"Tell your children of Him, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation." Joel 1:3

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Snapshot: Pumpkins and Costumes

In an effort to cram absolutely everything into one day....
we decided (after going to church and getting Subway for lunch)
to head to the pumpkin patch to play and pick out pumpkins before diving into the evening's events.
We headed to a place nearby where there was plenty to do and have fun with.
We took a hay ride......

Walked through the corn maze....what was left of it....

did some pumpkin bowling....

and took advantage of the photo ops.

When we got home, we got all the pumpkins carved....

and got costumes on.

Tyler headed to a friend's house, seeing as how he is officially too old or too cool now to trick or treat with his brothers.....
We laughed when Kaylee showed up in her bubble bath costume...

and had a really fun time over all!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes

Every Monday, I volunteer at school in the lunchroom so I get to see the boys for a bit. Last Monday I was talking to Tanner while he was eating and noticed a super cute little Asian girl sitting next to him. She looked like she was probably Chinese. Of course, I wanted to just squeeze her cuz she was so darn cute.
She asked me if I was Tanner mom...."yes".
I asked her what her name was...."Amelia".
She got up to go outside and I leaned down to Tanner...
"ya know, Tanner, Amelia looks a lot like your new sister looks....she has the same black hair and those brown eyes...."
Tanner said to me without missing a beat...
"Yah, 'cept Amelia doesn't have a hole in her lip like our sister does."
Very true....and too cute.

Yesterday, Tanner had show and tell and brought a picture of Livi to show his class. When he got home, I asked him how it went.
Did you tell them about Livi?
Did you tell them where she lives?
Yep, I told them she lives in China right now, but that mom and dad are going to get her and bring her home.
Did the kids ask you anything about her?
Yea, they asked why she has that hole in her lip.
(Apparently this "hole in her lip" is an intriguing thing for kindergartners)
What did you tell them?
I told them that was just how she was made.
Awwwwwww, how sweet is that....
Last night the boys had their first wrestling meet of the season. The 4 younger ones all are on the team now so, basically, if we're not there....a third of the team is gone. Coach told us to stay healthy. HA! This was Tanner's first time out ever. He's been loving practices, but a meet is a whole different thing. I really wasn't sure if he would go or not. I was a tiny bit thinking he might say no when they told him it was his turn. But....he didn't. He got up on that mat facing an equally small guy and took him down and pinned him in about 30 seconds. It was hilarious! He was smiling, practically laughing, during the whole thing. I think he was really loving all the cheering for him. In all fairness, his "pin" he got on the guy came when the other little kid basically just layed his shoulders on the mat. Tanner didn't excatly have good form on him.....but hey, we'll take it. He's officially hooked. Tony wrestled next and went all 3 rounds without a pin, but beat the kid by points, so that was great! Trae also got his guy. He could have had him pinned about 6 times, but he kept putting an arm under the kid's neck and it got in the way. He even had him in a cradle hold (that's a really hard move to learn and excecute, but if you can, it pretty much ensures a pin) where I think he had him, but it didn't get called. He beat him by a score of 16-4 though, so that was awesome! Timmy won his match as well with a pin. It took him about 30 seconds to get that, so that was an awesome round for him. He actually had a second match that was an exhibition and won that as well. That was funny too cuz he is friends with the second boy he wrestled and they were kinda smiling during some of it. We were sitting by that boys dad and laughing cuz they were having a lot of fun out there....still trying and wrestling hard....but having fun.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting ready

We are having a fundraiser to help with the expenses of bringing Olivia home. Invites got sent out a couple weeks ago and suddenly it occurred to me that this thing is less than 2 weeks away. Holy cow! There is so much to do. We are having an Italian dinner, a silent auction, a DJ with dancing, and about 10 kids carnival games. And all this is happening at our house.
**This is the part where you drop your jaw and decide that Jen has officially lost her mind**
I looked at other places, really I did. But everything else was either too expensive, not big enough, no kitchen, bad location, etc..... So, thanks to some coaxing from my equally out of his mind brother, Pat....I decided to have it at the house. Sometimes Pat is just what I need to make me feel like I can do stuff like this. Jay is not the kind of person I can bounce these sort of crazy ideas too....he's too cautious and thinks too much. I get an idea in my head and then start to figure out a way to make it happen. Period.
Actually, I think it's going to turn out to be the best option all around. We won't be limited to a timeframe, we won't have to haul everything to and from, we won't have to give out directions to our friends, and all the kids with have stuff to do.
Here's the breakdown of the whole layout.
The foyer will have our ticket sales table.
The garage will be full of kids' games.
The main level family room will have tables set up with the silent auction stuff.
The living room with have the tables and chairs set up for dinner.
The kitchen will have the food buffet line.
The upstairs bedroom will be set up with toys and coloring table for the kids.
The downstairs will have the DJ and light show (compliments of our friend) for dancing or just hanging out.
What I don't know yet....
...where we will put everyone's coat?
small potatoes considering everything else. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One month

Thanks to Stefanie over at Ni Hao Y'all, I was reminded that yesterday marked one month since we saw the face of our precious Livi.

We fell for those eyes first thing,
then that little imperfect, perfect smile.
Then it was the description of how she likes to be noticed and show off that made us laugh.
We knew that this was a match made in heaven.....facilitated the way only God could manage to do.
It's very strange to know of your child, but not know her.
I can't wait to know her.

Tanner's idea

This morning I was sitting at the computer where I have a screensaver picture of Livi.
I asked Tanner who it was...he said, it's our little sister.
Do you remember what her name will be?
"Olivia...but I want to keep her other name, MingJuan."
Then he said he wanted a boy too.
I said We have enough boys here, don't we...
"No, I mean a China boy........then we can call him Yoshi."
HAHA!! Yoshi is a character in the new Karate Kid movie.
Okay, Tanner, we'll get right on that for you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I heard ya

This past weekend, my mom and I went on a women's retreat through our church. It was the kind where you stay for the weekend and room with others. We roomed with a couple friends and then 2 other women we just met.
The retreat was on forgiveness and allowing the Holy Spirit into your heart. There was mass both days and sessions with speakers and lots of praise and worship songs. It was actually really refreshing. It's always a nice little shot in the arm when I can manage to get away for a bit from the craziness of home, and being there with my mom and friend and all these other great women was just what I needed.
On Friday night, they talked about really listening to God and what He wanted to tell you this weekend. What was He trying to say to you while you're at the retreat.
Well, I had all of my ideas of what I was there to pray for.
I was going to pray for the adoption and our little girl, for the path to the financial resources we still need.....I was going to pray that I would be a better mom and better wife, something I pray often cuz we all can use some improvement on those things....and I was just going to pray thanks for the health and safety of my family and the blessings we have.
Well, God didn't take long to tell me what I really needed to be praying about. I was sitting there Friday night listening and I was thinking about the day and about the week to come and schedules that take over our every moment and I got this strong sense of "slow down" then some more.... "you're forgetting Me"
hmmmm....okay. That was weird. I know I need to slow down, and I know I could probably take more time out of my day to pray and talk to God. Those words just kept coming back to me over and over. Slow down...you're forgetting me. I realized right there what He was telling me.
"You're day is so full of kids and sports and school and homework and your jobs and driving from place to place.....that you've forgotten to take time out to include me in all of it"
I argued with Him at first.
God, I talk to you.
I thank you for my kids and husband and for their continued health and safety.
I pray for our little girl and the means to go get her.
The kids are in a Catholic school, we go to church every Sunday....
but then I stopped.
I stopped because I realized that God had really become an afterthought in my day. I'd go to Him if I was worried, but if all was well that day....He was out.
I realized that I (we) had the kids on a spiritual auto-pilot. We sent them off to school where we knew they talked about God and prayed the rosary and went to mass.....but we were letting them take care of that. We go to church on Sundays, but then it's Football games and homework and getting ready for another crazy week. We just left Him back at the door of that church. We say prayers before we eat and before bed...but we're just going through the motions.
I wondered....when was the last time I turned off the TV and really sat with God. When did we last do that as a family. I honestly can't say.
It's like how we take advantage of our spouse after being married a while. You know, you go on with your days and you know that they know you love and appreciate, but when was the last time you really let them know that?
God can know my heart and know my faith in Him.....but I bet He'd sure love to hear it once in a while.
So I'm human and God understands that. And, let's face it, He did bless me with all these boys that make life a bit, um...crazy....but in all that craziness He's also given us so much.
Safety, health, love, family, friends, secure jobs, freedom, faith, a home, and Himself. Now that's a gift.
On Saturday night, we had the chance to be prayed over within a small setting of only 2 other woman. I went and I shared what I was hearing.
They prayed for me and prayed that I would find that time, even if it's just 5 minutes before getting out of bed in the morning, to give to Him.
They thanked God for allowing me to hear what He was saying to me and for giving me the desire to listen and change.
They thanked God for our openness to life in these boys and for the opportunities that they have to be at a Catholic School and to be able to play sports.
And they asked Him to help me have that desire to get to know Him better and more personally.
I'd say that just about covers it.

Friday, October 15, 2010


The other night, I had a dream about Livi. It's the first time I've dreamt about the adoption at all. Whenever I was pregnant, I would have these dreams...some weird...about the baby or delivery or whatever. It's funny to me that I hadn't had one about the adoption until we got matched with her. Kinda like this is my "pregnancy" with her. Ya know, where you kinda know this little child, but not really. You know she's on her way and about the time frame she's coming.
So, my dream was this. Jason and I had just gotten back from China with her and we went over to my mom and dad's house for them to see her. Everyone was over and excited to meet her for the first time. We were all upstairs and she was coming up the steps, but stopped on the last couple so all we could see of her was from the shoulders up. She just looked at everyone and all the commotion and excitement and got a very scared look on her face. Then she started crying, held up her arms towards me, and walked the rest of the way right up to me and said "me want mama". I was shocked. I looked at Jason and said, "Did you hear that?? She called me mama. And her English was perfect." I was so excited. I scooped her up and hugged her and she calmed down. It was so cute and just made me wake up even more anxious to go get her and bring her home so we can start having those experiences for real.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Last night we had our 20th high school reunion. It was a total blast! It actually started on Friday night with the Homecoming game and bonfire afterwards at one of the girls houses. There were about 20 people that night and we sat around the fire laughing til my stomach hurt until about 2:30am.
Saturday evening started at 6pm and went until 1am. It was dancing, food, drinks, and fun! There were about 75 people there....55 classmates and about 20 spouses. What a great time! I was in charge of the planning and so I was really happy to see how well it turned out and how much fun everyone had. Everyone was very grateful for all the work I put into it so that was nice. It just could not have gone any better. We headed to someone's house after Saturday's reunion too and sat at a bonfire again until about 3:15am. Needless to say, we are all very tired tonight. Justin has been staying with us since coming in from WA and leaves tomorrow. I think we're all gonna crash tonight.

This is everyone's nametag. Mom helped me put them together. They all had everyone's high school picture on it, so when you saw their face now, you could see what they looked like 20 years ago. Everyone thought they were pretty fun.

The welcome table when you first come in.

The girls were enjoying a "Jason sandwich"

What a fun night!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


........our newest addition to the family.

Today, we received out PA (pre-approval) so we can officially show off our little girl. Didn't I tell you she was adorable!
We have decided to name her Olivia....with Livi being her nickname. We aren't sure on her middle name yet. We'd like to use a part of her Chinese name, but it's a bit of a mouthful, so we are working on that.
We have loved the name Olivia since we were pregnant with our first son. Actually, I fell in love with it 18 years ago when a co-worker had a daughter with the same name. It was unheard of at that time...it's gained a lot of popularity since then, but we just couldn't change it. We've loved it for far too long.
We are now beginning a whole new set of paperwork and red tape to get her home. The average time frame from now is about 6 mos. which puts us in China by March.
Our little Livi, as you can see, has an unrepaired cleft lip and palate. We aren't sure whether or not it will be fixed by the time we go get her. We are prepared for it to not be....either way is fine with us. She is a healthy little girl and sounds like a real spitfire. I think she'll fit right in with all these crazy boys.
She will be 2 years old in November and is doing all the things an almost 2 yr. old should be doing...
.....except knowing the real love of a family. That part, to her, is a foreign concept. The idea of only 2 people to care for her rather than a sea of caretakers. The idea of brothers that will dote on her like the princess she will certainly be around here. The comfort of coming home at the end of a busy day and feeling safe in her own room.
She is most definately in for a whirlwind of emotion.....and so are we.

Monday, October 4, 2010


If you ever want a lesson in patience.....adopt a child. It's definitely out of my comfort zone to have to wait and wait for each new step. We waited for our immigration to get filed, we waited for our new passports after losing the first ones, we waited for our LID, and now we wait for our PA (pre-approval). This does not sit well with a person who, when she gets an idea in her head, gets stuff done....quick. I really am trying to be patient. I'm trying to listen to the friends....voices in my head....that keep reminding me that there is a reason for everything and that this timing is no different. That the 3 week wait here, the rule change there, the delay over there....all get us to our little girl. One of those things being different would not have given us the same smiling face and beautiful huge brown eyes. I know this, I just have a hard time surrendering to it. I'm trying though. What choice do I have.