Steven LOVES playing the piano, and he LOVES being with his grandpa, so when he got to do both on our recent trip to Pennsylvania, he was in his own little heaven. He had no idea that Grandpa was so talented--he could play "Jesus Loves Me" with chords! He even got to "play" with Grandpa by putting his hands on top of Grandpa's.
Yesterday we celebrated Michelle's birthday with both my family and Mark's, and she definitely had fun! Unlike Steven, she enjoyed her birthday cupcake, and she even had some fizzy punch that Grandma gave her.
Despite the look on her face, she really did like it!
Next we opened the presents. Michelle got a tea party set, a stuffed dog, a photo book, pj's, cards, and some puffs. Steven got ahold of the puffs and spilled them, and they both went at them! You'd think we hadn't fed them all week!
Last night at 6:05, my Uncle Gene died. My parents, his wife, and her sisters were there with him, and the kids (ages 5, 7, and 9) had had the opportunity to say goodbye to him earlier in the day. The kids weren't told until this morning, which is why I didn't post this last night.
The funeral is scheduled for the Tuesday after Christmas, and my dad was on the phone today with Marion (his wife), helping her with the obituary and other arrangements.
Thank you for all your prayers, especially for Marion and the children.
Please continue to pray for my Uncle Gene. The latest news was not good at all. The tumor is malignant and is the same type as Ted Kennedy had. Uncle Gene is still in a coma, but the doctors have assured my family that he is not in pain, which is a blessing. My parents are still at the hospital in Columbus with him, and his wife, Marion, is driving home today to pick up the three kids so they can see him tomorrow. Their oldest, Joseph, is only nine years old, and the other two, Gracie and Ethan, are both in elementary school as well.
Thank you for praying for him and for his family. We really appreciate it.
Please pray for my Uncle Gene. He was very recently diagnosed with a brain tumor and had a biopsy today. They found that the tumor had doubled in size since his MRI last week, and while in recovery, he went into a coma due to pressure on the brain from a bleeding artery. The doctors did emergency surgery and removed a significantly large blood clot.
He is now in ICU, and it looks very bleak. His three elementary age children are on their way to the hospital now, and it looks like he is dying.
My parents are heading to Ohio tomorrow morning, but we haven't talked about what we might do. Our situation is complicated by the fact that Michelle is sick.
Thank you for your prayers for Uncle Gene and his family.
Some of these ornaments have quite the stories behind them, especially the first two which are from my dad. Notice the second one doesn't have Michelle's name on it. He had Abigail put on it, and when we changed her name, my mom painted over it. I can't believe this is Michelle's first Christmas!
Oh, how are family has changed!
Mark always hides this in the back, and I always move it to the front :)
Michelle's Ornament for the Year
I have many other favorites, of course, but I don't feel like taking the time to upload them all. I've been feeling sick today, and I still have a paper and a half left to grade :(
Apparently I'm not as good with dates as I thought.
Two years ago yesterday, our social worker took our portfolio and one other to Auntie E's house to show her. At that time, there weren't any approved families with our office open to adopting a black baby (which is a national problem to the point that foreigners come here to adopt them), so Auntie E's options were limited. The other couple was in the same situation as we were--almost finished with paperwork but not yet approved.
It was a very long day for me as I waited to hear back from our social worker. I knew that she was going up there in the morning, and as each hour passed without hearing something, it got harder and harder. At this point, very few people knew about the situation, but it was obvious that they were praying for us.
That afternoon, I finally called our social worker to find out what happened. I was discouraged when she said that she had driven to Auntie E's house only to find that she wasn't there, and despite repeated attempts, she never did get a hold of her that day.
We ended up meeting with our social worker that night to talk about the financial aspect of the adoption. We had taken out an adoption loan for Steven's adoption and really didn't want to take out another one. One reason we went with our agency (Bethany Christian Services) was because they work on a sliding scale. They discount every adoption through fund raising, and that made a huge difference for us. The agency helped us out as much as they could, and we had complete peace about the situation, well the financial aspect at least :)
I didn't take any pictures of the ornaments going up since I was helping, but I did take a few pictures afterwards.
Steven was a big "helper" this year. We finally got a system down where I unwrapped the ornaments, handed them to Steven, and then he told Daddy where to put them. Of course some of the ornaments were off-limits, but there were enough that he could have to keep him busy.
We also pulled out his Little People nativity, and Mark spent some time setting it up under the tree and telling Steven who the different characters were. Last year he knew who Baby Jesus was as well as the sheep and maybe Mary (Jesus's Mommy). I'm not sure that Michelle will catch that much this year, but we'll definitely be working with her.
Working with Daddy
Baby Sis Going to Investigate
A Full View of the Tree
Playing with the Nativity (and upset that the wrapping paper she was eating got confiscated)
As you know, we're in the midst of potty training around here, and Steven is doing well. I decided last week that diapers are only for naps and nighttime, so that meant that Steven wore his Grover underwear to small group tonight.
I wasn't convinced that he had gone before we left, but he woke up with a slightly wet diaper from his nap. He made it through just fine, and before we left, I asked him if he had to go. He, of course, said no. I shouldn't have listened to him.
We were barely on the road when he shouted from the backseat that he had to go potty. I tried to convince Mark to stop somewhere for him to go, but he thought that Steven would be fine until we got home.
I kept telling him to hold it in, and he answered, "No, let it out!" And that's what he did.
I keep reminding myself of this over and over again. Just one more week left of the quarter. Surely I can make it just one more week.
This is my first quarter teaching since Steven was just a few months old, and I'm exhausted. I've been tutoring in the Writing Center this whole time, but now I'm back to doing both. I'm teaching a day class, so I drive up to school two days for that. I stay late on the one day to tutor for a couple hours, and then I go back up on Saturdays to tutor for another five hours. Being gone three days a week has been hard. I'm used to working on Saturdays, but that wasn't too bad because Mark was home with the kids, and I didn't have to worry about them at all. It doesn't help that it's at 45-60 minute commute one way, depending on traffic :(
I only have one more Saturday, one more Monday, and one more Wednesday. It's just one more week, but it feels like so much more! My students are giving presentations both days next week, so it'll be super easy. I'll just grade them as I go, and the presentations are instead of a final exam. (Yay!)
However, I just collected research papers today. Six to eight pages per paper times however many students actually turned theirs in. I am not looking forward to grading those. So much is riding on these papers because they are a huge percent of their grade. I hate to see students that who have worked hard fail (or not pass with at least a C) the class. The ones that only come on partially cloudy days or every fourth class are a different story.
I had a student reappear today after weeks of missing class. He didn't have a paper, nor has he ever turned in a paper. Part way through class, he realized how pointless it was to be there (and I think he had a doctor's appointment or something) and left. I just don't get it.
Just one more week and then I get a whole month off. I can't wait!
The Little Buddy has apparently decided that he will only use the "big potty" and is no longer willing/interested in using his froggy potty. I had forgotten that I had picked up a seat that attaches to the toilet at a garage sale who knows how long ago and pulled it out a few weeks ago. It's quite the seat--high back, arms rests, what more could you ask for?! He loves it, and even better yet, he's been using it.
He still wears diapers when sleeping, and since he's in a crib, I don't see that changing anytime soon. He does wake up dry from his naps a good deal of the time, but it isn't worth risking him waking up early because he's wet and having to always change his sheets.
He has also been wearing them when we leave the house, but honestly, that just a convenience factor for us. It's really time to start changing that, so I had him wear his underwear out today when we took Michelle to the doctor, and he did just fine. He went both before we left and after we came home without any problems. I think it's about time we cut out all daytime diapers. Exciting? Yes. Scary? Even more so.
I can't believe my Little Buddy is getting so big!
Steven LOVES music and anything related to it. His favorite instrument is the guitar, and he pretends that just about everything is a guitar--his popper, a blanket, a rattle. . . My sister Lauren and her husband, Robert, gave Steven a guitar as a thank you gift for being their ring bearer, and he plays it all the time. I picked it out very carefully--there are some songs that I definately do not want to hear over and over and over again. His guitar plays "real" music, like the Beetles. I can handle that :)
Playing the Popper is Serious Business
A Camera Tripod Makes the Best Microphone
Getting Nanny and Sissy Involved
Having Fun While Looking So Serious
One-Socked Sissy on the Drums
The highlight of his band practice had to be when he had Nanny, Grandpa Hal, and Great Grandpa ready to go and yelled "One, Two, Three, Four!" before they started playing. I wish I had been there to see it!
On Sunday, Steven turned two, and I spent a good portion of the day thinking of Auntie E and what it was like for her two years ago. We had no idea that our son was being born as we celebrated Thanksgiving that day, but I know the day was drastically different for her.
I've talked to her about that day before, and it was interesting to hear some of the details she remembers. She was in labor for a long time, and she kept insisting that something was wrong. The doctors ignored her for several hours before deciding that something was wrong. She remembers being terrified as they sped her away for an emergency c-section. She also remembers how upset she was that she was missing Thanksgiving dinner and how she later regretted throwing away the food her family brought her in a little fit :)
She also remembers that everytime she visited Steven in the NICU/nursery, he had his eyes closed. She said all she wanted was to see his eyes before she left, and on her last day there, he opened his eyes for her. It was so important to her to be able to look him in the eyes, and even now, she loves pictures that are close ups of his eyes.
I later learned that the little blue bear he brought home from the NICU was not standard issue. Auntie E went to the gift shop and picked out the bear and bought it for him. I've always loved how it has his little information tag on it (which included both his last name and hers and no one thought to black it out). It's one of the few things we have from his time in the hospital, and the only thing we had from her to him.
Yes, I thought about her all day, and I thank God for her continually. I thank Him for the amazing gift she gave us when she chose us to parent the child that she knew she couldn't. I thank Him for giving us the adoption we prayed for--a semi open/open adoption with the birthfamily within easy driving distance but not in the same town, a relationship like an aunt or uncle that we see once or twice a year.
I also thank God for the continued contact we have with her, and I sincerely thank Him for her calling Steven on his birthday to twll him that she loves him. And I thank Him that my little two year old ended the call by telling his birthmother that he loves her too.
We had a little party tonight to celebrate Steven's 2nd birthday. Grandpa Hal and Nanny and Great Grandpa were all in town to help him celebrate, and as you can see in the pictures, he had a great time!
I decided to make cookies with Steven for the first time, and you can see how excited he is, even though he didn't completely understand what we were doing. We put them into nice little balls, but as you can see, he decided to make one big ball. He was quite proud of himself too!
Mark works for a company that delas with trash and recycling, and his company picks up our trash. Whenever I hear the truck, Steven and I run to the window to watch. Since neither of us is a morning person, we don't get to see it too often. However, now that they are doing leaf pickup, we get to watch.
Steven LOVES trucks, and all trucks are now "Daddy's truck!" (even pick up trucks!). This week we were watching the trucks pick up our leaves, and Steven started yelling instructions to them out the window. They obviously couldn't hear him, but that didn't stop him. It was definitely one of the highlights of his day.
We also got to see them picking up the trash, and on a whim, I grabbed Steven and his little trash truck (identical to the one outside) and ran to catch up with the truck. We said hi to the driver and explained our connection, and the driver honked the horn for Steven.
It was a big day for Steven and trucks--we also saw two garbage/yard waste trucks while we were out, and we stalked them. They waved for us to go around them, but I shook my head no. I explained what we were doing to the one in our neighborhood. I don't think that people without little boys understand the value of free entertainment!
We are just an ordinary family serving an extraordinary God, and He has blessed us beyond our wildest dreams. We are high school sweethearts who have been married for eleven years. We adopted our son, Steven, born November 2007 and his biological sister, Michelle, born December 2008 and then added a biological baby, Mabelyn, in March 2011. We also have two critters--Sadie, our Golden Retriever, and Josie, our grey cat.