Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve Bash: 500 Babies' Style

Here's how the 500 Babies celebrated New Year's Eve. Wow, what fun!Despite how unenthused they appear, the kids really did have a great time. We hadn't planned on eating out, but we were running errands, dinnertime was looming, and vanilla wafers can only buy you so much time. Kids' pizza places are never my first choice, but we had a coupon and it's always nice to go somewhere where you know kids are welcomed, there will be plenty of high chairs, and no one cares if your children make noise. It's a lot more relaxing for the parents.

We also like that our kids are too young to realize you're supposed to put money in the rides:

All in all it was a fun evening, with the exception of when I caught a little girl cheating on the skee ball game and "winning" tons of tickets. I told the worker at the prize counter what she was doing, and a few minutes later the girl's brother did the same thing and got caught by the worker. Billy and I debated telling the kids' parents, because we would certainly want to know if our children did something like that, but you just never know how some people will react so we didn't.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Play Village

One of the kids' Christmas gifts this year was "The Play Village". It's an awesome tent-like structure with three "rooms" connected with tunnels. I thought you might like to meet the villagers:

Hmmm . . one of those villagers was not quite like the others. But as you can see, they are all quite enthusiastic about their village. Daniel is especially fond of it:

Thanks Aunt Deb and Uncle Lanny!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Recap

The Christmas Eve/Christmas Day Event was a bit harder this year than I expected, but no less joyful. The Christmas Eve service was challenging because we had to go back and forth to the nursery at least three times to exchange kids. One of the nursery workers was late so we decided not to leave all three of ours in there like we had planned. We left Dan and Kiki but then Kiki needed her diaper changed and the nursery worker couldn't do it because she had too many other kids to watch so she called us during the service to come help. We decided to take Dan and Kiki into the service and leave Joe in the nursery. Well, Kiki wouldn't stay quiet so after a few minutes I brought her back to the nursery and by that time the other worker showed up so I felt ok to leave her.

Our kids were very tired afterwards, but they picked up a second wind at Aunt Lani's house (more like a second tornado of wind), where we somehow managed to contain the damage to only one broken candlestick and some spilled Big Red on the carpet. The next day was a true Christmas miracle - all three children made it through an entire church service! (It only took four adults and one 10-year-old to manage the feat. Thanks, Hobratschk family!) Despite a late night and early morning, the kids were in good moods most of the day and had a blast playing inside and outside with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The only damage at Grandma and Grandpa's house was caused by me. (Mom, I knocked over the little clothespin reindeer on the big shelf and his antler fell off. I told Dad but I forgot to mention it to you. Oops. Sorry!)

We didn't open our own presents until yesterday morning and finally let the kids get into their stockings yesterday evening. It was a lot of excitement and a lot of traveling and we are still recovering, but we're so blessed to have been able to share the holiday with our families. I hope your Christmas was blessed as well!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bad Santa, Part II

Today we attended our agency's Christmas party which included a chance for the kids to sit on Santa's lap. We were glad for the opportunity because at this point in our children's lives we have no desire to go to a mall, wait in line, and spend money for a picture that could look like this: I have two more of these pictures, each one with a crying Daniel and a crying Kiki. We went to the grocery store afterwards and a lady came up to Dan (who was squealing happily) and said, "I know why you're so happy little boy. It's because Santa Claus is coming soon." I laughed and told her we had in fact just visited Santa, and then I thought to myself, "No, lady, he's happy because Santa is far, far away."

Bad Santa, Part I

Several days ago we went to the mall. On the way there we were cut off by a large white SUV. Billy caught a glimpse of the driver, laughed, and then said, "He's only excused because he's Santa."

Once we got inside the mall we noticed a sign at "Santa's Workshop" announcing that Santa would return to the workshop at 6:20. we did a little walking around and when we returned, Santa was back. Billy took one look and confirmed that it *was* Santa who cut us off earlier. I guess he was late because he didn't have his reindeer.

We thought about getting even by making him hold all 500 Babies on his lap, but the line was too long.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Four Years

Happy anniversary to my dear husband! Thank you for four amazing years together. You inspire me, make me laugh, calm me, and make me feel more loved than I ever thought possible. Long before we had children I knew you would be a great dad, and watching you this past year confirms I was right. I love you, my best friend!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dan's New Digs

We finally did it. We moved Daniel out of the pack 'n play and into a crib. We waited so long because we've always been afraid of losing Kiki and then having no need for two cribs, and also because he's been perfectly happy sleeping there and hadn't tried to get out. Yet.

But recently all three kids have been trying to climb into the pack 'n play (Joe can actually get in and out). And the other day when Dan was supposed to be sleeping (while Kiki's case worker was here, might I add), we heard a very loud thud and then crying from the bedroom. He was ok, but I think he was trying to climb out and fell back inside. Daniel has also started pulling up the pad lining the bottom and playing with it. So we decided enough is enough, he's outta there.

We tried about 3 different furniture arrangements until we finally found one that kept Kiki away from the blinds, both cribs away from cords/outlets, Joe not too close to either one, and still left room to play. He slept so well in his new bed the first night that he didn't take a nap until 3:30 the next afternoon!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Getting Ready for Christmas

Things we are learning:

1. It is difficult, yet still possible, to maintain a live, decorated tree in the midst of 3 toddlers. About once a day Kiki decides to pull off every ornament within reach and bring them to me. And being a glutton for punishment, I always put them back.

2. Christmas tree skirts make great capes for adults and toddlers alike. (There will be no photo of the adult, however.)

3. Getting that "perfect" Christmas picture is just not going to happen. Here is one attempt:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mystery Baby

Since my husband and Joe are out for the evening and the little ones are asleep and it's not like I have six loads of laundry to fold, a kitchen to clean, or a bajillion Christmas things to do, I have devised a little game for you to play. OK, it probably won't be fun because there's only one or two people who will know the answer, but here goes:

Who is this baby???
Hint: He is sleeping on our couch.

No, no, it's not Moses! But he did sleep in a basket.
Here's another look. The other baby is Kiki. A very *young* Kiki. Does that help?
Nope, it's not Daniel.
Here they are again, side by side. He sure is a little guy, isn't he?
Give up? Well, it's a little known fact that last November a couple of days before we were given the call about Joe and Daniel, we accepted placement of another newborn little boy, Baby Z. He was 8 days old and came straight from the hospital. The day after he arrived, our agency called and offered us Joe and Dan because we were open to a sibling group of their age range and they were much more likely to be adopted (at that time we thought we would be losing Kiki in a couple of weeks). Baby Z. spent one night and one day with us and was then whisked away to another foster home. We felt a little sad, but the boys sounded like a better fit for us.
We still think about you, Baby Z., and pray that God is watching over you!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Still Waiting

I know many of you are wondering, and we are asked almost every day what is the latest on Kiki. The latest is that now we are just waiting for her case to be turned over to an adoption worker. The 90-day legal window has passed without any action from her family, and we are now officially free to pursue the adoption. Obviously we want to do so as soon as possible, but it's all out of our hands (as is just about everything in the foster-adopt process as we have learned). Our case manager said she hopes we can finalize by January. So do we!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


My biggest delight these days is seeing the children showing love towards each other.

Here is spontaneous affection between Daniel and Kiki:Here I asked the babies to give Joe a kiss:Sweet, right?

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Solution that Works

New challenges seem to arise with each stage of the babies' development. Climbing is still a big issue, and although I've given up on chasing Dan and Kiki off of the coffee table, climbing up into the high chairs is now the activity of choice for Kiki. She's doing it at least 6 months earlier than Joe ever even tried, which means she doesn't listen when I tell her to stop.

After a few days of constantly pulling her down, I've finally discovered a solution that works. Pillows:

But of course she then moves on to the empty chairs and encourages Dan to join in:
I'll let you know when I figure this one out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Am With Child(ren)

This is what you have to do when you have 500 Babies and only six diapers left:

There's a kind of long story about why we almost ran out of diapers, but just because it's a long story doesn't mean it's an interesting story so I'm not telling it.

We went to a different HEB than we normally do, and I was surprised to see this sign in the parking lot:

I almost didn't park there, thinking there might be someone else who needed it more. But then I thought, duh, who really needs it more than me? (Plus there was another empty spot nearby.) But then I thought, does it mean customer "with child", you know, in the Biblical sense? Hmmm...then I guess it would say "expectant mother parking" or something like that. But then wouldn't that be kind of demeaning to pregnant women, implying they are giant vehicles that need to be parked?

Anyhow, the bottom line is now I have 184 diapers instead of 6. And I'm NOT pregnant :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Let's Brush Our Teeth

Here we have a typical group of toddlers brushing their teeth before bedtime:Clearly they are enjoying themselves. The toothpaste is "Sparkle Fun Flavor". Wow, who wouldn't like the taste of that?
Sometimes they need a little help from Dad:

Dad makes sure every tiny tooth gets scrubbed clean.
But hold on a minute, why did Kiki stop brushing her teeth? What's that little girl up to?

Let's take a closer look:

Hmm...seems Kiki doesn't want to leave Brad out of the nightly ritual. I'm sure he appreciates it. Dogs like "Sparkle Fun Flavor", too you know!
(In case you are wondering, the dog did NOT lick or in any way touch the toothbrush with his mouth.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

One Year and One Hope

Today marks two significant milestones for our family. It is one year since the placement of Joe and Daniel in our home, and it is the end of the 90-day window in which Kiki's relatives can intervene on her behalf.

Most people probably wonder how we ended up with three children so close in age. We originally agreed to take the boys after we were told Kiki was only going to be a temporary placement. We figured we could handle all three if it was just for a few weeks. We could have asked that Kiki go to another foster home, but we were already too attached to her and we knew there was still a slim chance she would become available for adoption. During the next several months that tiny hope grew, and yet at times it also diminished greatly.

The day the boys arrived I remember looking out the window, seeing the CPS workers taking them out of the car, and thinking how unreal it was that these little boys were just taken from their grandparents' home and would now be living with us. When they came inside our house Joe cried a little bit and Daniel smiled at me. I remember giving Joe a sippy cup with milk and some blocks to play with. He wasn't too interested in the milk, but he liked the blocks. That night I went to Wal-Mart to buy clothes for the boys because all they came with were the outfits they were wearing. (It still boggles my mind that they didn't come with any other clothes or even any toys.) I took Kiki with me (she was only a month old) and Billy stayed home with the boys. It was a cold night. I cried as I pushed the cart into the store because I was heartbroken about Kiki having to leave us and I was terrified at the thought of taking care of all three children together in the meantime. It was late, I was overwhelmed, and I was questioning our decision to take the boys.

Back then we were drowning in diapers and formula and sleepless nights. Today we are still drowning in diapers, but now we have toddlers and laughter and tantrums and silliness. Our lives have settled into a manageable and yes, enjoyable routine. Through it all God has been guiding us and leading us to fully trust in His will for our family. For that we are humbly thankful. We continue to pray and trust and hope that our little Kiki will soon officially become little sister to Joe and Daniel.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

You know you've spent too much time on the computer when . . .

. . . you accidentally call your son "Google".

True story.

(I'm sorry, Daniel!)

Back to "Normal"

After 36 hours of freedom, yesterday I was back to having a $6,000 medical device attached to me 24/7. Sunday night my insulin pump decided to stop working. This has happened before, but it's always a bit panic-inducing because, well, I kind of need it to control my diabetes. But after a quick call to the manufacturer a replacement was shipped out and was in my hands Tuesday morning. In the meantime, I got to pick up and hold my children without worry that they would kick the pump off of my waist, I didn't have to worry about them playing with the pump itself or chewing on the tubing as they so enjoy doing, and I could wake up in the morning without the tubing wrapped all the way around my body as happens from time to time. Freedom!! Oh yeah, I did have to give myself pesky insulin shots all day and my glucose readings were a roller coaster of highs and lows. So, I guess it wasn't really freedom after all.

Friday, November 21, 2008

1000 Babies

Today our friends Naomi and Micah came over to play! This is what it looks like when there are 1000 Babies in your home:
Everyone had a great time playing, dancing, and eating snacks together. Can you believe I even happened to have a high chair and/or booster seat for everyone? I can't. But I did.

Thanks for coming over, Naomi and Micah!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Geekums is one of our nicknames for Kiki, so if you hear us calling her "Geek", know that we are not insulting her. Geekums evolved from Keekums which evolved from Kiki which evolved from her real name. She picked up the nickname "Kia" at church and at home she is also known as "Little Mama".This little girl brings more joy than I ever thought possible into our home. She pats and hugs the boys when they are sad, rips her diaper off and runs through the house when she's feeling mischievous, and dances every time she hears music. (Her signature move is bouncing up and down on her knees with one arm outstretched in front and the other arm behind her.) She's loud, she's tough, she's a sweetheart. You can always tell when Kiki wants a little extra love because she holds you so tight and clings even tighter if you try to set her down.

Little Geekums, we love you!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Danimal

The Danimal is one sweet little guy! I know, I know, he looks mighty fierce in this picture. You're wondering, "How does she handle his ferociousness?" The truth is, most days you can find Daniel quietly puttering about the house with his hands tucked behind his back, and if you happen to catch his eye he'll bestow upon you one precious little smile. He loves to climb onto chairs, the coffee table, and the back of the sofa. (Our sofa is not up against a wall so I am constantly running to pull him down before he falls over the back of it. The dog beds are on the other side so at least he will have a bit of a cushion should he tumble over.) Much to my relief, Dan has taken an interest in books and will bring one to me to read to him several times a day. He loves to watch Humpty Dumpty and Baa Baa Black Sheep videos on YouTube. Taking a cue from his sister, Daniel has begun dancing to music and recently learned how difficult it is to walk after you've endlessly spun yourself around in a circle. I can't wait to see what he learns next!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And Another Step Closer...

Today was another Permanency Planning meeting for Kiki, and the goal is adoption by us! Yay! We figured this would happen, but we were nervous beforehand because there are always nagging doubts about what could happen. I had some sleeplessness last night pondering the awful idea of Kiki being taken from us. We still have about two weeks left in the 90-day window in which Kiki's biological family can intervene, and then it's up to her caseworker to start submitting the paperwork to get the adoption process rolling. Ideally we would finalize the adoption before the end of the year, but that's probably being a little too optimistic. But if we hadn't been even just a little hopeful about Kiki when we first welcomed her into our home, we wouldn't be where we are today. It's only by the grace of God that we have been able to do this, and each day I am in awe of how much He has blessed our family with our three beautiful little children!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Play Set

After weeks of talking about it, we finally bought the kids a major outdoor toy. We lucked out because it was even on sale. The play set has a basketball hoop, slide, and a "rock wall" to climb. On one side there are holes to kick a soccer ball and to throw a football through.

After watching the kids play for a few minutes, we made the following observations: Kiki is the best at "shooting" baskets, Dan's strength is climbing, and Joe is good at kicking and throwing. I wonder if we have any future athletes among us? (Other than rhythmic gymnasts, of course.)

But of course you know they had more fun playing with the box:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Joe Update

Last week Joe had his re-evaluation for Early Childhood Intervention services. We knew he would continue to qualify because he is still behind in speech. He rarely attempts any words without prompting, other than "ma-ma", "da-da", "ap-pa" (for apple and pumpkin), and "mmm" for "more". When asked to repeat a word he usually says "da" for everything. I admit it is starting to worry me a lot more than it used to. He's been living with us for almost a year and I expected a lot more progress by now. I feel bad for Joe because I know he must have so many things he wants to share with us but cannot communicate those ideas. The good news is that his therapists said cognitively he is at or above where he should be for his age. During the evaluation I was amazed at how quickly he completed most of the tasks, several of which were skills we've never worked on directly. He also seems to learn new tasks fairly quickly.

Joe is a great helper around the house. He is always eager to put his empty cups in the sink, throw trash in the trash can, put away his clothes, and clean up his toys. He has started giving spontaneous hugs to Daniel and Kiki and will comfort them when they cry. Joe loves books and the other day we caught him "reading" out loud, even though it was just a bunch of babble. He's a great little guy and I thank God for giving him to us!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hope and Change

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Biting Truth

We seem to be having a rash of biting incidents lately, with Kiki being the main culprit. If you look closely at this picture you can see her teeth marks on Joe's face. It's been several days and the marks are still there.

However, twice now Joe has come to me showing a bite mark on his arm. Today when it happened I asked him who did it and he pointed to Daniel. I hadn't heard any crying from Joe, so I became suspicious. I examined the bite mark and noticed at least 5 or 6 teeth marks in a row. Neither Dan nor Kiki has this many teeth in a row. Therefore, I concluded the bite was self-inflicted. I'm no expert on child psychology, but I assume at this age Joe didn't do it to get his brother in trouble but rather to get attention. It worked.

Let's Go to the Zoo

This past Saturday morning we decided to pack up and head to the zoo. After some initial confusion about what time it was, we made it out of the door by 11:00 which is several hours earlier than we normally manage on Saturdays. (We slept late and blamed it on the time change but then a couple of hours later when our cell phones and TV clocks still had the "old" time we remembered the time didn't change Friday night, but Saturday night. Duh.)

Anywho, the zoo was surprisingly uncrowded for a perfect weekend day, I think because everyone had gone to the "Zoo Boo" on Thursday and Friday. Joe was able to enjoy the animals more now that he's a little older, and we even got Dan and Kiki to look at some. Joe was a little frightened at the lion exhibit because one lion got a little testy with the other and let out a menacing growl. He also did not like the rhinocerous. Billy and I did not like the fact that once you walked down to the elephant exhibit, you had quite a hike back uphill to get out because of the construction on the new Africa exhibit. Dan did not like the fact that as his mother was trying to guide the stroller down a steep incline in a narrow passageway he stuck his arm out and it got scraped up.

We didn't take many pictures, but here are a couple from the prarie dog exhibit:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Witness Protection Program

I'm still trying to conceal Kiki's identity, but it's getting harder because she's just too darn cute:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fun at the Polls

I voted early today. Here are three observations about my experience:

1. The election worker who signed me in was named "John McCain". No kidding.

2. I was asked by two separate individuals if this was my first time voting (because I look young.) It's actually my fifth presidential election.

3. A voter in front of me asked the election worker if there was a "cheat sheet" in the voting booth that gave the candidates' positions on the issues. Huh???? She was referring to the candidates in the races other than for the presidency, but still.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Turtles and Tigers and Dogs, Oh My!

I spotted these cute critters at the Mount Calvary Reformation Fest yesterday evening. There is something curiously familiar about them. What do you think?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Birthday Snapshots

Kiki definitely enjoyed her birthday to the fullest! She smiled when we sang to her, dove into her cake with relish, and squealed with delight when she saw her brand-new baby doll. She wore us out at the Fall Festival because she didn't want to stay still. It was too crowded in the main area of the festival to let her down, so when we got ready to leave we let her run down the hall:
Happy birthday, big girl! We love you!