Friday, July 28, 2006

They're here already! Somebody get the door!!!

Today is BooMama's Bloggy Tour of Homes. Honestly, when I was taking the pictures, I couldn't believe that I signed up for this. But here I am. So....Welcome! Mi casa is well....mi casa. But you're welcome here anytime. It's noisy and usually full of people, and you're likely have to step over toys to get in and the dog will probably lick you to death, but come on in and stay a while.

Before I begin, though. I would like to say a little sometime about my house. My mom helped me buy this house before she died of cancer. She had some money in an annuity that she gave us for a down payment. She told us that she wanted to help us and to start looking. This house was one of the first ones that we looked at and we immediately fell in love with it. In fact, Sweetanlo said she was moving into in with whatever family bought this house. We told my mom we had found the house, but she wanted us to keep looking. So we did, but we didn't find anything else that compared. So while my mom was in town in between chemo treatments, my realtor arranged to let us have a look. I can remember like yesterday, my little mom standing in the dining room after the tour. "If you want this house, you can have it." she said and we set the papers in motion to buy it that very day. My sweet mom died one month after we moved in. Without her help, we would never have been able to buy this house, which I love. To me it's like a hug I get from my mom everyday. Now, on with the tour.

Here's the front door. Actually this leads into a room we call the boot-room where the front door is located.

I like that people who are selling stuff rarely make it to the front door. It also keeps the house warmer in the winter because the front door doesn't open right out into the great outdoors. There's a built-in tiled bench inside, so you can take off your wet shoes or lay your coat.

Come on in. Just ring the doorbell once though. When you ring it over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, like my kids do, it makes the dog a little crazy.

Through the front door, this is the first room you walk into - our living room. One of them anyway. We have a couple others too, which come in handy - with so many people in various age groups living here, it's good to have several different "hang-out" areas. (You can see our school area in the back of the picture. ) We do hang out in this room though. We sing karaoke or build race tracks. You'll very often find Sweetanlo sitting in the pink chair reading. Note to the circle of thieves: our enormous vicious guard dog sits perched on the couch to the right. OK, so she's just an average-sized family dog and isn't vicious at all, but she'll be laying there and will do her best to protect us!

Here's where I usually blog. Yup I'm spoilt! Pastormac got me my own lap top, so I can sit right here on my bed and blog-away. Either here, at the kitchen table or sitting in a the rocking chair in the living room. Usually here though.

This is the kitchen. I was hoping for a little bigger really, although it's very functional.

But what it lacks in size it makes up for in other ways. This is what I see out my window when I stand at the sink. And you can't tell from the picture but I have a breath-taking view of the city and the mountains as well. Almost makes me glad to have to do dishes. OK, I said almost!

Our dining room. We all squeeze in around this table. Could be interesting when we add a couple more kids!

This is where we do school. Right next to the back door so we can kick rowdy boys out for recess and the view from their "desk" isn't too shabby either!

And it wouldn't be a proper tour if I didn't show you the backyard. Here in our little piece of the Land of Enchantment, this is very often what a backyard would normally look like. (In fact, our neighbors on both sides have yards that look like this.)

So you'll understand why I'm deeply grateful that the folks who lived here before us, turned our backyard into this. (Complete with 2 gazebos, 2 decks, a fountain and a pond full of fish.) We love our backyard.

There you have it. Of course, I'm leaving out several rooms, Rummy asks me as I'm getting out the camera, "You're NOT taking pictures of our room, are you??!" No dear, I don't want to scare anyone!

Don't forget to go back over to BooMama's place. There's lots of other homes you can snoop tour. Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you around here again soon.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tomorrow's the Day

Okay friends, tomorrow is the day. BooMama is hosting The BooMama Blog Tour of Homes. And from the looks of it we'll be spending the month of August looking at all the homes of the bloggers who signed up!

It's not too late to sign up!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Gotta love Wednesday, when you can head over to Rocks in My Dryer and find hundreds of great ideas, tips & advice to make life easier.

Here's my WFMW for this week. It has to do with laundry, since we're always doing laundry. Always, always, always.

There are five children in our family; five dirty clothes generators - that's works out to be a lot of underwear and socks! My two girls are close in age (13 & 11) and my guys are 9, almost 7 & 4 1/2. Here's how I make sorting clean laundry easier.

For my girls: I try to buy different brands of underwear & socks for each one. Not just different styles or colors, but different brands. For instance, one of the girls wears Hanes and the other, Fruit of the Loom. So constantly checking the tags or holding them up to see which is bigger isn't necessary. Just one look at the brand and put them in the right pile.

For the guys: Just so happens my older two guys are essentially the same size, so to avoid undue laundry-sorting stress I have them wear totally different styles of underwear and socks. For instance, one guy wears regular briefs and the other one wears boxer-briefs; one guy wears ankle socks and the other wears crew - all different at a glance. (The littlest guy still has underwear with superheroes, cartoons or cars on them so they're easy to pick out.)

That's my tip. Many of you probably figured this out long ago. I'm still a little slow with these things, but this works for me!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Time to talk about adoption.

Our Adoption Adventure - Part One

Pastormac and I have always planned on adopting. We first talked about it 17 years ago during the summer we after we got engaged. We talked about waiting a few years, then having kids (we planned on 5 even then) and then adopting to complete our family. He explained to me how to him adoption is the perfect picture of how Christ made us members of His family. He chose us from the foundations of the earth to be His sons and daughters.

Our last baby was born in the Spring of 2002 and when he turned two, we started to entertain the thought that we should begin the adoption process. For a while we considered adopting a child given up for adoption by an unwed mother. An opportunity presented itself and we made ourselves available but the birth mother went with a family that was out-of-state. We felt good about her decision.

We then began considering international adoption. I was thinking China - perhaps a child with a correctable defect (cleft palate) We went so far as to send away for some information from several agencies. When the material arrived we realized that adopting from China or Korea wouldn’t be possible because of our family size and our income. In one of these packets, I don’t remember which one, was information on adopting from Sierra Leone, West Africa. Hmm, we thought. Maybe this was the place for us.

Pastormac was born in Sierra Leone. His parents were medical missionaries there for a of couple years before moving to Thailand. His aunt was active in ministry there until she retired and still remains involved in women’s and children’s issues. It seemed like a divine connection until we started to really look into adopting from there. We learned that God had most likely saved us from a world of hurt by not letting us get started in an adoption process from Sierra Leone before then. Adoptions had ground to a halt and there were many families who had adopted children in Sierra Leone but couldn’t get visas for them to bring them back to the US. My heart breaks for these families.

At this time, there were a number of other families in our church who were pursuing adoption. We began an adoption support group. It’s a terrific group which is very diverse in adoption options: the S. family, who was adopting internationally from China, the D. family, who was adopting an infant at birth through a local agency, the L. family, who was preparing to foster-adopt via CYFD and us. (Today, our China baby has come home and also the infant-adopt) There is a lot of love and support in this group. At one of our monthly meetings, we expressed our frustration with the situation in Sierra Leone; that we wouldn’t be adopting from there and would have to pursue other options.

We started to look elsewhere but still felt a connection to Africa, so we turned our attention to other African countries with adoption programs that were running ethically & smoothly. Liberia and Ethiopia became our options. After hearing stories from families who had adopted children who had been orphaned by civil war, that didn’t seem the road we wanted to take, ruling out Libera. We heard that adoptions from Ethiopia were running smoothly and upon further investigation discovered the crushing numbers of orphans there needing homes. Honestly though, I was having doubts about whether this adopting thing was really something for us. We were getting too old? Was our family big enough already?

Coming soon....Our Adoption Adventure Part Two

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ok, so I took the test and I’m not as nerdy as Shannon but a whole lot more nerdy than Pastormac! (That surprised me.)

I thought I'd be more nerdy but I’m just a nerd wannabe.

Not nerdy, but definitely not hip. (The "not hip" part I knew before I took the test. Now it's your turn, take the Nerd Test

Update: Shelton asked for Pastormac's score. He only scored an 11! I figured he'd be a lot nerdier than I am because he's more computer-savvy than I am.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


We haven't always had space to store hand-me-down clothes that were waiting for the next child's use. We didn't have an attic or a garage and the closets were just too small for boxes and boxes of boys and girls clothes. With a large family, we wanted to keep those clothes but had to come up with some creative ways to packing them away.

I got this idea from a missionary friend and have since used it for years.

I store hand-me-downs sorted according to seasons and gender in 33 gallon rubbermaid garbage cans. (Of course, the trash cans were brand new when we started.) I line them up along the fence in our yard and pull them up beside the back door when I'm swapping clothes in and out each season. I make sure the clothes are clean and ready to wear for the next person, put a dryer sheet at the bottom and in go the clothes. I put the clothes I think will be used next on top and go down from there. Once the lids are firmly snapped, they're water-tight and can't be chewed through by bugs or animals. Works for me!

There are hundreds (really!) of other great ideas over at Rocks in My Dryer! Check them out!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Today You Are Nine.

We weren't expecting you so soon. Your sisters had made us wait, and wait, and wait. We never thought that you would be... early. But there we were, standing outside after family pictures, waving to all your aunts and uncles and cousins as they drove away, pretending like we would meet them at the restaurant like we planned. We'd have to call them and tell them we weren't coming. There we were, standing in a puddle. You were coming! We made our way to the hospital after a quick trip home. We hadn't packed a bag yet, we thought you'd give us at least another week.

What an amazing difference - to be able to lay in bed and labor, to actually do nothing and have contractions! Your sisters made me work a lot more and a lot longer. Your aunts and uncles and cousins came after dinner. They brought me oranges. They laughed and talked and watched on the monitor as the contractions came and went. They helped time pass. When labor came in earnest, they said their goodnights with gentle kisses. Then we were alone, your papa and me. After midnight, I lay awaiting your arrival. The pain was numbed. I was supposed to be resting or sleeping. But I was praying. "Please God, I want a boy!" And then just after 3 AM, there you were: all 9lbs 2oz. of your amazing male self.

My boy. My #1 Son.

Can it be? That nine years have come and gone since that day?

Happy 9th Birthday, baby! I love you.

Always remember that God knew just what He was doing making you the first of Pastormac's boys.

10 by #1 Son

Note to readers, following in the footsteps of Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer who let her nine year old blog on his birthday, I'm letting #1 Son have a post today. He's listing 10 things about himself (one for each year and one to grow on.)

10 by #1 Son

Today I'm nine years old! Boy I've been waiting for this day! I haven't opened my presents yet, but I'm really hoping to get a iPod shuffle. You can listen to music where ever you go because it's so portable and pretty small and luckily not too easy to break. And I like going to the iTunes Store online. I have a bunch of songs I'd like to buy - Katharine McFhee, Krystal Meyers, Kelly Clarkson.

Here's my list of 10 things.

1. I was born at 3:02AM so I've actually been nine for 7 hours already!

2. I like to sing and would really like to be a famous singer and/or actor when I grow up.

3. One thing I like to do is design clothes. I'd like to be a fashion designer.

4. I am right in the middle of the kids in my family. Two sisters older than me and two brothers younger than me.

5. This summer, I'm going to a Drama Class twice a week. Later this month we have a performance. I'm a little nervous but I'll be ready.

6. I really really love American Idol. I think Katharine McPhee should have won.

7. I definitely want to be a Dad when I grow up.

8. I like to climb things. I'm pretty good at it.

9. Pretty soon I won't be in the middle of the kids anymore because we're adopting a little boy and a little girl from Ethiopia. I'm happy about that. I wish it didn't take so long.

10. I'm a melancholy, sometimes I wish Jesus would just go ahead and come back.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It's Wednesday Already?!

Wow, How can it be Wednesday already?!

And holy cow, it's only 9:30AM and Shannon already has nearly 80 bloggers listed on her Works-for-Me-Wednesday! list! Man, I need to get busy!

Here goes.

With 2 grown-ups (well, mostly grown-up), 5 kids, 2 cats, a dog and a bird, I admit it - we're just not a carpet family. Now at our old house, the carpet was brown and hid a lot; but when we moved into this house the carpet was a lightish blueish gray and it became apparent very quickly that we are NOT carpet people. We were in denial for a while, even tried to have the carpets cleaned several times, but no, just no.

We began looking at carpet replacement alternatives but most of them were WAY out of our price range. I mean we have more than 1000 sq. feet we're talking about and even the cheapest tile installed ourselves would still cost us over $1000! Ouch.

So, I did some research and discovered that we could take out the carpet and paint the concrete underneath. The internet has a plethora of information and "how-to" guides. Designer concrete is all the rage. Here's a website I found very helpful, HGTV-Concrete Courageous. I liked this one too, Painting a Concrete Floor. And you can go to professional websites to get ideas of floors you can do yourself.

Did you know that pretty much anything you can do to your walls you can paint on your floor? As simple or as creative as you like. Don't like the way it looks? Wash it off or prime over and paint again. Then you just put down a solid topcoat of polyurethane and you're good to go. And all at a faction of the cost of tile or wood or carpet. And in a few years, if we want a new design, we can just strip this off and put down something new. Now, if we ever move, we'll probably have to put down more conventional, but we're not planning on moving anytime soon (ever) so that's not a problem.

Here is a picture of our first project - our dining area - which used to be carpeted. (I ask you, who puts carpet down under the area where eating takes place?!?!) I like the way the "rug" turned out. And you can see a little of the living room that we painted to look like denim overalls.

Here's my new canvas. I'll post some pictures when I'm finished so you can see how it turns out.

It's not for everyone, but it works for me! I love Works-for-Me-Wednesdays! So many good suggestions and helpful hints. Check out Rocks in My Dryer for a plethora of great ideas.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

What happens?

What happens when we spend the 4th of July setting up a pool for the kids in the backyard?

Everyday since.

God knows we need the rain and I see many many sunny days in our future. (It'll be dry and 95 degrees by late this week.)

Just thought the timing was...well...interesting.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I'm thankful...for these eyes!

I like traditions!

So I'm only too happy to follow Jules' lead over at Everyday Mommy and make Everyday Tomatoes my Friday blogging tradition. Start this tradition yourself, if you want to "embrace contentment" and celebrate the things in life that we're so used to that we forget how wonderful they are.

Today I'm thankful.... for these eyes.

Aren't they beautiful? They belong to #1 Son; he took the picture himself (probably never imagined it would end up on mom's computer) and if the light were better you could tell that they are the most beautiful shade of stormy hazel. He's the only one my five kids that got this color for eyes. But that's not why I'm thankful for them.

I'm thankful for these eyes because they show so much compassion and love. I'm thankful for them because they look into the deepest issues of life and the world and cry because it's not perfect (and he's only 9!) I'm thankful that they're looking for a day when the Lord will return and True Perfection will indeed be fulfilled. I'm thankful for these eyes because they can show childish angst one minute and man-like maturity the next. I'm thankful for these eyes because they show me so much love and a little sadness too.

And I look at them everyday and don't realize often enough the gift that they are.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What I Am I Looking For Next??!!

This is one of the ways that I make driving home exciting and bearable for our two youngest guys (ages 4 & 6). It's a good way to break up the trip into manageable pieces. Once we're on our way, I tell the guys to look for some visible landmark coming up - a restaurant, a store, a factory or construction zone with big earth-movers, a home with something unusual in the yard. They get very excited and start looking. The older kids will usually help with hints or which side of the car to be looking. Sometimes when I'm feeling especially brain-fried, the older kids will help me come up with things to look for. The littles guys really get into it, "What's next?! What's next?!" and "I see it! There is it!" When we get closer to home, they start seeing things that they're used to looking for and so recognize that home is close.

It's pretty mind-less and I don't hear, "Are we almost home yet??!!" a hundred times a trip (X2).

Works for me! Drive on over to Rocks in My Dryer for some other great ideas to make life easier!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Thanks Mrs. M. - A 4th of July Memory

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Today I’m thankful for my country and my freedoms and for the brave men and women who have fought (and are fighting now) to gain and to preserve my freedoms, all the way back to those men who were willing to risk their lives to sign a document declaring our country’s independence.

But singing America the Beautiful on Sunday morning, brought to mind someone else in my life that I’m thankful for.

In third grade I wasn’t assigned to Mr. Columbus’ classroom. He was in high demand among the students -- everyone wanted to be in the class with the only male teacher in the school; it helped that he was also handsome, tall and had a deep voice.

No. I was assigned to Mrs. McCrary’s class. Mrs. McCrary was oldish (Hey, I was in third grade!); she had a lot of auburn hair that she wore up on her head and perched on her ample nose were a pair of clunky glasses with dark plastic frames (I notice these frames are coming back into style.) What I came to learn was of more value than Mr. C’s deep voice and the ability to give a killer underdoggie swing, was Mrs. McCrary’s ability to play the piano; she even had a piano in her classroom! She used that piano as a teaching tool, as a musician it was natural. Each day we started with a song!

Now she could have taught us just about any song she liked, we were a captive audience, afterall. But instead, she chose to teach us the songs of our country - patriotic songs and folk songs. She even taught us our state song. (How many 8 year olds do you know who can sing you their state song?) Each morning, the privilege of choosing the song of that day was passed from each student to the next. I remember the day when my turn arrived - it was exciting!

During that year, I knew how special a teacher Mrs. McCrary was. She cared deeply for each one of us and it showed. But as an adult, now I see what a priceless gift she gave us in teaching us about our nation’s heritage and teaching us to express our patriotism by singing those songs that honor our country and state. She gave me a gift that gives back to me every time I sing one of these songs. When I do, I’m reminded of the responsibility I have to carry on the tradition of national pride and teach my kids these songs. Mrs. M.’s gift is a treasure to my children as I pass on these songs to them.

Thank you God for freedom, we truly live in a great country. Thank you too for Mrs. McCrary, for her heart for our country and for her students - for me.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Here Comes the Rain

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.

Psalm 147:7-8

I'm singin'! (Where's that harp of mine?)