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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Elves Busy At Work...

I am super busy trying to finish up Christmas gifts, which I will post when I finish, or whenever my hands uncramp enough to be able to type again...

Meanwhile, if you need any last-minute, cheap, and fun crafts, go here--my new FAVORITE site!!

Oh, and PS-We got close to 15 inches of snow yesterday-crazy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Gift Ponderings

Here is just something that has been on my mind for awhile and so I am just typing up something little about it for those of you who have kids in school. With Christmas coming up, there are a ton of gift-giving occasions and opportunities to spend a lot of money, which I know for me can be overwhelming. So, oftentimes, the default is to spend time and money and effort on family and friends and then find something little and pleasant for the "teacher gifts" category. But I am thinking that that does not seem right. These teachers pour into my children all day, every day. Honestly, they spend more waking hours with my children than I do, which makes me a little sad, but also makes me praise God that my children have FABULOUS teachers at their small Christian school. So it seems to me a wee bit ridiculous to say "hey, thanks for giving yourself to exhaustion for my children day in and day out, for teaching them about all things educational as well as (in my case) spiritual, and for generally making sure they stay alive, happy and well taken care of when they are away from home, so here is a box of cocoa mix." It just doesn't cut it for me, I guess. I am just thinking we can do better for our children's teachers (and I mean the main ones that spend the majority of their time with them, not every single staff member at the school, although wouldn't that be great too?? It is not like educators are rolling in money, people!!) and I am encouraging all of you readers who have kids in school to give it some thought, too. I am not even talking about spending large sums of money-for example, I knit them special stuff usually out of some sort of gorgeous yarn, and not the same gifts, each one gets something unique for them. This is not to "toot my horn", it is I guess in response to the plethora of stuff on the web I read about "Teacher Gifts Ideas!" that is a bookmark and a card, or a bag of candy, or whatever. Now, I know that for some, that is all you can give, and that is ok, I am certainly not judging anyone's economical status, and again, it is really not about how much money you spend at all. It is more about the time, thought, and effort you make. I just think these folks deserve the absolute best we can give them. They are shaping and educating our children, OUR most precious gift. If we entrust our most valuable thing to them all day, every day, shouldn't we express our gratitude in a way that really conveys how special and wonderful they are? Not sure if a "make your own cookies" jar does that--unless of course they are someone who LOVES cookies, then it is perfect! That is all I am saying I guess--take the time to put some thought into what would be a special gift for THAT teacher so they know they matter to you and your child. Just something to think about. Now I will step off my soap box to go re-vamp my gift list I think.....

PS-I am just a guilty of doing the quick and easy "teacher gift" so please don't feel judged, just thought I'd put it out there for other people to think on as well as myself!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Love My Love My Love My Calendar Girl

Hello, Miss August!
They (Cranial Technoligies) just released the 2010 DOC Band Babies calendar and our little lady made it in there out of over 3400 entries!! Not only that but so did cutie patootie Elias:

And of course, we CANNOT leave out Mr. Cover Model himself, Zoe's future Hubby...........Mr. Jaxson!!!

I am so excited and proud of these little cuties! To think that they all lived in the same place in Addis Ababa is unbelievable!! And it is just goes to show that there are truly no Ethiopian babies that are not ADORABLE!!!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Birthday Fun

Thing 4 turned 1 a little over a week ago (yup, I am a blog slacker--judge on with your bad selves....) so here are some pictures of her first birthday! :)

This is the special family plate that the birthday person gets to use for each meal on their birthday.

Can you see me back here behind all my loot???

Hey, uh, Mom? You look pretty excited about looking in MY gift bag!!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Watch Out! and Some Things Worth Reading

Thing 4 has taken her first steps just one week before her first birthday-look out! There is a WILD THANG on the loose!!!

Go here to read a very good Veteran's Day post from one of my favorite blogs.

Go here to read a post from a Compassion blogger traveling in El Salvador and visiting with his sponsored child-kinda just sums up the work of Compassion with real live faces and conversations-I just LOVE that organization so very much!! They truly are the hands and feet of Jesus in the lives of children all over the world! This year marked their 1 MILLIONTH sponsored child-yeah, ONE MILLION! Can you believe it? And they started with one, so yes, you CAN make a difference one child at a time, too!! No, they are not asking me to say this but YES, you should click on the side of my blog and GO sponsor a child yourself if you don't already!! Meeting one of our little sponsored guys when we went to Ethiopia was one of the highlights of my life, truly!!

Sultan, one of our sponsored children, mastering our video camera in Ethiopia

Chatting with our newly Hokied-up Sultan :) I love that there is a little boy in rural Southern Ethiopia running around sporting Hokie colors!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Laugh A Minute

Thing 3 just turned 3 about a week and a half ago and she has really come into her own with a personality as big as her beautiful blue eyes. She literally keeps us laughing all day long, often the barely-able-to-breathe belly laugh kind of laughing, too. Just this morning, I was pounding something with a hammer and she said to me, "Mama, you're scaring my ears!" She also announced "When Zoe goes back to Africa, I will be taking my crib back." Hmm, looks like she is in for a rude awakening... I love that girl, she has brought a lot of joy to the last 3 years in this family!

Thanks everyone for the kind and encouraging comments to the previous post-I will admit, I feared some ugliness and judgy comments might occur so I tried to brace myself veen though I knew they would make me sad, but alas, they never came. You guys are all awesome!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

International Adoption: Behind the Blogs

I have been writing this post in my head for a long time, almost 6 months actually. And I debated it for several reasons, one being the effort it would take to actually type it (can you say TIRED??) and two being the consideration of how my daughter may feel one day reading it. So I have prayed and feel like God gave me the ok to write it for 3 reasons--to encourage those who have walked a similar path that they are NOT alone, to help those whose experience was different to understand us others, and for those who have not yet adopted to see all sides of the journey. So without further adieu, I will share what it has been like for our family since meeting our newest family member.

I read a good bit about struggling with attachment and the possibility that it may feel awkward at first with your new child and even post-adoption depression, so I felt like I was prepared for that possibility. I prayed that that would not be the case for us and that our first meeting of our baby girl would be wonderful-and it WAS! It truly was one of the holiest moments in which I have ever participated and God showed us a side of His love that was truly magnificent. With this fabulous first moment where the clouds parted and angels sang and all the world was rainbows and happy tears came a reassurance to me that, yup, we were a-ok and would not have one bit of trouble with loving and attaching to this sweet creature. In fact, we were already hopelessly entranced by her. Within just a few minutes of holding her, I could tell she was not well--she had very rattly breathing and just seemed pretty out of it, so I was a little concerned. As the rest of the days in Ethiopia went on, she continued to have a hard time breathing, even one night had me sitting up praying fervently that she would not die because she was wheezing and struggling to breathe so much. I was very worried at that possibility-I realized didn't even know if this was normal for her, if she had a serious illness, how to comfort her, where a doctor or hospital might be-she felt very unfamiliar to me and it was a weird feeling for a mom of 3 to feel like she had no clue what to do with a baby. I felt less competent with this tiny stranger than I ever did with my first daughter and it was unsettling. I just wanted to get her home and get her taken care of with familiar doctors and pharmacies and rocking chairs so we could begin our joyous new life as a family of 6. The trip home was fairly uneventful, she slept great and it was wonderful to get my other 3 kids back in my arms at the airport, wonderful and FAMILIAR. We got her to the doctor the very next morning where it was debated whether or not to put her in the hospital, but she was ultimately put on significant breathing treatments and medications and round the clock care, plus bottles to deal with every couple hours (a big difference from my nursing experiences) and so our new life together was not joyous, but rather chaotic and crazy. She continued to have breathing problems that eventually landed me and her in a locked-down isolation unit at a hospital an hour away from home while they tried to figure out if she had TB (which she did not, btw). We got out of the hospital on Mother's Day and I realized I felt totally disconnected from my other kids from not having spent much time with them at all in the last month, and also from this baby whom I had been spending all my time with, but who I really didn't know b/c all that time was spent with doctors and medicines and hospitals. Well, NOW I was ready for that joyous family of 6 thing. But again, it didn't happen. Instead, I began to get to know our newest little lady and guess what? She was NOT fun at all!! She screamed all. the. time. LOUDLY. And a LOT. As in ALWAYS. The only thing that would even come close to getting her to stop was to hold her, all the time, and no, not in a carrier. It was exhausting. And I wanted her to stop, a LOT. Not to mention that her screaming would then set my 2 year old into a wailing, inconsolable crying fit of her own and we spent many a day with 2 very loudly wailing children next to me on the floor while I silently wept, amongst great Mt. Everest's of laundry and heaps of dirty dishes and tumbleweeds of dog fur on unvacuumed floors, and asked God why He had called us to THIS? Was this what we had prayed for, hoped for, wanted, anticipated so eagerly for the last year? Is this what all of our friends and family had been so excited about? Had we misunderstood what God asked us to do and this was the consequences? I felt like I couldn't function normally in any way and it felt like my family was all coming unglued. And the biggest panic I had was that I COULD NOT GET OUT OF IT. I debated giving AGCI (our agency) a call and asking "What is your return policy?" but really felt that "because she is driving me to the brink of insanity and shattering the peace of our household with her ridiculous, never-ending caterwauling screams" was not a reason they would accept for disrupting the adoption. But really, I would panic-this is FOREVER. I cannot get out of it and I am stuck and my life will never be enjoyable again, my other kids will resent us and their new sister for ruining their nice life and our family will be a shambles and I will celebrate all my holidays alone while my children prefer to be with their in-laws and talk about what a horrible family they grew up in. Did I mention I felt a little panicky here and there??? And the worst was the blogs of other families who had adopted, too-with their shiny happy pictures and stories and reports of feeling like "they have always been a part of our family and were meant to be with us! we are so blessed!" Ugh. I just felt like this little person did NOT feel like a part of our family, and I resented her coming in and up-ending everything that was good and comfortable and happy about our family, even if it wasn't her fault (and even if I had also felt this way about one of our bio kids when she was born and had severe colic). And then oh, the GUILT. It was consuming. Well-meaning friends would squeal with delight when they saw my little girl for the first time and say "Oh Jody, you must be on cloud 9!" and "How wonderful!"and "You are so blessed!" as I would manage to eek out a smile and respond "mmmmhmmmm", while silently flogging myself with the whip of guilt--"what kind of mother are you?" "how can you feel that way about a helpless ORPHAN? don't you know that God called you to love her?" "you ARE blessed, and not even grateful, how terrible..." "it is really not that bad, you are just being selfish and unloving" Not to mention the guilt of all the attachment information swirling around in my head: do not let your baby cry, immediately meet their needs so they know they are loved and cared for, don't let anyone else hold/feed/TRY TO SILENCE them for the first few months, spend time holding and cuddling your baby as much as possible and if you do not, your baby will never ever feel like you are her mother and will grow up severely dysfunctional-how does one do this with a baby who never ever is still or quiet ever unless she is asleep?? That was the other thing-this girl, once she could breathe, would NOT be still, ever. And drooled and spit up literally 24/7 so I was always filthy and smelly, she was always filthy and smelly, and it was just unpleasant to say the least. I would relish the times she was asleep and hiss vicious threats to my other children through clenched teeth:"if you wake that baby up, you will never see the light of day again, and also will be forced to eat spinach and lima beans for every single meal until the day you die! and we will stop having Christmas. and fun. forever." The whole time she slept, I felt the urgency to do whatever I could possibly do during that time b/c when she woke up, I was going to once again be a slave to the whims and demands of this loud 15 pound little tyrant. The minute I heard her start to stir in her bed, I would say "no no no..." and wish her back to sleep. And again, the guilt-'what is wrong with me???' Other moms posting about "oh I woke my baby up b/c I missed him so much" and I am thinking "here! take mine then so you have something to occupy your time!" And another kind of guilt that I couldn't shake-had we made a mistake taking our child from her homeland? How would I feel if I had to relinquish my children and some person of another race, another culture, another language, another EVERYTHING took them across the world to absolutely NOTHING familiar?? That guilt was haunting and paralyzing (and honestly still is some days--I place those questions at God's feet regularly). I felt empty and spent and angry and sad and overwhelmed and confused. THIS was NOT what I prayed for. THIS was NOT what I wanted or seemingly what anyone else was going through. THIS was NOT what God called us to. Or was it? I would constantly replay the last 18 months of our life, and sometimes even further back to things God had done, and I knew without one speck of a doubt that God had walked us right here. "But Lord? Right here stinks." And He said "I know, but I am right here too." And honestly, some days that was an encouragement, and some days I yelled at Him, "Then DO SOMETHING!!! Fix this!!" I began to pray very specifically to have a heart of love for my baby girl. To love her with my feelings, not just with my head-because I was willing and able to do whatever necessary to take care of my girl and provide for her, but I just felt no affection, just anger and frustration. I clung to articles by Melissa Fay Green where she talked about similar experiences with her newly brought home son. I would read, and re-read them. She is a champion of adoption, had done it multiple times, and yet, could it be possible that she had a hard time adjusting to her new children, too? God showed me many other women and families who had adopted, and struggled like I was, as well. And I began to realize that it did not mean that this was how things would be forever, even if it was for now. And I remembered the dark days of colic with one of my other daughters and how now she is without a doubt one of my favorite people on this planet. And I surrendered it to God and asked not for Him to "fix it" anymore, but to give me the stamina to walk through it with Him. I knew He had called us to this little girl, and I knew He was good, so I knew I needed to choose to trust, even when it seemed like unending darkness sometimes. And you know what? God has slowly knit our family together and grown great, deep affection and love in our hearts for each other. It did NOT happen overnight and it was at times very challenging. But I can honestly say, now, that I love our newest daughter passionately and love to spend time with her and feel like she is every bit as much my own as my other 3 daughters. Yes, life is still exhausting, and yes, she is still crazy busy and LOUD and likes to be heard and attended to, um, promptly--I guess she knows she is number 4 and is not about to be lost in the shuffle, haha! It has been a long 6 months and we have been stretched and tugged and pulled and broken. But I would hope that we have been broken like warm bread, that from being broken can be shared to nourish others rather than broken into jagged pieces that wound and cause pain. This was ultimately my goal in sharing our story-to take our brokenness and use it for God's glory. To encourage others who may be struggling to feel affection toward their new children. To raise awareness amongst those who are adopting that it may not be like you expect, and that is ok. And to let my newest little Thing know I love her--and that I would do every minute of the last 6 months over if I needed to for her to be here as my daughter.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How Will God Use YOU?

That was the question we asked our church body today as we launched a brand new ministry named "Loved By Choice", a foster care and adoption ministry!! We have a website that is brand new and under construction but we hope to have some pretty neat stuff on it this week. I have been pretty busy making the presentation video and planning for the presentation of the ministry today so that explains the lack of computer presence I have had lately. But the presentation went great and we have a big group of folks signed up to come to the info seminar we will be having on November 14th at our church. We are presenting info about being a foster, adoptive or wrap-around family which is one who could provide all kinds of support to foster and adopting families and children. This has been a long time in the making to get this ministry going and God finally brought it to fruition and we are really excited about where it will go and how many lives will be affected by it. There are 4 of us that were the "development team", if you will, 3 of whom have adopted internationally and one of whom is a social worker with our Department of Social Services and who works with foster care, and ALL 4 of whom love Jesus and want to be obedient to His call to "defend the cause of the fatherless" (Isaiah 1:17). God is on the move at our church and working in the hearts of His people and as we said to our church family today, YOU are God's plan for the orphan. How will God use YOU?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Muffin Update

My mom passed on this idea from a co-worker about those pumkin muffins I posted about. Mix the can of pumpkin with a CHOCOLATE cake mix and they will be super moist and yummy and decadent yet semi-healthy as they have pumpkin and no eggs and oil. Well, in the name of research for you, my blog peeps, I used Betty Crocker Triple Fudge mix and OH. MY. GOODNESS. I have re-named the recipe 'Sin Muffins'. They do not taste pumpkiny mixed with chocolate so there is no veggie/squash type thing going on, it just makes them super moist (oh I HATE that word-skeeves me out) and you will not feel like there is one healthy thing about them. So just keep telling yourself, while you are on your 50th or so muffin that "hey, these suckers have VEGETABLES in them, they gotta be good for me!!!" Enjoy!!

ps-Ironically, eating 50 or so of these may contribute to a "muffin top" of your very own, but hey! they have VEGGIES in them, people!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Stinks

And to add to the dead animal tally around here, our big dumb dog graced us with THIS this morning:

At first I felt a little bad for it because it looks all cute and fluffy and Flower-from-Bambi-ish, until I looked a little closer and saw it's BIG WHITE FANG sticking out of it's mouth. Sooooo not Flower.
Monday stinks. And so does EVERYTHING else at our house now. Yuck.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Y'all, I have just been tired in my spirit lately, the kind of tired that makes anything I think about writing on here seem like too much effort. Ever get like that? But it has been nice just taking a break from all of it and getting back into school mode. I have really been enjoying my days home with the just the little ones and have been baking and cooking up a storm-I love to cook when it becomes Fall for some reason! Hmm, maybe the reason is my lack of cooking anything real for most of the Summer and I am trying to soothe my guilty conscience....maybe, whatever. But I miss my big girls when they are gone, too. Cannot win in the parenting arena sometimes!! Little Miss Thing 4 has become a wild thang with half a (non-purple) tooth since I last wrote and pulling up and cruising on EVERYTHING! Hello child, you are only 10 months old you crazy loon, sit back down please!! But I do feel like we have finally turned a corner and are really starting to enjoy our newly re-formed family. Yes, it has been a rough road of adjusting and attaching for all of us. I have a blog post written in my head about that and maybe if y'all are nice to me, I might just put it onto the actual blog one of these days, ha. Does anyone else do that, compose posts in your head that just never seem to make it out of there?? It is just often easier to type out a quick sentence on Facebook instead, mostly because I have the attention span of a gnat and I cannot focus for more than 5 seconds. Anyhoo, since I got nuthin' real exciting to say right now because I am a lazy blogger, I will leave you with my one of my favorite, super-easy, super-yummy Fall recipes I have made thus far:

Pumkin Muffins

1 can pumpkin
1 box spice cake mix

Mix together, plop in batter muffin tins and bake according to cupcake directions on cake mix (maybe 20ish minutes? I cannot remember and I am too lazy to walk the 15 feet to the kitchen to check). DE-STINKIN-LICIOUS!!! It is like eating Fall.

(Apparently really blurry Fall, sorry)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Football Season Is Here!!

We introduced our newest family member to the fever that is Hokie football this weekend, complete with a trip to the stadium and into the players' tunnel for her to touch the Hokie Stone, and even if it was not the Hokies' win, we think she understood the importance. I mean, look how happy we are, I mean, SHE is, to be sporting orange and maroon???

I think she gets it :).

Friday, September 4, 2009

Purple Haze, All In My Brain

Here is a conversation that Thing 3 and I had in the car today:

Me to Thing 4: Zoe, will you ever get any teeth?

Thing3: Yes, she does (go with me, people, it is toddler-speak)-she TOLD me! (said with the sassy attitude only a 2-almost-3 year old can provide)

Me: She did?

Thing 3: Yes, and they will be purple!!!

Me: Purple?? Her teeth? Hmm...

Thing 3: Oh yes, PURPLE, Mama. Because she will have them and they WILL be purple. Because she said so. And I said so.

Alrighty then, little miss Sassypants, good to know. We will be on the lookout for any purple toofers sprouting through and keep you all informed. It looks like the helmet will be the least of the things we need to answer questions about to total strangers....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hello, Strangers!

Hi y'all! Well the musical finished up last weekend and IT. WAS. AWESOME. Really one of the most fun things I have done and I am super sad it is over, but alas, I suppose all good things must come to an end. And also the laundry has become alive and is breathing down my neck and threatening to kick me out of the house so I guess it might be nice if I was around the house once in a while. Since I last posted anything, the older 2 Things have gone back to school (sniff, sniff) and we have all been busy getting back into that groove. Also, while you are still chuckling about my musical participation, I will add to you chuckle fodder by letting you know that the Husband and I got 24 hours away from ALL the kiddos and spent it at Mountain Lake Resort for 'Dirty Dancing' weekend, oh yes we did! It is about 25 minutes from our house and is the place where most of the movie 'Dirty Dancing'[ was filmed, GASP!, 22 years ago (What?! how can that be since I remember it so well and I am still just a college kid??). We missed a lot of the "activities" by the time we could get up there but we did get to go to the big dance they had Saturday nite and it was a blast! I have some pictures and will post them when I am not exhausted (hahahaha, look for them about 2035 then...) and hopefully I will get to them before the laundry takes over. Glad to be back to blogland and hope there are still all 3 of you out there checkin' in!

Monday, August 10, 2009

On Hiatus

So our very busy dress rehearsal schedule and soon to be performances, coupled with daily life here at Chez Things, is necessitating a blog hiatus until after the show closes. So, if you are local or even if you are not, below are the show details-c'mon and see it!! Otherwise, I will see you back here in about 2 weeks and until then, here is a topic: Joseph's coat, neithuh technicoluh naw dreamy, talk amongst ya selves........

Performance Dates:Thursday through Sunday, August 13-16 & August 20-23, 2009

Curtain times are at 7:30 pm (Thursday through Saturday) and 2:30 pm for the Sunday matinee.

Location: Haymarket Theatre, Squires Student Center, Blacksburg

Tickets available at the door: General Admission $15 Senior (+65) $10 Student/Child $6

For more information, visit the web site:

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Guess It's 9 Lives Were Up


So, last nite the husband (who is AWESOME, thanks for the super great birthday, baby! I'd marry you again in a heartbeat!!) goes to let the dog in before we go to bed as I straighten up the blanket and stuff (read: empty Starbucks mocha frappucino ice cream container that we had eaten out of with 2 spoons like savages after the Things were in bed, mmmmmm) on the couch. He goes to our back sliding door that goes out onto our deck, our deck which is like 15 feet up off the ground of our fenced in yard and faces a big rolling cow field and nothing else. Said husband had also been asleep on the couch, a most unusual occurrence (not), so he was in a little bit of a groggy state. From across the room I hear a bewildered "oh! what the..?" and he shuts the sliding door, then he flips on the light, looks back out and says.............."there's a dead cat out here!"

um, WHAT?!?!

At this point I cannot fathom what he is talking about because how and why would there be a dead cat on our deck and also our little annoying, I mean endearing, feline was sitting by the couch doing nothing productive as usual, but being alive so that automatically disqualified her from the situation. So I go to look and sure enough, there was a dead cat right on the deck. SO GROSS! And moderately creepy. I ask the husband what we should do with it, after we poked it with a shoe to make sure it was really dead, even though there was not much question about it's deadness really, but it seems like the proper thing to do, you know, just in case. Yep, dead alright. We stood there discussing how it got there-the dog we guess? It was not "disturbed" in such a way that would indicate he was uh, playing, with it but unless it fell from the sky or walked up to our deck and died--which we doubted b/c it seemed to be quite dead, if you know what I mean, as in "not recently walking" dead--then our disgusting,er, faithful canine must have gifted us with it-he will never lick me again, I'll tell you that. Anyway, we decided the best course of action was to get a shovel and put it up by the curb for the town to come pick it up in the morning because we didn't want to bury it and have the dog dig it up (sorry cat lovers, I know this is disturbing--try being the one discussing this plan at midnight) so my husband went to get a shovel. He came up ready to do the deed and get on with going to bed but I said "WAIT! we have to take a picture." He looked at me like I had said I wanted to eat the dead cat and asked "WHY would we take a picture??" "Honey, for the BLOG!" I responded as in, duh!!! Yeah, it's true, I love you guys that much that I wanted to be sure you got the true experience of our hoppin' nightlife around here. Welcome to the family, y'all.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


This is MR. Jody here and I've seized control of my lovely wife's blog (even changed the password for the day so she can't delete this post hehehehe). I want to make sure that everyone knows that...


So make sure you pass on your birthday wishes - let her hear it! Here's a photo from birthday surprises past (that's tiny little Thing 2 in front of her...ahh memories):

Altogether now...

I love you, babe.
I hope you have a great day.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Family Fun

We had a stupidly busy week last week and the blog posting just didn't happen (nor did the laundry-sorry family! and everyone else who had to smell us!) so a brief re-cap of the week: got Thing 4's superhero helmet, had a fun time in Named Charlotte with a friend who had moved away, lived at rehearsal for the upcoming musical, and finally had a free weekend to just have fun with the kids and my sister's family and then the husband and I had our first date of just the 2 of us in a REALLY long time. It was GREAT, and our newest little Thing did very well at her first time being without mom and dad. It is an incredible blessing to have a sister nearby who also happens to be my very best friend-I love you, Tracy! Thanks for everything you guys do for our family-it never goes unnoticed, and we OFTEN thank the Lord for you all!!!
Anyway, some pictures of the fun:

What is this martian hat you put on me, Mom?

A 2 headed monster (one head very nicely decorated, I might add ;) )

Swings are the best invention EVER!

No wait, COUSINS who are best friends are the best invention ever!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Questions and Answers

Let's talk about my head, shall we?

Erin asked:
Will you get the cool custom airbrushing?

We will be decorating her contraption in such a cool fashion ALL the babies are gonna want one. And maybe even their parents, too. Because nothing is cooler than a big plastic helmet.

Theresa asked:
Can they make her band hot pink?

No, they all come in white, but WE can make it hot pink, or blue, or green, or swirly....the possibilities are endless!

Sarah asked:
How obvious is it, Jody? I mean, did you notice it on you own or did a doctor have to point it out?

VERY obvious, and we had it pointed out to us the day after we got home as something to "keep an eye on" by the doc we saw the morning after getting back in the country and were told to really try to work with repositioning her at her feedings, sleeping times, etc. But, honestly, it got put on the back burner when we were working on her breathing issues (not her head on the back burner b/c well, that wouldn't be right and all, but the thought about it) One day shortly after getting out of the hospital we were at the park. I was swinging her in the little baby swing which afforded a great top view of her little head and I looked down and went "WHOA! that's not a normal shape at ALL!" and felt the "oh no..." feeling growing in my stomach. We doubled our efforts of repositioning and trying to keep her out of car seats/bouncy seats as much as possible. As an aside, she also has a condition called torticollis which means she has a shorter, tighter muscle on one side of her neck which causes her to hold her head at a tilt. This is very often present in children with plagiocephaly-they tend to lie in the same position all the time b/c of the tight neck muscle, which causes the flat spot to get worse, and it is kind of like a chicken and egg thing. A lopsided egg, that is :) Anyway, when we were on vacation her torticollis was VERY pronounced (she tends to tilt way more when she is tired or somewhere unfamiliar b/c it is most comfortable and therefore comforting to her. We were really getting concerned and were anxiously awaiting our next doctor appointment to talk to the doc about it.

Was it your regular doc who found it or a intl doc? Did he/she see it at your first appt?

At our next doctor appointment with our regular family doc, I asked specifically for him to check it and he basically told me what I was fearing-it is a very significant flat spot, it is really not going to correct itself, she will always have the flat spot/lopsidedness which could be covered up by her hair later in life and we can either live with it, or our only real option for treatment is a helmet. He supported either decision and said he was happy to refer us to a specialist if we wanted to have it looked at and he gave us a few days to think about and look into our options. Our pediatric pulmonologist had pointed it out, as had a friend who is a nurse, as well, so it was not like we were seeing things, but whether or not to treat it was really the question we had as it is no small decision. Anyway, the next day was our 1st post placement visit with the social worker and she, truly very kindly and gently, asked "so, what are you all going to be doing about her head?" She told us she noticed it immediately when she came in and knows for sure at the big adoption clinic near her (she is 3 hrs away from us) they would immediately refer Zoe to be evaluated and treated b/c it really looked, to her, pretty severe. She really was great and talked through the pros and cons of it with us and we knew from our own research that if we did it, we would want to go to the clinic in Named Charlotte. So, that very afternoon, I called them and asked them 50 million questions and then set up an appointment for the next week. At that appointment, they do all sorts of measurements and pictures (where they completely slick her little hair down so they can really see it-she looked very, um, lovely, with it all combed absolutely flat to her head, her little torticollis-y head cocked to the side b/c she was in a new unfamiliar place, and her tongue hanging out b/c she does that ALL. THE. TIME.--and drooling, which she also does ALL THE TIME, for good measure. It was a vision of pathetic-ness, poor thing.) Anyway, after all that, one of the physical therapists came in to go over all the data with us and show us the photos. It was quite obvious that the treatment was absolutely necessary if we wanted her head shape and ear and eye alignment to be normal, and while it will not affect her ability to live or anything, the problems it would cause if we did not treat it now when it is treatable far outweighed the negatives of not treating her. So, we will be picking her little helmet up in a week and will get her little noggin right where it needs to be!

For the record, I know it seems like all the sudden there are several babies that have come home with this problem (there have been 5 that I know of in the last year, including ours-but really that is a very small number considering how many have come home in total) and a lot of you fellow adoptive parents are feeling concerned about your own little ones. If you are worried about your child's head, check with your doctor, but it is not something that happens to every baby and yes, it happens from too much back time, but can also happen in utero from positioning or as a result of the torticollis. It is not at all an "Ethiopian baby" thing nor a Hannah's Hope thing, specifically-there are lots of US-born babies with the same issues as there has been a huge increase in the number of cases of plagiocephaly since the launch of the "Back to Sleep" campaign in 1992. I wanted to state that we this is not something we are doing just to make our girl look pretty, it is not just a cosmetic thing and we really truly would not even consider it unless we thought it was severe enough to merit this treatment b/c quite truthfully, it is wildly expensive and not at all convenient as we have to drive the almost 3 hours to Named Charlotte and back every other week for her adjustments as she grows. So, do your research and follow up with your doc if you are truly concerned, but please don't worry about it if you have not thought it was an issue before :) Hope this helps clarify things for y'all--I know in the blog world b/c it is so public, it can seem like it is something "everyone" is doing, so I just didn't want to cause any undue panic :)!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hey Dante, I have a New One For You

I have an addendum for The Inferno. It is called dry socket. It can also be confused with biting down on a very very angry yellowjacket or being cracked in the jaw with a Louisville Slugger. Repeatedly. And it usually occurs no matter how carefully you follow post op instructions and on a weekend when the dentist's office is closed. And your dentist goes to church like a good little Christian man should which means he is unavailable for most of the day. (But, he still meets you at the office on Sunday afternoon anyway because he is a kind and merciful man, who happens to go to the same church as you.) However, in this place of torture, by nighttime, the other side of your mouth feels the same way when it is too late to call and bother the nice dentist man again, and another night must be endured till the office opens. Yes, you forgot one, Mr. Dante. I have been to this circle, and it is the worst of them all.

(and for the record, I am not just going for drama here, people-I birthed 3 babies completely epidural-free and have a pretty high tolerance for pain-this is different. Different in this instance=VERY VERY BAD)

Friday, July 10, 2009


I got my wisdom teeth out today. You may commence feeling sorry for me now, please.

I am working on getting questions about the band/helmet answered in a post I will probably put up tomorrow or Sunday. If I can feel my face again by then, that is......

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Named Charlotte

We have been making several trips to Charlotte, NC lately, to be explained in a minute, and the first time we were going, my 2 yr old was a bit confused:

"Mama, we goin' to sha-lots?" she asked

"No, honey, not to Charlotte's, to Charlotte, North Carolina" I responded, knowing she meant her friend Charlotte's house.

"We gonna play with sha-lot?" she again inquired

"No baby, we are going to a PLACE named Charlotte, in North Carolina, just like we live in a place called Blacksburg in Virginia." I explained

Blank toddler stare....then "we goin' to play at sha-lots?"

"No, we are going to a place NAMED Charlotte, not to play WITH Charlotte, your friend." I explained, again.

"We goin' named sha-lot?" she asked.

"Yes! you got it, we ARE going to a place named Charlotte!" I respond, and then she ran off to tell the big Things, "We goin' named sha-lot!"
...and thus she continued to call it Named Charlotte (sha-lot) all day long and still calls it that, as do the rest of us now for that strange reason that we all do when a cutie kid gives something a quirky name that just sticks (some time I will explain why my mom is called "Woofie" by all the grandkids....).

Anyhoo, on to the reason for the trip to Named Charlotte. Our little Thing 4 who just recently joined our family needs a medical treatment and the nearest place to obtain it is in Named Charlotte. You see, our beauty is a geometry lover it seems as her sweet little head is shaped just like a parallelogram. From spending a lot of time in bouncy seats and lying on her back in the transitional home before we met her, she has developed significant positional plagiocephaly, a condition in which the skull forms on a diagonal or other abnormal shape rather than the correct round shape. It is not a life threatening condition in any way, but it does cause some significant issues with facial symmetry, jaw alignment, eye alignment, and ear alignment, all of which will only grow more pronounced as she gets older. Some babies start to develop flat spots from being put to sleep on their backs or spending time in car seats and bouncy seats, but if caught early, it can sometimes be corrected by changing up positions and increasing tummy time, time in things like bumbo seats, baby wearing, exersaucers, etc-just whatever will keep pressure off the same part of the baby's soft little skull all the time. While the awesome ladies at Hannah's Hope take great care of the children, they are limited in their ability to hold all the babies all the time and so they do have to put them in different things often that so they can take care of everyone. And fortunately, due to several cases of children coming home with plagiocephaly significant enough to merit treatment, the folks at HH are changing things up a bit to include tummy time and bumbos-we saw that while we were there in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, those changes came too late for out little lady and our early efforts at repositioning her to try to re-shape things on our own were not enough, so now she will be sporting a fabulous DOC band for the next 3-4 months. This is a partial helmet that she will wear 23 hours a day (it is off for bath time and time to clean the helmet) and it will be custom formed such that the spots that are already prominent will have the plastic part covering them so they cannot push out anymore, and the areas that need to even out with the "bulging" parts will be open so as her head grows it will fill in those spaces that are uncovered with the hard helmet part. Make sense? Clear as mud? Go to the DOC band website to see one and it will make a little more sense. This was a tough thing for us as we did not feel like tackling another tough medical thing and just want to get on with being a family together without any big drama, but ultimately it is needed for our sweet girl or she could face serious issues later in life that are much more difficult to treat. So, after a lot of research, discussion and prayer, we did our digital scan for our band today-a horrible experience that will get its own post, oy-and will pick up the band in 2 weeks after they custom make it for her little noggin. After that we will need to go to Named Charlotte every other week (did i mention it i s 2.5-3+ hours away depending on traffic??? good times in the car....) to have it adjusted as she grows and hopefully will be done with the treatment sometime this fall, when she will reveal her perfectly round head :) Of course, we think her head is just perfect right now, but we do think the fact that her ears are so misaligned from the plagio that if she ever needed glasses they would have to cut one arm a LOT shorter than the other to be a pretty significant issue, so a DOC band it is. This is just the overview of the whole process and Autumn has written a pretty detailed post of the band here on her blog if you want to know more or you can go to the website for the band if you REALLY want to know more. We just wanted to include you in our family fun in Named Charlotte and let you know why our sweetie will be sporting a fab new accessory in her up and coming pics :)

ps- If you have questions about anything with this condition/treatment, ask them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Our 4th

Almost all smiles, but one little lady a little more interested in eating the flag than waving it. We'll let it slide, she's new here :) Mommy and the oldest Thing were in the parade this year representing the summer musical we are in (yes, it is true, we are in the community theater production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, my favorite musical in the entire world, feel free to snicker at that thought if you know me, but I love it enough to endure the mockery) so Daddy had the other 3 ladies ready to catch as much candy as possible. We were blessed with a beautiful day with a nice breeze which was GREAT when the parade had us literally running for parts of it to keep up!! We followed the parade with a cook-out at my sister's house where with her family (6 kids), our family (4 kids) and some friends (3 kids) we had a nice baby parking lot:

And we finished off the night with fireworks, which mezmerized our little lady--so much so they almost put her right to sleep:

All in all , a great day and we are once again proud and blessed to be Americans!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Here's One More

I will not keep parading all my little crafties for y'all every day, but this one was fun and I am planning on doing several more, some for my kiddos and some for gifts. When we were on vacation, we were in this cutie pants (and pricey pants) store called "Island Girl" which has lots of cute whimsical girls things . We saw these cute bath towels with letters stitched on and they were really cute and the girls loved them as did I, but I did NOT love the FORTY SIX dollar price. It is a towel for crying out loud!! I looked at it and thought "I can make that!" So, we made one for one of Thing 1's friends for her birthday and here it is!
(ok, silly Blogger keeps posting this sideways for some weird reason-I will try to fix it tomorrow)

Easy, fun, inexpensive and cute!! The best combo of all!

(Hmmmm, at $46 a pop, I wonder how many times we could adopt? do I smell an business?? haha!)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Martha Stewart Meets McGuyver

I haven't posted in a week because I didn't feel like it. Yup, I said it. I have just been having a week where nothing seemed to want to come out of my hands to the keyboard and I didn't have the oomph to try to make a post happen despite that so, I just didn't. No biggie! We shall just pick up like nothing ever happened! Lots went on around the house last week so I will just cruise through it to catch y'all up, 'k? (I KNOW you have been on the edge of your seat waiting to see what went on during my life.....) I got lot of little projects done and it felt good to be creative again. I love to create and make stuff-this blog first began as a knitting blog, btw-and a lot of that has taken a back seat for several months because life just got in the way of being able to create much other than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich-and apparently my ability to write normal length sentences also has been arrested. Anyhoo, I spent several days in a creative whirlwind and I need to note, my first priority in being creative is doing it frugally. I prefer to spend as little as possible in my projects and using stuff I have to make something new so what follows is a heap of cheap fun stuff :). First, I made a skirt out of a bed sheet a la this tutorial. It was a fun easy little project that made me feel like I made something real. Here is a picture of me wearing it (and looking dorky in mid conversation since my hubs took the picture of me w/o my knowledge) a few hours after it's completion:
Next, we had a need for a lamp in our family room but it had to fit on top of a piece of furniture we had that only had a limited amount of surface depth. I saw a lamp at my friend's house that was like a flatish rectangular shape and thought it would be perfect, but I couldn't find one anywhere and as she is a friend, stealing hers would be wrong--well, it would be wrong even if she weren't a friend I suppose....... So, we took and old sheep planter we had and broke a hold thru the bottom, used a cheapy Ikea lamp base to thread up through the hole and made our own lamp! Here it is in all its sheepy glory before we found a lampshade that would work:

(Incidentally, I have since found one exactly like I wanted, but since we made our own, I chose to ignore it and pretend like it wasn't even there) Also in the lamp department (my stars, this blog post is RIVETING, isn't it??) is my exciting discovery that is probably only a discovery to me, but it is my blog so I can act like I am smart on it and you are free to roll your eyes at my true simpleness if you'd like. So, I often see great lamps at TJ Maxx in the clearance section that have the finial-the little screw on top knobby thing that holds on the lampshade-broken off and it always seems like a waste because the lamp is in such great shape otherwise. So, I found this great lamp in such condition, and we actually needed another lamp in another room-little to no overhead lighting in our home so we need a lot of lamps around here-so I snatched up my $15 lamp with glee. I thought I could super glue it and I did and I was all proud of myself and put it all back together-and then it fell back apart. Hmmmm...I was determined not to lose because hello?! I got it on major sale and I needed to be able to say "check out my lamp that was on sale but I totally fixed with my brilliant McGuyveresque skillz" (yeah the "z" gives it that hip edge, dawg). After a few minutes (read:hours of frustration and cursing the inventors of the chintzy super glue that would in no way hold a constrution guy to a steel beam), I think about if I can take apart our old lamp in some way to use the parts. Well, voila--this part that was broken just pops right out and I swapped it with the one from the old lamp and put it on the new cheap lamp and I totally fixed it with my brilliant McGuyveresque skillz:
Ok, no more lamp stories, sadly enough. But, look, a CURTAIN story y'all! I had some white sheers I had hung up in front of our Sliding Glass Door of Light That Bleaches All Things. I also had a nice white rod that wasn't long enough. I had a rod extender, but it was brass and the curtains were sheer. I also happened to literally be in the midst of tossing out this prop from one of my girlies' dance recitals:
It is a star mounted on a piece of black PVC pipe-wait, was it black? Oh no, it was just covered with black electrical tape, which means it is WHITE PVC pipe, white like my curtain rod and wouldn't that just make a terrific rod extender?? Yup, it fit just right so, victory!

Finally, for now-I know you can only take so much--AND I don't yet have a picture of my favorite DIY project we did last week, we will see how cheapo, er, creative, I really am. In our powder room, we have had the same little silly take-up-space-but-don't-use fancy towels on the extra towel bar for the last 6 years and I was sick of looking at them. I knew I wanted something with red on it and set out to just buy some nice ones at TJ Maxx, when I got my cheapy lamp, of course. But not a red towel to be seen to I headed to another mecca of cheapyness-Big Lots. I found just what I wanted-in a large bath towel. So, I decided I could make it into what I wanted AND only spend $6 total. I cut it up the center and folded both sides in and stitched them down so it cannot be unfolded. I also stitched the raw edged end with a zigzag stitch so it would not continue to unravel. Finally, I cut off the opposite end which had a nice coordinating decorative border and made a tiny towel out of it in the same manner. I figured these towels would never be used, just merely need to look pretty so if you come to my house, do not take them off the bar and look at their silly back side where you see weird sewn down edges and such, just look and see this:

And, the true cheapness revealed: on the way out of Big Lots, I saw the same towels in hand towel size, but to buy them I would have to spend $12 rather than $6 so yes, I cut it all up and Frankensteined it to save $6. 600 pennies saved is 600 pennies earned, right???

Ok, thanks for putting up with my fascinating review of my home improvement projects of the week. DO you like to do home improvement stuff? WHat are your favorite projects? How do you save money?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's Good To Be The King

An afternoon well spent and well deserved.....

Happy Daddy's Day, baby! We LOVE you!!!

your harem

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We're Baaa-ack

*SIGH* We are back from vacation they just don't let you stay forever and not pay for the condo, weird. It was a great time of just chillin' and getting to know our new family dynamics a little bit better. I am not going to sugarcoat things-we had a pretty tough time returning home with our little lady and we were pretty miserable for a few weeks. So, while a lot of our trip was just same stuff/different place in the form of 8 million daily diapers, crying, bickering among sisters, crying and complaining that their mean parents are so unreasonable, and also crying, it was just great to get away from things at home and have fun and finally feel like we connected as a family of 6 with no distractions of school/work/housework. (I will write another post about our some of our struggles upon coming home because I feel like all sides of adoption need to be known so that others in the same boat do not feel isolated or defeated and know that it can still turn out ok.)

Anyway, today I especially wanted to share that we returned to a week of medical follow up appointments and Zoe has officially been cleared of TB and has been taken off the horrendous meds that caused all manner of unpleasant side effects and we are thrilled that we can put that chapter of our life with her to rest and MOVE ON!!! We knew it was the case but had to jump through the proper medical hoops to "leave no stone unturned" and so now things can feel a lot more normal. Little Miss is happy as a clam to be done with those meds and is loving life with a house FULL of sisters that think she is the bomb! (do the kids still say that these days?? I AM pretty sure I heard DJ Jazzy Jeff say that on my mix tape in my Walkman so I am totally down with the youth of today...gnarly) Anyway, God has filled our hearts to overflowing and has taken a couple of scuffed up earthen vessels and filled them to the brim with His treasures through the task of parenting our little girls. Almighty God, you never cease to amaze me with what You make possible in our lives!!

And of course, I will leave you with a few pictures of our vacation because that is what you REALLY want to see, right??The Things

I'm Drivin' In My Car

A little friend who lived right behind our condo

We take pics at this tree every year-we started with only 2 tiny toddlers, now we're running out of branches, haha!