Monday, March 31, 2008

To all 5 year olds on the verge of losing your first tooth:

The gauntlet has been thrown.

Ella(5) is aiming to have the cleanest, shiniest tooth the tooth fairy has EVER seen. She is brushing her teeth with a new vigor, the likes of which have never been seen before in this house.

Ella *heard* that the tooth fairy is giving an extra quarter for clean, shiny, sparkly teeth. Why didn't I think of this, I mean hear about this 3 years ago??? It is providing great motivation around here - teeth brushing - with no whining or complaining - a MIRACLE, I tell you!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Not your typical Easter Parade...

Amy Grant

My friend Linda passed along this book to me and I am so loving it! I am really surprised by Amy Grant's ability to say so much in so few words. She truly has a gift, not only for song writing, but also in her ability to connect with the reader almost immediately. She seems to have "eyes to see", and brings to reader right along with her. Authentic and vulnerable are words that come to mind.

The stories are super short, great for those of us who have little pockets of reading time here and there throughout the day.

In one of the first stories she describes the experience of bringing her 3 teenage nieces to see the ocean for the first time in their lives. The story was sweet in itself, but then she ends it, as she does all of the other stories, with a memorable truth:
"Salt water is the greatest component of our world, yet some people have never seen an ocean. That doesn't change the ocean. It is constant and powerful, and like the love of God, whether we're immersed in it, standing on the shore, or a thousand miles away, it remains."

She ends a story about her daughter and horse named Jack with a reflection on the ways we brand ourselves and others. She says:
"I've decided it's time to start reminding myself of some other words that are true. Today as I was brushing my teeth, I saw my reflection in the contacts yet, so I looked softer around the edges. Before my mind started assessing the toll of time, I spoke in an early morning whisper to my forty-six-year-old reflection: "You are made in the image of God. You are the salt of the earth. You are like the starlight shining our in the darkness. You're the light of the world." What is it about these words that is so mysterious and powerful? I am just repeating what has already been said. What is already true."

Thanks Amy (see, we're friends now), I needed that.

I really expected the book to be a collection of sweet, interesting stories, but it is much more.

Piper is still sleeping, so I'm going to settle in and read another chapter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

It's been a great day around here. Nothing too out of the ordinary. I just love days like this where everyone in the family seems to have had a great day, getting their cups filled in just the way they needed it.

I needed to get a lot done today - 4 loads of laundry, bathrooms cleaned, floors mopped, grocery list made....and on it goes. We are having our family over here on Easter so there will be 15 of us here for lunch on Sunday. I am so glad to have my family close by, what a blessing!

One of Ella's sweet friends came over and they played and played and played some more while Piper and I cleaned together. It was so cute listening to Ella and her friend play "orphanage nannies". They were so busy lovin on their babies as they chatted in "Chinese", and took pictures of the babies with their Barbie cell phones!

All the while I got to listen to some great teaching by Chip Ingram. Oh, I got me a word, yes I did!!! Go here, and listen to a great, great message (titled "What difference does it really make?") on how to break through the familiar of Easter(church, family, etc.) and experience the supernatural - awesome!

Meanwhile, Scott took Hunter to one of his favorite places on earth, a local nature/wildlife preserve. They had lunch together on a hill top, counting 64 turtles and enjoying the gorgeous creation before them, just about to burst with spring. This fills Hunter's cup like nothing else, and I am so glad they got spend Good Friday together out in beautiful weather, enjoying the Creator's handiwork.

I'm going to go listen to that Chip Ingram message again...

Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Style tips by Piper, 22 months old

By the time I found my camera, Piper had been carrying these 3 purses around for quite some time. She'd managed to keep them on as she looked at books, danced to music, and carried a grocery cart down the stairs!
She wasn't going to let go of those purses, even for some chocolate milk.
She had to adapt her keyboarding in order to keep the purses in tact. Eventually this became the last straw, and she looked at me and said, "Purses - OFF!!!".
Her original outfit this morning consisted of the pink shirt and black pants. She then brought me the jacket saying, "coat - ON!!!". When she and Ella emerged from their room, she'd added this lovely bikini to the mix.
You like???

God did a very good thing when he made kids cute. Somehow it makes up for all of the messes, the loss of sleep, time, money, energy...but I digress. I really enjoy watching them "become". All of their quirky ways make life so interesting in the midst of the most mundane tasks like laundry and dishes. Oh, and sweeping up the mess Piper made seconds after I took this photo, by dumping the bag of pretzels on the floor!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I completed something!!!

I made this...
while they collected these.
Yes, those are worms.

I never knew I'd ever feel so grateful to a group of worms. But I'll be darn if they didn't keep my kids busy for an hour and a half.

I've been trying to freshen up Piper and Ella's room for a while now, but it's just now coming together - so fun! I got the canvas for the chandelier painting at the local thrift store for $2.99. In it's previous life, it was a bright red and purple painting of an Indian chief. Well, he got a little make over, and is now a very girly chandelier.

Also, truth be told, I got a lot done yesterday due to the fact that we couldn't find our phone, all day long. Long story, but my hubby left it in the attic the night before! So, with no one to talk to, and the kids absorbed in their earthworm expedition, I had time to work, time to think...a luxury for sure.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ok, my heart is complete mush, it's official.

A couple of nights ago we were sitting around the table eating dinner when Piper(22 months old) started naming everyone at the table:
"Hun - ter, El-la, Momeee, Dadeeee, Je - sus!"
We had never heard her say His name before, and we all just stopped and looked at her. Does she see something we don't?!!! Most likely yes. It brought to mind these words from Jesus:

" At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."

And then this morning, out of the blue, Piper came to me and said, "Thank you, Momeeee." I stopped, got on her level and said "You are welcome, Piper!". She smiled and then said, "Thank you...God!".

It reminded me of my conversation yesterday with Hunter. He'd learned about God's omnipresence at church. We talked about how God is everywhere, in our house, in our hearts, outside, at school, etc..., and then it hit me in a new the orphanage in China. If I really believe as I say I do, I must believe that Jesus was there with Piper, those first 10 months of her life. Hearing her say His name in her sweet little voice was such a blessing to me.

So, yes, my heart is complete mush these days, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I love this boy...

The view out Hunter's window

Hunter got out of school early today b/c of the weather. We got home, ate a snack, okay a small meal, as we watched big fat snowflakes fall. I tried to capture the snowfall on camera, but just couldn't. It was absolutely beautiful. It just snowed and snowed and snowed.

Hunter then said he was going to do his homework up in his room, so that he could go out later. I went to check on him about 15 minutes later and found him at his make shift desk, making the most of his great view. He had music playing and was working away.

I love this kid.

March Madness....let's review

Tuesday morning
Tuesday afternoon, snow all gone, beautiful warm weather
Thursday afternoon

So much for global warming...

OK, it's the south. Hunter and Ella are both at school, I'm sure they are soooo excited. I'm about to go get them, school is closing early. It's really snowing hard. Heck, forget about the kids, I'm excited!!!

When did God think of adoption?

Xiushan Orphanage, China

Oh, I love me some John Piper. Listen to him explain adoption. Love his passion. Love his little encouragement at the end. I really needed this today, as it reminded me to keep praying and stay open to how I can encourage others in adoption. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the number of orphans, by all of the injustices and red tape that stand in the way of children having parents. I also need the reminder about my own adoption - and what a huge thing that is.

A couple of weeks ago I read along as several bloggers I read went to Africa with Compassion International. As they prepared to come home they were brought together to discuss what it was going to be like when they returned home to their comfortable suburban lives. They called it "re-entry" and said it could be a difficult time. One blogger mentioned having survivor's guilt at the stark contrast b/t her life and the lives she encountered in Uganda.

Something happened as I read their accounts. I realized that for the past year, since we came home from adopting Piper, I have been struggling through some sort of "survivor's guilt", for lack of a better word. I just have had such a difficult time thinking about the difference b/t Piper's life and the lives of the children that still reside at Xiushan Orphanage. Just writing that, the tears are rolling. I can't put into words how much I love Piper Grace. Just like any proud mama, I think she is one of God's most beautiful creations. But then I think about those other children, they are God's creations as well, and now that I can really see them, and feel a kinship with's just hard to accept. They deserve to have a family that celebrates with them as they take their first step, or learn to say their own name. They deserve a mommy who will comfort them when they are sick and tell them they are the most wonderful baby in the world. Don't they?

Anyway, these thoughts feel very incomplete still. I don't really know what to do with these feelings, besides offer them up, and remember that God is in control, in the good and in the bad, that I know. My job is to pray, and stay close to Him and listen when He speaks.

"Be open to the possibilities - of God's promises to grow good things in hard places. Be open to the possiblilites that these circumstances hold more than what I see right now. Be open to the possiblilites of discovering new hope. Be open to the day at a time." Carol Kuykendall (thank you to my mother in law for that quote, I love it...)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The best PMS fix around

Once you enter into this crazy, wonderful community of China adopters, something very special happens about once a month. BABIES! Referrals come out, and families are formed. I love looking at the pictures of the little ones who have no idea that a family is freaking out, in a wonderful way of course, on the other side of the world as they study every centimeter of their photos.

Now that we are on the other side of this process, I can somewhat picture what's about to happen in these families lives. They are about to embark in an out of this world adventure of love, travel, bonding, discovery...just life at it's fullest. It's just all so exciting! So if you'd like to see a few of these sweet faces, go here, and enjoy.


Snowy March Surprise!

Yesterday evening, little white flakes began to fall.

Little did we know that we'd wake up to several inches on the ground.
We live next door to a big hill and the kids had a blast sledding down.
Ella was the first try it, and had great technique from the very beginning.

This is the first time it has snowed here this year, and it was a good one - soft and fluffy, perfect for playing. Piper was such a trooper and hung with the big kids for the entire time, only complaining when it was time to go in. It's already starting to melt, but it was fun while it lasted. My hats off to you Northern moms who deal with all of paraphernalia that goes with snowy weather on a daily basis. I just kept thinking that I had to be burning extra calories!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Hello, my name is Dena and PMS is real.

This is a public apology for all of the private thoughts I've had over the years about women/friends who complained of PMS. I plead ignorance. I didn't know. I do now.

It started sometime after I had Ella, 5 year ago. It seems to be getting a little worse each month. So by the time I go through menopause, I'll probably be living by myself, in a box somewhere, and happy about it, because, HELLO, no one will talk to me there.

For 2 days every month, I want to run far, far away - without the running of course. I feel like if I could just not have anyone talk to me, I'd be fine. The other members of my family don't seem to understand how revolutionary those two days could be if they just wouldn't say anything, thankyouverymuch. The 2 other females in the house seem to feeding off of my irritability, and the picture is not pretty this morning.

Piper kept saying "EGG - WANT IT - NOW!!!!"

So, I gave her a hard boiled egg, cut up nicely on her plate, only to have her toss it on the floor. "EGG - NO WANT IT!!!"

It's cloudy and rainy here. I do realize in the big scheme of things, PMS is not the end of the world. It just makes you wish it were!

I'll be darn if Piper just didn't come up to me and say,
"EGG -WANT IT! Now!!!"

Lord, help us.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


"Twash LOUD!" she kept saying.

I'm in a major simplifying, cleaning out, getting rid of stage right now. Most of the toys we are parting with get donated, but as I was secretly collecting my little treasures to haul away the other day, I couldn't bring myself to donate one of Hunter's toys.

It was with great glee that I picked up this plastic siren thingy that screeches loudly with each push of one it's 10 annoying buttons. I put it in my secret bag where toys go to say their last goodbyes, unbeknownst to the 3 little ones.

But... I have this little problem of over thinking even the smallest of decisions. As I went to hide my stash, with that annoying screechy thingy on top, I mentally followed this little toy's new path. I would donate it to the local resale shop where the proceeds go to charity, and then some unknowing 1st time mom would buy it for their little tot, take it home, and then curse the person who gave it away, knowing the torment all those LOUD screechy sirens would cause.

And I really don't like being cursed. At all.

I could not knowingly pass it along, so in the spirit of sisterhood, I secretly placed it in the bottom of the kitchen trash.

Occasionally when the trash is full, I will place it by the back door, hoping the trash fairy will come take it out for me. It happened once back in 1997.

So, on her way to searching for an open bathroom door, Piper spotted it, and as all good 22 month olds would do, began dragging it behind her.

Well, much to her surprise (and mine), the trash screeched, oh so loudly, at her, as flashing lights blinked on and off through the bag. I don't think I've ever seen that version of shock on Piper's face before! But once she got over her initial terror, she settled into playing with the bag of trash for a good part of the morning.

And really, insulated by old diapers and milk cartons, those sirens weren't so terrible. Maybe I shouldn't have thrown it away after all...


So I'm loading the dishwasher after dinner tonight and Ella(5) starts yelling:

"MOMMEEE!!! Piper put her hands in the toliet and picked up some poo poo!"

I nearly drop the plate I'm holding and run (ok, walk briskly) to the scene. Just as I think I might be ill, Hunter(7) yells from upstairs:

"OH, that's not poo poo, that's my dessert!"


Like it's an everyday occurance, "I put my chocolate in the potty, that's all."

Call me crazy, but something about this conversation strikes me as odd, I just haven't figured out which part yet.