Tuesday, November 24, 2009


for my Dad's funeral. Julia is playing the piano. It all seems so surreal.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Very First Giveaway!

I was so excited when this came in the mail! Isn't it beautiful? And it expresses my feelings perfectly. It is a wonderfully crafted plaque that is beautifully painted and stenciled personally for me. Click on the picture to get a closer look at how fine it is made. Over at Danielson Designs you can check out all of the different plaques and picture frames that they have to choose from. Each one can be personalized to fit your faith, decor, and personality.
Well now you can enter my very first giveaway to win something that will go perfectly in your own home. Please visit Danielson Designs and design your own unique special something. Please make sure it is $40.00 or less. To enter the giveway, please leave a comment.... something like this, "I really like #1148 and I would put my daughter Lisa's name on it." This giveaway will go for two weeks and will end on December 7th. The winner will get their very own personalized sign sent to their home at the end of the giveaway. If you decide that you would like to purchase something during the two weeks that this giveaway is running, please post the code THEREED8 to get $10.00 off your purchase. If you would be interested in hosting your own giveaway please email Rozlynn at rozlynn@poiemaplace.com. Finally, Danielson is expanding their company by taking this website to the Home Party scene. This is not yet official, but if you would be interested in this, please let Rozlynn know. Thank you!
Happy designing!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Doing Nothing is Special

Still missing my Dad, planning to attend his funeral on Tuesday....... but life doesn't stop..... nor do I want it to. One thing I have been reminded of is how special family is... and how each second spent with them is priceless.... even when we are doing nothing special. Well actually, just being with them is special.

Jonny had fun quickly putting this puzzle together.

So did Rachel. Though my girl is almost fourteen, not only does she occasionally get the itch to do baby puzzles with her younger brother, but she wants Barbies for Christmas. And a boy Barbie so that Jonny can play too. And that's one of the many reasons why we love her.
This morning we pulled out our apple juice change jar and rolled coins. The kids really enjoyed it.
Anna and Annalyn got the chance to explore the shanty again with Grandpa last week. They found some envelopes with a man's name on them. They went home and googled the name and found a biography on him--- and they were certain it was the same man. I let them print out the info and they then took the paper and crumpled it up and rubbed coffee on it to make it look old. Then they played detectives. For hours, they played.

I took this picture after Dennis had just woke up from having tubes put in his ears. He was barely sedated, so waking up was a breeze for him. He was ready to go in no time... and he was hungry too.
Alex is becoming very mobile. He really enjoys moving around the house on this little car.
He also enjoys licking frosting off of cupcakes.

I love these eyes. I have always thought they were gorgeous. William has a way of making them dance and sparkle.
Adam enjoys baking. Whether it be cupcakes or brownies, he always does a great job.
Dennis ate a lollipop and even three hours later his mouth was still blue. Still ---- I think he couldn't look cuter.
Recently I made ribs for dinner. Andrew asked John to drill a hole into this bone. I can't believe he wanted to wear a yucky pig bone around his neck----- this was a time I had to remember to pick my battles.

Last week, Jonny had to decorate a turkey for school. We had fun using glitter, cereal, and paint to decorate the turkey. It turned out really nice.

Dennis thinks he can make his own lunch. He loves to open up our pantry and find packages of fruit snacks that he can put in a brown bag and pack in his little car. He will then ride that car all day occasionally stopping to open up the trunk to make sure his lunch is still there.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Who would have known saying one little word could be so hard? It was and it is....... goodbye Daddy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bless Both Their Hearts

Thank you for all of your prayers and supportive words about my Dad. It does comfort me to know that so many people are thinking of our family and lifting us up. No one should have to go through something like this alone. There is no real improvement...... bless his heart, and in the next few days some difficult decisions will need to be made. For the most part..... I have peace. I printed some pictures of my Dad and slipped one of them into my bible study binder. I smile when I look at his picture and it brings me joy to remember the good times with him. I still pray for a miracle.

Early tomorrow morning Dennis is having surgery to put tubes in his ears. Poor little guy may finally get relief......... and hear the world around him...... and I imagine this opening up a whole new world to him.

Thank you again. Hope you are all well.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Not Ready To Say Goodbye

Today had to be one of the hardest days of my life. I'm sure it was for my father, and for the rest of my family as well. Early this morning, I got "the call"--- my worst nightmare had come true. A loved one had a brush with death and was not out of the woods.... yet. Far from it. My Dad went into Cardiac Arrest early this morning. His heart stopped beating for nearly ten minutes. It doesn't look good. Not good at all. Just as I left this evening, we had finally got word that he could almost be considered stable..... almost.

We are interceding on his behalf--- "Lord, please heal him. May He wake up if only for one second, to hear him say that He accepted Jesus into his heart. We are not ready to let him go. If I have to say goodbye-- please don't let it be forever."

I am crying out to my Lord---- "Please ease his discomfort and make him whole." Selfishly... I am not ready to say goodbye. None of us are.

I'm exhausted. And I am weary. Comfort us Lord.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Alex Home Three Months

Alex loves to be outside! He enjoyed being pulled in the wagon! His smile says it all!

Dennis is so strong now that he can pull Alex in the wagon.

I have a feeling that Alex will be doing the pulling next year.

These three boys are best buds. They play together, sleep together, and laugh together!

And if you come over-- you better watch out for these three crazy drivers!

A few days ago I caught Alex walking down the stairs instead of his usual slide down on his bottom. I was so excited I could hardly wait to grab my camera. Everyday, I do some physical therapy with him like I saw them do at the hospital- and I am noticing a difference. His legs are stronger, his right leg straightens out more now, and he seems to have better mobility all together.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Daddy's Little Helper

Dennis loves to be outdoors. Especially with his Daddy. He is just a few days away from riding a tricycle..... I think. He wants to make sure he will know how to fix it when it breaks.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Next Cake Bosses!

A few weeks back, we decided to try our cake decorating skills using colored fondant. We had fun and it tasted fine, but we all agree that we need more practice. Lots of it.

Our fondant was on the sticky side and no matter what we tried, we could not get it smoothed out on the cake.

John was working on integers with Rachel until she finally understood what she needed to for her upcoming test.

The younger boys kept calling this a Play Dough cake--- I don't blame them.
Still..... we had fun working on it together and that is the main thing.
P.S. We're taking pointers. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Are You Thankful For Today?

God is good-- and he has a sense of humor too.

I can name a thousand reasons why----- but I will keep it short.

This post is mainly to remind myself to be thankful in all things.

John lost his glasses sometime ago.

I was mad.

So I found him wearing Julia's just so that he could read.

It made me madder that he was stretching hers out.

This made me go on a quest to find his glasses once and for all.

In a matter of minutes-- praying as I searched-- I found them.

Next to the overdue book that he owed $24.95 for.

Thank you God.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Took two of my girls to the eye doctor this morning. One right after the other.

Julia was first, and turns out she needs reading glasses. She picked out a really cute pair--- her very first glasses! Then off to school.

Right after, I went and picked up my other daughter to take her to have her eyes checked. On the drive, I reminded her to answer the doctor's questions as truthfully as she can so that he can accurately determine how good or bad her eyesight is. In kid language, I expressed the importance of this and the importance of taking care of her eyes, and how I wish I did not need glasses because of how inconvenient they were at times. I also asked her why she can't wear my glasses, so that she can put two and two together. See, I do not let my children try on my glasses because they have a (strong) prescription which I refer to as medicine and it would mess up their eyes since they do not need the same medicine. She knows this.

The point of this conversation was to parent her out of conflict and encourage her to do what is right---- at the same time gently reminding her to be honest so that she can make good choices.

I waited in the waiting room with Alex and Dennis while she had the exam and soon after the doctor came out and wanted to speak with me privately. In a nutshell, he told me my daughter was failing her eye exam just to get glasses. To prove this to himself, he finally told her to try on a pair of glasses to see if they would help her to see better. After failing miserably one minute prior, my daughter now miraculously could see 20/20----- with no prescription in the glasses.

In the car, I gave her the chance to make things right. I asked her how the appointment went.


I asked her if there was anything interesting that happened.

No. Are you angry Mommy?

No, I am not, but I might become angry if you are not honest with me. So please answer me with the truth, just like I am truthful with you.

Of course Mommy.

During the exam, did you answer the doctor with the truth about your eyes?

Yes--- elaborating on her lie, of course.

On so many levels this was a huge disappointment. Sure I know kids will be kids, and she probably just wants glasses real bad--- probably to be like me. But. That does not excuse the fact that she was dishonest to me, dishonest to the doctor, she didn't listen to me, she was willing to screw up her eyesight, and she didn't come clean when given the chance.

Yes, kids will be kids...... but in our home, this is a serious offense. Dishonesty and disobedience is not the norm. She knows this and my other kids know this.

Her consequences will depend on her attitude when she gets home from school. My kids know that they could dig themselves deeper or get themselves out of a hole--- all depending on how their attitude is. Yes, she will still have some form of grounding regardless, but even that can be handled with a good attitude-- and will probably make the duration much shorter.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Chunk-Of-Love

This little boy has my heart like no other 2 year old! He is the sweetest thing ever. Just yesterday John was laying on the couch and Dennis went and pulled out a blanket and covered up his Daddy. It just about melted both our hearts.

Tonight I gave him (and Alex) a haircut. He is looking like such a big boy these days-- I can hardly stand the thought of him growing up. Last month marked one year that Dennis has been home---- his transformation has been unbelievable.

He has come a long, long way in that year's time--- just take a look at him this time last year.

His personality has finally bloomed too-- one that will make you smile.

Thank you God for allowing us to be Dennis' parents.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hmmm, I wonder.......

why I find myself busier these days. :)

I am pooped out-- heading off to bed in a few minutes.

Just got back from Adam's back to school night after taking Rachel to soccer practice, taking Adam and Julia to church worship practice,picking them up, having John pick up Rachel from soccer practice-- and trying to cook and sit down to have dinner together. It was a whirlwind. The back to school night had us running across campus-- back and forth-- every ten minutes so that I can hear about the teacher's expectations for the students. I was exhausted after an hour and a half!

Earlier in the day, I finally had my eyes checked after two years (I find myself putting my needs on the back burner just like my mother told me I would) because I have been having more headaches and trouble seeing close-up. Turns out, my eyes have gotten better with the nearsightedness and were being strained having to see out of my old glasses, but I have developed astigmatism. I also had my pupils dilated--- NOT FUN. But all in all, my eyes are healthy. And I finally picked out a new frame! Can't wait----- I think they are so chic!

I have been going back and forth with starting Dennis on potty-training. He actually went pee-pee in the potty the other day too--- but I am just not feeling 100% like he is ready. But with him starting pre-k and all of my other kids being potty trained by the time they were three, I am putting unnecessary pressure on myself and him I am sure. Soooooooo----- I have decided to put it on the back burner for a few days to think more about it and observe Dennis a bit more to see if he is ready or if I should just wait a few more months. Nothing is worse than trying to potty-train a child when they just are not ready-- believe me, I've been there.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Sunday Happs

Caleb can be so sweet, but he can also be so stubborn. Out of the blue, he came up behind me and gave me a big hug. He even let Rachel get a picture.
Quite the opposite of the other day when he and Julia wanted a piece of leftover cake for their snack instead of pretzels and fruit. "There is not enough for everyone to have some, so it would not be fair. Have a peach." And then as soon as I got back from taking Rachel to soccer practice, I found out that they had had the cake anyway. "Fine-- but you had your dessert."
The softie that I am-- and this generally being their biggest offense, I went ahead and offered them some dessert after dinner anyway. Julia happily took me up on my offer while Caleb insisted he didn't want any. "Caleb, I know you really want some. Since when do you pass up dessert? Quit being stubborn and go get yourself an ice-cream." He still insisted he didn't want any. "Okay."
Twenty minutes later however, he came up to me and admitted that I was right. And I said, "Go get that ice-cream, Cay." He smiled. So did I.
Adam and his friend Joey offered to make Tollhouse cookies after church on Sunday. Since I didn't have enough chocolate chips, I had them throw in some white chips too. They were awesome!

William is slowly adjusting to having another brother. For the most part he is great with Alex, but sometimes he wants to bug Alex just like he bugs his other siblings. We have to remind William that Alex is still so new to our family that he doesn't take it as kidding around and that if William keeps on bugging him, Alex is not going to like him. And William does not want that.

Our new couches finally came in. We all love them! The loveseat should be delivered later this week.

I finally managed to get some pictures up on the wall of Alex. And yes, he noticed. And yes, I think it makes a difference in him feeling like he belongs. It is something concrete that he can see and he loves trying to name all the people in the pictures.
Here is Alex with his walker. I have shoes for him so that his ankles can be better supported, but that just wouldn't work with him going swimming.

Annalyn and Sveta make sure that the dogs are included every now and then. :)
John took nine of the kids up to Grandma and Grandpa's to visit with family that is in town.
Jonny conked out on the way home.
I stayed home because Alex, and Dennis were sleeping, and Adam had to finish his homework before I took him to the high school youth group kick-off at church. It gave me a chance to relax and do nothing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

More on Alex

Alex continues to show tremendous growth every single day. His happy disposition gives him a great outlook on life which fuels his determination to do things just like everyone else. Yet...... he listens to us and chooses to obey our instruction most of the time even when it is kind of frustrating to him. His inability to walk right now, not only slows Alex down, but it slows me down as well. Not a bad thing as I previously said that I wanted to move at a slower pace and take time to enjoy the simpler things--- but what I mean is that when it is time to go swimming, all of the other kids just take off and jump in but for Alex, it requires me dropping what I am doing and helping him get undressed, and changing him into a swim diaper, and then physically carrying him outside to the pool steps where he sits and plays. I don't mind doing this (it is what I signed up for), but I can't always just drop what I am doing to attend to him immediately especially since his desire to go swimming is not an emergency. So---- Alex ends up waiting a little longer than the other kids who are already out swimming.

Thankfully, he is pretty darn patient and I am pretty sensitive to this and try to get my act together a little faster and in the end he ends up waiting only about five minutes.

Alex and Dennis were evaluated last week for speech. The Speech Teacher is really nice and seems to have a genuine interest in learning more about my boys. I am expecting that they will both be starting pre-school very soon, but I will not know for sure about Alex because he doesn't automatically qualify like Dennis does for his cleft palate repair.

Since Alex is scheduled to start kindergarten next year and may very likely be attending pre-k in a week or two, I have had to push him a little faster to become a little more independent. With tons of encouragement and praise we are trying a "daily sit" to work on becoming socially bowel continent. I am also asking him to help in undressing and brushing his teeth. Rather than me carrying him everywhere, I went out and bought him a pair of high top boots and a pediatric walker. In the meantime, he is using it inside the house-- and while it is pretty obvious he will need some sort of surgery to correct his hips and legs, him using the walker is helping to build strength and get him used to being up off the ground.

He has the bad habit of sitting in a W so to correct that I remind him to sit in this booster chair that I constantly move around for him. It is working--- until we get into the SB clinic which might be a few weeks out.

It is amazing to see how much less Dennis depends on me for entertainment when the older kids are at school now that Alex is home. They are definitely brothers-- either playing happily together or fighting over a toy.

At lunch time, I continue to feed Alex a mixture of food he is used to (for comfort), and new foods like peanut butter and jelly or scrambled eggs. He is not fond of yogurt by itself, yet I know that calcium is good for him so I have started introducing it to him in things that he already likes. I add a dollop to his oatmeal or on a piece of cake. He has no problem eating it then. :)

Naptime is the only time when I hear, "Nee hachoo," but even then it is only a little whine. His finger-sucking days are over and I will soon be stopping the medicine . The boys also seem to sleep longer when I put each of them down in separate beds-- something I wasn't sure of at first. Now they both have no problem going down separately, and they are down for a good two hours.
Praise the Lord-- we were given a double stroller for the boys! They love riding it-- now if I could only find a way to fit it into my van. ;) This thing is huge!
It is interesting to see Dennis and Alex and how much of a difference a year of being home makes. When we made a cake the other day, Dennis was right there begging for one of the beaters while Alex had no clue what was going on.
Don't worry, Alex got a taste too!
** Update -- After some researching I believe that Alex will qualify for an IEP and receive PT and OT under "children with orthopedic impairments". :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Another Teenager in the House!

Why?? Because today we celebrated Caleb's 13th birthday. Technically, it isn't quite his birthday yet---- but this weekend worked out for everyone to come and be a part of it!

Cousin Matt provided loads of fun by bringing silly string for all the kids.

But I have to question--- fun for who?? Certainly not me who is still cleaning it up even after the kids did a tremendous job of picking up after themselves. Oh well---- birthdays only come once a year or in our case just once a month. ;)

Alex had a really good time. Given the fact that lots of family came over and the house was loud and chaotic, Alex was a very good boy--- all the way around. I could see his little head spinning watching all of the excitement-- more than he has ever seen in his whole life. I can't wait for it to be his birthday.

Of course, Caleb got some preferential treatment being it was his party, getting to be the first one thrown in the pool!

Everyone enjoyed hanging out while the burgers were being made.

My sister Elena came over too. She always brings fun to the party.

John cooked up a storm!

Come time to eat---- everyone dug in!
The grapes that my Mom brought were very sweet and tasty. Andrew made sure to get some.
Here is a picture of all of the kids (minus Anna who was at a birthday party) with John and I.

On a more serious note......

Isn't Rachel and Alex adorable together? Same hair color and shirt color---- I love this picture.

John went out front to play Frisbee with the kids.

Time for cake!

At one point, Aunt Elena did this.....
which ended in this.

Everyone was pretty quiet here enjoying their cake and ice-cream.

Caleb got mostly money for his birthday. Now he can buy what he wants--- a mini- motorcycle!
And then it was back to more swimming!
Now onto the sleepover!