Showing posts from December, 2014

A love letter to my church

It's been an emotional few days (OK, weeks, really) and while we are all doing fine, I won't lie and say it's been easy. But there is one thing about it that has eased the burden and made the whole thing manageable... our church family.

In the recent past it's become sort of the thing to denigrate the church, especially by the Christians who belong to it. We just don't seem to get it right. We're not friendly enough, we're too friendly, we don't live out what we believe, we're weird, we bicker about everything from coffee to drums to other people. No wonder the numbers are falling and no one wants to go. We're not relevant, we're judgmental, we're merely a social club.

You know what? This can be true. The problem is the church is made up of human beings. Sinful, messy, prideful, easily distracted, imperfect humans. The church would be perfect if it wasn't for us. We really wreck the whole thing. It's actually amazing that we ever…

When loving is hard

I have now officially spent more time in hospitals this month than I would ever want to. Yesterday, J. and I had to make the hard decision to get HG the help she desperately needed and we spent much of the day yesterday in crisis mode. We are so thankful for friends who drop everything at a moment's notice to come alongside of us to help. I have never been so thankful for them or for our extended church family who also came through in the pinch. Everyone felt so loved and supported as we all went about doing hard things. Please pray for HG and for the doctors who are helping her. She needs them. We have now entered a new phase of life... supporting someone we care very much about, but doing so more remotely... and have spent the day doing a lot of processing with the children. Never fear, we are all fine and we are so proud of our children for the way they handle crisis situations. This is also my explanation as to why blogging has been a bit spare in these past few days.

And to t…

Christmas 2014

We've had a lovely couple of days filled with family, friends, and much food. 
On Christmas Eve, we started out by heading to church where our family is heavily involved with helping to put on/direct the Christmas Pageant. It went well and after we got everything put away were able to come home and start dinner. One of the things we had was linguine with clams. Do you think TM liked it just a little bit?

Dessert for Christmas Eve dinner is always a cake to celebrate Jesus' birthday. We sing and everything. I tried a different one this year and it was a hit. White cake with a cherry/cranberry filling and orange-butter cream frosting.

Then it was off to bed for everyone except M. and P. who were working sound at the 11pm service and for me and J. who were still working on getting things ready for the next morning. I had to finish a little sewing before I put these little guys into stockings.

Cute, huh? I love the way they turned out, but it was one of those things which sounded …

Merry Christmas from our house to yours

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again. The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Comfort and Joy

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of comfort recently. There are two definitions of the noun form of the word. The first is (according to Google's dictionary) "a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint" and the second is "the easing or alleviation of a person's feelings of grief or distress." To really discuss what has been rolling around in my head, we need to go visit the book of Luke again.

In my girls' Bible study, we recently looked at the stories of the rich, young ruler and of Zacchaeus. You'll remember the stories. The rich, young ruler (Luke 18: 18-30) comes to Jesus and wants to do know what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies that he should keep the commandments. The young man says that he has done this, to which Jesus tells him to sell all he has and give it to the poor. The young man becomes very sad at these instructions and Jesus then tells him that it is easier for a camel to go through the …

Don't Panic!

We're still here and we're all well. (Apologies to the people who were beginning to panic and worried something was terribly wrong because of the lack of posts.) Losing the first two weeks of December to medical drama combined with the usual busyness that happens as Christmas gets closer meant that blogging was one of the many things which fell to the wayside.

It's been fun, if a bit exhausting. Here's what we've been doing.

A very dear friend came over because she had a craft she wanted to do with everyone. They are little angel ornaments made out of pasta. They have been drying and are now ready to spray paint white.

There are very few times in my children's lives when adults have said to them, "Use more glue! More!"

That evening we did our annual Hannukah celebration with latkes, dreidles and chocolate coins.

Friday morning brought another doctor's appointment. This time a regular follow-up with the neurologist for H.

Friday afternoon was sched…

Well, I know what we are eating for lunch

We made approximately 250 tamales yesterday... pork with a spicy red sauce, onions and peppers with cheese, and chicken with green salsa. These pictures show what was left after everyone ate their fill for dinner. I would freeze some if my freezers were not completely full of beef. I guess that means we have no choice but to continue to gorge ourselves on them.

It's only once a year, right?

Drains are out!

It only took twelve days and three different trips up to the plastic surgeon's but H.'s drains are finally out and she can go back to being a child who doesn't look ill (because of the bandages and tubing). They were also able to do another expansion and things look very, very good. What a relief!

So that's done and now we are on to tamales. We're just about ready to begin and hope to get about 200 this time. It smells so good everyone is eagerly anticipating dinner.

Obviously, I am otherwise occupied, so enjoy the posts related to Christmas from past years.

Mary was not a Teenager

Have you Fought with this Mercy You Don't Understand?

The Twelve Days Before Christmas

Gingerbread Houses

Homemade Gifts

Making Room in the Inn

Christmas Preparations... or Baby Jesus Found!

Tree Trimming 2011

Crafty Christmas Gift Ideas

Advent and the Liturgical Calendar

Tree Trimming 2014

We trimmed our tree yesterday. We usually have more people, but it didn't work out for most people to join us and after the past two weeks we've had it was really nice to have a low-key day. Everyone was pretty tired. 
Some things stayed the same. We had a lot of treats which people enjoyed while waiting for the lights to be put on the tree.

Once the lights were up, TM and J. worked on putting other lights up in other places.

More decorating...

H.  H-S - aka B.'s girlfriend
And still the lights are being put up. They did eventually get everything sorted out and displayed.
A funny G. story. After most of the tree was decorated and we were cleaning up and people were eating more snacks, G. took herself upstairs and crawled into bed unbeknowst to anyone. A couple of hours later, A. comes down to ask if G. didn't want to watch the Christmas movie because she was upstairs sound asleep. I had A. bring her down and she woke up to watch the end of the mov…

Magna cum laude

We all had a very late night last night because we are now the proud parents of our first college graduate. M. graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree from North Park University last night. The perk of having a father who works at the same institution is that at the last moment he was able to snag a few extra tickets, thus saving me extensive game plans as to how we would all get in and have a seat for the ceremony. But he did and we all got seats with very little drama... a lot of waiting, but I came prepared with a bag full of activities for the littles.

It was a very nice ceremony and because M. graduated magna cum laude, she was asked to carry the school banner. It was easy to pick her out in the processional. Well, she is also currently sporting bright blue hair, so we would have found her in any case, but it was still nice.  Here are some photos from the evening.

Here we are waiting for the ceremony to start. In order to get seats, we first got to the school 45 minutes before…

Lunch time read alouds

A reader commented asking about the details of how our lunch time read alouds go. Here is what I expect you all imagine they look like.

At noon, the children close up their school books, put things away, and come back to get lunch. We set out the leftovers and other lunch options and people quietly get what they want while helping little people get their food. I grab a quick bite while this is happening and get our book. Everyone sits quietly at the table eating while I read. If they need more food, they quietly help themselves (or a small person) so I can continue reading. When the chapter ends, they wish aloud that we could read more, but stand up and put away their lunch things, wipe the table, and head off to quiet time.

I wish I could say this is what life looks like. No, I really wish I could. But, in all honesty, the only things that are similar are the fact that people eat food and I read a story. Here is the more truthful version.

We finish whatever group project we were doin…

A Christmas Read Aloud

For our lunch time read aloud sessions during December, I try to read a book that is more Christmas-y than our usual fare. Our favorite December read has been The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. (I wrote more about in my post about Christmas books.) Last Monday, I blithely went to the bookshelf with our Christmas books to pull it out so we could enjoy it again. And it wasn't there. As I thought about it, I couldn't actually remember seeing it when we brought our Christmas books out of storage. This must mean it didn't go into storage last January. It makes me wonder where it will turn up. In any case, I didn't have it to read. We needed a new plan.

My new plan involved Charles Dickens. All my children were a little older and anther year of English under their belt. My older people were about the same age when we drove across the country and listened to the complete and unabridged Oliver Twist. It was time to read A Christmas Carol. So that is what we h…

Practicing a little avoidance

I am writing today's post so that I can ignore that growing pile of papers sitting next to me just a little bit longer. No, this time it's not bills, though there is some money involved. This time (and for the next several months) the pile of paper which will accompany my every waking moment is adoption paperwork. Paperwork for the placement agency. Paperwork for the homestudy agency. Paperwork for the US government. And, of course, some of this involves medical check-ups for every single person in the family, so I get to add the joy of visiting more doctors on top of everything else. (Because I don't see them enough, you know.) I will just say right up front that I don't like it. While I do it because it is how we bring our daughter home, there is not one single aspect of it that I enjoy and it hangs heavy on my head while we are in process.

But it must be done. There are quite a few children in the background who want to what I have done to get Tina home. They are qu…


While I could brag about my husband every day on the blog, I spare you the gushing. But sometimes I just can't help myself. Today is one of those days. I am so happy and proud to tell everyone that J. took his comprehensive exams for his PhD yesterday and today the email came notifying him that he passed. This is a huge step and even bigger relief for him. He is now officially All But Dissertation towards his PhD degree.

He manages to keep up with graduate studies as well as working his other two full-time jobs... that of father to 10 and the one he goes to every day to support us all. It is a Herculean task that he does with amazing grace and patience (as well as very little sleep.)

So congratulations to my wonderful husband who makes me the most blessed and happiest of women.

Sisters, sisters

I've had a couple of people comment on the similarities between H. and Tina (boy, she needs an initial!). Take a look at this.

This is H. and A. when we were in Guangzhou. Look how little she is! 
This is Tina Now some people (cough, cough, Mom), see a real resemblance. I see one as well, but I'm not sure if it significant enough to mean anything. (I'm also the one who really doesn't think G. and L. look identical.) But the girls are from the same province and linear nevus sebaceous syndrome does have the odd quirk about it that it can run in families. J., the realistic, points out that the province has 83 million people in it.

I think we can file this under interesting facts.
Another article is up... Adoption and Young Adult Fiction - Part 2 of 2  (These are for my paying gig... every click and share helps.)

The beauty of doing nothing

Thank you everyone for your well wishes. We are very excited to bring our new daughter home. We are not excited about the paperwork. Yesterday I stayed home and did NOTHING. It was heavenly and just what I needed to refresh my batteries.

How badly was I functioning by the end of the week? Well, worse than I thought. Yesterday, J. calls from work to say he was contacted by our insurance agent. Had I dropped off a bill to them the day before? Well, yes, I had. It was one of the 134,295,392 things I did that day. I was proud of myself for getting the bills paid in the midst of the chaos. But we all know that pride goeth before a fall, don't we? That bill I dropped off? It wasn't the insurance payment, it was the city water bill. The insurance agent very nicely put a stamp on it and mailed it on, but now it was going to be late, which is my particular pet peeve in the home finance department. I hate bills being late and having to pay the late fees. My wonderful husband called the …

"Tell me when you win the lottery."

H. did well in surgery yesterday and it was successful. The doctor moved the port that was causing so much difficulty, removed the too thin and inflexible scar tissue that was splitting, and generally cleaned things up. There was absolutely no sign of infection and he thinks if we let things rest for a couple of weeks, we can resume our expansion schedule and save these expanders. It does mean we will be cancelling the surgery in early February and moving it later, but that is still better than having to remove the expanders and then start all over again. H. is feeling quite well this morning, which is a significant difference from how she felt right after surgery three weeks ago. I am giving myself permission to have a day where I don't leave the house and we can all just relax. We need it. I cannot tell you how very, very tired I am of writing about hospitals, doctors, and medical issues. Even more tired than you are of reading about it, I assure you.

So let's not talk about…