Friday, November 28, 2008

Cute, Right?

So this little guy is pretty cute - I think most of us can agree on that. Problem is...he isn't as cute when he gets up 2-3 times every night. I think last night pushed me over the edge. Well, maybe it wasn't just last night but the combination of the past 2 years of disrupted sleep that made me decide - something needs to change here!!! For whatever reason he can't seem to stay in a continuous sleep cycle. Every three hours he is awake, dragging his blanket and pillow over to our room and wanting to crawl in bed with us. I then drag everything back to his room and place him back in his bed. This happens numerous times a night. Last night was only twice so I really shouldn't complain. After this weekend away at a cabin we will have a gameplan (I hope) and will implement it next week. The marks on the ground behind me from my butt dragging are really not attractive. Neither are the dark circles under my eyes. Just for the record - he is so sweet and this is what probably got us into this mess. He makes it hard to be consistent when he asks to "nuggle".

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things I'm Thankful For

This is the first Thanksgiving in over 10 years that we have not had to go anywhere! It feel really nice. We have had a relaxing and peaceful morning. Judah and Shane headed out the door in typical fashion by 8:30 to play in the snow and wreck their snowman that was built yesterday. Mark came in around 10:00 and said the boys wanted to go sledding so he was loading them up in the truck to go find a good spot. It is now 11:45 and I haven't heard from them so I know they are having fun. This means the house has been a little bit quieter and I have had time to really reflect on what I am thankful for.

First of all I am thankful for the whole concept of Thanksgiving Day. It makes you stop and take stock of all the blessings in your life. Ready for my list?

My Father God who has blessed me beyond measure and who loves me even though I had nothing to give Him in return. My husband who also loves me even though I am not always the easiest or sweetest person to live with. His ability to love our children, drop everything to spend time with them, his heart that has been forever made aware of the forgotten ones, his strengths, his weaknesses, everything about him - I'm thankful. For Judah - his intensity, his sensitivity, his smiles that melt the core of me. For Shane - his will of iron, his morning hugs for the "babies", his giggle. For Tristan - his quiet and quirky ways, the way he says "boogernut", his sweet blue eyes. For Eden - her smile, her eyes that now sparkle, her life, her feisty spirit.

For our families and friends - old and new. Everyone has had a hand in shaping who I am today.
For health, sunshine, flowers, washing machines, a house to clean, mountains, creeks, oceans, strawberries, indoor plumbing, music, cabins, campfires, adoption, worship, blue sky, Christmas music, disposable diapers, dishwashers, swedish fish, red licorice, pediatricians and so much more.

For little boys who think farting is so fun! And snow (which I don't really like) but it brings so much enjoyment for my children and my husband. And lastly, this new little life that continues to grow and thrive. Today, I can say in all confidence "I am blessed."

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Past Week

It feels so often that an entire week passes by and I am left confused by how it disappeared so quickly. We are in this blasted cold spell right now and I remember now why every year, right about now, I start campaigning to move south. Sort of like a migration thing. I really don't enjoy the cold weather very much but my husband and my boys do. And it seems like Eden does as well. Two mornings last week everyone was bundled up and outside by 8:30. I just wanted to sit at the table and finish my coffee but the boys were excited about the dusting of snow we would get every night and have to go play for a bit. Then Tristan and Eden would want to get in on the fun. I found it all rather ridiculous and completely unnecessary since warmth makes more sense to me. I didn't tell them I thought it was ridiculous - I just dutifully got everyone dressed and out the door. I don't even think it was 30 degrees either of the mornings I ventured out. And if I am completely honest with you it kind of felt nice. That cold blast of air really cleans out my congested sinuses and gets my day off to a good start.

We spent the day at my mom's yesterday for Thanksgiving. We went early enough to stop by the church my brother pastor's and catch up with some of our friends there. We then headed to my mom's for the chaos that ensues when all the cousins get together. We got to the end of the day yesterday and realized that there were no altercations between any of the kids. Pretty amazing when you have so many little people running around. I figured out this morning that their were 12 kids under the age of 8 running around. And of course the six older kids who aren't really kids any more but young adults. One of my nephews had an incident on Friday where he ended up in the ER from ingesting some kerosene. After things like that happen that can have horrible results I am reminded of how precious each of these children are in our family.
This morning found all the kids in a relatively good mood and all snuggling together on the couch. Shane called for me to come see them. It was so cute seeing them all snuggled together under blankets and giggling.
Here are the four munchkins hanging out together. I told them we were going to change things up today and not do school until Eden takes her nap. I get tired of the constant climbing on the table while we are trying to get work done. Plus, I am feeling a little fatigued from Tristan's restless sleeping the past week. So, I just didn't feel like I had the added energy to deal with Eden's antics while they did their work. I can't say the boys were disappointed with my proposition.
Here are Tristan and Eden playing together on Saturday. Shane has a good case of bedhead and Eden has her classic gross nose.
Tristan playing in the snow last week.
One of the sweetest pictures of Eden. I love her pensive looks that I capture from time to time. She normally doesn't stand still long enough to get a non-animated picture.
So....we are off to start the week. I will do better this week at keeping you updated on our lives and the ponderings of my heart. Just in case anyone cares!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Feeling Conflicted and Somewhat Wrecked - Again!

Sometimes I have a hard time getting the feelings/emotions that are swirling around internally to come out and make any sense on paper. I have again been wrestling with all we saw and were exposed to while in Ethiopia and what that means long term for not only me but our family. I talked before about what happens when you no longer just allow yourself to feel compassion but become fully engaged in the tragedy that happens on a daily basis around the world. When you project yourself into the lives of the mothers and fathers and imagine the tables being turned and you are the one forced to give your child away or they will starve, fall victim to abuse, contract HIV, it unlocks a grieving inside that you almost don't know how to process. At least I don't know how to process the feelings completely. Do I feel overwhelmed and like there is nothing I can do? No. But I do feel a sense of responsibility now that I never felt before. You do not just walk away from third world countries and continue on as normal - God has now given me a responsibility to do something about what I witnessed.

Mark and I have talked often about what this will look like long term for us. While we have talked about adoption again I kind of put that dream down upon learning of our pregnancy. Yet....I can't help but wonder if possibly someday......but I'll get to that.

On Sunday morning our pastor was speaking about the forgotten and hopeless of the world - children in particular. Last year he challenged us all to give 1% of our annual income at Christmas to give to the different orphanages we sponsor in Myanmar, Dominican Republic, Rwanda, etc. I guess the average American Christian gives 1/2 of a percent of their annual income to help the poor. He wanted to double that percentage and see what we could do. Over $120,000 was given and we have helped many lives of children as a result. We are back to that time of year and want to do more than last year. At least that would be my desire. Did you know that over 8,500,000 children under the age of five have died this year already due to poverty related illnesses? These are treatable illnesses! Go to to see the number change is quite sobering. So..I was back to "what can we do and what is our responsibility?" Adoption is a piece, sponsoring children is another piece, micro-lending for widows and families is another piece, giving a portion of money to help build another home in Rwanda so more young men can come off the streets is a piece, education is a piece....there are so many pieces!

Mark and I talked and mulled things over different times on Sunday and were somewhat amazed at how the Lord had been speaking so similarly to both of us. But why should we be surprised?! Then Sunday evening rolls around. We had watched some football and decided to swing on over and see what was happening on Extreme Home Makeover - which I enjoy but think the extravagance could be toned down a bit. The family they were featuring was amazing. Long story short this couple had three biological sons and went on a missions trip to Haiti. While there they fell in love with a sibling group and decided to adopt - the sibling group was 5 boys!!! Bringing their total number of sons to 8. But they didn't stop there - they adopted three more boys domestically from their city of Toledo! Eleven sons!!! Think about that people. I sat there with tears and a huge knot in my throat. Why, you ask? People who go against the norm always inspire me and cause me to dream the what if's. As we are watching the show Judah and Shane ask us, "When are we going to adopt again?" I looked at them and said, "You want to adopt again? Even though we are going to have 5 kids in our family soon?" Their immediate response, "Yes!!!" They want to adopt some boys from Africa who don't have a family. I was blown away. I so often feel like I am not meeting their needs, that they have to feel sidelined, that they must resent more children, etc. etc. Turns out that they are starting to understand, maybe even more than I am understanding, that life isn't only about them.

Now...I will admit that we have talked about "in the future" possibly adopting an older child. A child that has slim hope of being adopted because they are past the age of 5. Seems crazy, right? We will have 5 children already. We look out of place and not normal when we go out in public. But what is normal? Maybe we will create our own normal. And don't get all excited people - I mean Future. As in a few years from now. I must say though if our agency called tomorrow and said that Eden's brother had been relinquished we wouldn't get the chance to wait a few years. Because we would want to bring him home and have them together.

All this rambling and what is the point? Simply this: We are wrestling right now with how best to utilize the resources God has given us to make them stretch as far as possible to help as many children as possible.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Little Miss

To say that Eden is giving me a run for my money could be somewhat of an understatement. She definitely has a will of iron and tends to think it is funny when I administer any kind of discipline. Other times her world comes unglued when I administer the same exact discipline - usually a time out. She is feisty, full of life and a talker. Last night Mark and I were watching her last night and laughing thinking of the future. She will one of those girls that everyone will know has arrived or departed the scene. She is so loud!!! And her mouth goes almost non-stop. As soon as she wakes up in the morning the whole house is awake because of her loud talking from her crib. I look at her daily and just wonder if her strong personality is what aided in keeping her alive when she was so tiny. Yesterday I was attempting to scrub my floors. She woke up just as I was getting started. She very quickly decided she needed to "help" and was soaked almost immediately. Trust me - she did have a shirt all day until this point.
She almost tipped the bucket numerous times and somehow miraculously we kept the floor from being utterly saturated.
Notice her belly? She reminds us of a little sumo wrestler with her stocky little build. She is so muscular.
A little later after dinner (still no shirt). I was clearing the table and loading the dishwasher and turned around to this. The top of the table is one of our major battles right now. She just can't seem to keep herself grounded and must be climbing to the top of the table over and over. Combine her love for climbing and her love for food and this is what you get.
Gotta love those cheeks!!
I told Mark the other day that Eden's belly is almost as big as mine - we should do some belly shots before this baby grows any bigger. I have had a few weeks of not enjoying her a whole lot simply because she pushes things all the time. I was feeling a little guilty until Mark reminded me that I have gone through this with each and every child of ours. It is part of the growing process. Sometimes you really connect and sometimes it is a daily struggle to find a connection. Today for some reason I am enjoying her a lot. I must run now since I promised Judah I would help him build his dueling roller coaster K'nex system. Should be lots of fun!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008


All sorts of exciting things are happening at our house lately. The most recent and biggest cause for excitement happened early this morning when Judah went out to check on his chickens. He has been anxiously awaiting the appearance of the first egg. Now, for those of you that don't know Judah very well let me just fill you in on a small detail. He has little to no patience when it comes to waiting on pretty much anything! He has been asking numerous times everyday when the chickens will start laying eggs. I tell him every time (multiple times a day) that I really don't know but usually sometime around nineteen weeks of age which would mean anytime now. Well......this morning was the morning!!! He ran out to check the nesting boxes, came bursting in the door all excited yelling that we have an egg. In all his haste he forgot to actually bring the egg with him. So...back out he went to retrieve his prize!! It was in his belly within 10 minutes and he has continued to check the nesting boxes numerous times after he was done with his school work. He even had to call Grandma at 7:50 this morning to tell her and to also run over to our neighbor Mrs. Fisher to tell her. Everyone has been so sweet and equally excited for him!

Second exciting thing or not so exciting: we have a biter at our house!!! I have never had a child who was a biter but now I do. Poor Tristan is sporting some pretty nasty bite marks from his dear little sister. I am at a complete loss at how to begin curbing this behaviour. I sit her in time out but I am just wondering if anyone has some advice for me as to what may have worked for their child. It is rather horrifying to see the purple indentations from her teeth turn to welts on Tristan. She does have a very pretty bit though - very nicely spaced and straight teeth.

And thirdly, it looks like we will be moving sometime in the next two months. We are starting to outgrow our acre with Mark's business plus we really desire to be closer to both our families and our friends. We found a great spot with more space both indoor and outdoor for our growing family and business. And we will only be 10-15 minutes from State College instead of 25-30 minutes. A big difference when you make multiple trips a week. We are super excited and glad we were able to come to an agreement with the sellers. So now the trick is getting our house show ready with four little kids - any suggestions other than packing away a majority of their toys? Fortunately, we do not have to wait for our house to sell so we will be moved and settled before the baby will arrive. Of course we hope our house doesn't sit too long. I must say amidst all the excitement of moving I am very sad to leave our neighbors. We haven't broken it to them yet because I don't think I can. I told Mark he will have to do it. Especially Mrs. Fisher. The boys just adore her and she in turn loves them. But who knows - maybe they will be glad to see these tree peeing boys move on.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Take a Minute

So...a few weeks ago I had told you all about this beautiful Ethiopian woman named Gadese staying with equally beautiful people named Steffany and Adam. Gadese had her baby earlier this week and I encourage you to head on over and get the story first hand from Steffany at There is no doubt after reading over Steffany's posts from this past week that God orchestrated everything perfectly so that more lives wouldn't be lost due to inadequate medical facilities. My only wish is that I lived closer to them so I could get my hands on this precious and miraculous baby!!! Please take 10 minutes and go read for yourself. It just makes it more special for me since I met the father of this beautiful baby!

Odds and Ends

I was able to get out of the house today thanks to my mother-in-law and get some shopping done. I also finally took all the necessary paperwork and documentation to our county courthouse to file for Eden's re-adoption here in the States. At this point she is a legal resident but in order for her to obtain US citizenship her paperwork needs to be reviewed by a judge here. We met with a lawyer who would represent us if we need to go before the judge but the prothonotary's office said the judge usually grants approval without a court appearance. So, our hope is that she will be a US citizen and have a Pennsylvania birth certificate by Christmas. It would just be sweet! I wish I could show you the picture of Eden that is stapled to her birth certificate!! It is stunningly beautiful. Her skin looks like porcelain. One day this week the boys were supposed to mix paint colors for their science lesson. We were experimenting with lots of different color combinations. We used finger paints and lets just say things got a little messy!
Tristan got in on the action and had to have a date with the tub when he was finished. It was just too much mess for a simple hand wash. I look at these pictures and I wish so badly that I would be a more relaxed mother and let them do this kind of stuff more often. I wish I could remember the twinkle in their eye instead of the cleanup afterward.

Hmmmm....not a very productive science lesson. Or depending on how you look at it possibly over productive.
See the twinkle?
While he was still being meticulous and careful!

This is the boys at the Washington D.C. zoo watching the new cheetah being trained to go into her "cave." I love pictures of kids from the back - something pensive about them.

Sitting patiently waiting on someone at the zoo to load him into the stroller and keep moving.

The three boys again. I am realizing that I don't have any new pictures of Eden in this post! I will have to rectify that next post.

One of my favorite pictures from our visit to Ben. Judah holding Ben's had strolling through the zoo. Our boys are so blessed with good men to look up to. Both our families have great men and we have been blessed with some wonderful friends too.
Not even trying to plan this way we ended being in D.C. on Halloween night. The boys brought some fun get-up along to show Ben. Turns out Ben's room mates were headed out to a party themselves. They all crowded on the couch for a photo shoot. Ben's room mates where Breann (dressed as the basketball player) and Eric (the carpenter on the right).
Shane catching a ride on his daddy's back after walking to the White House.

The boys hanging on the fence at the backside of the White House. It was kind of surreal seeing all the Secret Service everywhere!
My man with three of his kids. It was pre-bedtime storytime. They love having stories read to them but it is extra special when Mark reads. I am blessed!
Tristan wearing his Dr. Seuss socks (as Mark calls them) and playing in the cupboard. Every other picture I have of me at this age I am doing the exact same thing.
One last random picture. The White House. Pretty majestic!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Whirlwind Trip and Nostalgia

So we packed up the three boys and took a quick trip to Washington D.C. to do some sight seeing and spend some time with our dear friend Ben. Ben has been in our lives for over eight years now and the boys just love anytime they get to spend with him. We really appreciated he and his roommates generosity in letting us crash at their apartment. On Friday e walked from his place to see the White House, the Treasury building, some of the monuments and the Capitol building. The boys were impressed but were more impressed by riding the subway! They couldn't get enough of the "sub" as they called it. I think the subway was one of the big highlights of the trip. On Saturday we did a speedy run through of the Museum of Natural History and believe me when I say the boys were basically running from exhibit to exhibit. We couldn't really read anything and we sure didn't see everything since we had to keep up or lose our children. Mark and I decided we will just have to return without kids or wait until they are quite a bit older. Then it was on to get some lunch, pack up the van and head to the zoo. We covered a lot of ground in two days and our feet were very tired by the time we headed for home. Tristan did marvelously and didn't cry once! It seems that without his little sister to follow him around and annoy him he found some much needed solace.

Speaking of his little sister - this was the first time we have left Eden overnight in the seven months she has been home. I was nervous about leaving her yet I knew she would enjoy Grandma and Grace way more than traipsing around a city. Turns out she had the time of her life!! When we left I went to give her a kiss and tell her good-bye and she didn't want me near her. She thought I was telling her it was time to leave Grandma's house and she didn't want any part of leaving. So, we pulled away with some tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat as she waved with a beaming smile! Mark's mom texted me a few pictures of the fun she was having while we were gone and she was definitely in her element. Of course she and Tristan's volatile and explosive relationship was back in full force come Sunday morning when everyone woke up but........such is life!!

For the nostalgia portion of this post. While in D.C. I realized that we were approaching something that for me brings fond memories. Last year, on November 2nd, our dossier arrived in Ethiopia. Last year, also on November 2nd, Eden arrived in the care of Toukoul orphanage system. Two very critical things that needed to happen in order for us to bring home our daughter happened in the same day!!! A year ago we didn't know anything about our daughter - just that all our paperwork had arrived safely and the wait was beginning. What a difference a year makes!