Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My punkin


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...


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


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



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

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


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


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..."