Sunday, January 31, 2010

Triple Miss

Oh yes, folks. It happened again.

Ryan called tonight.

I missed it. We were at church.


The good news is that Ryan did talk to Taylor, and not the answering machine. I guess they are going to be able to call more than once a week now, and he is hoping to call again in a few days. I am seriously considering not leaving the house until I get to talk to him.


He doesn't have my cell number because I have a new one. He also hates calling my cell because he thinks I never answer it. (I admit, sometimes don't hear it because I don't carry it in my pocket like guys do.) Unfortunately, he didn't call Jeff's cell tonight because I definitely would have bolted out of our class to talk to him.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Missing Private Ryan

We are kind of getting a kick out of the fact that Ryan is now, "Private Ryan."

Ryan called today.

I missed it.



The good news is that Jeff and some of the girls were home and were able to talk to him. Jeff didn't hear the phone ring, so the machine picked up and now, after a month of waiting, I have those sweet words on the answering machine. "Hi, Mom." Thankfully, Jillian heard him leaving a message and picked up. We would have felt horrible if he had not been able to talk to anyone after getting his five minute phone call for the week. He is doing much better than he was the first week of Basic. He has actually been enjoying some of the activities they have done.

He wrote to a friend who was kind enough to share his letter with us and said that he is going to church every Sunday and has met some other Christians to talk to. He really misses 'civilization,'
wearing normal clothes, and he wants a big juicy burger!

We have received two letters from him and he has very sweetly talked about missing us, and being thankful for all that we have done for him.


God is good and prayers are being answered for Ryan. Thank you to any of you who have and are praying for him.

Little Pink Shoes

If you live near T*rget and you like pink Converse tennis shoes, we found some on clearance today for $4.95 each!! Just wanted to pass on the hot tip... :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

I Think I Need to Throw Up

It's been awhile since I did any public speaking or interviews. In fact, I've been holed up with three year olds for so long that I kinda stutter now when I try to have a conversation with an adult.

So imagine the knot in my stomach when I was contacted by Love Without Boundaries to help them do an interview on a live radio show on Feb. 2nd.


As in, when you make a mistake and a total fool of yourself, it can't be edited. It's there for everyone to hear.

I need to throw up.

OK--it's not about me, so I accepted because I want to help bring some focus to what LWB is able to do for orphaned children who desperately need help. I can swallow my pride and try to convey the needs that they have, and how wonderful these kids are, who are waiting for someone to care.

But could you please send up a teensy prayer for me, because like I said...

...I need to throw up.

Luckily on the radio, no one can see armpit sweat.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"We Help You, Mama!"

My three year olds are always eager to help me with chores. (Why is it that when they are actually useful, their interest wanes considerably?)

This week, as I've gone into the bathroom to get ready in the morning, they scurry around in our bedroom. I can hear them giggling and every now and then one of them will yell, 'Don't wook yet, Mama."

When they are 'ready' for me to see, they come to get me. "Come see, Mama. We make you bed."

Sure enough...they have. Every morning. And it looks like this:

Well, at least they got all the pillows up off the floor.

They also love to help drive me crazy unload the dishwasher. They descend like little vultures and start grabbing for all the breakable things. Ack! I tell them they can only get the plastic ones and after watching them touching the tops of the silverware, I have banned them from unloading it. Well, that and the fact that they put the forks in the spoon section and don't differentiate between the large and small forks and spoons.

Today Jake wanted to help me sweep the floor. He likes to get the dust pan and sweep up the pile. The other day, he ended up dumping everything in various areas around the room. Argh. This meant that I had twice the work because I had to re-sweep everything. Today wasn't much better. But he is so earnest and cute. He REALLY wants to help and he believes that he is doing a great job. It is so sweet that he wants to help his Mama.

It made me think about how I so often want to 'help' God do His work. I eagerly volunteer for various things and think I am being so useful to Him. The reality is that I am probably botching the job horribly and am completely unaware of that. And yet, God pats me on the back anyway and says, "Good job!" Despite my fumbling attempts to serve Him, I do believe that it makes God feel loved when we want to 'help.'

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Learning New Things

Whenever we venture into a new experience, it is full of opportunity to learn something new. For our family, our newest experience is having our first child leave the nest. I was reflecting today on what I am learning.

  • It's more painful than I realized it would be
  • It's more exciting than I thought it would be
  • I had no idea that getting a letter from Ryan would give me such an adrenaline rush
  • It has been so precious to get letters from him telling us how much he loves and misses us
  • It is amazing to see him grow up right before our eyes
  • Because of him being in the military, he is realizing things earlier than many young people--which is a blessing for him and for us (things like appreciating his family, and all that we did for him--wah)
  • It makes me marvel that God would have been willing to send His ONLY Son for us because if Ryan was an only child I think I would be in the fetal position right now
  • I wonder if when I stop to talk to God it also gives Him an adrenaline rush
  • I realize anew how precious it must be to God when I tell Him how much I love Him
  • He must enjoy watching me grow in love, joy, peace, faith, etc.
  • He must long for me to come Home even more than I long to see my Ryan
On a much happier note than Sunday, we got a letter from Ryan!! It was so exciting! We also got a letter from his Commander with information about Graduation from Basic Training. We plan to attend in March and will be making the drive to South Carolina for the big event.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Good News, Bad News

Good news first!


Bad news...

We missed the call. wahhhhhh. He called Jeff's cell phone this morning. Jeff had left it in our bedroom and I heard it ring. Thinking it was someone from work due to the crisis that had been going on all weekend, I looked at the number. I didn't recognize it and hesitated, thinking it was a co-worker, but then decided to answer it. Just as I was about to press the 'answer' button, it rolled into voice mail.

When I went downstairs, I casually mentioned to Jeff that his phone had rung. A few minutes later he came into the room saying, "It was Ryan."

I could have died. I had the phone in my hand and hesitated too long--and missed the call. THE CALL. You know...the CALL we've been waiting for nearly three weeks to receive. argh.

All I could imagine is my poor boy waiting in line at the pay phone, finally getting his turn and then getting our voice mail. UGH.

That was his only chance to call this week. He might get another chance next Sunday--and you can believe I won't hesitate to answer. (But I promise not to wrestle Jeff for the phone...hee.)

Ryan sounded different. Older. A little prouder. Was it my imagination?

He did mention that he received our letters--they must have all been given to him at the same time because he said he got them 'last night.' He also said he wrote to us again, so we have that to look forward to this week.

But in the meantime....ARGH!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Here in Massachusetts, they have different names for things than in the Midwest. For example, pop is called soda, tennis shoes are called sneakers, and sledding is called sliding.

We did some sliding yesterday. After my initial face-plant into the snow, I kinda wanted to go back out there in some snowpants and boots. Maybe I just wanted to recapture a bit of my childhood.

It all started well...

When Jake saw that Mommy was going outside, he immediately wanted to join us. I suggested that he go sledding with us. He reluctantly agreed. Notice his look of fear and the way he is gripping my arms for dear life.

"I much prefer sitting at the bottom of the hill and watching you strange people hurtle down."

"Even better is having big sister hug me so I can stay warm."

Chloe watches her sisters

My saucer repeatedly headed for this tree like nails heading for a magnet My girls then felt it was necessary to give me some remedial saucer-riding lessons. Here is their have to steer with your feet, not lean, like you do with a sled.

I love this girl!

About this time, Zoey woke up from her nap and when she saw that Jake and Mommy were outside, her 'this is not fair o'meter' kicked into high gear. She was wailing so loud that we could hear her outside. I told her she could come out and she happily--with no fear--went sliding down the hill with Mommy.

Big smile! The minute she got to the bottom, she announced, "I do dat again. By myself." She picked up the sled and dragged it up the hill, pounced on it and rode down.

The girl is a sliding maniac.

And then the 'sliding' took a turn. Little Molly's saucer went awry and she crashed into the sandbox. She hit her tail bone on the corner of the wooden seat. Poor baby! She can barely move. I took her to the doctor today and he said that it's hard to know if it is broken or badly bruised, but the treatment is the same. They don't do anything. You just have to tough it out. He opted not to x-ray because it would have given a large dose of radiation to Molly's internal organs.

We've been trying to get her to laugh by asking her if she broke her butt. ha. When I Googled broken tail bone, the word 'coccyx' came up.

If you are a Napoleon Dynamite fan, you already know where I'm going with that, right? Jeff and I have both been cracking up.

"Your Grandma took a spill at the sand dunes and broke her coccyx."
--Uncle Rico

If you're not a Napoleon fan, just move on.

It has been very sweet to see the kids gather around Molly and nurse her today. She can't sit and either has to stand or lie down. They fetch blankets, drinks, and snacks. Taylor carried her upstairs when she wanted to go up this afternoon. (She can come down just leaning on me, but going up is very painful.) Tonight she mentioned being hungry for something sweet and a few minutes later, Taylor came over with a soda (and a STRAW--'cause you know, Molly was lying on the couch and you need a bendy straw to drink while lying down), and a bag full of Nerds. He dipped into his own stash and gave her some. Awwww.....

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I have been amused, although not surprised to see that the Democrats are trying to spin the Scott Brown stunner by saying that it WASN'T about health care, massive spending, or the liberal agenda in general. Well, here is another sign I saw today while out driving.

I think the people of Massachusetts are trying to be remarkably clear.

Are the Democrats in Congress for real or are they just THAT clueless? Scott Brown ran on his dislike of health care and massive spending. His win had EVERYTHING to do with what the Democrats have been doing in Washington DC this year.

Congress...Hello? Your clue phone is ringing. You might want to answer it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More Sledding Fun

If there is any doubt about the reason behind the vote for Scott Brown last night, here is a hand-made sign I saw while driving to the store today.

One Massachusetts native said, "We threw the tea into the harbor today."

The past two days we have been getting a rain/snow mix and it has made the hill in our back yard very slick. I watched the kids flying down the hill at high speed and headed out for some photos. They were having a blast!

Laying in the snow at the bottom of the hill

Making a chain and trying to slide down together. Chloe lost her saucer early on...

The jumble of little bodies and sleds

"Come back! I am totally sled-less, guys!"

"Me, too!!"

"I just can't stop cracking up! I'm weak from laughter."

Whee!! Chloe flies by in a blur, but has the presence of mind to flash me a smile.

Jillian, too.

"I'm gonna be so buff from hauling my saucer up the hill so many times."

Jillian insisted that I try the hill. My protests fell on deaf ears. I finally gave in. Let me tell you, the hill looked a lot steeper from the top than it did from the bottom. As you can see in the photo, the saucer started to flip. Two seconds later, I was upside down with my face in the snow. The kids were dying laughing and I suddenly remembered why I don't enjoy sledding unless I have the proper attire. Let's just say, snow up my sleeves, snow up my shirt, snow up my nose.

Trying to get the snow out of the back of my shirt.

A rare photo of the 15 year old, who thinks it is most uncool to be photographed. Hence, he is often missing from family photos on the blog. Even he could not resist the speed of the hill today.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Oh yeah....

Just a bit of jubilation here!! :) Scott Brown is now the projected winner and I just heard the "L" word. "L" as in LANDSLIDE. The people have spoken. And they have spoken from Massachusetts. Massachusetts! This is a state that voted for Michael Dukakis.

I hope Congress will pay attention but I doubt they will.

The Election

On a little lunch break and thought that I'd give my unsolicited prediction on the results of today's special election here in Massachusetts, that has captured the attention of the country. I predict a landslide win by Scott Brown.

I could be wrong. I'm no pundit. But I can see campaign signs. And even though my math skills are less than steller, I can easily see that they outnumber Martha Coakley signs about nine to one.

I guess we'll find out soon. If he wins, don't let anyone tell you it's because Brown is a 'hunk' (as was floated out there yesterday). If he wins, it's because people are fed up with absurd Democratic spending and how Congress opts not to listen to the American people's wishes on health care.

My chutzpah

Would you believe that Jeff and I were discussing a housing related math situation last night and I had the unmitigated gall to make some suggestions? Yes. He patiently responded with a few 'but...' answers and finally, I just looked at him and said wryly, "I suppose I should just not get involved in this conversation since it involves MATH."

He smiled graciously and said nothing. I love him!

I also stink at cooking. I loathe it. My older boys make fun of my culinary disasters. (You just gotta love God's sense of humor giving ME 10 kids, don'tcha think?) So my husband, who apparently has more faith in me than I do, just called to see if a colleague could come over for dinner tonight. He is actually going to risk a serious humiliation. Quick...someone please send me an easy, five ingredient (or less) yummy main course that I could make for 'company.' I know that some of you are very talented in this area. And yes, it has to be easy because I have to clean the house, too. He's lucky that I already did my hair today because I pretty much agree with the woman who said,
"It's me or the house. We can't both look good."
In other news....

Katie-bug was feeling well enough to celebrate her birthday yesterday, so she had her very first American style birthday. She was VERY excited to get cake and presents. I tried to take photos of her jumping up and down and saying, "Yay!" but they all turned out awful, so you will have to take my word for it.

Jillian organized a little painting party so that the little kids could make birthday 'cards' for Kate.

I prefer not to know why this was the chosen painting attire.

Making the cake with a little help from Kate and Jake. I was so sad (NOT) to relinquish this duty to Jillian, who (gasp) watches cooking shows and loves to bake.

Jillian, decorated the cake all by herself.

Happy Birtday, Sweet Katie-bug!

"Yay! Kai Lan... just what I wanted!"

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Math Challenges Continue


We are attending a marriage class at our church on Sunday nights. Last night there was a section of questions, one of them listing six possible things you might find yourself spending time doing in relationship with your spouse. You were to list a percentage next to each thing.

There were six.

You had to list a percentage.

Okay. I know that if you divide 100 by four, you can get a nice clean 20%--which also enables you to divide that nice clean number 20 by a few other things.

But this was six.

I leaned over and whispered to Jeff that this was going to be a big problem for me.

He quickly perused the question and said, "It's 18% each."


Well...that is still a problem because how do you divide 18 into other numbers? I mean really.

I studied the options for awhile. I tried to figure out how to add and subtract from 18 to get other percentages.

I noticed that the woman next to me was busily filling in her numbers--which blew my opinion that a man wrote the Bible study. But then I remembered that she was an accountant or something.


I didn't want to seem like the dummy in the class. No one else seemed to be having trouble. So I did what I normally do when I am subjected to a math question that is too hard for me.

I skip it.

Maybe next week we can talk about writing out our feelings or something. Yeah. That would work out well for me.

** dad just emailed me and pointed out that 100 divided by 4 is 25, not 20. Baahahahahaha. I rest my case.
Also...when Jeff got home from work he said that he originally said 18 and then said, 'Well, actually it would be 16. 66 or something." I never heard him say that, so I apologize to my man.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

For Me. For You.

We received a much anticipated letter from Ryan yesterday. Our entire family has been waiting and hoping to hear something from him.

As we waited, our longing was intense. We hoped each day that there would a letter or a phone call. We dashed to the phone when it rang. We hurried to the mailbox after the mail was delivered. Our hearts were longing to hear something from him. It caused me to wonder if this is how God feels every day as He waits to see if his children will stop to spend some time with Him.

We opened the letter with joy. Our joy turned to more intense longing though, as we read the words of a young man who is away from home for the first time. He misses us. A lot. He is hurting deeply. The hurt in his heart is worsened by the fact that the first few weeks of boot camp are probably the hardest. But he said, "I wanna see it through. I hope it will be worth it."

Our son is suffering. Other sons are suffering. Whether or not those boys are there for noble reasons, the fact remains that they are there for me. For you. Their pain, whether in boot camp or on the battlefield, benefits the citizens of the United States far more than it benefits an individual soldier. Yet, we do not suffer in the least as they toil through each day. In fact, we seem rather far removed from it all. They stand between our enemy and freedom. And they know. The only way to keep this country safe is to allow themselves to be put in some very painful circumstances.

And so they endure it. They subject themselves to the rigorous training that the military requires.

For me.

For you.

They don't have to go, but they are willing.

Many years ago, another Father watched his son suffer. This son stood between us and death. This son answered the call to redeem a world that was hopeless. But it meant that he would have to suffer unspeakable cruelty on a wooden cross.

For me.

For you.

We did nothing, suffered nothing, and yet Jesus gave up all He knew to protect and save us. He left a wonderful, loving home to come and stand between us and the grave. The cost was enormous. He didn't have to come, but He was willing.

We treasure every word Ryan wrote in his letter and we hope he will continue to write to us. We eagerly anticipate any news from him--as I'm sure he is anticipating letters from us.

Years ago, another letter was written. It was written to us with love from the one who stood between us and death. He is hoping we will read His letter. He wants us to know how much He loves us. He wants to encourage and comfort us with His words when life seems too hard and overwhelming. He wants to show us how to live--to REALLY live, not just exist. Will we read it? He wrote it.

To me.

To you.

Read it. Savor it. Treasure it. His word is LIFE.

" seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul." Deuteronomy 4:29

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sweet Katie-bug

Poor baby is snuggled up in my lap groaning--still sick.

One year ago today, we were winging our way home from China. Kate had a two-day birthday since it was the 16th in China, and 24 hours later, it was still the 16th in the U.S. She also became a U.S. citizen that day, as her feet touched American soil.

We are so thankful for our precious girl...that God watched over her and preserved her life so that she could grace ours.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, sweet girl!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pass the Bucket

Pass the bucket 'cause we have another barfer. Kate woke up with barf in her hair this morning and all over her bed. Ewwwww.....

Jillian and Molly are also sick with horrible stomach pain and body aches, so the three of them turned Mom and Dad's bedroom into a sick bay. I felt so bad for them and hate it when I can't give them any medicine to alleviate their suffering. Well, I DID offer to go get some Tylen*l suppositories, but they said they would rather suffer.

Poor Katie-bug, it's her birthday tomorrow, so I am hoping she is feeling better by then. If not, we can delay celebrating until she feels better. Hoping the rest of us don't end up getting it. ugh.

It warmed up into the 40's, so I decided to take the non-sickies out for some fresh air. (And to get the smell of puke out of my own nose.) A little theraputic photography helped too.

Opportunity to help kids with one 'click'

Love Without Boundaries has qualified for the second round of the "BIG IDEA" Chase Giving Contest for charities! Voting will take place January 15-22! This is such an easy way to help kids! Please take a few minutes and vote! There is a video on the LWB site explaining what the money will be used for if they win.

How to vote in three easy, schmeesy steps:

JOIN Facebook (free)

BECOME A FAN: of Chase Community Giving


LWB's"big idea" and dream is to open a Cleft Healing Home in every province
in China. These homes save lives! So many orphaned babies with cleft
struggle to eat and tragically many pass away. You can save lives with just a click of your mouse.
This is a wonderful opportunity to give some of the most vulnerable children
in the world a second chance. THANK YOU!!!

**note**the server for the website may experience occasional overload, so keep trying if you can't reach the site.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

She Passed!!

Just a quick "woohoo" for my mom. She found out today that she passed her boards and she is now an official nurse!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Mama, I Siiiiick."

Colds and and tummy viruses have been traveling through our family. Nothing major--just annoying. Yesterday, SaraGrace had a fever and diarrhea and got to spend the day in Mommy and Daddy's room, watching TV.

This morning, Jake came downstairs saying his tummy hurt. He didn't eat more than two bites of his breakfast and began telling me how he just wanted to lie on the couch because, "I tink I gonna barwf." Awwww....poor little guy. Doesn't he look pathetic lying there with his barf bucket?

"Quickly, I whipped up the ability to look pitiful."

Eventually, he asked if he could go upstairs. The next time I saw him, he was sitting here:

Does he look sick to you? HA!

He made a remarkably fast recovery after getting a little TV fix.

This totally cracked me up. What's with the coonskin cap?

Later in the day, he found a new use for his barf bucket. Fortunately, it hadn't been used.

In other news....drum roll please...We got a post card from Ryan today!!!! Only two sentences, but ohhhh, it was so good to hear from him. We still don't have an address to write him back but hopefully that will come soon.