Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I forget to write down the funny conversations we have with Aidan sometimes, and when he's big and way too cool for his Mommy, I want to remember these times.

Aidan informed me yesterday that he no longer wanted to be called "A-Baby", which is one of several nicknames he has. Approved nicknames now include "A-Man", "Aidan-Bonaidan" and "Aidan Cooper, Super Duper", which is to be sung to the tune of "I'm So Happy".
Another van-versation with Aidan on the way home from school...

Me: Aidan, what did you learn at school today?
Aidan: I learned that God knows all the hairs that you gots.
Me: That's right! God knows every hair on your head. He knows you inside and out because he made you! (Yay! Aidan learned something!)
Aidan: And we learned about the letter 'F'. 'F' starts with Elephant, and Easter Egg.
Me: Um, it sounds like you learned about the letter 'E'.
Aidan: And the wood chips on the playground makes big weeds and very big flowers.
Me: (Considering the fact that my very strong-willed child will be convinced that F is for Elephant and Easter Egg until he decides otherwise and not a moment sooner no matter what anyone says to the contrary). Anyone want pizza for dinner?

My children have no illusions about the Easter Bunny. They know we celebrate Easter because Jesus rose from the dead after he died on the cross, and they know they will have Easter baskets and and Easter egg hunt in the backyard. They are well aware of the fact that the Easter Bunny does not exist, and lately Brandon has been threatening NO EASTER GOODIES if they can't remember the real reason for celebrating Easter. This has led to several conversations that look like this:

Mean Daddy: Boys, why do we celebrate Easter?
Dane: Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave!
Aidan: Yeah, and we have Easter so we can show Jesus all of our candy and Easter eggs!

I love you, A-Baby! No one else in the world is like you!

Friday, March 26, 2010


Dear Harper,

Happy first birthday sweet girl!

One year ago today I first laid eyes on you, and my first thought was, "Wait a minute, I've already had this baby." What can I say? You looked A LOT like Dane when he was born. My life changed forever that day one year ago, on my 31st birthday, when I became a "girl mommy".

You have been a very sweet baby these last 12 months, Harper girl. You have proven yourself to be very easy going and happy. Some things I don't want to forget about the little person you are right now:

-You think your big brothers hung the moon. They are your favorite people in the world, and you absolutely light up when they come in the room. One of your new favorite activities is to have an "animal party" with your brothers. The pack-n-play is set up for your littler friend Reed for when he comes to play, but you and your brothers love to all three get in the pack-n-play with about 15 of the stuffed animals and have an animal party. You love it.

- You are eating more than either of the boys did when they were your age. You love green beans, strawberries, spaghetti, olives, cheese, pears, chicken nuggets, meatballs, and just about anything that we can cut into little pieces. The other day I gave you half of a turkey and cheese sandwich whole just to see what you would do with it, and you knocked it back pretty good. And, unbeknownst to you, you had your very last bottle today. In a rare spring-cleaning moment, I packed up all of your bottles and put them in the top of your closet. (I couldn't bring myself to throw the bottles away just yet, even though I know we will not need them again.) Fortunately, you have been drinking out of a sippy cup for the last couple of weeks, so hopefully you won't notice too much. I have a feeling that Mommy and Daddy will miss our bottle times more than you will.

- You have been walking for about a month now, and you never really crawl anymore. You like to babble, and can say nigh-nigh, mama, and dada. Your very favorite toys are Wii controllers, cell phones, TV remotes, Dane's homework, and Sharpie markers. Seriously, you manage to find EVERYTHING.

- You are very social and have never met a stranger. You smile at just about everyone, and never cry when I put you in the nursery at church. As long as someone is paying you attention, you don't seem too concerned that it's not necessarily me. Unless I am in the room, then I MUST pay attention to you. You are used to being around kids that are bigger than you, and are pretty rough around babies your own age. You've been in the "walkers" class at church for several months now simply because you were pummeling those poor little crawlers and making them cry.

You had a great first birthday, sweet girl. We played at the park with Aidan, and you taught him to stand back a bit when you're swinging. We went out to eat Mexican food, then you had a big pink cupcake outside while the sun was setting.

And your birthday present from Mommy and Daddy on your first birthday? A big sister. You'll get to meet her later this year. You should feel pretty blessed, sweet girl. Not too many people get a BIG sister for their birthdays!

We love you so much, Little Hops!

Love, Mommy

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Break, cont.

With all the excitement of last weekend, I forgot to post some pictures from our Spring Break.

While Brandon was on a trip with Casas por Cristo, building houses in Acuna, Mexico, my mom came down to help me out with the kiddos. Here are a few highlights, in a handy numbered format:

1. Harper played at the park.
Okay, so this was the week before Spring Break, I'm just a little behind in the posting of cute pictures of the baby.
I turned around at one point, and Harper was holding court inside the little playhouse at the church playground. I think they were talking about boys.

2. Right after I picked my mom up from the airport, we headed straight to a birthday party back at the church playground, where Harper learned how to slide, and Dane licked the tops of three cupcakes.

3. On Wednesday, Pappy and the boys left bright and early and headed out to the ranch. No, we don't have a ranch, but some family friends do. Pappy decided that Spring Break wouldn't be complete until they had taken a trip to the Lazy S Ranch. We didn't tell the boys they were going until the night before. Earlier that day, I had the boys pack up their backpacks with some clothes "in case of an emergency". They were thrilled to learn that they were going to get to use their emergency packs the very next day, and hang out with these guys:

There were fish to be caught, Bush Hogs to ride, bonfires to build, marshmallows to eat, and sunburns to get. Little boy paradise.

My dad has known Mr. Lazy S since the beginning of time, and his son Bob served as the ring bearer in my parents' wedding. I have fond memories of our families boating on the lake, camping in smelly campers, and eating peanut butter corn flake bars while waiting for the men to return from fishing.

I have a picture somewhere like this one with a college-age Bob holding a fish, only Bob's fish was much smaller.

Aidan gathered wood for a bonfire...
...with a little help from "those ranch boys' daddy"
When Pappy and the boys got home a couple of days later, Aidan told me all about their many adventures at the ranch. As I cleaned M&Ms out from in between the seats in Pappy's truck, Aidan excitedly told me that Mr. Lazy S "told us to come back SOON, mom!"

Needless to say, Dane and Aidan are already plotting their next trip out to the Lazy S with "the ranch boys".

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Did You Hear? Have You Seen Her??

Did you see her? Our new daughter?

I got a call yesterday from our adoption agency asking if I was interested in a referral. 35 days after we sent our paperwork to China. After all the hyperventilating (on my end, not hers) stopped, she proceeded to give me a brief introduction to our little girl.
This precious little girl is 2 years and 9 months old, and will be over 3 when we bring her home later this year (probably in the fall). She has been in an orphanage since she was about a week old, and was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate (unilateral left cleft lip with III degree cleft palate extending from the lip and bisecting the uvula, for those of you who are interested). As you can see from the picture, the cleft lip has been repaired, and the first of what will likely be several surgeries has been done to repair the cleft palate. We were expecting (and actually hoping) to receive a referral for a child with this type of problem, and were pleasantly surprised to learn that the surgical repairs had already begun. The most recent medical updates I have are from last October.

We were given brief medical reports and information about her growth and development, and she appears to be a healthy little girl other than the cleft. And she's potty trained. Can I get an AMEN?

As I was reading her information that was provided about her, and looking at the three pictures I had, several things caught my attention:

--She shares a birthday with GG. Baby girl was born on June 5, 2007 on my grandmother's birthday. My family is notoriously stingy with our birthdays. I share March 26 with my mother and Harper, Aidan shares a birthday with my cousin, and my Dad shares with a couple of cousins. So it seemed only fitting that our daughter should have a birthday buddy.

--I have honestly been praying for a child with a cleft lip. We had told our agency that we would be open to adopting a girl with a cleft or a heart defect, and I have been secretly terrified of having a child with a heart defect. Even a minor, correctable heart defect, I was afraid of the anxiety it would bring me. I have also been praying that our daughter would be at least a year older or younger than Harper. I knew they would be close in age, but I wanted their to be a definite "older" and "younger" sister.

--Dane is 20 months older than Aidan, and Aidan is about 3 and a half years older than Harper. This little girl is 22 months younger than Aidan, and 21 months older than Harper. She just fits perfectly.

--Um, we don't know what her name is going to be. Her name right now is Long Jing Yan, and we will be changing it. However, Brandon and I have a documented history of incisiveness when it comes to naming little girls, and the same naming guidelines apply as when we were naming Harper. We are maybe willing to consider a slightly-more-adventurous name, but I have a feeling we will be referring to her as "our little girl" more often than not. As always, name suggestions are welcomed!

As overjoyed as we are right now, I feel a physical ache more than ever today for other families, for friends of ours who are also adopting and waiting for a child. For families who have been patiently waiting and preparing for much longer than we have to welcome a child into their family. Families who are much more "ready" than we are. It's just not fair. And I pray for those parents-to-be every night.

My mind is full right now. We will send our "letter of intent" to our agency tomorrow morning to secure our referral, and I basically have no idea what the next step is from here. I haven't really been paying attention, because I was expecting to wait several more months for a referral, if not a year. I do remember reading that referral time to travel time (when we actually get her) is an estimated 5 to 8 months. We have to get approval and documents from US Immigration, and from governmental agencies in China (don't I sound all kinds of knowledgeable?), so we are expecting to bring her home before Christmas.

I've already been mentally preparing myself for adding another one into our family. I know that I will be bringing home a three year old with speech and language delays, who presumably does not understand or speak English and has been institutionalized for her entire life. A precious, beautiful little girl who will need multiple surgeries to repair a birth defect inside her mouth, and probably major dental reconstructive work.

And I couldn't be more thankful. More grateful to God for entrusting us to parent this baby. More excited about telling Dane and Aidan about the little sister they have been praying for every night (which we will be doing today).

I feel an odd sense of peace about all the uncertainties, because I know that this is our daughter, our little girl, and God selected US to be her parents. And we will be bringing her home.

Friday, March 19, 2010


...our new daughter
Our adoption agency called me this morning to give us a referral on this precious little girl. She'll be coming home later this year. More information tomorrow.

Happy day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

Spring Break is here at last! My Dane has been counting down the days till Spring Break for the last several weeks. Kindergarten is just so stressful for him, he's been gazing longingly at the calender for several weeks, hoping for a brief respite from all the coloring and recess that he endures every day.

On Saturday the kids and I picked my mom up from the airport (yay! Mom is here!) and hightailed it over to a birthday party at our church playground, arriving just in time for Dane to pee on a tree in front of 30 people. Not sure that was the birthday surprise sweet Emma was hoping for. The rest of Saturday was spent frantically trying to get Brandon ready for his Mexico trip, and the second Wal-Mart trip in 2 days because we forgot to get Brandon's old-man straw hat. Oh, and cleaning up vomit. Aidan decided that to welcome my mother to town, he would projectile vomit all over the kitchen floor when I had left to run an errand. I'm just praying Brandon doesn't end up sick this week while he's gone. I'm also praying that the 30 people we played with at the playground mere hours before all the vomiting don't end up with a stomach bug either.

Brandon left on Sunday morning to take a group to Acuna, Mexico to build houses for three families that don't have any. I packed up four first aid kits, hoping and praying that most of the supplies go unused. It's a rough week if they come home with four empty bottles of Immodium.

Sunday I got in 12 hours of nice, relaxing ER work while my sweet mom stayed home with the kids and started in on a very ambitious yard work project for the week. Yeah, that's right. My mom comes to town while Brandon's gone, and in the first 2 days cleans up vomit, pulls weeds, and watches the 3 kids all day while I'm gone.

I am off work Monday and Tuesday of this week, and have been enjoying every minute of it! I did a little shopping, played Battleship with Dane till my eyes bled, helped transplant one of the bushes in my flower bed, and have scrubbed caked on dirt and mud off my little boys, only to send their clean little bodies downstairs to eat spaghetti for dinner. And for the record, the site of Harper eating spaghetti and meatballs for the first time is an image burned into my memory forever. It made the Thin Mint of 2010 eating experience look dainty and polished.

Speaking of my almost 1-year old, I have been feeling weird mom guilt lately. I take pictures of Harper all the time, and almost never take pictures of Dane and Aidan anymore. I almost feel bad for posting cute pictures of her, because I have none of the boys to share. Yet another thing for them to bring up with their future therapist. I should probably make a list so they don't forget anything.

Have a great Spring Break!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, March 8, 2010

Reason 4,312 Why I'm Glad I Married Brandon

A couple of years ago, Dane made a boot as a preschool project in honor of Rodeo time here in Houston.

I've decided that Aidan has spent the last two years figuring out ways to out-do Dane in regards to boot decorating for the preschool bulletin board.

I think the Jesus really puts the boot in a league of its own, don't you? And you really need to click on the above picture to fully appreciate the Light-sabre wielding Aidan who "Hearts" Jesus.

And why, yes, that is a three-dementional palm tree next to Jesus, why do you ask? Oh, because you think it looks out of place on the same boot as a freaky-yellow foam bird of prey floating above Jesus' head?

And fear not, because Snake Eyes is here to keep everybody safe while he hides behind the feather trim.
Nothing says "Rodeo" like GI Joe characters and Jesus. And multicolored feathers.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hijacked by Brandon

Mandy has been really slacking on the blog lately hasn't she? So I decided that I would fill in as a guest blogger unbeknownst to her! I've got to hurry before she gets home from work...she should be on the way right now.

So, I'm driving home with the kids tonight and we get into one of those really weird conversations Mandy is always know the ones that begin, "I never thought I'd hear this come out of my son's mouth."? Well it happened again - enjoy...

Dane: (After long discussion on Star Wars the Clone Wars) And he never even got to be a Storm Trooper!

Dad: (Wanting to change the subject and as I am want to do, choosing the most inappropriate way possible) Your Mom's a Storm Trooper! (I work with high school students - my speech patterns are considered an on the job injury)

Dane: (Serious as a heart attack) No she is not. (You don't joke around with Star Wars lore in our house)

Dad: (Feeling duly chastised) I know, I know...she's an ER nurse, right?

Dane: Yeah, a hot nurse. (My six year just referred to his Mom as a "hot nurse" - ewwww!)

Dad: (Coughing) Uh...Dane...that's really only something that Dad is supposed to say about Mom.

Dane: (Arms and eyebrows upraised, defensively) Whaaaaaat?

(Insert awkward silence here...maybe some crickets chirping)

Dane: Man, I wish I had a Death Star.

I can't possibly explain to you how much I love being a part of this family! Every day is another adventure into the world of cool, creative, hyperactive, destructive, weird, inappropriate, awesome kids. I can't wait to get old and see what kind of freaks my children and the strange people they marry will's gonna be so cool to watch!

I think I hear the garage door opening - gotta go! Hope you'll forgive the spelling, my strange use of punctuation and the butchering of the English language (Remember, I'm a youth minister!).

(But really, this was written by Brandon...oh wait, excuse me - "Hot Brandon.")

P.S. - Coming soon - "Aidan's 2010 Edition of the Infamous Rodeo Boot." It rocks!