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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

12.28.2010

What Was I Thinking?

Imagine, if you, will a family nestled between the mountains in Virginia.  Things were good with that family of eight plus a dog in the month of September 2010.  But this sweet boy, Jack,

 (Is there a shadow above his lip?  Or is that my imagination?)

really wanted a puppy for quite some time.  He had Millie, a lab mix.  But, Millie was 12 years old and did not play much.  Millie spent her days walking around the property, tromping through the woods, bringing home bones from unknown sources.  Back in the days of her youth, Jack would write Millie love letters and feed her M & M's.  But, as Jack got older, Jack wanted some excitement. 

(Millie, avoiding Moxie)

So, we headed to a puppy home.  We were all excited about this new addition to our family.  We just knew Millie would love the new puppy, and Jack just knew he would take care of her.


Aren't puppies just adorable when they look like little piggies and sleep all day and night?


But wait!  That was 3 1/2 months ago!  Now we don't have a little piggy, we have a Chocolate Lab from the crazy farm and Jack forgot his puppy duties!


Moxie is trouble.  She goes room to room looking for tissue paper to eat.  She did this to our bathroom:


She chews wood from our woodpile, tries to climb in the girls bathtub, licks our shower dry.  She terrorizes Millie and wants to play all the time.  She climbs over Christmas presents to drink from the Christmas tree.  She has ruined many of Jack's clothes with her playful biting:


Moxie has jumped in the pond a few times.  If something is missing in the house, Moxie probably took it or ate it.  She nudges her way to get the closest spot near the fireplace and tries to ease her way onto the furniture, thinking we won't notice a 40 pound puppy sitting next to us.  Her jowls overflow with drool and has to be cleaned off before entering the house.


She chases the girls in the snow and rips the hats, scarves, and gloves from their freezing bodies and runs away with them.  She causes chaos and confusion.  But... Jack loves her.  I think Millie is starting to like her.  I even caught Millie playing with Moxie one day.  Millie acts like she doesn't like her, but we know better.  Sometimes they even nap together.  It's definitely been interesting having a puppy with all the children.  Don't get me wrong.   I am getting quite attached to the over-sized drool hound.  She behaves just like one of the children.  I just hope no one else in the family wants another puppy.

12.26.2010

Christmas 2010

It is hard to believe that this holiday has come and gone.  We all had a great time.  What a variety of ages to buy for!  Jordan and Seth are difficult and pricey.  Jack was quite easy this year since he LOVES geography and states.  Eva and Joy are still young and easy to please.  And then there is Ivy.  This was her first Christmas ever, and I think she really liked it all.


On Thursday evening, we visited family we had not seen and/or met in some times.  There was lots of food and play time for the children.  Then on Christmas Eve, everyone opened one gift picked out by the folks (that would be me and Mike).  Ivy, Eva, Joy, and Jordan wanted to sleep by the fire, near the tree.  So, we gathered up the sleeping bags and the whole gang piled in.

Seth, not wanting to be seen in a pink sleeping bag.  Enough said.

"Thanks, Dad!"

Dora in Chinese.  I'm trying to have Ivy retain her Chinese language, but she's losing it.

Jordan's first try at an origami elephant.

 My favorite gift from Jordan.

Later that day, we had a nice dinner of beef tenderloin, twice baked potatoes, salad, and brussel sprouts (yes, they were scrumptious!).  This year, Mike grilled the beef tenderloin.  Two year ago, we all (except Jordan) got sick after our tenderloin dinner.  Let's just say it does not taste good the second time 'round.  Last Christmas we opted out of beef completely.  We thought we'd give it a try again this year.  It was perfect.  Mike had his doubts.  He still can't shake the memory of Christmas 2008.


We ended the night spending a fortune at the movies for all 8 of us.  It is slowly becoming a family tradition to head out on Christmas night to the theater, but only if a decent movie is showing.

Our White Christmas!

12.24.2010

Thoughts on the Mothers

When we adopted Eva and Joy, I did not think about their birth mothers very often.  Yes, they crossed my mind at certain milestones, but not on a regular basis.  Now that the girls are older, I'm older, and we have Ivy, I cannot help but think about their mothers.  What were their reasons for giving up their daughters?  

I wonder about Ivy.  Was she abandoned because of her cleft?  Maybe her mother could not afford to repair her lip?  Was she scared by what she saw?  Or is a sweet image of her newborn daughter forever stamped upon her mind?


 Eva's abandonment was obviously not because of her physical appearance or abilities.  She was a beautiful, healthy, baby girl.  I don't know how her mother or father came to the decision they made.  Was Eva the firstborn child?  A girl, when they wanted/needed a boy?  Was she a second child that the parents could not afford, yet could not abort.  Was her birth mother unwed?  There are so many questions that I cannot answer for my sweet daughter.


 Of course, with Joy, I have the same thoughts as with Ivy.  Joy's disability is a birth defect on her hand, probably amniotic banding.  I know for me, I was not bothered by that.  Maybe it was more than a young mother wanted?  Joy is from a very small village near Wuchuan, a farming community.  Was her family too poor to care for Joy?


 Do their mothers think of these girls around their birthdays?  Do they have regrets?  Did they hope for more for their daughters?  Did they know it was possible they'd be adopted and move to America?  As I look at my daughters' hands, I wonder whose hands they have?  Their mothers'?  Their fathers'?


 Who does Eva get her snorty laugh from?  Did Ivy always have such a gentle disposition about her?  Did either of Joy's parents have her temper?  Whatever their reasons are, I'm thankful that they did choose life for their daughters.  I'm thankful that I've been given the wonderful blessing of being their mother.  I've not yet had to explain any of these things to my daughters.  But when a question as simple as "Why do we have belly buttons?" sets off a trail of thoughts through my mind (adoption, abortion, communism, politics, abandonment), I'm thankful I have some time for God to give me words of wisdom because I don't have it all figured out.  But, being a mom, loving my children the way I do, I can only believe that these mothers loved their daughters in a way I cannot comprehend. 

Warming up by the fire after bath time.

12.22.2010

My Baking-Crazy Daughter

She may not be a chef, but she can bake!  Jordan made all the Christmas cookies this year.  The first batch went rather quickly after Thanksgiving (thanks to an unnamed son who is 16 years old).  So, even though she was sick and missed some work, she still managed to make cookies the last couple of days.

 Christmas cut-outs

 Snowballs....uhummm, Mike and I ate most of them.  I ate spoonfuls of powdered sugar.

 Peppermint Divinity.....so sweet, yet so easy.

And of course, my favorite, gingerbread!  These were baked to perfection!!  Thank you, sweet Jordan.


Now...where can I hide these where Seth cannot find them? 

12.17.2010

Results

We still have all containers of ice cream with just a bit missing.  That is a major accomplishment around this house.  My eldest son did manage to sneak in a large bowl before noon today.  He forgot my new law?  So soon?  He said he had no recollection of that law....  So, here's my bowl of chocolate.  Not too good after only 2 days.  But, I'm as guilty as the rest of them. 


As suggested, I took a day off school for the snow.  Well, except for Ivy, who would prefer doing school.  Eva, Ivy, Jack, and Seth had fun.  Joy played around a bit, but got cold rather quickly.  Moxie is having some obedience issues in the snow.  She wants to chase the kids while they are sledding, risking tearing their jackets and gloves.  She's just a crazy dog, getting too big too fast.  
Then we had the crazy guys, Mike and Seth.  Mike took Seth to do some donuts in the truck in a controlled environment, a parking lot.  Apparently, they also did some skitching(?) down the road going 40 mph.  I'm glad I was not there to observe it all, but Seth sure enjoyed it.


And why does my 16 year old have to be crazy, sitting in the snow on an unfinished deck with no stairs?


At least I have one sane child who knew what to do when it was cold and snowy outside.

Sweet Joy

12.16.2010

We Have A Problem

It seems like a high number of members of our family lack self control.  Candy/junk food just does not last in our house.  If I left certain unnamed children alone with certain food items, there would not be any of those items left.  I have 2 children of a certain gender who will actually attempt, sometimes successfully, to eat large bowls of ice cream for breakfast.  Yesterday, after Mike returned home from the store with lots of stuff, I had to lay down the law regarding the consumption of junk.  I'm putting them to the test.

 

How long will 5.25 pounds of chocolate last in our house when left on a countertop?  My guess is not very long.  I may even have a problem.

On to another topic...Ivy's recovery.  She is doing quite well.  I'm very proud of her physical toughness of enduring what she has.  But, I do have to say she is a bit emotional and cries over things that I would not give a second thought to.  For example...she is taking an antibiotic for 10 days.  On day 6 she cried because she did not want to take anymore yummy augmentin.  We went for her post-op check yesterday.  The doctor took the bandage off her hip.  Dare I post a picture?  Will it make you ill?  I'll pass in case you are eating breakfast.  Anyway, now she can have a bath instead of a shower.  She still has to eat soft foods, and I still cannot pull her lip up to look at it or brush her top teeth.  Next week, I get to brush her teeth.  As for now, we are brushing the bottom and rinsing with warm salt water.  Her cheek is now bluish green from the bruising, but all the swelling has gone down.  This is not a real good picture, but she looks happy.


She still has has the dissolving stitches in her nose waiting to dissolve.  And she still walks with a limp, but it is less each day.  She sure has come a long way from last week.  I'm glad to have this major surgery behind us.

I guess I am off to do some school with the children.  But, who wants to do school when this is going on outside?


I'd rather sit around in my robe and drink tea.

12.10.2010

On the Mend

Yesterday, Ivy had a difficult day.  Her nose dripped blood half the day, and she was just plain sore on her hip.  Her head hurt from the swelling.  Of course, she stayed in her pajamas all day, watching movies.  I think they watched Go Diego a few times, 2 episodes of Little House on the Prairie, and Yours Mine and Ours.  That time in front of a screen is not allowed, but I thought surgery was a good excuse.


Seth decided Little House was not too bad.

Ivy slept soundly last night.  I don't think she moved very much.  I put her to bed at 9:00 with an ice pack on her face.  When I went to bed around 11:30, she was in the same position.  When she woke up this morning, I was relieved to see that she did not have more swelling, but looked about the same.  Her bruises are becoming more prominent on her cheek and lips.  Ivy decided on a shower this morning, and she even put clothes on instead of her jammies.  It always makes one feel better.  I'm hoping tomorrow is even a better day in her recovery.

12.08.2010

Surgery

We arrived at the hospital at 6:30 this morning.  We were supposed to be there at 6:15 a.m.  But, since they never take anyone on time, I thought I'd be okay.  But, I was whipping us around the parking garage rather quickly when Ivy said, "Mom, we're going very fast.  You might hit someone."  I'm just a very punctual person, and did not want to be too late.  Once we checked in.....we waited, and waited.  Then after we got checked in, we had to check in to another place.  Then we waited....and waited.  It was all so interesting to Ivy.  Once we were taken back to get her dressed into those lovely hospital gowns, she started feeling defenseless.  I tried to make light of it all, but she was not having any of it.  Then we prayed right before we went back to the Operating Room.  She broke down and started her silent crying.  I felt so sorry for her.  I was dressed like the doctor with the full gear, hat, mask, slippers.  I don't think she liked that too much.  Once she was put on the gurney and given some gas, she was gone.  I left to do some work on prescriptions, and the doctor did his thing.

I was in the cafeteria when Dr. P. showed up telling me all went well even though it was a difficult procedure.  Ivy was still in recovery, so I headed over to the pharmacy to get her prescriptions.  Once there I received a call saying she was in her room on the pediatric floor.  I walked into the room to find her sucking on a Popsicle watching Dora the Explorer.  Later on, she decided to play Play Station.


Her face is very swollen on one side and slightly bruised.  She has stitches coming out of her left nostril.  Her left hip is all bandaged up from the bone graft, but she is doing very well.  Ivy has a constant drip of blood coming out of her nose, but it apparently bothers me more than it bothers her.  Dr. P. also pulled the other front baby tooth, which was loose.  Ivy did not even know it was loose?  How can that be?  We got home around 5:00 p.m.  Ivy had some broth, took some meds, and is now sleeping peacefully in my room.  She's a trooper.  Thank you, everyone, for your prayers.

I'm sure I don't look this sweet when I'm asleep.

12.06.2010

What A Difference A Year Makes

It is hard to believe that a year ago, I was having extreme difficulties with immigration for Ivy's adoption.  My I800 was approved, but was still on my officer's desk weeks later.  All my calls to my officer went unanswered, as did my emails.  My officer's only response was, "I requested the information and cannot send the I800 to the National Visa Center until I receive the old file."  That old file was the adoption that we did not complete in 2009.  After numerous calls to NVC and the Consulate, I found out that no file was requested or on its way back to immigration.  Did they not understand that I was waiting to go get this little girl?




I weaseled my way to a supervisor at the NBC, who took my file from my officer.  Then finally, the sweet lady who was head of the adoptions unit at the consulate in Guangzhou emailed my complete 2009 file to the NBC.  Then the nice supervisor from the Visa Center named Al cabled my file immediately (instead of days later) to China.  Once again, the sweet lady at the consulate immediately, as in same day, issued my Article 5.  So, that long wait was not so long thanks to these kind people along the way.  But, it was not until January 21, that we received our TA.  


Anyhow, the point of this post is the title.  Now, a year later, we are waiting to celebrate the birth of our Savior with our new daughter, Ivy.  A year ago she knew nothing of Jesus, salvation, heaven, family, love.  Now, a year later Ivy is taking piano lessons, playing Christmas music for us.  She has learned English very well, and is quickly progressing to 2nd grade.  She is happy and secure in her new family.  Now, a year later, Ivy is having surgery on her cleft.  On Wednesday, bright and early, Ivy and I will head to the hospital.  She'll be having a bone graft to fill in her missing bone in her gum line.  She's anxious, I know.  I asked her if she was scared.  She started crying her usual quiet cry.  I ask for prayers, that all will go well, and that Ivy will not be afraid.  I tried reminding her that she has already had surgery on her lip that she has no memory of.  I'm not sure if that hurt or helped.  The one thing she is excited about is the fact that she gets to sleep in our bedroom Tuesday night and as many nights that is necessary for me to feel comfortable.  Ahh, sweet girl Ivy.


Notice that big, brown puppy?  She weighs more than Eva now.

I'm not sure if we'll be able to tell a difference from the outside after Ivy's surgery.  Her lip/nose revision will occur some time in the next couple of years.  But, once she heals, she will get braces to move that front permanent tooth that no one can see into the proper place.

Our first snow this weekend

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