Monday, November 30, 2009

EEG

Our little princess had to be hooked up for another EEG today. The dr. isn't sure if her seizures are totally under control, so she's hooked up to lots of wires and a video machine. She's pretty tired right now, so it's not too tough keeping her in front of the camera.

She did really well this morning. I thought for sure she was going to scream through the hook-up since she does not like anyone messing with her head, mouth, eyes, etc. (just ask her dentist and ophthamologist!). But she was pretty calm, and even giggled a few times. I had to hold her head still, though. She sure can be wiggly when she wants to be! So, the task at hand is staying somewhat calm for the day, trying to keep her in front of the camera, and trying to keep harmony in the house since noise is also recorded onto the machine! Lovely!


Today

Advent is Here!

Advent is here, and the Christmas season has officially begun in our home! We really wanted to be sure we celebrated Thanksgiving without skipping right to Christmas, so when this weekend arrived...we got started! Saturday night, we ordered pizza and watched The Polar Express. What an awesome movie, and boy, did it ever get the kids excited about Christmas! As we tucked the kids into bed, I sure was thankful for such a wonderful family night. Like we've been told so many times...the kids won't be little forever and they do grow up quickly. How awesome it was to have the kids all together watching with excitement and anticipation...everyone healthy, happy, and enjoying our time together.

Earlier on Saturday, the kids and I made their candy countdowns to Jesus' birthday.
First, we put out 24 pieces of candy onto a long strip of plastic wrap...


Then we folded the plastic wrap over the candies...


Next, we tied a ribbon between each piece...


Finally, we hung them up and got ready to eat them!

Everyday during Advent, we're reading a devotion. It includes verses from the Bible, a bit more reading about the topic covered in the Bible (this week is about God's promises), we light the candle(s) on the Advent wreath, and then "build" our nativity. Jacob gathered pine twigs to make the wreath...

Right now, we just have the stable. Next, we will add a ring to the stable to remind us of God's promises, and Mary and Joseph will begin their journey across the house to their stable in "Bethlehem."

Friday, November 27, 2009

First Snow



I'm am thrilled to say that we have almost made it through November without a single snowflake. I don't like the cold weather, and really, really not fond of driving on snowy, icy roads. Give me the palm trees and balmy temperatures anytime!


However, the kids lack my cynical attitude about winter, thankfully! The first snowflakes of the season are falling as I type. And, this is Amarin's first experience with snow. He has seen it in books, and saw a ton of snow on TV while watching a Little House on the Prairie Christmas special yesterday. He told me yesterday that he "no like snow. Like sun and hot."


Boy, did that change fast today! He was beside himself when the snow started to fall. I asked him if he wanted to go play in the snow, and he jumped up and down and said "Yes!" Then I asked if he wanted to wear his new winter boots, and he squealed all the way up the stairs to get them. Can you imagine? He's never seen snow...never touched it...never been this cold...never worn snow boots. While putting his coat and boots on, he told me that he liked big, big snow like on tv at Grandma's house. The boys got dressed and ran out to play.



Now this first snow will not stick...the ground is not cold enough. (yeah!). But nothing beats the excitement of the first snow!


As for Laura and me...we decided to stay in where it was warm and cozy, and do laundry...yep...that's how much I really don't like to be cold!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Canada & Adoption

I just emailed this note to the Prime Minister and the Immigration Minister in Canada. Just days ago, the Canadian government has stopped issuing all immigration visas for orphans from Africa, and per a newspaper article from British Columbia, a family is currently stranded in Nepal because they can't get the needed visa to bring home their child.
We are the parents of four children, three of whom joined us through international adoption. With the number of orphans in the world nearing 150 million, we need to be opening our homes quickly and appropriately.
We have been following friends through the adoption process and are concerned that the doors for adopted children from foreign countries are being closed by Canada. North Americans should be opening door to children coming into good, loving homes that have done everything by the book. Please do not close the Immigration doors but process them quickly!!

Sincerely,
James & Angela Miller, Michigan, U.S.A.

To read in more detail, you can visit A Place Called Simplicity. Linny's site also has the email addresses and the phone numbers for the Prime Minister and Immigration Minister in Canada. The more voices (respectful, please) that they hear from, the more likely it is that they will rethink the hold on immigration visas for orphans. These kids need a home, and we have so much to offer them in North America, don't we? Can you take the time to write a short email to them? You can copy mine above if you want...just be sure you adjust the number of kids that you have! :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just another school day

Yesterday we had a very relaxing school day. Our regular lessons were completed, so we did some other "lessons" that the kids didn't realize...Hehehe! Actually, I wish I could do more days like this, but having been a school teacher previously, I'm still in that mind set that we have to "do school" or they will fall behind. I know lots of families that have a different approach, a more relaxed approach, and they do just fine. But I'm just not there, and don't know if I ever will be. So, we'll just treat these days as extra vacation days!


We painted bags that we'll use to haul the gazillion library books we borrow!

Jacob wrote a letter to a soldier shipping out to Iraq next week. He was asking about military rank abbreviations, so we looked them up online and printed out the ranks for the four branches of military. Later, he was downstairs playing soldier with the different ranks...guessing he was a general!

Jacob baked cookies while Amarin tested the dough.

Charlie and Jacob making homemade chicken soup for lunch.

Helping unload the dishwasher...shouldn't they all be dry when you take
them out of the machine??
Rolling coins for Daddy turned into an exploration of all the quarters from different states.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Answered Prayer

Hebrews 4:16
Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we
may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Well, God did it again. Every morning for the past while, I've been praying for three little girls in particular...Ruslana, Jubilee, and Hailee. I've been praying that God would move the mountains that kept popping up in order for their families to bring them home. They are the sweetest little girls!
Yesterday morning while blow-drying my hair (that's when I usually pray for these girls...maybe because the noise drowns out anything else around me!), I boldly prayed that Ruslana's family would receive their travel approval THAT day. From their blog, I knew they had been waiting, holding their breath for this news. Guess what?? I read their blog this AM and guess when they received their approval? Yesterday...the same I day I prayed specifically! So, guess who's coming home very, very soon??? Little Ruslana!
Now, I know that lots of people have been praying for Ruslana and her family, so I'm not claiming to have made the difference, but it's so cool to know that God listens to prayer and answers in awesome ways.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just wondering...

A few thoughts have been going through my mind today as we conquer laundry and chores.
First, what do you all use for chore charts? I've gone from writing them each week, to printing them off the computer each week. That has become tedious and a waste of paper. I'd rather use something that could be reused each week, and easily changed for new chores.
Second, do any of you make your own laundry soap? There's a recipe out there using Borax, and a couple other ingredients, and it's supposed to be really good.
Finally, what kind of homemade gifts do your families make for one another? I'd like the kids to do this, and would like a few ideas to get them started.
Thanks for sharing your ideas!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Do you remember when we were young? Our classrooms were always decorated with turkeys, Pilgrims, the Mayflower, Native Americans, corn, etc. That was Thanksgiving...and that is Thanksgiving.

Why were the Pilgrims here? Because they wanted their religious freedom. They didn't find it in England, and they didn't find it in Holland. So, they set off in their wooden ships for a New World where they could have that freedom. They endured so much sickness and death, were unprepared for the severe weather, and certainly did not have near the food they needed to survive. Who helped them? The Native Americans. And why did they feast after that first harvest? To show their thankfulness (hence, Thanksgiving) to not only the natives for helping them, but to God! That was the whole purpose!
Well, apparently now some schools are opting out of telling history as it happened. They are leaving God, once again, out of the picture. Why? So they don't offend anyone that may not be Christian. Honestly! Does this mean we should change all of our history books so that no one is offended at any of the stories? Believe me...after covering history with Jacob over the past 3 years, from the beginning until the early 1900s, there's not a story that wouldn't offend someone. But somehow, when Christianity is mentioned, schools think it's OK to censor it. No one is asking the schools to get down on their knees and pray, (though it wouldn't hurt), but to teach history as it happened.
So, are they right? Do we change Thanksgiving, and call it now "Lucky Thursday"...as if luck had anything to do with it! Do we ignore the only reason the Pilgrims set sail from Holland? I don't know about you, but if my kids were in those schools, I can guarantee I'd be sitting at someone's desk tomorrow morning! Here's the link if you'd like to read more:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,139304,00.html

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vacation

So, we made it home this morning. Though we didn't want to leave the sunny, warm, Florida weather, we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by sunny skies at home, and temps in the mid 60s. This time last year we were already getting snow! Here are some photos from our trip. We stayed in Cape Canaveral, and had a great view of the Atlantic. The hurricane in the gulf sent some clouds and a few sprinkles, but we still had a great time, and mostly beautiful weather. And, to end the trip on a high note, all of Jamie's flying for work got us bumped up to first class on the way home. Very cool!


Daddy and Laura enjoying the sunrise
Playing on the beach
Charlie runs around like one of those little sandpipers!
We visited Disney Village one evening.
We ate at the T-Rex restaurant, and the boys did a little paleontology.

When leaving Disney Village, Amarin received a birthday button.

It was a late night...

Happy Birthday, our little Star Wars fan!

We saw some wildlife...

and handled some wildlife...

and ran into some wildlife (a bee flew into Jacob's lip and bit him).

Amarin drove a boat on his birthday along Banana River where we saw dolphins and manatee.
The boys swam in the rain.
Charlie combed his own hair...oh, my...
We visited the Holy Land Experience...

where Daddy "volunteered" to play the part of David, facing Goliath.

And a family photo (well, I had to take it). Laura did not like the wind...:)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Boycott

Merry Christmas or happy holidays? Which is it? For us, it's clearly Merry Christmas. We are approaching the Christmas season, and I'm getting very excited to approach it a little differently this year. We will be reading daily family devotions from Advent through Epiphany out of a book called Celebrate Jesus At Christmas, by Kimberly Ingalls Reese (thanks, Cheryl!). Yesterday, while at the Holy Land Experience, we purchased a non-breakable nativity that the kids can handle without fear of smashing! Santa will be greatly minimized. The kids will not be creating wish lists, nor will they be going through magazines checking off all the goodies they would love to have. That's not Christmas...that's selfish. It's taken us a while to realize this, but we feel moved by the Holy Spirit this year to do it differently. Christmas has become extremely materialistic, with less and less to do with Christ. I mean, seriously...why do we celebrate Christmas? If it's not to celebrate Christ, then why call it Christmas? Just call it a holiday....
And before someone thinks we're being a scrooge, we do want our kids to enjoy the Christmas season...but for the true meaning. I think we'll have a great time celebrating Christ's birth!
Which is what some stores are doing this year. Per the American Family Association, once again, Gap, Inc. is refusing to recognize Christmas. Their stores include G*p, Old N*vy, and B*nana Republic. For this reason, we will be boycotting their stores, along with any other stores that will not recognize Christmas. The term holiday is too generic, and they would be blind to admit that a majority of their shoppers are not shopping for Christmas presents. I have no problem if they want to advertise for other holidays as well, after all, this is a religiously free country (at the moment).
If you would like more information, you can visit http://action.afa.net/takeaction/gap/ where they discuss it, as well as provide a place to sign up for their boycott.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Amarin!

Amarin is 8 years old today. As I write, I can see him running on the beach and jumping in the waves with daddy and Jacob. And the wind is blowing so that once in a while I hear a squeal from him as the waves crash around him. Earlier today we took a pontoon boat ride through a lagoon and out to the ocean. He saw his first dolphins and manatees. He watched the pelicans dive for fish, patrol boats guarding a naval ship (with guns on the front that made it extra cool), and best of all...he got to drive the pontoon boat alongside the captain for a special birthday treat! How different his life is now, and it makes me wonder how he celebrated his birthday last year. I wish he could tell us...
In so many ways Amarin is like your "typical" 8 year old boy. He loves airplanes, Star Wars, (fake) weapons, soccer, and Mickey Mouse. Yet in other ways is so unlike a "typical" 8 year old boy. He has endured a great deal of changes that many kids will never have to endure. But he's hangin' tough.
Yep, there are tears and frustrations as he acclimates to this new life, but what an awesome little boy. He has the most contagious laugh and the sweetest smile. He loves his siblings, though there is definitely that male-competition-thing happening...who knew that it was so important to be first out the door?
God has blessed us so much through Amarin. His plan was clear to us from the beginning, and isn't it true that God blesses those who follow His plan? We followed, and we are being blessed. We love you, Amarin!!
PS. I'll post photos when we arrive home. I can't believe I forgot the cord I need to download!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

We're outta here!

Ok...so I told you in the last post that we had to leave the center early because we were headed out of town. Yep...and we have arrived. The ocean is beautiful, the sun is shining, the temperature is nowhere near the 23 degrees we experienced Friday morning, and we're having a blast. I'm actually listening to the ocean waves now, staring out the open balcony doors at the ocean, watching cruise ships and sail boards. Sigh...
But getting here last night was just a hoot. We did hit a lot of traffic getting to the airport, adding almost 45 minutes onto the drive time. But we were fine, and had plenty of time.
So, we get near the airport and Amarin starts gasping. This boy LOVES "klung-bins," aka. airplanes. If we heard it once, we heard it 30 times just in the van...gasp....KLUNG-BIN! TWO...THREE...WHITE...TWO MORE! I told Jamie that we could have forgone the big trip, and just parked for a while near the airport! Would have held the same excitement for one of the kids, anyway. And then Charlie starts...KLUNG-BIN! FYI kiddo...you speak English, not Thai!
So, we get into the airport and start checking in...3 bags, 2 carseats, 4 kids, 1 stroller, 5 backpacks...all accounted for. Jamie says, "Man, this sure is different than when I travel by myself for work." Ya think?
The next laugh...we have to send the lady checking us in down the conveyer belt after one of our pieces of luggage. I decided that I wanted to carry Laura's meds in my backpack (liquid, so I had to check with this gal), but wouldn't you know...the bag she tagged first and tossed down the belt held the meds. Charlie says, "Is she going in the airplane?" Hope not. We need to check in a few more things!
Next...we're off to security. Those of you who are also outnumbered adults:kids know the feeling. The lady directing security traffic looked at us and says, "Oh, it's the Brady Bunch." Very funny...if you watched the show you'd know we were missing 2 girls...including one with curls! OK...shoes off, jackets off, empty pockets, backpacks off, fold stroller, take out laptop, stand still, stay close, no...don't run through the security check yet! So, we're FINALLY ready to go through, and another security wise-guy says, "OK, John & Kate plus 8, are you ready?" Ok...you need to learn to count 'cause now we're missing 4 kids!
Jamie and the boys make it through, and when I start through while holding Laura's hand, they look at me like I've grown a 2nd head. I inform them that she can't walk through by herself, and yes, she's wearing her shoes and braces, and they'll have to use their little wand on her. Ya know how they screened her? They wiped her shoes and hands with little wipes, and I'm assuming it was for any residue...okie-dokie!
So, we all get through after what seems to be another hour...shoes back on and tied, backpacks on, jackets on, stroller opened and Laura buckled, laptop returned...and stay close to mom and dad...we're not even to the plane, yet!
More fun...we get to ride the little train to our gate since it's quite a distance. We're greeted by a stewardess heading home. "Are they all your kids?" "Yes, they are." "Are you saints or something?" Honestly, when did 4 kids become cause for sainthood?
So, we make it to the plane after a quick slice of pizza, and board uneventfully. But...then the gasping starts again. Amarin is really geeked about the planes and the runway and the lights. He's making all the noises, showing me with his hands what the planes look like while they fly. Then the take-off...HUGE excitement. Charlie joins in, but decides to not only make the noises and gestures of our plane taking off, but also "crashing" into the window. I'm sure that made the lady across the aisle feel much better as it was obvious that she was very, very nervous about her first flight.
The rest of the evening was quite uneventful. The kids did great on the plane, our baggage all arrived, and then there was the transportation. Just 10 years ago, Jamie and I vacationed in southern Florida. When we arrived, we rented a convertible...way fun in the sun! So, this time as Jamie's walking to our rental, I call out...I think it's the cool, red one! He just kept walking...past the cool, red one, and pulled up in a black mini-van. I laughed, as did a few others waiting for their rentals. Now, all our family will fit into is a minivan...or something of like size. Too funny.
So, that's all for now. There will be more to share, no doubt. After all, both the Brady Bunch and John & Kate had a ton to share, right?

A Field Trip to Remember

I have so much to post, and I haven't had much access to my computer for a couple days. Talk about blog withdrawl!! But I finally have the chance to share a bit (while I'm listening to the ocean waves...yippee!).
So, yesterday was a great day. It started with a field trip. We belong to a homeschool co-op in our area, and I am in charge of planning the field trips for the year. It's only 8 field trips, but sometimes it feels like 88. And sometimes I'm ready to pass the baton to another person, but then we have a field trip like we did on Friday...
Each semester, I plan one service oriented/missions field trip. Our group has helped sort and pack Christian literature to be sent overseas and helped a non-profit organization sort medical supplies for missionaries and pastors both locally and overseas. Well, yesterday, we worked at a shelter that helps people "get back on track." Many of these men and women have addictions, and this organization puts them on a one to three year program to help get them back into society as a self-sufficient, working individual...or family, as in some cases.
It was amazing to hear some of the stories, and how the community has come together to help this center. For example, we've all heard the bashing of Walm*rt. Well, it was Walm*rt that donated more than 60 bunk beds, mattresses and linens to this center. And it was Art V*n, that also donated bunk beds. Individuals with amazing artistic talent have painted beautiful murals on the walls just to brighten it up for the women and children. There are men working there right now to put in new ceiling tiles, (and a couple other things I can't remember) in the men's living quarters. One of the directors of this center got on the radio and said that they were low on toilet paper. You should see the toilet paper that was donated! And their food pantries and freezers...full to overflowing! Get this....this center serves 3 meals a day, 365 days per year. Do you know what their food budget is for the year? Less than $800. YES...less than $800 A YEAR! That's because they have so many food donations. And we're not talkin' junk food...we served up really good food yesterday from really nice stores where I don't even shop!
And clothes for these people (that usually come in with nothing)? All donated. Used, yes...but free and very nice. I could just go on and on about this center. They are sooooo living the gospel by helping others in need. The individuals in this program have to follow guidelines and meet goals, including each man and woman involved must go to chapel twice per day, and on Sunday to learn how God can help them turn their life around and head back in the right direction. Amazing...just amazing.
We were able to take a tour of the center yesterday, meet a few people, and help out in several ways. Jacob, Amarin, and I chopped veggies, cheese, and pies. Arranged that food, as well as crackers and guacomole into serving dishes. We also washed tables and highchairs. Other families stocked the toilet paper donations, sorted beans, prepared other foods, and fixed chairs in need of nuts and bolts. Since we were headed out of town and had to leave a little early, we didn't get to serve the food...bummer! But, I would love to go back with Jamie and the big boys to serve again.
If you haven't had the opportunity to serve at a center like this, you need to do it. It is not only a huge help to these centers that rely on volunteers, but it immediately helps those in need, helps shine God's light to those who really need to witness it in action, and humbles us to think that we can be so selfish in our own world of abundance, when there are brothers and sisters that have nothing....literally nothing. And the kids? It's a great way for them to witness to others, and to be humbled, seeing true needs instead of selfish desires.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Not-So-Cheap Entertainment

We don't watch much t.v. at our house. There's really not much worth watching anyway, and certainly very little that we want our kids watching. Maybe that's why Laura was so enthralled watching the repairman fix our two-way fireplace. As he was on one side doing the work, she pulled up on her little bike and watched and laughed from the other side. Even the repairman was laughing with her. I guess it probably did look like t.v. to Laura, and at least it was an educational "t.v." show!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

ASAP

Dear Friends,
Many of us blog with "trials" that we are facing, but I would like to ask you to do a very simple thing for a Michigan family. This family's little boy suffers with cancer, and, according to the news report, will not be with his family much longer. The family is celebrating Christmas this weekend, and would love for their son to be "flooded" with Christmas cards. You can read more about it here: http://wycd.com/Send-Christmas-cards-to-Noah--a-very-special-littl/5588415
Thanks!