfort everyone. The older kids were awesome! They took over and just handled everything. I was so worried about them having to give up their vacation to babysit, but they were great about it. They did have some time (later)to go out to eat and do some shopping and they insist that they still had a fun vacation. Have I mentioned lately that I love them!? The little kids stayed calm - although Molly had a slight meltdown right before they took me for surgery. She was so worried about her Mama. She was my little prayer warrior. :)

They kept me overnight and discharged me in the morning. I am thankful that everything went well - and SO grateful that it didn't happen in China. I can't imagine being in the middle of an adoption and needing emergency surgery.

Jeff's employer offered to fly someone out to help us, but Jeff decided that it would be best for me to fly home. So, I came home on Wednesday and Jeff and Ryan drove the car and van home. They made the entire trip in a grueling 14 hours and arrived home at 2:30AM. We are all home now--a few days early--but safe and on the mend. Poor Jeff has the brunt of everything - trying to take care of the kids, me, AND do his job. He is a bit stressed but handling things very well. I love that man and am so thankful for him!

When I had some time to pray, I asked God why He provided an all-expense paid trip for us and then we didn't get to have even one day of vacation together. He quietly whispered to my heart, "Because I had something different to teach your children than you thought you wanted to teach them." I don't know what God plans to teach our kids through it, but I know He will be faithful to do so. Any growth in them is definitely worth an unexpected surgery (but God owes me the big bowl of clam chowder that I didn't get to eat!! haha - just kidding).

Saying good-bye at Logan Airport

Tearful good-bye for SaraGrace

My Mom picked me up at the airport and took me home to her house, where I spent the night. I am so thankful my parents were home. They were out of town last week and will be out of town next week. God's timing is perfect - and they were available this week to rescue me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Packing for the trip

90 shirts
90 pairs of shorts
80 pairs of underwear (baby wears diapers)
500 baby wipes
60 diapers
thank goodness it's summer or we'd have 180 socks
35 pajamas
assorted games, coloring sheets, & crafts for the car
2 vehicles
too many snacks to count
only 12 water bottles, since we don't want to make 437 potty stops
2 baby beds
2 strollers
tons of misc. items that are too boring to list

Now Jeff gets to figure out how to stuff everything into the car and van! I would feel sorry for him except that he was gone all week, I did the packing alone, and used up all my pity on myself. heehee

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Trotting to Boston

Earlier this year, as I began to contemplate the possibility that this might be our last summer with Ryan, a desire began to burn in my heart. I wanted to take a family vacation. It didn't look possible, as we are saving for Zoey's adoption, but I began to pray that God would somehow make a way. We have taken short vacations to my parents' cabin over the years, but I really had a dream of taking the kids somewhere historic. When I was a child, my parents had taken us to Washington DC, Williamsburg PA, and places like that. Those trips have stayed with me my entire life. Even more than the history lesson, though, I wanted all of us to spend time together, away from our daily responsibilities, playing, exploring, and having fun.

When the job possibility in Boston came up, Jeff had to start traveling there, so I asked him if it would be possible for some of us to accompany him there this summer. We thought a few of us could go, since gas would be paid and a hotel room paid.

Then he accepted the job.

We were told, as part of the moving package, we would be allowed to take the entire family to Boston for one trip! Last week, they confirmed that they would pay for everything except our entertainment.

What seemed like an impossible prayer request six months ago, has turned into an all-expense paid trip for our entire family! I am in awe of how God has answered this prayer--and am praying that we will have a great time together. We are leaving this Friday and will be in Boston/Plymouth for almost a week. I hope we survive the 14 hour drive! haha Molly and I are praying that none of us will be grumpy, get sick, or be unkind--but that our whole family would be able to enjoy a great week together. Jeff does have to work a lot of the time we are there, but is hoping to have some afternoons off to join us in our adventures. Shelby is also coming and is very excited for the opportunity.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Zoey news

Our agency emailed this morning to say that CCAA will be working during the Olympics, so they do not anticipate a slow down! If the current trend holds, we will probably be traveling in October. That was welcome news! We are praying that our paperwork will go through on schedule, with no hold-ups. We haven't heard anything about Zoey for the past few months, as no adoptive parents have traveled to her orphanage recently.

We pray God is holding our little girl in His arms as she waits for her family to come for her.

Jia is in the US!!!

Little Jia, who needs heart surgery, just arrived in the US!! Today she will start the testing needed at the hospital that has agreed to do her surgery. Please pray for the doctors to have wisdom and skill to heal her heart. Her surgery will be quite complicated.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mackinac Island

If you haven't ever been to Mackinac Island,MI, I want to encourage you to go someday. It is one of my favorite places to visit. There is something magical about it. There are no cars allowed...the only mode of transportation being horses or bicycles. There are old hotels there, still in operation. The most famous of those is the Grand Hotel, which is steeped in history. The island is riddled with Fudge shops, for which they are well-known. As you stroll through the streets, the delicious aroma of fudge wafts through the air. This is a welcome change from the horsey piles that you sometimes have to dodge here and there! There is a multitude of fun, albiet tacky, t-shirt shops to take home a memory of your time at Mackinac. It's a nice place to take the family, ride bikes, the ferry, and let your kids see what life was like before cars.

The Grand Hotel

Main Street

One of many beautiful places on the Island

Monday, August 04, 2008

A gift from God

We just returned last night from a wonderful family vacation to my parents' cabin in northern Michigan. Our week together was definitely a gift from God!

Getting the luggage packed for 11 people (Shelby came with us), plus food, towels, sleeping bags, etc., was no small feat.

Will this stuff fit in our van and car?

Somehow, Jeff stuffed all of the luggage into our vehicles, and we were off. We knew we were almost 'to the cabin' when we spotted the Pink Elephant in a nearby town. This elephant has been there since I was a little girl, (probably long before that), and our kids love to get their pictures taken there every year. This year, Ryan wanted to be sure that Shelby was included.

The cabin is in an association with a pool, so that is where the kids always wanted to be. Worked for me!

Taylor cooked an amazing breakfast for us one morning...eggs, bacon and Blueberry pancakes...mmmm....

The highlight of the week was a much anticipated trip to Mackinac Island. I love it there but haven't been able to drag Jeff to the 'chick place' since Ryan was small.

The Ferry to the island was exciting!
We walked around the island for awhile to show the kids all of my favorite places (Grand Hotel!), and then rented bikes. Ryan and Shelby decided to test the waters of their relationship by renting a tandum...

Chloe, SaraGrace, Jordan and Jacob were too little to navigate the eight mile trip around the perimeter of the island, so they rode in style...

"Ahhhh....this is the life!"

Along the route, we stopped to play in the water to cool off.

At dinner time, we headed to the Murray Hotel--one of the oldest on the Island--and where Jeff and I had stayed one night many years ago. Dinner can be one of those times where we feel all eyes on us and our 'large' family. Because of that, we try to make the kids behave. hehe They were a bit hyper, but doing well, when I began to notice a stench coming from baby Jake. I checked his diaper and sure enough...he had dropped the mother load. I still had a few bites of pizza left, so I decided to just pick him up and hold him close to me, to hopefully spare the other patrons from the odoriferous diaper. He was standing on my chair, facing out, and leaning up against me. As I finished my last bit of pizza, I looked down at my white shirt (my FAVORITE shirt, I might add), and noticed a brown stain. Noooooo....please say it isn't happening! I pulled Jake slightly away from me and saw a stain the size of south America, with several islands dotting the landscape. ACK! Ryan was mortified and told me to cover it up so that no one could see! I found that extremely funny! Fighting down hysterical laughter, I handed Jake to Jeff, who held him out gingerly (very subtle). The older kids noticed that other diners were now staring, as our attempt to stifle the commotion apparently failed. Luckily, we had just purchased some touristy t-shirts, so I grabbed one for myself and one for Jake and headed out the door behind Jeff. I stopped in the ladies restroom to change, but there was no place to change Jake. We headed to a nearby park, with the plan to lay him in the grass to do the deed. To our dismay, the park was now swarming with people and it was not going to be possible to change Jake without an audience. Oh well...we didn't know any of them, right?! The diaper contents were up his back and all over his shirt. GROSS! I had to fold it all up to avoid smearing it through his hair on its way over his head. One little boy came over for a birds eye view before being called back by his rather horrified parents. It was soon over and we headed back to the restaurant, trying to act like nothing happened - and that it was normal for a middle aged woman to leave her plate and go change her shirt in the middle of a meal.

Jake and Mommy in their new shirts
There was also a family photo attempt, marred only by SaraGrace's irritation at not getting to sit where she wanted.

Her nickname, "Spitfire" is well earned....

The day would be incomplete without this...

The FAMOUS Mackinac Island fudge

Waiting for the ferry at the end of a very fun day

It was a wonderful week and we are so thankful for God's provision for us!! Does anyone want to help me with my mountain of laundry?! hehe