Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last 24 Hours of 2011

(give or take a few)

Joy mixed with sorrow.

Today's highs and lows marching in quick succession,

typical of the three hundred and sixty-four preceding . . .

I heard a man interviewing a beautiful, young, red-headed missionary gal and her youthful, doctor husband,

"do you feel like you are really living LIFE?"

The girl chuckled, "I would say so!! I feel I have all the aspects of life; the ups and the downs. We are very much alive."

Today her baby died.

of malaria.

and was buried beside his sister.

The ups and the downs... The joys and the sorrows of a real life of sacrifice and service.

Their worst day, ever.

I have not sacrificed so much.

The last 24 hours have been a blessed Sabbath
and yet, it has had it's sorrows, too.

We had such joy in watching our big girls share their heart in song,
and great sadness in watching the little twins throw themselves over the cliff of emotional distortions in reckless abandon after 5 straight weeks of relative level-headedness.

I had peace in attending an agape feast, but feeling a wisp of a chill breeze I sensed myself grasping for the protective covering of the safe, all the while I was praying for courage to be open and vulnerable to spread warmth and to "draw warmth from the coldness. . ." Oh, I so lack that kind of courage!

Frustration mounted as the children wrangled with feelings very out of proportion. We had places to be, deadlines to meet, expectations to fulfill. Remorse moved in as I really succumbed to the feelings. . . we persisted and were on time. One twin was taken out of church for correction - the other chose to run down the stairs and through the foyer screaming. I dragged them both home and as I put them to bed for a nap, I welcomed the hour of quiet and committed myself to pray.

Grateful amazement filled my heart as I answered the phone and listened to our oldest share her answered prayer. God had led her to a young lady who wanted to know if it really were true, could it be possible to REALLY have a relationship with Jesus? Joy overflowed as Vanessa shared her love of Christ and how she KNEW Him. Together they sought the Lord in prayer. Thankfulness invaded me.

Distress took it's piece of my mind as a single-mother, a friend, unloaded her great trial. The designs of the devil to hurl darts at her children - so unfair! But God is not dead. Determination to keep them before the throne of Mercy and seek His council on her behalf overtook our distress.

Anticipation as another friend shared that she felt her husband was nearing a point of seeking Christ...

An uncomfortable unsureness threatened to derail our plans to invite people to join us for Bible study and united prayer, but we pushed through .... Time will tell the outcome.

Highs and lows marching in quick succession...

It's the end of a day.

It's the end of a year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

They Did IT! - {The Girls at GYC }

The girls were so blessed. They looked natural and easy as though they are used to singing in front of thousands . . . I was praying for them. Tom and Cindy and I sat and watch the live streaming TV together with all the little kids. It was fun to be together while our girls were singing. I think we were more nervous than they! It was too bad Steve was at work. He would have been so happy to watch with us.

We saw my dad announcing a change of venue for ASI. It won't be in TX this summer as planned, it will be in OHIO.  Okay, like that's just next door to each other??!

Vanessa and I talked on the phone for quite a long time. She was very excited about some of the meetings she is attending. She had some of her Bible questions answered.

It looks like Vanessa may be even more involved in GYC for next year. It's good. AND it will be close to home next year.

Brianna has recently come to the realization that she will not be going to Hungary with Vanessa this coming summer with Youth for Jesus. Our immigration status is changing. Our green card is expiring. Vanessa was born in the States, so she has no glitches to think about. Brianna, our B.C. baby,  is stuck in the middle of it all. This has been distressing to her. She had almost decided to just stay home and pick tomatoes with me, but Steve and I feel that last summer was such a huge blessing to her that we thought she needed to consider going. She was concerned of the costs, and going without Vanessa, etc... Soooo, today she was asked if she would be a speaker at YFJ, TX. She was thrilled to be asked.  Now we are thinking to have Christina apply and the two can go together.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My End of the Year Garden

Can you believe it?

Goals and Schedules

I have so much to do that I don't know where to start so I'm sitting on the couch doing none of it.

My New Year's Resolution will probably be something along the lines of getting my * rear in gear * and taking it one step at a time instead of looking at the big picture and getting myself overwhelmed.

 - If I ever get a round tuit.

I'm in the middle of making out schedules for the new year. There is so much I feel we need to accomplish with the twins that if I don't get super organized something, or several things will go by the wayside. There has to be a time and a place for everything and everything in its place, including a time slot for learning specific skills.

I'm excited, but I am also trembling a little. See, the twins have been great with little to no behaviors for a few weeks, but outside of the normal chores and daily stuff I haven't asked anything too hard of them. I am feeling a little gun-shy of coming out and asking them to do something different, or something new. They are quite satisfied with who they are. They fight adjustment and development. They fight effort with more vigorous energy than it would take to just go with it and advance. I am gun-shy of the power struggles they thrive on.

I had a nice little chat with James' teacher yesterday. She wanted to know if there were specific things she should be working on with him. She has plans and goals, but she wanted to be sure they were helpful to our forward movement. I shared with her how very much is missing in all areas and that anything, and everything she does can only be the right the thing because we have to broaden out his thinking and fill the vacuum created by his lack of knowledge and experience. He needs exposure and familiarity in a wide range of material and participation. She is determined to get him to verbalize and express himself more. Once I sent a few photos with him to school. This was a great help in getting him to communicate what he had been doing on the weekend. We are going to work together on helping him to tell stories, and relate his experiences. I will periodically send her prompts and pictures to facilitate this. If she knows he unloaded a trailer full of hay yesterday, then she can prompt him with questions and he can then be pushed to tell the whys and the wherefores.

It's nice to know I have help and I'm not trying to do everything on my own. In a sense I have exchanged one set of possible and probable reasons for conflict with Missy for another. Reading, writing and math will be mostly in the school hands. (Mostly, because I can't just not be involved.) But I have traded that for violin, a program for increasing her vocabulary intelligence, and various other goals and plans. BUT if I had to do it all?? impossible.

I'm really impressed with the usefulness of my blue box experiment. Each day's box is used by both children. This solves more problems than you can imagine. No one has an excuse to be doing nothing. It avoids fights. It pushes them to do things they would not have thought of. It is handy enough to get them to do things they wouldn't necessarily "feel" like doing. Activities we know are helpful are actually getting used rather than sitting on the shelf. I LOVE IT!

This was the first time I found her writing left to right without help! It's still chicken scratch, but it's progress.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ever Learning - Always Experimenting

Just for the record;
it's December 28 and it's POURING rain at my house.
I never heard of such a thing.

Some may have noticed I don't have a ton of time to play around... 
but we take a minute or two here and there.
Literally, these only took a few minutes to make. 
It was our first try. 
Just so you know, 
we are vegetarian so the only sea part of this sushi is the sea weed (hopefully!)

The test of true success is how long something
sticks around after it has been created in the kitchen. 

Ha! I could hardly get them on the plate
for the vultures hanging over my shoulder...

so, we took it a step further and cooked up some short grain brown rice
and ta-DA! they are every bit as good as the white rice ones.

The girls are in Houston - and we missed the first live broadcast - 
we were in town working on our immigration papers.
Too bad so sad.

When the girls all arrived at the airport in TX they had to figure out how to get to the hotel.
My mom and dad had taken a taxi and it cost them $50...
Because there were 5 girls it was going to cost them twice that.
Vanessa was pleased to inform us they found a bus and it cost them 
a whole dollar and a quarter each to reach their destination. 
Way to go, girls!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Because I Must Perfect

This iphone to blog thing.... here's another rock pic.
I thought there must be an object lesson to be learned from all these rocks...

I was a little stumped, though.

They are as numerous and as varied as people...

Each unique,

Every one beautiful in its own way,

Individually fulfilling it's God given purpose.

More Rocks via IPhone

ha. notice the shadows of my fingers all sticking up.


Cotttage Get-Away

One doesn't usually think of going to a beach cottage for Christmas holidays - at least not at this latitude. Visions of Currier and Ives beat a hasty retreat and suddenly it feels more like spring break instead of Christmas.

I LOVE it!

However, our first night was more of a nightmare than a sweet night away.

A migraine hit right about bedtime and I discovered I had forgotten my trusty little "bottle". OH MY! Sometimes I carry a little guilt about using over-the-counter pain meds. I use a fair amount to cope with the migraines. I have sometimes thought maybe I was being a sissy and should give the natural methods a fairer chance. EVERYTHING I tried last night did not work for more than a minute or two.I was desperate.  At 4 AM Steve dressed and headed for the nearest 24 hour gas station. I hadn't slept but an hour in all and I was getting worse by the minute.

It was then that I discovered Missy was burning up with fever. Like really burning up.  Christina was fussing about not being able to sleep. Brianna came down the stairs to ask her dad to pick up a toothbrush for her while he was at the gas station and Vanessa and James waited in line for the bathroom. No one was sleeping or had been for some time.

At 5 AM Steve returned and Missy's vomiting commenced. We don't do sick at our house! This is the first time I can't remember her being this kind of sick. James has a couple of times, but this is a first for her.

Five minutes after popping a pill I was completely out - for 5 solid hours. What can I say? It works. I've been fine ever since. Missy not so much. Poor kid hasn't been able to keep a thing down.

This place is actually a marine biology station for a university. It's off-season. The cabins are lovely. The rocks  on the beach are the prettiest around. We all turn into rock hounds every time we come.This time I determined to only take pictures home... These are Bri's. Mine are on my phone.

Flowers in December!

We hiked and sat around and read and relaxed, oh and Missy has had a dozen more violin and bow holding lessons. Brianna has the patience of a saint.

Tomorrow we head for the airport to drop off the girls for Generation of Youth For Christ. Wish I was going,  but apparently it's for young people. (How is it my parents get to go?)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

For a Christmas Miracle {Part 2}

I don't know how many parts there will be to this story . . . probably a few.

Today is Christmas 


Missy's dream came true this morning.

She couldn't have been more pleased.

She's been serenading us in absolute bliss almost constantly...

and the screeching and scratching  has been most worth it

just to see how happy and content she is.

(You might want to ask us how we feel about it by next week).

She's had a dozen lessons already.

The cutest, most endearing part of the story is when 

she brought her violin and bow over to Steve and I and asked,

"Do you like my violin?"

Yes, I like your violin. Are you going to learn to play it?

"Yes, but let's pray to God first."

She bowed her head and said, 

"Thank you God for my new violin. . . " and 

she  proceeded to tell Him the big long story of how she got it, 

and she ended with asking Him to help her learn to play as well as  Brianna. . . Awe. . .

I told Steve our next challenge will be Sabbath morning when she 

thinks she can take her violin to church and wants to serenade the whole church.

Sure enough, she's already got big plans 
to that end.

I told she wasn't taking it to church until she learns Jesus Loves Me

and half an hour later she announced that she had learned it.

lol. Okay... well, I'll be the judge on that one!

Buster Brown loved opening his present and it was exactly what he wanted,
unfortunately, he doesn't have any patience
and he had a major melt-down mid-morning.
It was last year, all over again.
Last year we thought it was because there was too many presents and too much excitement.
so we cut everything way back to the bare minimum (a very good idea anyway),
and he still fell apart.
He's over tired and that doesn't help,
but somehow the build up to opening presents is too much in his own mind.

Just an FYI to those reading the blog because of interest in foster-care adoption
and open adoption....
just as we were sitting down to Christmas dinner
the phone rang, and rang, and rang....
Biological aunts, siblings and sibling's adoptive families called one right after another
and the children hardly had time to take a bite between calls.
I've yet to be convinced of the benefits of such brief exchanges.
The kids act like they know who they are talking to
and talk a blue streak...
but after the call if you ask who they were talking to they just shrug and say they don't know.

Friday, December 23, 2011

In a Stable

I guess it's sort of old fashioned
to invite our neighbors to come sing with us around a toasty fire,
but they come,
and they seem to like it.
In fact, some who were here last year,
brought new friends this year.
We sang every Christmas carol we could think of
next to our "stable"...
One young man, that we met tonight, knew all the words
to all the songs.
You could tell he's a musician the second he opened his mouth.
The harmonies were gorgeous.
Some of our company
aren't used to singing, and they don't know the words.
Two lads were especially embarrassed to be singing...
but I think they might have learned a thing or two from the Young Musician.
Singing is not just for girls :-).
Eventually they warmed up to the idea... or got cold
and needed to warm up to the fire.
All boys do love fire.
It drew them in.

Mr. Goosey Gander was especially excited about the company in his barn tonight.
He's rather opinionated and noisy about it... and a little possessive.
Very personable.
Definitely the center of attention.

What a blessing to read the Christmas story
straight from the Bible
right out there by the barn
where it's quite easy to imagine what it was really like to put a newborn in a bed of straw.
Not just any newborn -
but the Son of GOD.

This is what I love about Christmas -
people are open to share....
(Not one family from the same church
or denomination)
all coming together to sing the sacred old songs
and read the sacred old story
together as friends and neighbors.

We finished off the evening with food and hot drinks.
15 children all together in one house was not the least overwhelming or crazy.

It was a lovely evening.
The only thing missing 
was snow.

For a Christmas Miracle

I was talking to a friend about Missy and my thoughts on how we are going to go about helping her reach her potential. I told her I thought I needed to teach her to play a musical instrument. I told her I thought it would seem near impossible, but if I have to move her fingers for her and not move on to the next concept for three months and 5 million tries, so be it. She may never be a musician, but it's the process that does so much for the brain. My friend then started to tell me her story.

Her son's story.

I know this boy. He's almost Vanessa's age. SMART... like he's already finished calculus, kind of smart.

Apparently he was very developmentally delayed at one time. He could not function on par with the other kids in his kindergarten. His parents were told he would never learn to read. He would never learn. He would never be able to live on his own, they said. The frustrations in a child with severe developmental delays cause behaviors, too. They had it all and they were heartbroken.

The mom did her research. She read everything she could get her hands on and then she decided she needed to teach him to play a musical instrument. She decided his left brain and his right brain were not communicating with each other and somehow she thought that he would benefit if she taught him to play the violin.

It was a horrible nightmare journey - at first and for a long time.  According to her, he's not a fabulous violinist now, but he does well enough to enjoy it and participate in symphony. The point of her story, though, was that although she found it very, very difficult to teach him she plodded on and as she did so she saw changes. He fought her. He hated it. He had to be retaught and retaught, but she never lost sight of the goal.

Missy asked for a violin last year. We laughed. We knew she was enamored by her new big sisters' music but she most certainly was not going to get a violin for Christmas. One of the packages under the tree was a little toy broom and dust pan... wrapped it looked to her like her dream come true! I'm so sorry child. What an awful disappointment!!

She hasn't let the idea go. She is still looking for a violin for Christmas.

I told my friend that I had been thinking piano, but after hearing her story maybe I needed to find an old dilapidated violin.

The friend reached under a chair and pulled out a small black case. She unzipped it and showed me... her child's first violin. Then she re-zipped it and handed it to me. "Take it", she said, "And Merry Christmas to Missy!"

And so, we have one Christmas miracle,

and we are looking for two more....That I {who doesn't play violin} will be able to transfer Brianna's know-how into mini-lessons and that Missy will be able to learn.

We aren't looking to make her a great musician, or any kind of musician, we are looking to exercise her brain.

We're looking for a Christmas Miracle.

PART 2 { here}

PART 3 { here }

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas Pictures :-)

Two things had to line up just right. . .

I was beginning to think they never would,

But yesterday the sun came out and Steve was home in the daylight.

It's almost too late, but late is better than never, so we scrambled for harmonious colors, grabbed the camera and headed out doors.

Do you know how hard it is to get 7 people to smile just right all at once?

I am not above bribing the two youngest with a piece of candy.... it worked to keep them from pouting, at least. :-)

Brianna  - the blond on the right, is our resident photographer.
Everybody does what she says.
She sets it up on her tripod and runs ....

None are perfect, but there are actually several nice pictures.
Everyone has a different favorite.
So, it's hard to choose..

So, the one with the dog won out.
How's that? She didn't even smile.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Boredom has set in BIG time with the twins.

We sang at the nursing home this morning and then we cleaned up the straw on the carpet at the church from the Christmas program. The girls left to help an elderly couple for a few hours of Christmas decorating and cleaning and after that they went shopping for the Angel Tree families..... so the twins had to figure out what to do with themselves all afternoon.


Since they couldn't figure out what to do, I gave them things to do, but nothing interested them and they'd put the activity away before I even knew they had gotten it out.

You would think that biking in the sunshine was torture, that building with legos was impossible, picture books are pictureless, remote control trains are monotonous, food  tasteless....

We just may be doing school work tomorrow. Or raking leaves.

But that's the other thing. They don't want to play... but they don't want to work, either.

And they cried when it was time for bed.

It's going to be a long holiday, me thinks. They aren't being naughty...just bored.


Steve and I consider ourselves the most blessed parents on earth.
I think the teenage years are so much fun.
We just enjoy each other's company so much.

I loved singing with the girls for the program and for church this past week.
I think we all enjoyed gathering around the harp
or piano in the evenings after the little kiddos are in bed and 
practicing our songs.

It's amazing,
the same two parents - and they all turn out so incredibly different!!
They are all gifted musically,
hard working,
and driven....
but the personalities are so very different.

God is good.

The first quarter of  this school year is over.
Vanessa did not get an A- in chemistry as she thought.
That was just the grade on the last test.
She managed an A, so that puts her at a 4.0 once again.
God blesses her hard, hard work. 
Her policy is:
Put God first,
Go to bed on time.
Get up early if you need to, but always go to bed on time.

Brianna is doing so, so much better health wise this year!!
She is still in treatment.
We have so much to be thankful for.
She actually played her violin at church for the first time in 2 years or more
this past week as part of our special music.
This was her first quarter of "real" school.
She was ambitious and carried quite a load,
but she managed a 3.67 GPA.
She's a tenacious one.

Christina has turned into my right-hand-man.
She's pulling up the slack caused by her sisters' being at the college so much.
She's always willing,
a blessing to the twins,
and getting more organized every day.
The best thing we did was change flute teachers.
She has really made progress and is enjoying her music.
Piano.... that's still hard,
but she's making progress on that left hand stuff :-)
Learning an instrument that reads only one clef for 6 years,
then starting piano at the age of 13  is a challenge.
It's learning to read a new language to read a new clef.
The biology and algebra classes are a highlight for her.

My advice to new young parents - if anybody's asking : -)

Love your kids
Make God first
and teach them to LOVE Him best,
Keep them close,
Avoid peer dependence,
Be open and honest,
Discipline (disciple) consistantly,
Pray without ceasing,
Ask forgiveness when you fail them.
God has promised to sustain us and guide us and 
He makes up for our deficiencies.

Monday, December 19, 2011


We've been having quite a string of amazing days. Such wonderful peace!

Somehow, someway, the twins have sent their negative behaviors off on vacation. It's very nice.

We're all enjoying the respite. I praise the Lord for the relaxed days. It gives us hope for their future.

We had thought that Missy might not maintain her angelic act past the Christmas program. She had had a melt down a few hours before the program. The anxiety of the anticipation was causing her a little stress and she ended up crying herself to sleep in the afternoon before the program. I figured out that she really thought I would pull her from the program if she blew it on behavior. I had no intention, but I can see how she came to that conclusion. BUT the point is, she's as happy as a lark still!! There are almost no controlling behaviors happening and no whining.

James, too, has been pleasant. Of course, it's fun to decorate Christmas trees and anticipate the secrets behind the closed doors. It's fun to have big sisters home on break - especially when they take extra time to go hiking and help make crafts and cookies. Brianna has gone out of her way to exercise them and challenge them. We figured out that someone taught James to play UNO and it didn't take much to teach Missy and  wow, she plays very well and sticks to the rules. James tries to get away with a wrong card every once in awhile even when he knows it isn't right. Missy plays to win, but she handles someone else finishing first pretty well.

James does have trouble with pouting over being asked to help with work. ANY kind of work. How many years does it take for boys to get over being so lazy???  All the girls in the house work hard. Even Missy.

I had one more meeting at the school this morning to go over some test results for both of the kids. That's it,  I think. Missy's set to start Jan. 3. She hasn't been told much. We value our peace. I know she will be excited when she understands what's happening.

I borrowed Reading Reflex from the library once again. This is the book that was a life saver in teaching Vanessa to read. I used it for Bri, too. And now I am getting ready to use the program with James and Missy for a few weeks. I want to be sure.  James reads well, but he is also quick to memorize words and I want to be sure he has a solid foundation in the CODE. I've been using a phonics based program with him, and it's good, but I don't want to get to third grade and find he's missed something that impedes his progress further. At the moment he's drawing out the solar system and labeling the planets.... "phonetically". Moon and sun look right... Jupiter and Mars are interesting and he asked me how to spell "Earth".

Vanessa was thrilled to learn she made an A- in chemistry! This was one hard class for her. She has had no exposure to chemistry before and the teacher was a tough one. She could not understand his lectures because he spoke too fast and so she had to study untiringly on her own to make it. Tomorrow the girls should find out their grades in everything else.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Our Special Tree

God gave us the best kids.

They are content with anything! They turn tradition on its head and make themselves smile over simple things.

No one has had time to go out looking for a tree in way out yonder... and there are none in our backyard, save a few scruffy sage brush, an elderberry or two and some chokecherry bushes. I thought to buy one but I always found myself in town with the Honda and not the suburban. It saves on gas, but it doesn't cart trees too well.

This morning I mentioned that I could go get a tree for the girls to decorate today and they said, "You know, we just might be able to come up with a different plan - a more cost effective plan.

And they did. Our tree is very special because it's different. It was built together.

Of course the camera doesn't do it justice!
A little frosty fake snow for touch up...

Pine cones and raffia.

Red lights and pine scented candles.

Baby Jesus is wearing a green striped jumper these days.

homemade angels

The focal point

So, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
but only in the house.

What's with having to rake leaves the 2 weeks before the New Year?
The kiddos should be sledding!!

To Be An Angel

Just an FYI...there is a star in this post. 
please, please notice all my hard work.
{actually, it just happened. 
There was no work involved.}
I just had to point it out - too fitting.

She was in love with her angel wings,
the soft white boa,
the long dress.

She played the part well -
{ for nearly the whole week in anticipation}.
Someone asked her if she was practicing her angel act at home
but she did not understand the double meaning
and she said no,
which made everybody smile.

Thrilled with her part,
she took it seriously,
and even sang along with the choir.

The child is learning to sing...

This angel desperately wanted to
hold the baby Jesus,
that particular Mary was not really into holding...

But little Miss Angel resisted
the urge to take over
the baby's care,


well, because she had orders
to sing
and to hold her candle,
and she wanted to be the  best angel she could be.

makes me think.
I can imagine that REAL angels
wanted to take over the care
of the REAL baby Jesus
all those years ago
in that smelly, dank stable...
But they had orders from on high
to sing

to hold their light above the rooftop of the Bethlehem barn.
I can't imagine it was easy to leave little details of the care
of the God of Heaven in the hands
of lowly human beings
We know their eyes took in every particular
while they waited with bated breath
for a command from God the Father
to intervene.
And probably they did,
in the unseen world,
but they were not permitted to
hold the baby
and nurse the baby
and line the manger with a downy pillow.
They could, however, sing
and illuminate the sky
with their light.

The little angel crawled into bed
very tired,
but happy
already having 
lived her dream...