Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't be alarmed....

I know I already posted once today but this just absolutely requires a second.
See that beautiful girl in the pink t-shirt? That would be my 16 year old daughter Heidi.
She just did the dishes WITHOUT  being asked and made me a hot cup of tea.
I checked her for a fever but she appears fine.
Miracles are indeed possible folks.
Look what just happened to me.
This should instantly restore your faith.

A Grateful Heart


reunion with Lilly's "sisters"....


Lilly's own bed.....

My oldest child graduating from highschool.....

memories of trips to the beach when the older kids weren't old.....

The sweetest, oldest dog in the world....Belle.....


the best cat ever......

happy dogs and happy girls and sunny days.....

new friends that feel like family.....

road trips with my girls.....

my dream house.....

my extended "Chinese" family

A very grateful heart indeed.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Getting Closer............

This was three years ago.....

This is three weeks ago.....

It looks like we really will move in January.
It seems kind of surreal to have a life long dream about to become real.
I love houses. As a child I would love to see the inside of any house, I wanted to see how people lived.
Let's get real...I wanted to see how they decorated and even as a very young child I would silently redecorate the homes we visited. In my mind I would move the couch, change the curtains, hang family photos, paint wooden floors and on and on. These decorating 'dreams' would even be what kept me up at night. I just love to rearrange, choose paint colors, shop for curtains, take something that someone else has thrown on the trash heap and transform it with soap, water and paint but most of all love.
Yesterday as I started to pack I got so emotional at the thought of truly leaving the place I have called home for the past decade. Not so emotional that I want to stay, but still tears were flowing. When we moved here Josh was 8, Heidi was 5 and Greg was 4. They were still so little that all of their clothes fit in one dresser. Now they are 19, 16 and 15 and have a sweet sister Lilly from China. We are about to decorate our 10th and last Christmas tree here in this tiny little house. We have celebrated in this house. We have mourned the loss of loved ones inside these four walls. We have argued and made up. We have laughed and cried, lived and loved. And now we will bring all the people and pets that we love the most and fill up our dream house. There will be joy, there will be sadness and by God there will be DECORATING!!!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Hero Lydia

She did it!!!!
Lydia's faith was so strong that in 8 days she raised $26,550!!!!!!!!!!!!! They only need $20,000 to adopt Darya and they have friends who have delayed adopting because of lack of more! Anything over the $20,000 goes to their friends so they too can adopt a baby.
I was obsessed with checking their blog to see if Lydia did indeed get her Thanksgiving miracle.
Can you imagine the joy in that house tonight???
What a wonderful Thanksgiving that I will always remember.
Sleep tight Darya, Mommy and Daddy are soon on their way to bring you home FOREVER.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Thanksgiving is all about....

This is one unbelievable story so fix some tea or get a snack but get comfy and prepare to be amazed.
 This morning I stumbled upon a blog. I believe this story has moved me beyond words but I am going to try to explain. Lydia is the 11 year old daughter of some amazing parents in Tennessee. Her parents have instilled such a trust and belief and faith in God inside of her that she came to her mother with the dream of adopting sweet little Darya. Darya is a litte girl living in an orphanage in the Urkraine. She has Down Syndrome but this does not daunt Lydia's parents because they have already
have two children with Down Syndrome. Hope is biological and Charlie is adopted.
I told you these are amazing people.
Simply amazing.
So when Lydia came to her mother with this idea her mother told her that if she could
raise $20,000 then they could adopt Darya and possibly even another baby with Down Syndrome.

Is the word amazing coming to mind? 

Did the number 20,000 stop Lydia? Nope. She quickly did some math and said this is only 200 people giving us $100.00. Smart girl. Break down a big number and suddenly it doesn't seem so scary. So she was off and running and in the past few days she has raised more than half of what they need. $10,000!!!!!!
In something like 10 or 11 days.


One AMAZING girl, with some AMAZING faith.

I want to be just like her when I grow up.

They have washed cars, baked cookies, painted wooden candy name it.
They are willing, willing to go all out for God.
And Darya.
Lydia has been asked to be on the local news Thanksgiving morning and tell her story. I am praying that she will have all the money when she is interviewed.
Visualize this!
God can do this THROUGH us so go here. Find the DONATE button and pledge what you can.
Five dollars makes a difference. Skip some part of your traditional
Thanksgiving meal if you have to but please help bring Darya home to a loving and forever family.
I just heard about Lydia and her family this morning and want to do my part.
So I am spreading the word and the LOVE.
This is what Thanksgiving is all about isn't it?
Lydia, you amaze me and I am inspired and uplifted by you.
 I can only begin to imagine the greatness in store for you as you continue to demonstrate such devotion and faith. To those of you who come visit here from time to time or those of you were led here today for the first time,please, please, please help change the course of Darya's young life.
If you are inspired by this please just take the few minutes to do this. If you are like me you might be so moved by this but think to yourself..."I will donate later, tomorrow, next week" and then you forget.You don't mean to you just get busy.Please just do it right now.Whatever is waiting for you can wait five more minutes.I am so thankful for your big heart and generosity.

Go Lydia!!!
Go God!!!


Monday, November 23, 2009

You know what is really weird???

Well, let me tell you......what's weird is when you have a friend considering using to find a man. You help this friend sift through the options (this is not an easy job). You see several possibilities. You see several no ways and even find yourself uttering words like "Are you kidding me? Is this guy for real? and What was he thinking with that picture?" You wonder why men aren't smart enough to take off their sunglasses for their photo. That just screams creeper. You find yourself shocked at how many man are in their 40's looking for a 20 year old girlfriend. Ewwwww. Super gross ewwww. So after reading about fifteen profiles you see a guy and say...he's not bad and your friend says "I know I already read his profile before, he's cute, seems okay." Upon closer inspection of the photo (and a quick call to my mother for verification) you realize this "cute, okay" guy is actually your childhood friend. The one you built forts with, played in the creek with, the one you had a crush on - (think early, unrequited love), the one who lived next door to your grandmother, the one you had sleepovers with until you were 12 and then your mothers sat you down and told you that you could no longer sleep in the same bed and because you were such late bloomers you just cried and thought they were mean. Yeah, that very same little boy is all grown up and on and your friend clicked his profile and he stood out from the sea of faces to me as a pretty cute guy.
Yep, that was really weird on a random Sunday night.
Really weird.

Friday, November 20, 2009

This is Lilly's high chair which I LOVE.
She is a big girl now and sits at the table.
I can't wait to see our next daughter eat her meals in this sweet chair.
I really love being a mother, it is such a blessing and a privilege.
I take delight in something as simple as folding Lilly's little clothes or watching her focus intently on her sticker book or when she hears music and says "Mama, dance."
Her latest thing is noticing how many people are in public places.
She says "lots of peoples mama", not sure why this makes my heart soar but it does.
She just climbed onto my lap as I type this, book in hand and said
"ead mama" - translation: Read mama
So I guess this means goodnight to you all.
Sleep tight wherever you are.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Giving Thanks

One time my mother told me that it was very comforting to her to know that she had taught me how to be a friend and that I had such a beautiful supportive group of women in my life. It made her proud and it felt good for her to know that I had these women to turn to in times of joy or times of sorrow.
I realize now just what she is saying because I feel so comforted knowing that Heidi (my daughter pictured on the right) also has such a great group of loving, kind friends. Alexa (pictured on the right) and Heidi first met in Kindergarten and they have maintained a friendship ever since. Alexa switched schools in third grade and even without daily contact they remain sisterly close. This comforts me. Alexa is like a daughter to me and she spends nearly every weekend with us and has been on vacation with us many times as well.
Last Sunday morning Alexa, Lilly and Heidi were cuddled up under a blanket watching a movie. I was doing the normal morning chores when I looked up and saw them all snuggled in. Tears came to my eyes instantly when I realized this wouldn't last forever. It was almost like I could feel myself ten years from that moment and what it will feel like for my girls to be grown up and moved out. I could feel the longing. Alexa and Heidi are juniors in highschool and will soon begin the next stage of their journey. They won't always be here curled up on my couch and I will miss that more than words can say. It reminded me how important it is to be in the moment and really see and FEEL how good it truly is right this moment.
And now I'm crying again.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why we never order pizza out anymore.....

This is how it looked before it went into the oven, but sadly I cannot show you the just out of the oven photo because there isn't one............. it went straight from the oven to our mouths!
This is super simple and once you make pizza this way it will be hard to go back.
The Dough
2 cups flour
1 tsp.salt
1 pkg.yeast
2 tbsp.oil (olive or canola)
1 cup very hot water
1/2 - 1 cup flour

Mix the first 5 ingredients and stir together. Add 1/2 - 1 cup of flour until it is the right consistency to knead.
Knead for just a couple of minutes.
Place dough into well greased (olive or canola oil) bowl.
Cover with towel and wait about 1 hour.

Pizza stones are essential. Mine came from Pampered Chef and I have been using them for years and you really can't make good pizza without them.

One batch makes about five individual pizzas and I just stretch them out into a kind of oval shape.
Each person can have their pizza exactly as they want it.
Kids love this.
I skip the sauce and just use olive oil. Then cheese. I find a combination of mozzarella, provolone and just a tiny bit of parmesan or cheddar work best. If you go with just two cheeses stick with mozzarella and provolone. I cover mine with finely chopped veggies. My favorite combo is broccoli, red onion, garlic, orange pepper, mushrooms and tomatoes. The guys like to add pepperoni (of course).
Imagination is key.
 Create any combination that you can think of and please let me know!
We never order pizza anymore and I love it.
We try to eat as organic as much as we can.
I use organic flour, olive oil and vegetables.
The pepperoni? Not so much.
I love knowing that my family gets to eat one of their favorite foods and it is so healthy.
In the summer we cook them on a grate over an open fire.
Scott said the best thing this summer while building the fire at the new house as I prepared the dough.
He said:
 "It must be so good for us to eat food cooked over wood that came from the land that our home sits on."
I thought that was a great way to think of it and I am
 pretty sure it bumps
the nutritional level up at least a kajillion times.
At least.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What makes us love what we love?

Lilly lovvvvveeeeesssss horses. She is an all around animal lover but horses seem to really be her thing right now. On the road to our new house there are five different spots with horses and she knows each one and we usually stop at every place and admire these gracious giants. I also love horses but have been afraid of them and can only remember riding one time. My father was very over protective and there were certain things I just knew he wouldn't allow. Horses were on the list. Too dangerous. Growing up my neighbor had a horse that I was around and I begged for my own for a short while but no such luck. He told me that I would only take care of it for a little while and than I wouldn't want it anymore. Maybe that's true. As my cousin would say "hard sayin', not knowin' ".
 I have some friends coming over to make art today. I love to do art!!! Especially with other people. All that creativty just makes my heart soar. We made a lot of art when we were waiting to go pick up Lilly. We made it to sell at the fundraiser. It was mildly successful but the fun we had was over the top. Every Saturday for weeks we gathered together in a small out building on our property and we made art. We lit the woodstove, ate cookies, drank chai, played music and mostly we felt inspired. Inspired by the dream of children and inspired by all the creativity flying around. That was when the dream got so much bigger than adopting Lilly. Never before did I realize how incredibly passionate I was about the orphan crisis in the world. I was absorbed in my life and did not see the bigger picture. I love how God works. It was always God's plan to be short of funds just before we received Lilly's referral. It was this discomfort that forced me to expand my vision and to grow so much. It was humbling myself this way that allowed me to open my heart and see that Lilly represented 143 million orphans worldwide (the number is bigger now but was 143 million at that time). I have stalled over the past two years not knowing exactly how to do what I dream of doing. I am going to have to put down a cushion for my knees soon! I continue to ask for guidance and it is coming. I find it simply amazing how passions are born that you didn't even know you had inside of you. That in itself is a miracle. I can tell you that there is NOTHING that I feel more passionate about than adopting more children into our family and encouraging others to do the same. This has been placed in and on my heart and I vow to do whatever I can to make this number smaller while I am here on this earth.
We are here to serve.
That is the reason to get our structures stable, to secure our financial situation and live without worry over our committemnts so that we can be fully avaible to use our lives to help others.
I don't mean to sound arrogant but I know this for sure.
So, I don't know what makes Lilly so fascinated with horses or why I feel so compelled to use my life in this way but whatever it is for you, pay attention to it.
Your heart is calling you to it for a reason.
Trust that.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How I Decorate

When I want to decorate I first have to be inspired.
Luckily, inspiration is found anywhere.
 I have to fall in love with something and the
process goes from there.
I could fall in love with a comforter, couch, curtain,
paint sample and then the rest unfolds quite easily.
I "build" the room from the first feeling that this item gave me.
If I don't love it I don't buy it.
This cuts down on wasteful items, wasteful spending and
creates a room filled with only the things that I truly love.
This seems only fitting since the people and pets that I love will live in these rooms.
That should help explain why I am posting a picture of a bracelet here.
I have fallen in love with the way this bracelet makes me FEEL.

The floor plan in our new house is very open
 in the main living area.
It is framed in such a way that each room is clearly defined yet
completely open to the other rooms.
This is perfect for the way I like to live.
I love to be part of what is happening and a home where
 I was isolated in the kitchen would be depressing
and lonely for me.
As most moms do, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
Thankfully, I love to prepare meals
 for my family and cooking is something I really enjoy.
So, back to the decorating.....I envisioned each room
 having it's own feeling
 yet flowing easily into the next room.
I like a cottage style kitchen and
want light cupboards with vintagey blue walls,
soapstone countertops,
my old (and very large) pepsi sign, a very cool old bench that came from somewhere in Europe and dashes of red here and there. The kitchen will not be done when we move in
but I can see the end result
in my mind and will work steadily towards that.
 For the living room I want to feel cozy, cozy and cozy. A place to sink into the couch and read a great book, watch a movie or snuggle in with my husband and kids. I love a couch that swallows me up, lots of pillows, candles and the dog curled up next to a woodstove. Maybe a table in the corner for games and puzzles. I want a soft sage green on the walls, but it can't be too light or too dark. The living room leads to the dining room and when you step in the front door both rooms are right in front of you. I want to paint the dining room walls a very soft yellow, neutral, not sunshiney or daffodil but a yellow that is starting to lean towards the neutrals. But of course it has to be warm and inviting too. I have an old antique table that has lead paint and have been advised that the best thing to do is paint over it and ecapsulate the lead paint. My daughter votes for black, a soft matte black. At first I said no but thinking of the future soapstone counters in the kitchen, this could actually tie the two rooms together very nicely. So....then I started wondering, how in the world am I going to pull this all together. The colors have to feel earthy, but not in that brown, dull, drab way. More in the rich, deep, sensual way. I focus A LOT on the feeling tone I am trying to create when I decorate and color is a huge part of that.
 If the colors are right then the whole room works.

One day I was poking around one of my favorite stores and stumbled upon this bracelet.
And....I fell in love.
All the colors I want, all feeling a bit subdued and smokey but still bold in their own way.
I want my house to feel the way this bracelet makes me feel.
Suddenly it was easy for me to see how I can make this all work. Including the bit of sparkle I  like to add in here and there (see red sparkly beads on the bracelet) I just love me a little bit of sparkle.
Must be the girly girl in me.
I have been living and breathing paint samples all week and have settled on several colors.
I am so excited about this next part.
I have been dreaming of decorating this house before we even broke ground 3 1/2 years ago.
The budget is nearly non-existent at this point so if you are looking for ways to beautify your house on less than a dime, I'm your girl! I started digging out in the garage yesterday and found some dressers and other goodies that will go a long way in creating the look and the feel I want.
This is going to be so much fun!
Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Feeding the crew........

I love when there are lots of people at the house working, each of them doing different things. I like the energy of it all. My father is a contractor and I have been around building and remodeling all of my life. The sound of hammers and saws and the smell of the fresh wood make me feel so comforted. I love the process of turning nothing into something. My cousin was putting up siding, Scott was working on the boiler, the electrician was busy getting things ready for the inspector to come next week and give us the green light for putting up insulation and then sheetrock and then we MOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hot dogs gross me out. In a big way. I have been an off again on again vegetarian most of my life and hot dogs top the list for meat that freaks me out.
But it made the guys full and happy and happy workers are always a good thing.

You can't eat hot dogs without chips.
It's a law.
No, is.

Today I found out Gregory, my youngest son, doesn't like mustard.
What's wrong with him?
I think the mustard would have made this photo better.
I can't help it, color is my thing.
It's an obsession.
But I think it's a good one because it makes me happy.

Happy, happy girl.

Lilly was thrilled with her ha gogs (her word for hot dog)
We love her version of it so we now call them ha gogs too.

After running errands for Scott this is what I saw when I pulled in my driveway......
so how was your Wednesday?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Prayer

It is my fervent prayer that my life be used in the highest way possible to connect orphaned children with loving forever families. I have little baby ideas but sometimes the 'how' is just so loud in my ear. I keep having to tell the voice to be quiet, the how will reveal itself and I will recognize it immediately and take bold action. Can you picture lots and lots and lots of children being bathed, fed, tucked in at night wearing cozy jammies, being read to, being hugged and kissed over and over and over? Can you? I can. It is what makes me want to pay off my debt and live a financially free life so that all of the excess can be used to bring love to these innocent children. Tonight I shall return to my knees as my Grandmother taught me so many years ago.
I am here, please use my life.

I love my new it, love it, LOVE IT!

Did I mention I love my new house???

Two years ago we were getting ready to go to China to pick up Sweet Lilly and now we are getting ready to move into our dream house. What a perfect time of year for such precious gifts.
If you know us, you know that this journey has had a few bumps in the road but when I am tucked in cozy with my family, wearing jammies, making soup, watching movies, doing puzzles, drinking tea and watching the snow fall outside while we are curled up next to the fire it will all have been worth it.
I want to devote so much more of my time to the orphan crisis in the world and it will be so wonderful to settle into our permanent home and have the building phase over.

Soon the REAL fun begins.....DECORATING!!!
This will be done a budget of approximately $5.00, so stay tuned on how to decorate on a dime!
Paint samples coming soon!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A little story for you.....

I have absolutely no idea why this came to mind yesterday but when it did I thought it would be a great short story to share with you. When I was 19 I had a job at a nursing home.
For three days.
I was a nurses's aide. The third night I had to help hold down an 85 year old woman who had bowel impaction. To be blunt, the nurse had to wear rubber gloves and literally dig the poop out of this poor old lady's butt. Shaking each hard chunk onto a little mat on the side of the bed right next to ME.
I did my duty in the moment, having total compassion for this sweet lady whose sense of dignity was being stripped away with each passing day. But that was my very last day as a nurse's aide. My  mother is a nurse and I was always very proud to say that. Nursing is one of those professions that is just plain noble. I didn't really have dreams of following in my mother's footsteps but if there was any tiny wondering inside of me that experience laid it to rest. Permanently.
But here is the real story:
There was a tiny little bit of a lady that was a resident in this nursing home. Her name was Lucy. Her room looked like none other in that nursing home. No overhead lights, in fact the switch to the overhead light was covered with tape so you couldn't absent mindedly flip it on. The room was dimly lit with antique lamps by her bed and on her dresser. Her dresser was also an anitique with a beautiful mirror attached at the back. Little handmade white doilies everywhere. Her bed was a white canopy and was covered in white sheets, white blankets and you guessed it.....a white bedspread. There must have been at least 15 throw pillows on her bed and each and every one was white. Lucy called them her husbands. She said she never was without a husband until she lived here and she had to have a husband. So the throw pillows were her stand in "husbands". They had to be arranged just so, she was very fussy and particular about how her husbands were handled and displayed. She always wore white cotton nightgowns and had her hair tied up with a white ribbon. Their were stacks of books by her bed and fresh flowers. I assumed at the time she must be very wealthy to live this way. I now know that you can live this beautiful with just a few simple things. You can get beautiful dishes for a dime at the thift store. You can buy an old dresser at a garage sale. Some of my best old linens I have found at the Salvation Army. And those things mean so much to me because even though I don't know the story of some of these items, they do indeed have a story. The expensive things we waste our money on today really aren't that interesting. They were made in a factoy, stored in a warehouse and then sat on shelves getting dusty.
Mass produced and no story to tell.
The three days that I worked there I found myself being drawn to her room. I wanted to hear all about her husbands in the past, her story...where she came from, if she had children, her dreams and most of all I imagined what her home must have looked like if her nursing home room was decorated this way. I have quite a good picture in my mind based on the little I saw in those three days. I have never forgotten her and I think it is because I saw she was a women of substance and style, a bit eccentric but she had standards. She ate her food from a real china plate and her tea from a real cup. She must have had quite a life packed into those 95 years and I am sure she saw many a loss based on the plural use of the word husband. But here she was living in a nursing home, nearing the century mark of her own life and she was still living with such grace and style. It made such an impression on me and I have carried that memory with me all of these years. No matter the circumstance, no matter the loss, no matter the pain, no matter what, do not live your life by the standards of others. Lucy knew that the details in life mattered, it matters what plate you eat your food from, it matters what cup you drink your tea from, it matters where you lay your head and what you wear. Not because we are trying to put on a show for someone but because we are reverent of the life we have been granted. We make the details matter to glorify God and all that is so beautiful in this world
right down to the smallest detail.
Never underestimate how our life can impact another.
Lucy taught me that and so much more in just three short days.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Turning 40.........

This was the year...there was no stalling it, I had to do it. I tried to convince myself otherwise but the days crept nearer and nearer and before I knew it I was on the verge of turning 40.
Hmmmm.....I would like to say it didn't bother me one bit, but that would be a lie.
It did bother me.
I also felt empowered and very grown up.
My husband asked me what I wanted to do to mark the occasion.
I said "I want to go to henrybella's bakery."
He said "That's it? Pretty simple request. Where is it?"
I nonchalantly said: "Texas."
He didn't miss a beat, he just said "You should go."
So I did.
Did I mention that we live in upstate New York?
This was to be a road trip of the grandest kind.

And here I am at henrybella's with my sweet girls.
Sadly, henrybella's had to close shortly after our visit, but the owner and I share a birthday and she totally inspired me with her blog, her home, her writing, her baking, her dreaming and most of all her faith.
She has had lots of changes and continues to inspire me.

Here we are about ready to eat some southern style catfish and greens....

Turning 40 wasn't as bad as I imagined.
It still freaks me out a bit, but it is what it is.
My only option is to embrace it, right?
I have never been the driver on trips that I have taken, I am either with my husband or with Sharlyn and they prefer to drive and I prefer to read the map. Driving this far and this long on my own really was a turning point for me. I really can do anything I set my mind to. I felt proud of myself and kind of amazed and impressed by my bravery. I am so blessed. SO BLESSED. When I decided I wanted to take this trip it had to be low budget. LOW. Like almost no budget. It just so happenened that every 7 hours or so on the exact route I needed to drive to get to henrybella's was a family that we had traveled to China with when we adopted Lilly.They each met me with a smile and a cozy bed and warm meal.
These people have become family.
Bonded for life, and I couldn't be happier.
 So what started out as a crazy idea turned into a reunion with each one of these wonderful families. I never imagined the bonds and the laughter and the LOVE  that would occur between all of us.
Blessed, blessed and blessed.
I'll take 40 anyday.

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