Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reading Break

We have less than a week before our house goes on the market and we're all getting rather work-weary. We had lots of help from family and friends over the weekend and are truly grateful. There's no way we could do this alone. Pretty soon I'll share some pictures of the work going on around here. In the meantime, here is our work crew taking a voluntary reading break:

I just love it when they do that. (Joe realized the book was upside-down, in case you were wondering!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Job Skills

We decided our work crew needed some training so Billy set them up with hammering practice.

I think now they will take their jobs more seriously and get some work done around here! By the way, did you notice the living room walls are no longer green? They are now "Vanilla Steam".

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Happy Day"

I tried to teach the kids to say "Happy Father's Day" and while no one got it exactly right, they were all very cute in their attempts. Throughout the day Mikea would say "Happy Daddy" and "Happy Day" when I reminded her.

We kept the Father's Day activities low-key because we are now up to our necks in home improvement, plus we had to deal with a dead battery in our van last night. (Fortunately, at least for me, Billy was the one driving and no kids were with him.) We are living at Home Depot and Lowe's these days. Sometimes we take our work crew with us to the store, but as you can see from the picture all they do is goof off just like they do at home when they are supposed to be working.
So far this week we installed new fencing in the front of the house (with help), painted the living room, installed a chair rail in the dining room, and replaced the fixtures in the bathroom. Of course you know that "we" means Billy. I help with the painting and try to keep the kids out of the way. I'll post pictures once the work mess is out of the way.
We're still trying to enjoy the summer, so we toss the kiddos into the pool once in a while for a little hot-weather fun:

Happy Father's Day! Happy Summer! Happy Day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Next Big Project

Now that we've adopted Mikea, we are getting serious about our next life-changing event: selling our house and buying a bigger one. We live in a two-bedroom, 1100 sq. ft. home that barely contains two adults, three kids, and two dogs. We didn't anticipate getting so many kids so quickly.

I've watched enough HGTV to know that buyers probably won't like the bright green, yellow, and blue walls that make up half of the house. Combine that with the toys lying around everywhere, the kids' art work hanging on the walls, and they'll think they walked into a preschool.
We've already started on a number of projects. About all I can do is pack and paint, so I do what I can while the kids are napping. Billy has the hard stuff: replacing quarter round, putting new tile in the kitchen floor, installing bathroom fixtures, getting the yard in shape, etc. The problem is he's still teaching summer school half days plus working on a writing certification that requires him to read and summarize 30 books and articles over the next few months. He has to work on that a couple of hours each night.
Our deadline is July 6. I plan on posting room-by-room updates to share our progress as we go. Hopefully it won't be too boring. These are the helpers we hired:

Looks to me like they're goofing off on the job. Why is it so hard to find good help these days?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Adoption Day: Part 2

The huge weight that has been sitting on our hearts the past 19 months has finally been lifted. Besides that, there's the relief of no more monthly reports, no more filling out medication logs, no more visits from case workers, and no more trainings to attend. We are finally a "normal" family! :)

Here's Joe hanging out on stage before the ceremony began. I am so proud of him - he was very well-behaved the entire day, even though we were out long past naptime.

Here's Daniel sporting a lei. He got tired of it pretty quickly and kept yanking it off, so I decided not to force it. Note the lump on his forehead where I accidentally elbowed him. Great job, Mommy.
This is the mad dash to get pictures taken with the judge. Since we had arrived at the Justice Center early we got seats up front and didn't have to wait very long.

Eating cupcakes. We scraped the icing off so it wasn't too messy. (Hey, the kids didn't know the difference and there's only so long we can get away with those kinds of things.)

Cousins! We were so happy that my sister Rebecca, her husband, and their two daughters joined us for our happy day. Lydia and Ruth are awesome with our kids and I know they are going to be great role models for Mikea as she grows up!

I have one more great story to share about adoption day. About a year and a half ago Billy and I took our kids to the park. Daniel and Mikea were still infants and Joe was around 16 months old. We met a lady named Sabina who was there with her husband and kids. Sabina was very interested in our story because she and her husband wanted to adopt and were considering foster-adoption, but didn't know very much about it. Through talking with her, we realized she had just met our own caseworker at an adoption fair. Sabina was so amazed by the coincidence and remarked how it seemed "meant to be" that we met that day at the park. We talked a few of times on the phone, but lost touch after a couple of months. We never found out if they were ever placed with children. Fast forward to this past Thursday when our adoption coordinator brought the final paperwork over to our house for us to sign. She commented that she had just been with another family in a nearby neighborhood and that they were also adopting Friday. Curious, I asked if the woman's name was Sabina. It was! We were so excited when we saw them at the adoption ceremony. Sabina remarked again how it all seemed "meant to be" that we were there on the same day (especially after all of the delays with Mikea). Well, in talking with Sabina we discovered that the little girl they just adopted has the exact same birthday as Joe. August 5, 2006. What are the chances? They are an amazing family because in addition to their four biological children and the little girl they just adopted, they are also fostering another infant and are trying to get placement of the little girl's younger brother, also an infant. That would make seven children! It's incredible to see how God can use us in his plan for other people's lives. What seemed like a chance meeting at the park wasn't really chance at all. It was all arranged by God!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Adoption Day: Part 1

Adoption day was both exhilarating and exhausting! We scrambled to get out of the house on time, left 15 minutes late, but still arrived 30 minutes early for the ceremony. Go figure. The kids became very restless before the ceremony began, and Mikea was crying when it was our turn. But she got quiet when we stood up to hear the judge say, "Your adoption is granted." Hallelujah!

Before the ceremony began, leis were given to everyone.

Here is the table of cupcakes and stuffed animals for the children. The kids who were adopted today also received lovely blankets made by a local Democrat group. (We won't hold that against them.)

Can you tell this is one happy girl?

Here we are with Judge Montemayor. We were excited that Nana was able to join us. She's Billy's grandmother and the kids' great-grandmother. (In other news, please ignore the location of Daniel's index finger.)

This is our attorney, Mr. Tarver. Today was the first day we met him and he was awesome! He couldn't have been nicer and added a positive energy to the day. He played with the kids and took a lot of pictures. Daniel especially wanted Mr. Tarver to hold him, which is funny because Dan's usually shy around strangers. (Purely by coincidence, Mr. Tarver was also Mikea's birthmother's attorney ad litem. We didn't find this out until a couple of weeks ago.)

All in all it was a wonderful celebration and we are beyond thankful that this day finally arrived! Twenty-seven new families were created today, with over 30 children being adopted. Our county has the highest number of foster-adoptions in the nation! I think that's something to be proud of!

I'll share a few more photos and stories in another post either tomorrow or Sunday.

Meet Mikea!

Our little sweetheart is now legally, officially, 100% ours! I will post pictures from the adoption ceremony later on, but for now enjoy the ones above, kindly taken and put together by our friend Jamie. Thanks, Jamie! And thank you to everyone who has been praying for us the past 19 months. Our prayers have been answered above and beyond what we ever dreamed! Praise God!

Monday, June 8, 2009

What Did You Just Say?

If you visit our household on any given day, you'll probably hear the words "no" and "mine" more than you thought possible. It was over a year ago that Joe's speech therapist taught him to say (or sign) the word "mine", and I guess it's no surprise that Dan and Kiki learned quickly what a useful word it is.

They use other words of course, like water, ball, doggie, etc. But lately I have been amazed at some other words they are starting to use. With Daniel, it was when he said "animal" at the beach. Dan is the least talkative of the three, so that's why it was such a surprise to us. Fortunately he doesn't seem to have the same issues Joe does with forming letter sounds, so we think he's just naturally quiet.

Joe's expressive vocabulary is really starting to take off. He'll attempt just about any word you ask him to say and last week he said his first two -word phrases "Kiki plate" and "Joe big". On Saturday he was playing with a plastic container with a flip top lid. He kept saying "ma-naise" over and over, until it dawned on me he was saying "mayonnaise". The container was an old mayonnaise container. The funny thing is, I don't remember calling it that. Maybe once or twice. It's certainly not a word I use every day.
Last night as we were getting ready for bed, Kiki pointed to my shirt and said "a-mo". It sounded very similar to how the kids pronounce "animal" and "Elmo", but there were no pictures of animals or Elmo on my shirt. What was on my shirt? The Alamo. Here's one more little funny story about Kiki. I am trying to teach the kids to say "excuse me" when they pass gas. The other day when this happened, Kiki got a little excited and confused and instead of saying "excuse me" she said "choo-choo!"
The great thing is that they all seem to be learning from each other. I can't wait until they start having conversations with each other. I can only imagine how funny it will be.
Finally, this picture has nothing to do with this post, but I think it's adorable and who couldn't use a little adorable on a Monday morning?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Craft Day

Yesterday I was feeling guilty about not doing enough art activities with the kiddos so I took a deep breath and brought out the paint. Joe did a great job and was remarkably conscientious about not getting paint here, there, and everywhere. (He has an odd tendency towards neatness. Odd to me, at least.)To be expected, the other two were more interested in playing with the paint than actually painting.

Kiki was likewise covered in green and blue paint.

In the afternoon we made lion masks:
Hmmm, so they look more like tigers. . . oh well. Dan and Kiki weren't really able to do much by themselves and somehow I ended up covered in glue when we finished, but they all had fun and that was the point!

Monday, June 1, 2009


Soon this little cutie will be officially be our daughter! We are almost certain we will be able to adopt on June 12.

Then I won't have to hide her pretty face anymore!