Thursday, February 28, 2008

How very blessed we are

I've had some requests on my other blog for the following blog post about the TRUE cost of adoption. I was only going to post it there, but reading it again made me realize how very blessed we are. It doesn't hurt to get it read by many people. Julie, who wrote the following comments on her blog, had to make her blog private until their adoption is completed. Apparently, a family in process with Ethiopia (not hers) was denied their children (already referred) because of some comments the government officials read on their blog.

However, she has given me permission to quote part of her post on my blog. So here you go...

Thoughts by Julie...
How Much Does Adoption Cost?

...this is the answer that has taken me some time to really formulate in my mind. The question is pretty basic and largely very innocent, but the answer is fundamental to our core beliefs and perhaps not what most people who ask it are expecting to hear.

One of the most frequent questions we get is: "How much does adoption cost?"

Philosophically, the first answer to this question is that adoption, by its very nature, will have cost our child everything. Our child will have suffered more in his short life than we have ever, and, by God's grace, hopefully ever will. Our child, through the lens of three, four or perhaps five years of childhood, will have witnessed the death of his parents; will have perhaps been forced to wander the streets for food and shelter; will perhaps have been taken in by a stranger and then dropped in an orphanage where there is no familiar sound, smell or smile -- he will have experienced the kind of fear that causes you to close your eyes to shut out the desperate world around him. Adoption will have cost him everything.

I've heard several people comment that our child is so "lucky" to be adopted by our family or how "good" we are to be "doing this." I understand the heart of these comments -- and honestly, I think before I really started learning about children who have been orphaned, I probably would have had the same thoughts -- but when we stop to think about it, NO child is lucky to be adopted, because to be adopted one must first be orphaned.

What adoption is, however, is God's hand of love and grace and mercy on a child who, through no fault of their own, has lived in the depths of our fallen world where tragedy and death are realities. Adoption has nothing to do with US and it has everything to do with God. This is not a story of what WE are doing. It is a story of what GOD is doing. God loves this child SO much that He is giving him a second family. For reasons I do not necessarily understand, God has chosen us to be part of HIS plan for HIS child. As a result, God is putting HIS love in our hearts for HIS child. We will love him as our own. But he is not lucky and we are not good. We are, however, both loved beyond measure by our Father in Heaven and we are being used by Him to fulfill His perfect plan for us.

Now, before you get frustrated with me, I understand that most people are asking about our financial cost, however, and the answer to that question is: "a lot." :-)

If you'd like to reach Julie, I think you can get to her here: These Are Days Her blog, as I mentioned, is private, but you can request to read it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

You know you have too many kids when...

uh, yeah. Yesterday it was six months since Martand came home, and I mostly forgot about it until late afternoon! I didn't even put it on the Blessing blog! Bad Mommy.

er, it was because I was, uh, playing with him all day! Yeah, that's it! I was so busy enjoying him that I didn't have time to blog or post. uh huh.

Ok, seriously, I can't believe it's been six months. What I wouldn't give for a little India heat right now!

Mr. Sunshine is so smart and so cute and so sweet! Every night that I am home (not working) I put him to bed and he snuggles up in my lap. Last night he wanted to lie next to me and then he puts his hand inside my shirt on my back. He is so busy, that these snuggle times are precious. He reminds me of Rose Bud when she was small. She was the same way.

He is the most observant little person. When we fold laundry, he pulls out each piece and names its owner. Now how many 2 yo boys know which sister owns which shirt?!

He is crazy about his daddy and runs to him when he comes home. As soon as Daddy gets up in the morning, Sunshine is right there padding after him. They do exercises and then eat breakfast together. He helps Dad get all his stuff and makes sure Dad kisses everyone.

At naptime, he can't lie down until he has gotten kisses from everyone and he loves when I dance him and sing to him before his nap. He's always mad for the first 3 seconds when I lay him down, but then he goes right to sleep.

Right now he's all bundled up in his snowsuit, playing outside with his sisters and brother. He just toddles after them whereever they go. He LOVES to be out in the snow!

I can't explain with words how blessed we are by this little boy. How wonderful that God chose us to be his parents.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Even the shovels have had enough!!!

Here was the reaction of our shovel upon learning that another 3-8" of snow is expected today!(click on the picture to see it up close--it's even funnier!)

Here you can see why he's so upset. He's worked hard this winter.

But truly, I am blessed to live in the most beautiful place in the world!

I love how beautiful our yard is in the winter.

Yesterday, we were so blessed to have dinner with my mom. We don't do this nearly often enough. The seven of us went to look for eagles on the Wisconsin River. We saw six, but none up close. Still, they are beautiful when they are soaring way up in the sky.

There weren't any eagles at this lookout and the puddles were so interesting!

On the way home we decided to swing by my mom's, so I called her and suggested we come for supper! She was completely unprepared, but also completely unfazed. She whipped up some fabulous ham and cheese sandwiches, opened a bag of chips and a can of baked beans and we were all set. Mr. GT did a few chores for her, I checked out her new aquarium and the kids played with their favorite toys. It was a lovely evening! (And I didn't have to make supper!)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Week's Worth of Blessings

Ok, I haven't been here.

I was blessed with a wonderful Valentine's day. My sweet husband gave me a beautiful card, Reese's peanut butter cups and a new Third Day CD. Thanks honey! The kids all made Valentines for me and each other and were very generous with their love.

The aforementioned sweet husband and my generous mother and my best friend gave me a weekend away to scrapbook from Thursday noon until Sunday afternoon! What a luxury! I got so much done in my scrapbooks, I napped every day, stayed up late and slept late. It was awesome! Thanks everybody for keeping the kids!

We are blessed to have an awesome piano teacher for Daisy, who is really into the piano right now. Her teacher, Miss Gretchen is totally willing to let Daisy lead the way and is excellent about letting her move as fast or as slow as she needs to. She also is very supportive of playing by ear, which is a wonderful gift Daisy has. Each week Daisy gets an "ear" assignment in addition to her regular practice work.

We were blessed with clear weather to see the lunar eclipse last night! Or part of it, at least. I was driving the AWANA bus (my van, loaded with 6 AWANANITES)and it was so much fun to witness their excitement as we drove around dropping kids off and checking out the moon at each stop. The kids and I went to bed just as it fully eclipsed (or WAS fully eclipsed) so we only saw the first half. But it was still cool!

According to Pepper, we are blessed to have two parents in our family, because "kids need so much lovin'!"


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Snow Bunnies

Three to five more inches on the way!

Here are 5 pictures of my tropical snow bunnies. The first 2 winters, Banana Boy shivered and froze from September through June. Even in summer, he was happy to wear long sleeves or pants. Sunshine is much more warm-blooded. He LOVES to play out in the snow and seldom is shivery. Now, 3 1/2 years home, Banana Boy has finally acclimated to the climate.

My Indian Blessings
Aren't they sweet?

Banana Boy's tree
Too deep, Mama!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


It matters not at all that the wind chill is 40 below today and that the roads are glare ice, that there is 5 feet of snow on the ground and that it is not even the middle of February.

The sun is shining!!!!!

All is right with the world.


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Snow Many Blessings

I am blessed by snow. REALLY, REALLY blessed! We are setting a record here in our area for the snowiest winter. The old record was from 1978 and yes, I remember that winter, too! So far we have had upwards of 60" (that's 5 feet for you math-challenged).

Why do I feel blessed by 5' of snow? Because even thought that's a ridiculous amount

1) It is prettier than a dead, bare, brown winter

2) The kids can play outside in it. If it was a warm, muddy winter it would be too mucky to send them out (well, they'd like it, but I'd be doing wash all the time!)

3)School gets cancelled and I get to hang out with Rose Bud

4)It's going to make the creek run like crazy, which will thrill the kids (and me--I love running water)

5) Shoveling is good exercise

Monday, February 4, 2008


I am just so blessed by my wonderful kids.

Sunshine is just so darn cute! Today he sat on my lap during school and played with the sorting farm animals. We got out the mommy duck and the baby duck and the mommy cow and the baby cow and the mommy sheep and the baby sheep. I was making the calf call for its mommy and he kept making the duck respond. Then I, the calf, would shout, "nooooo!" and run away, which cracked him up every time.

Banana Boy is such a different animal than I am used to. He loves music and dancing and making up songs. He is forever hopping around making up music or singing hymns or little made-up praise songs. Today day it was, "Oh, Lord, God, you are so Good! Oh, God, you are so Bad. I praise you. Ooooh ooh ooh ooh" Obviously his theology is a little skewed. I have to remind myself to learn from his differences and to use them in getting along with him. He responds so well if I sing directions to him rather than telling him. He also was making beautiful music with two hands on the piano today and kept asking, "Mom, is that beautiful?"

Daisy has the sweetest little heart and she is my artist. She has been working on a set of animals she stenciled, then colored and added details to. She mounted each one on colored paper and cut out around them. Today she wanted to give them to Sunshine but didn't want him to wreck them. I suggested a mobil, so we strung them up and hung a cool mobile over his bed.

Daisy also read both her lapbooks outloud to herself today in a perfect French accent. Now we've been studying the American Indians and have not talked about the French in the least. But Rose Bud took French last semester and also pretends French, and Mr. GT is famous for his terrible French accent. So she read to herself for about 20 minutes with a French accent. It was so funny and I wish I had taped it.

Which brings me to Pepper, who, after Daisy had finished her French monologue and left the room, read her own lapbook, very quietly to herself (she thought I couldn't hear her in the next room) in a TERRIBLE French accent. It was the cutest thing!

And here's a cute Pepperism. Last night, we had our Super Bowl party and she got really full, plus everything was salty. She was whining about how thirsty she was, but she was too full to drink anything. After complaining for 20 minutes, she finally said in an exasperated voice, "I'm SO thirsty and dry, but so very full!"

And Rose Bud. She is caught right now between being a little girl and becoming a teenager. We haven't hit an serious attitude yet, which I count a blessing! But she's been sleeping up a storm lately. Thursday night she lay down with Sunshine to put him to bed and fell asleep with him at 6:15! Friday night she crawled into a sleeping bag on the couch and fell asleep at 7:00. Saturday, she had MoJo overnite and they were BOTH asleep by 7:30!

Last night she was all tired out again, having been at a gymnastics birthday party all afternoon. She was so sweet and snuggly and laid in my lap for half an hour, just cuddling. It's been a long time since we did that! I am treasuring every snuggle and lap-holding at this point because I know they will soon be over.


Oh, how 'bout those Giants?!!! Banana Boy won the 4th quarter and Pepper won the final score. Sunshine ended up with 15 bucks!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Quickies for today

A couple of quick blessings since it's late.

We had a fun Super Bowl party at home. My mom came over and brought a pizza. We made little smokies in the crockpot and some velveeta/salsa dip. Mr. GT made a coffee cream pie and I made punch for the kids with oj, pineapple juice and Squirt soda (a big treat!) The Fox channel didn't come in very well (we don't have cable) so we watched a very fuzzy game. We made up a pool with the scores with a $5 per quarter prize donated by Mr. GT. One of the fun things about having a big family is you can have a football pool! That's no fun with only one kid! (Bonus blessing, there). Anyway, the game is so boring and the score has been 7-3 for so long. Sunshine won the first and second quarters!(third quarter's not over yet) Guess he'll get a little bump in his college fund!

I was blessed to have a nap with Daisy this afternoon all snuggled in my bed.

It was a blessing to be the Children's Church leader at the late service today. I love this ministry and I love when it is my turn. The kids are so much fun. The Bible story was Noah's ark and I let them act it out after we read it. They had fun choosing parts (we had pairs of tigers, lions, giraffes, doves, kitty cats, dogs and flamingos!) We even had a rainbow! When I asked for volunteers, one little boy raised his hand and he was actually wearing a rainbow-colored tie-dye t-shirt! He was a perfect rainbow!

We were blessed to see Moose go crazy for his family when they came to pick him up. He definitely knew his people, although he was starting to feel pretty at-home here, too. He was happy to see me when I got home from church.

We are immeasurably blessed with such an abundance of food. Today was the Souper Bowl of Caring at church and they collected money in big soup pots to fight hunger. The kids and I talked a little about how we are so blessed to have plenty of food all the time, but some people have empty refrigerators. This is a blessing we really take for granted. I was pleased to hear Banana Boy pipe up about the food pantry and how it helps people get food. Mr. GT and one or two of the kids volunteer once a month at our local food pantry.

Go, Giants.


Saturday, February 2, 2008

Can't believe I forgot this blessing

Today (Ground Hog Day) would have been my grandma's 100th birthday! She died 5 years ago at the amazing age of 95. She was in great shape, living alternately with my dad and his sister for about the last 2 years. She went to the hospital for what was supposed to be a short stay while they adjusted her potassium levels and she told the nurse she was going to take a nap and never woke up. It was all very peaceful.

She was my favorite grandma and blessed me in so many ways. I still miss her and think about her almost every day.

Here is a letter I wrote for my grandma for her 95th birthday. She died in August of that year.

Dear Grandma,

I was thinking how blessed I was to spend 34 years of my life with you. I started thinking of some of the memories I had of time we spent together. I was astounded by how many there were.

Most of the very earliest memories I have in my life have something to do with you. The very first memory I have in my life is cutting my finger drying a cup at your house. I think I was there because Sarah was being born. I was 2 weeks shy of two.

I remember on the farm:
The chickens in their cages and the eggs rolling down.
Candling eggs.
Your collie, Chip.
Napping on your bed on the farm. I loved that light on the headboard!
The day you moved to town.
Eating windmill cookies at Great-Grandma’s house.
Hearing people talk about Great-Grandma dying. Dad held me up to look in her casket.
I still have the sweater and hat you made for me when I was little.

In your house in town:
Sleeping on quilts on the floor in your bedroom. You could hear the TV through the floor. I loved sleeping on the floor!
Your bedroom smelled like the powder you wore.
The silver mirror on your dresser.
Sleeping with Sarah in the other bedroom.
The little nightlight in the hall.
Hearing you and Grandpa kiss each other goodnight
Waking up in the morning and listening to the grandfather clock chime.

Eating eggs and bacon for breakfast.
Drinking real orange juice you made from a tiny can. Hated it. We were used to Tang!
Eating homemade bread with peach jam.
I still can’t watch gameshows without thinking of you.
Lying on the couch watching The Price is Right when I was sick.
Watching Lawrence Welk. BORING!
Getting off the bus at your house every Friday from Kindergarten.
It was so boring waiting for you to do the egg tickets for Grandpa. We wanted you to be done so you could play with us!
Getting to ride along in the egg truck with Grandpa while he did his route.
Grandpa would pay us a quarter to help him pack eggs at the egg building.
Teaching me to play Solitaire at the counter.
Playing Concentration with me at the table.
Playing with the little china dishes in the toy box. There wasn’t a complete matching set and this drove me crazy, but they were such fascinating little dishes. They were real!
L’eggs eggs! The best toy! Giant eggs were fun!
The way the hall closet smelled where you kept our toys. I can still smell it!
You always let us take apart your spice cupboard to play store on the steps. The best things were Jello boxes and the spices.
Baking chocolate chip cookies! Sarah and I used to sneak dough. When the phone rang, we would sneak more dough, and you couldn’t reach us to shoo us away, so you sprinkled flour on top of the dough to keep us out.
Playing pool in the basement
Playing “bar” in the basement.
Sitting on Grandpa’s lap and he’d tickle us or take our hands and slap our faces. When we screamed you always yelled at him to quit making us scream.
When we were naughty (which wasn’t very often) you’d tell us you were going to tell Dad when he picked us up.
Wash day was fun because we got to watch you put the clothes through the ringer. Ironing was SO boring, though. I couldn’t wait until that was done, but I loved the old sprinkler bottle and how you rolled up the clothes before you ironed them.
I still have the sampler you helped me learn to embroider on, but I never finished it. It was my name in great big letters.
Helping you do the TV Guide crossword puzzle.
Friday morning, going to get your hair done at Mrs. Soukup’s
It was more fun to take a bath at your house because your bathtub was upstairs.

Eating one scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup and walnuts ground through the nut grinder in a little green bowl in the afternoon.
When there wasn’t vanilla, the only other choices would be black cherry or butter brickle. Yuck!
Sometimes there were ice cream sandwiches! Yum!

You paid Sarah a quarter to sing in the children’s choir because she wouldn’t sing.
Seeing you walk into church with the choir in your blue robe.
Sitting next to you in church and listening to you sing hymns. When I hear certain hymns now, I still hear you singing them.
Karen and I playing our clarinets for your Ladies Aid.

My favorite things you cooked:
Carrots for dinner. That’s still the only way I like cooked carrots.
Coleslaw and cucumber salad—your recipes are both our favorite way to eat them.
Beef roast
Boiled potatoes
Chicken soup with the chicken on the side
Hot dish
Eating frozen chocolate chip cookies right out of the freezer.
Pistachio torte.
Christmas cookies (snowballs!)
Mint fudge
“Lunch” in the evening…soft boiled eggs with melted butter, sharp cheddar cheese, sliced meat (what was that?) and a slice of bread.
One time Sarah and I put ketchup under her nose at lunch when you were away from the table and we told you she had a bloody nose. You got all worried and ran to get a towel. Then you were really mad when you found out it was only ketchup!

Aunt Ruth got locked in the bathroom once. Then I was always afraid to shut the bathroom door tight.
I slammed my finger in the door from the garage to the house and cut it. The wind slammed it shut on me. I still have a scar.
The doorbell says, “chink chunk.”
Wiping dishes. Boring! Grandpa always made us go help while he took a nap on the couch.

Staying overnight at your house on Canasta nights.
Eddie made great Grasshoppers and we got to have some!
It was boring when you had to answer the phone for Tony.
Trick-or-treating at your house. It was the only place we got to go!

Underwear for birthday presents. It made Mom and Dad happy!
All the gift boxes were taped shut.
You gave me a musical jewelry box with a little ballerina in it one year.
I’m wearing the gold cross necklace you gave me when I was little.
I keep the granny-square afghan you made me in my cedar chest.
I have the patchwork quilt you made me on my bed.

Butchering chickens at our house. Grandpa chopped off the heads, you and Dad schlooked out the guts, Donna picked off the pinfeathers and Jerry mostly watched. Smokey nibbled scraps off the ground.
You, standing on a chair swinging a towel, shouting “Wheeeeee!”
Teasing you about standing on a chair with a towel, shouting “Wheeee!”

Reading women’s magazines at your house. Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Women’s Day. I learned a lot about grown-up life!
You always invited Mr. GT to come for dinner on holidays when we were dating. I really appreciated that!

Listening to stories you told about when you were young.
Seeing your long hair you had cut when you were young.

Most of all, how much you loved us and how we loved you.

I love you Grandma!

Life with Moose

is a hoot! He is the best dog! I'd keep him, if I could, but Mr. GT does not concur. He (Moose, not Mr. GT)is absolutely sweet and gentle. Today Sunshine was sitting on him (Moose, not Mr. GT) while Moose lay on the floor!

We are so blessed to live near a rehabilitated railroad grade which is now a bike trail where we can go for walks, with or without a dog. Moose and I went two miles this morning--he dragged me the first mile and I dragged him the second! He was one tired-out dog! He also cleared the trail of all burrs.

I am blessed to live in small town America with an old-fashioned main street and stores where we can buy almost anything we need without having to patronize Wally World. I so shop at Target, which I guess is almost as evil, but at least it's a nicer experience. However, I try to shop locally as much as I can. Today I was in search of a better leash for Mooster. I wanted a flexi-lead so he wouldn't keep throwing out my back. Three places had them, two places had size large, but no one had an extra-large. But I did find him a chew bone and a big rope knot thingy. He loves the rope knot thingy and is so happy to have a toy (hint, hint to his FAMILY!)

I am blessed to have grown up with the chore of picking up dog doo, so I am a pro at that. Can't imagine trying to move those mountains unskilled! Thanks mom, for instilling me with responsibility!

Today we are blessed by a visit from MoJo. Her mom is one of my best friends and she is one of Rose Bud's best friends. They are working on a school project together. Well, they are supposed to be, but currently, they are baking cookies. Previous to that, they played with Moose. MoJo has been hanging with us since she was a teeny-tiny and I had the pleasure of babysitting for her and her sister for half a year. MoJo, a cutie at two, left a beautiful orange scribble on our living room post that I never had the heart to remove. Unfortunately, it's been lost in our remodel, but she was here 8 years later the day the walls were getting closed up and was able to put her handprints in paint inside the walls (Rose Bud, too!) So we will forever have a piece of MoJo in our home.

And I am blessed by kids who get along (most of the time) and are so sweetly playing the Scrambled States of America together. Pepper is patiently explaining the rules to Banana Boy. When they are getting along, they are the best of friends and this is one of the great blessings of homeschooling--that they can spend so much time together as siblings.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Blessed by a Moose

Today we have been blessed by our new godson, Moose. He is spending the weekend with us while his mommy and daddy and his Dennis and the rest of his brothers and sisters are at the waterpark. He is an absolute sweetheart and even though he is only 7 months old and so, very much still a puppy, he is gentle as can be and very calm.

We took him for a walk on the bike trail. It seemed long to the kids, and Moose was pretty tired by the end, too, but we only went about half a mile.

These pictures TOTALLY do NOT do him justice! He is enormous! You can see he is as tall as Sunshine. The last picture is my mom's parti-poodle, weighing all of 8 or 10 lbs. in Moose's crate. Her dog is as big as our cat.

Ok--timeout to mention that this smell, cough, cough, is NOT a blessing! Uaaach, Moose!

I have also be ENORMOUSLY blessed by my sweet husband, who on his day off, spent the whole day shopping with Sunshine! Sunshine is a wonderful blessing and I love him to bits, but, oh, my, it is nice to have a break! I could sit down on the floor (this was before Moose arrived) and play a game with thousands of tiny pieces with Pepper and Banana Boy. I worked with the girls on their lapbooks. I helped Banana Boy do some more math (he's determined to finish his math book--Singapore Early Bird 1B)

Not only did sweet Mr. GT take the baby, but he also ran a gazillion errands, grocery shopping, Target run, Christian bookstore and more.

I was blessed with a nose kiss from Rose Bud this morning, although I think I'd take the forehead. Ewww.

Rose Bud is also such a blessing with her little brother. Last night, she laid down with him in our bed at 6:15 (he had an early nap due to piano lessons and was pooped out!) and they both promptly fell asleep! I guess public school pooped Rose Bud out! But when she puts him to bed, she strokes his back and sings to him. It's very sweet.