Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Out with the Old...In with the New

Last year around this time, my husband and I made a list of goals for the new year, 2008. I learned a lesson this year...if you want to accomplish your goals, put them somewhere visible! I looked at my goals, um, maybe twice this past year, and needless to say, when I pulled them out today to see how I did, I had forgotten about some of them! It felt good to check off a few things that I did, indeed, accomplish, and many will be ongoing goals for 2009. However, this year, I intend to post my goals in a visible location so that I can hold myself more accountable to actually do what I have listed! We will be celebrating the earlier part of New Year's Eve with several other families from church, and then returning home to put the little ones to bed and watch the ball drop from the comfort of our couch. Then, I will be working (time and a half!) at the store on New Year's Day while our traditional pork and sauerkraut cooks in the crock pot all day...yum! I promise to post Christmas pictures soon, and stay tuned for a special post on January 1 regarding our adoption and a special project you can help with...if you want! May each of you have a happy and blessed New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Birthday and an Anniversary

Jonathan in his younger days

Today (12/29) is our oldest son's 14th birthday. My how time does fly...it seems like yesterday when we first met Jonathan at the age of 6! After opening some presents (and reminding him that he already got his money toward his Nintendo DS which should arrive tomorrow!) we took the younger three boys to the sitter's and Jonathan to his restaurant of choice, Red Lobster.

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!

Dave at Giants Stadium in August '08

Today was also our wedding anniversary...13 years of wedded bliss! I thank God for blessing me with the best husband I could have ever hoped for, and our boys with the most perfect Dad for them. I'm looking forward to many more years and adventures together!

Happy Anniversary, Dave!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Memories

When I was in elementary school, my Dad had the idea one year to recreate the ambiance of the first Christmas for his three young daughters, allowing them to experience what it really would have been like to have been Mary and Joseph on the night of Jesus' birth. He contacted one of the older couples in our church who had a farm, and they excitedly agreed to allow us to spend the night in their barn on Christmas Eve. After the annual Christmas Eve service at church, we bundled up in warm layers of clothing, packed our sleeping bags in the car (I know, not too authentic!), and headed to the barn. There, surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of a real barn with animals, we recited those familiar verses from Luke 2 and thought about what Mary and Joseph must have experienced on that holy night so long ago. The owners of the barn had erected a manger with a baby doll in it to help authenticate our experience...and in their excitement, they even dressed their sheep up...with little bells around their necks. Once we settled down in our warm sleeping bags and turned off the lights (we didn't use candles for fear of all that straw and hay!) we learned something about the farm at night--sheep don't sleep laying down all nice and still...those pretty little bells rang all night long! Needless to say, we were up bright and early on Christmas morning, ready to head back home to Mom, warmth, presents, and turkey. But the memories of that night are forever etched in my mind, and I do have a greater appreciation for what Mary and Joseph endured on the night Jesus was born. And whenever I sing that familiar Christmas carol depicting a Silent Night, Holy Night, I can't help but smile and think Come On, Ring Those Bells!

P.S. We actually did this twice in my childhood...the second time was when I was in junior high, I believe, and we took our cousins along for the experience, mice and all...you really ought to try it sometime!

Friday, December 12, 2008


My sister Stephanie tagged me for this game:


You're supposed to do the following:

1. Open the 4th picture folder on your computer.

2. Choose the 4th picture and post it on your blog.

3. Explain the picture.

4. Tag 4 people to do the same. (I'm tagging three!)

So...here's my picture. This photo was taken back around May, 2007. It is of our son, Benjamin, when he was two years old. He is playing with his Elmo and Cookie Monster stuffed animals (obviously!) in our living room. Other than that, I couldn't give you much more history on this photo...just one of those everyday shots I randomly take every now and then!

This was a fun tag game...some of them are a lot more tedious than this! I'm going to tag a few of my friends with blogs who LOVE to take photos, so hopefully they'll find this tag game fun, too! Here they are...have fun reminisicing over old photos!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Decorating for Christmas

As promised, here are some photos of our home decorated for Christmas...

This is just a cute photo of Nathaniel, taken before we decorated our tree.

This is my nativity set made by artisans in Chile. It reminds me of that country I love so much every time I get it out!

This nativity set was given to me as gifts from a variety of people over the years. I love these figurines!

Not the best photo, but I concocted this decoration for on top of the piano. I love Christmas lights!

This lighted garland hangs between our dining room and kitchen. These cool, retro light ornaments were a bargain from Cracker Barrel!

This is our mantel. Notice there are FIVE stockings...I found a matching Pottery Barn quilted stocking for Sophia on Ebay...already embroidered with her name!

Here I am decorating the tree. Dave needs to learn to use our camera better...

Benjamin is putting a couple of his personal ornaments on the tree.

Sabastian and Jonathan hung there ornaments on the tree this year. They love getting them out and reminiscing about when they received them, etc.

Jonathan has the most, since he's the oldest. Since Nathaniel is so little and still into everything, we elected to just put the kids' ornaments on this year, so the bottom quarter of our tree is bare...but still beautiful!

For Kathy

Here is the little snowman gift bag that I made at our Ladies' Bible Study last week. I actually sewed on a sewing machine and didn't break anything! Fortunately the "hat" part was already sewn for us...all we had to do was put the little man together. I think he turned out cute! My friend Kathy at Lizzie Jane loves snowmen, so this post is for her...and any other snowmen lovers out there!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Busy Time

It has been very busy since Thanksgiving at our house. I worked the midnight shift at The Children's Place on Black Friday...that was an experience! I've never even been out shopping at that hour on Black Friday, let alone working, but I survived. Since then, I've been busy with work, play group, Bible studies (and cooking and/or baking for both of them!), baking cookies and making candy, and running the never-ending errands with the kids. We have begun decorating our house, and as soon as my dear husband unloads my memory stick, I will show you some of our decor this year. Our tree is up but not yet decorated as I haven't been home long enough to supervise. Maybe tomorrow...hope your December has started off well and that you won't lose the true meaning of this joyous season amidst the hustle and bustle!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

In a few minutes, we will be off to DE for a Thanksgiving visit with my parents. It will be a short one, as I have the privilege (?) of working the midnight shift at the store on Friday...I'm sure I'll have a post about that at a later date! I want to wish all of my friends and family a wonderful Happy Thanksgiving, and leave you with the things I am really thankful for this year...

My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
My supportive and loving husband, Dave
My handsome sons...all four of them!
My daughter-to-be in China
My wonderful parents and parents-in-law
My sisters and bros-in-law and all my nieces and nephews
All of our extended family hither and yon
All of my dear friends, both far and near, new and old
All of our needs being met to overflowing...
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Baking Pies

Benjamin loves to help me in the kitchen. Last night I had to bake pumpkin pies for a potluck lunch at Dave's workplace, so Benjamin pulled up his stool and jumped right in to help. The pies turned out great!
Dumping in the spices

Mixing the dry ingredients

Pouring in the condensed milk...yum!

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Favorite Blog

One of the blogs I love to check on a regular basis is Second Sister Suaviloquy. I found this blog through the Etsy shop Second Sister Jewelry, when I was searching for jewelry related to adoption. As it turns out, this family is waiting to adopt a daughter from China, too! Second Sister Suaviloquy is hosting a ten-day giveaway that you might want to check out. The fun starts on December 5...and check out the Etsy shop, too, for great jewelry at reasonable prices!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Look what we woke up to this morning! This was the view from our back door...

...and our front door...

I guess winter has arrived early in our neck of the woods! This week Jonathan brought home a little piece of winter from his Home Ec class, too. I was so impressed...people pay good money for items like this fellow!

Great job, Jonathan! Keep up the good work!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Stranger

I got this in my inbox today. Perhaps you have already read this, but it is worth rereading...
A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small Texas town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger...he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.

Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home...not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush. My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol. But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished.

He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.

I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked...and NEVER asked to leave.

More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents' den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.

His name?

We just call him 'TV.'

He has a wife now....we call her 'Computer.'

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another Busy Week!

Last week zoomed by with no posts...sorry! This week might likely do the same, although I do want to post about the Bible study I'm teaching this week, as I've learned a lot from preparing it. I'm teaching our two ladies' Bible studies at our church this week, one tonight for working women, and one on Wednesday morning for moms and other ladies who choose to come then. I'm teaching on the promise of God to guide and direct our lives. Look for more on that later!

I worked a lot this past weekend again, and my dear husband is nursing yet another cold, so hopefully the rest of us won't get it! Nathaniel is just getting over his second ear infection, which seem to be brought on by colds, so we don't want any more! I'm ready to spray down the whole house with bleach at this point! Tomorrow morning I'm hosting our play group at our house for the first time, so that ought to be interesting, too...another reason for no colds!

A busy week lies ahead for me, but I'm up for the challenge! Hope your week is fun and productive, whatever it has in store for you!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Working Weekend

I will be working my two jobs this weekend...teaching my grad course, and waiting on customers at The Children's Place. In this season of life, weekends have become my work days instead of the week days, so I can't complain. I'm thankful for the extra income, and for my wonderful husband who is so supportive of it all. For those of you with fun plans this weekend, enjoy...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

To Mommy, With Love

Benjamin is a very loving, caring child. He loves to give hugs and kisses, and receive hugs and kisses. He still asks to be held on occasion, and he often says, "I wuvs you, Mommy" which melts my heart. I just had to take this photo when he brought me, yet again, a flower from his "garden" picked especially for me. He wanted it put in water, so we did. I know this stage won't last forever, but I intend to treasure it as long as I can!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fabulous Fall Fun!

The following photos were taken by my son Sabastian a week or so ago (before the weather turned cooler as evidenced by Benjamin's shorts!). He voluntarily raked a pile of leaves in our backyard and then allowed Benjamin to jump in them. I thought Sabastian did a pretty good job with the photography, don't you? Oh to be young again and not have to worry about hurting my knees or twisting my ankles (that's a story for another day!) Happy fall, ya'll!

Ready, set, jump! Great action shot!

This one looks more like he's falling...

Look at me, Mom!

My favorite photo of all! Just having fun and being a kid!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

I had the privilege of going on a field trip with Sabastian and his class a couple of weeks ago to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. When I was in college, my friends kidnapped me one year for my birthday and took me to the Faire, but I haven't been back since. On regular weekends when it's open, the Faire can have some rather, shall we say, "saucy" entertainment and attire, but when they open for elementary school days, they tone it down a bit. Most of the kids in Sabastian's class dressed up in medieval attire for the occasion, as you can see in some of the photos. It was a crisp fall day when we went and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I'm glad I could go along!
Queen Elizabeth "knighting" one of Sabastian's classmates.

Sabastian's official class photo at the Faire. Three of Sabastian's classmates jousting...the lone girl won!
Sabastian and I enjoying the day.

Queen Elizabeth discoursing with the Czar of Russia...he was in the Shire looking for a wife!
The Queen's Royal Falconer shared some falconry with the students...amazing stuff!
This owl was beautiful...and huge! Apparently an owl relative of this owl is in the Harry Potter movies.
Sabastian and his classmates enjoyed all the period vendors and shops. Here he is trying on a mask.
And here is Sabastian in the stocks...quite fitting, I must say!

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Birthday Present

My dear husband married a woman who loves giving and receiving gifts, and whose family made a big deal about birthdays and the other holidays, much more so than his family ever did. He knows that I am hard to surprise, but I love surprises, but don't tell me you are going to surprise me, or I'll try really hard to figure it out (does that make any sense?). For my birthday last month, I was sure that he had REALLY listened to me this time when I said we couldn't afford any presents, so don't get me anything (you know that game so many of us play!), but after letting me sweat it out ALL day on my birthday, he told me that he had ordered something for me, but it wasn't going to arrive until October. Of course, my first (but wrong!) response was to think that he hadn't planned ahead, but as it turns out, he had been working on this surprise for quite some time; he just had not realized how long it was going to take.

Well, today I was greeted by this box on my front stoop upon returning home from my Mom's Morning Out Bible study...

...and for anyone "in the know" about teddy bears, you know that The Vermont Teddy Bear Company is one of the best for hand made, adorable bears. In fact, while in college, a good friend of mine was from Vermont, so I had the chance to visit the factory with her, and later with Dave...and I own a few of these adorable bears, all of which bear (no pun intended!) some personal meaning to me. For example, one Mother's Day, after Benjamin was born, Dave surprised me with a mother bear and three cubs, each of which is wearing denim bib overalls with my sons' names personalized on them. (Nathaniel still needs to be represented...which was what I kind of thought might be in the box!)

Anyhow, with the help of Benjamin and Nathaniel, who were equally intrigued by this box, I tore off the mailing tape and looked inside...and this is what I found...

...a one-of-a-kind, custom made "Sophia" bear dressed in a formal silk brocade, Chinese dress, holding a fan in her hand. My husband planned all of the details of this bear with the factory, and had her made especially for me...right down to the embroidery on her paw...

Needless to say, I was VERY surprised, not only by what I received, but the special time and effort Dave put in to choosing and designing this gift to commemmorate our upcoming adoption. This bear will be another reminder to me of our little girl in China, waiting to come home!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, if you haven't noticed all of the pink everywhere yet! Even the refs and the coaches of the NFL had pink ribbons on yesterday! Breast cancer touches so many families, and ours is no exception. A friend of mine forwarded information to me about The Breast Cancer Site, a website dedicated to getting the word out about breast cancer detection and awareness. Your click on the "Click Here to Give - it's FREE" button here helps fund FREE mammograms for women in need — low-income, inner-city and minority women whose awareness of breast cancer and opportunity for help is often limited. Your click is paid for by site sponsors, and mammogram funding is provided to clinics throughout the U.S. through the efforts of the National Breast Cancer Foundation . Many "clicks" are needed to fund each mammogram, so pass the word! You can click once daily, but as many days as you would like. My friend checked this out on Snopes, and according to them, it is legitimate. So, head on over and register your click to help women in need, and don't forget to do your own monthly exams!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Job

Yesterday I completed my second weekend of work at my new part-time job at The Children's Place Outlet Store in Hershey, PA. When Dave was moved back to first shift, I prayed about the possibility of working part-time to help offset some of the boys' schooling expenses and our adoption expenses, and the Lord led me to The Children's Place through a church friend who also works there. I'm finding it to be harder than it looks, especially physically, since I'm on my feet for 4-8 hours at a time, depending on the shift; however, it is fun, and I'm meeting lots of interesting people. So far I have been working less than 15 hours a week, mostly on the weekends, but some weeknights. Of course I'm awfully tempted to use my paycheck at the store, since I love their clothes and get a 30% discount, but so far I've been good. I really watch for bargains (like the pair of jeans I scored for Sabastian for 69 cents!) but that's it. If I knew how big our little Sophia was going to be, I'd really be having fun...the girl's clothes are so cute and reasonably priced on our sales racks! If you ever find yourself in Hershey at the outlets, look me up!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sabastian's Birthday Gifts

Here are some photos of Sabastian "modeling" his birthday gifts...see what I mean about being our little entertainer? He's saving cash for a Nintendo DS, thus the last two photos. Life is never dull in our house, can you tell?!