Friday, November 7, 2008

Fall Full of Fun!

The colors of Arkansas haved turned and they are reflecting God's design. K-man is learning about leaves and to see the process that each individual leaf goes through from life to dormancy is just awesome. It reminds me of how personal and intricate our Daddy God is. If He cares this much for a leaf, imagine how He cares about YOU!

This fall we have done so much already. One of the MANY joys of living in Arkansas is the mild fall weather. This allows for much extended outdoor fun. We have been homeschooling outside, riding bikes, going to the park and just enjoying every minute of it.

Following are some pictures from this fall. They range from Homeschool Fun at the Pumpkin Patch to Family Fun Fest (Halloween!) K-man was Buzz Lightyear and Lou Bear was a Pincess (Princess.)

Hope all is well with you. We love you and miss you. Oh, incidentally, the little fella with us is Eric. He is Kaden's best buddy. His mom MADE...that's right MADE his Larry Boy Costume!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Prayer Party of Three

Teaching our children to pray is a pretty amazing thing. Every day we pray with them, for them, about them etc. I have tried to tell the kids that they can be completely transparent and honest ("your most real self!") with God. I tell them that they don't have to be fancy and can pray about anything. God loves them and He will listen.

I also tell them that they can pray anywhere, at any time - and we practice that. Every day on the way to school we pray in our car. I ask the kids what they want to pray about. I get the usual - Pray for Dad, Grandparents, trees, flowers, etc.

Well, one day, on the way to school I said "What should we pray about today?" Elaina said ", Gaddy (Daddy)!" And The Dog was unusually quiet. Not sure I wanted to know and desperately hoping I wasn't going to hear about body parts or functions I fearfully asked "K-man, do you have anything you'd like to pray about?" I look in the rearview mirror and I am met by beautiful brown eyes of love. Then he points his head at his sister and says dismissively "Pray for Elaina, she sets a pretty good tea party!"


And you know what folks - she REALLY does!

To see the evidence click

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dad Cakes

I am in love. Every single day I fall deeper into love. I am so in love that I have GOT to blog about it.

My husband is the most amazing guy in the world. I am blessed, blessed I say, to be married to him. I am so thankful for his friendship, laughter and love. He is an awesome provider, a great friend, a skilled....well, you get the picture. I love my Q Bear.

He is also a great Daddy. The kids look up to him in such a humbling way. They worship him as a Daddy and love him so much. They have special things they do together like dropping the hammer, eating stubbies and just goofing around. There are things that I cannot emulate nor would I want to. They are special things...Daddy things. This is yet another reason I love this man. He is a great Dad.

Every Saturday since right after K-man was born, on Saturday mornings we have a tradition - DAD CAKES. Dad cakes are pancakes made with a secret ingredient that only Dad knows. He makes these round, flat-tastic fabulous cakes of goodness. They are delicious. The kids beg for them and the whole routine is just a big 'ol family festival. The kids wait with looks of awe and anticipation and we often have fun conversation and great memories while waiting for Dad Cakes.

So, I thought I'd let you in on what that looks like:

To me, it's a foretaste of a much bigger Feast :) (A bit of Heaven on Earth if you will)

Love you Q!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Luke, I'm your father..."

So, Ken is a movie hound, right? Well, he might be just a wee bit (whole lot) more permissive than I am when it comes to what the kids watch on TV. Right now K-man is hooked on Star Wars, much to my dismay. But, I am trying to be open minded about things.

That said, I will NOT buy Star Wars junk. I refuse, I mean it's all so commercialized and ridiculous. I will not be a party to that. I absolutely, positively will not allow him to play with Jaba the Hut dolls, Sand people and the like. And no way, no how will I allow Darth Vader ANYWHERE in this house - GOT IT!

Or will I???????

Oh, and by the way, just in case you are wondering how I KNEW Darth Vader had entered my home it's because before I saw him, I heard

"kshhhhhh, kshhhhhhh, kshhhhhhhhh Luke, I am your father!"

No, no, I am not kidding, not even one little bit.

ETA: YES he came up with the costume on his own - yes, yes he did indeed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Accountability...and a big ol' update

Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement (taunting), your thoughtful notes (rage mail), your sweet phone calls (nagging!) Because of your love and tenacity I am finally updating my blog. I should name names, but I won't, you know who you are! (Liz, Jessie, Sarah, Molly, Mary Kay, Tracie, Tracy ad infinitum...) Quietly in the background you sheepishly hear, "Oh, and thanks, you are just what I need in my life."
I know, I know, I should really entitle the post Shock and Awe but I wouldn't want to misconstrue anything as being political. I mean, I just have some pictures of the kids and some chit chat.

Life is CRAZY right now. But, it's also really fun. For years I have watched mini-vans with bumper stickers, pictures, license plates and other car memorabilia that read "MOM's TAXI!" I'll be honest, I totally made fun of them. Well, to every mom I made fun of, laughed at, rolled my eyes at, wondered at your sanity - I am SO, SO, SO sorry. I get it now. I really do. We are constantly on the go from one thing to the next. Between homeschool, pre-K, homeschool co-op, Body and Soul, Awana, Choir, Swimming Lessons and everything in between we spend HOURS in the mini-van. While we haven't taken up residence in the van, I can't say the same for old fries, yogos, candy wrappers, juice pouches, straws and many other treasures. I am pretty sure if we buried the van in the ground and they found it in the year 3008 they would think it was a time capsule!

Well, on to the updates. K-Man is ROCKIN' and ROLLIN' with homeschool. He is learning so much. We are using the My Father's World curriculum. He is really just amazing me. I find that he is super motivated by sending things to other people. He was so proud of the gifts he sent to Grandma and Grandpa Simon. He could hardly contain the fact that he was "sending them a special delivery."

K is learning about the phases of the moon, the sun, the planets, apples and so much more. I love the homeschooling aspect in that every time he is REALLY interested in something we use that to supplement every aspect of his education. It works great! This way he has no idea he's learning...shhhhhhhhh. He is struggling with his fine motor skills a bit and we are visiting and occupational therapist every other week. But, he has GREATLY improved since the beginning of the year.

Following you will see his alphabet accomplishments and his Creation creations. Day four was his favorite, so we took a special snappie for you!

The Lou Bear is doing equally wonderfully. She started Pre-K at William Jefferson Clinton Elementary (What can I say, we live in Arkansas!) She attends school 5 days per week. LB has some special learning challenges with her speech, so rather than have her home in our we translate for her, K talks for her, we know her needs and meet them before she needs to talk environment we threw her to the clutches of the public school system And, thus far we have been very pleased, er, at least I think we are. Now, she won't stop talking. "Doknowhatmom?" (Do you know what, Mom?) Is her favorite question. She loves school and talks from the moment we pick her up until she crashes to bed each night.

Of course we miss her a lot, but we know she is well cared for. And EVERY day we get a report on what was for lunch! "Doknowhatmom?" she says. "What?" I respond. "Today we had Tsicken (Chicken)," she explains with big eyes "ON A BUN!" What can I say, a girl after my own heart, the highlight of her day is lunch!

She also has had a run in with the the boy in the purple shirt. Evidently the bitps (boy in the purple shirt) is not a very nice boy. Well, he tried to push her down the slide. So, she came home and told us about this little fella. And I said next time you need to say "Don't push me down the slide I don't like that!" And then if he doesn't listen you can tell the teacher. Well, I hear her telling daddy and he has some different advice. I only heard the tale end of the conversation, but it sounded like "and if that doesn't work - push him back!!" WHAT?! Oh, well, I guess that could work too. Anyway, here is my Lou Bear!

Wow - where does the time go?! I will also try to do a few more posts this week. Bug me about it though, okay?!

Love you all and miss you~
Q and Crew

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eat Your Heart Out Jeremy Camp!

Today is my birthday! No, that is not a shameless plug. It's not a call out for well wishes, just an integral part of the story. Thing is, this year, I thought it would be impossible for God to give me a better present than last year. Last year, I ran into my good buddy Jeremy Camp at the Nashville Zoo. Jeremy Camp just happens to be one of my favorite singers of all time - TID/TIND - know what I'm sayin'? I mean, it would take something pretty special to top THAT!

As you can see from the picture, K-man and Lou Bear were JUST as excited as I was:

So, I was thinking that there was absolutely NO WAY anything I received could come close to that! I was soooooooooooo wrong.

Qbear is out of town. Usually, he and the kids make or buy a cake. I mean we totally do it for the kids, right? They love to sing Happy Birthday. It has nothing to do with the fact that we just want cake.

Well, with Q gone, K-Man was very concerned that there wasn't a cake for my birthday. I calmly explained that Daddy was gone and that when he came home we could celebrate with a cake. I thought this appeased him. However, he kept coming back to me and saying things like "Mom, you should have a cake!" "Mom it's your birthday TODAY!" "Mom, we could make a cake!" Etc. I just kept telling him that it was fine.

Later in the morning, I gave the kids a snack and came to the computer to check my email. Well lo' and behold here comes K-man singing Happy Birthday with a bowl in his hand! Inside the bowl were some grapes and crackers?? Hmmm...okay, um, thanks buddy that is really sweet. "You didn't want to eat your grapes, did you?" To which his innocent eyes responded "No, Mom, look it's a cake! Dontcha see the smilie face? It's a smilie face cake just for you!" I had never seen him look more proud. It was like he had grown two feet just with pride! His eyes were virtually sparkling with delight. And, if you look closely, it is INDEED a smilie cake.

Eat your heart out Jeremy Camp!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Beach Bum Photography

Here are some pictures that we took on Pensacola Beach! They bring back such FUN memories. They were taken by if you are ever in the Pensacola/Destin area, you should TOTALLY use them! Click on the picture if you would like a better view.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Four Sure!

June is really a special month for our family. It's the time of year when we celebrate BOTH of our children's birthdays. I call them our children, but I use the term loosely. It's at the special times like this that I realize that they are God's children, simply on loan to us for a season. It is my humble pleasure that he chose ME to be called their mom. It really is the purest of adoption stories to be they are both His adopted son and daughter.

On June 24th we had the honor of celebrating Lou Bear's 4th birthday. It is really almost depressing to think that my baby is 4-years-old! Oiy, where does the time go? As with K-Man, I spent the evening before her big day telling her about her birth story. (Qbear was out of town.) She just rested her head in the crook of my arm and smiled up at me. I don't know if she knew or understood any of it, but I understood.

As I smooched on my little girl, I praised God for her birthparents. I praised God for their selfless gift. I praised God that her birthmother and birthfather chose LIFE so that my life could be so full and rich.

Lou Bear is a beautiful, smart, funny, loving, snuggly little girl. I could not imagine life without her. Being her mommy is something that would stand out on my resume. It's means more to me than my education, experience and accolades combined. In my opinion there is NO greater calling than being a mommy. I feel so grateful that for four years God has allowed this little girl to be my daughter.

Happy Birthday to my favorite little girl in the world!

PS: This last picture is a picture of Lou Bear at Bible School. She wanted to wear her pincess dess (princess dress) and her sandals for her special day. I realized later, she did it so people would say, "Why are you so dressed up?!" That way, she could reply, "It's my birthday!" WHERE does she come up with this stuff?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Spiritual Spoonfuls of Blessing

Well, I did it! I went on a vacation...with the in-laws! Gasp? What? Yep, we just got back from a week of sea shells, sunshine, swimming and sweetness. Many of you know, but I am going to type it out for posterity, I absolutely LOVE my in-laws. They are awesome!! The week was truly amazing. The kids were in heaven. Our days usually looked like this: Get up, eat breakfast, decide between the beach or the pool, swim, eat, swim, eat, nap and eat some more. We also did some of the touristy things, we went to the National Aviaton Museum, the Gulfarium, the Pensacola Fishing Pier etc.

Now, I don't know about you, but a dear friend of mine (love you Stacey!) likes to think that she is God's favorite. Shoot - I think we should ALL feel like that. On this trip, there were so many times I felt like I was just heaped with spiritual spoonfuls of blessing. There were times where I just basked in the Everlasting Arms of Love and soaked it all up.

I watched my children in the ocean, I watched them ooh and ahh over things that occur in nature that would amaze you! There were some things I saw that blew my mind. I mean, I watched a pod of dolphins frolicking in the ocean - it was AWESOME. I had an especially blessed evening on the pier with my sister-in-law and my children. We saw jellyfish, a sea turtle, barracudas, dolphins, sting rays - WOW!

And while the natural beauty was indescribable, it was really the being with family that made me feel especially blessed. There were so many pockets-full of praise. There were so many times that if you would have been there and hit pause you would have been touched by something so beautiful. You may have seen a snuggle of a mom and her son, a teachable moment between a niece and her auntie, a look of love between a boy and his torpedo, a belly laugh, a tear in some one's eye, a moment of prayer, a grandparent doting, a nodding napper, a crevice filled with sand, a pool filled with family and a condo filled with love. It was truly a priceless time of pure and perfect FAMILY.

I don't have pictures to post yet...but I will. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Golden Birthday Praises

K-man turned 6 on June 6, thus it was his GOLDEN birthday. (I was surprised how many people have never heard that term. Your Golden Birthday is when the date, in K's case (June) 6, is that age you are - 6!) We celebrated from morning until night. We started with K-cakes for breakfast and ended with Cake and presents after the big baseball game. KJ especially enjoyed the birthday CALLS. Each time he heard the song his eyes twinkled and he sat up straighter and just looked so stinkin' proud!! He had so much to be thankful for that night when he prayed that I almost had to cut him off - I know, I know, but I thought about it. He even SLEPT with one of his presents. (It was a rocket fishing "rot". Good on ya Liz!! Great going in the gift department!!)

Birthday's are a big deal anyway, but birthday's also have extra special significance for our family. The Q-Bear and I suffered through many years of infertility before God brought us to our first born. To us, birthdays are about more than just Mom+Dad=baby. They are about Mom+Dad + birthfamily = baby. Truly, we feel humbled and blessed to even be a part of that equation.

Every year, the night before their birthdays we lay in the kid's beds and tell them their birth story. Our birthstories are a little bit different than the average bear, but nonetheless, they are ours and they are special. This year, we talked to K about his birthmom A. We looked at pictures and talked about the emotions we went through. Q-Bear told him how he used to sleep with him on his chest wrapped up in his t-shirt. (I used to walk in the room and both my boys would be sleeping together. KJ was a preemie, and at 4lbs 9oz was itty bitty and Daddy could pull the bottom of his t-shirt right over his lil' bottom. It was the sweetest thing.)

I'll admit, each time we tell the story, Q and I get a little choked up. Really, if you think about the selfless sacrifice that our children's birthfamily's made it is one of the most humbling things in the world. A young woman, scared and afraid, chose US, CHOSE us, to be the parents to her baby. I will never know the feeling of sacrifice my children's birthfamily made. But, but I will always know the thanksgiving on the receiving end of that miraculous blessing. Their gifts of love have become two of my life's greatest joys.

With that in mind, I will tell you that each year on K's birthday we hear from his birthmom. This year was no exception. She called and talked to KJ. He told her all of his 6-year-old boy-ventures in his sweet high-pitched little boy voice. While he was on the phone, I tried to imagine what A must be thinking. I wondered if she thought he was sweet? I wondered if she thought he was smart, funny, loving and kind? Because he is, he is all those things. I wondered if she thought he was amazing and special. As an adoptive mom, my heart ached for a moment. I felt sad that A didn't really know all of the wonderful, intimate, amazing, special things that made up this wonderful, creative, easy-going, all-boy boy!

Then it was my turn. I got on the phone and we talked about the year-in-review. I told her some funny K moments and then I told her about our before birthday bed-talks. She was quiet for only a moment before she said "Yeah, that was a crazy night wasn't it, well it was a crazy TIME?! I still tell everyone to this day doing that was the best thing I have ever done. When I hear him talk, I realize what a smart thing I did. You guys are such great parents. I tell people that all the time. That was the best thing I ever did for HIM. He is so much better with you. I wouldn't have done a good job at all. I think it was the best thing I ever did for him, for me and for you guys, huh?" Silence, silence, a moment to stop the tears and I replied "Yeah, it was one of the greatest blessings of our life! What you did was amazing and K-man is a healthy, wonderful little boy and we are humbled and blessed to be his parents." She said "Yeah - cool!"

Wow, wow, wow, talk about humbling. I am sorry, I realize I keep using that word, but honestly, there isn't a better one. We are just in awe of God's great mercy and grace. We are blessed beyond measure to know that He would allow US to be K-man's parents. That, for this season, He has entrusted this soul into our hands. WOW - it's humbling indeed.

It all started with an emergency phone call of "Can you be here in 20 minutes? Your son is being born by emergency C-section, he's breech!" Fast forward six golden years to a boy who has such a heart for prayer, a pocket for worms, a love of squirt guns, fishing rots, swimming, baseball and all things boy. Lord Jesus, I say thank you. Thank you for making our formula different, thank you for adding to our equation. The sum is so much sweeter. We are thankful and yes, humbled to have K-man for this season and we give You every ounce of the glory.

Six Golden Years in review:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Former Fat Girl Finishes 5K

First of all - relax. Yes, I did write the word fat. Because, if we are calling a spade a spade, I used to be fat. It's okay, I am okay with it. I am not surprised. I have always known. Guess what, I have always been okay with it. It's part of who I am. It's also part of the way I was made. Just because I was fat, doesn't mean I wasn't made in the image of God. I mean to tell you people, I am and always have been beautiful to Christ. And SO are you! God does not make junk. (Phew, don't get me started. That's a subject for another blog!)

He does however, say that our body is a temple, and a living sacrifice. Those are the Biblical concepts that I have been trying to live by since my gastric bypass surgery in December of 2005. While my decision to have surgery almost cost me my life, conversely it also gave me my life back. Before surgery I longed to do simple things that most people take for granted. I longed to walk without feeling like I had just climbed Everest. I wanted to sit criss-cross applesauce on the floor and play with my kids. I wanted to stoop down pick up my children and jump up again. And secretly, in my most secret self - I wanted to RUN! What? Run? Did I say that out loud? Gulp, yep I admit it, my former big girl body dreamed of running. But, I could hardly walk let alone run.

A year after my weight loss surgery, I started to train with my friend Jenny. Jenny is a hard-bodied, muscle-toned, beautiful DRILL SERGEANT! She lovingly, gently and sweetly (shoutingly, toughly and stubbornly) cajoled me into exercising. Guess what? I loved it. With her expertise, friendship and guidance I, Qtipper, on a gravel road in the prairies of South Dakota started to RUN. (Okay, I started to jog and pant and almost pass out - but you get the point!)

But, there is more to the story. I had many goals before surgery. They are what I call my pre-weight loss surgery goals for my post-weight loss surgery self. Here they are, some of them might seem ridiculous/vain/sad/pathetic, but hey, it's ME:

1) I want to ride comfortably in an airplane/sit comfortably in a theater seat.
2) I want to walk without getting horribly winded
3) I want to get out of bed and not have to stand there for 10 seconds before I can move.
4) I want to go hiking
5) I want to bend down to pick up my children and get up with them in my arms.
6) I want to sit criss-cross-applesauce on the floor with my kids (KJ's teacher said "He just doesn't quite get the concept. He is always sitting on the floor with his legs sprawled open." Well, of course he is, that is how his mom sits.)
7) I want to go to WALMART (nowhere fancy...just WALMART) and buy clothing. I currently have to go to specialty store if I want to purchase clothing.
8) I want to get an item of clothing for $3 at any Mart/Get or Ko and brag about what a bargain it was.
9) I want to scoot past someone in the church pew without squashing them and making us ALL uncomfortable
10) I want to take a bath and fill the tub with water while I am IN IT and NOT have to readjust to make a flood gate for the water so it can fill the "front and back" parts of the tub.
11) I want to teach my children to eat healthily NOW so, they will not struggle with these issues later.
12) I want to jump up and down at a concert!
13) I want to go skiing, skating and rollerblading
14) I want to golf without having to readjust my boobs!
15) I want to RUN (GOAL: to run a 5K)

As of May 30th - 14 of the 15 goals were fulfilled. However, on Saturday, May 31st, 2008 I completed the 15th goal. Praise God with a Psalm 150 praise!!! But, wait, I had help. My sweet sister Sarah has been running with me and without me (since we moved away) for a year. She came all the way from South Dakota to run with me!!! My neighbor and friend Liz has been training with me for two months. She was also there that morning. Armed with their great resperatory endurance (ability to chat and run at the same time!)we ran 3.1 miles in the Little Rock Dino Dash. My time wasn't fantastic (35:00) but, I DID IT! Glory to God alone!!!! I crossed the finished line with a prayer of gratitude on my lips and tears of joy welling in my eyes. I could not believe that God had allowed this dream to come true.

Wow, I am just getting the hang of this blogging bit, so forgive the verbosity. Perhaps one of your goals was just making it through this entry alive. If you did. I am grateful, if not, well then you will have no idea that I am wearing pink underwear right now.

Here are the pictures for you: