Ten random things...

I feel like this is such a cheater post, but I haven't had the time lately to sit down and type an entire post on any one topic, but I have lots of thoughts swirling around so here you go:

1. Today I had my 20-week ultrasound. Baby (and belly) are growing, and every evening now I hold Mark's hand over my belly to see if he can feel the baby moving from the outside yet. (Not quite yet, although I'm sure it will be any day.)

2. Adelia is about ready to crawl. I regularly tell her, "Mama is not ready for you to start crawling, sweet girl. So don't even think about it." And then there's Mark, who- every opportunity he gets- gets on the floor on his hands and knees, and tries to teach her how to get that one leg out of the way that keeps holding her back. ~smile~ I know very well why she wants to crawl: she must keep up with those busy brothers and sister of hers.

3. The Steelers play tonight in Monday Night Football, which makes this one of the happiest days of my husbands' year. :)

4. I'm making a Sweet Potato Pie later. I've never before in my life made one of those, but I'm guessing Mark will LOVE it since Sweet Potatoes and Pies are right up there on the top of his favorites list.

5. Isaac is sitting at the floor by my feet, the tub of crayons beside him; peeling the outside papers off the crayons and humming a tune. [He's got a long way to go, but seems to be really enjoying himself.]

6. Adelia is in my arms, here in the rocking chair, fussy; because she woke too early from her nap.

7. We're almost finished reading These Happy Golden Years. I love reading about how Almanzo courted Laura. I told Mark last night that I might literally cry when we finish this series. I mean, I GET that there are other great read-alouds out there, but there's this sentimental part of me that feels it's all downhill from here. :) I'm glad Adelia is so little; that means we'll get to read the series all over again in a few years.

8. The days of hanging our laundry out on the clothesline are over. This past Spring/Summer was the first time I did this consistently, and I loved it.

9. I just ran the dishwasher using homemade dishwasher detergent. I'll let you know how it goes.

10. Oh! I keep forgetting to tell you that Michelle posted on her blog about our recent road trip. Bonus: two of the pictures in that post are of my children. :)

And now I must really get dinner together. And that pie.

Love to you!

Old photos

I was looking at some older pictures last week, and I thought I'd post a few here so that you can see, too!

These are all from 2005:


Aack! Do you see that chubby boy Isaac? A baby. I could literally cry over it. He's growing so fast.


Isaac getting dedicated. Chubby Ella there, in the front.


At a wedding, just a couple of weeks after Isaias was home.


When there were three...
Isaias was so serious when he first came home. Such a cutie, though, isn't he?


Isaias, 2006. So handsome.

Alright. That's it for the old photos.

Now- I'm off to get dinner on and then our family is headed to our first Keepers Family Night- where Ella will be presented the pins she's been awarded so far. Very fun.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Montana recap

First off, congratulations to you, Christin (and Jet, and girls!) on the birth of your beautiful Alana Joy!

We're getting back into our routine, here at home. We even have two days of homeschooling under our belt, and we're off to a good start.

Here are a few pictures of my trip to Montana with Michelle.

This is what we saw a lot of:


Michelle, coming from Indiana, was literally misty-eyed over scenes like this out the car windows. I didn't really share her emotion over it. It looks barren and dry to me, but then I live in beautiful Washington, which has hills and green trees. And water. And mountains with snow.

We did take a little day trip here, though:


and saw this


which even I thought was beautiful.

Here we are:

I am so very thankful for all the time I was able to spend with Michelle (who flew from Indiana to Seattle just to make the road trip with me!) I love that girl. (Her only fault is that she lives so stinking far away.) She is a kindred spirit in every way, and I have so much respect for her heart and love for Jesus and her love for Chad and her children. And she's a LOT of fun.

This would be Beth on the big screen, bringing us God's Word in her black and white geometric-print jacket.


The conference, during worship:


Beth spoke from Isaiah 32:1-8, specifically on the difference between a fool ("nabal") and a noble.

Prior to the weekend, I had prayed several times that God would use that time, and the things Beth spoke, to speak directly to my heart. I prayed that He would open my ears, mind, and heart to absorb whatever it was He had for me. He was so faithful to answer my prayers. The final morning in our hotel I was able to review my notes and journal about all the things He spoke to me. There were several "bullet points" I came away with. [Many of which surround the fact that I am often a fool. :)] Thankfully I serve a mighty God!


Michelle and I got home yesterday from a whirlwind road trip to Montana:

30+ hours of driving, (over 2000 miles!), hours of conversation, a Beth Moore conference, and a little site-seeing on the side. (I discovered early on that Michelle is the type of traveler that likes a map on her lap and an eye out for those brown signs that invite you to pull over for a "Scenic Look-out" or a "Historical Monument". :))

We had a great time, and I'll post pictures soon.

I came back home to a (clean) house full of my favorite people on the planet: Mark and the kids. They did great while I was away.

Although no new cardboard structures are up, daddy once again proved that he's the most-fun parent: he set up our tent indoors so the kids could play "camp-out" and they played in there during the days and got to sleep in it one night. The other nights? They took turns sleeping with daddy in our bed.

And- further proof? Here's a snippet of an email I received from Mark while I was gone:

We had a long breakfast. I would say late, but we started at a decent hour (8:30). It just takes a long time to make and eat the entire Revolutionary War in pancakes (redcoats, colonists, American and British flags, cannons, cannonballs, horses, boats, trees for the colonists to hide behind, and -- because I spilled an extra red blob of pancake batter on the griddle -- blood.) We didn't finish until almost 10 or so.

[And we wonder why Isaac is always playing with his food. ~smile~]

Another thing worth mentioning: Addie is saying "mama". (Mark worked hard with her on that while I was gone.) She now says it all the time, and it is very cute, but I'm pretty confident she has made no correlation between the word mama and me. :) At least not yet.

We took Michelle to the airport this morning and now we'll settle back into normal life.

How are all of you?

Guess what?

I get to go on a road trip with my dear friend Michelle!

She is flying here, and then we're renting a car and driving to MONTANA! (Montana because there's a Beth Moore conference there this weekend. Otherwise, I am very sure that Montana wouldn't be our first choice for a retreat locale (my apologies if you have strong affection for the state.) But this was the weekend we could both do it, Beth Moore was high on our list of events, Montana was where she happened to be speaking, and so we planned our trip around that.

I am looking forward to... hours of uninterrupted talking time with Michelle, stops for coffee along the way, rest, eating out, hearing Beth Moore and taking lots of notes, worshiping, and finally- coming home to see my family again (oh, I will miss them!)

Mark will be home with the kids~ all of them~ for the the next four full days! He'll do great and they'll do great. Actually, they'll do more than great because when daddy's home the schedule is a little looser and it's a well-established fact that daddy is way more fun than mommy could ever hope to be.

As excited as the kids will be to see me home, I'm sure it will be short-lived because taskmaster-mommy will be ready to get back into routine and start school, and I'm sure they'll be wishing their time with daddy had been even longer.

In the meantime, the blog will be quiet. I'll be back next week.

Have a great weekend!

[Below: Update on our hen, Missy]

Missy update

Many of you have asked, so here's the update...

Well, our hen is still alive, but I'm not sure that's saying much. Her wounds are still very much there and very much infected, and she remains weak.

We've explained to our kids that if she doesn't turn a corner, we may have to put her down. (Which brought fresh tears from Ella and statements of "Missy in heaven" from Isaac.) But really, I think that's the direction we're headed due to her condition. The reason we haven't done it yet is because there have been stretches each day where we think, "Oh! She seems much better!", only to find her frail and struggling in the evenings.

Anyway- there's the update. Thank you for your concern!

September adoption update, 2008

A few things are happening on the adoption front.

For the adoption of this dear girl:

[Who is just so cute I can barely stand it. And who, several times a day, has me thanking God for the wonderful privilege of getting to be her mama. She is pure delight.]

So. Where was I? Oh, yes. Things are happening.

Following our last update, things were quiet for a bit. Then- about a month and a half ago- we received a stack of adoption finalization papers that we weren't quite sure how to fill out. [We aren't familiar with the legal lingo, the fees, etc.] At the same time we were puzzling over our paperwork, our agency was going through some issues (our caseworker left; they were short-staffed), so we weren't able to progress.

Two weeks ago we met with a [new] caseworker who walked us through some of the questions we had regarding the adoption paperwork. We are now in the filling-out-the-paperwork process. We have a checklist of things to do: Mark and I need to get updated medical approval from our doctor, Adelia's pediatrician needs to fill out some forms, we need to give information detailing our current financial status, I have to fax some background clearances to our caseworker. Thankfully, our fingerprints are still good so we don't have to jump through that hoop again. We have hired a lawyer and are proceeding with all of these details. We've been told that the adoption could be finalized as early as November. November.

Last week we received Adelia's state file- officially called a "disclosure"; which is a record of all that the state knows about Adelia. I read about her history (most of which we know, obviously), as well as her birthmother's history (some of which we did not know).

Within that file are all the court documents, too, surrounding her case. I skimmed the file in its entirety, and there was one document that stopped me cold, that brought the tears in earnest. It was the document, dated a couple of months back, whereupon the court terminated the birthmother's rights. In that document, it says:
ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that said child is hereby declared to be a dependent child [of the state]... and under the permanent jurisdiction of the court, and that [birthmother] no longer retains parental rights and all rights, powers, privileges, immunities, duties and obligations, including any rights to custody, control, visitation or support existing between [birthmom] and the child are severed and terminated, and [birthmother] shall have no standing to appear at any further legal proceedings concerning the child...

I am crying again as I type that out.

It is just so final.

So permanent.

So- over for this struggling mother who birthed this beautiful girl. As much as I yearn for Adelia to belong to us, my heart grieves over the fact that Adelia's birthmother will never know the joy of having this beautiful girl belong to her.

She will never know this precious girl. She doesn't get to see how she beats her little legs and grasps her chubby fingers into fists, a wide smile on her face, when mama bends to pick her up in the early mornings, all for the sheer joy of seeing that face so dear and familiar to her. How she scrunches up her little nose and grins. The way she listens so attentively during worship, or when music is playing, and hums along her own soft song. The way she leans her head in, wraps her brown little arms around mama's neck, and snuggles close with a good morning or a good night hug. The way she delights when her toes are kissed. She hasn't seen her beautiful black head of curls or felt the softness of her skin. She won't get to see her take her first steps or say her first words. She won't know her likes and dislikes, the characteristics God has given her, the woman she will become.

All these joys of motherhood, they could have been hers, but she has missed them all.

It shouldn't be so.

And yet- it is so.

And because it is so, the final line in that court document applies to us: ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that [the state] has the authority to place said child for adoption...

We get to be that adoptive family.

And my heart is near-to-bursting at that news, but the joy of it is mingled with a deep sadness for all Adelia's birthmother has lost.

Our favorite hen

Our favorite hen, Missy, is very, very sick.

We're not sure what is going on, really. (We've only had chickens for a little over a year, and this is the first major problem we've had.)

Mark has noticed that for the past three nights she hasn't climbed up on the roost with the others, but has remained on the floor instead.

Unusual, but not necessarily alarming. Maybe she was just climbing up later than usual.

And then this morning Mark found her in the corner of the henhouse, and she seemed lethargic. We wish now we had pulled her away from the other chickens as soon as we found her this morning.

This afternoon we noticed her in the yard, and initially thought that was improvement, until we noticed that two of the other MEAN hens were pecking at her. (They do that, you know-- they pick on the weakest member of the flock.)

Mark got home from work, checked on her again, and isolated her from the other three. Then he came indoors and told us he thought she wasn't going to make it. She was very weak and still.

Missy has always been the sweetest, tamest, and mildest of our four hens, and is Ella's favorite one.

Ella and Isaac both (but especially Ella) have been in tears on and off throughout the evening. They're asking all sorts of questions like: "What will we do with her if she dies?" "Will we have a funeral?" "Will Missy go to heaven?" "If she goes to heaven will God have a coop for her there?"

Ella spent some time feeding her and trying to get her to drink some water. She ate a bit, out of Ella's hand, and did drink some water.

[If you're squeamish, skip this paragraph] The other chickens pecked her head today (so much so that it's bleeding), and her back as well. As Mark was putting medicine on her this evening, he noticed that maggots were all over the wounds on her back. Ew. So he spent some quality time with Missy tonight, picking out the maggots, cleaning her with warm water and putting peroxide on her wounds. Then he put some salve on her.

Little Nurse Ella- who would not leave Missy's side- dried her feathers with a hairdryer, and made her a bed of fresh straw and cedar shavings. We put her in a box on our back porch. We have a lamp above her to keep her warm, and food and water in her box, and we'll see if she makes it through the night.

As for the other meanies? They're not getting any scratch from me for weeks. And I'll be glaring at them every chance I get.

The move to maternity clothes

I spent some time this morning going through my closet and pulling out my regular-fitting clothes (um, and even my one-size up clothes) to make room for the maternity clothes.

Somehow I always feel guilty during this stage of pregnancy. Like there's this permissible period with which to move on to maternity apparel and I'm always doing it months earlier than I ought to be.

And yet... I have only one pair of my regular pants (knit, stretchy black pants) that fit me at the moment (but barely!), and every other day I end up wearing pajama bottoms or the equivalent of them (thus, not something I'm wanting to wear OUT of the house.)

The other problem is that it's REALLY hard for me to find pants that are long enough. I always get "long" or "tall", which usually means I order them online- which is hard enough with regular pants but seemingly impossible with maternity pants. Ask me how I know. In the past month I've ordered two pairs of size tall maternity pants, one at the Gap and one at Old Navy, and--both of them? Ugly.

I've spent a couple of weeks considering taking my exisiting pants and making them maternity pants. (I'd love to know if anyone has actually done this.) But then- do I really want to make my regular pants maternity pants? For just this "short' season? (Although Amy reminded me the other day that it's a whole lot longer than I remember; there's that after-the-baby comes season where you can't fit into your regular clothes, either.) But what if, in the attempt to cut into my pants and add some sort of belly panel or elastic-y band, I do it wrong and end up ruining a perfectly good pair of pants? Ugh.

So I set out today with the intent to find some pants. I brought along with me two pairs of my "perfectly good pants" with which to make into maternity pants if I had to resort to that. My last stop was going to be the fabric store to pick up some knit material or some wide elastic.

I first went to the three consignment stores in town to check out their selection of maternity clothes. And that was laughable. There was nothing there that was even remotely a possibility, unless I want to wear highwaters for the rest of my pregnancy. Which I don't.

I finally ended up at Motherhood Maternity. And I've looked there before but am aware that they don't have long/tall pants. But I marched right up to the saleswoman and told her that I knew they didn't carry long or tall sizes but I have long legs and needed some pants. This wonderful girl- the most helpful salesperson I've met in years (because when do you ever find one of those anymore?)- said she'd walk through the store and pull down all the pants that run longer in the legs and bring them to my room. And she did.

I wanted to hug her.

And I left the store with THREE pairs of pants. Success!

I even tried them on for Mark when I got home and he said they were cute. And he was even okay with the amount of money I spent to get those cute pants.

I'll likely still be wearing pj pants around the house (and we don't go out much, so that's handy), but now? When I want to leave the house? I can look presentable.

And can I just say? I LOVE the fact that God is growing a baby within my belly big enough to where I need some maternity clothes. Oh, and- for the past few weeks? I can feel this little one moving inside me. I am so, so, SO grateful.

Anyone else thinking about Christmas gifts?

I sure am.

In fact, I have many gifts knocked off my list already. I so love it when I can enter into the holiday season with much of the shopping done. We have gifts for all of our children (well, except for Adelia, but she's not picky), as well as birthday gifts for a few family members and our children during that season.

Here's a blog I've been checking regularly for crafty ideas: Crazy Mom Quilts

She's posting a series of tutorials for easy Christmas gifts to make. So if you have a crafty streak, check it out. :)


My basil crop ended up producing fairly well for us, this year. [My Roma tomatoes, on the other hand? Still green.]

Last year when I made pesto, I did all the chopping by hand. And let me just say, chopping handfuls of basil into tiny pieces with a knife isn't too exciting.

This year?

Hello, new kitchen friend.


I fully enjoyed this new kitchen appliance. [And thank you, Dana, for the KitchenAid recommendation.] I'm not exactly sure what else this will come in handy for, yet, but making pesto ROCKS with it.

Here's the pesto recipe I use:

2 cups basil (washed)
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
1 T lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

*The recipe also calls for 1/4 cup parmesan, but since I'm freezing it, and cheese doesn't freeze so well, I add that later.

This is what I do after the pesto is all blended up:


That doesn't look very pretty, I realize. But it tastes really good. And that's what matters.

And here it is, frozen in handy chunks. That way when I make pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce or pasta, I can just grab a couple of cubes out and plop them in for extra flavor. Mmm!



Mark's grandma quietly slipped away on Wednesday evening. She was born in the Netherlands and eventually immigrated to the United States. She leaves behind five sons (of six: one of her boys died in 2001) and one daughter (Mark's mom), along with 25 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren. She knew her Lord well, grandma did, and we are thankful she is with Him now.

The funeral will be Tuesday. Her earnest prayer, for years, has been that her sons would know Jesus. Will you pray with us that somehow, through her death- they might seek the One she knew and loved so well?

[photo: Grandma with Adelia, April 2008]

On sheltering

I mentioned in my last post that I've been reading the book Lies Women Believe, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Early in the book, DeMoss indicates that she is the oldest of seven siblings, and was raised by first-generation Christian parents. She says of her parents, "God gave them the wisdom and courage to 'grow' their children in a spiritual 'greenhouse.' They made a conscious effort to protect us from influences that could be harmful and to surround us with influences that would spiritually nurture our lives. As a result, we grew up with well-protected hearts. At a young age, our hearts were sensitized to sin and we learned to discern between right and wrong."

I knew already that I liked this woman (and her parents), and hoped she'd share more about that spiritual greenhouse environment.

Later on in the book DeMoss lists the following as a lie some women believe about children:

Children need to get exposed to the 'real world' so that they can learn to function in it.

I sat up and took notice of this section, because this an argument I have heard (but have not agreed with) from friends and family members of ours at different times in our homeschooling journey. Here's what DeMoss says in response to that particular lie:

If Satan can't keep Christian women from bearing children, he will do his best to deceive them as to how their children ought to be brought up. He uses the same tactics with parents that he used with Eve. He convinced her that by eating the forbidden fruit, she would learn something she needed to know: "When you eat of it your eyes will be opened... knowing good and evil" (Gen.3:5). Satan was right- when Eve ate, her eyes were opened (v.7); she did learn something she did not know before- the experience of evil. The result of this knowledge was shame, guilt, and alienation from God and her husband.

God never intended that you and I should know evil by experiencing it for ourselves. His desire is that we should "be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil" (Romans 16:19). But Satan says, "You need to taste it for yourself." He says to parents, "Your children need to taste it for themselves. If you shelter them from the 'real world,' they will never be able to fit in and survive in it."

The truth is, our task is not to rear children who can "fit in" or merely "survive" in this world. The challenge of every Christian parent is to bring up children who love God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength; who have a vibrant, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus; and whose lives will be bright and shining lights, penetrating the darkness around them. Christian parents ought to be seeking to raise up not just "good" children, but children who enthusiastically embrace the Truth, children who love righteousness and hate evil, children who will be used by God to change this world.

She continues, referring a bit to the environment she was raised in:
They [her parents] took practical steps to protect our young minds and hearts from exposure to the values and influences of this world system.

...I was a very sheltered young person. I don't recall ever hearing a single word of profanity before graduating from high school (she attended a Christian school). I knew virtually nothing about the popular cartoon characters, movies, or television programs of the day.

But, by God's grace and thanks to the influence of godly parents, there are some things I did know that few other young people knew. I knew the difference between right and wrong. I had a good overview of the Scripture- in addition to family devotions and sound doctrinal preaching in church, our elementary school curriculum included two journeys through the entire Bible. I had hidden large portions of Scripture in my heart, had a basic understanding of the major doctrines of the Christian faith, and I could sing from memory all the stanzas of many theologically rich hymns. I had read the biographies of many true heroes- men and women such as Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, William Carey, and Gladys Aylward.

Even more important than "knowing" all these things, I had a vital, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus- a relationship that would sustain me when I was out on my own and would motivate me to make the right choices once I was outside the protective walls of our home. The "faith of our fathers" had become my own.

I loved reading this, and that is so how we want to raise our own children. Shelter them from the world? Absolutely yes. Bring them up to love God with all all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength? Yes. (This is one of my fervent prayers for them.) Raise them to know and memorize God's word? Yes. To know hymns, and to read books that inspire them to love and serve God? Why, yes, please.

There's much more I could say about this subject but it's time for dinner!