Friday, January 28, 2011

Adoption Stories

One of the blogs I sometimes read (hello there, Other Harper!), Kelly's Korner is sharing adoption stories today.

I don't have one specific post talking about our adoption, but if you're interested in reading about our journey to Emerson, there is an "adoption" tag on the right sidebar. This past September we brought our beautiful three-year old daughter Emerson home from China. Here are a few of the highlights:

Year In Review (July 2009)

Paperwork Done (Jan. 2010)

Referral Day! (March 2010)

FAQs (July 2010)

Thank You (Sept. 2010)

Gotcha! (Sept. 2010)

More Gotcha! (Sept. 2010)

It's been quite the journey so far, and it just keeps getting better. God has blessed us so, so much!

Monday, January 24, 2011

(Tap, tap, tap) Is this thing on?

I've been meaning to sit down and compose some sort of cohesive blog post for a few days, and every time I sit down at the computer my fingers type "etsy" instead.

Argh. That place will be the end of me and my budget. But whenever I decide to get Emerson a personalized Elmo pillowcase dress for her Elmo-themed fourth birthday party (her birthday is right around the corner! In June!) I'll know exactly where to go.

So here's a smorgasbord of goings-on that you will wish you had never read about five minutes from now:

The kids and I went up to the DFW area last weekend for my sister-in-law's baby shower. I drove, by myself, with all four kids in the van for four hours. Wore that after-market DVD player out, I did. Then I left three of the four kids in the care of their capable Pappy while my mom, Emerson and I went to the shower Saturday morning. Everyone survived the experience, Emerson "helped" by opening her fair share of gifts, and Adrienne scored some serious baby loot at the shower.

I plugged my camera in to the computer to transfer the two pictures I took the entire weekend, to find this gem of a picture that has been hiding on my camera for the last month or so. I have no words. It appears that my daughter is climbing OUT OF the chimnea in my backyard.


I missed the day in Mom School where they talked about not letting your kids play in ashes.

I also found this picture of Aidan, which I took before he headed off to preschool a couple of weeks ago.
Spiked hair? Check. Ugly high top tennis shoes? Check. With rolled up sweatpants? Check. ("Because my legs get hot with my new shoes, Mommy.") I don't even want to talk about Aidan's clothes. If you know Aidan, you would know that this battle is just not worth it. Even when rolled up sweatpants are involved.

I discovered the "stats" button on my blog, and I'm only slightly obsessed with checking it. Someone googled "bedazzler ripoff" in the last month and ended up here instead. Awesome. Also, someone has accessed my blog from the Isle of Man in the last week. Welcome, Isle of Man resident, to Outnumbered. It appears you have stumbled on this little corner of the internet on accident, and I extend to you my deepest apologies, especially if you read about that day my kids ate a bulk package of M&Ms for breakfast before church. I hope you find what you're really looking for. If your clicking was not accidental, then speak up! I'm morbidly curious to know who actually reads this other than my parents. Especially if you happen to be British. Or Mannish. Is that what "Isle of Man" residents are referred to as? Please advise.

Emerson got ear tubes the first week of January, and I can't remember if I mentioned it on here or not. We haven't had her hearing retested since then, but I have noticed that her speech is much clearer in the last few weeks. I don't know if this is because she is hearing better with the tubes in her ears, or if it's just a result of normal language development. She continues to be her usual spunky self, and has developed quite a love of Toy Story movies and carrying around objects in a recycled Bath & Body Works shopping bag. I don't know why we even buy toys, when she's perfectly happy to play with household items she has put in her shopping bag.

Dane got his report card today, and his lowest grade in any subject for the last 9 weeks was a 98. In a couple of years he'll be doing our taxes.

Deepest apologies to all of my Mannish readers for the previous paragraphs. That's 5 minutes you will never. get. back.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sign of the Times

I've entered a new era of motherhood.

Gone are the infant carriers, bottles, and high chairs. There's a light at the end of the diaper tunnel. No more burp rags, bibs, and four extra sets of clothes "just in case". My days of mixing formula are over. My diaper bag now carries church papers, raisins, chap stick and sippy cups, and the occasional McDonald's toy.

Slowly but surely, our home has become filled with Legos, shoes that tie, backpacks, chapter books, assorted tutus and lots and lots of stuffed animals. And approximately 900 hair bows.

The kids were all playing semi-quietly upstairs the other night while I was unloading the dishwasher, and I went upstairs to find that Dane, sick of his sisters re-arranging the stuffed animal football game that was in progress, had made a sign for his bedroom door:
And for the non-readers, an illustrated interpretation:

I think a certain sign maker felt like the sisters were feeling left out, so he made a sign for Harper and Emerson's bedroom door also:

Every body is aloud. To see are cuteness.

My children are 7, 5, 3, and 1 years old. We are only just beginning a stage filled with Lego cities, GI Joe wars, princess castles, and baby doll mommies. I have a feeling many, many more bedroom signs are in my future.

Friday, January 14, 2011

That Day Aidan and Emmy "Modeled"

My husband is a high school youth minister. He's been a youth minister for almost 10 years now, in the same church, and it is a blessing and a half to be married to a man who's job is exactly what God put him on earth to do. One of my favorite parts of youth ministry (and, at times, one of the most heart-breaking parts) is watching these kids become grown ups. We've been at the same place long enough to see our former junior-highers get married. Smart-alecky high school juniors are now CPAs. Freshmen are now married mothers of two who I see at playgroup.

Jenna was in my d-group what seems like many, many moons ago. In reality, it has only been five short years. Five short years ago, Jenna was in our high school youth group.

Now, she is the proud owner of Jenna Christine Photography, and makes my children look like this:

and this:

Jenna puts on Paparazzi Mommy Workshops a few times a year, teaching mommies how to use their fancy cameras. She occasionally needs "models" for these workshops, so the mommies can practice taking pictures of squirmy, uncooperative, nap-deprived children.
Thanks to the wonder that is Facebook, I learned of such a "modeling" opportunity, and Jenna needed to borrow a couple of children ages 3-5.

Hey, wait a minute! I have a couple of children ages 3-5.

We made the trek to the other side of Houston one Sunday afternoon in November, and met up with Jenna and her client at a park, where Aidan and Emerson demonstrated exactly how uncooperative and temperamental they could be in front of a camera.
Despite their best efforts, Jenna still got some beautiful shots of these two,
after only a little bribing with the promise of ice cream.
We had a great time catching up with Miss Jenna, marveling how the high school junior suddenly became a married business owner while I haven't aged a day.

Thanks for the beautiful pictures, Jenna!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Knocked Up

Guess who's...
...having a baby?

Congratulations to my baby sister Lindy and Uncle Andy! Baby Bell is due in July and I CAN'T WAIT to be re-aunted!

And for those of you who saw the title of this post and thought something other than "I bet Mandy's sister and her jam-loving husband are pregnant?

Shame. On. You.

And, yes, Andy may have gotten a case of Marionberry jam for Christmas from his favorite Slanket-wearing mother in law.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Christmas That Never Ends

There's a Santa Claus/Advent calendar on my kitchen wall.

The pink Christmas tree is still in the girls' room.

Ornaments, waiting to be put in their January-November bins cover my kitchen table.

Christmas is lingering in my house this year, and hopefully tomorrow a band of elves will descend on my house and put away every scrap of Christmas evidence back in the garage until after Thanksgiving.

Until Brandon put the tree away yesterday, I had briefly considered slapping some red and pink hearts on the branches and proclaiming it an "All-purpose Holiday Tree".

Between the good book I have been reading and the plague that I contracted in the form of a small monster that has taken up residence in my sinus cavities, my blog has also been sorely neglected in 2011.

I'm sorry, Outnumbered. Please forgive me. Can we be friends?

I wanted to post a few more pictures of our time at my parents' house, on our last day before we headed home to Houston, just the four kids, two adults, ridiculous amount of laundry, suitcases, one pillow pet, and two Little Tykes Cozy Coupes piled into the van.

My grandmother Betty came by the house for lunch and got to meet Emerson for the very first time! We had been showing Emerson pictures of GG Betty, and she met her with a hug at the front door.

Emerson loves to look at pictures, and find people she knows in the pictures.

John and I decided that this very well could have been John and me, instead of our slightly-look-alike offspring in Betty's lap:

This year (and by "this year", I mean "last Christmas") was the first time I have met baby Jack, and he was such a sweet little boy that I just couldn't get enough of.
Harper felt the same way about her littlest cousin.

It may be time to put the ornaments away, and step back from the Advent Calendar. Roll up the twinkly lights, stash the pink tree in the garage. See you in December, Christmas!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 Reading List

Sorry for the writer's block lately, I still have a few pictures to look at and edit before I can bore you with more stories about my kids, so I thought I would share with the four of you the books I am planning to read this year. I always have at least one book I am reading, and it's gotten even easier with the Kindle. A little too easy, sometimes, to buy an e-book with just a touch of a button! Here's what I'll be borrowing, buying, or downloading in 2011:

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
This is the book I started reading over Christmas, and I'm still plowing through its' 1000+ pages. It is the reason my laundry is unfolded, the dishes are unloaded, the DVR is full, and the blog is neglected. Historical fiction set in 12th century England, it is a departure from anything else I've ever read, and I can't put it down!

Crazy Love by Francis Chan
I started reading this last year, and read bits and pieces of it while reading other books at the same time. In short, I didn't give it its' due. I need to sit down and read it again.

This is the same author who wrote Seabiscuit, a book about a horse that I ended up loving. I didn't think I would love it, because I'm not a "horse person", and I've read very few books that had absolutely no dialogue, but it was a great story from a great storyteller. I can't wait to read Unbroken.

A recommendation from a friend, it tells the stories of three different people in North Korea. Learning about heath care in foreign countries interests me.

Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith
I read several books in his series "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" a few years ago, and stopped before reading this one. Set in modern-day Botswana, Africa, about a woman who is a private investigator. Slow in pace and set in a country so completely different to my own, it's a nice departure from the thriller/legal mysteries that I typically like to read just for fun.

American Assassin by Vince Flynn
I've read several of his novels, and though interesting and fast paced, he's a little heavy on the "political agenda" for me. I usually find myself picking one of these up when I want to read a mystery/thriller type of book, and none of my other authors have anything new out.

The book that tells you exactly how to parent your four small children, one of whom you adopted from China just a few months ago when she was three and who still mainly speaks a language that is completely foreign to you. A book written for Christian parents, without a plethora of horror stories and worst case scenarios that in no way resembles your current situation. Sorry there's no link, THIS BOOK DOESN'T EXIST.

World Without End by Ken Follett
This is the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, and I think I will need to wait a couple of months before I pick this up.

Here's another one I already have at home so I won't have to buy it. I've head very good things about this book from several sources, and I almost don't know if I want to read it or not. So I'm putting it on the list, in hopes that it will make me read it.

Dismas Hardy series by John Lescroat
A friend of mine recommended this author, and he sounds right up my alley. I love nothing more than finding an author I like, then realizing he's already written 15 books. I'll probably read a couple of the early books in the series, and keep going if I like them.

Does anyone not read this blog? Has anyone not read the Black Heels series on her blog? She's turned it into a book that will be released in February, and I'll be picking up my hardback then.

Mystery by Jonathan Kellerman
I read several authors who write mystery/psychological/legal thrillers, and Kellerman is one of them. Most of his books involve the same characters, and I typically read every book he writes. I think this one comes out in March. I'll probably wait till I can find it at Half Price Books unless Kindle has a cheap price on it.

Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich
Hi, my name is Mandy and I love ridiculous fluffy Janet Evanovich books. I feel like there needs to be some kind of 12 step program for me. Her books are silly, her main character completely unrealistic, and it takes about a day and a half for me to read one of her books. But I love them. And this one comes out this summer.

I have several more authors that I love, and will read their books when published (Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton). I may add a reading list to the sidebar as I go along, with a "finished on..." date. I do have such lofty plans for the New Year!

What are you reading this year? Any books that have rocked your world that I should add to the list?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Maybe I'll Blog in 2011...

...and maybe I'll even get around to it later this week.

In the meantime, go read Missy's post. Sorta takes New Year's resolutions past "let's get in shape and try to eat better."

Happy New Year. Four days late.