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Welcome to my family blog. I have been married to Mike for over half of my life. I love my Savior, Jesus. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to six terrific, interesting children. My 3 oldest were born to me in my younger years, while my 3 youngest were given to me by God in my older years. I am very blessed. ~Cheri


Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, it is a day late, but it has been busy around our house.  On Wednesday, we put up our Christmas tree.  Jordan will be busy with work and school, but wanted to get the tree up while she had some time off.  So, we did a little decorating for half of Wednesday.

Mike's mom bought us this sweet Christmas ornament in 2006, right after we returned home from China with Eva..

Then, in 2007 after returning home with Joy, she purchased this one (get it?  "Joy"ful journey?)...

I love putting these ornaments on the tree every year.  They are very special to me.  Jack actually broke the first one in 2006, which my mother-in-law replaced.

Here is another special one that we all look forward to hanging on the tree.  Ivy thought it was Seth, but it is Mike in 1975...

In between the decorating, we did some cooking and baking.  Jordan was a big help, and I really enjoy being with her.  She usually does all the Christmas cookies for me.

Jordan made this turkey in 1998.  I always forget to put it out.  This year I managed to fill it with Hershey Kisses, which lasted half a day.

Then yesterday, Jordan asked me to go into the living room.  She had a Christmas present for me.  She told me that I needed to open it now, not on Christmas day.  And this is what I received from my thoughtful daughter.  I had one a long time ago, that I dropped down the stairs.  My granny had a green one very similar to this, which I loved to look at when I was a child.  I was so excited when I saw it.

We had a great Thanksgiving dinner.  Ivy asked why we were eating so much food and not doing school (my studious child, who I can't keep busy enough in school).  She did not like turkey, but loved the cranberries and sweet potatoes.  Both Eva and Joy asked for seconds on the cranberry sauce.  Mike does a great job.  They are always perfect.


The Thing About the Boys...

...they are old enough to do some serious work around the house.  I miss the cutesy age when they played army all day long, their imaginations as big as the sun.

Seth never came in the house the right way.  He was usually climbing onto our back deck, climbing on the roof, or repelling off something.  I gave up worrying about him.  I'm thankful God gave me cautious Jack.  He always tested the adventure making sure it was doable, safe, before diving head in.

But, now, in a blink of an eye, it is gone.  Gone are the days of sticking their hands in the exhaust pipe to cover their faces black.  Gone are the days of climbing the highest tree on the property, swinging off branches.  I miss the innocent play days.  It is time for other things.  Like working.

And texting.

Wasn't is just yesterday that I counted those toes to make sure there were 10 of them?  Oh, that was almost 17 years ago.

 Now, I have 2 young men in the house.  They are exhausting, fun, difficult, easy, happy, sad, trying, to say the least.  My heart just aches with love for them as I watch them grow, make mistakes, live life.

I'm glad God knows what He is doing, because most of the time, I surely don't.


The Thing About Little Girls...

...they'll let you braid their hair, put in bows or ribbons every day.

My girls will draw beautiful pictures or write stories for me.

There are always little piggies that need painting.

(notice that all 3 girls have different skin tones)

They will bring me presents of legos, wrapped in a bandanna, sealed with a hair bow.

They are always drawing, making their masterpieces on anything available!

My girls have the happiest eyes.

Sometimes, I get wrapped up in the day to day life of caring for my family.  I forget to really appreciate them for who they are.  I don't want to miss it.  Holding Eva's long body yesterday evening made me realize how quickly these last 4 years with her have sped by.  Last night, she woke up crying from a dream.  I lay next to her, holding her tight, rubbing her back.  It is amazing just what a mother's touch can do for a child without saying a word. 


New Shoes

I've been needing to buy Ivy some winter clothing.  I had purchased some jeans/khakis in September, but she prefers the soft fabric of leggings.  Since Ivy is having surgery in less than 4 weeks, I thought I should buy some soft pants for her.  She will be having her cleft/gum line repaired.  The doctor will be doing a bone graft, using bone from her hip, thus the need for soft pants soon.  She's hard to buy for since she is still so tiny 'round.  I had to buy 6/6x, and am hoping that I get the winter season out of them since we're cutting it close on the length.  Once at the mall, I realized that Ivy needed some shoes, too.  We had plenty of sandals for her.  Since the weather is still comfortable around here, she still wears them when she goes out to play.  But, I bought her a pair of black Mary Janes.  

She was so cute because she wanted to put them on as soon as we got home.  Then she was just so proud and excited about those shoes she wore them all evening and then asked me if she could put them in her closet.  It is so funny the things we just assume she knows and take for granted.  I'm glad that new shoes make her happy.

The shoe store had a video screen up and Go Diego, Go! was playing.  As we were walking by the screen, all my children were watching, but wouldn't you know that Joy had to be the one who walked right into a whole display of Iron Man tennis shoes, about 20 boxes, and knocked them all down.  Poor girl was so upset she started crying.  My mother-in-law calls her a "bull in a China cabinet."  

Speaking of Joy, I found her sleeping in a hall closet again.  I guess the darkness puts her right to sleep, and she is still in need of a nap.


A Sad Day

Teaching Ivy about God has been an interesting process.  While I was in China with her, I did not pray for her openly until just days before we left for home.  I knew I could not explain in my words to her about her Savior.  I waited until she knew I loved and cared for her before I lay my hands on her head, closed my eyes and spoke a short, sweet prayer over her heart and body.  She just looked at me, smiled that goofy smile, and softly snorted through her nose, then went to sleep.  She eventually got used to our prayers every night, even expecting them.  Once home, she knew the routine of our bedtime prayer.

Once Ivy started understanding English, and we started school, everything just fell into place.  I like teaching My Father's World to Ivy because it speaks the truth in a way a child can understand it.  So, after I taught about the first days of creation, I told her about Adam, Eve, the Garden, and disobedience.  The story was told so sweetly.  Adam and Eve disobeyed.  I told Ivy how God went to the garden that evening, how He knew they sinned, disobeyed.  How sad it must have been to know that they had disobeyed their creator.  They were banished from the beautiful Garden of Eden.  I, of course, got choked up reading the story to her.  But, when I looked at her, she had tears dripping down her cheeks.  It truly was a sad day.  Ivy understood.  She got it.


Seth and Jack

Yes, we are finished with soccer for a while.  Seth and Mike went to a national tournament in Tennessee last week. They finished 4th in their division.  I think they all had a great time, and it was a good experience for them both.  

 Seth, with the team's trophies, not his.  He enjoyed the season.

Jack with his karate trophy and soccer medal.

Proud mom.


Jack Turns 12!

Jack was my dream for over 4 years.  After losing our 2 daughters to premature delivery and 20 weeks of bed rest carrying Seth to term, I was done with children.  So, Mike and I made the decision to make it final and permanent.  No more children for us!  Then that tugging at my heart started when Seth was about 6 months old.  What have I done?  Surely, we made a mistake when we said, "no more".  I was a mom, a newly stay-at-home mom with 2 beautiful children.  How could I ask for more?  But, I did.  I prayed day and night for another child.  I had no desire for adopting, no desire for foster care.  I wanted to carry my child in my womb.  I researched infertility treatments and reversals.  I prayed a lot.


Finally, after 4 years of prayer and research, I found a doctor in our area, and we started IVF (in-vitro fertilization).  We were very fortunate in that our insurance actually paid for the procedure, which, at that time 12 years ago was unusual.  It was all interesting...the whole process with all the doctor visits.  But, our process was rather simple.  I did not have a fertility issue, my bridges were just out, and we needed a way to get "home", by going through an alternate route.  The big day came.  We decided ahead of time, that we'd only make babies we were willing to keep.  We did not do the "fertilize all the eggs, discard the ones that did not look good".   We just said "2".  Well, those 2 were placed in my womb, and we waited.

Two days before we were scheduled for the blood test, something appeared to be wrong.  Once we had the blood work completed, I was indeed pregnant, but the levels were very low.  The doctor said, "We can let mother nature take its course, and you will miscarry.  Or, we can start giving you progesterone, and hope for the best."  Well, the mama bear instinctively said, "Give me the meds!!"  So, I started on extra progesterone daily for a few more weeks.  My next blood test 4 days later showed my levels rising at the appropriate rate (apparently, they are supposed to double every 2 days).  I kept having my blood taken for the next week, every other day.  By the time I was 6 1/2 weeks along, I was ready for that first ultrasound.  I was so nervous.  But, on the screen, I saw the most beautiful image of the tiny heart of my son, blinking away.  My doctor responded, "This is really more than I could have hoped for.  I really felt that you would come in today and there would not be a heartbeat."  I told him that we had many people praying for us.

My pregnancy continued on, and as usual, my contractions also started before the 20th week.  I was medicated with an infusion pump in my leg (as with Seth's pregnancy), and I was in and out of the hospital a couple of times trying to keep my contractions limited to under 4 an hour so I would not dilate.  When I was 35 weeks pregnant, I was taken off my infusion pump.  Imagine the joy of being able to shower without that thing hooked into my leg.  I slept so well that night.

The next morning was Saturday.  I slowly took my time getting showered and dressed.  I remember sitting in the living room with Mike.  Then it felt like I wet my pants.  I went to the bathroom.  Nothing.  I sat back down, and it really felt like I wet my pants again.  I went back to the bathroom, and lots of water came out.  So, I knew THIS WAS IT!  I told Mike that my water had just broke.  We took our time getting to the hospital.  I thought since I'd been contracting for the last 20 weeks, I could last another few hours.  Once we arrived at the hospital, there was some concern about Jack being 5 weeks premature.  But, Mike and I walked the halls, played cards, and watch Wheel of Fortune.  Finally, I could bear the pain no longer, and asked for the epidural.  I received the reply that no woman in labor wanted to hear, "You are too far along for an epidural.  You will have to deliver without one."  What?!  I was exhausted, overweight, hungry, and in pain.  I wanted my epidural!  After dozing on and off between contractions, Jack was ready to be born.  But, my doctor was no where around.  The nurse told me "don't push".  Don't push?!!  The nurse proceeded to "hold" Jack inside, waiting for the doctor.  I ended up kicking the nurse.  The nurse ended up pushing the "emergency" button, bringing all the Neonatal Intensive Care team into my room.  The NICU doctor told the nurse, "go ahead and let her go".  Wow, thank you!  Another doctor was pulled from the hall to deliver Jack.  She was great!

After NICU took Jack to check him out, I got myself cleaned up, and waited for the nurses to bring my son to me.  I waited, waited.  Finally, when I asked for him, a nurse came to my room.  She said he had to be taken to NICU to be put on antibiotics as a precaution to his irregular breathing.  Imagine my panic?  I quickly headed to NICU to nurse my baby.  He looked beautiful and perfect despite the big blood hematoma on his head from the nurse holding him in.  Yes, he had an IV in his forehead, wires all over his body, but he was just perfect.  After Jack's results came back negative, he was sent to regular nursery and his IV's were removed.  Then he became jaundice.  Very jaundice.  He could not go home with me on Monday.  So, when Monday came and I was discharged, I stayed at the hospital until late that night.  Early Tuesday morning, I headed back to the hospital and spent the whole day with him.  Jack was able to come home on Wednesday morning.  So, I was up early, ready to head out the door with everyone else to be together as a family of 5.

I was so fearful.  I was worried about Jack.  He was 5 weeks early, but seemed to be a healthy baby boy.  He slept about 22 hours a day those first few weeks.  He was slow to do the normal activities of my other children.  He did not sit up well until he was about 8 months.  He finally crawled at 11 months and walked at 14 months.  His first sentence was not spoken until the age of 3.  To this day, Jack is a young man with few words for anyone.  He really has to know someone well before he will have a conversation with you.  Even saying thank you to his sister, Jordan, is like pulling teeth!  A friend once said that his goal in life was to have Jack start a conversation with him.  It never happened.  Jack is a man without guile.  He always speaks the obvious truth, even if it hurts.  He's currently engrossed with geography, populations, mountain elevations.  He knows all 50 states, and a bit of information about each.  He wants to move to Alaska, or some place with large mountains with snow on top, pine trees, and grizzly bears.  Mike's job probably won't move him to Anchorage, but that is where Jack wants to go.  Or Barrow or Nome, Alaska.  Anyone out there living in Alaska or Pacific Northwest with a view of Mount McKinley, Mount Hood, Ranier, and want some visitors, please let me know.

Jack picked out the dirt/mountain cake with worms

We played this geography/culture/language/customs game only about 6 times in the last 24 hours.  Jack now knows that the president who was also an actor was Ronald Reagan, not Bill Clinton.

Jack is my sweetie.  I love talking to him.  On our rides in the car alone together, he talks and asks dozens of questions.  Are people rich in Wyoming?  Why is the population there less that 1/2 a million people?  Does everyone who lives in Alaska know how to ski?  Can I breathe in high elevations?  Is there hot water in Nome, Alaska?  How long does it take to heat the water?  What kind of heat do they have?  Is there always snow on Mt. McKinley?  I get over an hour of questions while we are in the car together.  I just love hearing his inquisitive mind speak.  Thank you, Jesus, for my son, Jack.


Why Bother With Dog Food?

Moxie just eats everything else.  So far she's eaten grass, mulch, sticks, moss, crayons, legos, tissues, papers, seeds, magic markers, ink pens, bracelets, hair bows.  She even pulled a nail out of our deck.  We got it away from her before she could swallow it.  I can only imagine what else Moxie will devour.


One Soccer Season Down

Jack finished up his soccer season last week.  His team finished 2nd place for the season.  They all did a great job and had a fun time.  Jack really enjoys playing soccer, but he does not love soccer like Seth does.  Jack plays it, enjoys his team mates, but moves on.  Seth plays soccer.  He then comes home and analysis every play with Mike.  They can talk soccer for hours.

Jack scored about 10 goals this season, but he does not count them.  I try to keep track, but I also have to keep track of the 3 girls.

And speaking of soccer, Seth's team went to state last week and received 2nd place in their division.  They are currently in Tennessee this week playing in the Nationals.  They won their first game today, and will be playing a bit later, but one of the leading scorers is hurt.  Seth did not have high hopes when I last spoke to him.  Regardless, they have 3 full days of soccer fun, then it is finished until next year.  Oh, dear!  What will Seth do with his time?  Study?  Schoolwork?


The Good Thing About The Holiday Season... that I have no problems finding Christmas ornaments or clothes with Joy's name on them!

She is such a ham and loved, loved having these new PJ's.  I know it is not Christmas, but it is cool enough for the soft fleece.

Speaking of Joy, she is always full of surprises.  Although she is only 8 months younger than Eva (who was having serious conversations before the age of 2), she is years behind emotionally.  In some ways, she still acts like a baby.  I don't quite understand that because she is quite clever.  Yesterday, I would spell a short-vowel, 3-letter word with blocks and have Joy sound out the words without pictures.  She could do it.  She could do it when Eva could not.

If the word was map, Joy would start with mmmm-aaaa-pppp, map!  Eva would sound all the letters out and then say pat!  Am I looking at dyslexia issues, or is Eva just struggling with the sound order?  We'll keep trying and see what happens.  Joy just struggles to stay interested in the reading.  I know that Eva really wants to be able to read.  Joy could care less.  She probably likes to see me so thrilled for her.

As much as Eva has her food issues, Joy has her food issues, too.  Joy just does not eat her food, but rather plays with it.  She will take a piece of her pumpkin muffin and roll it into a ball.  She pulls apart her grapes to look inside.  She will dip her fish crackers in her water, pick sprinkles off her cupcakes and cookies, lick the butter off her bread, and try to lick the strawberry filling out of a breakfast bar.  She is always the last to leave the table, usually by 30 minutes or more.

Typical scene after dinner, Joy all alone

But, oh, the sweetness.  She would sit in my lap all day long and give hugs and kisses.  This is quite surprising from a child who probably never received one hug or kiss while in the orphanage.  (A high probability our guide told us since she had recently visited Wuchuan)  

**I wanted to add a sweet thank you to everyone who responded to my previous post via comments or email.  I appreciate all the words of encouragement and every single prayer.

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