Friday, November 28, 2008

Weight Watchers Week 1

Even though I enjoyed normal portions of all my favorite traditional Thanksgiving foods yesterday, I have lost 2 pounds this week! My problem isn't that I have a lot of extra weight but that I love food in large portions and I don't know when to stop eating. I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, and I love the plan! Just sometimes when life gets too hectic I resort to my old habits and pay the price. I am collecting more WW recipes but I didn't get to try any new ones this week. If I find some really great ones next week, I'll pass them on. It's been a busy week, to say the least. Today we're going to visit my mom, enjoy leftovers and then freeze at the playoff game tonight. I know, I know, I really need to take pictures of the kids, and I'm going to try this weekend since Kuyler is home.
I think I can carve out three days this week where I can be home most of the day and we can get READY, SET GO ...
This weekend we still need to: pick up poinsettias for fundraiser, deliver them, pick up jars for candles, make 120 candles, ship two orders ... that's about as far as I can think right now :) Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We are thankful!

We have so much to be thankful for this year, especially that my dad accepted the Lord three weeks before he passed away! Please remember my precious mom as she celebrates her first Thanksgiving and Christmas without my dad. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

What a week!

We've got an awesome week in store! We have so much to be thankful for, and I'm going to focus on that. A few things of note: I finally configured a button for the candle orders - yeah! I think it works right :) It should add shipping for each candle up to 4 and then stop charging for shipping. Before, if someone ordered 2 or more of the same scent it only charged for 1 shipping - great deal for you, not so much for me :) Also NEW, we've changed a candle scent. The Gentleness ~ mulberry was not very strong, and the other scents are amazing! So we made the Gentleness ~ Cinnamon toast (which everybody loves) and Self Control ~ Baked Apple Pie (amazing!) Anyway, the scroll down PayPal Order menu above has the changes. Again, if you have any questions, or just want to order direct from me, please email or leave a comment.
In other not-so-interesting news, I started Weight Watchers on-line yesterday. It's no secret I LOVE food! I'm blessed to have a decent metabolism, but with my recent status of staying home more than working outside the home, something has slowed down! I successfully made it through my first day, always the hardest for me. I decided that with 7, soon to be 8 other people counting on me, I'd better earnestly treat my body as the temple it is.
And in more exciting news, our Red Devils will play Laverne in quarterfinals playoff action this Friday night! We look forward to watching a really good game!
And best of all, Kuyler comes home from college Tuesday! Yep, what a week!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hague Training, check!

The other half of us is finished with Hague training! We've completed the required reading, so once we get our approved home study, all CIS paperwork will go to Chicago!

Friday, November 21, 2008


Something's (or someone's) missing ... but we're working on that!
We're going to be watching some OU football tomorrow night!
We're making slow progress on the adoption front. We are only required to have a home study update, consisting of two visits, and Kambry's June post-placement counts as one, so Rebecca's visit this week was a wrap-up. Under the new Hague policies I fear our home study will be 50 pages long! We must list all the special needs we are able to accept and our suitability for each. It also must include all modules of Hague training and required reading. Those are the only new elements I know of. Once we have our approved home study report, we'll send it, along with our I800A application and supporting documents, to NBC in Chicago. Approximately 21 days later we will be issued a fingerprint appointment with our local CIS office. Right now the wait for I800A processing is 120+ days! That's a long time to sit on paperwork. But during that time we'll complete our dossier and tie up any loose ends so that once we are DTC we can petition for our child. I can't quite wrap my mind around the math yet :)
This weekend Amy and I are making candles, and we're changing one scent so I'll keep you posted. Then I need to spend some time figuring out how to make a 'button' for the candle orders. Also, my dear husband has been threatened, er, I mean encouraged, to complete his Hague training :) Surely I'll get some pictures of all this!
There is also progress with K5 and K6! They have started talking like crazy. Kambry uses 3 and 4 word sentences, and Kaeleb is close behind! Not bad for a little boy who couldn't speak 8 months ago! I especially get a kick out of Kambry's, "Mommy, I need Dorie (Dora)." Kaeleb's popular saying is, "Mommy, where Daddy go?" Next week I want to start potty training (I reserve the right to change my mind). We're looking forward to Thanksgiving and then preparing to celebrate the Christmas season.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Surgery and Perseverance

Thank you for your prayers! Kaeleb's surgery went very well, and he is recovering nicely. Even though it was a short-stay procedure, we were in the hospital all day for observation. He has only needed one dose of Tylenol with codeine and he slept all night. As difficult as it is to endure the prodding and poking of medical staff, it allows precious moments of comfort from Mommy, and every adoptive parent knows how valuable that is. Praise the Lord for answered prayers!
It seems our faith is constantly being tested in regard to our current adoption process. We see God's faithfulness in the presence of our children, and yet the pressures of this world and the nay-sayers is a constant reminder that we are not 'normal.' Every step of each journey has been one of faith, whether regarding finances, timing, extended stay in China or lack of support from family, but we've always drawn our strength from the One who provides. We are also grateful for those who urge us on and encourage us through Scripture and wise counsel. Yesterday while Kaeleb was in surgery, we read this passage, and it spoke volumes to us:
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Heb 10:32-36
No matter what God is asking you to do, be assured that He will equip you for the journey and it will be worth the effort!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Things They Say!

Oh, Kayden, she keeps me on my toes! This morning as she was getting ready for school, she looked in the mirror and made the following observation:
Kayden: Why am I wearing 'nature' clothes?
Mom: What do you mean 'nature' clothes?
Kayden: My shirt is covered with flowers, my barrette is a butterfly, my jeans look like the sky, and my hair and eyes are pitch black.
Mom: You are a beautiful Earth child!
This child is so expressive and full of thought! How blessed we are!
I'm not posting much this week because we are so busy. Kolton has a basketball tournament, we had a home study visit today, and Kaeleb's surgery is tomorrow. We are praying for a quick recovery.

Friday, November 14, 2008

This is Home

Have you heard the Switchfoot song, "This is Home"? If I may brag, Kenzie sings it beautifully! We had the annual charity concert last night, and we are so blessed that so many of our youth are willing to share their talent, and that the majority of the songs center around Jesus!

Kolton and Ty waiting for the show.

Always a critic :)
There's the social butterfly.

And there's the stubborn one who will only sleep on her own schedule.

Today we made cookies for the Bible studyMy little taste tester
Kaeleb waits for Daddy's school bus every morning.

This is what I got when I asked Kambry what was in her mouth ;-)It's going to be an awesome weekend! We host first round football playoffs tonight (Go Devils!). Tomorrow is our adoption Bible study, and Sunday Oklahoma Hearts gets to share our vision in another congregation. May you have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why we do what we do ...

I was so blessed today that my friend Heidi sent me the link to an amazing blog by a precious family serving the Father. In these times of discouragement and attack as we seek so desperately to cling to the Father's plans, He knew this is the sufficient grace we needed today! As I read this account on their blog my heart was both saddened and rejoicing. Saddened because there are 143 million orphaned children around the world, waiting for their Mommy and Daddy to tuck them into bed ... and rejoicing that He has led people like J and C to show His love to some of them. Also rejoicing at the thought of three, soon to be four, empty cribs because of His call on our lives, not to mention hundreds of other families He's connected us with. We certainly don't deserve His blessings, but we thank Him daily as we continue to run the race! May He touch your heart as you read the following story:
A Night at the Foster Home
I often forget we work at an orphanage.
After all, we call it a foster home. And, if you go there during the daytime hours, the place is buzzing with so much activity that one has no time to think about the fact that all of the children are orphans. Compared to most orphanages, the place is paradise! To be honest, on most days, the kids don't even seem to notice what they're missing! Between arts and crafts in preschool, a game of hide and seek on the playground, and a big lunch in the main dining hall with all the other staff and students, it really feels more like a preschool or a daycare. I usually leave at 5 p.m., and sometimes I half-expect to pass parents pulling into our parking lot to pick up their children after a long day's work.
But last night something changed... I spent the night at the foster home. All of the daytime management staff are taking turns spending the night at the foster home to show the night nannies that we recognize their contribution and hard work and to better understand what their job is like. Last night was my turn. On any given night, there are 3 nannies who care for the children. Before I go further, I cannot emphasize enough how amazing they are! Just like the daytime ones, they are loving, patient, and treat the children as if they were their own... but, they are at a disadvantage in that they are outnumbered! It isn't a big deal, since for most of the night the kids are asleep and they only need to tend to isolated incidents, and it is certainly a safe and appropriate staffing number, but when it comes to getting 21 kids to bed at once, that's a lot of work for each of them!
The foster home is a different place after-hours. There are no visitors and very few staff (other than the night nannies) who stay past 6:00 pm or so. I arrived at around 7:00 to begin my night shift. I started in the downstairs playroom, where all the kids, fresh from their evening baths and with full bellies, were quite ecstatic to have this break from the routine. From 7:00 to 8:00 it was me and about 7 toddlers, singing songs like Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, and the Wheels on the Bus, and playing Ring Around the Rosy and Duck, Duck Goose. (We usually had about 5 geese at any given point; no one wanted to be ducks!) The nannies were busy tending to all the little details that comes from mothering 21 kids -- making sure everyone who needed it had their evening medications, changing diapers, brushing hair. So it was just me and the toddlers in the playroom, and being the center of the children's attention was quite fun -- though occasionally a bit overwhelming. They play until about 8:00 or so, when everyone lines up for a last cup of milk, their own toothbrush, and finally a drink of water -- the requisite goodnight tonic for children around the world.
That's when I realized I was in an orphanage.
Since there are 15 children downstairs and 2 nannies to put them to bed (the other 6 babies and 1 nanny is upstairs), no one gets the prolonged nighttime routines familiar to many children around the world. No stories. No cuddling with mom before drifting off to sleep. I put Cheryl to bed, and I think she knew I was a softie who was new at this gig. :) As I turned out the light and left her room, she started crying. (Most of the kids don't cry at bedtime; it is business as usual and a common routine.) Even though there was a part of me that knew since every night she has to fall asleep by herself, turning around was only giving her a taste of something she couldn't have right now, I couldn't keep going. I turned around and sat beside her crib, gently stroking her face and singing her a song until her eyes grew heavy. Cheryl is one of the children who tries to act very strong, yet I see her deep emotional woundings as clearly as I see her disabled leg. It's hard to describe, but I know her heart aches for a family... For a mother to tuck her in every night. (If we were 30, she'd be at the top of my list!!)
She's usually so strong -- unnaturally so for a 3 year old. But tonight in the dark quiet of her bedroom, I saw something in her eyes. A brokenness... a vulnerability... an openness to and desire for love. But she was so guarded. I never let my gaze waver from her eyes, but she could only look at me for a few seconds at a time. Her eyes would dart away, but then they were back again. Back and forth she went, until her eyes couldn't stay open any longer.
As she fell asleep, I sadly realized something. No matter what we call it, it is still an orphanage. No matter what programs we offer and how much we try to make life happy for the kids, there is still an emptiness. No matter how much we love them, there is still a longing. And no matter how much we try to heal and bind up wounded hearts, there is still a brokenness.
As I fell asleep on the couch in our foster home, listening to the soft sounds of a house filled with sleeping children, I dreamed of the day when each of these children has the family they deserve.
Hasten the day...

Poinsettia Fundraiser (for our local friends:)

Announcing a short-term fundraiser for the Johnson/Mueller/Hamm families, adopting from China! We will take orders until November 23rd for beautiful, nursery quality, display ready, red, 5-7 bloom poinsettias in a 6.5" hooded pot. They are only $18! To place your order or get more info, please email me. I'm sorry we can't ship them, but we will deliver locally, or you can pick them up at our place. Blessings!

Meal NOT fit for a princess :)

By unanimous vote, chicken/broccoli/cheese/rice will be taken off the menu :)

In case there was any doubt ...

And if you're still not sure ...

So, Kayden, how do you really feel about it?!?

Can we move on to dessert, please?I'm happy because I didn't even try it.
I tried it and then scraped the plate.

When Daddy and Kenzie got home they were invited to go straight to the cereal! So the easy meals don't always work out :) This one lacked in appearance, aroma and texture ... but if you could get past all that, it didn't taste half bad!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What's up?

Active ...
Studious ...Many personalities, many more blessings! We've put a busy week behind us and have another in store. Kolton and Kenzie had basketball games Monday and Kenzie is rehearsing to sing in the annual charity concert Thursday night. Oklahoma Hearts has our Bible study this Saturday and another speaking engagement Sunday. As for our adoption process, we have our home study update visit next week, then once the report is approved, we'll apply with whatever branch under CIS we now apply to (I only retain the details when I must!) The process can be like waiting for supper. No matter how intently we wish for it to be done, it is not on our time schedule.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psa 136:1

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Happy 13th Birthday, Kolton!

Turn my back for two seconds ...
One turns 13! (There are six tired boys here)

.. .and one is feeding the other peanut butter! (Only choosy sisters choose Jif)
Time flies when you're having fun! I remember 13 years ago, the long-anticipated arrival of our precious boy, one week early. He pretty much takes life the same way, at a fast pace (the reason there are few pictures of him :) Happy birthday, sweet Kolton Tee!
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psa 100:5

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hague Happy Dance

No names, but one of us is finished with the Hague on-line training - oh yeah, oh yeah!

Training ... of some sort

Hague training has commenced! However, we've decided to direct our attention away from potty training and focus on a more urgent matter - sleep training.
Toddler bed ...
... is made for jumping!
Kambry started out in her new bed ...
... and then, as usual, she wasn't there in the morning.

But Kaeleb loved his toddler bed! (he only fell out once)Okay, so it's no secret that I haven't had an uninterrupted night's sleep since September 2004. First there was the anticipation of bringing our baby Kayden home, then there were the escalating night terrors. It was during this time of rocking and praying her to sleep that we formed a lifelong bond. About the time she developed a good sleep pattern two years later, Kambry was coming home. There's just too much life going on for her to sleep, then came Kaeleb, who is a great sleeper. Kaeleb has been in a pack n' play beside our bed, and Kambry has been in a crib converted to toddler bed, but usually ends up in our bed.
I have always rocked my kids to sleep. I admit I don't know how to just lay a baby down, until Kaeleb, who prefers falling asleep on his own. Right before he came home I was still rocking Kambry, but it would take more than an hour and we knew something had to change. So, Daddy would tuck Kayden and Kambry in, then read two stories, and stay in the room until Kambry fell asleep. Somewhere along the way, Daddy got really tired and Kambry decided co-sleeping with Mom and Dad would be better! I've read Sleeping Through the Night and The No-Cry Sleep Solution
but we decided it was something we could cope with until Kambry started sleeping on her own ... and then God placed Mei-Mei on our hearts, and we wondered if we could really rest with three kids in our room!
We made a big deal about getting Kambry a new bed and moving her old bed into Kolton's room for Kaeleb. We all went together and got the bed, Daddy assembled it and the switch was made (as well as disassembling the pack n' play - yeah!). Kaeleb went right to sleep in his new bed. I tried what I call the Super Nanny approach with Kambry, where I briefly explained it was bedtime and put her back into bed the first time she got out. My daughter is stubborn! I stood right outside her room, and eventually she would see me coming to put her in bed and she'd jump back in, screaming until she climbed out again. She would try everything from, "Mommy, where Daddy?" to "Want Daddy," to "Wuv ooo Mommy." An hour later Daddy said we needed to try something different, so I laid beside her bed and held her hand until she fell asleep. Three hours later she came to the safety of Daddy and Mommy's bed. I admit, I'm no expert on sleep issues, and I've always loved spending those last minutes with my kids before sleep ... so maybe Daddy just needs to get a soft rocker big enough for Mommy, Kambry and baby sister :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hit the Ground Runnin'

I have to admit that jet lag has NOT gotten the best of me - yet! So far I've not spontaneously fallen asleep mid-sentence, dozed off behind the wheel or had the need to consume huge amounts of caffeine. It's a good thing because there's a lot going on. Before the end of the week we have two types of training planned: potty and Hague! Both in preparation for the arrival of our next child (whose name apparently will either be Karsen or Kinley :)) Kenzie has a basketball tournament this week, Kolton turns 13 (!!!), we have our last 5th Quarter, we're hosting a family gathering, and Oklahoma Hearts for Adoption is preparing for our upcoming Bible study, two speaking engagements and celebration of Adoption Awareness Month. We'll tackle next week when it appears on my calendar!
Did I mention we have dear friends within our church who are also adopting from China?!? We three families are planning a really cool fundraiser together, and I'll let you know when we get the details worked out.
As for our CANDLES, here's what I have on hand and really need to move:
Love - sweet pea (8)
Joy - buttercream crunch (4)
Peace - cinnamon bun (5)
Patience - vanilla grapefruit (2)
Kindness - sage and citrus (5)
Goodness - midnight pomegranate (7)
Faithfulness - pumpkin pie spice (3)
Gentleness - mulberry (9)
Only lacking Self-Control :) I'm curious to see if these will be a hit as Christmas gifts. If you even are interested in ordering but not ready to do so, please either email me or leave a comment so we can get all the supplies. And to place an order, either do so directly at the PayPal link above, or contact me. These are some of the best quality scents I've ever burned (Thank you, Amy, for doing a fabulous job)!
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19

Saturday, November 1, 2008

No Place Like Home

We made it home, and it was an amazingly smooth 25 hour journey, other than too much turbulence on the long flight. I'll let Tami tell the story though.
Thank you, Rebecca, for making the journey so special!It was such a blessing to see my family waiting at the airport. I can't believe how much the kids have grown! Seems we've fallen right back into the normal routine: three little ones in the shower with me and a dogpile on the bed in the morning. Yep, it's all good. Thank you to everyone who made this journey possible, especially my sweet husband and Chris and Tami! Now I must go spend some time loving on my kids!

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