Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Year in Review

I've been thinking a lot over these past several days about the last 12 months and everything that has transpired over this last year.  It is July, and not New Year's Day,  but I can't help but to reflect back and think about what the next 12 months may hold. 

Let's review, shall we?

July 2008:  Brandon and I decide, after 8 years of thinking, praying, "waiting until we had the money", and basically stalling, to begin the process of adopting from another country.  We decide to put our application in with an agency, and let God take care of the financial part.  

2 weeks later:  After 2 years of trying, we discover that we are pregnant.  We have to put our adoption application on hold (per the agency's policy), but decide that we want to adopt at some point after the baby is born anyway.

August 2008:  Brandon decides to start online classes for his master's degree, which requires (more or less) reading a book a week and writing a paper a week.

September 2008:  Hurricane Ike strikes the Houston area, a giant tree crashes into our home, totalling our house for all intents and purposes, and renders our family homeless during repairs and rebuilding.  My gracious aunt and uncle open their home to us until we can move back into ours.

October 2008:  Pull teeth with my insurance company and mortgage company to get funds to repair our house.  (Did I mention that over $130,000 worth of damage was done to our house?)

November 2008:  We find out we are adding a daughter to our brood of merry men.  Continue to daily wrestle with insurance adjusters, mortgage company, and uber-slow contractor to get repairs started.

January 2009:  Pull my hair out, and wonder if we will free-load off of my extended family forever.  Threaten my contractor with castration if he doesn't get us into our house before the baby is born.  Crazy-emotional-pregnant woman irrational-ness peaks.  Contractor avoids me at all costs and contractor's wife gives me a plate of frozen monkey bread leftover from Christmas.  Because that's almost just as good as not being homeless.  Brandon goes to California for 2 weeks for school and I pick out new bedroom furniture with my mother from a place called "Diamond Bedrooms". 

February 14, 2009:  Moving day!  8 months pregnant!  We finally move back into our house.  I admire the new floors, new carpet, freshly painted walls, new furniture, and remodeled kitchen and contemplate for a moment if it was worth all the hassle.  It wasn't.  Brandon starts the daunting task of tiling our new giant shower.  Preparations at church were fully underway to move into the new building that we had been building for several years, move-in date is mid March.

Mid March:  Brandon and the rest of the staff and church leaders kick off services in our new church building, attendance explodes overnight.  Brandon is working tirelessly at the office and coming home to a crazy pregnant wife with unpacking projects and shower tiling to do.  Not quite sure how he survived that month.

March 26, 2009:  Happy birthday to me!  And my mom!  And Harper Sloan, born perfect and healthy this morning.

April-June 2009:  Days are spent going back and forth to school, swim practice, and play groups.  We marvel at the sweet new baby, her sleep habits, and her champion vomiting, and talk about how easy it was to add another child to the mix.

July 2009:  We contact our adoption agency and re-activate our application.  After much discussion, we decide to pursue China's Child of Promise program.  This is a program that places children with minor, correctible medical issues (ex. cleft palates, scoliosis, and others) with adoptive families.  The wait time for a child is generally a fraction of what it is for China's general program, and we will be able to specify that we want to adopt a girl.  (Many countries, including Ethiopia, whose program we had applied to last summer, will not let you request a girl if you already have a daughter.)

A lot has happened over the last year, and our family is excited to be where we are right now.  We are still trying to figure out how we are going to pay for this adoption, but God has always taken care of our family, and we know that he will continue to do so.  We don't know if our "future daughter" has been born yet, but we pray that God is caring for her.  We trust that ultimately we will have exactly the family that we are supposed to have.  I never would have guessed that a year ago, when we first applied for adoption, what all would happen over a few short months.

I looked over the "process" and guidelines for paperwork, etc today from our adoption agency, and my brain just about exploded.  Needless to say, it is a very long and intimidating process, with ample room for "operator error"  (ie:  it will not be difficult for me to screw this up).  Fortunately, it seems that several people from both our adoption agency and home study service are there to help keep my brain from exploding onto my computer.  Grey matter is very hard to clean out of a keyboard.

I wonder if next July, I will sit at my computer and marvel over events that will occur over the next 12 months.  I wonder if this next year will be easier than the last, or calmer, or busier.  I wonder how far along we will be in our adoption process, and what my children will be like then.  But God knows.  He's not worried about the complicated adoption process, or losing sleep wondering how our little family will juggle a kindergardener, an Aidan, a baby, a master's degree, a church, an adoption, and 2 jobs all at once.

So I am not worried either about all of these things.

But I am a little worried about how my kiddos will do on a road trip to Kansas next week.  That's really intimidating.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Highlights of this Past Week

This past week has been a very busy and exciting one for our family.  

Yeah, that's why I haven't been blogging much this last week.  It's not because we have done NOTHING worth recording.  No, it couldn't be that.  We are having a very eventful summer full of fun, educational, Bible-themed activities that my children will have happy memories of for years to come.  We are not simply filling the dreadfully hot days with indoor activities such as trips to the movies, playing with Legos, and playing Wii.  

Some highlights of this past very eventful fun week:

--We have seen 3 movies at the theater in the last 8 days.  One was free, and the other two were dollar tickets.  Aidan has eaten his weight in Mike & Ike's since last Tuesday.

--Dane was heating up a little cup of pizza sauce this afternoon, and when he took it out of the microwave, he dropped the cup on the floor of the kitchen.  Sauce splattered all over the floor, cabinets, shirtless Dane, and all over his khaki shorts.  I grabbed the box of baby wipes and handed him a couple to wipe himself down before he moved and sauced the rest of the kitchen, and told him to take his shorts off.  The following conversation ensued:

M:  Dane, take your shorts off, they have sauce all over them.  I need to put them in the washing machine.
D:  But Mom, I don't have any underwear on.  I just forgot to put them on this morning.
M:  So you haven't had underwear on the whole day?  What about when we went to Walgreens and the movies and the grocery store?  You didn't have underwear on then?!?
D:  I just forgot to put them on.  But if I take my shorts off, I will be naked.  Have you ever seen me naked, Mom?

Um, yes, my child.  Every day for the last 5 and a half years.  You're not what we'd call "modest".  You are, however, learning the art of multitasking when it comes to your tenders.  Not only can you pee and play Leapster at the same time, you are also very skilled at eating dinner while inspecting the equipment.    And watching TV, and playing outside, and swimming while checking on the boys.

--I realized this past week that Dane starts kindergarten next month.  Yes, next month.  I also realized that the whole "starting school" thing will really put a kink into our freedom to take impromptu family vacations.  You know, cause we do that all the time.  So we're going to go somewhere for a couple of days in August before school starts up, we just haven't quite decided where.  

I have heard lots of wonderful things about Great Wolf Lodge, but I just can't bring myself to spend $349 +tax for one night.  I'm sure we would have a great time in their very cool looking indoor water park, but $400 bucks?  You have got to be kidding me.  My kids would be just as happy to stay in a cheap hotel somewhere with a pool.  We stayed in a hotel for a week during the time our house was being repaired from the hurricane damage, and Dane has been asking when we are going back.  We're considering going to Glen Rose for a day or so.  Does anyone have any other good (cheap) ideas for little kids?  We considered Schlitterbahn, but I don't think it'll work so well with a 4 month old baby in tow.  

--Thanks for all of the book suggestions.  I have currently forgone all of them in favor of Freakonomics.  Interesting, so far, yet not so intriguing that I am losing precious sleep staying up to read it.  So it's just the right amount of interesting.

--Brandon and I are going with another couple from our church to New York City for a few days in September.  And I am VERY EXCITED.  One of my favorite parts of a trip like this is the planning.  We are going to see West Side Story and Bye Bye Birdie on Broadway while we are there, and also take time to go to Statue of Liberty.  And of course, shopping for knock-offs in Chinatown.  I would love to hear from any of you who have been to NYC.   Any "can't miss" things that we should do while we are there?  Any good (not too expensive) restaurants?  I mean, I know there's a lot of good restaurants, but any specifically that you would recommend?

This week promises to be a bit more exciting than last week.  The boys will spend a couple of days this weekend at Cousin Camp with Joel, and we (and by "we", I mean not me, because I have to work this weekend) will attempt cousin pictures with all 4 kids at a studio.  Should be interesting!

I hope your week is full of excitement and children with all of their appropriate undergarments.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Brain. Is. Fried.

Please excuse my lack of posting this past week.  The 103 degree heat has officially fried my brain cells.  Well, what was left of my brain cells after introducing a third baby into our brood last spring.  We have been trying to stay cool these last few days--going to the movies, neighborhood pool, and sneaking into a splash park.  Though it's difficult to cool down in a pool that is 97 degrees.  Sort of like taking a warm bath with various neighbors while wearing your swimsuit.  Totally my idea of a good time.

I also worked one day last week.  It was an especially good day in the ER:  I got to wear one of the blue plastic gowns because some dude put his arm through a vase, slashing an artery and bleeding like a geyser all over the place, and the only dead person we had was really really old.  Our crazy patient managed to keep his underwear on while wandering the halls, and I didn't get anyone's poop on my scrubs.  I have a strange job, and I recognize that I have a bit of a twisted view on what constitutes a good day at work.

But look what I get to come home to:
Harper was so tired and I was making her dress up in an adorable outfit and pose for pictures.  And the boys are only moderately cooperating because I promised them Wii play afterwards.

It's so hard to pick just one smiling baby picture...
She was mostly interested in playing with her shirt:
On a completely unrelated note, I need some good books to read.  I have one en route from Amazon right now, but it's a fluffy book that I can read in about 2 days.  Not that there's anything wrong with fluffy reading.  So, read any good books lately?  Who are some authors that you like?  

Things I like in a book:  mystery, suspense, crime drama-type stuff, great storytellers like James Herriot.  A little romance as a sub-plot is fine, but not too much.  As far as non-fiction goes, I loved Blue Like Jazz, never got all the way through Heaven (I think my brain exploded somewhere in the first third), so something in between, leaning towards BLJ is more my speed.

Things I don't like in a book:  bodice-ripping romance novels, sci-fi or fantasy of ANY kind (yes, this includes Twilight--sorry everyone I know), ridiculously sad books, and Christian fiction that is overly after-school special-ish.

Suggestions please!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What Burn Ban?

I hope you and yours had a fun and safe 4th of July!  Ours was spent welcoming Brandon back from his week long trip to CIY in Colorado, and celebrating freedom and pyromania in the driveway.

Brandon picked up a handful of fireworks "for the boys to enjoy" on their holiday.

For the boys to enjoy??  Brandon was doing his happy dance...
Aidan was a big fan of the sparklers:

Dane was a big fan of not standing still for pictures:

We only started a small grass fire, which Brandon quickly put out with our sprinkler before it engulfed the dry pine needles and our neighbors' fence.  All in all, Dane proclaimed it to be a "very special day."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Camp Pappy Part 2

Wednesday morning of Camp Pappy 2009 began very early with a very cranky Harper. Perfect, since her Big Photo Shoot was mere hours away. After a bottle and an early nap, she was slightly more ready for her close up. Are you wondering how a complex, several hours-long shoot with 4 children (3 of whom are not Dane) went? As well as it could have possibly gone. There were some tears, some vomiting, several outfit changes, a huge tantrum, and lots of bribery, but I think the ever patient and talented Lorriane got some great shots. A promised light saber fight with Uncle J0hn followed.

No trip to Camp Pappy is complete without a Boy Cousin Bath.

Wednesday evening finished off with me going to the movies all. by. myself. I went to see The Proposal, which Brandon would never be interested in seeing with me. When I told my sister I was going to the movies alone, she responded with "That's so sad!" You can tell she doesn't have a houseful of small children following her every move all day every day. I had a wonderful time seeing a movie all by my lonesome, with no one whining, vomiting, tattling, or pooping on or near me for a whole hour and 48 minutes.  It was bliss, I tell you.

While I was enjoying the movie, my parents were trying to successfully get a picture of their grandchildren all sitting still and looking at the camera simultaneously.  They got pretty close...

Thursday morning we took the kids to this wonderful little place in town called Going Bonkers.  And yes, we did.  Dane, Aidan, and Zane ran around and climbed till their hearts' content, which apparently for Aidan, is only about an hour and a half.  

Thursday night, Harper spent some quality time with Aunt Lindy in a few rare high-maintenance moments of wanting to be held continuously.  She and Lindy got along beautifully...

Zane and Harper also enjoyed each other quite a bit.  I have a feeling they will be big buddies in a year or so.
Thursday night my parents cooked up a yummy dinner of brisket, potatoes, bread, beans, and yummy chocolate pie-cheesecake stuff dessert stuff.  We had John and his family, Lindy and Andy, and my cousin Cliff and his wife, SIL, and MIL.  We had a great time, and I think we only frightened Cliff's sweet family a little bit.

We headed back home Friday morning, and settled in for an afternoon of laundry and unpacking.  I ran across this picture of Aidan and Harper that I just thought was cute:
I hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend!  Post coming up soon of our festivities.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Camp Pappy Part 1

We all arrived safe and sound to Camp Pappy Sunday night to be greeted by Pappy himself, Aunt Lindy and Uncle Andy. And lots of Legos. Legos have pretty much taken over our house these last few months, and Dane and Aidan will sit and play for hours. Andy, the uncle previously known as NQUA, played with the boys for a while. It's always nice to have an architect handy when you're building Lego forts.
Uncle Andy also got to meet Miss Harper for the first time. And no introduction is complete without a little vomit on your shoulder.
Monday morning we all got ready to go to the local splash park (water park? splash pad?) in town, only to find that it was temporarily closed due to lightening. So we headed over to Goldsmith Stadium, where Brandon was the leading reciever for the Lewisville Fighting Farmers football team in 1995. The boys, clad only in their swimsuits, ran around the field, jumped on the pole vaulter's mat, and admired the biggest urinal they have ever seen on a tour of the locker room courtesy of Pappy. Aidan stayed far away from the urinal cake this time.

Aidan was going for his shorts as soon as he saw this giant urinal/trough.
Harper showed off her Vegas-showgirl headdress for Pappy Monday morning.

Monday afternoon I wandered around the mall all. by. myself. for a couple of hours, and eventually headed back to the house.

Tuesday morning, and it was time for Round 2 of the water park. This time it was open, and Dane, Aidan, and cousin Zane had big fun while Harper and I got ready for our lunch date.

Harper and I met MoMo (my mom), my Aunt Betsy, and my grandma Betty for lunch at Chapp's on Tuesday. When Brandon and I first got married and still lived in Arlington, I worked at Chapp's for a few months that first summer. It was right around the corner from our first apartment, where our across-the-porch neighbor may or may not have grown illegal recreational "garden plants" on his balcony.
Harper had a great time at lunch meeting Betty and Betsy, and catching up on all the family gossip. After lunch, Harper and I stopped and bought sunglasses for her (so cute!) and the boys for the photo shoot Wednesday.

Photo shoot? But of course. Doesn't everyone have a four hour photo shoot with a professional photographer when they go and visit their grandparents? No? More to come from the shoot later.

Tuesday evening wrapped up with a yummy turkey dinner with Mom, Dad, John, Brandy, Zane, and my kiddos. And true to form at my parents' house, everyone was in bed and asleep by 9:15 that night.

We had to rest up, we had a lot of Camp Pappy still left.