Monday, December 29, 2008

Winter Wonderland- Vacation Reflections

Well, I'm on my 3rd week here in the Northwoods. I spent a week in MN with the 4 youngest children before Hubby met me at 'the farm' in northern Wisconsin with the 4 older children. Thank goodness that someone has a house large enough to accomodate us. Old farm houses are good for that...lots of bedrooms upstairs! We're full to the max though and things have been quite interesting with one bathroom... It's been neat for the kids to see where thier daddy was raised and where a lot of his childhood memories have taken place. When he tells stories of the farm, the kids now have a mental image!
It's been fun to watch my darling husband here. He's relaxed (in a different way) and he grins from ear to ear when he's outside playing around. He's put the 4 wheelers, snowmobiles and even the plastic sleds to good use. It's a good thing we have some boys who like to play as rough as daddy.... I don't even know if Hubby realizes how his face lights up when he's out ramming around the farm doing 'boy stuff.' Kinda like a kid in a candy shop...
We had the chance to visit with my family too and have more than one Christmas party/gathering! The kids are blessed to have lots of grandmas and grandpas...all whom know how to spoil them well. And that's not an easy task for just the 8 children we have. My sister has two children and Hubby's sister and brother have children. I like to make fun of my folks and ask them, "Bet you never thought you'd have 10 grandkids, did ya?" All the while their eyes are big and I'm laughing hysterically! Gotta get that in there while I can...
We are booked solid this last week with visits to friends and more family. It's been hectic and we're all tired but it's nice to be so blessed with people who want to see us and spend time with us. Thursday we have a big open house planned with friends from our old church. These friends of ours have been gracious enough to open their home for our family. We'll be there for about 5 hours where anyone who wants to stop by, can do so and visit with us. What a blessing that will be! There's not enough time in our days to see everyone we would like to see and visit with everyone seperately. I'm so glad we can vacation in a place we used to live (and where we grew up). Everyone knows us here and welcomes us back home with open arms.
Angel Baby just finished another round of antibiotics for her pneumonia. She still wasn't well and I took her in to the clinic here last week. We did a repeat chest xray and she still had a congested spot in her lungs. These antibiotics seem to be working better, she's back to her happy self now. Our insurance doesn't travel with us outside of Arkansas so we'll have a hefty bill waiting for us when we get home. We were blessed, however, to be given a monitary donation towards her xrays. Praise God for that!
It is cold and VERY windy today. There's another storm moving in and we should get 3-5 more inches of snow tomorrow. Hubby has the girls outside on the snowmobile now...the boys need to wear off some of their energy, they're making a snow hut right now! They should all have rosey cheeks when they finally come back inside. Angel Baby and Princess are napping, those warm blankets seem to be calling my name. Today is a good day for warm blankets, hot chocolate, a movie and all my kiddos around me! Those kinds of moments really warm my heart.
I'm still working on getting the rest of my Christmas cards out. I suppose late is better than never. I was out of routine this year and it was all I could do to keep up with packing, traveling, a sick baby, and Christmas! We've enjoyed spending time with our oldest son, he'll be headed back to school the same time we travel home to Arkansas. We'll see him again in the spring when he can come home and spend spring break with us.
We pray you have a blessed New Year and that you are all healthy and happy! God's blessings to you all!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our house to yours! May you all have a healthy and happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You know it's cold when

Alright everyone, I'm in Minnesota right now and they are having a real cold 'snap.' I decided to post some funny thoughts about cold weather. So, those of you who are in the south and think you're cold....just use your imagination! :)

You know you're cold when:

~You wake up, the covers on the bed look exactly like when you went to sleep because your body knows that if it moves in the night it will run into the deathly cold untouched area of sheets.

~You wear gloves, scarf, hat, jacket, long underwear, and socks - in the house.

~Your skin literally steams when you walk out of the hot shower.

~You go to bed with the clothes you plan on wearing the next day because the thought of undressing and redressing in the morning is too frightening.

~Hot soups become the staple diet.

~It is SO hard to get out of bed in the morning because it's so warm in the covers.

~We finally turn on our heat and decide to just deal with the bill.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Bilateral pneumonia

Our sweet, little Angel Baby has been fighting a cold/cough for a month now. Twice she seemed to be getting better but within a few days, she got worse. Friday night I knew it had gone long enough and she wasn't going to get better. See, I'd been trying to keep her out of the hospital- doing everything I knew to do to give her a chance to get better here at home. She never ran a fever, she just had cold symptoms. 'Mommy's intuition' told me that it was time to go. So, Saturday morning I headed to the local E.R. with her.

After a blood draw and xray, they ruled out RSV and diagnosed her with double pneumonia. Our pastor came for a short visit and prayed for our Angel Baby. Off we went in the ambulance to Children's Hospital in Little Rock. Because she was so congested her oxygen saturation was low and she needed to wear oxygen. Hubby was home with the other children as I prepared for a long day. I was sure we'd be at Children's for a few days while she fought off the pneumonia with the help of some antibiotics.

We got to Little Rock and settled in to the E.R. there. I took a few pics with my phone as we waited between doctors, nurses, assistants, admissions personnel, lab techs, a survey-taker guy and another xray tech.

After suctioning (not a pleasant experience for either of us!) her, her O2 sat. went up tremendously and she was taken off of the oxygen. She still had no fever, she wasn't dehydrated- she just had the double pneumonia. It leaked out (from the E.R. staff here in our local hospital- almost all of them know our family from our adoption story!) that mommy is a R.N. I try to keep that info silent when taking our little ones in for treatment. Sometimes it's received well, sometimes not. Anyway, the staff in Little Rock got word and actually commended me for the great job I did in taking care of Angel Baby. We waited and waited (for what I thought was our room) and I watched her O2 sat. She stayed good at 95% on room air and when the doc came back in she said we could go home! She told me she was confident that I would know whether or not to bring Angel Baby back if her symptoms got worse. Thank you nursing degree! :)

So, Hubby and the kids came to get us in Little Rock. We got home around 8:30pm (a 12 hour day for me!) and everyone fell in to bed. Angel Baby is doing better, this will be her 3rd day on antibiotics. The doc assured me she will be well enough to travel in a week when we make our trek up north to Minnesota and Wisconsin for the holidays. By the way, for all us southerners~ it's COLD up there!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Never a dull moment!

I try to keep up with the blog the best I can, but honestly we've been crazy busy so my posts tend to get more and more spaced out! I thought I'd catch you all up with pictures...that's more fun anyway, isn't it?

This pic was taken by Dear Daughter #2 . We were talking about the big girls and if they still remembered how to braid hair (that's all they did in the orphanage to pass the time). We joked that they'll forget and not remember how to braid anymore and that they only have 'American' hair now. She said she would show me that she could still braid hair... little did she know that white hair doesn't braid the same as 'ethnic' hair. I kept telling her to get it wet and that would help....nope, she had to try it her way first. After a frustrating 10 minutes, she went and got some water. She was able to do 2 corn-rows on each side of my head... SUCCESS!!

It's that time of year again...the raking of the leaves. If I had to guess, I would say our yard is between 1 1/2-2 acres big. So, needless to say there's lots of leaves. DD#1 was so cold this day that she thought her robe would warm her up better than her winter jacket. She looked so crazy we had to take a picture...what you can't see are her slippers, garden gloves & my grandpa's old winter hat (that has flaps that come down and cover her ears!).

Our Dear Son (#3) just got glasses about a week and a half ago. Hubby got his at 5 years old so our crazy boy is right on schedule at 6 years old... this is a self photo of him making a crazy-boy face.

On weekend mornings, this is how I typically find Hubby as I crawl out of bed in search of coffee. He is usually piled up with some of the kids watching cartoons. Here they are in our 'toy room' watching a movie...3 of the girls and daddy.

Here's Angel Baby on Thanksgiving. She was sticking her tongue out as if to say, "There you go mom, how do you like them apples?" hehe

Just one shot of the Thanksgiving table. This year we had it at Hubby's sister's house.

Just 4 of the little ones at the kid's table..

This pic was from our weekend in Branson, here we are at the Dixie Stampede. What an awesome show! We had a great weekend, it was crazy with 14 people total (we had 2 friends and 3 of their kids along). It was a whirlwind but we're so glad we did it!

This is from this morning as I opened up the suitcases. All 3 of my sorting bins are full plus this pile on the floor... oh what a joyous day it will be!

Monday, November 24, 2008

You know you have a 3 year old when...

A 3-year-old tells all from his mother's restroom stall.

By Shannon Popkin

My little guy, Cade, is quite a talker. He loves to communicate and does it quite well. He talks to people constantly, whether we're in the library, the grocery store or at a drive-thru window. There've been several embarrassing times that I've wished the meaning of his words would have been masked by a not-so-audible voice, but never have I wished this more than last week at Costco. Halfway, through our shopping trip, nature called, so I took Cade with me into the restroom. If you'd been one of the ladies in the restroom that evening, this is what you would have heard coming from the second to the last stall.....

'Mommy, are you gonna go potty? Oh! Why are you putting toiwet paper on the potty, Mommy? Oh! You gonna sit down on da toiwet paper now? Mommy, what are you doing? Mommy, are you gonna go stinkies on the potty?' At this point I started mentally counting how many women had been in the bathroom when I walked in. Several stalls were full .. 4? 5? Maybe we could wait until they all left before I had to make my debut out of this stall and reveal my identity.
Cade continued, 'Mommy, you ARE going stinkies aren't you? Oh, dats a good girl, Mommy! You gonna get some candy for going stinkies on the potty? Let me see doze stinkies, Mommy! Oh ... Mommy! I'm trying to see in dere. Oh! I see dem. Dat is a very good girl, Mommy. You are gonna get some candy!'
I heard a few faint chuckles coming from the stalls on either side of me. Where is a screaming new born when you need her? Good grief. This was really getting embarrassing. I was definitely waiting a long time before exiting. Trying to divert him, I said, 'Why don't you look in Mommy's purse and see if you can find some candy. We'll both have some!'
'No, I'm trying to see doze more stinkies. Oh! Mommy!' He started to gag at this point. 'Uh oh, Mommy. I fink I'm gonna frow up. Mommy, doze stinkies are making me frow up!! Dat is so gross!!'
As the gags became louder, so did the chuckles outside my stall. I quickly flushed the toilet in hopes of changing the subject. I began to reason with myself: OK. There are four other toilets. If I count four flushes, I can be reasonably assured that those who overheard this embarrassing monologue will be long gone.>
'Mommy! Would you get off the potty, now? I want you to be done going stinkies! Get up! Get up!' He grunted as he tried to pull me off. Now I could hear full-blown laughter. I bent down to count the feet outside my door. 'Oh, are you wooking under dere, Mommy? You wooking under da door?
What were you wooking at, Mommy? You wooking at the wady's feet? More laughter. I stood inside the locked door and tried to assess the situation. 'Mommy, it's time to wash our hands, now. We have to go out now,Mommy.'

He started pounding on the door. 'Mommy, don't you want to wash your hands? I want to go out!!' I saw that my 'wait 'em out' plan was unraveling. I sheepishly opened the door, and found standing outside my stall, twenty to thirty ladies crowded around the stall, all smiling and starting to applaud. My first thought was complete embarrassment, then I thought, 'Where's the fine print on the 'motherhood contract' where I signed away every bit of my dignity and privacy?' But as my little boy gave me a big, cheeky grin while he rubbed bubbly soap between his chubby little hands, I thought, I'd sign it all away again, just to be known as Mommy to this little fellow.

(Shannon Popkin is a freelance writer and mother of three. She lives with her family in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she no longer uses public restrooms)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Dear Daughter #1

We had to improvise with candles...we ended up being 5 short. We used our big number '3' and the 9 remaining single candles. To make up for the 5 missing candles (to make 17 in all), I lovingly placed 5 M&M's on top of her piece of cake. That got some smiles and giggles!

Other people might not know just how loud a family of 10 can be. Big Brother isn't here so we're a little quieter than usual. We were playing our traditional birthday game and it didn't take her long to laugh as we were all 'ganging up' on her. This time, Hubby won on getting DD#1 to laugh first. We've only had 2 kids hold out and not talk during the past year of birthdays...

Here she is in her 'Happy Place' eating her cake under the table. Can you see Princess peaking in the background? I was under there taking pictures of her and everyone was laughing hysterically (including her!). Man, do we have fun with birthdays around here... never a dull moment in our house!

She and Big Brother are tied for the next month or so. How is it I ended up with two 17 year olds?? December will be our whirlwind month with 3 birthdays, Christmas and a trip to Wisconsin!

Monday, November 10, 2008

One year ago today

One year ago today, hubby returned from Liberia with the newest members of our family. The kids were so quiet and shy but they had big smiles when they walked off the airplane into my arms! Our 'little man' didn't know what to think- he was half asleep. The journey was just too much for him...

Here are some pics of them while still in Liberia:

This pic below was our last moment together as a family of 5. This was just before we left to take Hubby to the airport (Oct. 30, 2007).

Our first moments together as one, united family on November 10, 2007:

Here are recent pics...see how they've grown?

If I've learned one thing this past year, I've learned that this journey as a parent is truly a marathon. There have been lots of happy times and lots of trying times. We are all learning as we go and we just thank God that He gives us the grace and strength to carry on with this task given to us. He hand-picked us all to be together as one family...we really work hard every day to make Him look good! This song/video is one of my new favorites and really sums up the last year (for me!). As I watched this video, I realized that Hubby and I have been in this church. We visited there for a Sunday service before the Liberian kids came home. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Halloween Fun

WHEW! We have been so busy the last few weeks- October just flew by! School is in full swing and the kids are all learning a lot and staying busy with fun activities and extracurricular activities. Here's just a few pics from our Halloween Fun...

After Halloween was over (and I got a great deal on this Halloween Castle at Walmart), our 2 homeschool kiddos had their special Halloween party. Dad happened to be home that day so he helped them to build this spooky, cookie castle.

*Hubby sitting at the table 'observing.'

Angel baby is so funny! Looks like she's saying, "What?? Are you talking to me?" She's really getting a personality and she's getting SO big!

Here's our Hanna Montana girl...

And our Princess girl...

And of course Darth Vader...

*We had a Batman too but for some reason he didn't want his picture taken. He was too busy doing other things to stop for a moment and pose....oh well...