Friday, April 30, 2010


Thursday, April 29, 2010

If You Want Your Faith Increased...

If you want to have your faith increased by the amazing things that God can do, I would encourage you to head over to "Chrissie's" blog, All Are Precious in His Sight. Chrissie is four years old, adopted from Serbia, and just had open-heart surgery 11 days ago. Her parents had been told that her heart condition was incompatible with life, but God told them to go and bring her home. They did...and she is definitely in a fight for life. On a sidenote...SaraGrace had the same diagnosis as this little girl and was also said to be inoperable. Thankfully she had surgery at a much earlier age than Chrissie and God healed her.

God did some totally amazing miracles this week for Chrissie. She has coded twice--once for 45 min. and once for an hour but they were able to bring her back. Her body temperature had been lowered to help protect her from brain damage, but she is heavily sedated and being given paralytic drugs, so they are unsure if there has been any neurological damage. She raises her eyebrows in recognition of her parents and seems to understand everything being said to her.

Her story is truly amazing. If you ever doubted that God could heal in impossible situations, you need to go read her story. Be encouraged!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ryan Update

Several have asked, so here is a Ryan update. The other day, I heard my phone make the little bleep that signals that I have a text message. Being the very hip, cool person that I am, with about three people who text me, I rushed over to see who it was.

And be still my heart.

It was my boy.

He sent a picture of himself in his dress uniform. He had a buddy take it with his iPhone, so the photo is a bit fuzzy. He is not allowed to wear the jaunty beret indoors, so no hat for the photo.

I have never had the privilege of seeing him in his dress uniform. It just blessed his Mama's heart to get this photo because he knew that I would want to see him in that uniform. When he lived at home, he refused to dress up. Ever. Wearing a polo shirt was 'getting all dressed up' for Ryan. urgh....

My little text bleep thingy went off again the next day. This time he was telling me that he was struggling with his run again. They still have to do PT and he has a certain amount of time to run two miles. The hip that he injured last summer has been bothering him and he hasn't been able to finish the run in time. His sargeant told him that if he didn't pass the next time, they might discharge him. He has another test on Thursday morning.

So, we have been praying this week that he would pass the test if God wants him to stay in the Army...and that if God wants him somewhere else, he would not pass. To be honest, each time he has these tests, I'm torn about how to pray because there is a part of me that just wants him out of harms way. I would rather not face deployment, ya know? But as I pray, God realigns my heart with His and I know that God has a perfect plan for Ryan.

Today...another bleep! And this time it was exciting news. Or as our family (great lovers of quoting movie lines) would say, "It's a major award!"

Ryan's text was:
"I got presented for excellence today by the company commander, Col. Reed and got a medal for it." There was a photo included...
He said he was told it was rare to get one and he was so excited Apparently, he was recommended for this because he volunteered to help out for a special ceremony. From the serious lack of details he gave me, I *think* it was for a building dedication ceremony and a lot of high ranking Army personnel were there. I have no clue what he did to help.

Hopefully, that excitement will motivate him and help him forget about his hip tomorrow when he takes his running test again. It definitely made me feel better about praying for him to pass the test! Thank you God, for your unexpected rewards and encouragement!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Coming up for Air

Yes, I am still alive, crawling out from under a mountain of laundry just in time to deal with a house full of sick kids. I knew it was coming. Despite the free-flow of hand sanitizer at Disney and Sea World, let's just say that a bazillion germs went from hands to mouths during the course of a few days.

SaraGrace started it off with a croupy cough, which morphed into an asthma bark. She barked all.the.way.home. on the plane. I thought about mentioning something about SARS really loud to see if I could freak anyone out, but thought it might backfire so I just enjoyed my little joke privately.

Kate was next to succumb and then Jake surprised us all by 'barping' in his bed on Sunday. Oh the joys.

Kate and SaraGrace needed medical attention and they are now on the Bubblegum stuff for an ear infection (Kate) and possible strep (SaraGrace). You just haven't lived until you experience the drama of SaraGrace taking ANY type of medicine. Even the bubblegum stuff. argh. And we get to repeat this little exercise three times a day.

They are all taking turns getting both viruses. Some have been unlucky enough to get them in tandem. The croup scares the little kids and last night poor Zoey was freaking out that she sounded like a seal. I took her (and Kate) into the bathroom for the make-a-sauna-by-running-the-shower therapy. It barely helped but the extra attention from Mom seemed to calm them. As of this moment, SaraGrace and Molly are the only ones not sick. The rest of them are groaning with severe stomach pain and fevers--even the teenager. Poor babies!! No one else has 'barped' though, THANKFULLY!

We are closing on our house this Friday--oh yeah--have I mentioned that we are moving? Let's hope that neither Jeff nor I get the stomach virus because we both have to sign a lot of papers that day. We can't reschedule because our interest rate lock runs out that day. times.

Yes, we are moving about 10 minutes from where we live now. We have had the privilege of renting a beautiful house for the past year. It's HUGE and gorgeous but it's time to get back to reality. We have about 6 weeks to move because our closing date and our rental overlapped, so hopefully, that will significantly lower the stress.

The trees are in full bloom right now, so I'll leave you with a few glimpses of God's majestic creation. did He think up all these beautiful flowers?

I took this at our local Target. They have beautiful flower beds in their parking lot. Molly slunk down in the car as people stared at the strange woman down on her hands and knees taking photos. I's sad...I've become shameless.

I saw this gorgeous Dogwood tree in the doctor's office parking lot yesterday. I went back today to take some photos. Hopefully they didn't see me skulking around in the bushes.

This was also in the doctor's office parking lot. But I was able to hide behind my van while taking it. Alas...the kids were clearly visible sitting in their carseats, munching happily on their kids' meals (which is how I bribe them into taking these little photography jaunts with me). The fresh air was good for all of us. I opened the window for them...don't judge.

My mother-in-law and I love lilacs. Sadly, I had to leave mine behind in Michigan and our new house doesn't have any. I guess I'm going to have to buy a teeny-tiny one and watch it grow an inch a year until I get some lilacs. Until then, I sneak around other people's houses taking photos of theirs.

And last but not least, this was across from our new house, in the flower bed in the middle of the street. No lilacs but the crabapple tree is very pretty.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day Five and the Scoop on Give Kids the World

This is the Gingerbread House where we ate breakfast every morning. Oh how I miss the awesome biscuits and gravy that I can only get in the South...

I did not fully explain about Give Kids the World. Here are some things it is not:

*It's not a part of Disney World
*It's not a part of Make A Wish

Give Kids the World was started by a man who survived the Holocaust. He wrote a book that was given to us that I am currently reading but haven't finished. Therefore, I can't tell you details about how GKTW started. I do know ('cause I'm one of those annoying people who skim through books and read endings) that he knew people at Disney well enough to get them to help him when he started GKTW and they do offer free tickets to the families who stay there.

I just wanted to clarify that it is its own entity and is ONLY for kids who have a life-threatening health issue. You cannot pay to stay there. Your child can only go once. It exists only to give Wish children a spectacular week. They accept children from other Wish charities besides Make A Wish, so they have had families there from all over the world. They do their own fundraising--and their food budget alone must be astronomical.

This is the carousel with the mushroom roof. We spent a LOT of time there!

The Castle is attached and we spent a lot of time there, too!

Inside the room where we ate breakfast

The kids' favorite place...the Ice Cream Shop!

So...Day Five was our last full day and I was longing for a nice restful day by the pool. Thankfully, it was sunny until about 3PM and then we were hit with more rain.

The teenager, aka Killer Whale, sneaks up on his unsuspecting prey with a gleeful glint in his eye. However, he suddenly spotted the hideous glob of snot perched on the upper lip of said prey. Repulsed, he turned....

...and headed back out to sea. No easy dinner is worth a booger.

Jordan had a blast playing in the fountains

The teenager found a new way to entertain himself

And yet another form of entertainment was catching lightening fast lizards

Terrified by the sight of nine children wanting to touch it, it turned green, but even that wasn't enough to deter those who wanted to keep it captive. It finally escaped when the teenager kindly shared that 'they bite,' which cooled all eagerness to capture the young reptile.

The 3PM rain forced us to get some ice cream. Ya know...we had to cover our disappointment with the weather somehow.

Jake poked a hole in his cone which caused great consternation among his sisters. What would happen when the ice cream reached the hole? As they discussed the possibilities, the situation took care of itself because...

...this is where Jake's cone ended up. Mommy had to go get him a new one.

The playground there is modeled after a Candyland game. It's so cool! We had headed to the playground during a lull in the raindrops, but alas, five minutes after we arrived, it started raining again.

Rain made Jake remember that he had to go potty. Again.

Where do you go when it's raining? To the castle! The La-Ti-Da spa opened at 4:30, so off we went. SOME of us had not yet gotten tattoos.

Jordan gets a cowboy tattoo

Jeff gets one, too.

A little nail-polishing needed to happen.

Overview of the scene of busy little bees. Isn't the castle COOL?!?!

Once our nails dried, we went to find SaraGrace's star. The Star Fairy had been working during the night to put it up. And there it was...

It was then time for bed and since the rain had stopped, we were able to participate in the Animal Night. Volunteers from the surrounding area bring their pets for the kids to play with. Our kids skipped the dogs when they found out there was an armadillo. OK--I confess that I was actually the one who wanted to see it.

We had scheduled a visit from the Mascot, Mayor Clayton, at GKTW. He will come and tuck kids into bed! The kids had been begging for him to come and were SO excited when he arrived. He spent time with each child, fluffing pillows and being silly before finally tucking them in.

First up were Taylor and Jake

Then, Zoey, Kate and Chloe

Then the Princess of the week

and Molly and Jillian

Goodnight, Mayor Clayton!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Vacation Day 4

As we walked out of our villa that morning, there was a balloon tied to the chair on the porch, along with a button that said, "Happy Birthday, Zoey!" We were shocked...and Zoey was SO excited! I put the button on her shirt and let her take her balloon to breakfast. Taking a balloon to breakfast doesn't get a judgmental look at Give Kids the World!

At breakfast, she was presented with a whipped cream-and-sprinkles-covered waffle with a candle in it.

After breakfast, we headed over to the castle. We had some activities that we needed to participate in.
First up was the magic pillow machine. They pushed buttons, turned knobs, made their choice of pillow and came down the shoot. Each child in the family was given a pillow.

Each pillow was different and hand made. Our kids LOVE them!

Waiting expectantly for the next pillow to appear!

Next stop was SaraGrace's star. Each Wish child is given one. They write their names on their star and then the Star Fairy comes and puts it on the ceiling of the castle to commemorate their visit.

Placing her star in the Star Fairy's magic box.

Watching her star magically travel to the Star Fairy's house. The next day, a Passport was delivered to our villa with directions to find her star on the ceiling.

Just a small portion of the stars that decorate the ceiling.

Then it was time for some scrapbooking!

Forget throwing a penny in the Wishing Well... let's climb in. Urgh! was only 10:30AM but we all scream for ice cream! Woohoo!

Where else could you eat ice cream so early in the day?
Next, my cousin and his wife, as well as my mom's sister, came to spend the day with us. How fun!

Not long after we arrived at the pool, it started to rain. We thought we'd wait it out in the pool area, but after awhile it became apparent that it wasn't going to let up quickly.

It was decided that we would get ready to go over to Disney World. We were sure that the rain would stop. It's Florida. It doesn't rain all day, right? Epcot was the destination so that the kids could see the China and Mexico areas.

The rain will go away. The rain will go away.
Or not.

Good plan.

I didn't take my camera into Epcot because I was afraid it would get wet and ruined. My mom had her small camera in her purse, so the rest of these shots were hers. When we arrived at the China exhibit, we were excited to learn that Mulan was there! We were just in time to grab a photo op. We also saw the acrobats, who were amazing. I borrowed my mom's camera to take pics but they didn't do the acrobats justice, so I am not posting them.

We then headed to Mexico. We told Jake it was Guatemala. Don't judge...heehee He was SO excited! It was adorable. He kept saying, "Is dat my Gotamala? It's MY Gotamala!" We went on a little boat ride there and as he continued to say "My Gotamala," Zoey chimed in and said it was hers, too. Jake was quite miffed and retorted, "NO, Zoey. You China. It not you Gotamala. It's MY Gotamala."

Despite his excitement at seeing Gotamala, he did not want to wear this hat. We made him.
We are mean.
We wanted the photo.
What can we say?

A more willing participant...

Sound asleep on the way home, clutching his precious Cars that he scored at Epcot.