Monday, December 15, 2008

groan

Things are tough right now for a lot of people. That verse where the holy spirit has to intercede on our behalf because all we can do is groan, can't even put what we are feeling into words--that verse makes a lot of sense all of a sudden.

I send out our church e-mail version of a prayer chain. Requests come in via phone or internet and I put them into words and send them out to people who have committed to praying for the requests that come through.

Some I shrug off and write with factual apathy. Others hit me in the gut and make me moan out loud.

Today I got one from a manager whose company gave him the task of laying off almost 20 people. The week before Christmas. When I mentioned this to my husband, he said, B____ called it--he said it's going to get really ugly from now until Christmas with companies laying people off etc. Ugh.

One of Dan's former co-workers lost her dad and his funeral is this week. The week before Christmas.

People are losing jobs, family members, living spaces, credit ratings, relationships, respect and who knows what else left and right. It seems like every hour something else comes to our attention about someone or other who is struggling with something. The week before Christmas.

That's where hope comes in. And I'm thankful I have that. Although sometimes I shake my head perplexed, dismayed, frustrated, annoyed at unfortunate situations people have put themselves in or disheartened by bad situations thrust upon unsuspecting and undeserving people, I know there is hope for all of them.

I groan for what I do not know how to express.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

contemplative

I've caught myself staring off into space a lot lately. Since it never happens in front of a mirror, I have no idea what the expression on my face is when this happens. I can only hope it looks sage and wise, like I'm crafting zen verses, and not dull or perplexed as I fear the reality of this "look" might be.

I haven't been writing much often, and that leaves me feeling bloated and pent-up. Metaphorically that is. I'm afraid some of these starry-eyed spaced out moments often lead me to daydream about a room of my own. A place where I can leave the current and zap to where I need to go to mull things over, make sense of enigmatic dreams or thoughts that pop unbidden into my head. To hone my writing skills by practicing "shitty first drafts". Most of which only happen in my head and are lost with the phone shoulder-held to my ear listening to a voicemail while throwing together PBJ's and trying to negotiate a compromise between battling siblings. To pray for people or situations that are on my heart and mind, so they won't keep sitting there piling up subconscious weight of care that gives me shoulder-aches and audible sighs throughout my day. To sit down and write hand-written letters rather than the impersonal and probably-misconstrued e-mails that time constraints seduce me to instead.It's always sunny and quiet, and there's a squishy sink-into-me chair for reading and repose and a solid, sturdy table with ample surface area for work and creativity. Oh, and the sewing machine is there too so I can sew lace onto socks--because little girls must have lacy socks.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Counting down--and maybe into single digits?


It's been a crazy past few weeks here. With an impromptu trip to Oklahoma for my 2 1/2 year old and I, then a road trip to New Jersey for my Grandfather's funeral, and coming home to snow and a huge church event, we're barely surviving and craving a whole lot of sleep. (Not to mention so thankful we are in the waiting phase rather than the paperwork phase--we have all we can handle on our plates right now.)

As I'm reading through my e-mails and trying to count all the referrals that happened while we were gone, I'm estimating that we might have moved up 2-3 spots on the list. I'm waiting for the official "place in line" from our awesome Ethiopian adoption team at our agency.

I'll post the official number when we get the word, but I'm going to guess that we are about 8th in line now. If referrals keep up at this pace, we may know what our little guy looks like in 2008. We are content in God's timing, and thrilled to see the numbers falling off like the Wal-mart price roll-back commercials. Because that means there are kids with families...and families with kids. Soul-thrilling.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Grandpop

watching the pinata fun by you.
Last night Grandpop Hoffman went home to be with the Lord. He was 91 years old. It's odd to feel at peace knowing he is finally gone, yet having such a deep sadness that it keeps creeping up on me wave after wave.

So many memories. From sitting on his lap squealing in agony as he cleaned out my fingernails when I was a little girl to getting the "green stuff" when my report card was good. Changing my nickname from Cinderella to Princess because I didn't think it was high-ranking enough. Always threatening to come sit behind me in school and look over my shoulder to copy my answers because I was smart--always telling me I was going to become Dr. Hoffman and he'd be there to see it. Only committing to something with a "Lord-willing", and reminding us to always stick close to the Lord.

I've yet to meet a more humbly money-conscious man with as big and generous of a heart as his. He has left an impression and legacy for many to aspire to. Truly everyone who met Grandpop Hoffman went away from his encounter with a hearty laugh, a good meal, a prayer, a $20 bill, and a blessing on his life.

I'm gonna miss my 15 second phone conversations before he would "hand me back to grandmom", our little inside jokes, and just knowing that he's there for a hug anytime I'm in NJ. I know I'll see him again. Where his new body can keep up with his quick wit.

But now it's time to say goodbye. To grieve hard with my family. To remember him well and share how he has forever changed all of our lives. To celebrate a true man of God, a veteran who loved our country, and my Grandpop.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Book Review: My Little Girl

My Little Girl [Book Cover]
I ordered My Little Girl, by Tim McGraw and Tom Douglas, thinking "it's pink, so E will like it, but I know it's gonna be cheesy". I must admit, this skeptic was pleasantly surprised.

The pictures are captivating--colorful and likable. The storyline is down to earth and believable. Except for the really coutryish parts--I'm too citified to find excitement in dancing with chickens and riding in a pick-up truck.

I love the fact that this book made the mundane everyday tasks of the day "super spectacular special"--just because daddy and his little girl were together. It doesn't take a trip to Disney, a new Hannah Montana wardrobe, and an iphone to make a day special, it's just doing life TOGETHER that makes it so special.

I loved that at the end of the story there's a page where you are encouraged to spend some special daddy-daughter time and write your own story or memory.

I think I'd have to, begrudgingly almost, recommend this book!

Impromptu trip

Addi and I flew to OK for a long weekend. Wish we could have flown in one of Devon's jets (like this one), but alas we had to board the commercial flights with the masses instead. We had a great time visiting dad's hangar, eating mom's fabulous cooking, cruising around in the BMW, visiting with Andrew, Carrie & Chase, shopping 'til our feet hurt, laughing 'til our sides hurt, and making pizza bread along with a lot of memories.

It's been a bittersweet trip. It's easy and hard to leave more than half of my little family behind. I thoroughly enjoyed a little break and talking on the phone to L & E from afar--hearing their take on life from the other side of the phone.

It's been exciting being with Carrie as she's about to give birth any minute to Ian Douglas. Teasing her about doing jumping jacks, watching her frown at everyone who asks her when she's due, and listening to Andrew ask her if she's in labor yet and taking her for "walks" to try to get things moving.

At the same time my Dad had to grab a flight to New Jersey, where Grandpop Hoffman is in the ICU battling pneumonia post-op from hip replacement surgery after a fall last week.

So, we've got our cell phones glued to our hands waiting for phone calls. Each probably announcing the opposite of the other. And knowing that both are inevitable. For all of us.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

as many as a cat's lives

This was us nine years ago. We still love eating cake together and still love to kiss (mmm...minty!). We still think each other are quite good looking and wish we could spend more time together. We've been through hell and high waters together, helping each other through some excruciatingly challenging situations. Testing the vows we took 9 years ago and finding that our words were simply indicators of the deep commitment we have to our relationship with each other.

There have been anniversaries where we've celebrated that the year is "over" and had to admit that we're relieved that we get to start a new one--hoping that it will be better than the year before. ("We get a do-over!" -Liz Lemon) And there have been years where we've celebrated because it's been a good year. This is one of the latter. God has been good to us. Making Dan for me, giving us a story and a history that enmeshes and intertwines in beautiful contrasts and complements.

So excited about keeping on this journey called life with you. We have some exciting stops coming up along the way and I couldn't ask for a better travel partner, my true companion.

(I had to borrow this from Jamin's recital acknowledgment to Angie, but it just seems to fit how I feel right now.)
Dan, I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Third one's a charm-er

i counting by you.
Oh Addison Mabel. Here you are lining up your
underwear so you can count them carefully a few times,
then sort through and say, "maybe dis one?...No. Maybe dis one? No."on each and every pair before choosing (with a little help and lot of hurry from mommy or daddy) which pair to wear. Of course, we're trying to rush to get out the door, but you have your own little agenda, don't you?

Today at the mall, we just about died as you gave us all of 7 seconds warning, "I nee go potty...need to go pee-pee" before straddling your legs as far apart as you could and letting it fly like a fire hose onto the carpeted floor in aisle 4 of the Shoe Dept store. We just about died.

Since you no longer wear diapers, I no longer carry diapering paraphernalia on my person. Daddy was a man and told one of the associates there had been an "accident"...and when pressed admitted that it was actually a "pee" accident.

I just have to say, you're so darn cute. It's what makes situations like this one bearable and actually quite funny. And now, since I can hear you playing in your bed rather than napping, I will end this post here and go remind you that even though you are cute and adorable and that it is fun for me to listen to your little cartoon voice make all your friends and animals talk and sing (and even sometimes pray) you are still little and you still have to take a nap.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Book Review: In the Shadow of the Sun King

In the Shadow of the Sun King by Golden Keyes Parsons [Product Image]
I received the book, In the Shadow of the Sun King by Golden Keyes Parsons, from Thomas Nelson free of charge as long as I agreed to review it. If you are interested in becoming a book review blogger as well, click here.

I ordered this work of historical fiction with a bit of trepidation. I don't usually read these types of books, but this summer I enjoyed reading a work of fiction about Marie Antoinette, so thought I'd give this book a chance.

When I received the book and saw that it was more than 350 pages, I was a bit worried that I might not finish it or might get bored with it. I started reading it and was initially put off by the sickly sweet description of the stereotypical French provincial setting. But I always give myself 5 pages before deciding not to finish a book. About an hour later, I realized I had lost all track of time and was a good 75 pages into the book, and definitely into the storyline.

At times I did a bit of skimming over some of the more spiritualized parts of the book. Although I applaud the author's ability to take an actual family history, combine it with historical fact and add a great dash of creativity in developing a story, I still found myself tripping over the religious "moments" portrayed by various characters throughout the book.

Though long in pages, the storyline keeps moving very quickly with some unexpected as well as some totally predictable twists and turns in the character's interactions.

I can definitely recommend the book without reservations to fans of Christian romantic historical fiction books. As the first in this series I would not hesitate to continue reading the chronicles as the author continues the saga of Madeline and Francois Clavell.

I can think of a few people I know who would probably enjoy this book, so I will pass it along to any of you who would like to read it next--just let me know.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

CPS certification contemplation


The other night, Dan made an interesting comment. He said something to the effect (or is it affect? I can't remember) of, "if we had a nanny, we could make this work", in regard to us both being gone 9 hours a day every day this week.

I agreed, but then pointed out that neither of our "salaries" would be enough to compensate a nanny for our 3 (and in '09 our 4) children. More importantly, I realized that with the intense schedule this week has afforded, I've had about 2 hours a day with my family. And about 1 and a half of those hours have been eaten up by meal and bedtime routines. That leaves about a half hour of actual interaction time to split between a husband and 3 children. That is NO WAY to build relationships, trust, have any fun, or really do anything for that matter. It's just no way to live.

So, although I have thoroughly enjoyed everything in the list heretofore following, I'm looking forward to getting back to the really blessed life I have. Of getting to choose to be home all the time. Of getting to spend immense and intense amounts of time with my family during these formative years of our kids' lives.

Things I have enjoyed about this week:
Showering daily
Wearing a "new" outfit each day
Wearing earrings
Breakfast provided for me
Coffee made for me
Going to the bathroom by myself any time and as many times as I want to
Eating junk food and not having to hide it or share it
Having lunch
Having lunch made for me
Eating a meal that is still warm from start to finish
Learning new things
Listening, reading, taking notes
Taking quizzes and tests
Role playing
Teaching, educating, explaining
Talking to adults
Meeting new people
Being affirmed
Having people take an interest in me and get to know me
Driving in a car by myself
Letting my husband get to experience a day with the kids
Coming home to "mommy! mommy! mommy!" every day
Being greeted in the garage before I can even get out of the car
Little hugs and clamoring for my attention and affection and listening to 3 stories all at once
Listening to a day from my husband's point of view and in his riveting style of narrative
Planning a day out ahead of time so that it goes smoothly
Dropping into bed exhausted
Being able to handle this whole experience
Getting certified
Realizing how far I've come from those low, low PPD days
Waking up to an alarm clock
Needing to be somewhere
Brushing my teeth in the morning
Cracking jokes
Getting into "the community"
Doing something worthwhile
Doing something new and different
Rubbing shoulders with different people
Not being on the computer so much

Friday, November 07, 2008

Now playing: Ellison Jennaye turns 4

Since we're headed to family camp this weekend (Dan is the speaker) Elli's birthday has to be "on the road". Tradition is to decorate a cake in the theme of the child's choosing. Elli has had a hard time making up her mind this year--she's waffled between Holly Hobbie, Strawberry Shortcake, Hannah Montanna, and a truck (?). At the 11th hour (well, more like 8pm so it'd be done by the time the Office came on last night) I decided that a 9x13 cake would be easiest to transport on the 2 1/2 hour drive to camp.

I pureed a can of tart bing cherries and mixed it with a box of classic white cake mix. It smelled amazing while baking and is a blissful shade of pink--Elli's most favoritest color. This morning we mixed up some buttercream icing with a splash of almond flavoring to complement the cherry cake. I cannot wait to eat this cake!

I had Dan show me his ipod as well as find a good image of a pink ipod for me to use as the model for Elli's cake. For any of you who know Elli, music is second only to all things pink and princess in her life. When she is upset or afraid, she responds best to singing to help her calm down. She memorizes and sings songs she hears rather quickly and it will be intersting to see if she has the Scott-side-of-the-family propensity towards all things musical. She falls asleep every night listening to music, and has very decided opinions about what we listen to in the car.

When I proposed the idea of a pink ipod to her, she (dramatically) squealed in delight, hands fluttering to her face, and gushed about how that is EXACTLY the cake she has ALWAYS wanted.

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She helped ice and decorate the cake. (Which is extremely hard for me because I always want to "do it myself"--but I'm learning that the cakes are more important to the kids when they contribute and help make them than if they look picture-perfect but have been ignored in the process). So here it is--in all it's "metallic" pink glory. (notice album cover of birthday balloons, play list, length of time music has been playing, and scroll wheel)

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I know I'm kinda silly this way, but I "plugged" in the headphones and made her "listen" to her ipod cake for a photo.

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This was a super fun (and easy) cake to make. And although it will be a little unconventional celebrating her birthday at family camp, I know it will be a lot of fun and make some great memories for Elli J.J.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

the day-after thoughts

First of all, let me admit I have watched not a single political debate, commentary, commercial, NOTHING this year. On purpose.

So last night as I watched John McCain's speech (the first time I'd ever seen him speak) I said to Dan, "aww. I'm really sad I won't get to listen to more speeches from him." I was proud of my grandfather who did overseas tours in the army and my dad who was a helicopter pilot in the Navy. My family has given to this country, so I can identify with JM's sacrifice and feel that swell of pride in our country.

I wasn't nearly as impressed with Obama's speech (again, the first time I've seen him speak), but it's not about who is a better speaker. Not to me, at least. He does have great teeth. Maybe we'll all get dental benefits now?

Today while I was sweeping the kitchen floor, I was wondering what my parents were thinking about the election results. Probably not too pleased. I can tell from Facebook statuses and Twitter comments that there is a lot of fear and disappointment out there.

Although who I voted for didn't win, I know this decision was out of my hands. God knows what He's doing. I have to keep telling myself that because I find myself slipping into moments of not "feeling" that way. I guess there must be a lot of healing that needs to take place in our nation and in many individual's hearts. And I know that since I am so guilty of being embarassingly ignorant of history in general and black history specifically, I'll at least have some frame of reference for my new little guy. To be able to say, "hey, you're not the only one who is adopted. You're not the only boy with dark skin whose parents have light skin.You're not alone. Look at our president."

And that gives me hope.

There were some more close-to-home results last night that really affected us. Positively, we are thrilled that a township millage passed allowing a natural area or park on a huge parcel of land at the top of our street rather than the development with 110 cookie-cutter homes that a developer proposed, which caused our neighborhoods to band together and fight for many, many months. This is a HUGE victory and relief for us.

On a sadder note, I'm worried about the passage of the "legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana in Michigan" that happened last night. I started having visions of being in a car accident because of a stoned high schooler who had a "prescription" for his pot and losing one or all of my children, myself or Dan. But I can't let anxieties like that drive me and give way to fears and anxieties. I have to think of the cancer patients whose pain can be alleviated when this admission is enacted and administered as it was meant to be.

I was also heartbroken by the passage of our proposal 2 that allows for the expansion of stem-cell research. Again, pretty ignorant, but not feeling like it's a very good thing. But, again, I have to give it to God and trust in His goodness, not thrust the foundations of all my trust, warm fuzzy feelings, or fears for the future on mere, mortal man (and woman for all the PC'ers out there).

It's a new dawn, it's a new day. Let's start there and go with it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My punkin

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I was intrigued by the white pumpkins at the pumpkin patch this year. I thought I needed to either carve a snowflake (too soon?) or something else appropriately white into the pumpkin.

Most of the ghost templates were not quite to my liking. I found a very witty T-shirt design that featured Pacman as the "pumpkin" chasing a white "ghost". So I cropped and blew up the design, printed it out and carved.

We had to use some wire to suspend the ghost within the outline. If we were mechanical geniuses with unlimited access to Radio Shack materials, we could have automated it to make the ghost spin. But, we don't have the unlimited access to Radio Shack anymore...

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The only bummer is that since candle flame burns orange, it makes my white pumpkin & ghost appear orange rather than white. I'll have to see if I can get one of them new-fangledy batt'ry powered pumpkin lights to keep the integrity of my project for Halloween night.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

pink bubbles

Remember that show, "Dharma & Greg"? He's a straight-laced lawyer and she's a laissez faire hippie yoga instructor--and their marriage is a comedy of errors.

Other than some cheap entertainment, I took away the "put it all in a bubble and blow it all away" concept that Dharma uses.

I have a very, very full bubble today. I'm on the verge of bursting. Into wracking sobs, a screaming fit, or an emotionally catatonic state.

But none of those are very healthy options. For myself, or my 3 kids). So, I have no other option but to stand with my feet shoulder-width apart, raise my hands high above my head, swoop them out and make a ginormous circle for each "thing" that is causing me angst today. And once I've emptied my mind and filled my bubble, I will just blow them all away...up to heaven.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rejoicing with those who rejoice


These past 2 weeks our agency gave out somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 referrals. That means there are 8 children who now have forever families. And there are families entering the most intense and anxious phase of their adoptions. They have to wait to pass court in Ethiopia. Which is completely and totally out of their hands. Once their child passes court and is officially "theirs", they can post pictures and names of their children on their websites. And they can start to make travel plans to go pick them up.

We are still nose-pressed-to-the-glass watching the mail for just 2 documents we need to finalize our dossier. Once we're on "the list" of families waiting to be introduced to our children, we'll breathe a lot easier.

Stylin' #2

n1492725377_72804_6821 by you.
Seriously, gotta love the knee socks here. This is my "Sunday best".

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bangs

n1492725377_72786_8584 by you.

My childhood Sunday school teacher posted some old pictures of us on Facebook. I just laughed and laughed at my bangs! This photo was taken at a Sunday school Christmas party at my teacher's home. She and her mom and sister are all very musical, so they sat down with instruments and gave us each a turn at conducting.
My sweatshirt is seriously stylin' as well.

Guess I'm about as fashionable now as I was then. Oh well. At least I'm fun, right?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pumpkining

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We had set aside tonight to foray out into the cold and carve pumpkins at a Starbucks "Carving & Coffee" event, but the S'bux employee who was supposed to be the event planner failed to execute said planned event. So, we had to come up with a plan to make this much-looked-forward evening turn out just as fun and exciting as getting to make a mess all over Starbucks' floor and drink coffee and eat pastries.

Since we had a busy morning playing with friends, dinner had to be a throw-together. I quickly browned some ground beef, added onion soup mix and water, and thickened it up. I mashed some yukon gold potatoes with butter, half 'n half and sour cream, and Liam chose brown sugar carrots for our veggie.

This was the first time I had ever served "ground beef and gravy" to the kids, I had no idea how it would go over. Let's just say we have a new recipe to add to our repertoire. We ate every last bite. This was one of my favorite meals growing up. Eating it was a trip down memory lane for me.

With a hot, hearty meal under our belts, we headed off to Mejier to buy some pumpkin carving tools to carve the patterns we had found and printed off the internet for each pumpkin. Hooray for some $ left on a Meijer gift card! We were even able to splurge on a donut for each of us AND some of those totally addicting candy pumpkins.

We raced home and started slashing our pumpkins like sugar-crazed maniacs. The kids were each allowed to pick out a candy pumpkin for each year of their age plus "one to grow on". We put on a Halloween CD we got from the library to set the mood. Dan mulled cider with a cinnamon stick to help the donuts go down. Then after one or two pokes and the kids getting "tired" of carving, Dan and I carved 'til our hands were numb while trying to keep the kids occupied, from sawing off appendages with the miniscule carving paraphenalia, and watching the clock to see if we could get these crazy things carved so we could light them up, snap a picture or two, then get the sugar-crashing and very tired kids into bed.

Liam insisted that the deer were going to eat their pumpkins if we left them out on the front porch overnight. The garage wasn't "safe" either (apparently). Dan did some fast-talking and convinced him that leaving the pumpkins on the picnic table of the back deck was perfectly safe. To which Elli promptly replied that the deer could just jump over the fence then walk up and eat them...we did a little "Debbie Downer" music and employed the "distraction" tactic as we herded everyone to their rooms to pick out PJ's and books.

What could have been a disaster due to disappointed plans turned into a fun evening indeed. One I will remember for many years to come. I love my little pumpkin carvers.

Posing with the Pumpkins by you.
(Cinderella for Elli, Transformer for Liam, Mickey Mouse for Addi)
--have we been marketed or what?--

And the dish ran away with the spoon

just Monday 013 by you.
"Leap of Faith...Leap of Faith"...
the little ditty from the musical "Rent" keeps running through my head any time I start to have a mis-giving about this adoption. About sending money out in a time when our economy seems to be going south.

This isn't our first leap. I think our first leap as a couple was moving to Michigan so Dan could attend seminary. Giving up secure jobs where we'd been offered 10% raises, an awesome first-floor-of-a-huge-Victorian-home apartment and close proximity to our families.

God has been so much the author of our story. We've had a few chapters that we tried to write ourselves, and thankfully God allows us the option of deleting or re-writing them. Like the chapter on the red mini van. That one was a mistake, but we're glad we can just hit the 'delete' button and keep on writing the next chapter.

There are chapters we don't really go back and read over and over again, but they are still part of our story.

There are some waiting to be finished. As I was reading "Bird by Bird" last night, I was reminded that writers are less thrilled with the final work than they are the process of writing. That helps me remember to enjoy the 'process' all the more and not shut down 'til I can skip to the last page and find out how everything turns out. 'cause I've never been that person. I refuse to skip ahead in books and in life. Word by word, page by page, I revel in the story as it unfolds.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

(signed) SEALED (delivered)

The first gold seal...  by you.

Our first gold seal arrived today. This is my birth certificate.
Officially sealed by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Just waiting for Dan's birth certificate
and our marriage license to come back sealed
before we can send all our paperwork off to Ethiopia.

compression confession

Opaque
I love cold months because I can start wearing my PANTYHOSE again!

I know it's weird. But when you grew up longing for the day you were given the go-ahead to buy a "Flicker" rotating blade shaver and given permission to shave from your ankle to your knee--the place where your "knee-highs" covered--then it becomes some shade of normal. Or at least as normal as "Suntan" colored hose look on every person that wears them.
Flicker Classic Shaver Womens 1 Each
When you're me and you wore compression stockings after your second and third pregnancies to help with the bulging varicose veins and throbbing legs that pained you day and night and discovered that even though you have to use a cocktail of baby powder, shoe horns, and super-heroine hand-strength to get them on, that they suck in skin and muscle and make lumps into curves and actually help keep you warm, you roll on the floor to tug those tight-knit screen-door like hose around the turn-on-a-dime curve of your ankle because it will be worth it all.

SO, when autumn rolls around and I'm pushing the cusp of boot-wearing season I dust off the handle to the drawer that holds the 3 pairs of compression hose I had to get a prescription from my doctor for, order online and paid an arm and two veiny-legs for. Because not only will I be able to gently glide into the pants that don't *really* fit, but I won't have to bend over, twist or do the little wigga-wigga-wiggle dance to pull up said pants before muscling the button and challenging the zipper to close. And there is no way on earth these babies will ever get a snag, runner, or rip in them. They are virtually inpenetrable. I think they might even be bulletproof.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

apolitical

Yesterday was probably the most pop-political day of 2008 for me. I try to stay out of political conversations for the most part because I believe politics is local. So if you're gonna talk big, I want to know that you're attending and doing your part in local government before I'll listen to your top-down views of things.

Ennyhoo. I got a phone call from our preschool warning that because the President was in town and the motorcade would be driving the street the preschool is on, we might experience some traffic or other delays.

I was the 4th car behind the policeman who stopped traffic at the turnoff before the preschool. As I sat and tried to explain to Elli and Addi who the president was, what he does, why he needs so much fanfare and security etc., I saw people pulling out their camera phones or parking their cars to get out and watch the motorcade drive by. And I got into the moment a little more.

Had I known I'd actually be in the vicinity of the motorcade, twice, I would like to think I would have made a sign. I think it would have said, "I'm gonna miss you". Because I am.

Despite what has or hasn't happened during this presidency, I've been at peace. Knowing that a man who knows God personally is in charge of our country has been all I needed to know about him to trust he and his wife to represent us and make decisions for us. They've been kind of like a mom and dad. I don't always understand their decisions, or agree with them, but I trust them enough to hope they know what they are doing and see how things play out. And even if we disagree on something, I still stay on their team and keep things cordial with them.

I was thinking about all of this while I was mowing the lawn later that afternoon. "What if George Bush drove up our street, and saw me mowing our lawn and stopped to ask me some questions?", I thought. "What questions would he ask me? Would it be things like 'who are you going to vote for in the next election?' or 'how is your family doing in this time of economic stress?'." (Sorry, I forget how punctuation works with questions inside of thoughts inside of hypothetical conversations)

My answers would be:
1. I haven't done my homework yet. (I'm envisioning an hour or two on my own at the library to look up each candidate's bio, information, platforms, and maybe watch a bit of each debate before making a totally media-free decision--one plus of not having cable and rarely watching TV. I haven't seen a single commentary or commercial because I refuse to watch them) And I haven't really prayed about who to vote for yet.
2. We are rich. For some reason our family of 5, living on one income has enough, and even extra. So much that we are able to expand our family one more time as well as help others to get through these tough times.

I kinda got stuck there. Thinking back to our first house and how we lived the life of excess and how quarrelly and stressed out it made us sometimes. How we've lived with debt and how imprisoning and weighty it is.And how God--just in the nick of time--prompted us to re-vamp our way of living and attack that debt with a ferocity that abolished it in half the time we thought we could do it and has allowed us to live the most freeing and generous life since. How that insane period of paying everything off prepared us to step into an economy riddled with dourness and uncertainty and not be burdened with worry about finances. How living simply allows us to simply live.

Why a God who felt so distant during depression and months of silence on our end would still bestow His grace in our lives. Like a parent tucking a note in a lunchbox, or a 5 dollar bill in your cupholder.

As I go through a Bible study re-affirming the foundations of my faith, it is so eye-opening to revisit anew a relationship that has morphed so many times I wonder if it will ever lose its elasticity and turn into a gooey blob. The first night when an older lady said, "I'm falling in love with Jesus all over again", my eyebrows instinctively furrowed. My knee-jerk cynic chalked it up to one of those, "touchy-feely" people syndromes.

But I'm starting to "feel" that too. And I am NOT a toucher. Those of you who know me know that is true.

So when I attack my husband with two hugs within a span of an hour in our kitchen, it's because I'm falling in love again. With more than Jesus. I'm mending relationships and re-kindling friendships that have fallen along the wayside as my path tunnel-visioned for a while there.

And so, for me, one of the more important aspects of who I vote for will be someone who I feel seeks the heart of Jesus. Can I ever get close enough to either of the candidates to seriously ask them about their relationship with Him? No. Have they been asked about religion? Yes. Can I trust God to give me wisdom to know who to cast my vote for? Yes. Does God care? Yup, He does. And I do too.

And I'm thankful that whatever happened years ago with hanging chads and electoral votes and re-counts and breaking news to see who actually won the election happened. Because these past 4 years have been hard enough on our family in lots of ways, but at least we've been pretty unscathed by decisions that have been made on our behalf politically.

We've paid our taxes and we've benefited from government programs, so I will certainly be exercising my civic duty to vote. I just don't know for whom that vote will be...yet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The enso, a symbol of Zen Buddhism.
if i had a maid, i would make the maid spread the jelly

Moments of insanity

Sometimes I miss my "depression". There. I said it.

As I shared my prayer request at Bible study last night, I heard words being spoken by my own mouth so foreign-sounding to my own ears. I have been feeling like I have the flu for the past few days. Physically ill. Limited. Restricted. Painful. Off-kilter. Not right. Not myself. I shared that this is exactly how I felt mentally when I was in my post-baby PPD stage of life. And the physical illness was mimicking the mental illness I found so frustrating and crippling.

It's one of those, "miss it like a cavity" kind of phantom pains. I think I needed to "feel" it once more to remember to revel in how wonderful health feels now.

At the same time, I miss the creativity my brain was able to tap into while it was misfiring, short circuiting and traveling routes it was not deigned to traverse. For some reason during that time, words flowed like molten chocolate. Thick. Smooth. Gentle. Gooey. Sticky and sweet.

Now I feel like when I write, it's back to the old me. Technical. Bullet points. Factual. Lists.

I miss the exotic tangents my mind wandered on. The vocab words my muddled mind was recalling. The explicit ways I was able to describe abstract thoughts and feelings. My fingers not typing fast enough to keep up with my speed of light thoughts.

Now I stop and pause to think of a word. I know it's in there, but I can't think of just the right one. I try to describe an experience or emotion and I come up sounding like a nervous sixth grader trying to ask a parent for permission to go bowling in mixed company. I'm distracted by my focus.

I look at the beautiful fall palette and am moved by the panoramic melange of colors and all I can think is "awesome".

It's given me a new insight into the struggle many genius artists have struggled with--like in the song "Starry, Starry Night" about Van Gogh. Balancing sanity with genius to create. The writer that sits in front of the typewriter not able to tap a key because you can't turn "it" on and off like the water taps at the sink. The musician that pounds his fists on his instrument in pure frustration that he can hear the melody but can't translate it into notes. And on a much, much lower level than them, I ache in frustration with them at the paralysis.

I don't miss viewing my world in shades of grey. I don't miss looking at photographs and not remembering the context or the experience, or the foggy look in my eyes. I don't miss the paranoia, the robotic gestures of living day to day. But I do miss that one side-effect. Sometimes.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Milestones


Since Liam is in K-garten and Elli thinks she is too, they have been "reading" everything with words. There is a "Milestones" bus that drops off one of Liam's school friends, and the kids asked what that word meant.

I tried to explain that when you achieve something, maybe you mark it in a way you can remember it. Like as you grow taller, you make a mark to chart your growth.

We've been milestoning left and right these days. Here are just a few:
  • Addi potty trained
  • Liam riding a 2 wheeler
  • Elli starting to ride a bike w/ training wheels
  • Liam learning to read & write letters & numbers
  • Elli reading speed limit signs (and making sure I am 'obeying the law' as we drive)
  • Reaching the 'second trimester' part of our adoption
  • Graduating from PPD support groups to actual Bible study and MOPS groups

Friday, October 10, 2008

Too much

I just have way too much swirling around in my head right now. And all of it is GOOD!

From 3 bags of clothes for Liam from his former preschool teacher to 2,300 Tilapia harvested from Mully's fish pots to having a letter from the US Government saying that we are deemed worthy of adopting an orphan to healthy children and a belly full of awesome potluck food.

This has been a week heaped with blessings. So many that I feel like I just cannot absorb them all. I don't know where to put all the thoughts in my head and don't have enough time to bask in them or share about them all.

I just know that right now we are "standing under the spout where the blessings pour out." And it is good.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Thank you Lord

Boys Thunderbowl Columbia Parka, RangerIn our current economy (aka gloom and doom), we seem to be immune. Yes, paying over $4 per gallon of gas is painful, but not impossible for us. We don't have to get another source of income to make ends meet, cut back in any areas, and somehow we're still tithing with a little extra to be generous when needs present themselves, tucking away a little bit each month for college funds, investments, paying a preschool tuition and saving enough money to pay cash for an adoption that is costing us a little more than 1/2 of our annual income.

I was pondering this paradox as I snipped the tag off of Liam's brand-new winter coat. His second new coat ever--the first one we've ever bought for him. The price tag said "Columbia" and "$83". We paid less than 1/4 of that price for it. It is warm. It will last him 1, if not 2, winters, then go down the line of kids for many winters to come. It is well-made and nice-looking. It is warm without being cumbersome. I just sat an marveled at it.

Not the coat itself. Not the money we have. God's provision. It floors me. It makes me close my eyes and breathe thanks on behalf of my children who don't know how good they have it. It envelops me like my son's warm, well-made jacket. It fills me like a crisp, juicy apple picked straight off the tree. It's sweet juices run down my chin and razzle-dazzle my senses and nearly blow my mind, which just cannot wrap itself around this un-earned and un-deserved overabundance.

"And my soul wells up in Halleljuah..."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How I do like them apples


My kids and I made some good old fashioned applesauce the new-fangled way today. We borrowed a neighbor's apple peeler/corer/slicer and I cooked the "slinky apples" as my kids were calling them in my electric roaster oven. I never even had to use the potato masher, they just kind of melted into applesauce on their own while we were at the library.

Seriously some of the best stuff on earth.

I love that my kids know and have done the process from picking to peeling (I think I only peeled 4 or 5 apples on the whirley-gig because my kids loved doing it so much!) stirring to tasting. I know exactly what's in that applesauce--apples, water, and some organic cinnamon. And that's IT. No sugar, no high fructose corn syrup. Just a lot of excitement and zeal to give that sauce some sass.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sunday afternoon plans--family apple picking!

Apple pickingI'm so excited for Sunday. Usually it means Dan heading out before the sun to prep for Sunday services and the kids and I staying in PJ's all morning.

This Sunday will probably start out the same way, but we plan to have some pizza for us and anyone else who would like to join us on a trip to the apple farm for some U-pick apples!

They are open for picking on Sunday from 12-4pm. So:

Pizza @ Scotts after church (around 12:30?)
1:30ish leave to head to apple farm to pick 2pm 'til done

Ed Dunneback & Girl's Farm
- apples, strawberries, pumpkins
3025 6 mile Road, NW Grand Rapids, MI 49544. Phone: 616-784-0058.
Email: dunnebackfruit@aol.com.
Apples, strawberries (u-pick and ready-picked), asparagus, sweet cherries, apple cider, caramel apples, donuts, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, cornstalks, Indian corn, straw bales, recipes, play area, miscellaneous farm market items and more! Open: mid-May thru Oct. seasonal hours.

Directions:
Located approx. 10 minutes NW of downtown Grand Rapids, Exit 26 (Fruit Ridge Ave.) off I-96, travel 3 miles to 6 Mile Road, Go east on 6 Mile Road, 1-1/4 miles to farm at corner of Peach Ridge Ave. Strawberries available mid-June. Come pick your own, or call ahead and order them all packed and ready to go. Hours are seasonal – 8:00a to 7:00p, depending on weather conditions and ripening.

I'll call on Saturday to see what's in season for picking.

Monday, September 22, 2008

lies...ALL LIES!

Remember that line from Austin Powers, the Spy who Shagged Me? Yeah, I'm glad I do. Because when I'm really upset about someone lying to me, I often think of screaming that, but just the thought of me screaming this line like the slick-haired Frau makes me pause, and it helps the anger subside.

Lies really hurt me. Lies really hurt you. Lies really, really hurt Jesus.

I have lied, do daily lie, and will probably always (but hopefully less and less) lie and hurt myself and other people. But I do not do it overtly or covertly very often.

I don't know whether to credit it to my parents or as a God-given thing, but for some reason when I tell a mis-truth, leave out a detail purposely, and whether I get caught or not, it bothers me to the core. Shaking and rattling my bones until I come clean or make it right.

Like the old Indian saying that a "conscience is a three-cornered stone that when you do something wrong spins and spins making you hurt on the inside until you make it right and make the stone stop spinning. But if you ignore and endure the spinning long enough, the cornered edges become so dull you don't even feel the spinning any more when you do wrong."

I think there must be some people out there that have ignored and endure it so long they don't have any idea that their three-cornered-rock is spinning anymore. I'm trying to teach my children to stop immediately and make things right when they do a wrong.

Not to let something you did hang over you or dis-affect you so much that you go on with life as if it never happened.

For some reason, my sense of justice is so acute it is what made me a killer HR person. I could sniff a 98% truthful answer as potently as fresh-ground coffee. I could read non-verbals like billboards, read the invisible ink of "between lines" of letters/e-mails as if they were written in Sharpie, and wasn't afraid to follow-up or ask tough questions flat out. It saved my company from any poor hires during the time that I was working for them. And the hires that I disagreed with or warned against turned out to be vindicated every time. Except for one--and I am so pleasantly surprised at that one. This justice thing, though, it's a gift and a curse. Black and white isn't a very colorful way to live.

And the same falls true in my relationships. If I ask you a question and you answer it, but then a few weeks later I overhear a slightly different variation on your first story, I know the differences. And I wonder if you ever knew me well enough to know you can't put something past me without me picking up on those slight changes.

Or if I confront you on something straight up more than once and either you give me a surfacey meant-to-be-funny answer and I bring it up again and you don't answer at all, you gave me the answer I already knew but in my heart of hearts was hoping wouldn't be true. And a little piece of me is sad.

As much as I hate all of this, I know there is a redemptive aspect to it. It's that 1/100 of what I think and feel as I reel from the stinging slaps of these injustices is what Jesus feels from me every day. And I need to feel and understand that empathetically to understand how my being faithful in the little things--no matter how tedious, painful, irksome, or sloggingly hard they are, they are necessary to restore His faith, trust, and relationship with me. That every time I am blatantly honest and apologize to someone for not answering the phone when they called because I "just didn't feel like it", Jesus is sad that I didn't feel like it, but says, "yes!", that I was honest, admitted my fault, and tried to apologize and make it right.

That when 2 days after taking a book from the library book sale without paying for it, I return and admit that I walked out of the library without paying for my purchase and am returning to pay the money I owed.

That when I make poor nutrition choices, don't exercise, spend more time nosing around in other people's business on the internet than I do with my kids, think negative thoughts about my husband's work schedule, make snooty assumptions about other moms I see at school drop-off/pick-ups, or only do a half-ass job of my Bible study lesson, I'm also a big, fat liar.

Yes, it sucks. It is painful. It is humiliating. It is frustrating. That's why Paul slashes these words across the page, "WHY do I do the things I DON'T want to do"?

Maybe, because we need to. To feel. To understand. To be reminded. To forgive ourselves and others. To better realize just how deep and wide and long and high is Jesus' forgiveness and acceptance of us. And to cut the people who do us wrong a little slack. Not to let them off the hook, but at least give them some wiggle room, another chance, and some extra time to make things right.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Transitioning

These past weeks couldn't have gone better if I had planned them myself. Here's a little re-cap.

Week 1: Liam starts Kindergarten.

Week 2: Liam is starting to get his K-garten schedule down and we add in Elli starting preschool 3 afternoons/week.

This is week 3. This week we will add MY activities to the calendar. I'll be doing a women's bible study on Monday nights. Every Monday night. That means homework every week that needs to be done for each Monday study. That is pretty intense going from nothing to a weekly something.

I'll also be attending MOPS two Thursday mornings a month.

The Bible study and MOPS will be times for me to "receive". The study for me to receive instruction on how to get back into studying the Word and disciplining myself for God & me time. To receive encouragement and challenge from other women and maybe even practice my pastoral abilities with others.

The MOPS for me to drop my kids off in classes I know they enjoy while I fellowship with other moms in my age-and-stage of life while receiving encouragement from mentor moms. This is my second go at joining a MOPS colony, I hope my attempt to enter will be a lot less rocky than last time.

DV:FX starts up soon, and we have dates on the calendar for all sorts of school/preschool activities. So much for trying to keep our calendar open and empty so that we'll be ready for a trip to Africa and some concentrated family time, but that's our life.

So, things are about to get busy here. I'm looking forward to a fuller calendar. But not being overly busy to the point where we're stressed out. And I'm thinking my 'extra' time to write will be pretty limited.

Also, my computer has flatlined once. Dan somehow toggled it back to life, but I know that...along with the electrical-taped power cord and various other signs of aging and eminent death are showing themselves more and more frequently. Today's 6 hour flatline was not at all a sweet taste of what is to come.

I'm resigning myself to the fact that I will be without a computer in the near future and have to be OK with that. It sounds out of the question, painful, unheard-of and unnecessary. But when I think that our son is over in Ethiopia very likey going without meals, I think that going without a computer for a season is a very small and worthy price to pay.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

melange

I'm wearing a fully, twirly, girly skirt today. The girls were wearing skirts or dresses (anyone surprised) and asked me if I could dress pretty today too. I guess knee-hole jeans and free T-shirts from church aren't that pretty, huh? Liam asked me why I was all dressed fancy--I think he was afraid the week imploded and it was church day again already.

Speaking of Liam, he's home today with a cough, runny nose, and lots of snorking noises. I had the attendance line programmed into my phone and just pressed a button, left a message, and he gets what he likes to call, "a day off". We went to the library and got Scooby Doo & Batman for him to watch during naptime. Otherwise he'll just ride his bike, scooter, and play all afternoon when the whole reason for staying home was to rest...and NOT share germs with the rest of the K-garten class.

Addi is potty training. After 2 little dribble accidents the first 2 days, she has stayed dry. We just need to get her to do the "other" business on the toilet, then I think we'll be good to go. I'm not quite ready to free her from the beautiful confines of her crib just yet. So I'll still do diapers overnight 'til I'm ready for that next plateau.

The e-vites for a friend's baby shower just went out and it got me very excited. I have some work to do to fulfill my shower responsibilities, but let me just say they are some of my favorite things in the whole world that I get to do for her.

I enjoyed chatting with all 3 brothers within the span of the same week--that is unheard of.

I'm trying to watch calories. I was reading the back of a cereal box extolling the virtues of healthy eating and how many calories a person should/should not consume in a day and was just curious as to where I stand in those numbers. So far I've consumed 600 calories today between breakfast and lunch. No cocoa laden coffee or snacks for me thus far today. But not enough water, either. ugh. That'll be the next thing I start tracking and working on improving.

I'm almost done with the "fun" book I'm reading and I think I'll jump into my 2 required adoption books next. Like a pool on a chilly morning, I'll just squinch up my muscles, hold my breath, and get it over with.

Dan and I have been watching season 1 of "Scrubs" after we get the kids to bed and before we go to bed. I think we both have this dire need for being together and soaking in some easy funnies without having to exert any energy and a way to wind down after some grueling days adjusting to the new schedule of the schoolyear--be it for church or home-life.

'at's it for now, folks.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Growing old...GREYSfully

So, I'm sighing and rolling my eyeballs while waiting for my dawdling daughters to brush their teeth. I happen to glance at myself in the mirror--not something a busy mom has a lot of time to do often. And I think the light must be hitting my hair funny.

I lean in a little closer...adjust my locks a bit...pull a few strands out of the way...then lift one up. And there it is. I shout, "I think I just found my first grey hair!" to Dan, who laughs and says, "have you looked at my head lately...I've got lots of greys".

I decided to stop coloring my hair about a year ago. After seeing Addi's reddish-auburn hair began to wonder what my "natural" color really was.

Well, I'm all about keeping it real. And I like silver jewelry and have a pair of shiny silver Addidas sneakers, so I guess I can handle a few silky strands of silver running through my hair.

I just don't think they fit with my freckles and youthfully exuberant outlook on life.

Jenna

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

One of these things is not like the other
We all decided to make 'sad faces' at lunch before taking Liam to K-garten. All except, Liam, of course. He was too excited!

He loves to pick out his outfits...

He carefully chose his own outfit, even down to the tan socks he's wearing underneath his crocs--"because I'll have to change into my gym shoes and I need socks inside of them". He's way too smart already...

Elementary home for the next 5 years!

For the next umpteen years, this will be our children's place of learning.

Long walk to the door...

He was so focused on getting to the door he almost forgot his 'specially packed back pack. Note: I was the single parent dropping my child off at the curb. All other K-gartners had entourages and camera crews escorting them from car to classroom. I had a tiny amount of guilt, but I think this was the most organic way for Liam to start school. He's not the big fuss type of kid. Ellison will be a whole other story...

She did it!

Whew. No tears. He made it all the way to the doors. I did it. I'm ok. I can go to the grocery store now...

Home on the bus...

He has three neighbor GIRLS riding the same bus home...they are taking turns sitting with him each day. I think he'll be OK on the bus. My biggest fear is assuaged.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A mommy's blessing

low liam 3 by you.
Liam

Coming into our lives a *ahem* little before we had planned or expected, but changing them in a way we could have never imagined.

The most active baby I've ever had in my belly. Not happy until you were mobile. Once you learned to walk and run you've never stopped.

Your insatiable appetite for learning mirrors both your dad's and mine so much I don't know whether to burst with pride or worry. But, it helps me know that you'll love school--at least the learning part.

It was adorable how you were so focused on walking up the sidewalk to the K-garten door that you almost left your backpack in the van today. I'd rather have you so independent and confident albeit a tiny bit forgetful rather than...well...clingy.

Promising us to try to remember every single thing so you can tell us about it rather than being tight-lipped and private, I hope you always want to share your life and experiences with us.

The dough for tonight's requested meal of pepperoni pizza is in the breadmaker, and the applesauce is in the fridge. I hope your day is going great and that you get to try out the zip-line, that the locker didn't stick or pinch your fingers, that you meet and like Danny (and that he's a 'good' kid too), and that your ride home on the bus is everything you dreamed it would be.

I haven't shed a tear. I'm so happy for you. I wish I could go with you. I loved school. I pray that you will soak it up like a sponge, and either be totally oblivious to the "bad stuff" like kids being mean to each other, unkind words, or whatever else could go wrong, or that you're able to handle it well. I hope we've done a good job with you at home these first 5 years to prepare you for this and all the other exciting life experiences looming just on the horizon for you.

I'm praying so many things for you, Bugaboo. My heart is full. So much love to you always, my firstborn son.

Happy first day of K-garten Liam. Now, I'm off for some "me" time...!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

http://www.aceshowbiz.com/images/contest/mc_dvd.jpg
I was wandering the library shelves and happened upon this video. From 2008--yet I had never heard of it? I scanned the back and saw the word "adoption" and decided to bring it home.

Dan and I threw it in around 10:30pm last night. We were both exhausted and folding 2 loads of laundry. I said, "let's watch it for 10-15 minutes and see if it's worth finishing".

We watched the entire thing.

This was a swell little flick. Quirky. Lots of almost creepy whispering--but maybe we just had it turned down too soft? Just ankle-deep in adoption themes. Yet, strangely allegorical to a lot of facets of adoption in the reading we've been doing.

Amazing how quick and easy the adoption seemed to go for John Cusack's character (they must not have needed to show all the paperwork and waiting)--unless that was due to his character's sci-fi writer celebrity status?

The only thing I would have changed--I wish at the end he would have added the other side of the spectrum to his plea to talk his little Martian down from the planetarium rooftop.

Instead of saying "they were so stupid"( in reference to the parent(s) who abandoned him) I wish he would have said, "either they were the smartest people in the world for choosing to give you up for a better chance at life, or the stupidest for not realizing how wonderful you are and keeping you all for themselves".

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Unexpected

My parents taking all 3 kids overnight. I've never had this luxury before. I've never had parents who lived close enough to help us out in this way. Who want to be with our kids and are excited to get to spend time with them.

I'm jealous of all the others who get "free babysitting" or can just drop their kids off at the grandparents at the drop of a hat, I've felt so very trapped and ball-and-chained to my kids for 5 years now. I have a feeling that as soon as I get home to a quiet house I'll sit there in stunned silence and get not a single thing I've dreamed or fantasized about doing done because I'm so in shock. And then they'll be back...and I'll still be sitting un-showered in my PJ's wishing I could do it all over again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"I would have to say April 25...

...Because it's not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket." (10 pts)

It is gor-juss outside today. So I'm sitting on the front lawn watching my kids and their stuffed toys bike, skate and scoot-board, fiddle with the sprinkler, and shove each other then hug and make up whilst doing some work on the computer. And feeling so super content I could just about burst.

A lot of people came and went while we were on our road trip/vacation to Cape Cod, then a stop in Canada on the way back home. Friends, co-workers, acquaintances. It was a much easier transition being gone and not having to go through saying goodbyes, I must admit.

I'm frankly excited to see what the changes bring. I love mixing it up. If it weren't for our foray away from our hometown, we wouldn't be where we are today. Know the people who are shaping our lives in such a positive way. Be doing amazing things with God because we're meeting Him where He's working. Fill the holes others left open because they were willing to go. Invite fresh eyes and ears to creative processes for Dan at work. Flux bringing newness and variety--spicing up life for us all.

I'm excited to see LAB take on a new personality and format under Diane's passionate and super-organized guidance. I'm looking forward to meeting more people in my community by attending MOPS at a different church. I'm a little nervous to join a WW small group this year and really be held accountable by weekly Bible study and open sharing. I'm ecstatic that Liam's going to kindergarten because I know how much I loved school and see that love of learning in him too. I'm excited for a few months of concentrated "girl time" with Elli and Addi before #4 comes from Ethiopia. I'm trilling and tra-la-la ing at the next level our marriage seems to be climbing to with Dan. I love seeing my parents more often now that they have a second home in MI. I'm looking forward to a nephew being born and praying for a sister's pregnancy to happen. So many wonderful things are happening to us right now that I feel like a braggart, but we must be standing "under the spout where the blessings come out" right now.

What a place to be. I'll miss these lazy days of summer. I'll miss last year's roles and routines. But only a tiny bit--I'm looking forward to what each tomorrow brings and reveling in the todayness of today.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Is this a celebrity sighting?

Jenna by you.
Seriously--it's like I'm trying to hide out...
and I'm on a private beach!

Monday, August 04, 2008

My new favorite spaghetti sauce

Ingredients & Nutrition

Italian Sausage

Packed full with our fresh Italian Sausage, this sauce explodes with flavor!

This sauce has been carefully hand-crafted, using the finest meat, herbs and spices as a bold complement to your pasta, rice & breads.

You won't believe what it will do for your Lasagna!

Absolutely the best tasting Sausage Sauce!

Granted, the ingredient list starts off with water and tomato paste, so it's really nothing special. But for some reason this is the sauce that my homemade sausage, pepperoni and cheese pizza bread tastes the best dipped in.

Yes, it's normally $4.99 a bottle and no I never buy it at full price. While at D&W on a frantic tahini run, I saw jars of this sauce on the end-cap on sale for $2.99. I also saw a little coupon hanging around the neck of various jars for $1.00 off the purchase of a jar of sauce. So, I grabbed 4 jars (with the coupons on them of course) and staggered up to the express lane with my precariously-perched glass jars and spent $8 on what is usually $20 of spaghetti sauce.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

To quote Elton John...

It's sad, its so sad
It's a sad, sad situation
And it's getting more and more absurd
It's sad, so sad
Why can't we talk it over
That sorry seems to be the hardest word

I've just been so sad lately. Beating myself up for failing as a friend, sister, mentor, mom, wife, daughter of God et al. I had a chance. I tried. Well, kinda. When it got hard, I bailed. It's hard to fight Satan, he's so strong and knows my weaknesses oh too well.

When I got rejected, I took it personally. I failed to see to the deeper need of the people I was called to serve and succumbed early on in the fight by letting a mere flesh wound signal my retreat. My strong sense of justice called me to fight to help break a sad, sinful cycle of addiction. Unfortunately, the one I was fighting for didn't want out--it's easier to stay in the cycle than break free. But I was willing to help walk the wire. My help wasn't wanted. For that I am sorry. I have failed you and myself, God's heart and mine hurt for that.

The saddest part, there are children involved. There was a chance for the cycle to be broken while the kids were small enough that they wouldn't be ravaged by the consequences, the poor examples they have as their gauge of what it looks like to be a man of God, woman of God, husband and wife who have left their parents and are cleaving to each other as God ordained, a healthy marriage worth the work, the muck, facing and weathering the storms. Healthy parental relationships rather than co-dependent ones well into adulthood. A reality based on relativistic ego-centrist interests rather than in ...well, reality. Financial nooses being tied rather than blisteringly unraveled by hard work and determination.

I tried writing a letter, but after praying, asking around for some objective advice as to whether or not to actually send it, realized that it won't be read and understood, but just misconstrued once again.

So, most of us with frustrated hurting hearts who have tried to help, tried to follow the guidelines in Matthew 18 of confrontation, who have tried via Bible studies and accountability groups, painful and often one-sided friendships, asking tough questions, giving and giving some more, attempting to mirror Christ to these people feel that although we ought to be forming an intervention to prevent yet another disaster-in-the-making, but that we have no other recourse except to bring our love and worries before God's throne.

To beg Him to bolster them up in the course that they have chosen. To shield their children from the storms ahead and their heritage riddled with the "sins of the fathers". To surround them with people who will be allowed to ask the tough questions and keep pursuing these wounded hearts when the game gets tough, when they start to lose, and when they try to pick up their marbles and leave...again. To break the cycles of addiction, enablement, co-dependency, and selfishness. To open ears and eyes so the misleading babble of the beautiful One can be clearly delineated from the sometimes challenging charges of our Savior. For strength to turn head knowledge into heart knowledge and the courage to really and truly live it out.

May your journey bring you back to the heart of God.

For me, I pray forgiveness. That God will release me from harsh words and thoughts. From failures to say and do what He prompted when He prompted because I was afraid of the repercussions. That I can put the past failures as far away from me as He does. For true forgiveness to continue to happen. That I won't dwell on the past or revel in guilt. That as friends come in and out of my life, they will leave knowing God more and Jenna less. That I won't be hesitant to pursue real relationships with them because I have been hurt by others. That I won't lean on my own understanding, but always lean on God. That I'll continue to face my sins, shortcomings, and acknowledge them and grow from them--confessing them to God rather than stumbling and tripping all over them while cutting and bruising myself in the process.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

wind in my sail

  • It's hard to sit back and watch people be dumb- especially when you, yourself, work so hard to do things right. People like us really need more appreciation, I think. Way to go, Jenna- you are a great Mom- and it is fun to sit back and watch great things happen to your family! :)

  • I just wanted to encourage you in how much God has just provided during this time for us and Heidi said you were a strong woman of God so I know that you know God is so in control of this and will provide all your families needs.

  • The women's ministry is doing a major mailing next Monday. I was wondering if you would like to include information on LAB? This would be a 1/3 page promotional piece.

  • Thanks so much for having us over and for being excited about our adoption journey, even as you are in the middle of yours! I can't wait to see how everything unfolds for you guys. We will definitely be in touch.

  • You are so on top of things. We are in such good shape. I can't believe how much time you have saved me.

Monday, July 28, 2008

One of the best e-mails ever

Hi Jenna (or should I say, "Good Night, Jenna),

I wanted to e-mail and let you know that I received EVERYTHING for your
home study. I received a few things in my mailbox today (before our
training tonight), so I wanted to have a chance to come home and look over
everything before I told you your status. Congratulations! You survived
the home study process.

It has been a pleasure working with you to complete your home study, and I
hope that you keep me updated with your adoption journey.

God bless.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

(Κάθαρσις)

shaking head
thoughts buzzing like vertigo
chin tilted seesaw like with one eyebrow cocked
"i asked you to take it away, but like this? really?"
angst creeps up like stomach-acid
so many words bitten back, bidden silent--for right or for wrong?
disgusted but thankful for my grass no matter what shade of green
twisted, so twisted
wanting to want the best, but knee-jerking infection endowed sputum
fanciful insanity of the willed wild
"...the sins of the fathers..."
deep sadness and confusion
the cycle of addiction continues
enabled
so crippled
failure sheep-skinned and shellacked with Jesus isms
a reality skewed, skewered, contorted, distorted
shame
deaf & blind, probably a whole lotta dumb
poor beggar

Sunday, June 22, 2008

http://scottsadoptionjourney.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lagging

I've hardly been writing here...or on LAB...but I've been doing lots and lots of thinking, reading, praying, writing on paper, talking on the phone, etc. You probably won't see much here for a while...I think we'll be focusing our time and energies other places for the next year or two. So read up--I may let this blog lag for a while and eventually even disappear...POOF!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

soccer + mom

Jenna in action...
Bad. This is bad. And not like when fat is 'phat'. Why don't we also snap a picture of me throwing like a girl, golfing with my hands on the club like it's a hockey stick, doggy paddling in the lap pool and throwing up a granny shot.

Now, really, folks. I did grow up playing all sorts of sports and being pretty good at most of them. Someone must have dropped a quarter in the grass next to the soccer ball...I know better than to look at the ball while kicking, don't I???

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Seriously a modern-day miracle

For Immediate Release
Date: May 22, 2008
Contact: William T. Cousins , III
Township Manager
(616) 949-1500

CASCADE TOWNSHIP PURSUES TWO OPEN SPACE PROPERTIES

(Cascade Township, Michigan) Cascade Charter Township took the first step today toward the
eventual purchase of two large, undeveloped parcels; thus preserving the Township’s open space for future generations. In today’s action, the Township signed an option agreement, which gives the Township the right to purchase 80 unoccupied acres of the Tassell estate property (located north of Burton Street and East of Cascade Road), to make it a public, open space for the township. This action is pending formal approval of the option agreement by the Cascade Township Board at its next regular meeting on Wednesday, May 28, at 7:00 p.m. Additionally, the Township has been actively pursuing other large tracts of property, also identified by the Township’s long-standing Open Space Committee. These major purchases, as well as future parcels deemed suitable for purchase by the Township’s Open Space Committee, are contingent upon the successful passage of a proposal seeking a millage increase on the November 4, 2008 ballot. The Township will continue to pursue other sources of financial support (e.g. private gifts, public grants, etc.), to augment the millage.

-more

Cascade Township News Release Page Two

The public acquisition of open space was identified as a high priority by the Township’s Open
Space Committee, and by a survey of Township residents, conducted earlier this year. The
aforementioned property acquisitions are being considered because they contribute to open
space, promote land conservation, and encourage careful stewardship of land and water
resources. The purchase of these parcels also meets many of the criteria of the Natural Features Inventory in a manner that supports the Township’s Master Plan. If exercised, the option for the Tassell estate property will allow for a closing on the property on or before December 31, 2008.
# # #

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A small measure of success...for now...

Uniting as neighbors, it seems we have had some success at stopping or at least stalling a horrific proposal to develop-to-death a large plot of land at the top of our street. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know a large number of our extended neighbors through this process and will continue to be actively involved in our township's future planning.

Dear Neighbors:

I just spoke with Steve Peterson and he confirmed that John Halland has withdrawn his proposal to develop the Tassell property. He reported to Mr. Peterson that he could not arrange financing. Mr. Peterson indicated that the escrow account Mr. Halland established with the township will be charged for all the services done for this proposal, and if there is anything remaining, it will be returned to Mr. Halland.

The next meeting of the Board is Wednesday, May 28th at 7:00 PM at the Wisner Center. There is likely to be discussion of this withdrawn plan and I encourage as many people as possible to attend, in order to demonstrate that the end of this proposal is not the end of our involvement.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission is on June 2nd at 7:00 PM at the Wisner Center. I will keep you informed of the agenda as it becomes available. Issue of stormwater runoff, erosion of streams, etc. are still in play in our township and we must stay involved.

So now, with this preposterous proposal withdrawn, we can get to the business of working with the township officials to correct the process that is used to propose developments, update and make specific the ordinances that have been written with too much room for interpretation and subjectivity, require that the Comprehensive Plan have the legal weight of an ordinance and generally improve the way we, the citizens of this township, view and interact with our own community. We have begun. THANK YOU. Dick

Skullduggery


Playing pirate ship at the zoo. Fun times! Elli is saying "ahoy!" while I'm shouting "aaargh! where's me booty?". Liam is hoisting the sail and Addi is the gypsy princess.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Super Man cake

Superman Cake!

Liam's birthday theme of choice this year was Super Man. He actually wanted Spider Man, but mom Hoffman didn't have a cake pan that would allow me to easily make a cake of the webbed wonder. This cake pan was one my mom used for my brothers when they were little and I was so excited to make a super cake with Liam and my MIL--who had never used an icing bag before! I think she's hooked, and I think I did pretty well to "let go" and let Liam ice the way he wanted to, and I just gulped and let the glaring brown spot of cake showing on Super Man's belt just stay that way rather than swoop in and fix it.