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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gluten Free

After nearly 10 years of problems, Superman has finally discovered his Kryptonite: Gluten.

I'm a little put off by the fact that it's taken this long to get a diagnosis. This past year has been really difficult for him (physically). He's been to the doctor numerous times, and kept getting brushed off. Finally, he went with a list. He brought every symptom, every complaint, and told the doctor he needed to have tests done. What kind of tests, he didn't know. But tests, yes.

So, she obliged, and had him take some blood tests. And, sure enough, his "Transglutaminase" results came back way higher than they should be. Like six times higher. Which translated: Celiac disease. The fact that Superman had been eating something that was like poison to his small intestine...destroying all the little villi that help with absorption of nutrients...helps explain why the poor man is six feet tall and weighs 135 pounds. He has not been absorbing many necessary nutrients for years! Maybe he'll be able to gain a bit of weight now...I know, not the problem most people have.

As disappointing as it was to get such a diagnosis, I know it was a huge relief for Superman. Finally, he knew what was wrong with him. And, it was something that could be self-treated. No medication needed. Just a huge change in lifestyle.

So, here we's my new challenge to make yummy gluten-free foods. I've been finding some great blogs and recipes. We bought a loaf of gluten-free bread the other day at the store, and YUCK! It was chewy and grainy. Yesterday I baked a loaf (see pics above), and it was great! We couldn't even tell it was "different." Which gives me hope. Whole Foods is my best friend right now. I just wish they wouldn't take my arm and leg when I get to the cash register.

Baby steps. Baby steps.

The Rainbow of all Rainbows

My photo doesn't do this beautiful artwork of God justice.

The other day, I was driving home from some errands by myself (ah, silence in the car...) and I spied a stunning rainbow. It was actually a double rare, and I think only the second one I've ever seen in my life. Maybe I'm just not normally out when there are rainbows dancing through the sky, but I was in awe.

Here I was, driving the car, with the song, "I Stand in Awe" {ironically} softly playing on the radio when I was almost stopped in my tracks by the wonder of the Lord.

It was magnificent. Such a vivid rainbow I have never seen.

I raced home so I could try to snag a few pictures of it, but it had already faded some. I snapped what I could, but like I said, this photo truly doesn't do it justice.

What a beautiful reminder of the Lord's presence in our lives! I wasn't hopeless or overwhelmed or even discouraged at the time, but I thought about the multitudes of people looking at the very same rainbow as me. And I was sure that the Lord was speaking to the hearts of many of them.

It was a stunning gesture by the Lord of the universe--almost as though He was extending His very arm to us, ready for any willing soul to take hold of it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Why Big Families Might Be Easier

I came across THIS article the other day, and felt like I was reading my own words. So true, soooooo true...and well said!

Why Big Families Might Be Easier

A woman said to me recently that my five children were very well behaved. It’s one of the best things I can hear so I thanked her. Then she asked me “how do you do it with so many?”

I told her that I don’t think I’d be a very good parent of one child or two. She didn’t believe my answer but honest to goodness, I sometimes think that having many children is easier than just one.

Why big families are easier:

Patience. I never have to teach patience. My children know that I can’t drop everything for them if I have a baby in my arms.

Work Ethic. My children have learned to work because there are always chores to do in a small house packed with little messy lunatics. And they all learn quickly that sometimes they have to clean up a mess even though they didn’t make it.

Humility. My children have learned it’s not always their turn. They’ve accepted they can’t always get their way because other people have to get their way sometimes. They’ve learned that some children are better at certain things than they are.

Foreign language skills. You can learn a lot of Spanish by watching ten years of Dora the Explorer that you just can’t pick up in two. And now with the Diego spin off I’m practically fluent.

Laughter. The children have learned to laugh at the insane non sequiturs of younger siblings. They’ve learned that laughing just feels better when seven people are doing it along with you.

Competition. Do I really need to go into this? Everything is a competition in big families. The children compete over who reads faster, who drinks their milk faster, who gets to the bathroom first…etc. Everything is a competition and they’re all keeping score.

Balance. The floor of the front room of my home is a minefield of toys and childhood paraphernalia. Just walking through the room requires great skill and balance. I’m absolutely convinced my two year old will be a favorite for Gold on the balance beam in the 2016 Olympics. (She might have to lay off the cookies a little but I’ll deal with that later.)

Life isn’t fair. Sometimes you just give it to the baby because you want a little quiet. Not all the time. But sometimes.

Just say “No.” Being able to say “no” may be the most undervalued skill in this world. The need to be liked is pervasive. The need to be cool even more so. Having brothers and sisters teaches children to say “no” about 143 times a day. It’s a good skill.

Praying. They learn that nothing beats praying together as a family.

Nature/Nurture. Having many children has taught me that nature has a lot more to do with who my kids are than nurture. This is helpful, especially when your children misbehave you don’t have to feel bad about it. Just say “Stupid nature!!!” and blame your spouse’s genes.

Namecalling. You can occasionally call your child by the wrong name and still not be considered a terrible parent. They know who you mean just from your tone. Sometimes if you need something done you can call the wrong name and someone will still show up. That helps.

Spying. My children have learned that they can’t get away with anything. I have spies who look a lot like them who are willing to drop the dime on them for anything. Even at school I’ve got a child in just about every grade. If they do something I’ll hear. That keeps them nervous. And I like keeping my kids a little nervous.

Friendship. The children have many friends. They’ve got girly friends, crying friends, fun loving friends, consoling friends, and crazy friends. And they all have the same last name. And they’ll be there forever for each other. No matter what.

Love. I think my children have learned to love because there are others around them to love and who love them. I honestly can think of no better way to teach children to love than siblings.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Wanna Go By My Middle Name

We've pretty much stuck with the tradition of using the kids' given birth names as their middle names. With J-Man, there weren't a lot of options since his birth mom didn't give him a middle name. So, it seemed natural to just make his first name his middle name. Have I used the word "name" enough in this paragraph? Did that even make any sense?

I don't care for J-Man's middle name. It's kind of funky, and people often giggle when they hear what it is. I just really didn't want to get rid of it since it is the only tangible tie he has to his birth mom.

The other day, as we were tucking him in for bed, J-Man matter-of-factly stated that he no longer wanted to be called "J-Man {insert his actual name}, but he wanted to be called by his middle name because it is "cooler." It's been interesting the last few months. He seems to be going through a phase. We asked him the other day why he was adopted. He said, "because I'm black." That sparked a whole long conversation...when we asked him what it means to be adopted, he said, "you're black."

Ok, now keep in consideration we have never told him that. We've never said anything that I can think of that would even make him think that. But, for some reason, he did. We talked all about adoption (which we've already done...often), about the fact that people of all races are adopted. I think by the end he realized that it didn't have anything to do with his skin color. I think.

After he told me he wanted to go by his middle name, I thought for a few minutes, and then I said, "J-Man, I love you a lot. Did you know that daddy and I prayed about what to name you?" He nodded. "Daddy and I picked your name because we know you are going to be a strong, Godly man, and a leader. And the man in the Bible who we named you after was just that. I can understand why you would want to go by your middle name. And if you want to introduce yourself as that name, that's totally fine with me. But to me, you're always going to be J-Man {insert actual name again}."

I stood there for a second, (he's on a top bunk so I couldn't really sit on the side of his bed) wondering if I said the right thing. After a few seconds, he said, "OK!"

And, that was it. I got a big hug and a kiss, and he was happy as a clam. He hasn't brought it up again, but I'm sure it'll surface again at some point.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Beautiful, Bright Light at the End of the Tunnel!

We got word from our county worker that we will be signing adoptive placement papers (Lord willing) on April 7th! We should be finalized by the end of May!

Oh, what a day it will be when we are *finally* a completed family! Can't believe there is finally an end in sight...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


A new friend of mine who I recently met at church is adopting through foster care. She and her husband just finished their home study less than a few months ago, and got a call a couple weeks back about a brother-and-sister sibling set. The little boy is 17 months, and the girl is about 5 months.

Something stirred within me when she told me the news. I felt like I was reliving all of the emotions I felt when we brought our kids home. It was the same feeling each time--first, excitement and anticipation waiting to actually bring them home. Then, after walking through the door with our new child(ren), a sense of completely overwhelming anxiety at the thought of what our future held.

When you're pregnant, you have nine months to prepare. Friends and family join you in the experience, waiting for the precious bundle to arrive. There are baby showers to attend and baby rooms to books to read and baby clothes to buy. But, with adoption, it's different. At least, when adopting through foster care. You don't know what's coming. You have an idea of what you're looking for, but there's no ultrasound telling you you're having a boy (or girl). You just get a call one day, and all-of-a-sudden, you have new kids.

Anyway, back to my friend. I went to her house the day after they picked up the kids. It was the strangest thing. I felt that same pit in my stomach. I felt anxious, excited, and a bit overwhelmed. Heck, these aren't even my kids, but I still felt those things. Their smell even got me going. I don't know how to describe it. But I was completely wrapped up in wanting to make their transition as smooth as possible.

When our kids came home, I felt like the only person on the planet going through what we were. I didn't know anyone else (at the time) who had felt the emotions I was feeling. Some dear friends brought us dinner for a few days, but other than that, I felt on my own. It's not like bonding with a birth child. I was trying to bond with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, both of whom had needs I didn't know how to meet. And I felt alone.

It's my mission now to help anyone I can to transition through those first few weeks. Anything I can do...bring food, offer to take older kids, even just hang out so those "emotions" I keep talking about can be shared.

And I hope if you come across someone who's adopting, you can be a shoulder for him or her, too.

For those of you who have adopted, what went through your mind during those first few moments at home?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Middle

Middle children. I never really grasped the concept until we had one. I'm the youngest of four, and definitely had a lot of things easier in life being that I was the little one. It's just how the ball rolls, I suppose.

Now, I don't think the whole "middle child syndrome" applies to all middle kids. After all, Superman is a middle child (sandwiched between two sisters), and he seems to be none worse for the wear (is that the right phrase?).

But M-Dog is a classic middle child. Two older brothers, two younger sisters. He's not the only boy. He's not the Type-A personality that Mr. C is...he's not the outgoing, rarely-shy J-Man. He's not a cute girl with a contagious personality or a sweet little baby. No, he's just M-Dog. Middle child. One of the biggest challenges is that M-Dog is a quiet boy. He's easy going, tender-hearted and really quite compliant (aside from when his brothers are ganging up on him). He can get lost in the shuffle quicker than I can get away from someone smoking a cigarette.

You see, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Or, the squeaky child gets the attention. And he doesn't really squeak. I mean, he squeals a lot when he falls down, but he doesn't really squeak.

Poor M-Dog. I'm constantly racking my brain (is it wracking? racking?) trying to figure out what makes him tick so we can start to really nurture that in him. He loves cars and trucks and tractors. He loves playing outside...and he loves video games. Man, that kid could be an addict lickety-split. But I don't know what's at the core of him yet. I don't know what his God-given talents are or what it is that fills him with passion.

We try to do things one-on-one with our kids as often as we can, even if it's just going to the grocery store with me, or the bank with daddy. But I never feel like that's enough.

How do I make sure he doesn't grow up feeling like a completely lost little boy? How do I help him find himself and feel confident in his place in our family? I know it's still early--he'll only be five in April--but I want to help him now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Sabbath and a Great Resource!

Lookie what I stumbled across today: This site has some awesome blank printables for art, music, geography, Bible, language arts, and more! It was quickly bookmarked on my computer.

Yesterday, Superman was off work. The weather was incredible, so after about an hour and a half of school, we spent the morning outside working in the yard. Ah, the joys of flip flops. I even painted my toenails.

Part of our school lesson was making Challah and celebrating a traditional Jewish Sabbath (yeah, I know, it wasn't the Sabbath...). Mr. C helped me make the dough (yay for the bread machine!) and then in the afternoon, we went through the steps of a Sabbath dinner.

It started with me lighting two candles, and each of us getting a glass of "wine" (juice). Superman then went to each child and blessed him (we did this while the girls were napping). He came to me, and gave me a blessing as well. It was very moving. I actually had tears in my eyes while I watched our boys receiving blessings from their daddy.

After the blessings, Superman broke the bread and passed it out to each person, and we ate it together.

It was wonderful. Definitely something to celebrate again.

Tomorrow we're going on a field trip to the local grocery store. Should be interesting!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, N!

The last few days somehow went by and I was too busy to write in my blog. I think Superman having a 5-day weekend has something to do with it. For some reason, when he's home, I get half the amount of stuff done, but twice as much needs to be done. Why is that?
At any rate, today is N's birthday! Our little girl is officially three. I can't believe it! It's amazing how far she has come in less than 2 years. I remember her coming home to us at 13 months old...clingy, whiny, and scared of the world (and daddy). Now, here she is...confident (maybe a bit too confident), feisty, and the book definition of a "daddy's girl." She is beautiful and probably the best helper I've ever met. She knows what we need before we ask for it. Superman will sit down at the computer, and she'll go running off to get his glasses. He'll come home from work and take his shoes off, and she'll go grab his slippers. No joke. We haven't even taught her to do that!
She's a girly girl who loves anything pink. And when great-grandma and great-grandpa gave her a little pink purse, she was in heaven!

Oh, and I made cake pops for the first time. They're not gorgeous, but hey, for a first attempt, they're not bad!

More later!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Skype Anyone?

My friend Amber has an endless supply of brilliant ideas in her pretty little head. I'm sure you know, since I mention her regularly. But this idea has got to be one of my favorites. Every week, someone in her extended family reads her kids a bedtime story over Skype. I know! Awesome, right?

So I've solicited the services of members of my and Superman's families to participate in our newfound adventure. I'm utterly stoked. Now, no one has replied to my e-mail yet, but I hope they won't disappoint me and refuse our poor children the experience of a lifetime.

Oh, and if you haven't met our kids yet, and would like a personal introduction, feel free to leave your Skype username (or e-mail me), and we'll give you a call! If you're lucky, we'll act out a story for your kids!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Fun

We're really not football enthusiasts. We keep waiting for a team that we have a connection to so we can root for them. So far, there really hasn't been one. We don't have any football teams in our town, and we don't know anyone through six degrees of separation who plays for a pro team. But Superman read that the coach of the Colts was pro-life, so we decided to go ahead and root for them.

We have a Super Bowl party every year with the kids even though we don't watch football at any other time. Superman thinks it's important to make sure the kids know how to "yell at the t.v." and "pretend like we're really into it" while guzzling down root beer and stuffing our faces with chips and dip.

Yesterday was fun. The kids made it through the first half pretty well. Then they took all the balloons I had blown up out to the backyard and popped them all. Apparently that was more fun than watching a bunch of guys ram into each other.

Here's N admiring her "beer":

And M-Dog:

Mr. C:

J-Man (isn't this the cutest picture? I can just see the grown man in him oozing out...):

Showing his incredible muscles:

Daddy cuddling with M-Dog and N...can you see how blue Superman's eyes are??

We're men!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I just love Superman. I know I've said that before, but it really can never be said enough. He has got to be one of the most compassionate men I know.

We talked about "adopting" a child through Compassion International a few years ago, but didn't make the leap until last year. See, if it were just me and the kids, I would have thought one child was sufficient. But Superman, he's always thinking outside the box. He decided it would have more impact if each of our kids eventually "sponsored" their own child. Someone his or her own age...someone they could relate to...someone who we could introduce them to down the road when we can travel overseas. He also wanted to pick kids from countries that our kids had some ties, since I'm 1/2 East Indian, we chose an Indian boy for Mr. C. J-Man and M-Dog both come from African-American roots, so Kenya was the country of choice. Of course, we have no way of knowing which exact country their line stems from, but our church does mission trips every year to Kenya so we figured maybe down the road we could hook up with them for a trip. N and G will get to pick girls out when they're four years old.

They each get $10/month for "allowance." Five dollars of that goes to sponsor their overseas friends (we sport the rest). Superman regularly explains that we sacrifice some of our "extra comforts" so that we can help these kids...give them an education, provide them with good food and water, and most importantly, help them realize that Jesus loves them!

So far, the three boys are each sponsoring someone. Each child is roughly the same age as our boys. They send them letters, pictures, and fun things to play with. And now that we're homeschooling, part of our "curriculum" is writing letters and sending fun things to our friends who are less fortunate.

Today, after "school," we all went to Walmart and picked up a bunch of things that are less than 8.5 x 11" wide and 1/4" thick (per the rules). We came home, and each boy drew his friend a picture and stuffed the envelopes and I wrote a letter for them saying what they wanted to say. And it was magnificent. Seeing our boys purposefully thinking of someone else, not expecting anything in return, and getting sheer joy out of sending something small overseas are probably some of the most fulfilling moments of parenthood for me so far.

So let me introduce you...

Here's M-Dog's buddy, David (from Kenya)

And J-Man's friend, Dennis (also from Kenya):

And Mr. C's buddy, Subhash (from India):

The joy we receive from knowing we are making a difference in the lives of these boys is wonderfully contagious. I only wish everyone could...or would experience it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"It's Because of His Background."

Wow. Sometimes people really amaze me with their lack of consideration.

About a half hour ago, my "mentor teacher" from the charter school came by for our first meeting. After I signed all the paperwork, she asked me why we decided to home school. I told her about Mr. C not being challenged enough, and J-Man needing some extra one-on-one help. And then she said, "Well, that's because of his background." Excuse me?? Surely I just heard you wrong. You, on your first visit, cannot be offering such a blatantly stereotypical comment!

Wow. I really am shocked. I'm not at a loss for words very often, but I really didn't know what to say. I stared at her. She was waiting for me to agree with what she said, but I didn't.

The thing is, that she's right. I mean, he does need help partly because of his background. But she has no clue what his background is. We could have adopted him from someone at birth. We could have been lovingly chosen by a birth mom who had all the prenatal care and vitamins a woman could have during a pregnancy. But what? This woman assumes that because we have this black child, he must certainly need extra help because of "his background"???

I'm sorry for the rant. I am just appalled that someone would come into my house, meet me for the first time, and spew such a ridiculous observation to me.

Female Issues and Six-Year-Old Boys.

When I go into public restrooms, I usually have to bring the kids with me unless Superman is around. Mr. C has consistently asked what those "silver boxes" on the wall of the bathroom are. You know, the ones that you put a quarter into. I've always skirted the issue, just saying that they are for girls.

A little while back, Mr. C and I were at the doctor. It was fantabulous since I just had him. I love it when I get to do things one-on-one with our kids. We could be at the dentist and I'd be happy.

But, I digress. On our way out, we stopped by the restroom. Mr. C asked me again, "What is that silver box for on the wall?" I told him that it was for girls and that it really wouldn't be interesting to him. Here's how the rest of the conversation went:

Him: "I don't care."
Me: "Honey, it's really gross, and you wouldn't want to know." (Why I said the word "gross" to a six-year-old and then expected him to drop the subject, I'll never know...)
Him: "Just TELL me!"
Me: "Maybe when you're older."
Him: "I am older! Just tell me!"
Me: "Ok, but you have to promise you're not going to joke about it with your brothers or sisters."
Him: "Ok, OK!"

I proceeded to tell him, in simple terms, about what happens to women each month. I told him those things in the "silver box" were like band-aids. He seemed content with that answer. But when we got to the car, he said, "Can I see?" I told him no, like we've told him before, it's not nice to see other people's privates. He said, "But a doctor could."
"Yes," I said "That's true."
To which he replied,
"I wanna be THAT kind of doctor!"
Yikes. I told him he can be that kind of doctor if he wants, but it'll take him another 8 years beyond high school to get there. He didn't think it sounded as appealing then.

Monday, February 1, 2010


These boys love crazy hairstyles. I let them have Mohawks last summer, but when they were in school, I only let them have simple, non-attention-grabbing buzz cuts. I figured their teachers wouldn't appreciate the distraction that the crazy hair would bring.

So, it's not surprising that one of the first things they wanted to do when we started homeschooling was to get Mohawks. And I figured, why not? I mean, they only live once. It's just hair. It'll grow back. Plus, I think they look pretty darn cute.

69 Years.

This weekend, my grandparents celebrated 69 years of marriage. Nothing short of a miracle in today's time!

Happy Anniversary to them.

If it weren't for them, I doubt I would have turned out "normal." (Of course, normal is all relative...).

So thankful for such wonderful grandparents who took the time to invest in me and my siblings as we grew up!

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