Monday, October 29, 2007

It's Almost Time

The bags are packed and sitting in a designated spot in the living room. The girls are in bed, no doubt dreaming in a thick Texas drawl, ya'll. K is, in fact, already wearing the clothes she picked out to wear tomorrow, so she won't have to take the extra 3 minutes required to throw on a sweat suit in the morning.

I let the girls pack their backpacks full of toys and things to keep them occupied in the airport and on the flight. Ever the teacher, I also made them pack their folders with tomorrow's work, too. L's little backpack is full of Barbies, Pollys, Leapster, crayons, and a notebook. K's back pack? Now, that's a work of packing genius. We found her backpack on clearance a few weeks ago and it's *huge*. It has enough pockets and built in gadgets to make MacGyver weep with joy. This cadillac of all school backpacks even has an emergency whistle built-in and a zipper that makes it expand even BIGGER. K has every pocket and compartment stuffed with schoolwork, notebooks, pencils (with sharpener), camera, wallet, iPod, DS (with charger), stuffed animals, and who knows what all. It'll be interesting to see her haul that thing over her shoulders tomorrow 'cause Mama ain't carrying it.

After lots of rearranging, stuffing, and paring, I finally got everything we need (besides the girls' backpacks of **Life Necessities**) into 1 big and 1 small suitcase to be checked and one large purse for me. Considering the cold medicine induced fog I've been under during all this packing, I have no doubt I have forgotten something vitally important. However, I keep reminding myself I am *not* going for a year's excursion in darkest Africa. Anything I forgot can probably be found in the cabinets at my parent's house or purchased at the nearest "The Walmarts".

Have I mentioned how absolutely excited I am that we get to fly? It's worth the 1000-mile drive to see my family...but just barely, so the flying thing has got me stoked. I talked to my mom tonight and guess what is happening Saturday.

Come on, guess.

Ok, I'll tell you.


It's too early? Oh, ye of little faith. My brother, who will be spending this Thanksgiving in Iraq, just like last year and the year before, has requested we have Thanksgiving this Saturday when he's in town for one last visit home before deployment. As you can imagine, Mom and Dad were happy to oblige him so the whole entire extended family will be at my parents' house to celebrate. My mom's turkey and dressing, my Aunt Deborah's ham, my Aunt Shirley's baked beans, all the family stories retold, the newest generation of kids running around. It brings a tear to my eye and a rumbly to my tumbly.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In a Stew

The arrival of cooler weather means a menu change and one of the things that appeared on my radar was beef stew. I realize that I hated this particular dinner as a child, but I've grown to appreciate the merits of a steamy bowl of beefy veggie goodness. Unfortunately, I don't have my mom's recipe. so I went searching in my handy dandy Betty Crocker cookbook and found a *fabulous* recipe. It's easy to make, tasty, and doesn't make so much that you'll be eating stew for a week.

It's not the Beef Stew recipe; it's the one titled Barley Beef Stew. It's really just a slightly classy version of the traditional beef stew. When I told W what I was making for dinner last night, the look on his face was...less than thrilled. It was, actually, one step up from, "Have you lost your mind, woman?" He changed his tune once it's rich smell perfumed the air with meaty goodness (wasn't that poetic? or something). We all enjoyed it for dinner along with some "take and bake" french bread and I felt all adventurous for trying a new dish.

So next time the weather's all cold and dreary, there's something new you can try.

Sunday Afternoon Electronic Extravaganza

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Christmas Shopping

We have gotten a really, *really* early start to Christmas shopping this year. A couple of weeks ago, K got some Build-a-Bear bucks, which naturally meant an immediate trip to the mall. We walked past the Disney store and *had* to go in, 'cause you's the Disney store...and they were advertising half off the princess dresses. So L went in and drooled over the dresses and shoes and then she found *it*. The amazing thing that just caused her heart to go pitter-patter.

*It* is a castle made for the Polly Packet sized princesses, complete with 2 dolls and their various dresses and tiny shoes. It also comes with furniture. You could just see the light shining from L's eyes as she stood mesmerized in front of it. "Mommy," she said in a breathless voice, "I want this for Christmas." It's princess, it's Polly, and it's the perfect gift for L. W and K went out the following weekend and returned with the castle, so it is now hidden in W's closet awaiting the Big Day.

One daughter down and one to go. Actually, I've also found the Perfect Present for K. Someone at the Polly Pocket company is *very* smart. A few months back, they started making these tiny Pollys with their own tiny Polly cars that are just a little bigger than Matchbox cars. They have now come out with a racetrack built especially for those cars. Two cars start from the launcher, fly through the loop, hit an escalator that takes them up to the top, where they spiral down *to the mall*. It's a girly version of a traditional boy toy that K has wanted for years.

Yep, it's all jolly good.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Movie Warning

A few weeks ago, I saw a trailer for the movie The Golden Compass, based on a children's book with the same name. It looked interesting and I thought it was odd that I had never heard of the book.

Someone sent me the link to the Snopes article about the movie, and I was very disturbed at what I saw. Snopes is the website devoted to confirming or debunking urban legends or chain emails and, unfortunately, this internet rumor is all too true. The book is part of a series written by a British atheist with the affirmed intention of convincing children that the church is a cruel institution that must be destroyed. In fact, in the 3rd book, the children kill god.

Not exactly fuzzy bedtime reading.

To read the information, you can visit the Snopes site at

From the Viewpoint of Eternity

Today in CBS, someone asked about this verse

Deuteronomy 28:63 Just as it pleased the LORD to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.

It's a difficult thought to think that it will "please" God to ruin and destroy. It goes against the modern idea that God is such a loving, benevolent being that He couldn't possibly want us to be unhappy. While that idea sounds pleasant, it goes completely against the truth that God is Holy. Miriam Webster defines holy as exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness. God is incapable of compromising His holiness by tolerating our sins so that we might be happy, healthy, and prosperous here on earth. That would be a sin on the part of God.

This doesn't mean that God doesn't want us to be happy, not at all. It's simply that God's perspective is so vastly different from our own. For example, your small child spies a shiny marble on the floor. He grabs it in his chubby hand and just before he puts it in his open mouth, you take it away. This results in some screaming and tears because you have denied him something he thought he needed to be happy. You, knowing the danger that the marble poses for your son, are willing to let him suffer the disappointment and you don't give him the marble back. You're knowledge and experience give you a broader perspective to see that your son's momentary pleasure of having the marble are not worth the long term consequences he would suffer.

Now consider how much broader God's perspective is than ours. To God, our time on earth is a tiny minuscule part of our eternal existence. Any inconvenience, misery, misfortune we experience here on earth is just a momentary thing. Just as we have no problem allowing our children to be miserable for a few minutes for their own benefit, God has no problem allowing us to be miserable for awhile here on earth for our own eternal good and ultimately to His own glory. The Bible is full of such examples - Abraham had to leave his home and endure a nomadic existence, Noah had to devote his life to building an ark and got shut up for a long time with a bunch of smelly animals, Job lost his children and his possessions and his health, and Paul was tortured and thrown repeatedly into prison. All lives that were *hard* and all lives that God used in magnificent ways.

When we mentioned these examples in CBS, one woman commented on how many lives were lost for God to bring about His glory. And it's true that in many situations throughout the Bible, people did have to die in order that God would be glorified. Again, though, the key here is an eternal perspective. God knows who will accept Him and spend eternity in heaven and who will reject him and suffer eternal separation from God. A few years more or less on this earth isn't going to change those people's decisions. God put all of us on this earth for a purpose, a purpose that will bring Him glory and sometimes that purpose is best served through our death. We're only on this earth for a few moments anyway, so death is not the tragic event, the ending so many believe it to be. It's simply the next step in an eternal life.

I pray that for you, reader, it's the next step to a life in heaven with God.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Sweetness That is Sisters

It is *finally* Fall! The skies are cloudy, the wind is gusting just the tiniest bit, and the ground is decorated with colorful leaves.

K has been desperate to get outside all day. This could be a reaction to the hundreds of times she's watched Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board the past few days, because she dug out all of her skating pads, carted the skateboard outside, and has been bugging me to find somewhere she can skate. You know, with ramps and everything, because she has visions of herself "catching big air" doing "sick" tricks while I have visions of her "stacking" at the bottom (see, Johnny has taught me some valuable skater lingo and "stacking" ain't a good thing). Yep, I have one daughter who wants to rise to stardom in the X Games and one who wants to grow up to be a princess. tie in the subject line...

K is outside in the dreary fall weather wearing a T-shirt and shorts and she stopped in front of the window where L and I were watching her, giving us her best exaggerated shiver. Well, yeah, I can imagine you're probably cold. L looks down in sympathy and announces, "She needs a jacket!" She trotted off to K's room, found K's pullover, and sweetly carried it to her.

Let's all say it together, "Awwww".

K then asked L to come outside with her, increasing the sweetness factor. About 2 minutes later, L popped her head back inside, "Mommy, I'm cold! I need a jacket!" Because, of course, L had blithely run off outside wearing her Tinkerbell costume, which doesn't offer too much protection from the elements. So this time it was Mommy's turn to pull out the jacket and convince the little one that she would have to take off the big wings cause that jacket just wasn't fitting over them. The sacrifices we make for comfort. And for sisters.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Heard in our house

L: "Smell my hair."

Me: "Ummm, okay." (obligingly smells freshly washed hair) "Smells good."

L: "It smells like Sleeping Beauty. K's hair smells like Cinderella."

Me: "Okaaaayy."

To give you the background, I bought a 3-pack of kid's shampoo with the picture of a princess on each bottle. Obviously, if a picture's on a bottle, that's what's inside.

New Friends

A couple of weeks ago, K came to the realization that her soccer clinic was almost over...and L's dance class wasn't. This is obviously unfair.

Being the resourceful mom I am, I explained that it was okay since it gave us one more day every week that we didn't have somewhere to be and we could go do something fun. Then, of course, I had to follow up on it, so I promised K that the first Tuesday we didn't have soccer, we'd go to the zoo.

I spent some time talking to a lady in our Sunday Bible Study that I've never gotten a chance to talk to and invited her to join us. Happily, she did and we had a fabulous time. We have a ton in common from English degrees to a couple of similar jobs to marrying techno geeks. Our kids got along great and I found someone who's actually read a lot of the same books I have - interestingly enough. The weather was beautiful, the kids had a blast climbing around the playground and on every piece of sculpture they found, and we got lots...and lots...of exercise. All in all a total success. Zoo-wise and friend-wise.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Middle School Madness

This week, it was reported that a school in Maine has decided to start providing students with birth control pills and patches at the in school health clinic. The student only needs to have signed permission to seek treatment at the clinic, which includes care for illness and injury, and it is illegal for the clinic to notify the parent that their 11-year-old daughter is taking birth control.

Lord have mercy on us all.

The main argument seems to be that there is a small percentage of sexually active middle school students who need proper protection and we simply can't ignore their needs. And we all know that middle school students are so incredibly responsible that they'll remember to use the pills and patches exactly right so they are fully protected, especially when women 2 and 3 times their age can't seem to get it right. Plus, they'll also be sure to remember that the pill and patch only protect against pregnancy, so they'll also be responsible enough to use a condom to protect (somewhat) against STDs, not to mention finding a therapist to deal with the emotional issues that come along with the territory.

Let's just give those kids a false sense of security that's going to cause a *whole* lot more problems than just telling them NO! It's stupid, don't do it!

Then there's also all those students who are engaging in other equally dangerous and stupid activities we fail to "protect". Why don't we hear these messages?

Don't drink. But since we know that a small percentage of you will anyway, here's some rules on how to drink responsibly and a list of people who'll go to the liquor store and buy your beer for you.

Don't do drugs. But since we know a small percentage of you will anyway, here's what the drugs are, how to use them safely, and you can get a supply of sanitary needles in the health clinic without your parents knowing.

Don't drive until you're 16 and have a license. But since we know a small percentage of you will anyway, we offer a driver's ed class after school in the teacher parking lot. If you can't see over the steering wheel or can't reach the pedals, we'll provide you with accessibility aids free of charge. And again, we won't tell you parents.

Because, by golly, we want you all to be safe.

This kind of "logic" is exactly what they're using to justify providing birth control in schools. And there's no logic to it at all.

Remember what I said about Maintenance Day?

I got up hugely early, got the girls ready and school packed up, then we headed out to the dealership. The inspection is done, but they had to order the lock assembly and it won't be here until Monday. Maybe.

I put in a call to get the home stuff taken care of (I *love* living in an apartment!) and have picked up and cleaned most of the place. I had finally gotten to the point of vacuuming, so I pulled out the vacuum, emptied the canister, moved the chairs, and got started. Then I started thinking, gosh it's making a lot of noise, of course, there's always a lot to pick up under the table. But when I looked, it wasn't actually picking up anything, just kinda blowing it around.


Well, it *is* kinda old and it wasn't exactly an expensive model, so I'm not surprised it died. Now, there's the question of what to do about it. W has this points program at work and he has enough points to get a Dyson, which normally costs like...millions...or $400
...whatever. So I did the Responsible Consumer thing and looked on the Target website to get some ideas and started reading the reviews. For the Dyson. And I discovered that people either love it and would get a picture of it tattooed on their body (no, seriously) or they blasted it as a worthless piece of cheap plastic (ouch, harsh). SO...I'm still not sold on it. And besides, I'm not sure our floors can wait for shipping. But then there's the argument that Dyson=free and another vacuum would actually cost real money.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

We're Gaming!

Last week I taught K to play Scrabble. It's a fabulous way to work on vocabulary and spelling, so it counts as school, right? She's really pretty good with coming up with words and figuring out how to play them. So now I have someone to play Scrabble with me almost anytime I want. Score!

Tonight W taught L to play the Oreo Matching Game. It's kinda like memory where you have to match shapes built into the "filling" of plastic Oreos. Once L understood how to play the game, she *smoked* her daddy. So W asked K to play with her and L whooped up on her big sister, too.

Now I know that it's not like she can't *remember* when we tell her no...

Broken, Clogged, and General Weirdness

I have to officially declare tomorrow Maintenance Day. I have put off Maintenance Day as long as I could possibly could. In my little world, standing in 5" of water during a shower is okay, because if I reported it to the apartment office to get the thing unplugged, I'd feel required to clean the bathroom *first*. Then my sink started plugging up. And the washer is acting WIERD. The next to last load came out sopping wet because it didn't do that whole spinny thing. Then the last load spun forever until I finally figured out it wasn't going to stop on it's own and lifted the lid. But, on the positive side, it was halfway dry by then! So I have to call the maintenance guy tomorrow because it's Friday and the laundry is piling up. Which means I have to clean. Because I couldn't possibly have the maintenance guy seeing that I've been slumping this week on the whole housework thing. The horror.

Of course, this will all have to take place *after* we get back from the car dealership. Awhile back, the passenger door lock on our van broke and we were told it was just a matter of time before the driver lock followed it to The Happy Locking Ground. Yesterday, the Grim Reaper of Locks quietly struck and the lock is no longer with us. At least the other lock just made a hideous noise when it broke. This one simply *stopped working*. I can't even lock my car! Of course, it's not like my vehicle is high on the list of auto theft targets, but it's still a bit unnerving. And besides, my inspection is due this month. So I spent some time this afternoon cleaning out the pigsty we call the van so the auto mechanic won't be horrified when he works on it tomorrow.

Yep, it's all about keeping up appearances.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Difference Between K and L

K: I know that X is wrong, so I won't do it and I won't get in trouble.
L: Well, I haven't been told X is wrong in the last 5 minutes, so it must be okay now.

K: I know X is wrong and Y is fairly similar, so Y must be wrong too.
L: Y looks like fun! Woohoo!

K = Logic
L = Emotion

K + L = Drama and lots of fun

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Laugh for Today

Yesterday, L was standing next to me when I heard a little sound.

"Excuse me," she said, "I just burped on my bottom."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Don't Mess With Mommy

Whenever I tell other moms about L's haircutting escapades, I get lots of stories about how their kids did the same thing. Once. I rarely hear about repeat offenders like L, who somehow sneaked off with the scissors *again* tonight. And, yep, I found wispy strands decorating her bed...the floor...her shirt...and not her head. She managed to get the front cut down to the scalp this time.

So I wore her out, hauled her off upstairs, and shaved her head.

Oh yes ma'am, I did.

Now that I've gotten the shock value (hehe), don't worry, she's not quite ready for boot camp yet. I used W's clippers with the longest guard, so it's just back to about where it was the last time we had to have it cut. It just has a new bald spot in front. I'm hoping the clippers scared her more than than all the punishment that didn't seem to get through her hard head last time.

And that shadowy figure you see out in the dark of night with a shovel and a sack? That's me, burying the scissors where they will never be found.

A Lunch L Loves

My girls have both gotten into a very bad habit of not eating lunch, in spite of the fact that I don't give them an afternoon snack when they don't eat lunch and they often sometimes have to eat their lunch reheated at dinner time. I think it has to do with when they finally settle down to eat breakfast, a few quiet trips to the kitchen for a morning snack, and by lunchtime they're generally done or almost done with schoolwork and they're just too excited to get back to playing. Whatever it is, I'm working on getting it to *stop*.

L is the worst as she's got that freaky toddler appetite thing going. You know, the one where they eat 2 helpings of everything one day and a cracker the next. They love PB&J one day and swear they hate it the next. Whatever.

On Saturday, we went out for lunch at Pei Wei, the "diner" version of P.F. Chang "bistro" (which means cheaper, faster, and more family friendly, but with the same yummy food). I ordered L the lo mein and when the server brought it, the look on L's face was *priceless*. She lit up with absolute glee that she was getting to eat *noodles* with *chicken*. She picked up her chopsticks (with the kiddie helper clip, of course) and sucked up almost the whole bowl.

So I guess the answer to lunch problem is to serve more Pei Wei. Yep, I could handle that, but the budget can't. Oh well.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Really Cool (and FREE!) Adoption Conference

Our adoption agency posted about a conference to be held next weekend in Rockwall, TX, at our Texas church. There will be many sessions about adoption, foster care, and all the little details involved. Our adoption agency and probably others will be there handing out information. If you've ever had any curiosity about adoption or have been seriously considering, please try to go. Our adoption experience has been such a blessing to us.

For more information about the conference, go to

Thursday, October 11, 2007

After umpteen calls to 2 airlines...

...I *finally* have the girls and I booked on a flight to TX.

You see, my baby brother is headed home for a few days before he ships out for tour #2 in Iraq. I really wanted to make it back there to see him, but W didn't want me making the drive with just the girls (and I wasn't too thrilled about that either), so I started searching for alternatives. We had a voucher on one airline and almost enough miles for 2 tickets on another airline that was in the same alliance. So over 3 days I called both airlines and the conversations went something like this.

Airline #1: "Do you have seats on this flight? How about another one that day? Ok, hold that and I'll call the other airline to see if they can get me tickets for that same flight."

Airline #2: "What? You've never heard of that flight number? What else do you have available that day? What about the next day? Ok, hold that flight while I check back with the other airline."

Airline #1: "What do you mean I need 79 more frequent flier miles, but I can only purchase them in increments of 1,000? And I have to wait 48 hours to book? This is madness!"

After umpteen more similar calls and craziness, I finally have 3 tickets held on 1 plane going and 1 plane returning sold by 2 different airlines. And all for the low price of $65 for those stinkin' extra 1,000 miles. We have to wait for Airline #2 to confirm the seats with Airline #1, but that shouldn't be a problem, then we have to make a trip out to the airport to turn in the voucher and get the tickets officially "ticketed".

All I can say is that my little brother better be happy to see us :-)

The next issue is getting transportation to and from the airport. Anyone wanna volunteer to make an airport run early on 10/30 or 11/6? I could throw in breakfast as a bribe.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

L's Favorite New Word

L has learned a fun new word. One that sounds impressive, conveys a great deal of emotion, and is lots of fun to say, especially when you add a wrinkled nose. No, it's not a curse word or anything unmentionable. It's "disgusting". The word "disgusting" is getting rather overused by our 3-year-old and I never realized that just calling something disgusting actually makes it seem that way. Like food. My appetite hasn't been the same lately. Today the doll house was declared "disgusting", and to her credit, it did look like a coke had been splattered on the living room walls, *something* was discoloring the little girls' bedroom floor, and pink yogurt decorated the outside walls. Yep, it was time for some clorox wipes action.

And to help you reach your laugh quota for the day, an L funny from this weekend.

My mom was visiting and found something in our dry, hot NC air did not agree with her allergic sensibilities, so she spent part of the weekend sniffling and sneezing. At one point, L found her in the bathroom blowing her hose on a piece of toilet paper. L's very proper little heart was horrified and she promptly brought Grandma the box of "blow nose" (L's version of kleenex), berating her for not using the appropriate tissue.

Early the next morning, Grandma was again in the bathroom blowing her nose. As soon as she opened the door, she found L standing there waiting...holding the box of kleenex.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Baby Pictures

As I was sitting here at the computer (avoiding housework) doing some very important reading, L walked up and asked me if I could get out the pictures of her when she was a baby.

Oh, honey, if only I could.

I have one tiny, grainy newspaper picture of when she was about 4-months-old. The next 3 pictures were taken probably a little before her first birthday. We have a few more that other visitors to the orphanage took between May and early October. Most people who visit the orphanage during their adoption try to take pictures of as many other children there as possible. They then post the pictures on the Yahoo Group specific to the orphanage so others can search them and look for their own children. One family who adopted their daughter the week before we received L had a good picture with L and the other toddler in our group. She said she had been told that L and her daughter, Guo, had been very good friends. When they left the orphanage with Guo, L ran after them, tripping and getting a scratch on her cheek. I saw the scratch when we got L and it was so sweet to know how she had gotten it. The internet can be such a wonderful resource.

The bulk of the pictures start when L joined our family at 20-months-old. Thankfully, she considers these her "baby pictures" and loves to look at the scrapbook I made about the whole trip to China. It starts with the tiny, grainy newspaper picture and is filled with tons of pictures and stories from the whole trip. So I pulled this out scrapbook out for her and she flipped through it. After K's spelling test, I'm going to put aside the housework for a little longer, sit on the couch with a daughter on each side, and look through the scrapbooks, telling the story again about how God blessed us with each of our beautiful girls.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Privileges of Being 7

When you're 7, you get to do a whole lot more cool things. At least I figure it's a great age to start allowing some new "privileges". K is now allowed to...

1. Vacuum! She's tall enough and strong enough to push around the big vacuum cleaner, so I showed her which buttons to push and she's off and running.

2. Use the microwave to heat up her own lunch! Heck, she can read labels and punch those buttons just as well as I can.

3. Make her own hot chocolate! I showed her where the electric water kettle was kept, how to fill it, turn it on, and stir that powdered mix into the hot water. I even let her get some marshmallows today because I am just that kind of nice.

Yep, turning 7 is a great thing (especially for Mom)!

In other news, tonight was MOPS and when I reminded W of this, he said if the girls didn't choose Chuck E Cheese or any equivalent, he would be willing to take them out to dinner and give me a little extra time off ( I love that man!). When I told K, she got very excited and asked if she and L could dress up really nice and get Dad to take them to a fancy restaurant (and W was all worried about CEC). So K and L searched their closet and picked out their fanciest dresses, *voluntarily* picked out tights, then asked me to fix their hair. K even offered to share her treasured glittery make-up with L. This is big stuff, folks. They were finally ready including make-up, jewelry, and purses and they met Dad at the door. K's idea of a fancy restaurant? Applebee's. 'Cause it is a little nicer than Chili's, according to K. W very willingly played along and took the girls out for their fancy dinner at Applebee's and Mommy got to finish the cake she had to take to the MOPS meeting tonight in peace. The girls did ask if there was any left after the meeting, if I'd save it for them, but the cake plate looked as if someone had licked it clean, so I'll have to make another one. Maybe I'll make it for Saturday morning breakfast since it's really more of a bread than a cake and it was super yummy.

Thanks, Mom, for that subscription to Taste of Home and many of the women at MOPS thank you, too.