Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Large Family Friends

Elizabeth at Ordinary Times is one of my favorite bloggers.  We are also (now) real friends (as opposed to only blogger/internet-I-feel-like-she's-my-friend-because-I-read-her-blog-friends). 

Have you ever found yourself talking to someone saying, "I have this friend who is adopting . . . " and then you stop short, realizing that you really only know that person through their blog?  Which is kinda weird.  And maybe kinda creepy to some.  And yet I really do feel like I know some bloggers like friends.  Ya know? 

But it's even weirder to say, "I have this internet friend who is adopting . . . ." That's even weirder.  And creepier.  And makes it sound like I go into chat rooms to chat with weird, creepy friends. 

Anyhoo, Elizabeth is a real friend because we have had real conversations through comments on each other's blogs.  (Does that count as being real friends?)

We have also had real conversations through e-mail.  And the phone.  (Real, real friends?)

Finally, we have actually seen and talked to each other in real life.  I have even been to her house!  (This is where you can gasp that one of my former blogger/internet-I-feel-like-she's-my-friend-because-I-read-her-blog-friends is really, truly, now a real, real friend, because-I-have-e-mailed-her-and-talked-to-her-and-even-met-her-in-real-life-and-been-to-her-house-friend.)

Except that after all this explanation she is probably going to think I am too weird (and creepy) to be her real friend.  So maybe now she isn't my friend at all. 

Anyhoo, anyhoo, Elizabeth has an excellent post today on raising a large family.  I especially love her thoughts on the costs. 

As for me and my herd-of-a-large-family-kids, we are off to the zoo today.  

To meet more real friends. 

To torture the animals.   

And to give the other zoo patrons some large family entertainment. 

Oh! And of course, to eat more snowcones.  

To cool off the end-of-summer-blues.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Off To College

Orientation over the weekend:

First day of classes today:

The first day of the rest of her life!  My baby girl is growing up! 

She didn't even cry.  Which is more than I can say for myself. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Summer Sewing--Cute and Easy Apron For Kids

We had so much fun making aprons! 

Rose was absolutely enamoured with the sewing machine and, by the end, able to sew with just a little assistance.  I bought my sewing machine when I was in 8th grade with money from my paper route--talk about getting my moneys-worth!

Patrick was happy to show off his skills.

I found such a cute and easy pattern on this website--reversible and adorable! 

We used flannel simply because it was what I had on hand, but any cotton fabric will do.  The only thing I had to buy was a pair of D-rings for each apron neckband. 

Rose wanted hers to be the same on both sides:

Patrick chose monkeys for one side:

Sharks on the other:

Vu went for puppies and monkeys:

I made the pattern 2" longer for Rose and Patrick, and would make the neck strap 2" shorter in the future. 

It's a quick and easy pattern and would make a really cute gift. 

I am so glad my mother and grandmother taught me to sew.  It's a great life skill and one I've enjoyed passing down to my own children.  If you don't know how to sew, come on over and join the party!   
Happy Sewing!  

Sunday Snapshot

Friday, August 26, 2011

Advocating For Waiting Children--Edited

"I believe there are locked up secrets in these children, in the core of their being. I belive there are parents who can unlock them, who relish the challenge and the opportunity."~ Dr. Jane Aronson

Currently, there are more children than ever on waiting child listing. If adoption has been tugging at your heart, please consider whether one of these children is meant to be your child.

For those who completed an adoption through China in the last year, reusing your dossier is incredibly easy--and less expensive.

On a VERY happy note, Rose's friend who we were advocating for has found a family! We are extremely excited! More on that miracle later.

For now, there is another child who is close to aging out:

Edited:  She has a family!!!!!  I disabled the link to protect her privacy. 

But there are still so many older kids close to aging out--especially boys!  Imagine this sweet boy in your family,  or this handsome young man, or this kid who has personality plus.   There are also some precious older children who are close aging out on ASIA's website.  Once these kids turn 14 they are delegated to the life of an orphan forever--their futures are very grim indeed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Summer Creations

I love summer and refuse to even think about the fact that it will end soon! 

I can't even believe I just typed that, because that means I have to admit to it. 

Lucky for me I have short-term memory loss--so what was I was just saying??  Huh?  I can't hear you!

We've had fun making homemade ice cream in ziplock bags--easy, just google a recipe and directions--you can even eat it right out of the bag.  Just make sure you do it outside!

We made homemade envelopes which brought out the creativity in the older kids.  Lizzy even made matching personalized stationary for all her graduation thank yous.  Just open a small envelope (gently open the glued edges), trace onto a torn out page from a magazine, cut around it, fold, then glue-stick leaving the flap open (tape it closed later).  It's also nice to stick a mailing label for the address space. 

It can actually be quite addictive--notice the variety!

And nail art has taken on all new dimensions in our household including zebra nails:

And nail-polish-tattoo-art--which the boys are loving!

Up next--a super simple and really cute apron for kids.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Midnight Musings On Grief

It's been a great summer--one filled with family, friends, lots of relaxation, kid time, couple time, and just plain fun.

But it's also been a hard summer--one filled with something I don't usually allow myself--ME time.  Me time is something I avoid because "me time" means quiet time, and too often, quiet time means being pulled back towards that deep dark crevasse of hell I stared into right after my son died--grief.  The unending depth of it terrorized me.  It was a mind-chilling, heart wrenching, black hole of death.  I tucked my tail, grabbed the hand of God, and ran away like a wild woman. 

As I've said so often, I run from grief.  I know that about myself.  And I used to think it was a bad thing--that I wasn't grieving "right."  But one of my best friends gently suggested to me that perhaps it was the only way I could preserve myself--to only take in the smallest bit of grief I could handle at one time--and to run from the rest.  To do it any other way would have killed me. 

She's right.

But as the years passed I realized that I needed to go back and face more of that black hole.  I was getting tired of running.  And I worried that all that running was keeping me from experiencing the fullness of emotion I once embodied.  I needed to see if in fact that black crevasse was still as depthless as I thought.

It was.  And yet, it wasn't. 

It's a lie that time heals all pain.  Time gives us a chance to figure out how to bury pain.  And how to live with pain. 

Faith gives us a chance to heal--even though there will always be a raging scar and one that can be torn back open, sometimes at the most unexpected times. 

One book I found helpful was, Choosing to See, by Mary Beth Chapman (wife of Steven Curtis Chapman), who tragically lost her five-year-old daughter in an accident.  The end of her book especially resonated with me when she discusses how there is no "right" way to grieve.  I particularly found a parallel to the grief our adopted children experience:

"I've now read so many books on grief that I should have a degree, but you know what?  There isn't any one way to do it  My story isn't yours and your story isn't mind.  I've come to the conclusion that the only thing people who are suffering and grieving have in common, at least if you believe as I do as a Christian, is the One who suffered for us.  And the Father, who grieved for Him going to the cross, understands."

Though our grief experiences are all very different, I've come to the same conclusion as Mary Beth, when she is crying out to God asking why?  How? 

Why? "Because I am God . . . keep walking and keep trusting . . . love well the ones still in your charge and care . . . realize that time is short, life is hard, but I've given you so much, do not squander it!"

How?  "By remembering that I am God and your trust has to rely completely on Me . . . not striving of your own will to fix, heal, cure, help, calm any of what you see as mess.  I allow what I allow for reasons you can't even comprehend . . . rest.  You won't figure this out, but He who holds Maria holds you."

For now, I can stop running, resting in the truth that I will never understand the circumstances surrounding the loss of Joe this side of heaven.  God knows, and I am trusting in Him. 

But I also know that if I need to, I can once again grab the hand of God and run away like a wild woman. 

And that's okay too. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer Craziness

Oh Me!  Oh My!  It has been a whirlwind of a crazy month here!  I keep thinking I'll do a post but because it's been awhile and there's do much catching up to do I then feel like I need to do a big post with a big lotta pictures and then I don't do it because I have too much other stuff to do and then I have even more pictures and more updates to post which means I would have to do an even bigger longer and greater picture post so then I don't and then . . .

You get the picture.  Even though I'm not going to post a lot of pictures.

Instead I will just say it's been a crazy past couple of weeks and one crazy wild ride. 

It included camping, a class reunion, an anniversary, family and friends, VBS, lots and lots of school shopping, craft making, and park playing.

Whew!  I'm tired. 

And therein lies the most boring post ever--but at least you know I am still alive.  Because I know you were all lying awake every night wondering in agony if I was.  Alive that is.  Not boring.  You already know that.


Stay tuned for some real life posts, coming soon to a blog near you!

Just as soon as I can find my brain. Which is probably buried under the big pile of camping gear--still waiting to be put away.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Joy and Sorrow

In the midst of sorrow, we continue to experience great joy.  It is one of God's miracles.

I remember when Joe was so sick.  When we began to know that he might not get well.  That he wouldn't get better.  That this "good cancer" was actually a very, very bad cancer.  That the unthinkable was upon us.  That Satan is real.  That bad things really do happen to good people.  That there was nothing more to try.

I remember reading a book about surviving tough times, and the author stated the importance of remembering that the future would hold moments of incredible happiness.

I remember how I found that hard to believe.  Impossible to believe that I would ever feel true happiness again.

And yet I do.  Often in the simplest of moments.

Like joining my three littles in their fort for a movie:

And taking my oldest out to a birthday dinner:

And watching him as best man at his best friend's wedding, including hearing his heartfelt toast to a couple obviously in love:

Visiting relatives and new babies in the family:

Teaching my children to sew and having memories come flooding back of my own mother teaching me:

Summer croquet while visiting my sister:

Watching my children ride horses, knowing my rancher grandparents are smiling in heaven:

Going to the sprinkler park and spending time with my good friend and goddaughter:

Otter Pops:

And more Otter Pops:

Which always remind me of Joe.  Who loved Otter Pops.  And loved leaving the wrappers all over the house, which drove me insane. 

For some reason, when I see wrappers all over the house now I don't feel frustration, I just feel the happiness of knowing Joe is smiling down from heaven. 

Praise God for His gift of joy.