I am wife to a magnificent man and mother to five wonderful children. Three of my children were born in the Northwest and two were born thousands of miles away in Liberia, West Africa. Birthplace is no matter, all of my children were born in my heart. This is our journey.

Monday, March 31, 2008

There by the grace of God go I...

That's what I heard my husband saying under his breath last evening. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and it started like most do. Sundays are restful for us. My husband usually takes a nap or works on a project outside. Working outside is rest to my husband. It's not the normal computer hustle and bustle or family activities running here and there. Working outside on whatever he feels like doing is restful so that's what he did. When we purchased this 1/3 of an acre in town with 18 oaks on it we were so pleased. Really nice shade and very attractive. As time has worn on the cons to having oaks have presented themselves. They lose many branches each year and drop leaves like it's nobody's business. So last year we removed 3. We are the do -it-yourself variety. Why pay somebody to do something you can figure out your self? "Brute, force and ignorance!" was long ago declared a motto by my very funny husband.
We are planning to put in a woodstove so we thought we would thin some close to the house and cut up the wood for firewood. The plan is to leave the strongest and most attractive where they are. My husband decided yesterday that it would be a good day to take out 2 more trees. These 2 have been bugging him for awhile. They lean and sway over the side of the house where the kids sleep and it makes us nervous everytime there is a windstorm.

Down came the first one. Look how nice that is. Success. One down and one more to go. It went exactly where it was supposed to. But do you notice that other tree there to the left? The one with the wheelbarrow just at it's base? You can't tell by looking but that one there is a troublemaker. (Ignore the kids playing in the doghouse on the right. That's a whole 'nother post.) Well my sister-in-law came by and she loves being involved in outside happenings including tree falling. She and my husband decided to take out the second one and that's when the drama began. It happened so fast really. The cut was made and within a few minutes I heard my husband yell something. I ran to the backdoor and looked out. My 6 foot man was pushing on the 50' tree yelling "The wind came up and I think it's going to hit the house! Call someone! Anyone! Call my brother! Wake the kids and get out!" In a panic I called my brother-in-law and asked him to come Speedy Gonzales style. I took the kids barefoot and coatless and headed away. My husband told me he would call when it was resolved. I called another sister-in-law for moral support. She asked if we had insurance. I said oh yes but I'm pretty sure it doesn't cover ignorance. Comic relief to cope. I drove around, got the kids snacks and prayed and prayed and prayed. About an hour later I headed back still having no word and worried about everyone.

This is the site that I was greeted with. It happened just moments before we arrived. There were neighbors everywhere and cars filling the cul-de-sac in front of our house. Oh yeah then there was the tree protruding from our fence between the house and shop. My brother-in-law was rather enjoying the whole thing happy to recount the tale as my husband was still trying to recover from the experience. During the ordeal all of the neighbors had come home from here or there and my sister-in-law's husband had joined the crew. Thanks to him the new cut had been made, the tree tied off and our house saved.

If you'll notice, that tree there is laying next to it's stump. Well it wasn't supposed to fall that way. Nope, it was intended to fall to the right AWAY from the house the same direction as the first tree. You can probably tell from the cut that it should have fallen perpendicular from where it did. I was told that as it started to fall towards the corner of the house that because of the tie off it rolled in the air completely missing the corner of the house and also just missing the big tree to the right.

Look at that! Looking at the stump I think how did that not hit the house? Even the amount of damage is minimal. Only 4 fence boards and 2 cross beams need to be replaced. The fence post set in concrete that the trunk is laying next to is completely unscathed. Truly amazing show of God's grace if you ask me.

There is my amazing man who goes through his life by the grace of God. He is always doing things that don't seem like they should work. He is the first to admit the amount of grace in his life. He often wakes from dreams with solutions to problems around the house. I do think he will recover by the time we have to take out the next 3 trees. He is already working on a trade for some help from a tree faller. Did I mention that he is clever too?

We had missed church yesterday due to some kiddos with colds. We may have missed church but I will tell you that we did not miss an encounter with God himself. He met with us up close and personal, took something impossible and made it possible. We know where the credit is due.

There by the grace of God go I. Isn't that truth for all us?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mystery Revealed - Part 2

What a crew. We couldn't be prouder.

Next stop was a cute little bookshop with a kids room full of great finds. We stayed awhile.

After finishing site seeing downtown on foot we decided to forego the trolley and enjoy a sunny walk back to the hotel.

It was a bit of a trek so sister thought she would give brother a break.

At one point the kids thought about rolling down the hill.

Later, after a nap, we headed over to play some miniature golf.

Dad clearly explained the rules. You know, things like no playing in the water and keep your hands out of the windmill in addition to the basics.

The younger 3 walked ahead with me having fun while the older two had more serious scored fun with their Dad.

On that last evening we celebrated on a yummy Mexican note. We found a fantastic restaurant in the second story of a building overlooking the Bavarian decorated buildings downtown.

Of course, any good vacation wouldn't be complete without a decadent finish. Each of the kids got to pick their favorite icecream and one topping to be mixed in. It's interesting what you find out about your kids on trips like this. Vacations are necessary for us but we are creative about them since we are not made of money. Maybe I'll write about that soon.

It is always worth the money and time spent together. I can't wait to plan the next one.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mystery Revealed - Part 1

Now you know....it's Leavenworth, Washington. A little town referred to as Little Bavaria. The town is made up of about 2000 people and isn't more than a mile long. It's in the mountains in Northern/Central Washington. There is snow in the winter and beautiful flowers and festivals in the summer. Music plays in the town square and you can hear it off in the distance as you meander through the shops.

The drive was beautiful. This was a snow covered lake that we passed.

It was hard to watch the road it was so beautiful as we drove.

The hotel had a breakfast that made us glad we had chosen this place to stay. They don't look disappointed do they?

These two are pretty pleased as well.

Now hers was a waffle she could sink her teeth into.

Big sister was trying to share a piece of salami with middle sister but it proved to be a challenge.

This was an absolute highlight of our trip. For 25 cents you could ride the trolley around town with 5 and under being free. $1.25 and the whole family got a tour.

What?! No carseats! What could be better than that?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Why I have a second fridge

Where else would I keep 6 dozen extra eggs, 5 lbs shredded cheese, extra soda and milk? Not to mention how handy it is when hosting a big meal or defrosting a ham or turkey. I have been known (pre second fridge of course) to store my salads at Thanksgiving on the back porch. It is cold enough. This option is a little better though. It seems more hospitable to ask a guest to retrieve said salads from the extra fridge rather than the back porch. This option also keeps all of the extras out of the daily rotation. It really brings a smile to my face to open this fridge. Weird you say? Maybe a little but it is so nice to know that I don't have to run out to the store for every little thing that I have just run out of. It stays clean too. Our schoolroom shares the garage with this fridge so it's nice for the kids to get a juice or bottled water from time to time in the same room. It helps keep us focused and not running back and forth. Ok enough about the fridge. Get back to work!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


My youngeset was born one week early but presented like he was over a month early. As a result he spent 10 days in the NICU learning how to breathe and eat. The doctors believe that the premie experience is why his lungs are reactive to certain conditions. Every once in awhile he will catch a cold virus and come to our room in the middle of the night asking for the "fishy". The first time he had to use the machine he was about 6 months old so they gave him a toddler mask that looks like a fish face. It is supposed to make him feel like he is putting something fun on his face and make him more comfortable.

It is so sad to hear him coming from the hallway hacking, wheezing and saying "I'm having trouble. I need the fishy." Last night this happened. Now that he is 3 he can express himself much better than he could when he was just a year. When we are a few minutes into the treatment he now looks up at me and says "It's getting better my throat!" Crisis over. Thank goodness.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rapunzel, Rapunzel...

We found a young lady adopted from Etheopia here
in our town who braids hair.

We then come and home and use a
latch hook to tie in the braids.

Interesting isn't it?

2 hours and 5 packages of hair extensions later and we have one happy lady.
Isn't she beautiful?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Large Families...Fact or fiction

There are many perceptions about large families out there. While we are only a family of 7 I thought I would confirm or debunk some myths you may have heard. Some are reality and some perceived reality. So here we go...

They're crazy...this very well may be true but I think a little crazy goes a long way in raising many growing children, don't you?

All large families have messy houses...this may be true at times but I think if you visited the average large family you would be pleasantly surprised at the amount of order and cleanliness. We have only 5 children and our house is clean and messy several times a day. If you have visited a messy large family house chances are you didn't call first. Or if you did, other things were more important.

They don't know what causes it...I can assure you that they do. They just like having children. The Bible says that children are a gift from the Lord. They also may just really like Christmas.

They have really high grocery bills...yep this one is true. No way around it. Everyone has to eat. Although I will tell you that large families have some very creative thinkers and their bills might not be as high as one would think.

They don't have time to spend with each child...this is more of a challenge. Have you ever noticed though that you will see mom's or dad's of large families out shopping with a child or two instead of going alone? This is a perfect opportunity to take care of basics while getting some quality time in with one or two children. Who said important conversation can't be had over a produce table or a bulk bin? I know that I have had some great ones with my kids in the car on the way there. It takes effort but it's not impossible.

The kids have dirty faces and/or not wearing clean clothes...from time to time one child may slip out of the house and have missed the hair line or clothing check line. But I challenge you to look past the PB and J reminder and dust on the pants. Are they happy? Does it appear that they are loved? That will tell you what you need to know.

I guess I have done more debunking than confirming. I feel sometimes that large families get a bad name. Large families are large because they choose to be. Most are dedicated to family and take that job very seriously. I have seen my fair share of families with only 2 or 3 kids with untied shoes and mismanaged hair. No matter how many children you have it's hard to catch everything. I have also witnessed kids with no parents, not enough to eat and craving for love and attention from someone, anyone. So I guess what I'm saying is while childen in large families may not get everything on their list at Christmas or have their own room what they do have are some pretty important things that kids would give their front teeth for. Love, family, food, siblings to play with and so much more. Next time you see a large family out on a picnic, bike ride or grocery shopping don't ask them if the kids are all theirs. Pat them on the back and say "You're doing a great job!" It will mean so much.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How much is too much...

There is an article today in the media about a mother who left her 2 year old child sleeping while she walked with another child and young friend to place coins in a charity bucket. It was sleeting and the child was sleeping. She did not want to disturb her and take her out into the inclement weather. She set the flashers on in her car, locked the doors and set the alarm. She then walked the 10 yards to the bucket, took a few pictures of the kids and returned to her car. There is more to the story but the bottom line is that she is now awaiting trial. She could receive up to a year in jail and a $2500 fine. How much is too much? At what point does the government trying to prevent potential dangers or accidents infringe upon parental rights? How much control is too much control? Accidents happen everyday. On the roads, in homes, at work. One argument used in this case is that kids can choke in cars when the parents aren't there. No argument there. They are right, they can. However, horrible accidents can happen right in front of us when we are watching. Would I have chosen differently from this mother I don't know. I wasn't there. What I do know is that there seems to be a horrible injustice occuring with this situation.

I face this all the time with my own children. I want to control their environment so that nothing bad happens. Every event and happening. The reality is that I can never be completely in control. At some point I have to let go and trust God with them. Does that mean bad things will never happen? Of course not. Bad things do. Does is mean that I stop protecting them? Nope. Somewhere I need to find a balance between letting what will be will be and smothering every breath they take. I think there is a middle ground of healthy protection and calculated risk. This world get scarier all the time and we need to change the way we do things constantly. At the same time we need to not live in fear.

If the details that I have read in the case are true, I hope the case is dismissed. It is an abuse of power and is unacceptable.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to climb down from my soap box and start some laundry.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vision Forum

Have you ever been to The Vision Forum? What?! You haven't. Well you should. Really you should. No pressure but they do have great products for every person in the family. I have my eye on some of their DVD's about creation and animals. If you are itching to find something to fill your free time then you should really go visit. I assume that you have *some* free time since you are here :-). You can click on the link way down at the bottom of the page and see what they have to offer. Be careful though. It's really easy to get carried away.

Monday, March 10, 2008


There it is. Loss. It's such a short word for the waves of emotion that it carries. There are so many words that come to mind when I hear the word loss.

Grief...Pain...Depression...Time...Raw...Regret to name a few...

and there are so many more. What definition the word has is different for each person who is experiencing the loss. My 26 year old cousin died recently in a tragic car accident. It's interesting to me that the word tragic is always used ahead of whatever happened. Is it ever not tragic? It seems redundant to me. Redundant but necessary I suppose. Going to her viewing and funeral brought up many emotions that I was unprepared for. During her viewing I watched her parents greet friends and family trying to be strong for those around them. It brought back all too familiar memories that feel like yesterday. My husband and I buried our first born daughter more than 8 years ago. She lived for just ten short days. I remember going through the motions of hugging, talking and crying with those that care for us. We both so wanted to comfort those around us. We wanted them to feel that we were ok. Watching the pain in their eyes for us was almost harder than the pain of losing her. Comforting others, however, provided a welcome distraction from the aching pain that lied in wait to overtake every part of my being. It was one child and several months later before the full extent of the pain hit me. We were overjoyed to have a new life in our home. The joy of our second daughter's birth, however, did not fill the void of our first daughter's absence. It had the opposite result in fact. Caring for her and learning to know her made the loss of our first daughter that much greater. Before then I had not fully understood the true depth of my loss. This amazing and beautiful gift that I had been granted to raise forced me to face the pain in a way that I was unprepared for. It was the experience of losing a child and then being given a child that led us more rapidly to the road to adoption. Life here is so short.

Loss. Pain. It doesn't really matter what you have lost or how you have lost. A parent, child, friend, church, home, relationship, hopes, dreams. They all have their own depth of pain but there is one poignant thing I have taken from these experiences. Pain is pain. Simple but profound to me. Pain is pain. It overwhelms and it can be paralyzing. But it makes us who we are. We are a product of the pain in our lives. See, pain is a gift. It levels us and hopefully, if we allow, takes us to the foot of the cross. To the feet of the One who understands pain. To the feet of the One who picks us up and carries us until we are strong enough to walk again.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Field Trip Day

We trecked to the aquarium for a field trip this week. A very nice volunteer
diver gave the kids a lesson in how
they use scuba gear.

Figuring out where to go next.

Big brother helping little brother see the otters.

Mom watching daughter make ultra trendy bird hat.

Lots of fun was had by all. But the most exciting part of the day for the kids was the shark disection. I wish we had pictures of that, it really was amazing. The highlight for me was being there for a feeding in the sea bird aviary. They had a question and answer time which was quite educational. It was homeschool day and they had many labs set up. I am sure we will go again next year. It was worth it.