Showing posts from December, 2013

Adopting a child with facial deformities

In a flurry of email inbox cleaning yesterday, I accidentally deleted an email from a reader asking about what it is like to adopt a child with a facial deformity. (If you were that reader... I'm sorry, send a new email again and I promise I won't delete it this time.) It was an interesting question and one I thought might be of interest to a broader audience, so I'm going to answer it here. That way maybe I can help a child find a home and cross off guilt over deleted email all at the same time.

It's a fact that humans are drawn to faces, particularly beautiful faces. How many times have I heard, "I saw a picture of his/her beautiful face and new he/she was my child"? That's not to say I think these people are wrong; I am attracted to a beautiful child as much as anyone, particularly if that child is sporting adorable pigtails at the same time. We are wired that way. The emotions we read in a person's face help us to communicate. When we speak to a p…

New games

Before I write about some of the new games we have, I wanted to share a photo from A.'s little skiing adventure.

This is the run that A. was coming down when she had the unfortunate meeting with the picnic table. This is about halfway down the run, so you can see there isn't a lot of room at the bottom. Did I mention this was a double black diamond? And did I also mention that this was A.'s first time skiing? She was doing pretty well, I'm told, until she reached the bottom and swerved to avoid another person. Since there wasn't a lot of maneuvering room, she hit the picnic table instead. She is doing just fine now, though her legs are a rather interesting purple color.

Now onto some of the games that were received this year. Three of them have been huge hits and have been played fairly constantly. The first is called FITS by Ravensburger. This is a Tetris-like game that can be played by one to four players. Each person has a sloped board and a set of variously sha…

Christmas 2013

I would have had this post up much earlier, but it's difficult to keep up a blog when your laptop is broken. When we turn it on, we don't even get the blue screen of death, we just get nothin'. It is currently in the laptop hospital where they can hopefully restore it to the marginal existence it had enjoyed before.

But never fear, I am on J.'s laptop and can still share pictures with you. The only ones I cannot show you are from A.'s little ski adventure because they are in my email account. I love technology.

Here are some photos from Christmas Eve. First off, a picture of everyone all together before we headed out to church to do the pageant. Do you see? No one is crying, nearly everyone is looking straight at the camera, and a majority are even looking happy. It's my own little Christmas miracle. (Gretel is in her crate because we finished the picture and put on coats to walk out the door. Plus, she just makes things that much crazier.)

Every year we sing H…

I love Boxing Day

I always say that the day after a major holiday is my favorite. While the actual holiday is wonderful, it is also a lot of work. Plus, whether we mean to or not, they are also filled with emotional expectations which just adds to the stress. The day after, everything is done, there are no expectations, there is nothing to do but just enjoy the aftermath.

Now, writing this, I realize that you may be becoming concerned that our Christmas was difficult. That couldn't be farther from the truth. It was wonderful, and peaceful (well, as peaceful as a household of 15 can be), and we were all able to relax and just enjoy it all. It makes the day after even better because we are all entering it in a pretty stress-free state of mind. Today we will relax, enjoy each other's company, play the stack of new games that were received, enjoy dinner with friends, and some will probably play in the snow that arrived yesterday.

I have three days worth of pictures to share with you, but to not ove…

Have you fought with this mercy you don't understand

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:1a, 14)

This is the miracle of Christmas, that God came to earth in the form of a baby who would eventually grow up to be the savior of the world. And to be savior came at a great sacrifice to himself, with Jesus taking on all of the sins of the world. Every sin, little or big, was heaped upon him and he took the punishment. While Christmas is a beautiful and wonderful and joyful time of year, for the arrival of the person who is going to save you is a joyous occasion, this baby was also born for a purpose. If you are looking at the big picture, there should always be a little bit of melancholy associated with the holiday. It is the beginning of the defeat of sin and sin is ugly. It should not surprise us that the cost of its defeat is great. If we could do what is right, we would have no need of Christmas.

We need to learn to live with …

The discipline of laughter

A friend and I have the pleasure of taking a wonderful woman out to lunch once a month so we can all visit. (I wish I could say this wonderful event was my idea, but my friend gets complete credit.) This woman is a sort of honorary grandmother to our children and we love to spend time with her. Changes in all of our schedules means that we hadn't seen her as often, so we started the monthly lunch date.

As we were chatting, she shared a story of her childhood with us and as she was doing so described her mother. The description was wonderful... she was a woman who was always laughing. It was then that she added as a little aside something I think is terribly profound. After she described her mother as a woman who was always laughing, she said, "It's a good discipline."

Think about it. How often do we think of laughing as a discipline? (Of course I'm talking about laughing as joy and not laughing at someone or something in cruelty. Do I need to clarify that? Probab…

Pageant rehearsal: check

Around here, December means Christmas Pageant time. J.'s mother wrote and directed our church's Christmas pageant for years, and when she died, J. helped to take over the writer/director role. It has always been a family affair, with nepotism for roles running high. I kind of married into this little family tradition. I had never even seen the pageant the first year I spent Christmas away from Arizona and my future mother-in-law convinced me to be one of the narrators along with J.

This year, the level of family involvement is no different. J. is the writer/director again, I'm directing the children's choir (again), M. and B. are narrators, A. is running sound, P. is working a spot light, H., TM, D., and K. are in the actual pageant part and in the choir, and G., L., and HG3 are the little angels who arrive with baby Jesus and help to entertain him. Some of this is just because it's easy to tap family members who are used to being assigned roles and some of it is t…

Sing with your children, part 2

This is really a follow up to a post I wrote ages ago about singing with your children, though you can think of it as the Christmas version. As I reread through that previous post, I agree with it all (that's probably good, huh?), if not more so. I am struck with how we surround ourselves nearly continuously with music, via MP3 devices and such things, yet the ability to make music ourselves seems to continue to plummet.

Over the 15+ years of piano teaching and children's choir directing, I have noticed that more and more children are unaware of their cultural heritage of hymns. While being unaware of traditional hymns in general doesn't surprise me (churches need to sing them if children are going to learn them, usually), I am always surprised by the basic ignorance of Christmas carols. (Please note, that this is for children being raised in Christian families. If Christianity is not part of your beliefs, then it makes sense not to teach its songs to your children.) Usual…

Christmas books

One of our family traditions is to bring out the many Christmas books we have collected over the years for the month of December. Every year we add a new one. The new book is waiting, along with new Christmas pajamas, for the children when we all arrive home from the Christmas Pageant service. Among this huge collection, I have my favorites and not so favorites. In case you are looking for a new Christmas book to share with your children, here are some of my favorites.

Wombat Divine by Mem Fox. A group of Australian animals gets together to put on a Christmas pageant. Wombat desperately wants to have a part, but is not right for any of them, until the animals realize that they still need someone to play the baby Jesus. It is a sweet and charming book.

A Small Miracle by Peter Collington. This is a completely wordless book done in frames like a comic book, but don't let that put you off. It is beautiful. An old woman in dire circumstances saves money that was being stolen from a chur…

For the girls who like to be on the blog

Tuesday afternoons are when the girls' Bible study I lead meets. I have been doing this for a while, have seen the very first group all graduate and move onto college and am now meeting with their younger sisters. Can I just put the vague myth that seems to lurk out there to rest? The one that says children from large families are all fairly interchangeable? I can tell you they are not; each one is highly unique. It's one of the things which makes leading this group so interesting. I love the different personalities and perspectives and ideas that each girl has. Pretty much I just really like them all and am blessed to get to spend significant time with them each week.
Yesterday we decided to set aside our study and have a party instead. They also really love to appear on the blog, so I said I would take a picture and put it up to share with you. Usually there are 7 of them... we were missing one of them yesterday. They are beautiful girls, aren't they? Inside and out.


Heading downtown

My friends, the moms of the P. family and the H-S family, thought it would be fun to take everyone downtown to see the windows and the Cristkindle market, so that's what we did yesterday morning. J. was my hero and offered to go with us which meant that he would also drive our van and find parking for it. I have taken many small children on the El before, but between the cold and the fact it would cost as much for everyone to ride the El as to pay for parking, it just didn't seem like my idea of a good time. Of course, trying to find parking for the giant van didn't sound like much fun, either, so I happily took J. up on his offer to chauffeur. 
We all met downtown and J. even found some street parking (wonder of wonders, but it was a good thing because non of the lots will take the van). We began by looking at the windows of Marshall Field's. (Yeah, I know it's Macy's now. I'm still not happy about it and steadfastly refuse to call it by it's current …

Tree trimming party 2013

It was a whirlwind of a weekend. We had pageant rehearsal, parties, tree-buying, and tree decorating. And the tree trimmingaround here is one of our major events of the season, so it made for a fun, if tiring weekend. Plus, our college-aged people were done with school and they have joined us again. Hooray! This is what B. looked like for the first hour or so of his arrival.

G. and L. and K. didn't really want to let him out of their sight, much less arms. B. did admit that they are getting a little too big for even him to carry them around like this for very long. Happy girls, happy boys.

Yesterday afternoon was our tree trimming party, complete with many treats that we don't normally indulge in.

M. holding the traditional Christmas pickle.
(A child was wielding the camera... so you have to overlook the blurriness.)

And since it is rare for my house to look all picked-up and orderly, I thought I would take advantage of it and document that fact.

The tree.
Looking toward the …