Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This and That

You can usually guess that when I am not blogging I am just plain out of time. The last two weeks have been a lot of fun, but just not a lot of time to share it. So here goes:
-We traveled to West Virginia the weekend before Christmas to see Bruce's family. That was a lot of fun with family that we do not see very often. We had not seen one of Bruce's brothers in over a year. Fun with family, but not so much fun in the small MPV van for 8 hours one-way loaded down with 7 people, gifts, and luggage.
-We spent Christmas Eve putting together a fish aquarium and hiding it. That night we went to church and then over to the Detweiler's. Just imagine 5 children under 10who are sooo excited they do not know what to do with themselves paired with 4 college age boys who love to get them even more excited. Needless to say we had a hard time with bedtime that night.
-Christmas morning brought lots of joy and Micah was so cute. He just sat back and watched it all. Oh yeah! That morning also brought dead fish. The pet store said our aquarium is a death trap. We evidently have an exorbitant amount of chemicals in our water. Kind of scary!!
-The day after Christmas 12 house guests descended upon us. My family came to celebrate Christmas. Crazy, but lots of fun.
-Next day, a new PUPPY!! Yes, I am crazy. When we had to get rid of Rusty my husband said we could get another dog if it fell under this long list of criteria. Not only did it have to meet all of this, but we could not pay a lot for it. Well, he thought I could not meet the challenge, but I did. We have the best little dog now. I will post a picture later.

Now we are just trying to lie low until it all starts up again. In the middle of all of this we have had illnesses, my back has been out, and the regular everyday commitments which do not stop.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

December has flown by and I can not believe it is Christmas Eve. Our children are beside themselves. This is the first year Jack gets it and he is sooo excited. We are looking forward to spending Christmas with Micah. Who, by the way, has taken every ornament off the bottom of the tree. If you are coming over just look at the top. He is just getting into toys that make noises. The other kids are all looking forward to him opening the presents they bought him. I started a few years ago taking the children who were old enough to understand shopping for their siblings. They have a $5 limit, but they love it. I realize not all is lost on their relationships when they seriously ponder over what each one would like. They then talk about it for days. "I can't wait for you to open my present to you!" I think that has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

Well, I have not wrapped the first gift and I have to go the the grocery store and the pet store(Zach is getting an aquarium.). So, I need to get busy!!

I pray you are all able to celebrate our Savior's birth with loved ones and that your time together is joyful. May this new year bring wonderful blessings from God upon you and your families. Merry Christmas from the the Etter family!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Am So Excited

My favorite movie growing up was The Sound of Music. I know, I am a nerd. Well, our friends called to say they had tickets to hear the Von Trapp family sing with the Philadelphia Pops Orchestra and they wanted to take Bruce and me with the two older children. They have no clue who we are going to see so I am making them watch the movie tonight. Sarah will love it, Isaac will consider it torture. My saving grace will be that our friends think we will get to go backstage and meet them. Isaac will think that is great. We will get them and Maria Von Trapp to autograph our book. I know. What a geek I am! You should have seen me the day I was answering the phones at Veritas Press and someone asked to speak to Marlin. I said he was not available. May I take a message? She says, "It is Maria Von Trapp. He knows how to reach me." You have to understand. I remember being about Sarah's age and singing all of the songs from the movie over and over and over again. I thought I was Julie Andrews.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

I am sure I am not alone when I say I have been too busy to blog. We leave to visit Bruce's parents next Thursday and then we will be home on Christmas Eve. You know what that means! I have to be ready by Wednesday. Ahh! That takes a week away from my Christmas planning. I hope to finish my shopping by Monday and then we will start the baking and candy making. So this is our list. What is on yours?

Chocolate Covered Cherries
Peanut Butter Balls
Molasses Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Blessings of this Past Year

My husband and I just recently took a trip to Williamsburg. On the way he told me that I needed to calm my high-strung self down!I was shocked. I did not quite see myself as high-strung.(Joke!!:)) He also likes to let me know quite often that I am a glass is half empty type of girl. As I am contemplating this last year,because that has to be done, I decided that we have been given many blessings and I do not want to ever come across as not seeing God's grace and sovereign hand in our lives. He has blessed us beyond measure. Yes, the contested adoption, salmonella accompanied with seizures and a hospital stay, bringing all of the kids home to stay, a major job change,and deciding for me to teach a History class have all brought stress to our lives. But, each of these things have also brought about great blessings.

This adoption has shown us that there is nothing we can really do to protect our children. Yes, there is common sense to keep them safe, but when you have to really come to the place to know that their lives are completely in God's hands, well, that is humbling. It is also humbling when you think that his mother very realistically could have chosen abortion.It has been very rewarding to watch God work in her life.We are thankful for the bond God has given us with her. It has been a great blessing to have our faith strengthened this way. We have also met wonderful and hopefully life long friends.Of course the privilege of being his parents has been the biggest blessing.(When this is all over I will show you his picture. He is so darn cute!)And 2 1/2 weeks in Hawaii was not bad either.

Our decision to home-school again was not taken lightly. When Isaac first started his academic career we did not see traditional school on the horizon. When we were given the opportunity to put him school we jumped on it. I now see it as God's providential way of helping us home-school without guilt or regret. Yes, we all feel those things on a daily basis with our children, but I can honestly say that if a great Classical Christian school were right down the street I would still choose to home-school.Because there is one and we have chosen to home-school. We may change our minds one day, but for this time God has blessed us tremendously by allowing us to all be at home during what has been quite a stressful time.

Bruce's job change came with the need for some adjusting and sacrificing. Life has definitely been different for us. It is always hard to make a job change when you were completely happy with the other job. We have made these adjustments and are all thrilled with the change. To have three meals a day together and his involvement in their schooling has been a huge blessing. We get two comments quite often. "I'll bet it is really hard to have your husband home 24/7." and "How is he REALLY doing not being in a physical classroom.?" I am going to truthfully answer them once and for all. I LOVE having him home. He is my best friend and I do not tire of him being here. Yes, we do have our times of needing to be alone like everyone else, but I have not found it to be anymore often than when he was working out of the home. And, yes, he misses his students, but loves his new job. He does not feel inhibited by teaching online and misses those students when he does not have them again just as he does those in a physical school. We have been blessed with this opportunity.

While my decision to teach does bring a little stress it is also a blessing. I have loved studying our church history and my students are great. They are so smart! They ask theological questions that I did not think about until I was an adult. I love my class!

So, if you are still reading, just know that yes, we have had quite a year, but we love our God, we love each other and we are so happy with what God has done with us and for us. We are excited about the coming year. Who knows what lies ahead? I do know it will be from God and because of that we can rejoice.
I am always astounded to see the amount of books that come across the desk of my friends at Veritas Press. Everyone wants them to preview a sample in hopes of putting it in the catalog. As you can imagine there are a good number of books that do not even get a second glance. If it looks good it gets a second glance. If it looks really good it gets a chance. We happen to be that chance a lot of times. It is very rare that I take any of it and completely change what I am doing. I usually just use them to supplement what I am already using. Well, I just received a few language books and I am very seriously thinking of replacing the spelling curriculum which we are using. I am loving it. I will let you know.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Animals Have Feelings Too

So, Sarah decided she had something really serious to tell me. She was so nervous she needed to have her dad help. Bruce says, "Sarah has something to tell you." Sarah says, " Mom, I have decided to become a vegetarian." I ask, "Why?" Sarah, "Animals have feelings too!" She has decided the less meat she eats, the fewer animals that have to be slaughtered. If you have ever met Sarah you would know 'She ain't no bigger than a minute.'(Sorry, my southern side had to come out for a second.)She rarely eats a full serving of anything. I was not sure what to do with this information, but after explaining that I would not make her an extra meal and she had to eat what was served to her when she was a guest in someones home, we decided to ride this wave. She is very serious.

On a side note, we inherited two birds this weekend. One died within 24 hours, the other injured his beak. We are not good pet people. As soon as I came upstairs from hearing Sarah's news I found the dead bird. You can imagine how this went with little Miss. Animals Have Feelings Too. Needless to say, I went out and bought another bird. Just so you know, I hate birds and have sworn I would never own any.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stop the Judgment

I have let all of November go by without posting something about November being National Adoption Month. I try to not be over emotional about things, but several things about Micah's adoption have made my husband and I quite passionate about the topic. So much so that we are considering what kind of voice we can have and how we can be an encouragement to others. Whether it be birth mothers, churches, adoption agencies, etc., we are feeling the desire to minister. We have witnessed a family and church who chose to not judge a young girl, but instead they chose to take her in, fully support her, and follow through with support to help her do the right thing. In our 15 or more years of working with teenagers we can honestly say this kind of support and lack of negative judgment accompanied with teaching accountability is rare.As we think through it all, at some point I will blog more about it I am sure. The conclusion we have come to is the church has missed the boat here. They have missed it on many levels, but for this post I want to talk about the division among adoptive families in the church. For those of you who do not adopt you may not even realize this exists. When God calls us to do something we tend to become passionate about it and develop the attitude that everyone should do it. I think we can all see why that would not be good. In the adoption world there is the thought that if you do not adopt a minority child then you really have not done anything special.(Not that we adopt to do something great, but adoptions of minority children get more attention.) There is also this division between those who adopt domestically and those who go international. It is becoming increasingly popular to adopt from other countries and these adoptions are getting a lot of attention. This division was made very clear to me recently when I was talking with a family who is about to adopt from Ethiopia. She asked me if I thought it was better to go domestic or international. I told her I did not think there was a better. We believe God has chosen children for certain families and He leads you down the path you should take and no adoption is more special than the other. I believe it should really be no more special than your biological births either. All children are a miracle sent by God. She went on to say that she had received some flack for going international and I told her I thought that was sad. Well, then she started with how she did not understand why more people would not consider going international. She thinks they find it too difficult to fly to another country and is so easy to just go to your local agency to pick one up. She went on to say that these children in orphanages in other countries are the real orphans. Most of their parents have died and the children in the US have just been given up by irresponsible parents. Yes, this is a true story and all of this was really said. I mean really! Does it really seem like we have had it easy this time? An international adoption where it is all done the second you step on the plane to leave that country is sounding pretty good right now. I sat there in shock and am so upset with myself that I did not say more. So, as I think about all of this during National Adoption Month, I want to encourage us all to stop judging everyone involved. Birth mothers are sinners just like you and me. They need to be loved, held accountable, and supported. Even the birth mother who is irresponsible and has no desire to change chose life for her child and that should be commended. God calls us to take care of the orphans. Children who are not being cared for are orphans whether they are white, black, Hispanic, Hawaiian, American, or any other nationality. They are orphans whether their parents are dead, are irresponsible, or just plain will or can not take care of them. Let's move past all of this judgement and if God calls you to adopt, please have an open mind and let Him lead you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Micah is Home

Micah is home and in a deep, deep sleep. I believe every nap was interrupted in the hospital so, he is exhausted. He has salmonella. We have no clue where he contracted it. The moral to the story is to wash and double wash your hands. And then spray Lysol on everything the kids touch. I have to go. I am off to but Lysol, bleach, and Purell.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

There has been much to post about, just no time. As I type this I am at the hospital with Micah. On Monday he spiked a temp of 106 and started seizing. We have been here since then trying to determine the cause of the fever. He has been such a trooper. The spinal tap, multiple blood draws, IV stick, and doctors and nurses touching him every few minutes for the last three days have brought about major separation anxiety. He is doing much better, just needs mommy by his side and I am happy to oblige. We still do not have an answer and since his fever spiked again last night, we are here at least another night. Please pray for his healing. i would also like to think this was a one time thing and he will not be one of those children you here about spiking high fevers and having seizures every time they are ill. It was very frightening and I hope it does not happen again. Thank you to all of you who have sent emails and left phone messages. I can not use the lap top in his room. So, I have to wait for Bruce to get here to give me a quick break. I will respond to all of the messages when I get home.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Spiritual Attack

I have wanted to post for the last week, but could not think of anything nice to say and we all know what our mamma's said about not have anything nice to say. I know you are probably all tired of hearing about our adoption woes and such, but I have been working through some things and need to verbalize. When we first started going through all of this a friend said that she believed adoption was an avenue that Satan used to bring on spiritual attack. I thought it was interesting but did not think much of it.Even a perfect adoption is stressful and tiring. What better time for Satan to attack than when everyone is physically and emotionally exhausted. Add to that the fact that you are reminded everyday during an adoption that as far as the state is concerned you really have no right to your children. We understand the process the courts must go through and not every adoptive family has the best interest of the child at heart. But, if you happen to get a judge who believes every birth parent has a chance, then you are in trouble.It does not matter to that judge that drugs, abuse, etc. are involved. That is when you realize we really do not have a right or a choice and that is scary. We have been told our judge looks out for the best interest of the child. We will see. But, all of that to say, yes, adoption is stressful on a marriage.It can destroy you financially, emotionally, etc. Just as in any other crisis which comes along, it is difficult to keep it all going in the midst of a huge cloud hanging over your head. We are fine. Do not think we are teetering on divorce or anything, but we have to remind ourselves daily to not let all of this break us. It has been a reminder to me to pray more fervently for those I know who are going through a crisis. God can insure you keep the child or heal you of cancer, but if Satan has destroyed your marriage in the mean time, what have you gained?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

To Be Continued

Well, it was continued again. The birth father "did not have time to get an attorney." The judge did hear all of our testimony, the birth mother's and our social worker. He also called a couple of witnesses from the courthouse. I cried out of exhaustion and disappointment. We were all pretty ticked.(I am being nice.)How can you be the cause of all of this, but not have time to get representation? And on top of that, how can it be allowed? I know the judge is giving him his due process to make sure his decision cannot be overturned, but the whole system just stinks. WE have our ducks in a row, birth mother jeopardizes her new job and takes more than a week of after only working a week and a half to be here, and he gets a continuance. I really do not get it. But that is where we are. We do not have another date yet. I will keep you updated. By the way, the birth mother did a terrific job. We were so proud of her!

Friday, October 31, 2008

I Wondered What He Was Going To Do

Spoken like a man who has made too many false promises.

Barack Obama's senior advisers have drawn up plans to lower expectations for his presidency if he wins next week's election, amid concerns that many of his euphoric supporters are harboring unrealistic hopes of what he can achieve.

If you would like to read it all.

Freedom is Worth the Price

I can say it, but it does not mean the same. What have I really sacrificed for our nation's freedom? Nothing.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Final Stretch

Monday is the big court day. Please pray for us this week. We are feeling pretty exhausted and the children have now started to fall ill one by one.It is also the week that quarterly comments are due.This means my husband has to proof almost 900 comments. He is trying to be the strong leader for all of us while dealing with that. I tell myself this will all be over soon and we can do it. But, my body is saying just stay in bed and hide until it is all over. Of course Micah has no idea this is all happening and is being just as delightful as ever. Just pray for our stamina and that the enemy will not make us feel defeated before it all even starts.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It is More Important Than You Think

I know many people think abortion is not the issue to die on in this election. It's really not going to change, right? Well, you see, in my mind one of the most important decisions a President makes is that of Supreme Court judges. This decision has an affect for generations.I also believe nothing else really matters for our country until we embrace again the meaning of true family values. Economy, the environment, etc. means nothing as long as we continue to laugh in the face of God. People have decided the family unit which God ordained is no longer important. They have decided babies, the lives, which God has created are "punishments". Watch this video and carefully consider who will make the wiser choices about life.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Check This Out

You should really check out Amoretti and the Fortnightly Purse. She always has something great to give away. I am loving this coffee crock.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Do Not Forget the Important Issues

No, I am not Catholic, but I could not have voiced my opinion of the real issues any better.


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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Shack

I am sure most all of you have heard of the book The Shack. WE have been asked several times for a review, but with all of the reading we are having to do for our teaching and all of the other chaos in our life, we have not had the time to read it. Doug Wilson gave a review on it. I tend to respect his reviews on things like this. You should read it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two More Weeks

We have two more weeks before our court date. We feel hopeful yet,anxious. Please remember us in your prayers. Logically things look well for us. But, as we are all seeing, logic and our government do not seem to mix any longer.

He's Cracking Me Up Again

Sarah says, "Mom, Zachary stuck his tongue out at me!" Zachary says, "No I didn't! I was just stretching my tongue!!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

He Cracks Me Up

"What animal does chicken come from?" Zach's comment as we ate chicken for dinner one night.

"Daddy, how do you say 'hello' in English?" Zach's question to his father after hearing his siblings practicing Latin chants.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Death and Resurrection

Great words from Nancy Wilson.

We have to remember that recurring theme of death and resurrection that God loves to weave into His stories. This is why the psalmist can fear no evil in the valley of the shadow of death. This is why we can expect God to work all things for good, even those things that look (from our perspective) hopelessly tangled. Faith is not what we see, but what we don’t see. Faith remembers the Author and Finisher of our faith. Faith looks forward to the resurrection.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Menu For the Week

Here is my menu for the following week. I am getting stuck in a rut. Any ideas??

Thursday Greek Chicken Sandwiches
Friday Sandwiches at our Church Psalm Sing
Saturday Cook-out with friends
Sunday Cherokee Chicken/Roasted Acorn Squash/Green Beans
Monday Shrimp Stir Fry/ Noodles with Peanut Sauce
Tuesday Hamburgers/Salad
Wednesday Maple Glazed Pork Chops/Sweet Potatoes/Green Beans

Good Stewards of Their Minds

While my husband was praying during our family worship time last night, he prayed that God would help us to be good stewards of our children's minds. I had never thought of it that way and boy does it give me a different perspective of my school day with them. I know that God requires us to not have an attitude of laziness, but to be accountable to make sure I am being a good steward of their mind is giving me something else to think about today.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

To Love Your Children

I came across this article. The author so beautifully puts the words to feelings, beliefs, and emotions that I struggle to voice.

"The encounter with our son’s birth mother left an indelible mark not so much on my memory as on my character. She helped me articulate what it means to be a good parent. A vision of parenting that was buried under many impressions and opinions emerged clearly on the horizon of my consciousness. I ought to love him the way she loved him, for his own sake, not for mine. I must not pervert my love into possession. I can hold onto him only if I let go of him."

Learning to love our children as their birth mothers do would serve us all well. I do realize this is not always the case, but it is more often than we would like to admit.

Please do read the whole thing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Chalk this up to another kid story that I just want to remember.

Sarah was looking up her vocabulary words yesterday and comes to me and says, "I do not understand the definition of anticoo." I was thinking "Wow, never heard of that word." I asked her what the dictionary said and when she told me the definition I realized she meant antique. She just knew I was wrong. She even waited until dinner and brought it up to her father (In Sarah's eyes he knows EVERYTHING.) When he told her I was right she decided the English phonetic system is just messed up. I had to agree.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Child's Perspective

The other night we had to take Micah to the hospital. He had a really bad cold, fever, was projectile vomiting and struggling to get a good breath. I was concerned about RSV and he seemed to be frightened from having such a hard time breathing. It was late so and I did not want to wait through the night. He is fine. He has a viral infection and after a few days of rest and antibiotics, just in case, he is finally turning the corner. Fast forward to today. I went to church with Isaac and Sarah while Bruce stayed home with the younger three. I have received several phone calls this afternoon from parents of my children's friends. The whole having trouble breathing and projectile vomiting is evidently weighing heavy on Sarah. The story is Micah kept throwing up everything in his body and stopped breathing several times. And you may be wondering how does this rumor spread so quickly. Well, it is Lancaster county and there was a church lunch, which we skipped, and I guess we were the topic of conversation.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Al Mohler on Christians and Adoption

Despite the situation we have found ourselves in, we are still pro-adoption. And even if the end result is not what we hope for, we would still consider doing it again. We have made some mistakes and would maybe do things differently,and I can not say we would jump right back in, but we still serve a sovereign God. We are in the middle of His plan and He will see us through. I keep telling everyone I really am okay. I am obviously distracted and nervous but I have one thing to hold on to. In the end even if Micah has to be raised in a situation which we believe to be unfit, it is still ordained by God. Micah will still be in the palm of His hands and He will carry us all through this. You see, in the end, I know we will be okay, devastated, but okay. It is this in between time that kills you. I wanted to say all of this as an encouragement to those of you who look at us and say, "That is why I would never adopt or that is why I would never adopt domestically." Those comments hurt us just as much as what we are going through now. We do not look at families who have terminally ill children and say, "That is why I will never have children." God does not gaurantee us time with our biological children. It is really no different. God places children in the homes He chooses, for the allotted time that He chooses. We may raise Micah and see him get married and start his own family, and we may not. But either way it is still God's plan.

Al Mohler had something interesting to say about Christians and adoption.

Memory Work

With the stress in our life right now there are some things that suffer. One of those things are the extras that happen in a school day. My creative juices are just not flowing right now. My thoughts are too occupied with our court hearing and the thought of possibly having to hand over our son. We are getting in the core things, but things like Art, Science experiments, and memory work are suffering. My husband sat down with me last night and went through lesson plans and really took a load off by giving me the freedom to just cover the basics for the next month. Having his support in that helps my anxiety level. He also came up with what I thought was a great idea and I wanted to share it with those of you who still have children in the grammar stage. He suggested making memory work flashcards and storing them in an over the door pocket shoe holder. He even said I could buy as many flashcards as I could find so I did not have to make them all. He thinks they can do a lot of their memory work on their own this way. I just tell them which cards to pull out and they quiz each other. I am sure this is not a new idea and others are already doing it, but it sounded good to me and I thought I would share.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Need Some Encouragement Today?

Doug and Nancy Wilson have some words I needed to hear today. I thought you may find them helpful and encouraging as well.

Doug says...
Grace deals with sin. Indulgence does not. Law would like to, but cannot. To cover up for its impotence, law in a father can deliver yet another disapproving lecture. And the son concludes that if he is going to be hanged for a thief no matter what he does, he might as well steal something.

Check out the whole thing here.

Nancy says......
Feeling blue? Overwhelmed? Tired? Here’s a little remedy that just might help. Straight out of the Bible too: In all things give thanks.

Check out the whole thing here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Online Classes

Most people who have never seen an online class can not wrap their minds around how it works. Now that my son is taking a couple I thought I could go through it from a teacher and student perspective. First, from a teacher. I am loving it. The personalities of these young children are ringing right through their voices. It is so much fun when a 9 year old is so excited about the lesson or the book we are reading that you can hear the laughter in their voices. I have to say I have a great group of kids. They seem to love the subject matter and what 9 to 11 year old is not going to sit on the edge of their seats to wait for their turn to talk on the microphone or type in the chat box. As much as I am enjoying this, it is a lot of work. More work than I was prepared for. This is the first year VP offered classes for this age group. I do not think anyone was prepared. Not only do I have to study and be prepared, I have to create a power point visual for almost every point I am making. I think I will lose them quickly if I do not have something different for them to look at on the screen every few minutes. It is great that it is on line though, because I can bring in anything from the Internet. In that way I feel like my son, at least, is learning more than he would from me if I were not teaching the class. I know from past experience I would not do all of the fun internet research I am doing now and I certainly was not making up all of the games and visuals that he is getting from this class. So, while it is a lot of work, I am having fun and learning a lot. I also keep thinking that if I can get through this year, next year will be a breeze. The work will already be done. Now I just have to remember to back it all up in case my computer crashes. There has been talk of me teaching another class. You all will have to remind me of the word no when it comes time for commitment.:)

From a student perspective. Isaac is loving it. I think he thinks this puts him a little closer to being a teenager. Isaac is also into anything having to do with the computer. I switched him to Math U See this year and he pays much more attention to Steve Demme on the DVD lesson than to me. I have found this to be true for his on line classes as well. A good on line teacher will have constant class interaction to keep their attention. He loves it when they will tell the students who are not talking to just type in the answer. It keeps them busy, helps them practice their typing skills, and lets the teacher know they are getting it. He is always listening to make sure he does not miss his chance to talk or type. If he is having an off day, no problem, the classes are being recorded. We can go back and listen again.It is also another person to be accountable to besides me. He has homework after every class and he knows it has to be done. There are no excuses. It also keeps me on my toes. We can not get behind in Grammar, Latin, or History.

Yes, we are loving it. I kind of feel like we are having the best of both worlds. I love that we are home together and that we are doing most of the teaching. But, I also love that we are getting some help from those who are more specialized in the subject matter than I am. With the number of small children I have and the craziness of our life, it is great to have quality help.

This Week's Menu

In the name of getting back to routine, I am doing menu planning again. I actually like to menu plan. I like to think that when I get home from the grocery store I do not have to go back for another week because I planned so well. It never works that way, though. It seems no matter how much I buy we ALWAYS run out of milk and bread. I have also started trying to cook and freeze meals. Since I started teaching online, the dinner hour sneaks up on me and we have to order out or have a late dinner. Well, with the thought of all of the legal bills we are acquiring right now, my husband has put a ban on ANY unnecessary spending. Thus, the frozen meals. Every other Friday afternoon I try to put 3 meals in the freezer. I look at what meat is on sale and then find recipes to go with that. So, anyway, here is my menu for the next week. Or until Thursday. That is my shopping day.

Saturday- Pork Chops, Apples,and Sour Kraut in the crock pot, mashed potatoes, green beans.--This is a great fall meal and very Lancastrian. I had never heard of it until we moved here.
Sunday- Barbecued sandwiches (Freezer Meal)
Monday-Marinated Grilled Chicken
Tuesday-Pot Roast
Wednesday-Black Beans and Rice (Freezer Meal)
Thursday- Ham loaf (Freezer Meal) Another Lancastrian dish.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bed-time Stories

So, I am teaching an on line history class this year. It is Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation. I am having a lot of fun preparing. It is only two days a week, but the prep has been outrageous. Part of the reason is I have some very bright students. I am getting emails asking theological questions pertaining to that time period that I know I did not think about until I was an adult. I am learning a lot, though. But, that is not what this post is about. We are reading Beowulf in the class. The regular literature and the historical lit are a little much for Isaac(Who is taking the class.). So, I have let him listen to Beowulf on CD. A friend asked how his insomnia was coming. I told her it was better. He was listening to Beowulf in bed and it helped his mind calm down enough to fall asleep. I thought nothing of it, but she laughed at us. The thought of Beowulf being calm enough to put someone to sleep was strange to her. I wonder what she would say if she knew that my husband told stories from the Wanderings of Odysseus as our bed-time stories? I think we might be weird.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I am a person who loves routine. The problem I find myself having is that I constantly am thinking, "When this is done we will get back to our routine." I am always wishing away our time for the sake of things getting back to normal. Though I wish we were not in the situation we are in right now, I am feeling the need to get on with life. I think my trouble in doing this is somehow wrapped up in my inability to give all of this stress to God. When I look back over the last several years there is always something. I am coming to the reality that I am wasting mine and my children's lives waiting for things to "return to normal." My oldest is struggling with something right now. It is pretty serious and we are losing a lot of sleep. I am home from church because he was a wake until 2 am with insomnia. He could not shake all of the thoughts going through his head. My prayer for him is that he would see the beauty in the life God has given him, give his anxiety over, and move on. As I prayed this over him in the middle of the night I immediately realized what a horrible example I have been to him. Could his anxiety stem from watching me deal with the stress in our life? So, my prayer for myself is the same as mine for him. I need to realize we live in a fallen world, which means there is always going to be stress and heartache. I need to give mine to God and get back to our "routine" even in the midst of trials. I have to stop waiting for everything to "get back to normal." This is the normal God has given us for now. So, my goal for each day is to seek God's help in not living in fear of what may happen in the next few months, but instead be thankful for what I have that day and continue in our routines.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


There is a great giveaway going on here.I have been wanting a Skirty for Sarah.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bad News

I have been avoiding writing this post because I do not know what to say. Our adoption is being contested. For reasons that I can not go into in such a public forum, it is necessary to give this a good fight. We need wisdom and God's guidance. We are trying to make the right choices and not ones based on emotions. We also are praying that everyone involved will see what is best for Micah. Please pray for us as we try to function as a normal family with this cloud hanging over us. We do not have a court date yet, but think it will be in November. I know people set up blogs for things like this to keep friends and family up to date on what is going on. I do not feel comfortable with that. I will more than likely not blog about it other than asking for prayer from time to time. It is just too public. Maybe I am being silly, but I do not think you can be too careful when you are fighting for your child. Thank you for the support you all have already given us.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

From the Mouth of Babes

We are a very open and honest family. Maybe too much so. We are usually pretty forth coming about things our family needs to pray for.(We keep it age appropriate, of course.)So, there is this person who is the thorn in our flesh right now. Things are happening that make it impossible to hide it from the kids. Sarah's prayer today really struck me. She said, "Thank you Jesus for ______. Please help him/her to stop doing _____ so he/she can love you." We have prayed for protection, for God's will, etc. but never that God would change this person. Again, I am wishing for the innocence that my children have.

Zach's First Day

Sometimes I blog things about my children that I just want to keep on record and remember. I realize you may not see these things as being funny or cute, but you will just have to bare with me. This is one of those times. Just stop reading if you want.

We were waiting a year to start Zach in Kindergarten. He has a November birthday and will not be 5 until then. Well, he started to teach himself his letters. We decided to start even if we had to spread it out over two years. Sarah and Isaac have been doing a few things for the past 2 weeks, but today was the official start of everything. Zach, was so excited. He kept knocking on the bathroom door this morning while I was in the shower. He wanted to know if he had to wait for me or could he just start. Well, after 2 papers he was tired. His 3rd and final color sheet of the day was too much. It was very messy. I told him he could do better. He wanted me to "grade"it. I do not grade any of their papers yet. We just do it until it is correct. I am not sure where he got this. Anyway, I wrote the word messy and put a sad face. I immediately felt guilty and thought he was tired and I should have stopped before that paper. Well, he started laughing. He said that was a really funny looking face and he likes it when I am silly with him at school. I do not think he gets it. He in no way, shape, or form realized that work was not acceptable. Wouldn't it be great to be that naive again?

Another Zach story: At the end of the day his father asked if he felt any smarter after his first day of Kindergarten. His reply, " Nah, it will be a while before she teaches me anything I don't already know."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Favorite Hymn

Every time we sing this hymn at church I am in awe as I read the words. This hymn is so beautiful. It is a prayer of St. Patricks's that was made into a hymn. It is long, but I never tire of hearing/singing these powerful words. Today I was especially comforted by vs.5 as I held my sleeping baby in my arms. I have highlighted it.

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I just wanted to give you all a quick update. The birth father has been notified of the hearing and is threatening to contest the adoption. We are trying to lean on the promise of our sovereign God, but I must admit I have to sometimes take one hour at a time. I let my thoughts and anxiety get the best of me. So, you can pray that anxiety does not take over here and that September 4 will bring an end to all of this. Thank you for all of the emails and phone calls. We are very thankful for the support of our Christian family.

The children are doing so well through this. Isaac is a constant source of hugs, Sarah is willing and ready to do any chore thrown her way, Zachary is so quick to say "yes ma'am and is doing such a good job at staying in his bed. Micah is smiling and jumping in his jumper thing and cutting teeth without any symptoms. Jack, on the other hand is reminding us that our children are really not angels. He is a constant source of surprise and laughter(which we really need).Thank you for remembering to pray for them as well.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Blog Break

I am going to take a blog break. We are about to find out if our adoption is going to be contested. My mind is so preoccupied with it that I really can not think of anything to blog about. We would appreciate your prayers. We have a court date in the beginning of September and we will know more then. I will let you know what happens. Please pray for everyone involved the next few weeks has the potential to be quite stressful for a lot of people.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Not Good Timing

Well, we were all geared up to start school today. Wouldn't ya know? Three of us woke up sick and on top of that my back is out. I can not stand for more than a minute or two and can not stand straight for those minutes. Needless to say, school is not starting today.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Getting Ready

What do you do around your home school to get everyone excited about starting up again?
It is funny here. Sarah is ready. She never wanted to stop. All I have to say is, "Next Monday we are starting school." and that is enough to make her do flips. Isaac, needs a little more coaxing. He has had fun flipping through all of the new books and is ready to start some of them. I would not use the word excited, though. Today I took them shopping for school supplies and the box of 100 colored pencils was calling his name. He really gets in to new art supplies so he is a little more excited. This is the first year for Zach. He was so funny to watch. I basically have a list of what they need, but let them pick, within reason, what kind of brands and such they get. HE was so excited over the pencils that I was nervous about letting him know he could get crayons, markers, scissors, etc. as well. He was quite overwhelmed and wants to start NOW. They are also excited to set up their desks. We will do that tomorrow. I realize as they get older shiny new supplies will not do the trick, but it is fun to see the excitement now.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Training Hearts

The focus this year at VP Teacher Training was on the fact that more than anything we should be training the students hearts an how important it is for parents to take this seriously. Whether you are a home school parent or a parent of a child going to school. If you are deciding on a school for your children it is so important to know who will be training and teaching them. Voddie Baucham pointed out that students have approximately 14,000 seat hours of school during their school career. This is true in the home school and the traditional classroom. For home schoolers it is a great wake up call that our schooling is about so much more than book knowledge. As we teach them they are learning more than actual facts. Hopefully, we are teaching them how it all applies to the world around them and how to think of this with a biblical world-view. This is how we spend the majority of the time we have with our children. So, try hard to think of this has you are teaching. It is so easy to get caught up in getting through the lessons. But this is the biggest chunk of time you will have with your children. Be purposeful about how you go about teaching them and remember how you interact with your children during this time may have the biggest influence in molding and shaping who they become. God requires us to not be lazy so this is not an excuse to brush off academics. Training our children to be diligent workers is very important. Just remember that heart training and home schooling can not be separated.

For school teachers, what an awesome responsibility. You are with your students so much more than their parents. Teachers will have the biggest influence in a students life. Positive or negative. This makes it so important to work with the parents. I pointed out my Bible talk that when teaching children the Bible a lot is revealed. I have found it necessary to contact parents about things that come out in teaching Bible lessons simply because the student was not home long enough for the parents to even know there was a struggle going on. Simply put, classroom teachers have a huge responsibility. Remember whether you want to or not you play the largest earthly role in molding and shaping the hearts of your students.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm Back

At least I think I am back. I'm not sure how consistent I will be over the next few weeks, but I'm going to give it a try. Last week was great. VP Teacher Training was a wonderful experience. After getting over my initial terror of talking, I was good for the rest of the time. It is surprising to most people that I was anxious. For those of you who know me, you know I love to talk. I discovered I was not actually afraid of talking, but of being recorded. So, now it is out there and never to be forgotten. That does not bother me for 2 of the seminars, but I not as well pleased with the other. So, if you are listening to one of my talks and are thinking, "What in the world!?!", just ignore it. It'll make more sense next time. If there is a next time....

Anyway, it was a great week. We were able to have dinner with friends and another set of friends stayed with us, so there was lots of catching up. Voddie Baucham was as phenomenal as I thought he would be. The kids had a fun with their cousin and the baby started eating solid foods. All in all it was a fun week. Now I am busy getting our school stuff together. I want to start school the middle of August.

So, that is what we have been up to.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Taking a Break

Just letting you know I am taking a little blog break. It is just too busy here to put any energy into blogging. After Teacher Training next week I hope to be back.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I am working on a home-school scheduling post. It should be up today or tomorrow.

Menu For the Week

This week we will actually be home most nights. WooHoo!

Monday- Chicken Stir Fry and Brown Rice
Tuesday- Pasta with a Marinara Sauce and Salad
Wednesday- BBQ Pork chops Sweet Corn on the Cob and Fresh Cantaloupe
Thursday- Black Beans and Rice and Salad
Friday- Hamburgers and Tomato Salad
Saturday- Marinated London Broil with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms, Roasted Potatoes, Sweet Corn on the Cob, Spinach Salad, and rolls with Honey Butter (We may do a pajama ride for ice cream.)

For Lunch on Sundays we either have left-overs or Subway. For dinner we always have BLT sandwiches or Burgers.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I Am On Fire

The first day of my 4th grade year I had to go to school with a swollen and itchy face. It was covered in poison ivy. I had forgotten about that until this week.I am having flashbacks and wondering what mean mother would send their child to school that way. Especially on the first day! She says she does not remember it being that bad. I say she was not the one suffering! Well, I am reliving it now. My husband brought poison ivy into the house. He was doing yard work and the poison oils got on his clothes. He proceeded to put them in the laundry. He has one little spot on his arm that went away within a few days. I, am evidently highly allergic. My entire torso is covered. I guess for an allergic person the laundry soap is not enough. So, after an urgent care visit (we are out of town), a steroid shot, 4 doses of Benedryl, and 2 prescription doses of steroids, I am STILL itching and it is spreading. I was told it has to work it's way out of my body. The doctor says I either have to wash everything in bleach or throw out any clothes that I have come in contact with since this happened. I am being quarantined in my own parent's house. They have given me towels and things to use and I am to make sure it does not cross their paths. Anyway, I am out of ideas. Any suggestions?

By the way, my very sympathetic husband wanted to know if this really warranted an urgent care bill. Couldn't I just wait until Monday and see if it goes away? Once again I say, "You are so not the one suffering!!!"

Monday, June 30, 2008

I Am Not Quite As Dumb As He Thinks

If you are wondering why it takes me so long to get to serious posts which take time and energy, it is because I am busy listening and shaking my head at comments like this:

Zachary: "Sarah, Mom said no to me, but since you are the only princess here and you have a really good puppy dog face, she will probably say yes to you."

Zachary again: " I can't do that chore Mommy because it takes a long time and my little hands get really, really tired."

No, only princesses and puppy dog faces do not work. Especially not after over-hearing that. And, you better believe he did that chore. Tired hands and all.

What's on YOur Table This Week?

Wouldn't you know that as soon as I say I am going to start posting menus our life gets all crazy and we are never home? Tonight is pork chops, sweet corn on the cob, and lettuce wedges with blue cheese dressing. Tomorrow is my birthday and I was just informed that Bruce and I will be going to my favorite tapas place.On Wednesday we are heading down to VA to be with my dad and help out a little. We will be gone through the weekend. I think we will take advantage of being in Fredericksburg over the 4th and take in some of the historic sights. So, there you have it for this week.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

We Really Are Doing a Good Thing

I believe home-schooling is a calling. I believe every Christian parent is obligated to train their children with a Christian world-view, but I do not think it has to be done at home. There are things we sacrifice to keep the kids at home and their are things we sacrifice when we send them to school. That said, I have been doing a little research for a project and have been pleased with what I am finding. I know home-schooled children are graduating and doing terrific things, but it is always nice to hear others saying it. It makes me feel not quite so out there. So, if you are like me and like to be encouraged about the choice you have made, read these links.



Friday, June 27, 2008

It's a Way of Life #1

I have decided I am not good at post series because I can never get the time to do one a day. Sorry if this goes on for too many days. I'll try to not have so many days in between, but no promises.

I am going to call my home-schooling posts It's a Way of Life. I really believe that is true, because if you try to separate it from every other parts of your life, you are going to fail somewhere. It is just not possible to live two separate lives and be perfect at both. Actually, you are not going to be perfect anyway, and you will fail at times. Maybe I should say I believe it is difficult to function and be productive if you try to separate it. When someone spends time with us they will detect a certain aroma. It may be stinky or lovely. It does not take very long for others to decide what this aroma is. The aroma could be any thing from chaos, to stringency, or productivity to laziness. As believers, first we must produce an aroma which shows that Christ lives within us. This will be very evident to anyone who spends time in your home. Sometimes you can even just step in the door and tell. This aroma really envelopes everything you do as a family. You can not develop this lovely aroma by having family devotions, praying, loving one another, and then being completely lazy about your home-schooling. I am afraid it all comes as a package. Have you ever had this really good smell going in your home and then there is this nasty diaper or something else awful. It does not matter at that point how many candles you have been burning or pies you have been baking all day. It just really stinks now. Now you have to revamp and work a little to get rid of the nasty smell. It is the same thing with your schooling. You cannot fool everyone by having this great aroma of Christ in your home, but completely nasty one in your schooling. The bad smell always wins over the good one. And it takes a little work to change things around. We all have different ways to achieve a wonderful smell in our homes. I love to burn candles and am pretty much a candle Nazi. I have one or two that I love and really do not use any others. There are others that use spray. Others love to just open their windows and air the place out. That does not work here in the midst of all of the farm land. Anyway, there are so many different ways to achieve a good aroma. Over the next few days let's talk about how we each do that in our homes. If you want to be thinking on that, the next post will be about the scheduling and getting it all in.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Building a Home

I think this is a great post over at Girl Talk.

Menu For the Week

I did not forget to post a menu. Bruce is out of town, therefore the kids are looking forward to all of the overly processed kid food they can eat. We will do Sonic one night, pizza one night, chicken nuggets another, and then maybe spaghetti. You see, Dad never wants any of these foods. No, I will not be eating this menu. I think I would be sick for weeks if I did. I will have salads and other more healthy things. It is so funny. I put so much thought and time into cooking healthy meals and they love them. But, nothing excites a child like the prospect of a few days of processed food.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Please Pray

I am not usually one to ask for prayer on this blog. There are so many things going through my mind right now it is hard for me to rest and be calm. My son has had a difficult year. I am so proud of the progress he has made, but sometimes his hurt just breaks my heart. Please pray for him. On top of everything here, my dad just had double knee replacement. I am trying to decide when to go home with the kids to help. I am not sure how much help I will be with the children, but I feel like I at least need to try. I am feeling emotionally overwhelmed. I would appreciate your prayers.

Monday, June 23, 2008

High Standards

Before we talk about all of the creative ways to homeschool and keep a high standard, we need to establish why a high standard is important. I think everyone would say they desire their children to have a great education. You start out in kindergarten with all of these great expectations and goals then somewhere along the way you lose steam. It is hard and tiring to keep up. We make (by we I mean me)excuses like there are just too many kids, or the heart is more important, or it is better that they learn through everyday life experience. All of these statements are actually true, but it does not give us reason to throw academics out the window. In the last couple of years I have realized this is my life and if I am not careful my children are going to become lazy and think just enough to get by is good. Yes, there are a lot of children, but they each are going to have to live without me one day and need to be trained to work hard to get what they need. Yes, the heart is more important, but teaching a child to be lazy and make excuses is not good for the heart. Yes, everyday experience is great and I believe it is one reason why the majority of home-schooled children are mature beyond their years, but God does not desire that we just sit back in the lazy-boy waiting for the next opportunity to come knocking. The Bible says we are to do ALL things to the glory of God. I am not sure about you, but when I do something to honor God I do not want it to be done half-way. All things means, all things. Yes, this means ministry and such, but it also means handwriting and math, and whatever else you are doing. Now, do not go and think, "Their poor children." I know there is a different standard for every child. Obviously, each child has different gifts and talents. Over time you will find what they are and adjust things accordingly. My son HATES to write. He is very skilled at writing the least amount of words possible. Sometimes, I will let it slide, but over all he needs to do the assignment and stop being lazy about it. My thing with him is there are some things in life that make no rhyme or reason, but you still have to do them. Let's learn now to work through that and just do it, and do it well. It will be much harder later. I believe we can get it all in for each child, we just have to be creative. We sometimes may need to adjust our goals. Sometimes I feel I am reaching for the impossible, but it is better to be stretched a little than to not reach at all. I could say so much more on this topic, but at least you know where I am coming from. You may disagree, and that is okay. I would still like to hear from you.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Voddie Baucham

Veritas Press is having Voddie Baucham come to speak at Teacher Training in July. He will also be speaking that Monday night and it is open to the public for $5. Check out their website for more details. Mr. Baucham is well known to some, not so much to others. I decided to post a couple of YouTube clips so you can become familiar with him. My husband and I had the privilege of having dinner with him and his son a few months ago. He is a great man and is passionate about what he has to say. Our family is certainly excited to witness the work which God is doing through him. You will find my favorite quote in the first clip. In another clip (that I can not find) he makes the Caesar statement after quoting the statistic that 70 to 80% of evangelical children are falling away from the Christian faith by the end of their freshman year in college. I have heard several men say this recently. At first I thought it could be an exaggeration. I am pretty cynical. But, after doing a little research myself, it seems to be true. Very sad, but true.




Friday, June 20, 2008

How Do You Do It?

I have been answering the phones at VP for about 10 hours a week the last few weeks. I love talking with other home-schoolers and answering curriculum questions and such. A lot of time the conversation gets around to my having 5 children and I of course, get the question, "How do you do it?" There is really not a good answer. I believe it is a life style, maybe? If you know my husband, then you know his standard for our children's education is high. I am good with that and do not differ in my standard, but it helps that he is there to hold me accountable. With him there are no excuses. We just have to do it. When we first started home-schooling 6 years ago, I had this vision of making it very school like,I would be organized enough and it would all get done. After all, I had done it for a few years in school classrooms, so it would be the same at home. Honestly, it worked fine with the two children I had back then. Then, Bruce became employed at Veritas Academy. We put the older two in and life was grand. However, I very quickly missed my children and realized that for one in particular, it was not working. So, then we went back to home-schooling. Well, this time around, with 5 in tow, it's quite different. We do have an organized time to do school, I believe that is important, but there is not time to get in the extras (art projects, copy work, supplements, extra help in areas when it is just not clicking). There is just not time between diaper changes, feedings, chasing toddlers, breaking up sibling rivalry, laundry for 7, cooking, chores, music lessons, extra curricula activities, etc. Now we have the added extra of trying to stay quiet while daddy teaches. I know I am not saying anything new to anyone. Some of you have more on your plate than I and you are doing a much better job at getting it done than I am. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to start a little series on getting it done and hopefully, you all will chime in and give me some creative ideas at surviving while holding a high standard. We have worked hard to develop a lifestyle which is conducive to getting it all in, as I am sure you have too. I thought it would be fun to share our ideas. I must also confess I am doing a seminar on this in a few weeks and I would like to share several ideas. Everyone does not live in my home, therefore my ideas may not work for some people. I'd like to go with a list of ideas from multiple homes. So, tomorrow I will post my first post. It will be on why I think it is important to keep that standard high. We must first realize why we are doing what we do to be successful at it. Be thinking about it. I am excited to get your feedback.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Menu Ideas

I need menu ideas. I also need to be more diligent at making our weekly menus. The more children we have acquired, I have found it more difficult to get dinner on the table if I did not have a well thought out plan. Too often I am getting to the afternoon with nothing planned, so we call in pizza. My husband told the children recently that he would actually throw up if he had to eat pizza one more time. I think that was the hint for me to get it together. Therefore, I am going to start posting a weekly menu. I know you could probably care less, but it will make me think through things at the beginning of the week. So, I am going to start with this week and we will see how long it lasts.

Monday Spaghetti and Salad
Tuesday Pizza (Oops! I didn't have a plan.)
Wednesday Grilled Pork Chops/Creamed Peas and Potatoes
Thursday Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken/Salad/Asparagus
Friday Date Night!!!
SaturdaySabbath Dinner Smoked Whole Chicken/Crash Hot Potatoes/Grilled Vegetables/Ice Cream with Raspberry Sauce

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Micah's Baptism

I just realized I had not posted about a very special event that took place a few weeks ago. It happened in the midst of all of our chaos. Micah was baptized and to make it even more special his birth mother was able to join us. It was really a great time. I can not wait for the day when we can explain this all to him. I hope he will appreciate the miracle in it all. The baptism was great and we all cried. Afterwards, we had a luau with just a a couple of families and those who came from Hawaii. They were so generous. They flew in the main foods for a traditional luau. Here in the mainland we just can't do the pork justice. It was sooo good. I tried to copy a couple of traditional recipes. I think they were good. I am not sure how traditional they tasted, though. I did make a haupia pie. It turned out well. Anyway, it was a great day. We had a lot of fun.

New Favorite Snack

We have a new favorite snack around here. It is Island Way Sorbet. I bought it a few weeks ago for our luau. I usually do not like sorbet, but tried this one day when I was craving something fruity. It is REALLY good. I get them from Costco.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday, Isaac

Isaac celebrated the big 10 on Wednesday. We were in the midst of a stomach bug, therefore I was short on blogging time. Thankfully, the day before his father took Isaac and a couple of friends to play laser tag to celebrate. We decided to post-pone the traditional dinner until everyone was better. So, tonight we will combine Father's Day and his birthday. We will feast on ribs (they are already in the smoker), cornbread salad, a garden salad (made with fresh lettuce from my very small garden), and killer cookies.

This actually marks the 8 year anniversary of Isaac coming to live with us. He moved in 2 days before his 2nd b-day. Man, life is different from then.Yikes! That means he has lived with us for the same amount of time we have left with him. I can not believe in 8 short years he will begin his transition into adult life. He still has this great smile and likable personality. He is so helpful with his younger siblings. I do not thank him enough. Happy Birthday!! We love you and are so happy God sent you to us.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Adoption #4

I have posted some pretty dreary realities on adoption. I wanted to end this small series with a positive post. Bruce and I are often asked by people who are thinking of adopting, "Do you love that child just like you do your biological children?" I know it may seem like an ignorant question, but it is not meant to be so negative. People are really afraid of bringing a child into their homes and not loving them right away. And sometimes it does take time to develop a bond. But my answer is always YES. I always thought that maybe it was because Isaac was our first and I had nothing to compare it with. On my first visit with him, he sat in my lap and called me Mommy. He screamed and clung to me when it was time for me to leave. To leave him that day was the most painful thing I had ever had to do. I now know that the fact that he so quickly called me mommy after leaving his mother was a huge red flag for attachment problems, but I just saw it as him wanting to be with me. Even though that flag was there and we have had things to deal with, Isaac has certainly attached and bonded with us. I attribute that to God and the fact that we are very open in our home. He is always allowed to speak his true feelings to us and we work really hard at just listening, affirming his thoughts, and loving him through it. Our only rule is he must tell us in a respectful tone. We were getting no where when we allowed him to yell and scream his disdain at being adopted. We had a revelation one day that we would never allow our biological children to speak to us in a disrespectful way and didn't he want to be treated the same? Holding him responsible in that way, and showing him that we saw him in the same light as his siblings seemed to be somewhat of a turning point. I am digressing, but I thought that may be helpful to someone going through this. Anyway, back to Isaac being my first. I realized that theory was not true the first time I held Micah at the hospital in Hawaii. As soon as I cuddled him in my arms I knew he was mine. I had wondered how awkward it would be. I did not know who would hand him to me and when I realized it would be the birth mother I was so nervous for her. Inside I was a basket case. I think I hid it well. I wanted to be strong for her. Now I realize she is stronger than I will ever be. She was so great and there was no awkwardness. I remember her saying with a huge smile, "Here is your Mommy." I knew he was mine, but I love the fact that I share this bond with her. So, as I write this with tears and am barely able to see the screen, yes, I love my adopted children just like my biological children. We have never regretted the decision we made to adopt. There are unknowns in the adoption we are going through now, but there are two things i try to remember. 1. There are never any guarantees in life. Any of my children could be taken from me at any moment, therefore we need to cherish every second. 2. I believe in a sovereign God. If in the end it does not work out the way we hope, God knew all along. He meant for Micah to be a part of our lives for the time we have him. Just so you know, there is an unknown, but everyone thinks the chances are slim that we would lose him. We just can not completely rest until it is done.

Our experiences have been such great pictures of God's grace and His sovereign control in our lives. You really have no control over what happens. In the end, the good, the bad, the ugly, it is all just beautiful. We are in the palm of God's plan. You see, it is one thing for God to create your child in your womb. Yes, it is miraculous and I am not down playing that. But, when I look at all that is orchestrated in an adoption, it really is just beautiful. To think He has that child picked out for you. Out of all of the children in the world it is that one. And the path that He takes you down is sometimes hard and frightening, but still beautiful. One day I want to tell our stories in more detail and you will know what I mean. Bruce and I have agreed until this is final to not do that, but soon. In the mean time know that I love my children and the path God has taken us down. Isaac's huge smile and the fact that he still loves to cuddle me at 10, still melts my heart. I love, love, love that Micah loves to sleep in my arms. He is so beautiful and already has this really deep, fun belly laugh that makes us all giggle. We are just really thrilled with the family God has given us.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It is Too Hot!

On Saturday we started to question if the AC was working or not. By Sunday it clearly was not. On Monday we called and they said they would come sometime between Monday and Thursday. If we miss the call the skip us and put us to the end of the list. Therefore, we have been homebound without AC. You may say, "Well, it is June in PA. How bad can it really be? Besides, the Amish do it." Well, we are in a heatwave. It has been between 95 and 100, with heat indexes higher than that, the last few days. This is unheard of this time of year. We are hot! I feel the worst for Micah. He sweats like crazy anyway. The poor guy is soaking all of the time. Thankfully, the AC guy just called. Hopefully he can fix it without coming back.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Adoption #3

I am going to wrap up my adoption posts with this one and one more. One of the things that has surprised us the most with our adoption is the reaction of other people when the adoptive child is struggling a little. First, Bruce and I are not parents who make excuses for our children. I hope this is as true as we think it is and please feel free to tell me if it isn't. We do not want to do that. We also realize that although there is true grief in our lives, there comes a point when you have to come to terms with the life God has given you, heal in a healthy way, and move on. There is this thought out there which says all the child needs is a loving home and everything will work out. I have to admit as young parents when first going through all of the decisions and such of adopting we held strong to that view. In a sense it is very true. But, sometimes it is very difficult road for these children. We adopted through an agency who only dealt with newborns. It was new to this particular office to have a two year old. We would ask questions and more often than not the answer was, "I do not know." They did the best they could, but they really did not know. Because they were not used to toddlers, there was also no support after the adoption was final. This agency has seen the error in this and have improved greatly in this area. After years of sleepless nights, much anger, and depression we were finally told, "Oh, yes. This can be very normal." Man, would I have liked to have known that from the beginning. I was thinking something was seriously wrong and we were doomed for a life of trouble. When we decided to adopt Micah we had to go through more classes. As much as we complained they came at a great time.This adoption brought back a lot of memories for Isaac.In the end we have made much progress, and it has been good for him, but there were some pretty tearful nights. They talked a lot about the grieving process that happens in adoption. They said it was like dealing with a death. Once the child realizes what it means to be adopted, then they have to grieve what is missing. Just like with a death, you can grieve, lean on God, and move on. The difference is it is a never ending cycle. They know this person is not dead, therefore at ever holiday, special occasion, or life changing event there is the potential to desire to find the birth parents and become depressed or angry because they can not. I say potential because I do not believe this is a given with every adopted child. Yes, we have this with our oldest, but I know a lot of adopted families who do not. I know just as many who do. I do not want to share a lot on this because I want to protect my son's privacy, but it is something I think people should be aware of. I have been told things like, "I can't believe he would still want her. After all he has been with you longer than he was with her." Or, "I do not think you should let him talk about it. That just let's him wallow in it." I just want to say that I hope no one would ever say these things to a child who has lost a parent. I do not believe they would. They are just failing to see that it is the same kind of grief. Again, you may be reading this and think, "I have adopted a child and we have never struggled with this." That may be true. I just want everyone to realize the next time you see a child who seems to be seeking a little attention, remember there may be more to the story. I can only pray that we can successfully walk the thin line of holding our children accountable, while giving grace in the midst of grief.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Am Still Alive

We are still here. Our big weekend with all of the online students has come and gone. We had around 200 hundred people. We were very busy, but had so much fun. We look forward to this weekend every year. The kids have a great time meeting one another and the parents enjoy the encouragement and support of having time to talk with other classical home-schoolers who are in the same stage as they are. Whoever said home-schoolers do not know how to socialize and that online education is cold and there is no way to build relationships, just needs to come to one of these gatherings.

I just wanted to let you know I am still around. I will finish up my adoption posts in the next day or two. In the mean time my eldest is turning 10 and I have a celebration to plan. It really does seem like it was yesterday that we brought home a 2 year old with this bright and contagious smile.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Can I be Any Prouder?

Veritas Academy has an awards ceremony on the last day of school. They recognize all of the students who have made A's the entire year. I knew Sarah had made good grades this year so I got all the boys dressed and we went to the ceremony. They started with the cum laude award and her name was not called. I thought okay it is not done yet. Next came the magna cum laude, and still nothing. I did not think she was getting summa, so I am sitting there thinking, "Great I did not need to come. We have a social worker visit this afternoon, the house is not ready!" Bruce was saying, "I can't believe they missed her.I am going to talk with someone about this." Then, they start with the summa cum laude and her name was called. We were so proud of her. She stood up there beaming. My favorite part comes after the ceremony, though. She comes running up to us, her dad picks her up and starts congratulating her on getting the highest academic honor, her response, "Guess what else happend today! I passed first grade!!" I informed her that is kinda a given with the summa award. I guess we need to work a little in the common sense department.

I was also very proud of Isaac today. Academics do not come as easy for him. We spend hours working on things that Sarah just gets. He could have been very jealous of her today. But, he was almost as excited as she was. He was so afraid we were going to be late and miss it. He helped get the boys dressed and had them waiting for me. He helped get them all in a seated. He sat on the edge of his seat waiting for her name to be called. He was a proud big brother.

At the end of the ceremony the headmaster starts to pay tribute to the teachers who are not coming back. My husband can get a little choked up sometimes,so I whispered for him not to cry. Isaac heard me. When Bruce went forward he received a standing ovation. Guess who was crying. Isaac says to me, "Mom, your being a hypocrite. Your the one crying." Again, I was so proud of my husband. His decision to leave the school has been difficult. He is very excited about our future plans, but it has been a difficult few days.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Adoption #2

I was not planning on doing a post on Post Adoption Blues, but since I mentioned it in the last post I will address it. When we were going through all of our classes they made us read a book on this. We read it and kind of laughed it off. We were thinking here they go again trying to make a problem out of everything. Well, ladies I was slammed in the face with this. This is very personal and I have debated sharing it, but believe it is something most people do not even know exists. The silly thing with me is that I experienced it with Isaac, but made up excuses so I did not expect it with Micah. But it happened. There are many theories as to what causes it, but I will just tell you my theory. With an adoption it is very rare that you bring the baby home and everything is just peachy. If you do an international adoption, it is usually final before you leave the country, but you have a whole host of other issues. The babies do not automatically know you are their parents, therefore they may not come to you with open arms. It can be stressful to go through days, weeks, or months of trying to bond with a child. Things like this cause the bubble to burst sometimes. In our case we adopted domestically each time. Isaac was two and full of personality. He called us mom and dad the first day he lived with us. I held Micah 2 hours after he was born. I then stayed in the hospital with him most of the time and he was released to me from the hospital. We had no bonding or attachment issues. So, what's my problem? With domestic adoptions it is very often the case that you are at risk to lose the child for some time after getting them. You can go the foster home route to protect yourselves and some states do not have waiting periods. But, for both of our adoptions that has not been the case. We could have lost Isaac for almost 1 year after getting him. With Micah we are still waiting. Chances are very slim, but to a new mother who is operating on little sleep, even the slightest chance is hard to deal with. You love these children so much and want to make plans and dream about future holidays and things. But, there is always this cloud hanging over you wondering if your future holidays include this child or not. On good days you realize nothing is a guarantee and you function as normal. On bad days it consumes you. Thankfully, I am having more good than bad days lately. I mentioned lack of sleep. Isaac had night terrors for the first 6 months of living with us. No one slept. We know now that was probably the way his grieving presented itself. Hear me on this. Just because there was no labor for me, does not mean Micah automatically slept through the night. People forget I have a newborn. I get comments like, "You look so tired. Is everything okay?" I am not asking for sympathy or playing the martyr, but come on! Common sense here people, I have a baby. Some people will say we did this the easy way. At least I started out rested, right? NOT!! I am going to go through a little bit of the time line here. I arrived in Hawaii at midnight, birth mother was induced early the next morning, she labored until after midnight and then had a C-section. I was with her a lot of this time. After the C-section she called me and I immediately went to the hospital and was there most of the time until she and Micah were released. All of this while having major jet-lag and going through the emotional ups and downs with the birth mother without my husband being there to lean on.(He joined me later.) One of the most difficult and exhausting things about this adoption was bonding with a young woman in such a beautiful way, but at the same time knowing my joy was causing her pain. Micah then decided he really did not want to sleep at night so, for most of our time in Hawaii I rested during the day while he slept. If you were wondering, that is why we did not come back with a tan.:) The one day at the beach did not go well for Micah so we did not try it again. Then, we flew all night to come home to more jet-lag and 4 very excited children. So, no, I did not start out rested. Anyway, this is a very long way to say that I believe these blues come from the reality of how emotional and exhausting the adoption process is. I do not know, but it is my theory. I did not go through all of this to get pity. We chose this way and may do it again one day. I only mean to clue you in a little as to the reality of what goes on. It is hard. It is exhausting and sometimes yes, it is depressing. In the end though, just like with a biological child, you forget it all and get lost in the joy of falling head over heals in love with the child. Just know sometimes it is difficult and adoptive mothers can sometimes use a little encouragement too. By the way, don't tell my husband that I said we may do this again one day. I have almost convinced him that I am done, but every once in a while I think maybe one more.:)

I know this post does not flow very well. But, I have an excuse, I have 5 children and have not had a full nights sleep for almost 3 months now.:)

I Am Loving It!!

I am love, love, loving my new front loading washing machine. After multiple floods, even after we thought it was fixed, we had to just get a new one. I was not even going to approach the topic of a front loader. Summers are tight on the finance side for teachers. My husband though, decided he would like to save me a little work and went with the front loader. He was thinking 5 kids = lots of laundry. Also, 4 boys = REALLY dirty laundry. So, I am doing less loads and I really do think these machines get them cleaner. He keeps telling me, "Happy Birthday, Christmas, and everything else." I say, "It is not like I turned the washer upside down on poked holes all over the place to make it leak from every corner, but thank you!"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It is a Calling- Adoption #1

I believe adoption is a calling and just like any other thing God calls you to do, sometimes it involves trials. I am going to go a little further here and say that I believe adoption is a calling for everyone. Do not get all upset on me here. Just listen a little longer. Doesn't God call us to take care of the widows and orphans? He may not call you to actually adopt them, but He does tell you to take care of them. We used to attend a church which really taught this well. How many times did I hear Pastor Bob say, "If you are against abortion, then you have to be for adoption. If God did not call you to adopt,support those who are doing it?" That is where I feel people miss the calling. You see, God also calls us all to missions. We do not have to be in another country on the mission field, but no one would argue that we should not be supporting those who are. The first thought that comes to most people's mind would be financial. Adoption is expensive. It is ridiculous in a lot of ways, but it is the reality. So, yes, if you have it, help those who do not. Someone said to me once, "If you can not afford to pay for the adoption, than how are you going to raise the child?" That, my friends is an ignorant comment. I do not believe those who think this are aware of the facts. Most people who have children everyday do not have $15,000 to $30,000 or more sitting around burning holes in their pockets. So, monetary gifts to help those who are adopting is great, but there are other ways. (I want to add here we have been very blessed by friends and strangers who have financially helped with both adoptions.) I noticed something different about the days and weeks after having my biological children and bringing home the adopted children. After having a child everyone is there to help. You kind of get a free pass for a few months. Everyone knows to not ask anything of you because you are healing and adjusting. I have found I have to be much more vocal about saying no after an adoption. After having a biological child it is assumed I need time to adjust. When you adopt it is like life goes on as normal. I will admit both times we adopted I was not fully prepared for the impact so that does not help matters. But this is just another way to fulfill this calling. Be there to help the mother. Make meals, help with house work or errands, or have the other children over. Most people do not realize this, but there is something called "post-adoption blues." It affects women in the same manner as post-pardom depression. Obviously, it is not caused by hormones, but it is very real. There are several opinions as to why it happens. I do not know what I believe, but I do know it happens. I will write more on this in another post, but know that the months following an adoption are a great time to help the family. I need to say we have received a lot of support. I am talking in general terms and telling you a lot of what I hear in conversations with other adoptive parents.

Another very important way to support adoption is being there for the birth mothers. Trying to convince a pregnant teenager or adult to not have an abortion when she knows she will be shunned by the church is not an easy thing to do. I believe we will not see a change in the abortion rate until we reform how we react to birth mothers. I am always amazed at the people who think it is almost heroic of the adoptive mother to have a relationship with the birth mother. Yes, it has to be different for each situation and a lot of times that means pretty tough boundaries, but these women made the very difficult decision to part with their child. They do it because they love them. Some people will call it lazy or not wanting to change their lives for the baby. It can sometimes appear that way, but I look at it another way. If you were to say a birth mother should not have given her child up, then you are saying the child should not be with the adoptive parents. Doesn't God place all children in the right home, biological and adoptive? These women need support. They need someone to hold their hands through dr.s appointments, praying with them through labor, and supporting them as they sign the paper work. They need friends to help them start over. Do not be afraid of them or judge them. They are sinners just like you and I. They can also be forgiven just the same. I know a lot of times there is abuse and parental rights are terminated. These women need to be held accountable and that is obviously a different post.

As you can tell I am little passionate about this issue. I am sorry if I come across too strong.

Monday, May 12, 2008

So, So Busy

I am still here. We are all okay. It has just been crazy busy. In the last two weeks we have had a field trip to Philadelphia, the one year old turned two (and since it is a Cinco de Mayo birthday dad likes to do it big), a washing machine leak which caused several floods in the basement before we knew what happened (Still not sure if it is fixed.), and worked 2 12 hour days at the PA home school convention. Needless to say blogging is on the back burner. We have a busy few weeks still as we prepare for about 200 hundred people to descend on Lancaster County for our online end of the year gathering. Therefore, I will still be hit and miss. This is the one time of year that we get so busy I feel like I am spinning. Thankfully, we know it is coming and can prepare for it. We are able to plan enough help and special things for the children that they do not seem to miss a beat. While it is all a lot of fun and something we look forward to, we are always glad when it is done.So, if I can get to my adoption posts in the next 2 or 3 weeks I will, but if not, I will be be back soon.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Feeling the Need to Get it Out

My husband and I live a pretty public life. We receive emails and phone calls on a daily basis from complete strangers. We are good with it. We knew when we contemplated starting an online school this would be one of the things that went along with it. We kind of make a living out of answering questions for these people. As word travels about our family these questions sometimes are more personal. We have become quite proficient at keeping our privacy while giving an answer. Lately, when the home schooling talk is done, I have been getting a lot of "Congratulations on your adoption. Do you mind if I ask a few questions?" Like I said I have learned to answer these questions without giving up my children's privacy, so it is really okay. The thing I have realized though, is the general public is really ignorant about adoption. I do not say ignorant in a disrespectful way, but there is certainly a lack of knowledge on the subject. So, I am taking it upon myself to educate the world.:) Seriously, I have just had a lot of thoughts and I just need to get it out. This may be more for myself. You know how it is? There are so many thoughts going around I can not get them all straight. Therefore, I am going to blog about them in hopes I can get it all together. I will be posting a few different times on this. I am sorry if it bores you. Just amuse me.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Which Part is Your Favorite?

Our pastor is going through a series on liturgy. Yesterday he spoke on "Why We Do What We Do." His opening statements really hit home for me. He pointed out a few different views on worship. I do not remember his exact words. I was juggling a couple of children. He talked about people who pick favorite parts of worship and then are kind of on auto-pilot for the rest. Some love the music and count down the minutes to the end of the sermon. There are others who are not really into that style of music, so they drift through and cannot wait until it is over. Others would like to ignore confession, but are all there for petition.So on and so on, you get the point. He went on to say that every part of the liturgy in a service plays a biblical part. It may not be our favorite, but it is our responsibility to participate with our whole hearts. I am not sure about you, but I have certainly been guilty of this.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Brain Candy

Some of you may have heard that Veritas Press is doing a summer reading contest. Since they announced this the phones and email have been going like crazy. Everyone wants to know what is quality "fun" reading. So, that has been the topic of conversation around here. Some of you may be surprised at mine and my husbands thoughts on this. First let me say two things. 1. I am not speaking on moral content here. That goes without saying. Parents must approve of what their children are reading. 2. I do believe quality must be presented often to our children. If they are not trained to love quality then it will be almost impossible to get them to find pleasure in the finer things in life. They will also develop the easy way out mentality. You know what I mean. The read any book just to say you read a book mentality. But, I do believe there is a place for mindless brain candy. My son would have never developed a love for reading if he had been made to struggle through everything he read. My daughter loves getting lost in the land of make believe. She is often getting injured because she cannot put the book down long enough to watch where she is walking. I am in a period if my life where if I thought everything I read had to be meaty, I probably would not ever read anything. I am too tired right now. Of course, there is junk that I hope never crosses my children's path, but as long as we are exposing them to quality on a regular basis, is it really the end of the world if they read brain candy every once in a while?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Am a Mean Mother

My son informed me recently the little boy across the street thinks I am a mean mother. You see, we have rules. He thinks obedience is completely optional and about 95% of the time chooses disobedience. This is a problem because as soon as the bus pulls up in the afternoon he and his sister find their way over until dinner and most nights are back after dinner. We have struggled with what to do. I do not need or want 2 more children to raise at this time, but feel bad about sending them home to play adult rated video games and watch completely inappropriate movies. I know I am not responsible for them, but I find it interesting that they desire to be with the "mean mother" instead having the run of their home. So, for now we let them play here (Our kids are never allowed over there.Thankfully our 6 year old knew to leave when the R rated movie was put in. We said no more at that point.)We say no occasionally to let them know we need family time. My children know there is a difference in our homes. They also know if we ever see the others behavior and attitude rubbing off on them, the friendship is over. The other children also know we do not take any of the inappropriate behavior. I just wonder, when do we say enough is enough and choose to protect our own and just cut off the friendship? I use the term protect lightly because we are very careful that they play in our presence at all times.Any thoughts?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Still Waiting

Just wanted to give a quick update about the adoption. Things are going well. He is absolutely beautiful and we are falling more and more in love with him everyday. The other children are so good with him. We are still just biding our time until parental rights are terminated.We should know sometime in July if it is going to be a smooth process or not. It is hard to not be 100% secure in our future with him. Some days are better than others. I have to remind myself often that he is not my child, but God's and He is taking care of him. The day we left Hawaii I had a heart to heart with the birth mother. I wanted to know honestly how she was going. She told me, "I keep telling myself he is not my child or yours, but God's, and that helps me to really be okay." So, I keep thinking if she can think that, I definitely can. Yes, if you are wondering, she is an amazing person. So, anyway, if you think of it please remember to pray for us. I cannot wait until the day this is done and I can show off his beautiful picture and tell all of his cute little stories.