Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Assorted Christmas photos.

Don't have time to upload all our Christmas photos tonight. Here are some highlights, in reverse order, of course:

Chipper with his new hunting knife!
Rose, in the Santa hat that she found in her stocking, with her new alarm clock.

Ralph and his new lion. I just love the way he half-zips his jammies!

Sitting on his Santa gift. A vacuum cleaner. A real one! Santa found that it was cheaper than the toy vacuums!

The crew.

Getting the crew assembled.

My most intense child using her jedi mind powers on some cheese cracker crumbs.

Counting coins.

After gathering up everyone who wanted to make the trek to the bank in town, I found myself with all the little kids and no big helpers. No matter. I can handle those babies just fine. One problem, the jar weighed over 30 pounds I'm guessing. It was much heavier than Ralph!

We parked at the bank, prayed together, and then I got out the double stroller. Ralph in the front, Ruby in the back. Thomas pushed it. I carried the loaded jar. Rose and Leroy opened the doors. What a sight!

We could only dump about half of the coins into the machine at one time. I was nervous to press the start button. I guess I was afraid it would make lots of noise, but mostly it just jingled like change in your pocket. Halfway through, the coin counter stopped because a bag inside was full. A lady came to replace it and we started counting again.

A digital display indicated the running total in dollars. It was fun to watch the money add up! We poured the rest of the coins in and watched the total approach $100. We all cheered when we hit $100 and the counting continued.

Then...I bumped the jar. Yes, it fell to the floor...smashed! After all the care that I took to carry it carefully while it was heavy and full, I had to bump it and smash it now that it was empty. *sigh*

Of course, I was not allowed to clean up my own mess. Liability and all. The counting continued. A few coins were spit out and I threw them back in! The grand total? Way more than I expected:

  • 2514 pennies
  • 281 nickels
  • 477 dimes
  • 203 quarters
  • 1 half dollar
  • 1 dollar!

That adds up to $139.14 in coins. There were also some foreign pennies and assorted bills in the jar making the total somewhere around $180. (I'm rounding up!) I was really hoping for about half that much.

I've brought out a new jar. A friend sent this jar to me full of potato soup after Ralphie was born. We have already begun our 2010 coin collection, starting with the mother lode that I found in daddy's trunk!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Today is the day...

I'm not completely happy with my efforts, but here it is:

This money is for Maxim's adoption grant fund. We sure had a great time putting money in this jar over the course of the year. We'll be praying over it this morning, that God would multiply our efforts, before we head out to the bank.

Then we will be starting over.

This kid really needs a home. Would someone just please adopt him?

Leroy emptied his entire pig bank, except for four pennies that he wanted to keep. 'Cause he is four year old, you know! I did have to pick out a bunch of paper.

This is what I did on Christmas eve. Yep. Someone dropped something down into the filter housing. It made a terrible noise when it got sucked into the fan. While I was in there I went ahead and vacuumed out and trimmed the dryer vent. It was too long and full of lint and sand. How much $$ do you think I saved by doing this myself? Not sure I want to know!
Christmas photos are on the way later today!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas day 2009

Wow! What a week! We had a fun day together, but I messed dinner up. Apparently the ham needed to cook for about 10 hours. I found this out while reading the cooking instructions on the label about 3 hours before dinner! I ran out to Walgreens on the off chance that they had something I could use. I wasn't willing to have hotdogs so I came back home and whipped up a meatloaf. I think that is just hilarious! Who never heard of meatloaf for Christmas dinner?

Can you believe that we were able to get our Christmas shopping done on time, on budget, and with cash? We made a committment to ourselves and to God to take better care of the money that He provides us. We made a committment to ourselves and to God to take better care of the people that He has placed in our lives. You our presence, not just presents.

Finally, I had the time this week to get some baking done. We made some oatmeal scotchies, chocolate covered pretzels and some brownies. I added some candy canes to an assortment of goodies and made plates for the neighbors. Rose accompanied me to deliver them on Wednesday. We stuck a Reece's Rainbow brochure with each plate and invited our neighbors to add some spare change to our adoption jar.

I was so pleasantly surprised at how willing our sweet neighbors were to share a little love in the way of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. We are really very blessed to live in such a friendly God fearing neighborhood.

Our adoption jar was a Christmas gift to me from my dear husband last year. We've been dropping in change for a year now. I rarely ever spend any coins. They go in the jar. Sometimes I throw my 1's in, too.

I once heard on the radio that a great way to save money was to save all your change and dollar bills. It was a problem for me most of the year because I used to always use a credit/debit card when shopping. The jar was just not filling up. But, a few months ago I started taking my grocery money out of the bank each payday and using only cash. It is amazing how I have spent less AND the jar has been filling up nicely!

The kids are also very focused on getting that jar filled. Nearly ever piggy bank has been emptied and every coin found goes straight in the jar. I keep trying to estimate the value of all the coins in my head, but I really have no clue. We will be taking the jar to the coin counter at the credit union next week and send the money in to Maxim's adoption grant fund. You know, the coin counter there is free for members? I'm so glad we don't have to wrap all those coins up.

We have a few more days and a few more inches left in the jar. I wonder if we could manage to get it all the way to the top for dear Maxim?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

tale of two computers

Here I am, typing on my dinosaur ergonomic keyboard on my trusty old tank of a computer. I'm pretty thankful for this steady old friend. We've been through much together over the past 8 1/2 years. Sure, I have to scroll left and right to read most of the blogs that I follow. And, yes, it takes a few minutes to load the Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree page. (All those beautiful photos tend to slow things down) But, I can hard boot him anytime and he just takes it beautifully.

My flashy, slim laptop is turning out to be a rather delicate and fickle friend. He's the one you want everyone to see you hanging out with. He's also the one who stabs you in the back when you least expect it. This week Mr. Laptop is pretending that he can't find his operating system, but I know better. He just enjoys toying with me.

My problem is that I'd rather have any computer than no computer at all. So I go running back to my trusted friend whenever Mr. Laptop treats me badly. It's all very disfunctional, I know.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I saw what I saw.

I listened to this song by Sara Groves today. It takes me to a pretty dark place, but gives me courage to live my convictions. What am I made of? What am I afraid of?


I saw what I saw and I can't forget it
I heard what I heard and I can't go back
I know what I know and I can't deny it

Something on the road, cut me to the soul

Your pain has changed me
Your dream inspires
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me what I'm afraid of 
and what I know of love

We've done what we've done and we can't erase it
We are what we are and it's more than enough
We have what we have but it's no substitution

Something on the road, cut me to the soul

I say what I say with no hesitation
I have what I have but I'm giving it up
I do what I do with deep conviction

Something on the road, cut me to the soul

Your courage asks me what I’m afraid of
Your courage asks me what I am made of 
Your courage asks me what I’m afraid of
and what I know of love
and what I know of god

Saturday, December 19, 2009

There is not a drop of water... the air! That's some baby-fine hair for ya'.

Remember when I asked you to guess what I was making? Well, here it is...

Well, half of it anyway. Wesley is helping Ruby to model her new baby leg warmers! Next she is toasty warm, laying in the sunshine in her new leg warmer by the dining room windows. What a life! 

I'm working on the mate right now. I'm a little less motivated, but I need to keep working and get it done. I'm a great starter, but a reluctant finisher. Anyone know what I mean?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Speaking of elves...

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Elfing around...

How do you like my two little elves? Rose was an elf in her class play today. It was very cute and short, just the way I like it! 

We had cookies and lime sherbet punch after the play. It was crazy in the classroom. There must have been 50 guests in addition to the children from Rose's class.

Rose finally lost a front tooth over the weekend! Unfortunately she lost it while playing in the basement, so the tooth fairy had no reason to stop by. :(

Weekend Update

Yeah, it is almost the weekend again and I'm just now wrapping up the last one! That's how we roll.

Saturday was the Down Syndrome Society Christmas party and year end meeting. How could we miss it? Not a chance. I struggled to get out of the house on time with six of the kids, but we were looking good after we got on the highway. We'd be in time to chat with folks and get the kids signed in with the sitters. As I hit our exit ramp the van engine stopped.

I rolled down the ramp and toward the right hand side of the road and stopped at the stoplight. Out of gas. The gas gauge has been acting up lately, floating up and down and getting stuck up on full. Just call me mother of the year.

We were in pretty good spirits, considering. I didn't get freaked out, so that probably helped. We sang some songs and watched a homeless man walking by wearing only one glove. Perspective, huh? The kids were all pumped up to see Santa so they offered to walk to the meeting, which was still 3 miles away. By the time my hero arrived with the gas can, they were starting to get a little cold. 

If you know me, you know how I loathe formal meetings. I was almost happy that I ran out of gas 'cause we missed much of the business meeting! Yay! Santa time! Ralph was in rare wandering form. Ruby spent the whole party in her carseat while I chased him all over the church.

Our dear friends from NW Kansas were in town for the DSSW meeting and a little shopping. Their oldest son really enjoys hanging out with Rose, so after the meeting she spent the day shopping with them. My boys had fun at home playing video games all afternoon without her! Ha!

Sunday we were all pretty pooped out but we went to church anyway. It's just what we do. It's not even really negotiable. We were a bit late and were left sitting in two separate rows in the very back of the annex of the auditorium. I guess you shouldn't be late at Christmas time or you won't get a seat!

The sermon series has been about "light" and has been fantastic. I've been meaning to go to the church website and listen to it again. I only get to hear about half anymore because Leroy is so distracting to me. Training him to sit quiet and still in church is a very slow and ongoing process. The little guy DOES pay attention however. When I ask questions about the sermon, many times he gets the right answer before the older kids.

Which reminds me...there was a Christmas concert by Andrea Bocelli advertised on PBS the other day. I asked Leroy to pay attention to his beautiful voice. I told him that the man was blind but that he had an amazing gift of singing. Leroy proceeded to tell me that the man should spit in the mud and put it on his eyes! Did you know about that when you were 4 years old?

Monday was a low point. I'm including it in my weekend wrap up because, well just because. I was set to have an organized, ordered day. I put Ralph's braces on first thing while he was in the highchair. (He can't grab his feet and "help" while he is in the highchair.) After breakfast we sat down together to put in his hearing aids and watch some Sesame Street. 

At some point I left the room for a quick moment to go to the bathroom. A minute or so after I returned, I noticed that the cords that hold the hearing aids were hanging! Why didn't I notice sooner?? I found five of the seven pieces. I wasn't very nice to Ralph upon noticing this. I'm not proud of the way I yelled.

That's OK I guess, because he got me back later on after his nap. He had taken his diaper off and decorated the wall, the crib, the big stuffed bear and more. It was not a pretty scene. I had to give myself 30 seconds to go to my room and cry before I tackled this mess. First thing was to get Ralph into the tub. First he was scrubbed off standing then rinsed. Then bathed sitting with plenty of suds, Then the tub cleaned and bathed again in some nice fresh water.

Then, when he was cleaned up I stuck him in the highchair while I went to work on the room before everything dried on. I've learned that it's much easier to clean up stuff before it gets dried on. You don't think about what you are doing, you just do it and it gets done. It wasn't as bad as I though it was going to be.

I've spent the past 3 days trying to find that other hearing aid. Oh, and doing everything else. I've been through the trash by hand. (Thank you whoever dumped a spit cup in there, not!) I've crawled around on hands and knees. I've searched the couch cushions and even turned it over to look in the bottom and under it. (I found the other phone!) I cleaned under the stove. How does all that dog food get under there?

When do I give up and call the audiologist? It has to be here somewhere!! I'm starting to look on top of things in case he threw it. *sigh*

Friday, December 11, 2009

20 more days ~ a giveaway!


So, I was in such a hurry to get this posted that I didn't think straight. I'll draw a winner on Saturday, December 19th. We are off to an incredibly slow start so your chances are very good! LOL


There are 20 more days in December. 20 more days in 2009. There are also 20 more days left for the Reece's Rainbow angel tree.

When I committed to being Maxim's Christmas warrior my goal was to raise $1000 for him before the end of the year. Time is a wastin' so I thought this would be a great time to do a giveaway.


I'm giving away a copy of The Christmas Sweater! If you haven't heard, it's a sweet Christmas read. Leave me a nice comment here for a chance to win. If you make a suggested gift of $10 to Maxim's chip-in you'll enjoy a warm fuzzy feeling, too. Double your chances if you share the love by posting this giveaway on your blog.

Giving things away makes me feel like Santa! Ho-Ho-Ho! 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

When it gets cold...

Oh! It has been so very cold here this week. This kind of weather makes me want to...well...make something! Sometimes I get the urge to bake bread or make a huge pot of soup. Sometimes I like to sew.

This week I broke out the old knitting needles. Actually, I bought some shiny new double pointed needles with a Hobby Lobby gift card that I won.

See if you can figure out what I'm making. Any guesses? Brownie points if you get it right!
Last Christmas, nope the year before last Christmas, (wow, does time fly?) I found some pretty nubby, fuzzy, purple yarn. I bought it and used it to make a scarf for my mom-in-law. I didn't know that her sister-in-law made her a hat out of the very same, exact yarn! We got a good laugh out of that on Christmas morning.
What kind of things do you do when the weather turns cold?

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Christmas wish...

I've been meaning to write about Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree. (If you know me at all you know that this Down Syndrome adoption ministry is close to my heart.) I just haven't been able to keep up with all the fantastic happenings! It is really a great problem to have, isn't it? I'm going to try to catch up now.

Since the first of November, 29 children have new commitments. Wow! In these tough times there are people who are willing to take a great financial leap of faith.

There have been some dramatic commitment stories to tell of kids who were days away from transfer from baby homes to mental institutions. There are a couple of kids who have grant funds that are exploding! They will have committed families before this week is over, I'll bet.

I can't fail to mention the Darya Project. What an incredible story of faith and love. An 11 year old girl was motivated by her love for God to raise $20,000 in just over a week so that her family could rescue a sweet girl with DS. It touches me that there are people out there who love these kids as much, or more, than me. Sometimes it feels like nobody even cares.

Here is some more good of the children on the angel tree has been rescued by his birth family! They have or will soon be taking him home from the orphanage. This is unheard of. But it is what we are aiming for. It wasn't that long ago that babies with DS were routinely institutionalized in the U.S.A. Perhaps the time is coming where children with disabilities are not hidden away in shame but cared for by their loving parents and supported in their own communities...all over the world.

So how is my commitment to raise $1000 for Maxim going? Not bad, considering I'm not doing a giveaway or anything. I've raised $150 at about the halfway point, with the promise of a few more gifts on the way. I have asked many of my friends to be a "drop in the bucket" by contributing $10 if they can. Of course, those that give $35 or more before December 15 will get a beautiful Reece's Rainbow Christmas tree ornament.

An older photo of Maxim. I don't care what anyone says, I think he is a DOLL!

I'm thinking of some other things that I can do to build up Maxim's grant fund. This is a boy who has ALREADY been transferred to a mental institution. He NEEDS a family to commit to him as soon as possible. There is a family out there for him. Somewhere. Where are they? 

Wait. What if it is us? How do I know? Leslie is one woman who "gets" me. She recently wrote that what she wants for Christmas is for her Reece's Rainbow prayer child to have a home. I would be so pleased if Maxim would have a family. (Sure, I'd like it to be ours in case you are wondering.) That would make for a pretty wonderful Christmas! 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Since my oldest son was gone hunting and my 14 year old was at a wresting tournament in another state Saturday morning, we decided to go out to eat! It's always nice when we can get by without paying for those two additional "adults." Plus, my husband found a coupon for a popular buffet place. I'm getting that hubby trained right, I tell ya. 

I guess we haven't been out to eat for a long time because Ralph didn't really know how to act. *sigh* I hate hate hate spending money on restaurants, but my little handsome boy needs to learn some restaurant manners. I guess it is just easier to ignore poor manners at home.

What a turkey.

The real problem is that he likes to drink. like. a. fish. He only wanted to drink milk, tea, water...whatever drink he could see on the table he wanted. And he wanted it immediately. How can a little guy drink so much? That can't be healthy, especially for his wee little heart. I need to remember to ask the cardiologist about this when we see him next month.

Today I asked hubs to clean off the top of the fridge. Just a little honey-do thing, right? Oh what treasure was found! First of all lots of change for the adoption jar. All kinds of suckers for the kids. Lots of hotel room keys. Hubs makes me cut them up in case any of our information is on the magnetic strip. 

Then he handed me another room key...wait a minute, no! A gift card! I've been looking for that gift card ever since last Christmas!! There was a 888 number on the back to check the balance, so I called. Yep, $50. 

So I got to go out to eat tonight. Eating out two days in a row! I feel like royalty. 

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Ralph likes to imitate...well, everyone doing everything! He slips into my chair as fast as lightening and starts clicking on my computer mouse! He sneaks into the laundry room to start a load. So when Leroy was drawing yesterday, Ralph wanted to color, too.

He chose a pencil to begin with. I was pretty impressed with his ability to hold it. I took about 25 photos trying to get a good view of his pencil grip.

What intense concentration! You know, children with Down Syndrome often have difficulty with hand strength and holding a pencil can be challenging. I used hand over hand technique to help him draw and name different shapes.

Now, moving on to the purple crayon.

More imitation! Ralph put on Leroy's socks and shoes. The he grabbed his play purse and started throwing me kisses. (That means good-bye!)

I need to brag about Chipper for a minute. He had his first wrestling meet of the season today. He brought home this massive 4th place medal.

I've never seen anything like it! It's heavy. You could hurt someone with it. Wow.

Friday, December 4, 2009

So proud!

Do you ever make to-do lists? Of course, everyone does, right?

I've been very focused (OCD?) lately and it has manifested, in part, in me making lists. The problem is that there are a few items that have become semi-permanent fixtures on each successive list!

I'm pretty proud that I knocked a couple of those pesky little things off today. (Amy, your blanket is finally on it's way.) OK, one is only half-done. I don't know what took me so long. 

I actually enjoy going through EVERY closet and EVERY piece of clothing. I could do it all day, if I didn't have to stop and make lunch, nurse Ruby, etc. I'm gathering every piece of baby clothing that I can bear to give away and boxing it all up for the Treehouse. They are a wonderful, life affirming organization that supports moms and babies in need.

The following items are needed to stock the Treehouse.
Diapers (size 1)
Baby shampoo and bath lotion
Baby bath towels
Bottles (5 oz. and 9 oz.)
Gowns with drawstrings
Baby wipes
Baby blankets
Onesies or t-shirts
Safety plugs
Gender outfits
Cans of formula

If you live in the Wichita, KS area, won't you consider donating some items to the Treehouse?

There are a couple of really hard things left on the list. Uggh. I think I'll just sit back and enjoy my little victory tonight. I'll think about those other things tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ralphie photo fest!

Ralph is trying to find Wesley's belly button! 

They are really good friends! 

Ralph is ready to sing in Church with the rest of the pre-k kids.

We were early for music class Monday so we played in the hall. I don't know how he knows what to do with mittens because I've never made him wear any.

Honk! Honk!

The pre-k program is located at...the high school? Whatever. Ralph loved looking at and playing with the lockers.