Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009!



We are kicking off the new year quite happily at home! The kids have had so much fun making holiday memories this year.

We started with our dinner of clam chowder, green salad, sparkling cider and snack smorgasbord (artichoke hearts, fancy cheeses & summer sausage--a favorite from Joel's childhood)--I think we have begun a new tradition!

Then we enjoyed the new American Girl movie with extra buttery popcorn topped with Parmesan cheese. Mmmmmm. It's all about the food with me apparently!

Now our kids are showing off their mad dance skills while watching New Year's Rockin' Eve. Should I be worried that they are rocking out to the Pussycat Dolls? Perhaps.

I am working on my first knitting project tonight, a pink headband for N. I figure if the 10 year old girl in my knitting book can do it, so can I!

Okay, I guess Joel has had enough of New Year's Rockin' Eve, now we're watching Dog the Bounty Hunter. Yeah, we are such a classy family!

Anyway, I just wanted to share a little of our holiday cheer.

Hope you are having a fabulous evening!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Let There Be Heat!

After a week of temperatures in the teens and 20's we decided to shell out the bucks to hook up the old oil heat tank. Ahhhh, glorious, consistent heat! It sure beats the space heaters!

Just thought you'd like to know we are no longer freezing our buns off out here!

Jen

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Trying Something New

My dear Mrs. Pivec from Golightly Place has inspired me to try a new hobby...knitting! You know how I'm always whining about wanting to be creative and really make something with my own two hands, well this is my latest attempt at satisfying that need! It has been fun so far and not too terribly frustrating.

I have found that I CANNOT learn to do craft projects from written instructions and diagrams, I have to SEE them done, so I was so happy to find videos online for beginning knitters (again thanks to Mrs. Pivec!).

I will now dazzle you with my new found knitting terminology... I have learned to "cast on" and I think I am getting the hang of the "knit stitch". Although I have difficulty when I get to the end of a row. There is this weird loop left over, I am sure due to operator error of some kind. Any help from the knitters out there? I started out with the Continental method but couldn't get the hang of holding the yarn in my left hand. I am having more success with the English method. There you go. Impressed yet?

My husband has taken to calling me "granny" when he sees me knitting. I can always count on him for moral support.

While perusing knitting books at Barnes and Noble the other day I found one with ideas for using knitting for good. For example, beanie hats for chemo patients and teddy bears for kids who have been abused. Wouldn't it be amazing to know that something you made brought comfort to others in the midst of pain? I hope I can gain enough knitting skill to do something like that.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Touching Lives

These are the moments that make it all worth it:

This morning at our school's weekly RtI (response to intervention) meeting our principal wanted to share something close to his heart. He had received a handwritten card from someone in the neighborhood around our school that read something like this:

"This morning I watched the older boys playing football before school and was very concerned because they appeared to be playing too rough with a little boy who had a walker. After watching for a few minutes I came to realize that they weren't playing rough, they were including him in the game. One of the boys tied a flag to his walker, they let him catch the ball and they even let him tackle them. I was so impressed and proud of the character these kids showed. Good job ______ Elementary School!"

Believe me when I say there was not a dry eye around the conference table.

But it gets even better.

After that we invited the father of one of our students in to discuss his daughter's progress and the academic interventions that have been done to help her succeed. At the end of the meeting he thanked us from the bottom of his heart for helping his little girl. He described how far she had come in the past few months since they had moved here and then he gave us a standing ovation. Really, I'm not kidding.

The tissue box made the rounds again. In fact I need one right now, I am tearing up just thinking about it.

As my husband so aptly stated, "You school people live for this stuff. This is going to keep you going for years."
Too true.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Keeping it Simple this Christmas



I found this video over on Missy's blog. It is AWESOME! All morning I have been feeling that "itch" to get out there and do some shopping (impulse shopping) because I haven't done any Christmas shopping yet and there are "good deals" out there somewhere! Over the past year I have really tried to reduce my acquisition and consumption of "stuff" but my convictions were being put to the test today.

After watching this video I have renewed my resolve to keep it simple this year.

On Aimee's blog I found a great idea for simplifying the Christmas wish list for my family. The idea is to buy a few gifts for each person that focus on body, soul and spirit. For example, clothes would be for the body, one special gift that your child really wanted is for the soul, and a bible or inspirational book would be for the spirit. Then do a few stocking stuffers for fun.

I plan to try it this year. I think this idea will keep me focused and reduce impulse buying when I get that last minute Christmas panic! Last year I was so frustrated with myself because a few days before Christmas I suddenly felt that I hadn't done enough and my kids would be deprived! So I went out to the store that must not be named (sorry Joel, this is true confession time) and bought a bunch of junk! It was very silly!`

Now please don't misunderstand me, I am not a humbug, really! I love Christmas! The music, the lights, the movies, the traditions! I look forward to it every year. My desire is to not get caught up in the "machine" that tells me to buy my happiness. I want to keep my focus where it should be, on God and family, not on stuff.

You might have noticed that I am kicking off the holiday season with a new look for my blog and a Christmas music play list! I'm sorry if the music annoys anyone! I know that some people have strong feelings about music on blogs. My blog has become a place where I like to hang out and relax and music is a big part of that for me. So I hope you enjoy it too but if you don't, just remember to push pause on the play list. ;0)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Baby It's Cold Inside

With this week's cold, foggy inversion we have made an unpleasant discovery.

To preface this, we knew that the new heat pump system, that was installed during our remodel, would have difficulty "keeping up" during cold weather.

We knew that an auxiliary heat source was recommended.

We thought that meant the heat pump would just have to work more to attempt to heat the house and the auxiliary heat source was optional.

What we somehow did not realize was that it wouldn't function at all when the temperature dipped below 35 degrees or so.

Yes, you are marveling at our brilliance right now.

This morning we woke up to a temperature of 54 degrees, inside our house.

So, we have invested in a couple of space heaters and are trying to figure out our best options for the "auxiliary" source. We have a fireplace that needs a lot of work and we have an old oil heat system, that needs a lot of work. Note "lots of work" = "lots of money".

In the meantime, I am sipping hot tea while curled up in my big green chair in front of our new "Heat Dish" and opting for denial. I'm rather comfy right here.

Here's a song to warm you up (remember to pause my playlist at the bottom of the page):

Baby It's Cold Outside

Saturday, November 22, 2008

GO COUGS!




The Cougs won the Apple Cup!!!! This is a bright spot in an otherwise disastrous football season! GO COUGS!!!!

Did anyone else happen to notice our coach's enthusiastic and quite lengthy victory dance? He's got mad skills.

It's a Major Award!



This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.



If you have seen A Christmas Story you will understand the title of this post! ;0)

Actually I am very flattered and happy to present my very first blog award! Thank you Hippie Housewife! I love reading your blog!


The rules are:

1. Accept the award and post it on your blog along with a link to the person who has awarded you.

2. Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Here are the blogs I picked:

Skyward Journey
It's a Wonderful Life
Still His Girl
Make It From Scratch
Golightly Place
Everyday Becky
Days to Come
Life's a Beach With the Joneses
Hope Has Returned
4 Reluctant Entertainers
strandfam

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Wonder and Beauty of Adoption


I just saw this picture on MeDenne's blog and I couldn't resist sharing it with you. One look captured my heart. I think about Noelle's birth mom often, she gave my precious little girl the gift of life. She tried to keep her for four days before she made the most agonizing decision imaginable. She must think of Noelle every day, I know I would. I wish I could tell her how beautiful her daughter is. So very funny, smart and talented as well. I wish she could see her one more time and know that the tiny baby that she wrapped in a clean, blue flowered blanket has a good life. Her daughter is loved and cherished in a forever family. I wish with all my heart that Noelle could some day meet the woman she prays for every night. To look into her birth mother's eyes and see herself reflected. I know that I would want that closure if it were me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dealing with Racism

My 5 year old daughter seemed a little down yesterday and when I asked what was bothering her she said, "Mom I think there are kids at school that don't like me because I'm Chinese". This is the first time she has ever expressed something like this so I asked if anyone had said something mean to her about being Chinese and she replied, "No, I just know".

After all the websites, blogs and books I have read about trans racial adoption, being a multi-racial family, and the racism that still exists today in America, I was still shocked by her comment. Everything I had read about how to talk to your child about this topic fled my mind and I struggled with what to say. I didn't want to mouth platitudes about being "color blind" or lie to her and say that no one would ever think such a thing about her. I ended up saying something along the lines of "That must make you feel sad when people don't like you because you look different than them. That's not okay for them to do that". But I know as time goes on that this will not be enough.

Since we brought N home we have worked very hard to celebrate our differences as well as our similarities as a family. We have tried to help our daughter to feel proud of who she is and where she came from. We have several children's books about adoption and Chinese stories and poems. She has many Asian dolls and she loves her "Dance and Learn Chinese with Mei Mei" DVD. But I still wonder if there is more I should be doing? In Boise there are more opportunities for Chinese dance and language classes but our resources are limited and the commute is an issue. I have begun to wonder if we made a mistake moving to rural Idaho? There are three other Chinese adoptees in N's school as well as a few children of Hispanic heritage, however, the vast majority of kids there are Caucasian. At times like these I feel my own "whiteness" very acutely and wonder whether I, as a member of the ethnic and racial majority in this country, can truly understand what my daughter may go through in her life being a member of a racial minority.

What are your thoughts dear readers? I know that some of my "regulars" here are adoptive parents and members of transracial families. Have you faced the issue of racism with your children? How did you deal with it? What steps have you taken to help your child to embrace their racial and ethnic heritage?

Thanks for your help.

Jen

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hands Down THE Best Election Post I Have Read

I HATE to get political. Mostly because I can't stand confrontation. However, I just read a post-election blogpost at Still His Girl that perfectly captured how I feel about the election. I love how balanced she is and full of grace and peace. Click here to read her post.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Encouragement for a Friend

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43 : 2

This is for a sweet friend at work who is "passing through the fire" right now. Would you pray for her? Thanks!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Quotes from my 3 year old today.

"Moooooom, you taking for all day long, hurry up!" (about 20 times on the way to the DMV this afternoon).

"Mommy, I Captain Hook and you Mommy Hook!" (very cute).

"Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" (scream, shriek, throw self on floor, wail some more for good measure).

"Mommy, I broke this thing!" (He's been breaking/ripping/dropping/spilling a lot of things today).

Don't you just love 3 year olds?

New Addiction

I have discovered facebook. You may never see me again.
Ha ha, I'm kidding of course... well, I hope.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Amazing Story

Check out this video of an incredible, inspiring woman who was born alive during a saline abortion. It is long but well worth hearing.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Sarah at Strandfam tagged me! Here goes...

1. I have short, stubby thumbs. What does this mean for me? I find it difficult to shuffle cards, play video games and I will never win a thumb war.

2. I cannot whistle. Hard as I try, it is just not going to happen for me. My husband is convinced that I should be able to whistle since I am a speech therapist. Hmmm, does this call my professional competence into question? Good thing I don't need to teach kids how to whistle!

3. I am a mirror talker like Amber. I have practice conversations in the mirror that I never have with anyone in real life because I'm too chicken.

4. I must straighten the covers on my bed before I can get in and go to sleep. They have to be perfectly even. Unless I'm too tired to care and then I don't even bother.

5. I can't count the number of times I have seen The Sound of Music. I love that movie and I can sing a rousing rendition of "My Favorite Things" (very loud and I suspect off-key on the chorus).

**Okay, now I have to come up with two new ones since the last 5 were copied from my last tag post (with a few minor revisions)!

I just realized that the last time I was tagged it was by a Sarah! You crazy girls!

6. I am a food separatist. I have rules. Certain foods cannot touch other foods on my plate but other foods can. Don't ask me to explain it, I just know.

7. I like the smell of books. As a kid I would open my new text books and smell them first. Is that as creepy as the kid in class who eats paste? There was always one of those kids.

So the big question is, am I quirky or just weird? Quirky sounds cuter. Please say quirky.

Here are all the lucky folks that I'm going to tag next...

Jaime

Tonni

Nikki

Suzi

MeDenne

Missy

Kristen

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pep Talk

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

I subscribe to a daily devotional online from Proverbs 31 Ministries. Today's message greatly encouraged me and I thought I would pass it along. To read the entire devotion click here.

"When we take our eyes off our fears, our doubts, our struggles and focus on someone else's needs, we somehow forget our own, for a little while. In believing the power of God’s promises for others, our confidence in His promises for us seems to grow as well. And that my friend is the power of encouraging words! "

"Lord, Thank you for the power of Your Words that give me courage to become who You’ve created me to be – to go to places You’re calling me to go and climb spiritual heights that are out of my reach without Your help. Give me Your encouragement today, and help me encourage someone, too. In Jesus Name, Amen" -By Renee Swope-

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wanna Dance?

If you grew up in the 80's and have a thing for vocoders and electronic dance mixes then you're gonna be all over this. This song makes me want to get off my butt and onto the elliptical machine. Or tackle that giant pile of laundry that needs folding. It's definitely going on my ipod! Remember to pause my playlist at the bottom of the page before you listen. Enjoy!

Oh, you've got to check out the hair in this picture. Reminiscent of Flock of Seagulls? The 80's are baaaaaack. Scary.


video

Friday, October 24, 2008

Entertaining Success!

I began the journey out of my entertaining-phobia tonight! W00Hoo!

We hosted our new bible study group tonight with people we have only met one time before and I did not, I repeat, did NOT freak out! Not only did we have bible study but my in-laws were planning to come into town right around dinner time. Normally this would be the cause of much panic and "weeping and gnashing of teeth", to put it biblically, as I frantically dialed for pizza delivery. Not so today! Thanks to 4 Reluctant Entertainers I had a plan. A scrumptious and utterly simple plan: crock pot vegetable soup, store bought crusty Italian bread with garlic butter, and No Peel Apple Cake.

It was a good day, I gave it to God and he blessed me with peace. For the first time I cooked and cleaned for company with the intention of creating a warm, relaxed and comfortable space rather than worrying about people judging me because my baseboards weren't clean or my cooking was bad. Not that they were actually judging me, I just feared that they were. Instead of focusing on myself and my fears I chose to remain outward focused and you know what, I enjoyed myself! Instead of feeling exhausted and drained afterward, I was energized. Imagine that!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An Ordinary Life

"We do not need the grace of God to withstand crises—human nature and pride are sufficient for us to face the stress and strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God—but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people—" (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).
I came across this quote on Walk Slowly Live Wildly tonight and it really spoke to me. Many times I internally bemoan the fact that God made me so terribly ordinary. Why wasn't I given a special talent of some kind? Why do I feel so invisible most of the time? What a blessed reminder that God does not need me to be an Uber-saint. He just wants me to live the life that he has so lovingly bestowed upon me. To show others the extraordinary God I serve and not get in the way.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Brighton's Village Fundraiser

I have the privilege of knowing an awesome christian woman, Kelly, through an adoption yahoo group. She and her husband are in the process of adopting their fourth child from China, Brighton. Brighton has Spina Bifida and is deaf. They have created a website to help raise money for her adoption. Right now if you donate to Brighton's Village you can be entered into a drawing for some beautiful Vera Bradley purses. It would be great if you could check out their site and pray for Brighton and her family to be united soon!

Thanks!

Jen

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Scoop on the Poop

**Update** The poo is clear, no E. coli here! Hooray!

I never thought this would be a title for a post on my blog!

We don't have official lab test results yet but Z has not had any further symptoms and N has never shown any at all. Their pediatrician did not think that they had E. coli but wanted us to go ahead and get them tested just to be sure. Unfortunately, Joel's poop collecting methods were not ideal the first time around so I had the enjoyable task of scooping the poop with an official collection kit on Saturday. So pleasant! I can't complain though, it was definitely my turn to do it. Hopefully we will get the results tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted on the poo chronicles!


Jen

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yuck

There has been an outbreak of E. coli at our kids' daycare recently. I don't believe that it originated there but one of the children had E. coli and then it spread to at least 5 other kids. So today when my son was at preschool he had blowout diarrhea and his teacher recommended that we get him tested for E. coli. My husband, wonderful man that he is, collected stool samples from both our kids and tomorrow we will go to our pediatrician to check out the poop! I was/am still pretty freaked out about the whole thing and of course googling E. coli has not helped to alleviate my fears. It is scary stuff. Could you pray for my kiddos? And for quick test results? We have basically canceled all plans until further notice (play dates, bible study, church, school, etc.).

Thanks.

Jen

Growing Up Too Fast!


When did my baby girl get so big? She told her daddy today:

N: "Dad, I think I'm falling in looooove with Zach at school. I think we should just go ahead and get married."
J: "Does he know about this?"
N: Yeah.
J: "Well, did you talk to him about it?"
N: "No dad, he just knows!"
J: "And you're sure he wants to marry you?"
N: "Of course, dad." (exasperated sigh)

Oh dear, she's five going on 18.
Btw, click here for the latest medical updates for our girl.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From the Garden to the Pantry




I have to say that my husband ROCKS! He works so hard and is so passionate about growing and preserving our bountiful harvest!

Life Half-Lived

A few months ago I read a post by Big Mama about letting go of the fear in her life and truly giving it to God. I wrote this poem in response:

The Fear of Letting Go

The fear of letting go grips my heart.
I long to run, I yearn to fly, I need to create.
My heart turns cold.

I fear being nothing.
I fear losing everything.
I don't want to waste my life.

I'm tired of trying to please everyone.
I'm tired of falling short.
I'm falling apart at the seams.

I long to feel the warmth of the sun.
To stand on a hill with the wind in my face.
Holding nothing back.

I am released from this half-life of fear.
I will let myself be shattered.
Free me and make me whole again.
3/1/08
I am generally a very private person but in my quest to become more of the person God made me to be, I have chosen to process my thoughts and feelings out loud. Perhaps to give myself some sort of accountability or just to be more open and known to others? Maybe some of these ramblings will help someone else? Maybe this is some form of therapy for me? Whatever it is, bear with me!
I have been told before that I am too serious and that I think about things too much but as I expressed in my poem, I'm so tired of trying to please others and not be myself. I don't want to worry about being too much for some and not being enough for others. I am who I am and it's time for me to accept this and stop hiding the real me. I grew up hiding my true thoughts and feelings and I have found that the habit has stuck. It's time for me to realize that God loves me and accepts me "just as I am" as the old hymn goes. That is enough for me. I don't have to hide anymore.
The song Unbreakable by Fireflight perfectly expresses what I am trying to say, "God I want to dream again, take me where I've never been. I want to go there, this time I'm not scared!".

video

Jen

Monday, October 13, 2008

Loving This Song

video

Give Me Your Eyes-- Brandon Heath

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OihvG607W-c

Update from N's Doctor

In case you missed it...
We have heard from N's cardiologist. Read about it here if you like!

Jen

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Reads

I've made some great new discoveries in the blogosphere this weekend!

My favorite is 4 Reluctant Entertainers, a blog written to help those who break into a cold sweat at the mere thought of having people over for dinner, a.k.a., ME. My entertaining fears do not discriminate either, I'll have you know! It doesn't matter if I have known you for 10 years or 10 minutes, I FEAR entertaining! I fear cooking lousy food, I fear you finding the 1/2" layer of dust on the one piece of furniture I forgot to wipe down, I fear that you will find me BORING and that I will not be able to think of anything to say to you! It's ugly but true and I hate being this way! Cause guess what? When I'm so busy being afraid of opening my home, my life, and myself to others I leave no room in my heart to love others and make an impact on their lives. Then I sit here and wonder why I do not have intimate, lasting relationships with friends or family? Why am I so lonely? Hmmm...could it be...me??? Gasp! Surely not!

The Reluctant Entertainers blog is one the many ways that God has recently been speaking to me about being open to new relationships and looking for ways to bless others instead of keeping my heart locked up in this dungeon of fear. He has also been teaching me that when I am feeling lonely and when I feel like no one "gets me" that I should turn to Him instead of wallowing in self pity. He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother. He is the one who made me and therefore knows me intimately. He IS love when I need love. I have found immense comfort in this revelation. It's kinda like Sally Field's acceptance speech at the Oscars years ago, "You like me! You really, really like me!".

Anyway.... back to the ranch.

Here are some other great blogs and websites that I have been enjoying:

Stop the Ride--"Living a simple and frugal life in a world that isn't".

Growing Power-- This guy is my new hero! He has this incredible farm in the middle of Milwaukee on a 2 acre lot. His mission is "supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities".

Enjoy!

Jen

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wrapping Up the Harvest


After a hard freeze this week we lost most of the tomatoes that were still on the vine however we had plenty of pumpkins and squash left to pick. It was cold and blustery today but we still enjoyed our family harvest day!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Spiritual Gifts Inventory

Here I go again trying to figure myself out. It seems to be one of my favorite pastimes! I stumbled across an interesting spiritual gifts survey that really nailed it for me. A few months ago I took a similar survey on another site and ended up feeling useless and discouraged. It made me feel that if I wasn't a "teacher" or "evangelist" type of person then I didn't amount to much in the church body. I feel that way often enough on my own, I didn't need someone else telling me that too! I often struggle with feeling connected in the church, knowing where I fit, knowing what in the heck am I good for anyway? I'm sure this is partially due to self-esteem issues from my past but I think it is also due to not having an obviously useful gift. Everyone recognizes those who have great pearls of wisdom to bestow on all they meet or those who are super-organized and practical, and those with a passion to teach and share the gospel. I am not a great giver of advice, I fear public speaking and confrontation, I don't teach well, and I worry too much about offending others and what people think of me.
Instead of causing me to beat myself up further about all the things I am not good at, this survey actually caused me to recognize and value the characteristics I do have. No small feat, I assure you...
I particularly like the parts that explain what pitfalls to watch out for and the practical ways in which I could use my gift.

The results:

The results of your Spiritual Gifts Inventory indicate that your number one dominant gift is MERCY SHOWING! The Greek word "ellco" means to feel sympathy with or for others. As a mercy-shower you have the Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by identifying with and comforting those who are in distress. You understand and comfort your fellow Christian. You enter into the grief or happiness of others and have the ability to show empathy which is to feel WITH others, not just for others.
As a mercy-shower you are willing to deal with and minister to people who have needs that most people feel very uncomfortable working with. You seem to say the right thing at the right time. Your personality is likely one of soft-spoken love. It hurts you to scold someone; you are very non-condemning. People love you because of all the love you give them. You find it easy to express yourself and are outgoing with a low-key, inoffensive personality. You are easy to talk to, responsive to people, a good listener, peaceable, and agreeable. You tend to make decisions based on feelings more than fact and like to think about things for a while before making a decision.
In your burden to comfort others, your heart goes out to the poor, the aged, the ill, the underprivileged, and so on. You tend to attract people who are hurting or rejoicing because you identify with them. Be careful not to let others use you. Try not to resent others who are not as understanding as you. Refrain from becoming a gossiper when you are around other mercy-showers. Do not let your circumstances control you. Because of your supernatural ability to show mercy, others accuse you of taking up for people, being a softy and a compromiser. They may think you are too emotional.
Mercy-showers make excellent counselors. However, left untrained, you may destroy yourself by your tendency to take people's problems home with you. Your empathy can become detrimental without personal training on how to deal with it.
Beware of Satan's attack on your gift. He can cause pride because of your ability to relate to others.
He may influence you to disregard rules and authority. You may experience a lack of discipline because of strong feeling for those who hurt due to disobedience and sin. Don't fall into Satan's trap of complaining and griping.


HOW CAN YOU USE YOUR GIFT?
Your gift is used best in times of sorrow and in times of great joy. It fits well with another gift of service such as deacon, youth worker or hospital visitation. With a counseling course, you could become a good counselor. You may serve as a hospital, nursing home, or shut-in worker; a funeral coordinator and provider of sympathy and support; or a poverty center worker. You would do well as an usher or greeter and welcome center worker or hospitality person. You may want to work in a telephone ministry. You would make people feel welcome on a newcomer visitation team. Other appropriate ministry areas include missions, committee member, furlough assistance, and correspondence helper. You would work well with the elderly and with people who have mental and physical disabilities, in nursing, and with special ministries to migrants, released offenders or abused children and women.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Finally Some Answers

I came home to this email from N's doctor tonight:

I finally have some news for you all: We may do some additional imaging but the rec's have been to address her aortic arch only for now, via an entry into the chest from the side, not using the cardiopulmonary bypass and not operating on the heart itself for now. This will mean a quicker recovery, and I hope, at least delay significantly if not fend off more work with the heart itself that, yes, she may well still need someday! This is what I had felt best, and after an VERY long time getting many opinions, we are finally all in agreement.

We can talk more about this if we meet for more imaging, or if we don't need to do that, as a separate meeting. I think Dr. S will do the case here in B. and that is what I want.

Thanks for your unbelievable patience!


And then a more detailed message later on:

We need to review, in the week or 2, the MRI images and decide if they are adequate. I actually feel they are and that we are ready to go. Dr. S will need to feel the same. We can do transesophageal echo during surgery when she is anesthetized to see the outflow portion of the left ventricle, where she had surgery before.

Your next meeting may just be a pre-op session with Dr. S ; otherwise we may work with the coordinator at hospital, who's getting a copy of this, to set up a date (usually a Tuesday) when this can be done. She should be in the hospital no more, and likely less time than before.
She's older now, and this will be harder for her to understand and forget-- but we can deal with that, to help her. She's got the right stuff!

I say again that her adoption by you all was frankly lifesaving, and in that bigger picture, the week of discomfort she has for this (and frankly, there may well be more surgery down the line!) is still so very, very worth it. I know you know all this, but I just felt like saying it again. Few cases have been so overall satisfying as hers. More details soon.


Joel and I feel that this is very good news considering that we were preparing for the possibility of open heart surgery again. As always we would greatly appreciate your prayers for our girl's health, both physical and emotional. She does struggle even with minor changes in her life so anything major like this causes some emotional and behavioral regression. With help from her therapist, patience and nurturing on our part and God's tender care, she makes it through!

Jen

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Conscientious Consumer

I made a really cool discovery while I've been home sick this afternoon (my voice is completely gone which is a sad state to be in for a speech pathologist :0)).

Okay, so my cool discovery is the Better World Shopper database. This site is awesome and will become more so as they increase their research base. Hundreds of companies and products are rated based upon several factors (environmental impact, human rights, animal friendly, etc.) and a "grade" is determined. The gist of it is that as consumers we have the power to make change through what we buy and who we choose to buy it from. I completely agree with this and have been trying to do my part by purchasing organic foods, natural cosmetics and body care products, shopping secondhand as much as I can, and even making a few household cleaning products of my own.

The Better World Shopper gives me the information I need to make more informed choices with my cash. Alongside the Skin Deep database that I mentioned in a previous post, the Conscious Consumer Marketplace and Amazon Green, I am set!

Now, if I can just learn to plan ahead so I don't have to make those last minute purchases at a certain store that shall remain nameless (otherwise I will get in trouble with Recycling Man). Birthdays and holidays are the worst for me in that respect. They always sneak up on me somehow even with emails from birthdayalarm.com. I see the email and nearly always think, "Oh, I have plenty of time", then time goes by and I forget until it is almost too late, necessitating panic shopping.

Must work on this.

Check it out, it's never too late to become a more responsible consumer!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hello Again

I am lost in the busyness and stress that is my life right now which leaves little time or mental energy to blog.

More to come... I hope!

Jen

Monday, September 1, 2008

Birthday Boy!

He's **3**!
The long awaited Spiderman birthday cake!Oooh, powertools and a Tonka truck grader? He's in little boy heaven!

What is hard for me to believe is that 3 short years ago he looked like this...

Happy Birthday sweet baby boy!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Big School Girl

Miss N is officially a Kindergartener!
I love how her backpack is almost as big as she is.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Random Tired Thoughts Borne of Too Little Sleep and Too Much to Do

When I was a little girl I loved unicorns, faeries, and Princess Leia. I loved to draw fluffy cloud creatures, sing at the top of my lungs and hang upside down on the monkey bars.

What happened to me?

I'm now dependable and solid and responsible. At work I'm organized, energetic and busy.

These are not bad things.

I just miss the girl who used to sing along to the Sound of Music Soundtrack "I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly..." or sing Kermit the Frog's "Rainbow Connection".

This is all sounding hopelessly sappy and saccharine but I don't care. It's my blog and I can be a dork if I want to (remember the 60's song, "It's my party and I can cry if I want to"? It's like that).

So my point? Don't really know except that I wish I were more fun, more creative, more everything... I'm in a tired, work induced funk. Gotta go get me some more contentment and joy from Jesus. Acceptance for who I am and what I'm doing.

Jen

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Miscellany

I realize there are some loose ends I need to tie up.

Joel is healing well from his jaw surgery. He has been off pain meds for four days, hooray! The hardest part is certainly the lack of communication. Joel is a talker and it is weird for me to be doing most of the talking lately. Our best bet for clear communication is instant messaging eachother on our laptops (at times like these I love technology). Joel's gestures seem to be incomprehensible to me and writing notes is just too slow!

He has an appointment with his doctor today and we are hoping the bands will come off and he will be able to open his mouth, talk and eat something.

We still have no word on N's possible heart surgery. It is obviously not an emergency and I am putting it out of my mind for the time being. I am just getting on with life and as the saying goes, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Lastly, you may remember this post when I shared my hopes for this summer. Just because I'm sure you are dying to know, no, I never made cheese. Maybe I will tackle that project over Christmas break, or maybe next summer, or... sometime in the distant future. I did make some other stuff though, homemade pizza, strawberry shortcake, hummus, and salsa verde. I am reaching dizzying heights of domesticity.

I did not finish my daughter's scrapbook nor did I start my son's. But, this very weekend I finished 6 more pages in N's book. There's nothing like procrastination is there? The weird thing is that I really like scrap booking but I could never seem to make it a priority this summer.

More stuff on the summer list: swimming lessons, yes, check; losing weight, sadly, no; exercising more, sporadically; increased shopping locally and secondhand, yes; rekindling my relationship with Jesus, a work in progress but definitely getting there. I'm so glad he loves me and is waiting for me no matter how far I drift from him.

So that's it, all the random stuff rolling around in my head. I feel better now that it is out.

Jen

Monday, August 25, 2008

Summer Vacation is Sadly at an End.

Big sigh.

My first day of school is today and I have mixed feelings. There is always the excitement of the first day of school... new school supplies, new clothes, fresh faced kids and the hope that some of my students did their speech homework over the summer (highly unlikely, I realize). I am a Speech-Language Pathologist, for those of you who don't know.

I do enjoy certain aspects of my job. I love helping kids reach their full academic and social potential through improving their communication skills. The kids make it all worth it. I do not like, however, the endless paperwork, meetings, and pressure to meet IEP deadlines. It stresses me out. I do not like leaving my own children during the week but I do what is necessary to help my family financially and I make the best of it in the meantime. Joel and I have worked out a great schedule this year. Our kids will only be in daycare one day per week and the rest of the time will either be with me or Joel.

My daughter also starts Kindergarten this week (cause for more mixed emotions). I am proud, sad, nervous, hopeful... it is hard to think of letting her go when I have only had her for three short years. It seems that just yesterday I saw her for the first time at the International Arrivals gate. My heart was pounding when Joel placed her in my arms for the first time. What an unforgettable moment to hold both of my much longed for children at the same time; one in my womb and one in my arms. I had better stop or I'm going to make myself cry.

I want so much for her to have a good school experience. I have done a great deal to prepare her for this day given her history of anxiety and attachment problems. She seems nervous but excited and I am praying for a smooth transition, that she will connect with her teacher and make new friends.

This is a big week for us all but God is our strength, joy and peace. I pray that I will remember this throughout the year especially at those times when I fear being swept away by the stress and pressure of it all.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Beijing Closing Ceremonies

I have been enjoying the beautiful and precise choreography and artistry of the Beijing closing ceremonies. The colors, lighting, and music... the sheer number of people moving perfectly of one accord. And oh, those incredible fireworks. I have never seen anything like it. But through it all I had one nagging thought... Does it seem that the entire ceremony was a humanistic worship service? Glorification of the human will in the absence of God? I don't know maybe it was the song to Beijing that sounded like a worship chorus or the Babelesque (just made up a word there) living tower at center stage? I was left feeling awed by the spectacle but saddened at the same time. God has given us beauty, intelligence, talent, and creative ability. I guess I just want Him to have the credit.

Just a thought.

Jen

Green Beauty Products

I have recently discovered an affordable organic makeup line, Physician's Formula Organic Wear makeup. I have seen it at Target and Fred Meyer. The coverage is good and it doesn't feel heavy which is essential for my many skin issues.

Prior to this I used makeup and beauty products from the Body Shop mistakenly thinking that they are a natural and healthy alternative. The packaging sure looks trustworthy and they say great things about themselves but when I looked up their products in the Skin Deep Database I found that MANY of them contain harmful chemicals. Especially their body butters, which is such a bummer because I looooove them and they smell so delicious. But I can no longer support that corporation ;0) (I know they are missing me).

I sometimes feel like I have bought every cosmetic known to womankind with the same disappointing results...Mary Kay, Arbonne, Cover Girl, Maybelline... the list goes on. I'm hopeful that Physician's Formula will be one I can stick with.

Let's not forget about all the lotions and potions I have tried over the years. A few weeks ago I purchased Aubrey Organics cleanser, toner, and moisturizer (very affordable online). I liked the cleanser and toner but alas, the moisturizer makes my face itch, especially around my nose and mouth. It is a bit puzzling because it contains very natural ingredients but the fragrance is quite strong and I'm wondering if it contains some essential oil or herb that I'm allergic to. So back to the drawing board. Right now I'm trying a sample size of Welleda Almond Moisturizer and liking it so far (also at Target). We shall see.

I realize this may not be the most exciting subject for some, but for a person like me who has spent way too much money and time on the beauty biz it seems a worthy topic. I want to find products that not only embody my environmental ideals but are friendly to my sensitive skin as well.

In my quest for skin health & the ever elusive appearance of beauty I have even been considering the "no poo" (short for shampoo, in case I just scared you) method of caring for my hair and scalp and the "oil cleansing" method of homemade skin care. Definitely friendlier to the budget as baking soda, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and Castor oil are not very expensive.

Have I gone off the deep end? Perhaps. But sometimes you get desperate when your skin problems make you feel like one big ball of sensitive, red, blotchy, itchy, half dry/half oily flesh. Gross. I have been on prescription creams and lotions for years too that just barely control the problem and never get to the root issue, whatever that may be. My frustration has reached critical mass. I do have an appointment with a dermatologist in a few weeks so we'll see if she has any tricks up her sleeve that my family doctor does not.

Bored yet? Grossed out?

Me too.

The End.

p.s., Here's a new blog I like about this stuff at Almost Natural Beauty.

The End (for real).

Friday, August 22, 2008

Shopping Secondhand

One of the ways that I'm trying to become more environmentally conscious and save money is by shopping for clothing at secondhand or consignment stores. You can find some great reasons to shop secondhand here.

I have hit the jackpot with one store in particular located in more of an "upscale" town nearby. Today I came away loaded with all sorts of brand name loot (Gap, Eddie Bauer, Anne Taylor Loft, Tommy Hilfiger, etc.) for far less than I would have paid in the department stores. The find of the day was my "new to me" grey, hoodie cashmere sweater for $18. Oooh, it's so soft!

I don't buy everything second hand because frankly its a bit of a crapshoot whether you will find what you are looking for or not from one visit to the next. Patience and repeat visits are key since the selection is so variable.

These are some of my consignment store finds from a few months ago. Lucky Jeans, Anne Taylor work pants and American Eagle Outfitters skirt.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Phthalates...Ever Heard of These Bad Boys?

Me neither, until recently.

At the risk of being a "Debbie Downer" (think SNL) I thought I would share what I've learned.

Phthalates (pronounced thalates) are some nasty chemicals that are commonly found in children's toys, baby products, air fresheners and almost any household or beauty product with "fragrance". Bottom line they wreak havoc with our reproductive systems, especially males and most particularly our male babies in the womb. Take a moment to read these links to learn more here, here and here.

As always when I learn about yet another scary health hazard, I'm left wondering "what now". Over the past 6 years or so I have very gradually phased out many products in our home containing harmful chemicals. But these phthalates are in so many products that I never felt concerned about before like my children's sippy cups and vinyl children's toys. So do I go on a phthalate rampage and throw out all sippies and soft plastic toys??? Or do nothing but hope that we are not those people who have high levels of phthalates in our blood but live with this nagging sense of guilt and helplessness? Arghh. This is precisely why I try not to read too much stuff like this. Sticking my head in the sand = feel less guilt and fear.

Any ideas out there? Input? More cheerful thoughts?

Jen

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Salsa Verde

I was feeling adventurous so I made Salsa Verde!

The tomatillos, onion, and jalapenos are homegrown.

I'm not a recipe guru or a super fabulous cook so I'll just direct you to the original recipe here.

This is the part where I "blackened" the tomatillos. I felt so gourmet!

It was all very easy and I actually stayed true to the recipe--well almost, I didn't have lime juice so I opted for lemon instead. I tend to think I can modify recipes at will and add or delete stuff that may or may not be important.

This makes for inconsistent results...hmm, I might be on to something here.

Hence my lack of food guru status.

Here is the end result. YUM.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bountiful Produce

We've been busy...





Gratuitous Kid Pics

Just because I think my kids are the cutest in the whole world...Did I mention that they are charm school drop outs?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Surgery went well

Joel's surgery went well and he is staying overnight at the hospital. We appreciate your prayers!

Jen

Monday, August 11, 2008

JAWS

No, not the movie.

I'm referring to my poor husband's jaw surgery. He is scheduled for Wednesday at 2pm. I sure would appreciate your prayers for a good outcome and quick recovery. Also, praying for our sanity would be nice! I'll be holding down the fort during the next couple of weeks while Joel recovers and he won't be able to open his mouth. I can't say that either of us are looking forward to it.

Thanks!

Jen

Oh! p.s., go keep him company on his blog. He really likes to talk and I think he'll be kinda lonely!

Family Visit Part Two: "Stay-cation"

So that's what they call it when you can't afford to go to Hawaii--a "stay-cation". I love the new terminology (got it from the Travel Channel) it makes day trips seem so much more legit!

At the end of their visit, Beau and Jessa went camping by Lake Owyhee and our family joined them for the day. It was really quite pretty for a high desert area.



The kids had impromptu swimming lessons with their daddy.


I helped the kids start a rock collection.

We're a good team, Joel and I. He takes care of all the athletic, jock stuff like swimming and throwing footballs and I'm the geek, collecting rocks and doing leaf rubbings. It works for us. Kasey was in seventh heaven at the lake. She is such a water dog and loves to fetch.
She got a little annoyed with Baker the Stick Bandit. He wanted in on the action!

Unfortunately, Beau and Jessa's time at the lake was cut short by an emergency with their poor doggie. They rushed him off to the nearest vet (about 40 minutes away) when Baker started drooling, breathing heavily and acting sluggish. He had an allergic reaction of some kind but thankfully he was okay!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Family Visit Part One


We had a great visit from Joel's brother, Uncle Beau, and his lovely girlfriend, Jessa. We absolutely adore these guys and couldn't wait for them to get here this past weekend. The kids were literally jumping up and down with excitement! Their ENERGETIC dog Baker came with them and became fast friends with our lazy old dog Kasey. There is a story behind my use of the word "energetic" that involves shake n' bake Baker inadvertently taking me down to the ground in all of his excitement--would have made a great picture I'm sure!
Due to Uncle B's generosity we now have a freezer full of organic meat (chicken, beef, sausage, turkey) that he brought from the Coop where he works. Then they gave us the best gift of all...a day of free babysitting!!! We hardly knew what to do! We figured it out pretty quickly though and got the heck outta dodge. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you Uncle Beau and Jessa!

There is more to share but my kids are breathing down my neck right now so I'd better wrap it up. They like want my attention or something! What's with that?

Here are a couple more pictures that capture the special bond between our kids and their beloved Beau and Jessa:


Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
There was an error in this gadget