Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Some pre-holiday humor to lighten your load

"Hand... where are you?"
"There he is!"
[game invented by Abby]

Young Einstein.
[yes, those are Mr. Potato Head glasses]

Stay away from the needles, Abby!

"Grrr.... bear!"
[Casey seems to think he has a snack to share]

Saturday, December 17, 2005

My Favorite Things

In response to a post by my friend Jennifer, I have decided to make a short list of my favorite things. Here goes!

Trista's Favorite Things (sung to the tune of "My Favorite Things")

Abby so giggly, and Ethan so cuddly.
Dogs who lick faces, and husbands so studly.
Hot apple cider on days you wear ‘muffs,
This is just some of my favorite stuff!

Warm baths by candlelight, hot summer sunrays,
Smells of clean baby and beautiful fall days.
Talks with my Jennifers*, good cups of joe,
These are some favorite things, don't you know!

Bare Naked Ladies and mint chocolate ice cream,
Seeing my husband fulfilling his life’s dreams.
Singing my lungs out and “Slug Days” with kids,
These things I hope I will never be rid!

When I’m tired, when the home’s messed,
When we're in "the twos".
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I feel good, it’s true!

*My two greatest friends, Jennifer and Jenny :)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Sigh. Oh, woah is Ethan. As he nears his 19 month birthday, he has to endure a major breakup. This breakup will leave him yearning for weeks to come, pining for his lost love... his pacifier.

The rule with our kids has always been that 'fiers are for naps and bedtime. Occasionally, the car if we're on a long trip. But that's it. Ethan has developed a stronger attachment to his 'fiers than Abby ever did. He made up his own little name for them - "bawa." He comforts himself in the crib by rubbing the pacifier on his forehead. The "bawas" are his friend. But, enough is enough, it is time. Bye bye, "bawa". Ethan's a big boy now!

Today, we removed all of the pacifiers from sight. We put him down for his nap sans "bawa." He cried for a few minutes, and then we haven't heard from him since. Nighttime will probably be more difficult. But, we're not taking any steps backward by giving him the pacifier. It's Ethan's first breakup. Hopefully he'll move beyond it soon. ;)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


"This little Baby is born again,
been reborn in the hearts of men.
Every Christmas,
this Child is born again."
- This Baby is Born Again

It's Advent. The time of year for waiting. The time of reflection when we prepare for the coming of Christ. The period of expecting.

Our family has been lighting a candle every night with dinner to remember our hope for the coming of our Savior. We've also been using a 6 minute reflection guide which looks at Jesus' birth story from the gospel of Luke. It's been very helpful for me to read, pray and reflect.

Today's entry talked about Elizabeth and Zacharias' story. With God's help, Elizabeth became pregnant after years of being "barren" (gosh, I hate that word). She was filled with the holy spirit. She and Zecheria obeyed the Lord and named their son John. Their John was John the Baptist. He was born a few months before Jesus. The reflection guide said that this story is not often mentioned with the story of Jesus' birth. It takes a back seat to the main event. The guide revealed that God never makes us take a backseat. In God's eyes, we are all the main event.

We have our own story of expecting. After months of reflecting, praying and talking, Mark and I have decided to adopt a third child. We've started the initial paperwork for our homestudy, and in the next couple of months should be finished. Then we begin the process of waiting.

Our "expecting" is a blessing for us in this time of Advent. It may not be the main event, but it is still imortant to God. Being in a state of waiting during a liturgical time of waiting makes Advent even more special to me. This is sure to be my most spiritual Advent to date.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Ethan's Christmas Gift

Yesterday, Ethan got an early Christmas gift. We had the honor of visiting with Ethan's birth family for the first time since he was born.

We met Ethan's birthparents when his birthmom (S.) was in her 7th month of pregnancy. We had gotten a call from an adoption attorney who we had connected with early on in the adoption process. She told us of a pregnant couple considering adoption, and wondered if we were interested. It worked perfectly with our timing - we were planning on starting the adoption process for baby #2 once Abby's adoption was finalized in May. We got this call in March.

We met with S. and J. (Ethan's birthdad) and their two sons (ages 4 and 18 months at the time). We all seemed to hit it off, and our relationship began. I was fortunate to be able to take S. to her doctors' appointments for those two months. It was nice to get to know her better, and also to hear Ethan's heartbeat. S. and I developed a friendship and level of comfort with each other. She invited me to witness Ethan's birth, and asked me to cut the cord. It all felt very right between us, even from the start.

After Ethan was born, it was difficult for S. emotionally. Our agency shared with us how hard it was for S. when she appeared in court to relinquish her parental rights. S. also told them that getting updates from us was bittersweet - she liked seeing how happy and safe Ethan was, but it also forced her to revisit the pain in a very real way. My interactions with S. for the first year of Ethan's life were very supportive, but very tentative. I let her direct the relationship with us (really, the relationship with Ethan). I sent regular updates, and she called every couple of months to talk.

After Ethan's first birthday, she shared with me on the phone that she was feeling more at peace with the decision. Although it was still painful for her, she felt like she was ready to see Ethan in person, was even excited about the idea of it. We made ourselves available whenever she was ready to see him. And it finally happened yesterday.

We decided to meet at the mall, so the kids could play together. S., J. and their two boys came, plus J.'s mom, brother, and sister's family. When S. first saw Ethan playing, she went to him and sat alone with him for awhile, watching him and talking to him. There were tears in her eyes when she finally walked away. It was a very personal moment I was priviledged to witness.

Everyone was excited to see Ethan, and Ethan warmed up pretty quickly to everyone (much to my delight). Ethan's birthdad, J., was pretty reserved yesterday. It seemed that he felt awkward in the situation. I did notice that even though he stayed back, he watched Ethan a lot, which was nice to see. Ethan played with his birthbrothers (who are now 5.5 (J.) and 3 (E.)). Brother J. gave me a big hug first thing when they arrived, and a little while later told me very matter-of-factly, "Ethan is my brother. He was adopted." I praised him for being such a smart boy to know that, and told him that Ethan loves him very much. Brother E. acted just like Ethan in lots of ways (and looks a lot like him, too). They are both pretty leary of new situations. They both had the same scowl when they were acting up. And they even share the same little head bobble when they are being silly. It's so cool to see different aspects of his birthfamily in Ethan.

There were Christmas gifts for Ethan, which is very special. We treasure the gifts that the kids receive from their birthfamilies, and I take pictures for the kids' scrapbooks so they will know what their birthfamilies chose for them. Ethan's birthfamily was very thoughtful, and even included gifts for Abby. We had brought gifts for Ethan's birthbrothers, and a special mini scrapbook about Ethan for his birthmom and birthdad.

It was a very nice day, a family day. We hope to have lots more nice days like that with S., J., J. and E. We believe it is a great thing for Ethan to know his birthfamily on a personal level, and to know how much they love him. Meeting in person, it was obvious to see how special he is in their eyes.

In order to maintain the birthfamily's privacy, I am not including any photos. But I wish I could: I have a precious picture of Ethan and his birthmom that I will frame for his room, as well as some really cute pictures of him with his birthbrothers. It's great to have those photos for Ethan as he grows up!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A little slice of heaven

Thursday morning, 7:30. Grab the kids and tromp downstairs. Time for breakfast! Eat up - we've got to go! Get dressed, and put your coats on. Kiss Daddy goodbye. Climb into the van. Buckle up, we're off to church!

Drive to church. Notice every schoolbus along the way! Pull into the lot - everyone out - yes you can walk, Abby. Trot to the nursery. Your big tears tell me you don't want me to go, Ethan. You'll have fun! Don't worry! You love to play with the other kids.

Who's working the babysitting co-op today? Natalie and Sarah! My week isn't until January. Until then, no kids from 9 to noon Thursdays. See you later, kids! I love you!

Hop into the van, a little lighter. Stop at the coffee shop - two grande carmel cafe's, please. Pop into the post office; 5 books of stamps will be fine. Pull into the garage with a smile on my face.

Give Mark his coffee and a kiss. Time to get to work! Clean the bathrooms; toilets, sinks, tubs, showers. Listen to Mark's Big Bad VooDoo Daddy CD while I work, keeps me light on my toes. Switch laundry loads. Start the dusting downstairs. A little Natalie Cole Christmas CD will do the trick. Uh, oh - too many toys in the toy room with the Christmas tree in there! Time to move some to the basement. Rearrange the legos, dollies, blocks, stuffed animals. Fun fun fun!

Oh no - it's been 2 hours! Where has the time gone? Kick it into high gear. Switch laundry loads. Get out the vacuum. Move out of the way, Maggie! How much fur can you dogs grow, exactly? Unbelievable. Empty the vacuum canister for the 8th time - all done!

Time for a quick shower. Ahh. It feels good to be clean. Sure, I'd like to go out for lunch, honey. We need to get going - kids need to be picked up. Drive back to church. Back to the nursery. Mommy - Up!!! Of course I'll pick you up Ethan - I missed you too! Let's get coats on, we're going to a restaurant. Today's a special day.

{Smile}. I love Thursdays.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Super Scrappers

This post is a little belated, but better late than never :)

A few months ago, I got the brilliant idea to organize a scrapbook weekend for my mom, sisters, nieces, best friend and myself. Since we are located in two different states, we would meet halfway between for a weekend of fun and scrappin'. I began to get excited about the idea, and after bouncing it off of everyone, started the process of research. I found a scrapbook store willing to do a weekend crop on the one weekend we all had available. I found a hotel nearby that was inexpensive. The plans were completed quickly, and then we had to wait until November 11th to go. I looked forward to the weekend for a few months!

There were nine of us who attended the weekend: Me, my mom, my sister-in-law Tracy, my sister Becky, my niece Breanna, my niece Courtney, my sister Bobbi, my niece Kelsey and my best friend Jennifer. We had FUN! We cropped Friday night, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning. I completed 15 pages, which is less than my usual for a crop weekend. But I had so much fun gabbing and seeing everyone, I didn't care. We played games in the hotel at night (with a few wine coolers and some Bailey's Irish Cream to make it interesting). We went out for meals together. And we each completed a similar page for our albums, called the "diamond page." It was a blast! Several people asked if we were going to make it an annual retreat. I think we all enjoyed ourselves on our "girls weekend away."

Here I am, pondering a page on my sweet Abby. Notice how messy my area is - I am always losing things in my piles of junk!
These are the 9 finished "diamond pages" - aren't they beautiful? It was so neat to see everyone take the same idea and make it their own.
The busy scrappers in their 11th hour.
Rear: Becky, Breanna, Jennifer, Tracy, Trista, Boots
Front: Courtney, Kelsey, Bobbi

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Eleven Years and Counting

Just this weekend, Mark and I celebrated 11 years together since our first date. It's fun to remember how we were back then, how young and naive (I was 20 and Mark was 19). How did we get to that point? Let me tell you. :)

Mark and I "knew" each other in childhood. We grew up attending the same church, and our families were very active. So, Mark and I were involved in a lot of the same activities at church. But we didn't go to the same elementary or middle schools, and Mark was a grade behind me. Although we knew each other through church, we weren't friends... yet.

In my senior year of high school, I became heavily involved in our church's Youth Group. Mark did, too. We both had a very good work ethic, and were part of a core team who led the group. We got to know each other more personally, and began to "hang out" together at school as well. We would find each other before school and talk in the library, or walk "the loop" in the main building. Meeting in the morning became a regular thing with us, although we never spoke of it. Soon, I found that I had a crush on Mark and wanted him to ask me out.

I was not subtle about my crush, but I was also very cautious. Something inside said, "this could be serious - don't mess it up!!" So I showed interest, but not too much. And Mark showed interest, but didn't ask me out.

I remember that he would brush the snow off my car after Youth Group meetings, even though we were "just friends." And we would always end up sitting next to each other at the meetings. We had inside jokes that only we understood. All the signs were there that we were a good match. But Mark didn't ask me out.

After months of this, I figured he wasn't all that into me or something would have happened. So I started a relationship with another guy, just before graduation. The relationship lasted almost 3 years, during which I didn't see much of Mark at all (Mark went away to school, and I stayed home). But I never forgot him.

Toward the end of my relationship, I realized there was lots of things I needed in my partner that he couldn't provide. And I remembered how many of those things Mark had (or showed promise of having) when we were in high school. Mark was the most caring and sensitive young man I had known, and I could foresee what he would be as a husband and father to my children. He had strong faith, the same faith I had. He was hard-working, careful, giving, intelligent, funny. He became a yardstick by which I measured other men. I decided to end the relationship with my boyfriend. And then fate [*God*] intervened.

Mark was home from school for Thanksgiving break, which I knew because I had friendships with his younger brother and sister. A group of us from church decided to get together for a night of games and fun, and I invited Mark. I decided (with lots of encouragement from my big sister Becky) that I would use that night to ask Mark on a date for the next day. During the party, the time ticked on and I couldn't find the courage to ask. Becky called me on the phone periodically to find out if I had asked yet... and to provide me the kick in the pants I needed when she heard I hadn't. The party was ending, and I was chickening out. But, I knew if I didn't do it, there would be heck to pay with Becky. So, as Mark was heading out the door, I casually asked if he wanted to see a movie the next day. He accepted.

The date went great, and we caught up on so much that had happened in 3 years. It was comfortable and fun and casual and sweet and EASY. And I knew that we were starting where we left off, but we were starting as adults and not children, and that the stakes this time were much higher. And that "this really could be serious - so don't mess it up!!"

Thanks to God, I didn't.

Cousin Lovin' (part 2)

We've been having such a fun month! Over Thanksgiving, we were fortunate to see my sister Bobbi's family from out of state. The kids loved having them visit for Thanksgiving lasagna (we were having a traditional Thanksgiving the next day, and I didn't want us to get turkeyed-out). Abby's and Ethan's cousins range from 13 to 17 years old. It was great to see them!!

Abby with her cousin, Erik. It was shocking to me that he is now taller than I am! He looks so cute with his longer hair, even if you can only see one eye. ;)

Aubrey (Bree) had fun playing with Ethan. She is growing into such an impressive young woman!

Abby and Ethan were playing "knock all of the computer cartridges onto the floor" with Ben and Erik. Uncle Leif was the pick-up man.
Ben is a kid-magnet, Ethan had such a blast with him! Mark was happy to realize he and Ben have the same geek-sense. I'll have a few words of warning for his future wife! :)

Kelsey had fun showing Abby how to play on the computer. Abby can learn a thing or two from her bright and focused cousin!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cousin Lovin' (part 1)

Well, we are in the last week of the visit from Tracy, Lana, and David (see this post for details). Yesterday, Tracy's husband Jeremy flew in for a 4 day visit as well (yeah!!) We've been having so much fun playing together, and we were so excited to have the 3 of them spend 4 nights at our house. The kids just love to get together, and 3 toddlers playing provides lots of opportunity to practice sharing {smile}. Here are some pictures from our visit so far.

Abby's giving Lana a "head-hug." It's rare to have them sitting still for long enough to get a picture, so this was precious!

Ethan and Lana were walking and holding hands at a farm we went to. Soooo cute!

Abby is such a little mommy! She is always holding out her hands to hold David, and loves to make him laugh. Ethan is giving him a hug, too.

Ethan LOVES David (or, "baby!" as he likes to say). He thinks "Day-did" is so funny.

Abby is helping David play the piano. She is very concerned that he's having fun.

Abby is getting ready to shower Lana with leaves.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mark's Wish Comes True

Picture this: it's the middle of winter, and a blanket of white snow has been laid upon the ground. It's perfect, wet, packing snow. A man stands in a yard, surveying a very large "snow ogre." Adding the final touches, he hears a car slow down behind him. The driver rolls down his window and says, "it got too cold for the kids, huh?" The man smiles and laughs in reply, and the car drives away.

That man is my husband, Mark. This happened 4 years ago. And the reality is - there weren't any kids that it "got too cold" for. Mark was outside building a snowman by himself! He's always loved to play in the snow, whether he's 5 or 30. And he's always wished for kids that want to do the same (he discovered early on that it wasn't going to be his wife that shared his passion).

Today, the first flakes of snow hit the ground at our house. Abby noticed right away and cried out, "it's snowing!" Last spring, when the snow no longer flew, Abby was distressed for a month. She would look at me with baleful eyes and question, "snow?" I had to explain that the snow was gone, but would be back. She looked skeptical, but today proved it to her.

Abby turned to Daddy and said "snowman!" She ran to get her boots, coat and mittens. She, Daddy and Ethan donned their snow attire quickly. Before the snow had been falling for 10 minutes, they were outside in the backyard, treking through a dusting of snow, braving the horrible winds that we get here. But Abby was in heaven. When 5 minutes had passed, Mark brought them in because it was so bitter. And Abby cried. She's her Daddy's girl, and her Daddy is so excited that this winter will be his most fun yet.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Living in "The Twos"

I am the youngest of four girls... by a landslide. My sisters are 13, 12 and 10 years older than I am. In some ways, it has made me feel I was missing out on the closeness they share, the growing-up-together they did. In many ways, I was like an only child because my childhood was so seperated from theirs. But, despite being jealous of having siblings close in age, having *much* older sisters is ultimately a blessing. They have all "been there" before me, and I can learn from them. They impart their wisdom upon me, which I appreciate.

My sisters are all excellent moms (I'm not just saying that because they might be reading this!) They are all loving, nurturing, involved parents with awesome children. Their parenting styles are very different from one another, but each has aspects of their parenting that Mark and I admire and try to incorporate into our parenting. Becky is intimately involved with at least one activity with each child (boy scouts/soccer/religion classes/etc.), and always has been. With five kids, that's certainly not easy to do, but she makes time for all of them. Bobbi is one of the most family-focused people I know. Her kids never have to guess if they're a priority, because Bobbi is always looking out for their best interests in whatever she does. And my youngest sister, Bonnie, has such calmness with her kids. Even when she is at her wits end, she is calm and controlled with my nephew and niece (how did she do it during "the twos"?). My sisters are now and always have been an important source of wisdom for me.

Yesterday, I spoke with my middle sister, Bobbi. I was filling her in on the latest antics of the kids, exasperated about the things they've gotten into lately. She told me to soak in every minute, good and bad, because this time is over so quickly.

Over so quickly? Abby started "the twos" at 18 months, and is in this stage full-swing. Ethan is just at the cusp of this period, starting to test me at every turn. It hardly feels quick when you're in it. But, of course, my older and wiser sister is right. If I blink, it will be over and I will yearn for those days of innocence again.

So here is a tribute to the recent activities of Abby and Ethan in "the twos." Sometimes, the moments are terrible. And others are terrific. I'm just trying to soak them all in.
Abby was very upset because I asked her to say cheese. She didn't want to.
Ethan has perfected the scowly face.
Abby figured out how to open doors this last week, so we had to buy doorknob covers (which she is trying to figure out in this picture). Earlier this week, I found her (with her cousin, Lana) halfway down the basement stairs.Ethan likes to climb up and stand on things like this chest - the kitchen table has also become a favorite.

Our little nudist like to take off her clothes when no one's looking.

But just when I'm about to pull out more of my hair, there is an impromptu kiss through the slider door. Too precious.

And I came running when I heard the giggling to find these two "twos" spontaneously dancing in the living room.

I have to grin when I see Ethan's smiling "scrunchy-face."

And Abby's laugh makes everyone join in.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Play area non-fun

We want to know what you think! Please comment to this post!
Our family loves to go to the play area at the mall. It's a great place for the kids to burn off some energy. It's a good environment for the kids to learn how to cooperate with other kids. And best of all, it's FREE!

We went to a play area this evening that we frequent. It has tunnels, things to climb on, and best of all (in Abby's opinion) 2 fast-moving slides. What more could you ask for? Tonight, the play area was fairly busy with kids. And, the level of inappropriate play was off the charts. There were 5 kids climbing UP the slides while other kids were waiting to go down. There was pushing and shoving on the stairs. There was unexplained screams of pain coming from tunnels. It was outrageous. After a couple of minutes of watching kids climb up slides without consequence, Mark and I united and began to take control of the situation. These kids parents were nowhere to be found, or if they were there, they were doing nothing while their children hurt other children or played unfairly.

We started with the 10 year old boy - "It's against the rules to climb the slides." Moving on to the 8 year old girl - "You cannot cut in line in front of 0ther kids who are waiting." We stopped the slide-climbers in their tracks and things began to run more smoothly.

After about 15 minutes, Mark found himself face-to-face with an angry mom. You see, her school-aged son had been climbing up the slide and pushed an unsteady toddler off the side in his ascent. The little girl fell from 2 or 3 feet, and began to cry. While her mother tended to her, Mark immediately told the boy that he couldn't climb the slide and that he needed to watch out for other children.

The boy's mom was angry. She walked up to Mark and told him to stop telling her boy what to do, and that she can't help that his daughter is so clumsy(?!). Mark explained that the boy had pushed her off the slide, and she wasn't even his daughter but he felt someone had to step in. The mother retorted, "this is a play area, and he was just playing." Then, the mother of the toddler came to Mark's aid and reiterated that the boy had pushed her daughter, and why wasn't he being watched anyway? The boy's mother backed down and told her son "we have to go now," and off they went. The boy didn't apologize to the toddler or her mother. His mom didn't apologize either.

My question is this: what should Mark and I do in this type of situation? Our children have been pushed, hit, cut in front of, climbed on, sat on, and hugged aggressively at public play areas. We also witness children doing dangerous things to other children. Sometimes, the parent comes over and disciplines their child or apologizes for their behavior when this happens. If not, we ALWAYS tell the other child to stop hurting our children (or other children). It is a rare parent that actually sees us "discipline" their child in this way, actually, because they are either not present or not paying attention to their child.

There are lots of ways to handle these situations, we realize. And I'm sure there are lots of opinions about the best ways or the right ways to handle them. I'm guessing there are some out there who are appalled that we would step in with children who are not our own. We want to know what you think!! Please, please comment on this post by clicking the "comment" link at the bottom of it (if you like, you can comment anonymously). I want to see lots and lots and lots of feedback on this topic, from parents and non-parents, old and young, male and female. This is an important issue that can be very controversial, and we want weigh your opinions. Thanks!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I don't have the stretch marks to prove it

It seems that once you're a MOM, you start associating yourself with other moms. No matter where you go, you seek other moms out and they seek you out. You give a knowing smile when someone's child is acting up in the grocery store. You join mothers' groups. You see moms at the playground. You tell other moms how cute their kids are when walking through the mall. Moms are everywhere, and you are now one of them!

One of the main mommy topics is: giving birth. I hear moms talking in almost any setting about their children's birth stories. Were they induced? Did they receive any pain medication, and how "natural" was the birth? Did they have a home birth? How long was labor? Did they tear (what a pleasant topic of conversation)? Was a c-section required or even pre-scheduled? Every aspect of birthing is fair game for a mom-to-mom discussion.

I cannot participate in these discussions. I have never given birth. In fact, I have never been pregnant. I've done research on pregnancy, read countless books and articles on the topic, listened to many moms discuss their pregnancies. I know what to expect should I become pregnant. I know what to expect should I be required to deliver a baby (Lord knows the other moms have filled me in on all the gory details). I'm very well "prepared" should anything happen in that area. But after almost 6 years of not preventing pregnancy (to no avail), I'm pretty sure that pregnancy is not in my future.

Early on, when we realized that pregnancy was unlikely, I was sad. Sad that our plan was not being realized (at least, the first part of the plan - we were hoping to have 1 or 2 biological children first, and then adopt). I was mostly heartbroken that it didn't appear I would experience the joy of pregnancy (kicking babies!) and the after-joy of nursing. These would be things I couldn't cross off of my "To Do Before I Die" list. Sigh.

But coming to the decision to adopt was easy for Mark and I. We had discussed adoption early on in our dating, and both viewed it as a meaningful way to grow our family. We were uncomfortable with most treatments to make ourselves "fertile." So adoption was something we were excited to pursuit - it wasn't mearly a last resort when all other fertility treatments failed. We jumped into the adoption arena with both feet! I do not grieve over my inability to achieve pregnancy anymore - I celebrate our ability to parent through adoption.

I rejoice in other moms' pregnancies and deliveries - these are God-given miracles and gifts. And I wouldn't lessen their experiences by asking that they not speak of them in front of me. I am extremely comfortable with and proud of how we've become a family. I believe that my God-given gift is the gift of being an adoptive parent. I am meant to be an adoptive mom. I "click" with our kids' birthfamilies. I am not threatened by the level of openness they want with my children. I cannot imagine that I would be threatened by the level of openness my children want with their birthfamilies. I am their mom. Their birthfamilies love them, too, and there can NEVER be too many people to love my kids. I love my children's birthfamilies, and feel that God has brought us all together for a reason.

So keep talking, moms! Tell me about the contractions, the back-pain, the crowning, all of it. And I will tell you about how it felt to get the phone call telling me we were parents for the first time. Or how amazing it was to be invited to witness my son's birth. These are my birth stories.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Just Lion Around with Cookie Monster

Here are a few pictures of our Halloween trick-or-treaters. Abby is fanatical about lions right now, and was so excited about her costume (especially her painted nose). Ethan is a big fan of Cookie Monster, so he had to be the blue monster for Halloween (complete with cookie jar treat holder).

We have a ton of candy left over, plus what the kids collected in the neighborhood. So if you notice Mark and I gaining 10 pounds in the next month, you'll know why! And if you're in the neighborhood, drop by and yell Trick-or-Treat - we're sure to have a few goodies for you. ;)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Wiggly Bare Naked Ladies (oh my!)

Our family enjoys listening to music. We play music in the car, at home, and we sing all day long. But as much as we love music, we rarely get to a concert. I think Mark and I have seen 3 or 4 concerts in all of our dating/married years. The last one we went to was on New Years Eve, and I think the year was 1999. The band: Bare Naked Ladies [a stunned silence comes over the older generation]. The band is actually made of men, and their lyrics are not lewd - don't worry! That concert was great, but it was nothing like the concert we went to today. It's amazing how your tastes change when kids come along.

Today, we took our kids to their first big-venue concert experience. You know, the kind of event that requires a call to TicketMaster to arrange. We went and saw Abby's and Ethan's favorite children's group, The Wiggles. The concert was a little over an hour, and Mark and I enjoyed every minute of it. Abby sat stunned for the first half, then warmed up and participated in the second half. Ethan was entranced at first, but soon his 17 month-old attention span got the better of him and he was more interested in playing with the stadium seats than watching the action on the stage. Over all, it was worth it to give the kids their first taste of live music in an arena. We had fun! And of course, Mama sang every song. ;)

The Wiggles drove on stage in their Big Red Car. We had good seats, and could see all the action on stage.

Murray Wiggle (the red Wiggle) walked through the audience in the beginning and we were lucky enough to be seated in the right section! Abby's eyes were as big as saucers when he came about 5 feet away... I think she realized that we weren't watching TV, but the action was live!

We were a captive audience, clapping along with the songs.

Abby's favorite is Jeff Wiggle (the purple Wiggle). He is always falling asleep, and Abby was so excited that we got to call out "Wake up, Jeff!"during the conert.

About 3 minutes into the ride home, two exhausted toddlers couldn't keep their eyes open any longer. It was the end of a fun new experience!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Dog Days of Autumn

Well, just as everyone was getting over our week-long colds, another member of our family had a health concern. Our older dog, Casey, suffered an ear hematoma on Thursday. It basically means that her chronic ear infections have caused her to scratch her ear flap so much that she ruptured blood vessels inside. The skin actually separated from the cartilage, and a pocket was formed that filled with blood. Apparently, it is a common occurance in dogs. She had surgery yesterday to reattach the skin and cartilage (lots of stitches), which went without incident.

Unfortunately, she has to wear a cone for 2 weeks to prevent her from scratching her ear. Our other dog, Maggie, was so glad to have Casey back home... she is a little skittish about the cone, though. Ethan immediately noticed her "hat," and Abby proclaimed it "cute." Casey acts completely normal despite wearing a giant piece of plastic on her head - in fact, she is dying to play fetch. Sorry, CaseyFace, you have to take it easy until the stitches are out!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

They've finally arrived!!

After what seems like forever, Mark's sister Tracy and her two kids have arrived in Michigan for a month-long visit - yippee!! Their family moved to Florida 4 months ago, and we've missed them so much. The four cousins' ages break down as follows: Abby-26 months, Lana-23 months, Ethan-17 months, David-5 months. We are going to have a blast while they're here visiting. Here are some pictures from today's reunion. I'm sure there will be more posts to follow in the next month, as the 3 toddlers and 1 infant rediscover each other.

Ethan has missed Aunt Tracy a lot - when he wouldn't tolerate being held by anyone other than Mom a few months ago, Aunt Tracy was on his short list. He gave her about 100 hugs today, and was very upset if she walked out of sight from him.

Here's a picture of Lana - a bit blurry, but she is on the go and won't stop for a photo op! she seems so different in just 4 months; taller, her speech has taken off, and she's got a *little* bit of toddler sass now (I love it!!)

David has changed a TON since we saw him at 1 month old. What a chubby boy - built just like Ethan was at his age. He smiles huge now, but I really liked this inquisitive look. Cutie pie!

Abby is not usually very cuddly, but she snuck in on Aunt Tracy for this hug. She giggled tons at her silly aunt.

Just say, "Abby, make a silly face!"

And here is what you get.

(Photo taken 9/27)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Remembering healthier times...

... like last weekend, when we weren't sick yet. Mark is off to the doctor today (sinus infection?), and I'm getting ready to take a nap with the kids. Here are some pictures from a day at the park, taken just last weekend before illness struck our house.

Abby is such a sweet girl, dancing in the leaves.

Ethan likes to lay in the sand. I love his expression.

Mark was sprinkling leaves on them, which made Abby giggle.

Abby is getting very good on the gym equipment. She's always been brave.

A beautiful boy and his Daddy.