Friday, December 18, 2009

A Thing of Beauty




What joy Miss Ava has brought into our lives. Here's how I know that's true. In the midst of not getting enough sleep, being spit up on regularly, finding it hard to go pretty much anywhere, and having little mental breakdowns every other day, I also smile and laugh more than I ever have. She's almost 10 weeks old, and we fall more and more in love with her every day.

Motherhood isn't pretty sometimes, at least in the traditional sense of the word. It's hard and it's messy and it can make you feel like the most inept person on the face of the earth. But inside, where it counts, it's a thing of beauty. Hearts expand, compassion grows, generosity blooms. All this and then, when you least expect it, you get a smile from that sweet baby. It sends a jolt of sheer delight all the way to your toes and, if your me, brings tears to your eyes.

I may not always look the prettiest doing it (my preferred daily outfit of sweats, no make-up, and messy hair leaves a little to be desired), but inside, where it counts, motherhood is making me more beautiful. I'm sure of it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Conversations with Hope


I can almost see the wheels turning in my little girl's mind. And she's thinking some pretty big thoughts...life changing kind of stuff. Last week...

H: Why does Jesus live in our hearts?

A: Does Jesus live in your heart, Hope?

H: Yeah

A: Why?

H: (nonchalantly) Cause I believe and I want to follow him. Can I have some juice?

A: ??????


Okay, so apparently Hope became a Christian without telling me. :) Well, maybe that was her telling me. At any rate, at the risk of sounding too legalistic about it, I'm gonna go ahead and mark that date down for future reference.

And then, tonight...

Hope: Mom, can you describe a being?

M: Huh?

Hope: A being. Like, Satan is a being, not a person, so can you describe him?

M: I guess. Well…Satan is a spirit and that means he can be just about anywhere at any time. He hates God and he will do almost anything to get people to not love God.

Hope: (indignant) Well, he could never stop me from loving God cause I know that God is way bigger and more powerful than Satan.

M: That's right, Hopie. Satan has no power over God and he can’t do anything to us that God doesn’t know about.

Hope: (laughing) I can’t believe Satan thinks he is better than God. (still laughing) I mean, God is just so much more powerful.

So precious...and such a good reminder. How in the world did I get the privilege of parenting this child?

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Little Post I Like to Call...I May Not Always Feed My Kids Enough Vegetables, But I Know When It's Time For a Dance Party

Loren has Young Life camp this weekend and so he left at around 4:30 this afternoon. At 4:45, I proceeded to have a teensy weensy tiny little panic attack. At least, that’s what I assume it was. Shortness of breath, rapid heart beat, immobilizing fear, and a million things running through my mind. Most of those things consisted of,
“How will I handle it all by myself?”

“My kids need to eat vegetables for dinner. We have had way too much pizza lately.”

“I need to go to the store and get more vegetable or we need to go out to eat.”

“I don’t want to load everyone up to go anywhere.”

“If I don’t get vegetables in my kids tonight, I'm gonna feel like a bad mom.”

Etc, etc, etc.

I had my moment and then, I loaded the kids up and we went out for chef salad. Yum! And we rented movies. (Shout out to the new Redbox in town at Walgreens where I can just park right next to it and not have to unload anyone!) And we made it home without incident. Success.

Then, the following transpired.

When we got home, the girls got in the tub and were having a great time. Ava was kind of fussy, though, and didn’t want to be put down and that makes it kind of hard to wash all the places on my girls that they can't get to. But, we managed. I was heading to the kitchen to make Ava’s bottle when I heard a blood curdling scream, the Hope version, which is high pitched and ear piercing. I ran to the bathroom, baby in hand, to see what the matter was. She had been fooling around (as usual) and had fallen in the tub and hit her head. Ouch! She had a pretty good little bump. So, I put Ava in her bed, making her cry immediately, got Hope out of the tub, who was also crying, and dried her off, lotioned her up, put on her p.j,’s (everyone still crying) and assessed the bump. She was fine. So, I left her in her room while I went to get Ava on my way to get Bella out of the tub, lest another disaster strike.

Just as I was headed down the hall, baby in hand, I heard a blood curdling scream, the Bella version. Not as high pitched, but just as piercing, and the sheer volume is enough to make me lose my mind. (Seriously, how my usually quiet little sweetheart can crank her vocals up that loud remains a mystery to me.) It turns out she has apparently applied my body wash directly to her left eyeball. Ouch! Then Hope came into the bathroom, crying again, and said, “I’m sad now cause Bella is hurt! Waaaaaa!” Oh brother! So, I rinsed, rinsed, rinsed, blotted, blotted, blotted, while she cried, cried, cried (which actually was quite helpful given the situation) and she was finally able to open her eye and see again.

Ava was now terribly upset and quite vocal about the fact that she hadn’t been fed yet. So, I sat a teary Hope in a chair and gave her Ava and the bottle (yeah, she’s that good). I got Bella out of the tub, dried her off, lotioned her up, and put her p.j.’s on. Then, I headed to the living room to finish feeding the baby, at which point, I started laughing, a little hysterically…probably a borderline, crazy person kind of laugh. And I thought…that…was…CRAZY! But, at the end of it all, everyone smelled clean, was ready for bed, and had their various ailments under control. Success.

And it dawned on me. Well…I guess I can handle it after all. So, I cranked up “I Will Survive” on the IPod and we had ourselves a little dance party in the living room before tucking ourselves in for the night.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Various Cuteness

I am hopeful that, at some point, I will have something of significance to say again on my blog. But, for now, it's not fair for me to deprive you of the cute pictures I have of my little ones. So, here are some pictures to let you know what most of my days are like. And, to be honest, it feels like that is significant enough.






















Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Halloween...finally

It only took me about a month to get Halloween pictures up! And, yes, I am congratulating myself on that fact. I have three of the cutest little chickadees around and it hardly takes a costume to show you that. But, because we LOVE dressing up all year around in this house, a holiday where that is celebrated is pretty darn great in my book.

So, here they are. Hope, as the Statue of Liberty (or LIVERTY as she would say), Bella, as Minnie Mouse...she's obsessed, and Ava, as a beautiful little flower. Enjoy!






Monday, November 9, 2009

Things I Love About My Girls

There are so many things to love about my kids. But, here are a few specifics on how they are each making me smile lately.

Hope

1. Hope loves to change Ava's diapers. And she does it perfectly. She even puts the sticky parts on in just the right place. Not too loose. Not too tight. She gets such a kick out of being my little helper and she has totally committed herself to the role of big sister. Totally. Committed.

2. She is almost always in the process of putting on a show, dreaming up a show, dressing up for a show, directing a show, making signs to advertise a show, or cleaning up after a show. I have always said that Hope is "the show" in our family. And she certainly is.

3. She is learning to laugh at herself. This is one my favorite things to watch right now. She is starting to realize that some of the things she does, even unintentionally, are just funny. And it cracks her up. She totally gets this from her dad. And I love it because my pride sometimes makes me struggle to laugh at the silly things I do...still. She gets it, though. There is a humility in her that lets her giggle at herself. What a gift! It's the cutest little giggle, too. I have prayed often that her giftedness would be tempered with humility. I think we're off to a good start.

Bella


1. Bella insists on calling her little sister BABY Ava. Not Ava. Baby Ava. And she oohs and ahhs over her tiny hands and feet on a daily basis. She sings her songs and comforts her when she cries with a gentle, "It's okay, Baby Ava." and some sweet kisses on her head. She is meant to be a mother. Oh how I pray that she gets to be a mother.

2. She loves to sing. And I mean...LOVES to sing. You can't not even imagine the joy that this brings me. We both sing, at the top of our lungs in the car, and she knows almost all the words! Her favorites right now: Jesus Loves Me, Twinkle Twinkle, and Swing Low Sweet Chariot. The words to all of these songs are, apparently, interchangeable and so we often hear these beautiful melodies coming from our sweet girl. "Twinkle twinkle little star. For the bible tells me so...." And while she may be a song bird like her mom, she has inherited her love for interpretive dance, like her dad. If she had em, she would work the white gloves like nobody's business.

3. She feels deeply. Bella's heart is so soft. And, not only does she feel deeply but she expresses it well, beyond her years, I think. When she was sick a couple of weeks ago, she couldn't hold the baby. Each time she would ask and I would say no, her eyes would well up with tears and she would say, "Me sad." Then, later on, just to let me know she was over it, she would brighten up and say, "I not sad anymore, Mama." "I'm so glad," I would say, so thankful that she understands her own feelings. While I would hope and pray that I have nurtured this in her, I also know she comes by this naturally, having a birthmom who feels deeply as well. I have a deep sense that, as she gets older, people will desire to share their story with Bella, and find, in return, a woman willing to plunge into the depths with them. What a blessing!

Ava

1. I love the way her tiny baby body relaxes against me like I was the safest place in the world. And I love when that is coupled with the sweetest little baby sigh you can imagine.

2. Ava sleeps with her mouth open, which I love for two reasons. The first is that I sleep with my mouth open. We make quite a pair curled up on the couch together. Don't worry....I'll wash our pillow cases more often than the others. The second is that it makes it easier to smell her sweet baby breath. :) One of my most favorite scents.

3. I love how expressive she is already. Already smiling in response to singing or the sound of our voices. Loren was playing the guitar this morning and her eyes lit up, followed by the sweetest smile we have seen so far. She also furrows her little brow when she's not happy. She is so interactive, much more than my other girls were at this age, and we just trip over ourselves trying to each get a reaction out of her. She has such a sweet spirit and her beautiful dark eyes seem wise to me. I pray that she has wisdom, and that it is always accompanied with this gentle spirit. I am so smitten with this little girl!

There is no way I could ever communicate how much I love these girls. It's the good kind of love that helps you understand God's love a little better. The kind that is deep and vulnerable and wild and spilling over. The kind that makes you feel like your heart is gonna explode sometimes. I'm sure I could never fully communicate the depths of it. But that doesn't mean I won't try. And one of my greatest hopes is that my children can fully understand someday, what a gift it is to be their mommy.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Hospital

We had the great privilege of being up at the hospital shortly after Ava was born and spent the next two days visiting with K, her birthmom, and taking care of our sweet baby girl. A couple of weeks prior, I had begun gearing up for this. It's rough. It's emotional. And it's hard to explain why. I almost feel ridiculous trying to explain how it all feels...like people will think I am making it more dramatic than it actually is even though I know that I'm not. I think that because people say things like, "It must be nice to not have to go through labor and just get to go pick up a baby." And, I guess there's some truth to that. I AM thankful that I don't have to go through labor. But, it is most definitely NOT just "going and picking up a baby." It's just not.

K was great. She wanted us super involved at the hospital which was really special. I got to do almost all the feedings and changing the diapers. And it really meant a lot to me. But there is also this underlying reality that this time in the hospital is quickly coming to an end and for K that means saying goodbye to her precious baby. So, in the middle of all of this functional stuff like bottle and diapers and the precious stuff like sitting in awe of this perfect creature, there is all this grief. And it would just hit at times like a Mack Truck. Gut wrenching sadness. I would ask if she wanted me to step out and spend some time with Ava by herself. "No," she would say, "I like it when you're here." So I would sit and watch her cry and put my arm around her and wonder if it caused more pain than it did good.

You can't get away from the bittersweetness of adoption. And here is a bold statement. I'm not sure you can be a good adoptive parent if you can't embrace the grief. Cause here's the thing about the grief. It is a gift to your child. As hard as it is, it tells a precious story about incredible love.

Right before we left the hospital, K was holding Ava and just soaking her little face with tears. She handed her to me and hugged me at the same time saying, "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you" over and over as I said, "No, thank you. Thank you." Our tears were all mixed together and covering sweet Ava's body. And I can't help now but think that this is one of the most perfect pictures of adoption. Two mothers, covering this precious baby with tears from grief all mixed up with gratefulness for the gifts they can't provide for themselves. And it's all just a tad overwheming.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Pictures You Have Been Waiting For



My new hairdo!!! ...okay, I'm kidding, I'm kidding...but it IS pretty great. :)

Here are some pictures of my sweet girls. I have been waiting so that I could post about my experience at the hospital with Ava and her precious birthmom, K. But, it's still too fresh. Too emotional. Too hard to figure out exactly what I wanna say about it right now. So...here are some pictures for now. And really, they say plenty. We are blessed!





Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Introducing...

Ava Elizabeth Marey Kolman

Born October 13, at 9:03 am
7 lbs. 4 oz., 19 1/2 in. long

A bundle of sweet baby goodness.


Words fail me...except...
"Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds." Psalm 72:18

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wait For It...

For all the reasons that I blog, one of the most prominent is that it has become a thermometer of sorts for me. And I've noticed that when I stop writing, it's usually because I don't want to have to examine things too closely. It's part of the way that I process what is happening with me, so when I don't do it, it usually isn't because nothing is happening. Quite the opposite. It usually means a lot is happening and I just don't really want to deal with it. And I know that's not good.

So, here I am. And here's what's happening. We are waiting. And I'm not very good at it. You would think I would be by now because it has, kind of, been the theme of my life for the past year. But, I'm not. I don't like it one bit. If you ask my mom, she'll tell you that I never did. But, oh my, how the Lord has been faithful in this waiting. And, oh my, how I KNOW it is gonna all be worth it. We are all anxious to meet our precious baby girl, possibly in less than a week. But, until then...we wait. And basically, in the last few weeks I have grown increasingly impatient, which makes me irritable, which makes me unable to adjust my rigid take on the way things should go, which makes me avoid God so that I don't have to hear how impatient, irritable, and rigid I am. Yeah...it's bad. But today, I saw the light.

And that's the thing about God. He lets me stew for a bit and then, in his great mercy, he does a little, "Ahem" and calls me gently back to his side. And, these days, that's increasingly irresistible. I picture it like this. I have let my anxiousness turn my gaze slowly, ever so slightly away from him, crossed my arms, and began to tap my foot impatiently. He rides it out for a while and then, with great love, clears his throat loud enough for me to hear him and turn. In that moment, I know that he knows all that I'm feeling, and that he wants nothing more than to sit and wait with me. And then there's peace. An unclenching. No more tapping of the foot. No more wild thoughts. Just me and Jesus, sitting and waiting together. And I lean in as he whispers to me of his love and his good plans for me. And I believe him.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A New Look

Bella has a whole new look. We both visited the salon yesterday and she came away looking ultra chic and grown up in her new do. She twirls around for anyone who asks about her hair seems pretty proud of herself. Isn't that how we all want to feel after leaving the salon?

I don't know if we will keep it like this or let it grow long again, but I know one thing. It is darn cute! Here she is, showing off via the world wide web. I didn't have to fight her at all to get her to give me this little pose.

I may have created a monster. A cute, perfectly coiffed little monster.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sugar and Spice...

This post has been a log time in coming, but it took me over a week to really wrap my head around this whole situation. Secondly, when something like this happens, I tend to find that adequate words fail me. Here’s the scoop:

Last Friday (Aug 28), we got a call from our adoption agency. Sarah, our case worker, told us she had good news. If you read this post, you will understand why I said, “You do not!” She told us we had been chosen by a birthmom and that the baby was due on October 14th! Wow! We are in complete shock at how quickly this is all unfolding and are so grateful for God’s hand in it all. The average waiting time at our agency is 15 months...15! We waited one. I wish I could tell you about all the ways that God told me that this baby would come in the early fall and then all the subsequent ways that I tried to deny he had said that so that I wouldn't be disappointed. I am such a schmuck and he is so faithful in spite of it.

Our meeting with the agency this last Friday told us that we would be welcoming another precious BABY GIRL and we couldn’t be more excited! Eek! Another sweet girl to buy cutsy things for! I guess we are destined to have a house full of estrogen. Luckily, my husband more than makes up for our lack of testosterone. Hmmm...maybe that’s why he had to take off for a day this weekend and go kill some sweet and innocent doves. Sorry, doves…it’s not your fault.

Some think it is crazy to be ready to have a baby in a month. I have always said that, in adoption, the shorter the time between when you find out about a baby and when you have it, the better. It is God’s mercy on adoptive parents that everything is rushed. Once I know that baby is coming, it’s mine. And, I can’t really explain how hard it is except to say that I miss being with her. It feels like a piece of our family is missing.

We have a lot to do to get ready between now and October, but our hearts are totally ready. Please keep us in your prayers as well as our little girl as God continues to knit her together. Pray, also, for her precious birthmom who is likely going through tremendous pain as she makes this brave decision. We are so grateful for her and for the gift she is entrusting to us. We can not wait to meet our newest baby girl!

In the meantime…check out my sister’s blog. So fun!...so crazy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shopping Silliness

Some of my friends and I went on a spur of the moment trip to Colorado Springs last week. We have nine kids all together and so spur of the moment doesn't happen very often. But, we just decided to take them all. All NINE of them, and it was so much fun! I think we all kept waiting for one of the kids to have a major melt down, but they did great and it was nice just to do something different. I love these girls so much...and their kids, too! And I am so thankful for the family God has given me in Canon City.

I think we might of got a little carried away in Old Navy. I'm sure the salespeople thought we were nuts and needed to get out more. As it turns out, that is probably true.

Cute Little Moments With My Girls

The other day, I put Bella down for a nap and then went to join Hope on my bed for some down time. She was laying on my side of the bed and I asked her to scoot over so I could use the table over there. She said, "But, mom, I don't want to lay on daddy's side. It doesn't smell the same as yours." In talking about it, I realized it wasn't that daddy's side smelled bad, it's just that my side has a certain "mom" smell and she liked it.

I immediately had memories of the smell of my mom's side of the bed. I could remember it perfectly and I remember loving the smell of her pillow. I still do. So, I smelled my pillow and guess what? It smells like my mom. Wonder what that smell is? Probably a combination of detergent, make-up, lotion, etc. Whatever it is, I like it. And so does Hope.

Then...

Yesterday, Bella and I were having a little tickle party on the couch. This is the exchange that took place:

A: (somewhat rhetorically) Bella, are you just so sweet?
B: No
A: No? Are you sweet or are you rotten?
B: I'm rockin!

Well said, Bella...well said. :)

They make me smile all the time!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tea for Two

We officially have a new, back to school tradition. Hope and I had tea yesterday at the lovely Queen Anne's Tea House downtown. We had been talking about it for a while and she was so excited. Hope picked cherry cordial tea (yum) and I had their famously rich Chai. They served a full lunch with it including sandwiches, mini quiche, fruit, deviled eggs, and, for dessert, iced brownies and chocolate covered strawberries. Yum!

When we got there, the owners made such a fuss over us. They told us we could wear some of their fancy hats and their feather boas if we wanted...which, of course, we did! It was so great to just sit there and talk to my big girl about the things that are important to her. And, it was a great opportunity to talk about what this year will be like and how she can be God's light at her school.

And then...we went shopping for school clothes. It's funny. I can remember, as a kid, wondering whether my mom was ever sad that she didn't get a fall shopping spree every year like we did when we were in school. Now I know that she had so much fun just watching us try things on and figuring out what kinds of things we liked and what we didn't. It was such a blast and we got some really cute things.

So, in two more weeks my baby heads off to school and I can hardly believe it's already here. Of course, I am a little sad, but I also know that I can embrace it in full knowledge that every year with Hope has always been sweeter than the one before. It is such a joy to be her mom as every year brings more discoveries about who God created her to be. So, even though I am a little sad, I am also really excited to walk with her into this next phase. She's gonna do great. Man, her teacher is a lucky one. :) Just look at this face.


P.S. Plus, I am sending her there with a rockin' backpack. She picked out the purple, and the accessories and I embroidered her name on it and used a super easy method to make an iron on applique. So fun! I can't take credit for the idea, though. My friend, Yolanda did her daughter's first. Thanks for the inspiration, Yo!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Cup Runneth Over

Jesus loves me. It wasn't that I had any doubts about this really, but today he just reminded me in a big way.

For two days in a row, we have found large sums of money on the front seat of our car. Large.

Just so you know, we have been not been getting a salary from Young Life for two months. It's something we decided to do because the area budget was suffering. We had savings, so we knew we could mostly make it work. But, it was getting tight. Not to mention the fact that our savings was kinda earmarked for an adoption.

And then, this. Many times more than what we needed. And Jesus reminded me that this is the way he loves. It's extravagant. It's lavish. It's awesome. And I am dumbfounded.

And I can't stop crying. Because now I am thinking about all the extravagant things he has provided in the last year. Things we didn't have to have, but that he provided through his children in order to show us his heart for us.

Loren's sweet family gave me his grandmother's gorgeous wedding ring after she died. They gave it to me. It is exquisite and if I could get a good picture of it, I would post it. I had secretly wanted an anniversary band for my 10th anniversary. But I never thought it would be possible. I got a whole new ring.

Some friends of ours very sneakily found out that I wanted a leather recliner someday. Just someday, when we had some extra money. And then they bought us one. Who does that? It just showed up at my house one day. The perfect chair.

And then there is the money. Yesterday. Today. A few months ago. People following Christ in ways that impact me directly. He speaks to others on my behalf. And they listen. It's just almost too much to take in.

I am so grateful. I am so filled with emotion. I have trusted him to take care of my needs and he has been so faithful. And that was enough. It really was. But then he proceeded to provide even more. That is so like him, isn't it? Abundant. Excessive.

My cup runneth over.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lucky Number 50

We got an email today from our adoption agency informing us that as of August 1, we are number 50 on the list of waiting families. Let me tell you in layman's terms what this means. Nothing. It really pretty much means nothing. Well, not entirely nothing. Technically, it means that there are 49 other families who are waiting on precious babies to adopt and that they are in line ahead of us. But, since birthmoms get to choose the families, a couple who is number 28 on the list could be picked ahead of a couple who is number 2 on the list.

This is what our agency told us. Numbers 1-15 or 20 have been on the list the longest and usually that is because they have very specific ideas about which babies they are open to. When a birthmom comes in and decides she wants to place a baby for adoption they go to the list of waiting families. They go down the list to find couples who match what she wants in an adoptive family and couples who are willing to accept her baby. They take the first five they find (which could feasibly be, #4, #16, #21, #42, & #50) and show those couple's profiles to her. If she finds one she likes, they go from there. If she doesn't, they look for more on down the list. Being number 50 is fine. It really doesn't mean much and then there is also the probability that if a birthmom comes in of a different race, we are most likely one of 5 or 6 profiles that she will see. (I know, but that is the way it is). So, it's fine. It's really fine.

But here is the thing. We are number 50! 50! It feels so far off! My heart sank a little today when I got that email. I know it is in God's hands. I know that he knows who and when that sweet baby will come. I know that I know that I know that he has it all worked out in his perfect timing. I really do know it, but today, it felt hard.

And I knew some days were gonna feel like that. I was prepared for that...kinda. These days remind me to pray and to feast on God's word, that satifies. I am determined to remember that His plan for me includes this waiting period and that He will speak tenderly to me in this place. I want to listen. I want His voice to drown out the ticking of the clock that I hear sometimes. Cause I know that what He has to say is infinitely more important than my urge to mark time. And so...I wait.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Puddle of Giggles

I'm proud to say that I am the parent of a child who, tonight, laughed so hard she peed in her pants, and on the floor, and a little on her sister. That's right.

This one

couldn't quite contain her bladder because of the crazy antics of

this one.

Well...she IS pretty funny.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Approved and Waiting!

It's official! We are formally approved and on the list of waiting families at our adoption agency. That means that we could be placed with a child somewhere between tomorrow and next year. We are just settling in for the wait now and would love your prayers as we enter this part of the journey.

Today when we left the agency they gave us a few papers with some information and in the middle of it all was a poem called Pregnant With Time by a woman named Gina Widholm. Her words were a good reflection of my own feelings and I wanted to share the last few lines with you.

I rejoice!
Yet my body does not blossom with proof

I am pregnant with time, and
Your date is undetermined, though not in God's mind
If you came sooner, you are not premature for you already were.
If later, you are still young
Your days have been counted carefully under His watchful eye
though I could not feel them ticking inside

You seem a shadow to me,
but I wait expectantly for reality to arrive
And though I will not greet you lying down
Pangs of longing contract with faith:
that your untimely birth was for my sake,
and my barrenness for yours.
I am not ashamed either way.


Man, those last few lines give me such a lump in my throat.

Thank you, God, for this journey. We wait with joyful expectation of what is to come.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When You Gotta Go...

Well, we are finally back from camp and slowly but surely settling back into a routine. I'm not sure my kids will remember how to entertain themselves again anytime soon but I can't really blame them. The first few days back have been kind of a shock to me, too. We got so used to having something to go and watch, or being able to go to the pool, or having live-in friends to talk to and play with at any time, that we are all having to readjust.

I think this was the best assignment that we have ever been on. The schedule was crazy and the pace was nuts, as usual, but the people were amazing. And really, that's what makes or breaks an assignment. We made some really neat friends and felt such such a kinship with these other folks, who are doing what we do in their own towns and it was such an encouragement to us. Plus, we had a whole lot of fun, as you can tell from the previous post. :)

One of my favorite stories from camp is that, one night, while we were at dinner with all the campers, I, sort of, lost Bella. Now, let me just say that at camp you never really lose a child. They are always somewhere, with someone we know, probably getting spoiled. But, she was gone. I had seen her move in the direction of the bathroom and so I went to look for her there. (as a side note: Bella became completely obsessed with going to the bathroom by herself and washing her hands by herself, like, a million times a day. I am thankful for her responsible personal hygiene, but am more than a little nervous about the constant hand washing. The counselor in me wonders why she feels the need to wash so often, screaming, "Me Self!" anytime I tried to help. Hmmm...a post for another day, perhaps)

I walked in the bathroom, which had about five high school girls in it (who were all working on their hair, by the way) and had the following conversation.

A: Anyone seen a tiny child come in here?
High School Camper: Twoish? Blonde?
A: That's the one
HSC: Yeah. She's in here. (she says pointing to a stall) And here is her chicken (she says handing me a half-eaten drumstick)
A: Oh wow. Thanks. Sorry about that. (taking the drumstick)
HSC: No prob. (laughing)
A: Bella, are you okay in there? (opening the stall door)
B: ME SELF!!!!! OUT!!!

Oh Brother! It's possible that my kids are entirely too comfortable around high school students. Then again, I kinda love that. I love that they so easily make people feel like a part of our family...even if that means those people have to hold your chicken while you go potty.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Few More Pictures

And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn't include pictures of Loren and all of his personalities here at camp.

First, there is Wham!pire, an 80's pop band that is hoping to stage a reunion concert here at camp. You can see in this first picture that Bella was a little unsure about seeing Loren this way. She'll learn soon enough. To Hope, of course, it's nothing new.





He also plays one of the Neckbeard Brothers, Cornelius Neckbeard, to be exact. The Neckbeard Brothers are hillbilly inventors who do various infomercials for things like, the "Cooking with Copenhagen Cookbook", the "Don't Die Diet Pill", and the "BeardWow." Bella's favorite line is, "You may be askin' yourself, 'Self, what are the Neckbeard Brother's gonna be featuring today on the show other than those luxurious neckbeards?'." They stroke their beards when they say this and Bella strokes her chin right along with them. So cute!

And finally, there is Angus McHeartless, the evil Scottish bagpiper who is out to destroy Wham!pire by stealing their keytars and replacing their fun, 80's pop with all bagpipe music, all the time. Oh the horrors! I loved this little interchange with Hope the first week.

A: Let's go girls
H: Where are we goin'?
A: We're gonna go see daddy be the mean guy.
H: (with a scared face) Is he gonna be mean to us?
A: No, Hopie. He's just pretending to be mean, remember?
H: (lightening up) Oh! Okay! Let's go!


He's quite a chameleon.

Finally....pictures!

I promised pictures and so here they are. The first ones are of us hanging at the pool and the hot tub, which is where we spend a good majority of our time. Hope is such a little fish and is swimming all over the place. She would spend every spare minute here if she could, but we make her get out occasionally to eat and sleep. For the first week and a half, Bella pretty much stayed on the top step except when she was heavily coerced to leave in the arms of someone who could touch the bottom. And this is with floaties on and a death grip on whomever took her into the deeper waters. All of the sudden, today, she was all over the place (due, I think, in part to a visit from a younger friend who was swimming all over the place...there's nothing like a little peer pressure...thanks Becky, Paige, and Brooke for coming to visit!). She even asked me to take her floaties off so she could jump to me and go underwater. She was so brave and I think it's here to stay. She was loving life away from the top step.



These pictures are from Western Night...which, is affectionately called, the Night that Never Ends. It begins with a tableau (think, a live photograph...everyone working at camp is dressed in western gear and is frozen in various western scenes, a gun goes off and the picture comes to life, another gunshot and they are frozen again), then dinner, a carnival, a square dance (yes...high schoolers square dance and they LOVE it!), the opera (a forty minute show that ties up all the various storylines throughout the week), an all camp dance party, and free time until midnight. Whew! It's a lot of work for Loren, but it is so fun for us to be a part of and the girls have enjoyed it both weeks and have gone to bed exhausted but with smiles on their faces.




It really is like an alternate universe here...especially for the girls. It's a lot of work, but I am excited to see it all through their eyes and to get to talk with them, often, about why we do all of this. I am amazed to see Hope's heart begin to be filled with compassion for those who don't know Jesus. It's something that we pray for all the time and seeing the fruits of that is an unbelievable blessing.

We are halfway to the end of this assignment and, even though it's been great, I feel like the real richness of it all, for us, it yet to come. Please continue to pray for us as we struggle though all the demands that come with it. And, as always, keep the students in your prayers as they hear about Christ.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Wham!Pire Nation

In case you were wondering what KIND of silliness Loren was up to at camp, here is a video that intros one group of characters that the campers see each week. Loren put this video together and I think it is pretty stinkin' hilarious. Enjoy!

P.S. It's really only 3 1/2 minutes so you can stop watching after that. :)


video

Friday, June 26, 2009

It's All a Big Set Up

I see God in all the tiny little things here that campers won't notice. Painting the lines on the baseball field twice a week to make sure it looks brand new, raking the sand volleyball court twice a day until it's an even playing field, cloth napkins, real silverware, and glass plates at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, when paper is always easier, rearranging the entire schedule in order to keep campers from being drizzled on. I see him in the students serving behind the scenes where no one will ever see them chopping tomatoes or cleaning toilets, in the yummy desserts at lunch and dinner (oh yeah!), in the Day 6 breakfast in bed, and in my husband who is willing to be a goofball so that the walls that students have put up come tumbling down all over the place.

His extravagant love shines through in all these tiny little ways in which the specifics will likely go unnoticed. But, what won't be missed is the overarching feeling that, "I am worth something," or, "I am something special, " or "I am loved." And that's why it's done the way it is here at camp. Because if a student has ever had doubts about any of these things, being worth something, or special, or loved (and in all likelihood, they have), they won't be confirmed here. Here, the doubts will be challenged, questioned, refuted, and hopefully obliterated as they experience the love of God in a million tiny little ways. These little ways blaze a trail for the camp speaker and reinforce what he will share all week. "You are precious and loved and God has spared no expense to rescue you from death and bring you joyful, abundant life."

See, it's all a big set up...in the best way. If you would, pray for students this week, and the next, and the next, that their eyes will be opened and that the invitation will be clear and irresistible.

Pictures to come soon...I promise.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nature vs. Nurture

Whew! It has been a whirlwind of a few days. Loren left to take kids to Young Life camp last week and the girls and I had a week without him to prepare for our summer assignment. If you don't know what that is, read this. We left on Saturday and headed up to meet Loren at Crooked Creek Ranch in beautiful Fraser, CO where we will be serving students from all over for three weeks. Last year, in California, Loren took on the role of summer staff coordinator. It was awesome to be behind the scenes with all of the students who had come to serve for the month we were there. He loved his role there. This year, his role is a bit different...in fact, quite the opposite in some ways. Loren is doing Program this summer, which means that he is one of those in charge of all things goofy (characters, skits, games, etc) and is up front all the time. It is a totally different role, but one that, as you might assume, fits him to a tee.

Busloads of students arrived yesterday afternoon and packed this camp and the fun began. The first week of an assignment is always the hardest as everyone kind of gets to know each other, the schedule, and their jobs. For program people, that means lots of rehearsing and preparing during every spare moment, of which there are few. But, the next two weeks will be easier as they just tweak things here and there to make them really excellent and beyond funny.

For my part, I am determining, as of right now, not to miss out. The first week of an assignment never fails to remind me that I am pretty uncomfortable in new situations. And so, my immediate desire is to go from event to event with my kids so we can watch Loren do his thing, and then to lock ourselves up in our room in order to keep from having to risk connecting with someone. Why am I like that? Well, I know why, I guess. It seems easier. That way, I don't have to worry that I might not be as interesting as someone else or as dynamic. And, I mean, it's three weeks. Do I really need to try that hard when the risk is that I might be misunderstood, or worse, understood and found wanting? Eww...that's lovely. Some days I think I may be getting the hang of this identity in Christ thing, and then some days...well...you see.

Even as I know these are my natural tendencies, I also know that the bible tells us over and over to fight against those natural tendencies. Jesus' message so often for the disciples was summed up this way, "Because of me, you have the ability to be other-worldly...to act out of what you KNOW to be true about ME, instead of what you THINK is true of you and others." And I can't help but recall that most of the great moments in my life have come at the expense of my natural tendencies.

So, with the Holy Spirit as my guide, instead of my own self-serving intuition, I'll be heading downstairs to the community room more often, scooching on over towards some other mom during mealtimes, and grabbing an unfamiliar hand during prayer times. I can't say that I am, as of yet, looking forward to all of those things, but I AM looking forward to how the Lord will meet me there and what truths he will remind me of. Cause he's so faithful like that. What a blessing it is to be uncomfortable.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Adoption Update

We have had 5, count them, 5, interviews since I last updated you on our adoption process.

1. The interview where we talk about our marriage, conflict within our marriage and how it is handled, what lead us to adoption, etc.

2. The interview where Amanda is alone with the caseworker and is asked about anything potentially physically or emotionally unhealthy that may have occurred to her or any member of her family including parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc and how it has been dealt with. That's right cousins...they ask about you. Be very afraid.

3. The interview where Loren gets asked these same questions about his family.

4. The interview where they come to our house to inspect it and also ask about what we are like as parents. This is also the interview where they talked with Hope and I have to tell you it was the most nerve wracking. She's a loose canon, that one. She was very sweet, though, and when the caseworker asked her why our family was a good one for kids to grow up in she said, "Because of my mom and dad." Come on...you can't get much sweeter than that.

5. And then, last week, the interview where you check yes or no to three full pages, front and back, of what kinds of things you are willing to accept in terms of the health of a child. I stopped reading after a while and just checked yes over and over. Reading all that stuff can make you crazy. Besides, we aren't saying no to anything. God is bringing the baby he has been planning for us forever. Why would I risk saying no to his good plan, even if it looks different than what I might desire?

So, provided that our medical forms, including our lab work (good news...we don't have HIV/AIDS) gets to the agency within the next couple of weeks, we will be waiting only on our final homestudy to be approved. We should be in the pool and waiting for our sweet baby by the middle of July! Hooray! I am getting soooooo excited!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Check It Out!

I have been wanting to try my hand at making this cute dress for a while now. It's a super simple pattern that my friend, Jen, found on-line and it uses a man's cotton, oxford style shirt to make a little girl's dress. So fun! So today, I finally got around to sewing one up. It really was very easy (it has to be for me) and I got it done in about two and half hours. My sewing skills are nothing compared to my moms, but the couple of great lessons I got from her a few years ago were enough to do this project. Here are some pictures of the finished product.

The Front

The Back

And my beautiful model

It was so easy, in fact, that I came home from church tonight and started on one for Bella. I ended up finishing the whole thing in about an hour and half. I love projects like this. I'm all about instant gratification.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bella With A Side Of Sassy...Coming Right Up.


So Bella has officially entered the stage of the terrible twos. I know that anyone reading this who knows Bella, doesn’t believe me. That’s okay, Loren has seen it too and so I at least have one witness.


Let me fill you in on our last week. Bella colored her bed sheets with marker, used Hope’s pricey hair oil as body lotion, began routinely spitting on Hope as they tried to fall asleep at night, spent all of dinner one night refusing to pick up the puzzle pieces she intentionally dumped out after Hope cleaned them up, and has started throwing “fall on the floor” fits. Yep. That’s right, folks. Oh, and I forgot to mention that it all started the day that the lady who keeps her in the nursery at the gym greeted me with, “We had a problem with Bella today. She hit a baby.” What?!? I guess I should have known then that this was only the beginning. But, I naively believed that sweet Bella had been misunderstood. I asked Bella about it and she fessed up easily enough and was appropriately disciplined, but in the back of my mind, I was pretty sure that the baby had done something to deserve it. Babies aren’t always nice, you know. And it just didn’t sound like my Bella.


As it turns out, Bella seems to have decided that she isn’t taking anyone’s crap anymore. That includes mine or her daddy’s or Hope’s or, apparently, any baby that gets in her way. She is experimenting quite a lot with how best to express that sentiment and, while I am sure she thinks of herself as fierce, she is mostly just so cute that it makes it hard to discipline her. We, of course, have become very good at keeping a straight face and talking in stern voices but it’s not always easy. Especially when she sags her little shoulders and stomps off, trying to be very dramatic and only achieving hilariously funny.


Just a few weeks ago Loren and I were talking about how we couldn’t wait for Bella to be talking and communicating more. But the reality is that once they can, they have opinions on everything and, two year olds not being the most reasonable characters on earth…all hell breaks loose. Thus, the terrible twos. But, I enter boldly into this stage because I can remember what a delight it is to have those first interactive conversations with your child. So fun. And what a treat my Bella is, newfound sassiness and all.


She came running into my room this morning after she woke up and said, "Hi, Mama!" And I said, "Hi, Baby!" She looked at me with her frowny face and said, "No baby." "Oh, you're not a baby?" I said. "No," she said "...I Bella." Yep...you sure are, sweet girl. And I just get such a kick out of knowing you.

Friday, May 22, 2009

15 Minutes of Lame

I had to speak the other say for a christian women's organization. The woman who called me had just one request. Could I please speak from a secular perspective? I wasn't to mention God. I asked her why and she said that they were trying to reach out to ladies who weren't christians in the community and so every month they had a theme and two speakers who would talk about that theme. There was a featured speaker (that was me) and an "approved" speaker who got to talk about the theme in relation to Jesus.

So, the theme was friendship and, that being something I am quite passionate about, I agreed to do it. The only thing is, it turns out that when you are not "secular" it's kind of hard to talk about something from a secular perspective. And it got me to thinking.

Shouldn't everything we do be influenced by Christ in such a way that it is hard to talk about much of anything without mentioning him? I'm not saying that when I go the grocery store and the person at the check out stand tells me my total that I have to say, "You know I really searched for the great buys today because I am trying to spend my money in a way that would glorify God." Although that would be a true statement, and could be an appropriate one sometimes. But, when I am asked to share something for a group, I want to be able to share from my heart. It's more authentic and comes a lot easier to me. But sharing from the heart necessitates that, at least some part of it, will involve Christ. And it was definitely hard to talk about the ways that God has blessed me with some of the most amazing frienships, and how he has used these women in my life to make me look more like him, without mentioning him. Yikes.

But, I wrote the thing out and rehearsed it a bit and it went off okay. I got a few laughs and I did the best I could to talk about God without talking about him. But truthfully, when you take Christ out of something that is so centered on him, it pretty much just sounds cheesy. And then, by the way, the next lady got to stand up and say, "But don't forget that Jesus is your best friend." I wanted to raise my hand and say, "Yeah I know that too but I wasn't aloud to say it."

All in all, I learned something about how to answer when someone asks me if I can speak from a secular perspective. Answer: You know, as it turns out, not that well. It's just not who I am.

Thank God for that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Little Healthy Advice

The truth be known, I am bit self-conscious about my tummy. I have had no babies to blame my little tummy on and yet, here it sits, atop the waist of my jeans as I type. Content to stay...seemingly forever. Seriously, when I was at my smallest (pre-wedding, of course) and had done about a million crunches a day in preparation for being seen naked by my handsome, no tummy husband, I still had my little tummy. It just is what it is. And I'm pretty sure it isn't going away. I'm not sure I want to really do all that it would take, anyway. Loren digs it and, as far as I'm concerned, that's really all that matters.

Why am I telling you all of this? It is for this one reason. I implore you, no I am BEGGING you, please don't ever, ever, ever, ask a woman when she is due. No matter how blousy the shirt (we women with tummies buy those things to conceal), how "maternity" it looks (hello...it's the style!), and, I dare say, even if it appears that said women is about to go into labor at any moment. It is ALWAYS a gamble and it is terribly awkward for all involved when the answer is, "oh...I'm not pregnant." Just say no, people!

I just had this experience last night...again. That's right. This has now happened to me twice. When I told Loren about it, he was appropriately outraged and appalled. I love him for that and for what came next. We decided it might be a good idea to have some good answers to that question. His made me laugh hysterically. He said I should say, "I'm due on Thursday. Oh yeah...it's a hamster. That's why I'm not as big as you would expect." Oh my gosh...if you could have seen him deliver those lines! I had tears rolling down my face...which was a pretty good ending for a story that started out, "Guess what this lady said to me at the store!"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Our Trip To The Place Where "People Talk Like 'Howdy Padna'"

We had so much fun on our trip to visit my family. We went, first, to visit my sister and her family in Oklahoma. We got to be there, along with my mom, for Holden's dedication, which was really special and had a good time just catching up. Sweet Holden just gets cuter and cuter and Hope was, again, smitten by her little cousin. She loved trying to drag him around everywhere and "babysitting" while we played games in the kitchen. Here is a picture of our youngest member of the family. Isn't he precious?!?Then, we took my mom with us and headed down to Texas to her and my dad's house for a few days. We got to visit with my all of my grandparents while we were there, which was really special. The girls had fun playing in the backyard on the tire swing and in the little pool, and, of course, being spoiled with random trips to get ice cream all week. :) We also did some shopping while we were there and I even got a few things for myself. What a rare treat! Hope loves the trains that run through town and so we tried, unsuccessfully, to see one while we were there. Wouldn't you know that on our trip home we saw no less than 12! The title of this blog came from something Hope said one night after we went to pick up dinner at the local BBQ place. "Mom, why does everyone here talk like, 'Howdy Padna?'" So funny! Here are a few pics of the girls and Nana in the backyard.

We finished up our trip in Corinth,TX at my sister, Amy, and her family's new home. They just moved and their new place is beautiful. We loved hanging out with them and seeing Carson play tee-ball. My Aunt Phyllis, Uncle Danny, and my cousin Britt came to hang out for a while and it was good to catch up with them. We also loved spending a good chunk of time on Friday at the neighborhood pool. Hope, Bella, Carson, and Cameron played almost constantly and I wish I had taken some pictures! What were we thinking, Aim? I did pull out my phone and get a few at the pool, but you know how the quality on those things are. Oh well, I guess we'll have to take some next time. :)

As you can see, it was a FULL nine days. And, somewhere in the middle of it all I sat for a moment and just realized how much I enjoyed my children. They are both growing so fast and getting such distinct personalities and I really really LIKE them. They crack me up constantly, amaze me with their big hearts for others, leave me in awe of their creativity, and, at just the right moments, snuggle right up to me and tell me they like me, too. I wish I had a few random pictures of myself with the girls on this trip. I think what they would show is a mom totally in love and delighted by her children. Then again, it might be hard to capture that...especially with my fondness for closing my eyes right as the picture is taken. :)