February 28, 2009

Photo Shoot

It's been nine months since we became a family of seven. In my mind, we are way overdue for a family portrait. I'm the only one out of seven who feels that way. Sad, but true.

I convinced Seth to relent on his 'no formal portrait' policy. That seemed like the biggest hurdle. I began dreaming about the amazing family photos we would have. The more I thought about it, the bigger and better it became. Pictures of Sally and Josiah in their traditional Ethiopian outfits, pictures of just the boys, just the girls, changes of clothes, outside, inside...on and on it goes. Then I realized that to have the beautiful portraits means taking the family into a studio. Taking five children into a portrait studio and asking them to sit still, smile, change your clothes, don't touch anything, and please stop making that ridiculous face.

My dreams dissolved. Sort of.

I decided that I may not be capable of braving the studio, but I am courageous enough to yell at correct my children in the privacy of my own home. So I offered them a deal: do what I want, when I ask and then you dress up in whatever you want and I'll take those pictures too. Oddly enough, it worked.

I can't say that we got a lot of gems. I can't say that the entire time was full of laughter and giggles. But, I do feel better about getting a few cute pictures of my children.

Those are the cute ones. Letting you believe that all the photos turned out cute would be a fib. These next few are the reality of what was happening off to the side.

This photo best represents my children. Everett wanted me to be sure to mention that he is, "Christian from Pilgrim's Progress before he gets his armor." Just to clarify for those of you who were wondering. I think everyone else is self-explanatory. We still don't have a true family portrait, unless I get some talent and paste Seth and I into the picture below. Maybe we can dress up like a lion tamer and a ringmaster.

February 26, 2009

One Year Ago...

It's strange to think that just one year ago we didn't know our youngest children. We waited (for what seemed like forever) until we got the calls from the agency. So much was unknown, but we were immediately enamored with our newest family members. Nervous, but in love. This is the story of our first referral call. This is the official referral call. It's amazing to go back and read what we were feeling and thinking. All we had were a few dates, limited information, and some pictures. These faces are so familiar to me now.

A year isn't very long, but so much has changed.

February 24, 2009

Talking Tomatoes

I am sitting here to write a wonderful, beautiful, engaging post about the anniversary of our referrals. I'm a week late at it, but sure it will be worth waiting for...except all I can hear is Ella.

She's trying to finish her phonics. It's been hours. She's hung up on the word "crack" and continues to write "grack" though I erase and correct it over and over. Since her mind is melted, she is singing. It's a familiar tune with the words just so Ellaesque.

"I need to talk to tomatoes...I need to talk to tomatoes..."

I can't type. I can't think. The post will have to wait. I'm about to join her singing, because maybe tomatoes have the phonics help she needs. I'm spent.

February 14, 2009


The gravitational pull in the basement was extraordinarily strong yesterday.
We also had two inmates escape for an incredibly short period of time. I think the bonk to his head shook something loose...

February 12, 2009


Our new puppy is here. He's literally right here, sleeping on my feet as I type. I've enjoyed him most when he's keeping my toes warm. If he's not accounted for he's probably off peeing or chewing on a chair leg. Warming my feet is very nice.

All five of the kids have loved this puppy to exhaustion every day. I keep wondering how adults manage puppies. I would be so busy playing with the puppy that I wouldn't be able to get anything done. If he's tired then he's being good. Even when he's being bad, he's so cute it's hard to be too mad at him. Kind of like Josiah.
Josiah was wearing his bathrobe around today and it was all I could do to muster a weak "no" when he clobbered the dog with a car. Then he found the water bowl. He dumped it out and looked at me saying, "Wawa." Too cute to be trouble.

The Puppy isn't his name. We had much deliberation over the name of this guy. It went down one night after dinner a few weeks ago. I told everyone to give me their top two names and we would make a list. It looked like this:
Aslan (Everett just read all of the Narnia books that week)
Doodah (that was Sally voting for what Josiah was yelling at the time)
Anakin (also Sally, I don't think she know's who Anakin is, but hears her brothers talk about him)
Toenus (Everett said Mr. Tumnus but changed his mind. Ella repeated what she thought he said as her choice. I had to make up the spelling on that one)
Wolfie (from Eli)
Sludge (also from Eli, we've been reading Nate the Great)
Jim and Spock (from Seth, who said that if we didn't choose his names we wouldn't be getting a puppy anyway so why bother with the whole voting thing?)

Then we had to take a break and watch a video on youtube of Star Trek so our kids knew that they didn't want a dog named Spock who Spock was.

After that charade was over, I called out a name and we all just raised our hands if we liked it okay. Oddly enough, when I said Toenus, no one raised their hands. All eyes turned to Ella and Seth said, "Uh, Ella, that was your pick. You should at least vote for it." Then she half-heartedly put her hand up and said, "I didn't pick that name." Huh?

I picked the top three from that vote and told everyone that they could only vote once this go around. Then tears and sobbing began from Sally because Anakin didn't make the cut. Both of Everett's names did and that caused some contention. Neither Jim nor Spock were on the list...it got ugly.
The next day, we were reading Farmer Boy. I mentioned that Almanzo would be a funny dog name because we could call him Manny. All four voices chirped out, "Yeah, Manny!" So...here's the newest member of the clan..."Almanzo 'Manny' Puppy Stop Chasing Her Drop It NO!"
I think it's a delightful name. He looks more like an Aslan to me, but don't tell my kids I said that.


I've been sitting here for at least 10 minutes trying to figure out what I want to write. My week has been hectic, to say the least, and I think my brain just gave up. Monday, Seth left for the week. My basement began flooding before he left, but we both thought it was all the snow melting. That blasted snow, feet of it, heaped all over the place, melting and coming into my basement. Though, the hubby left, the snow left, and the water was still there. Being sucked up with a wet vac and dumped by yours truly every few hours. That sentence doesn't even do it justice. Six gallon vacuum times three trips up the stairs equals eighteen gallons emptied every couple hours. Exhaustion. By the way, water doesn't know when you need sleep. But that isn't what I'm supposed to be writing about.

I can't end there. Honestly, it gets better. I finally threw a hissy fit and called Seth during his conference to leave a hissy message about me being alone with water, puppy, and five children. He called me back and told me to call a plumber since obviously something else was going on with the basement. It was a huge detergent cap stuck in the pipe leaving the house. Added to it were a few socks, a ball, a Lightening McQueen car, and (get this) on the very top was a keycard to the Addis Ababa Hilton. We were there in MAY! So that drain has been clogged since before May. My washing machine has been draining into the nether-regions under my house since May. I'd be hard pressed to think of a more ridiculous situation...if I hadn't already experienced the shut-off-valve-shooting-off-causing-dining-room-ceiling-to-collapse scenario. That (hopefully) will top all other 'stupid house stories' for the rest of my life.

With all of that said, today was the highlight of the week. I woke up with a fear that we would get to the doctor's office and they would tell Sally that she couldn't take the cast off. That didn't happen though! I'm pretty fried, but managed to throw my camera into the diaper bag this morning. It was still there when we got to our appointment after lunch so I documented our visit.
Sally's terrified of The Saw. She only started to ask about it a few days ago, but knew that was the only way out of the cast. A few tears escaped before The Saw Man arrived, then she let loose with a complete meltdown. As I held her down I heard myself saying, "Well, do you wanna just live the rest of your life in this thing?" I'm so compassionate. Meanwhile, Josiah's screaming bloody murder from the stroller because he, also, is so compassionate. Who wants to cry alone?
She's mustering a smile for me, but still pretty nervous. This time around there wasn't an odd collection tucked into her cast. No rotting dimes, no barrettes, just lots and lots of glitter (due to her glitter and gloss make-up kit).

Sally strutted her stuff right out of that office. To my (and everyone else's) amazement, she refused to put the cast back on and wanted just her old brace. She's got a 'little' belly and we had to squeeze her into that thing. I think, if given the option, she'd rather stop breathing and fit into the brace than wear the cast. At home, the Bigs were so thrilled. Everett looked at Sally and said, "You just look SO cute!" Eli told her that when she gets to church she'll walk into her class and they will say, "Hi, who are you? You don't look like the Sally that we know."

It's been four months since she's soaked in the tub. I had to drain the bathwater once just so she wasn't sitting in filth. Even after that, the water was brown the second time and had (skip this if you have a weak stomach) bits of flesh floating around in it. You may opt to skip the last picture if that made you cringe.

Though her back is healed and strong, it doesn't look like a completely healthy back. She'll probably never look like you or I, but as time passes and she gets older, it will change. We are hopeful that she will gain some weight once she isn't taking so many medications. Then hardware along her spine won't be so evident. She's standing up straight without assistance, to me, that's a beautiful sight.

February 5, 2009

7 Days

Next week is highly anticipated around our house. On Tuesday our furry new family member will actually come home with us. He's adorable. He's very adorable because I'm not responsible for his messes right now. As exciting as that may be we are all eagerly awaiting next Thursday.

The cast is coming off. Are you jumping out of your skin with excitiment?! I am. I'm sick of the cast on so many levels. Sally has a hard time: bathing, sleeping, using the toilet, dressing, buckling into the carseat, putting on socks, picking anything up, eating, reading, and, last but definitely not least, keeping her pants up. The pants up thing is the irritation of my days. Five minutes won't pass before someone mentions Sally's 'buns are showing'. She's destined to be a plumber. I get the delightful job of yanking her clothes back up to the proper position and scraping my knuckles on her cast. Every. Single. Time. My hands are already raw, but the cast really does me in. Small price to pay for a nice strong back, though.

A few weeks ago I went back and re-read posts from this summer. Just reading about everything stirred up those emotions again and I found myself crying. I'm still in disbelief that we are on the other side of this mountain. I can't praise God enough for his care and for answering prayers on Sally's behalf. I still can't understand the entire situation. Why did she contract TB...why did she live while others died? I do know that she's a special girl and we are so blessed to have her in our family. I should be satisfied with that, and thankful that we are almost done with medication (6 more months) and orthopaedic doctors (3-6 months in a brace)!