Thursday, January 31, 2008
The Public School - Part II
Thanks so much to all of you who gave me such encouraging comments. It really helps when you know others have gone through similar experiences and that you are not going crazy. Sometimes I wonder if other parents get upset or if their is something just wrong with me. Thanks for letting me know I am not alone.

We finally got things taken care of after hubby called and spoke with his counselor. The teacher refused to release Zach from the class and the counselor stopped returning my phone calls.

Dave called yesterday afternoon and amazingly got a call back a little while later. The counselor overruled the teacher and switched his class.

I do want to state that I believe we have a really good High School. We have an engineering department that may rival many colleges. Our children are able to take many classes that they would not be able to if they went to a smaller school. However, because of its size, parents need to be very pro active in making sure their childrens needs are met. We need to be confident in our rights as parents and never let the school forget that they work for us and we, the parents, ultimately will be deciding what is best for our child.

That being said.....we went to the High School baseball meeting last night. This is a required meeting for all parents. We are told the "rules".

I had heard the speech from the head coach before. I enjoyed watching the faces of the freshman parents.

Let me explain.

The baseball program is run much like the military. The players are expected to act and dress a certain way. Excuses are not accepted. If you don't wear a belt to practice you spend the afternoon running laps.

The players are given all the rules, in writing, and are expected to follow them. If they have a problem regarding the team they are expected to talk with the coach. He will not talk with a parent until the player has made the effort to resolve the problem himself.

If a player gets into trouble in class he will be sent to the coach. Forget the Prinicpal's office. The true fear is being sent to the coach during his class where he will scold you in front of his entire class. Just the thought of this keeps most players in line.

Some of the parents really dislike the coach's philosophy. I happen to love it.

At some point we have to let our kids take responsiblity for themselves. This is the perfect atmosphere to do so. The coach is hard. True. However, he is fair. He keeps his word, and I have never seen him act inapproprieately (or you know I would have gotten involved).

Last year Zach was scheduled to pitch for a Friday afternoon game. He was sick on the Thursday before and forgot to call the coach and tell him he would not be at practice that day. The next day he went to school and when he arrived at the bus to travel to the game was told he would not be the starting pitcher because he had not called in sick the day before. When Dave and I arrived at the game we were surprised to see our son sitting on the bench. Some of the other parents explained to us what had happened. They encouraged us to complain to the coach as they didn't see how it was Zach's fault. I asked Zach about this after the game and he told us he forgot they were suppose to call when they were sick (this was his first year on the team) but that they had been told this was what they were required to do.

I don't really understand the parents that felt some sort of outrage for our child. He had been told what to do. He didn't do it. He suffered the consequesnces. Do you think he will ever forget this rule again? The answer is No.

Only 46 students per year of the over 5000 at this school have the opportunity to play on the three baseball teams. That is less than one percent of the school population. This is a Division I school and it is an honor to be picked for one of these teams. If our boys don't want to get the grades, act respectfully, and follow the rules I am sure their is another player who would love to take their place on the team.

At the end of the meeting I went up to thank the coach for filling out the school informatin form for our social worker. Each of the kids had to have one filled out by a teacher. He got it done in one day and sent it right off.

When I thanked him he told me how much he enjoyed having Zach on his team. That he was a really nice young man and alway very respectful of others.

Of course now I think he is the best coach ever. Ahem.

This morning I got a call from a mom of one of the freshman boys that I would say is even a bigger control freak than I am. She wanted to know if the coach really meant all that stuff he said. Yep. How will the boys ever remember all that on their own? I assured her that her son would do fine. She wasn't so sure. I asked her if she was planning on going with him to his first job to help him remember everything. Well, no she replied. Than perhaps you better let him learn now.

She wasn't very happy. Neither was I last year. Honestly, I believe it has been one of the best things for my son.

See, their is hope for me. I am learning to let my controling ways go just a little.

Have a great day my friends.

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  posted at 10:14 AM  
  8 comments



Monday, January 28, 2008
The Public School
When our oldest son, Zach, was in the sixth grade I worried about where he would go to Middle School. The local middle school was a beautiful new building which was large enough for around 2,000 students.

Can you imagine 2000 7th and 8th graders all in one place? I have to admit this is not my favorite age. I much prefer the elementary and High School years.

Anyway, I heard mixed reviews about this school from our friends and was apprehensive about sending him there.

He begged and pleaded. All of his friends were going there. He was a good kid who didn't get into trouble, why would we punish him like that he asked?

We relented. He went. We hated it. He loved it. End of story.

Two thousand students at one middle school is to many. When I would walk onto campus it felt more like a prison atmosphere. Crowd control is their number one priority. Also, my son was in an all honors program. We quickly discovered that the worst teachers were assigned to the honors students. The reasons for this being the conception that smart kids will learn no mater how bad their teachers are. Oh, the examples I could give you. I will save those for another post.

Two years later when it was Tyler's turn to move on to Middle School we did not hesitate. He would not go to that school.

We enrolled him in a private Christian School which we love. His sister, Samantha, followed him there the next year and we prayed for a money tree to sprout abundantly in our back yard.

Now, lets move on to High School.

Our High School is a California Distinguished School and was listed in U.S. World and News Reports as one of the best High Schools in the nation (its in the top 100).

Zach is now in his second year at this school. Again, I really don't like it. There are over 5000 kids at this school. In a school this big you had better find somewhere to be involved or it would be very easy to feel that you are just a number.

Our oldest has done well at this school. As you know, if you read this blog at all, he plays on the baseball team and gets great grades. Again, he loves the school.

My conversation recently with his counselor is one of the reasons I don't like this school. I had called to get him out of his CAD class (Computer Animated Drafting) for the second semester. He was doing well in the class but really was not enjoying it. He has a health class that he needs to take before graduation. I wanted him to take that class second semester to get it out of the way.

When I spoke with his counselor, whom I actually like very much, he told me Zach would have to get his teacher to sign a form releasing him from the class. OK, no problem. I called Zach at school and told him what his counselor had said. He took the correct paper to that class and explained to his teacher that he wanted to be released so he could take health the following semester.

The teacher said NO. He informed my child that his parents and counselor would not be doing him any favors by letting him out of this class. That is code I am finding out for "Your child is getting a good grade in this very difficult class and keeping my ratios up so NO I will not let him go".

This is the crux of my dislike for the public school system. They seem to think they are the parent of MY child.

Recently I received a notice from the High School stating that I had to go to a mandatory meeting with my child regarding all of his absences. He had been absent six times. I did not go.
I was informed that if I did not attend the meeting a truancy officer could come to my home and investigate.

These recent developments have just about pushed hubby and I over the edge regarding the public school system in our area.

We went and visited a near by private High School. We loved it.

However, unless that money tree sprouts in the back yard, or I get a full time job, or we stop eating all together, it is not really a realistic option for our family.

So, I decided to have a very nice heart to heart with my child's school. This is what I informed them of.

1. Zach is my child not yours. His father and I will make decisions regarding his class schedule...not you!

2. Do not send me any more letters regarding attendance meetings. I will throw them away. We, meaning his parents, will decide when he goes to school and when he DOES NOT. I am sorry you lose money when he does not attend. That is your problem not mine.

3. Please feel free to send a truancy officer or social worker to our home to investigate. I would love to speak to them about your stupid rules. I am sure they will be horrified by my sons 3.8 grade point average and his athletic awards given to him by YOUR SCHOOL.

4. You should thank God that I send my child to your school. I nicely informed the school that I had been looking for other options for my child to which I received a sputtering response that they really did not feel this would be necessary.

Really?

If you have gotten to the end of this very long post I am sure you are feeling one of two ways.

1. Thank Goodness I home school.

2. Thank Goodness she has stopped ranting and raving.

I am done now. Thank you very much.

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  posted at 7:21 AM  
  11 comments



Thursday, January 24, 2008
What I've Been Up To
1. Driving around town in circles letting my teen practice his starting, stopping and speeding.


2. Gripping tightly to any solid surface in the car as I try not to show how utterly terrified I am.


3. Repeating continuously, "You need to slow down" and "Please stop accelerating so quickly".


4. Explaining every five seconds why we cannot go through a drive thru window every time he drives no matter how fun he thinks it is.


5. Thanking God that I survived the day and that the next child won't be driving for at least 18 months.


What have you all been up to?

p.s. Hubby takes over drivers training tomorrow. I am very thankful.

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  posted at 8:52 PM  
  10 comments



Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Listening To Your Inner Voice
Before Christmas I shared with you that Dave and I took Paige (4) to a Neurologist for an evaluation. The doctor told us he could not give us an exact diagnosis until she was 6 or 7 but he felt she did have a disorder that would place her on the Autistic spectrum. Or, an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

I was upset and really not sure what to think. I started reading books and doing research. The only real symptom she has of Autism is speech delay. She does talk, but more like a two year old, not a 4 1/2 year old.

The more I read the more I questioned whether Autism really had anything to do with her condition.

Over Christmas my wonderful sister in law, Cheryl, came to visit for a few days. She is a speech therapist and has worked with children just like Paige for many years.

She was outraged by the Neurologists diagnosis. The problem seems to be that neurologists really do not understand speech and language disorders. They understand the brain. That's it. Perhaps some are lucky enough to find a doctor who understands both. Ours definitely did not.

Cheryl really feels that Paige has a language processing disorder such as Apraxia. I have been reading about language disorders and I really feel she is on the right track with this.

We have her scheduled with the school districts psychologist to be tested for various language processing disorders and she will be observing her in the classroom as well.

I am hopeful that we are on the right track and that she will be able to get into a Kindergarten program next year that is specifically geared towards children with language disorders.

So, why am I telling you all this? Studies show that 1 out of 150 children are now diagnosed as Autistic. Doctor's are throwing children from all different categories into this one lump.

I am so thankful to have a family member who has been able to help me navigate this mine field and assist us in getting Paige the help she really needs.

If I had listened to the Neurologist I would be doing nothing until she was 5 or 6. Years wasted that we could of been working on her language delays.

If you have a child that has been given a similar diagnosis and you are really not sure whether the doctor is on the right track or not, listen to your inner voice. Mom's have an uncanny ability to just feel when there kids are on the right track or when perhaps something is just not right.

Do not accept a diagnosis that just doesn't make sense to you. You know your child best. Not the doctor.

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  posted at 6:10 AM  
  9 comments



Sunday, January 20, 2008
Seen Today
Youngest daughter taking off all her clothes.


Climbing into the bath tub.


Peeing down the drain.


Turning on water to clean herself off.


Climbing out of bathtub.


Drying off.


Putting clothing back on.


Obviously this is much easier than using the toilet.


The rest of us have been such fools all these years.

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  posted at 7:57 AM  
  11 comments



Saturday, January 19, 2008
Warning: Newbie On The Road
Today hubby took Zach to get his driving permit. He could have gotten it 8 months ago but he is so busy playing baseball all the time we just haven't had time.

To be honest, I wasn't really in a hurry for him to get it.

However, today we had some time...and hubby took him.....and he passed the test.

So, for the next six months he will practice, and I will worry about the day he actually gets his license. Six months from now. The thought of one of my kids driving a car makes me feel sick to my stomach.

I'm a worrier by nature.

I am working on that.

Tonight I picked him up at the movies with some friends. On the way home he asked if we could practice driving tomorrow.

Sure, I said, with fake enthusiasm.

Sounds like fun.

Kind of like a root canal or natural child birth.

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  posted at 5:14 AM  
  6 comments



Thursday, January 17, 2008
American Idol and Our New Child....All In One Post
Last night I set the tivo to record American Idol. The kids and I watched it this evening.

I cannot stand watching people make fools of themselves. I just can't do it. I spent the majority of the time with a pillow over my face so I wouldn't have to watch.

My kids, on the other hand, were laughing uncontrolably.

Do none of these people have parents who are truthful with them? They think they can sing, but THEY CAN NOT!

Here and now I am vowing this to all my children. If you are going to make a fool of yourself I will tell you. I will not let you go on national television to have your dreams destroyed by people who do not love or care for you. No matter how funny it may be.

Moving on.

I have been having some adoption related anxiety lately. I have felt like things are moving much slower than I want them to. I want them to speed up. For some reason I cannot just sit back and let God be in control. I am really really working hard on changing that. Adoption really is a great way to grow your faith in God. It kind of throws you into the fire and you better learn how to survive.

Dave and I have also been talking a lot about adopting older children and maybe even a sibling group of 2 between 3-7 years of age. I have been feeling strongly lately that we should be adopting an older child or children. Dave isn't really opposed to this, we just really need to pray about it. Any prayers you can send our way will be greatly appreciated.

Our home study was held up because I forgot we never got our TB tests. When we originally went for our physicals it was a Friday and they told us we would have to come back because they wouldn't be open on Sunday to read the tests. So, we are going on Monday which should mean the social worker will have our faxed results by Wednesday, and hopefully can finish up the report and get it into our hot little hands.

Can you tell I am a little anxious?

Well, I am off to bed now. I seriously hope I don't have nightmares all night about guys dressed in fur robes singing bad songs. That may be more than I can take right now.

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  posted at 9:35 PM  
  9 comments



Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Every Child Is Deserving Of A Family
Our family, like many of you, sends out an update letter each year with our Christmas Cards.

This year that letter has created quite a stir.

Why you ask?

We dropped the adoption bomb.

Our joy has become other's fodder for gossip and speculation.

It is a little amusing to me that people will call one of my sisters to get more information instead of just calling Dave or I.

I am a little surprised with some of the questions we have been receiving. Questions that really aren't any ones business but ours. Personal questions.

One of the most asked questions that really burns me is "Why are you going all the way to Africa and not adopting a child from the USA?

I find this question exasperating as it some how implies that an American child is more worthy of a family than a child from another country. All children deserve the love and security that comes from being in a family that celebrates who they are are and there special gifts. God tells us in his word that Christians are to care for the orphan. No where have I read we are to only care for those who live in our own country, town or Continent.

This question exasperates me to the point where I just want to smack the person asking it.

The last time someone asked me this I actually had an epiphany and had an answer that made the person stop and think.

I was so proud of myself, though I must really give the credit to the Holly Spirit, who I am sure gave me this fantastic come back.

As this person went on and on about how many children in our country need loving homes, I very sweetly looked at her and said, oh my goodness, you seem to have a true heart for the orphans in our country. Perhaps God has put this on your heart because he would like you to do something about it. Even adopt one of these beautiful children yourself.

Blank stare ensued. No comment was made.

I read a story recently about how many Christians would love to adopt but the financial burdens of paying for the adoption seemed overwhelming. The article went on to state that if every Christian Church in our country would sponsor one family from there congregation to adopt one child most of the available children in our country would be placed. How fantastic would that be? I definitely think Church's could do much more to help the plight of the orphan. Many would donate money to help a child even if they themselves did not feel they could adopt. Something to really think about.

Our decision to adopt from Ethiopia is, of course, a very personal one. One that I can only explain as divinely determined. We considered adopting from many countries, even from our own, before finally deciding on Ethiopia. Once that decision was made I had a great sense of peace. I knew it was the right decision.

Much prayer and consideration went into the decision. We did not just throw a dart at a map. Months of research and pondering were involved. God lead us down the path to this decision and for that I am so incredibly thankful.

More on our adoption tomorrow.

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  posted at 8:42 AM  
  17 comments



Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Let's Go To The Beach
Last week the weather was really cold for California. When I say really cold I mean around 45 degrees. Us Californians wear scarfs and gloves and refuse to leave the house when the weather gets that frigid. As I have said before, we are a bunch of complaining wimps.

Paige has had enough of this cold weather and has insisted upon wearing a swim suit every day for he past week. I get her dressed in warm clothing, turn around, and off she has gone to change into her beach attire.

I tried to explain that it was the wrong season for the beach. There was no reasoning with her.


She was going to the beach.


No, I said, mommy is NOT driving you to the beach.


To which she replied "It OK mom, I take the bus".


Thankfully, after a while, playing with her horses sounded more fun than the beach.




I found her in the bathtub this morning swimming in her bathing suit.
Knowing my stubborn little girl we will be wearing gloves and scarves in July.
She is definitely a girl that does not like to take NO for an answer.
It's a good thing she is soo cute. God's protection against a frustrated parent no doubt.

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  posted at 9:38 AM  
  5 comments



Monday, January 14, 2008
One Blanket At A Time

Mary shared today that her Mom, Dad and sister will be going to Ethiopia this summer for a few months to work. Her mom is an OB nurse and will be taking donations with her to help at the clinic. She was told that what they really need are blankets for the babies. The women who come to deliver their babies usually arrive with only the clothes on their back. They would love to be able to provide each new mom with a blanket to wrap her baby in.

Can you imagine not being able to wrap your baby in a nice new warm blanket? Neither could I.

Mary has come up with a great idea to collect blankets for her family to take. She will have a paypal account up on February 1st and you can go to her sight and donate one or two or fifty blankets. Isn't that fantastic?

Obviously this is a subject very close to my heart as our family hopes to travel to Ethiopia this year to adopt a new child into our home.

You can go visit Mary over at Owlhaven for all the details. Also, feel free to grab the button and share about it on your blog.
I am very excited about the opportunity to help if even in a very small way.

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  posted at 12:34 PM  
  2 comments



Dance Fever
We had a baseball weekend. Our oldest, Zach (16), played in a tournament held at a local minor league park. It was a really nice field and it felt like you were at one of the major league stadiums. I loved listening to my sons name being announced over the loud speaker when he came up to bat. It really was great fun. He played really well and his Dad and I were very proud of him. He works very hard, you rarely see him without a bat in his hand, and he is starting to reap the rewards of all that hard work.

We let the other kids take friends to Zach's Friday night game. They had a great time running around in the stadium playing tag and all other sorts of made up games. This turned into an all nighter and we ended up with a few extra kids sleeping on the floor that night.

My sweet hubby let me go to bed and he stayed up and performed crowd control duties. He sent them to bed some time around midnight.

While I was trying to drift off to sleep earlier in the evening I could hear the vibrations of the Dance Dance Revolution game in full gear.

Here are some pics of some of our latest games. Garrett and Samantha having a dance off.
Little sister wants in on the fun.
Tyler and Samantha dancing away.
Dad got in on the action.

So, it was a fun weekend.
I'm off now to clean up the mess from all the fun.
Enjoy your Monday!

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  posted at 8:55 AM  
  3 comments



Friday, January 11, 2008
A little Bloggy Business
I am way behind in my blog posts. I told ya all that my charger pooped out on me. Hubby ordered me a new one and it finally came yesterday.

I am in the dog house with my family as their are some pictures they have been waiting for me to post and I obviously couldn't because I HAD NO CHARGER AND THUS NO COMPUTER.

My sister, Stacey, called me from South America the other day and one of the first things out of her mouth was "How come the pictures of mom and dad aren't up on the blog yet?"

So, in order to get back into the good graces of my family here are the pictures they have so patiently been waiting for.

Firstly, here is Mom and Dad in their vests my oldest sister Nancy got them for Christmas. Aren't they cute?


Here is Paige in her new chef's outfit grandma and grandpa got her. She loves to wear it and help Mom in the kitchen.

Hmm, I think it might need a little bit more of something.

A little more salt should do it.

My big sis is so cool, she even wears her shades to help me in the kitchen.

More pictures to come soon. I'm off now to make pancakes with my little helper.

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  posted at 9:41 AM  
  6 comments



Thursday, January 03, 2008
Moving At A Snails Pace
I think the majority of my family has been in their pajama's for the better part of two weeks.

Hubby and I had great plans for all the things we were going to get done around the house while he was off for the two weeks after Christmas. How many of those things have we actually gotten done or even started?

That would be none. Nil. Nada.

We did put the Christmas decorations away. It's only taken us three days of very slow movement.

Today I had to venture out and buy food. I went to three stores to stock up. The kids were so excited to actually see food in the cupboards again.

The thought of having to step it up into high gear again starting next Monday depresses me to no end.

I really don't understand why we can't spend our lives laying around in pajama's, watching movies, and playing games.

I think this might just have been the best Christmas ever. Less presents. More Jesus. Lots of down time and just being together.

For once I can't wait until next year. I'm not exhausted and tired of the mess.

When I was putting the decorations away I was actually thinking I can't wait until next year.

This has NEVER happened before.

It's taken us sixteen years but we have finally figured out how to have a great Christmas with our kids. We are slow learners.

Better late than never.

Next up. Pictures of our Dance Dance Revolution Marathon. I am really really bad at it.

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  posted at 5:06 PM  
  11 comments



Wednesday, January 02, 2008
A Devious Plan
Last summer when my sister in law, Cheryl, came for a visit we went shopping for a new refrigerator. The one I had was falling apart so it was time to take action. I was amazed at all the pretty new appliances and really wanted to purchase a new oven and dishwasher at the same time.

However, when my checkbook was consulted it was found that I would just have to settle for the new fridge. Which I love and am very thankful for.

While shopping I did find an oven that I would have cut off my right arm for. I had been coveting a very pricey (over $3,000.00) one on line and knew in my heart I could never spend that kind of money on a stove. Unless I won the lottery or something.

The one I found was almost half the cost of the other one and had the big chunky knobs I love plus all the fun settings as well. I put this oven on my wish list knowing I could probably purchase it some day.

Some day has come a little sooner than expected.

Let me explain.

Christmas day is always spent at our home with friends and family. I usually cook an overabundance of food but this year I decided to spend more time playing with my kids and less time in the kitchen. I planned a nice menu and was able to make many of the items ahead of time.

Early afternoon as guests arrived we preheated the oven and started placing all the side dishes in to heat up. Within about 20 minutes big billows of smoke started spewing from my oven and when the door was opened flames came flying out.

Someone ran for the fire extinguisher, others insisted we call 911. I ran for my baking soda (pretty sure this was a grease fire) and threw it on the flames. This subdued the flames, and when water was thrown on, the flames finally laid down.

I quickly realized, to my horror, that all my wonderful side dishes now had a layer of baking soda as their topping. The one year I did not make an over abundance of food had to be the year of the great oven explosion.

Go figure.

In order to keep the mood light I off handily remarked that I didn't like that oven anyway and already had the new one picked out.

Good thing, stated one of the guests, as all the protective coating on the bottom of your oven is now gone.

Sadness filled my heart. I knew I didn't have enough money to buy the oven I really wanted. I felt silly for feeling this way when others have real problems, however, I just couldn't shake my desire for this particular oven.

The day after Christmas my sister in law arrived for a welcome visit. Off we went again to shop for appliances. This was becoming a habit.

Hubby had told me to just get the one I wanted. I knew I really shouldn't though. We have more adoption costs coming up and I knew money was going to be getting really tight for a while.

I walked into the store and saw off to the side some open boxed items. I saw from the distance a stove that looked like the one I had been dreaming about. Upon closer inspection I found that IT WAS THE ONE I WANTED and it was HALF PRICE.

It seems this particular beauty had been delivered to another family and was discovered to have a small dent inside the warming drawer. Their was also a small dimple at the very bottom of the oven that I could barely see. For this reason they had returned it for another. I must admit, I couldn't blame them. For those prices the oven should be gold plated and perfect.

However, at half off I could really not care less about the small dent inside the drawer. Everything else was perfect.

The sales man told me this stove had been sitting their for five months and had been marked down several times. It was now below their cost. He really couldn't understand why no one had bought it before.

I know it might sound silly, but at that moment I felt like God was giving me a special gift. The desire of my heart at a price I could afford.

This morning the newest member of our family arrived.

Isn't she a beauty.

I have studied the instruction book front and back and can't wait to cook my first meal on her. God is good.

and....

just to clarify. No honey, I did not set the oven on fire on purpose. I am just not smart enough to have thought of a wonderfully brilliant devious plot like that.

Thanks for my new oven. I really love love love it.

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  posted at 10:39 AM  
  12 comments



Lilypie Countdown to Adoption tickers
About Me...

Name:
Julie


I am a spontaneous, out going, daughter of the King, who is married to a wonderful guy who is a quiet, shy, non-spontaneous, scientist who also loves the Lord. Truly a match made in heaven! We fight and argue, love and laugh, every single day. I am passionate about orphan care and love to tell our story to anyone who will listen. This blog is dedicated to that journey.

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Me and Samantha (13)


Tyler (16) with Grandpa and Grandma


Hubby and Zach (18) at a game


Garrett (11) and Paige (6)


Waiting for a court date!


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Words To Live By
"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."
~Psalm 127
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27



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