Saturday, May 29, 2010

Greedy, Lazy Me.

I've been a greedy, lazy blogger this week. Reading and reading and not bothering to share anything. Well, I did start to upload some photos a couple of times, but it took to long and I got busy elsewhere.

There is much happening in our family these days. I'm getting ready to say farewell to this son for the summer. He'll be working at a Christian camp on the left coast. I just love the way his hair is all pouffed up when he comes home from running.

Here is our spread from his graduation party last week. We ate too much and had a great day together.

Rose was very proud of the cookie trays that she assembled with great care.

Now that school is out we are fumbling around each day. I'm desperately seeking order, and structure. That is my goal for this next week. Order and structure.
I think it will help to have a loose schedule in place when I leave for Eastern Europe. I want to make it easy for the generous people who will be helping us with child care while we are gone. I'm thinking of stocking up on easy but nutritious meals. I don't want to even think about what they might be eating otherwise!
Coming soon...Ralph in hog-heaven!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Three years ago today I was dragging my suitcase around a children's hospital. Ralphie and I had a harrowing flight through dying thunderstorms on the hospital's airplane early that morning.

The thunderstorms were not the only thing dying.

My hope was dying. The afternoon before my husband and I sat in a conference room at our local hospital with Ralph's team of doctors. There was not much more they could do for him there except wait. ECMO was available at the children's hospital. A last resort.

I sometimes wonder why I have the need to remember Ralph's dark early days in such detail. I can almost still feel the numb sort of pain.

But when Ralph comes up from playing in the basement and I find him covered in red marker it all makes sense. (He even colored the bottom of one foot!) I can laugh about this instead of getting upset. I can see how far he has come. I can enjoy and appreciate him more, knowing how close we came to losing him.

These days we sit on the steps after school, wave good-bye to the bus, and he shows me what he made that day. Priceless.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


It was bound to happen and today it did.

Occasionally people will ask me or my husband, how do you get anywhere on time with all those children? Or, how long does it take you to get everyone ready to go on Sunday morning? Have you ever forgotten someone?

Well, we are not always on time and this drives me nuts! I'm always terribly embarrassed to walk into a classroom late. I'd almost rather stay home than to arrive late! But, life's not all about me, is it? We don't always look the greatest, but we are mostly on time.

Sunday mornings are pretty easy if everyone is bathed and Sunday clothes are laid out and approved by me on Saturday night. As much as this helps, you would think that it would get done every Saturday night. Nope.

I hate to admit this, but Sunday mornings are often emotional and ugly as we struggle to leave the house at precisely 9am. Lately we have been doing better. I pair up a small child with a teenager for breakfast and dressing - typically Ralph/Richard, Leroy/Wesley, and Chipper/Jordan. They have one hour to dress and feed themselves and one child. I take care of Ruby, Rose and myself. That leaves Thomas to take care of himself.

Which brings me to this morning. Richard needed to be at church early because it was graduation Sunday. My mom is in town for the celebration and was ready early, so I rode to church with her and four children. Dad was not ready to go yet so we left and I figured that he would just bring everyone else.

When the church service had started, dad asked me where Thomas was. I figured that he ran off to sit with a friend. Dad asked me again when he didn't see him anywhere. I had no idea where he was. Then he said, "well, he rode here with you didn't he?"

No, he didn't.

It suddenly dawned on us that we had left him home. Alone.

After sending a teen back home to pick him up, we realized that he had been in the bathroom the whole time and didn't even know that we had already gone to church! I'm so thankful that we didn't forget him at a truck stop or a restaurant or we may have ended up on the evening news!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Ralphie

He is all about "let's go!" He does not care to snuggle. You will get a hug and a kiss and then he will wave bye-bye.

He wants to see and do everything. Everywhere.

He is full of joy when he gets to try something new. If only you could hear his delightful squeals.

I have really high hopes for this little boy. He can do anything he puts his mind to do. My Ralphie.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

And May is only half over!

This month has been so busy, I sometimes don't know whether I'm coming or going! Sometimes I seem to be trying to do both.

It all started with prom weekend. Not only did I have to pick up flowers, buy a shirt and belt and shoes for Richard, have a birthday party for Ralph, but we made many dozens of enchiladas to raise money for the adoption. I think I actually overdosed on adrenaline that day.

Since then we have made 10-15 dozen enchiladas each weekend. I've got 8 to make and deliver tomorrow. The whole house smells very delicious when I start cooking the meat and sauce!

Ralph started school! How exciting is that? It's been interesting, let's just say. I think that he seems to be acting more mature at home. He is also attempting to form words more than usual. He fell asleep on the bus on the way home every day for the first week. This week, though, he has been awake when arriving. Perhaps his stamina is improving?

However...his reports from school...hmmm. I wonder where he learned some of that stuff? Luckily I put some overalls in his backpack last Thursday. His teacher changed him into the overalls because he kept pulling down his pants during circle time!?!? I'm sure this is just the beginning.

Ralph's and Leroy's preschool had an end of the year celebration last week. Ralph was in heaven with a petting zoo, jazz band and pony rides! See for yourself...

Today was a preregistration event at Richard's college. What a great little college! Later at home I had 15 pounds of meat to cook for our Psalm68 enchiladas. Later I took Rose to a ballet. Very fun!

Next week...graduation!!

Now, what kind of food to make for the party? hmmm.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I guess I'm a little odd. I just love Mondays.

I realize that technically Sunday is the first day of the week, but to me Monday is my fresh start. My do over.

I had high hopes for this week. I had goals! I had plans! I had motivation!

Then life happened.

Some little things, some big things. Appointments, urgent matters, thunderstorms, birthdays, gassy babies, shopping, money coming in, money going out. Mostly out. Life.

Why am I always surprised when life hits the fan?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ralphie's party

Ralph had a great party! It was a little late because dad travels and I really wanted everyone to be there. We ended up having the party on the same night as prom, so Richard wasn't there. It's pretty amazing how hard it can be to find a window of time where everyone in the family is here.
We had to put the cake pretty far away because he kept trying to grab the flame!

One of my goals for Ralphie this year was for him to be able to blow out the candles on his birthday cake. A few weeks ago he found a harmonica and the whole "blowing air out" thing seemed to have clicked in his head. I knew that there would still be a certain amount of saliva coming out along with the air, so he got his own cake this year!

Getting rid of the candles after a sucessfully blowing them out!

I love the look of concentration with just a hint of tongue sticking out!

This bird little opens his mouth, shines a flashlight and sings when you squeeze his tail. So cute!

Ralph's big brother Wesley returned from Thailand earlier in the day. Wes got this cute little wooden frog over there. It sounds just like a frog chirping when you run the stick up the frog's back.

The sock monkey was a HUGE hit!

Ruby was in her boy clothes today. She looks just as pretty as she does in ruffles and lace!

Monday, May 3, 2010

What more can I do?

Just a little cake photo for your viewing pleasure! Oh dear, he really does need a haircut doesn't he?

I work with Ralph's Sunday school and nursery class each week at church. Every week brings fresh new joy along with fresh new heartache. I think it must be one of the great mysteries of life how these two things often go hand in hand.

My friend's daughter, Shayla, is in the class. Ralph likes her quite a bit, though I'm not sure how much Shayla appreciates Ralph! He has started to say her name when he sees her. He says la-la!

It also does my heart good to watch him standing and singing the Sunday school songs with actions. OK, he doesn't sing but he does the actions, and quite well. Yesterday he did a better job of standing to sing and sitting to listen to the story.

I caught Ralph playing with the doll house later. He was doing great putting the mommy and daddy to bed and covering them up! He was really demonstating a good span of concentrated attention.

It's very hard to play cooperatively when you do not speak. Over the past year, I've seen these kids grow and mature and develop large vocabularies. Except for Ralph.

The other children either ignore him or get irritated when he tries to join in their play. I try to make certain that Ralph as well as the other children are taking turns. I'm working to teach the other children some signs so that they can communicate more effectively with him. I just don't know if I'm making a difference at all.

Yesterday one of the girls said to me, "he doesn't know anything!" Crunch! You could have heard my heart break. I thought I should be a little tougher by now. I mean, she's only three years old. I felt like telling her all the things that he does know, like a hundred signs, like how to make strangers smile and wave, and like how to disassemble hearing aids.

I feel like I'm not doing enough to make sure Ralph is included and has meaningful relationships and a great life. Every day is uncharted territory for us. Do I need to set up more playdates? Do I need to do a presentation to three year olds on Down Syndrome? Seriously! How do I know if I'm doing enough? How do I know if I'm doing enough of the correct things?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ralph turned three last Thursday, as you probably already know. He officially started school the very same day! I'm not quite sure how I feel about this yet. He is certainly ready, and eager to go anywhere and do anything. In fact, "go" is his favorite sign! See?

His backpack is almost as big as he is! He can't wait to get in the van.

Later in the day we had a little birthday party for the kids' cousins, who couldn't come to the party on Saturday. After presents, we played out back. It was such a warm day that Ruby didn't need a shirt. I just love naked babies in the summertime!
She is turning into a tiny chunk o' love!

It was so windy that day that even the little bit of hair on her head was blown straight up!

Yesterday was busy. Very busy. I had orders for 12 dozen enchiladas to make. Wesley came home from Thailand. Five children with baseball practice. Wash the car, because it rained mud the other night. Ralph had his real birthday party. Oh, and prom!
Don't these two look cute! This experience was sort of like the first day of Kindergarten where you put your child on the bus in the morning, then run to the car and race to the school to get photos of them getting off the bus.
Richard left in dad's car to pick up his date. Dad and I left in the old car to take some food over to the house where they would be eating. Then we waited for the prom kids to arrive to take photos.

Richard and Taylor had dinner with two other couples at a friend's house. So, three couples = six prom kids = twelve parents with cameras! While we were having a photo shoot on the front lawn an ice cream truck drove by. How fun! The driver was a hoot. He said it has been many years since he was in any prom photos!

When dad and I got home we had Ralph's birthday party. (I'll have photos to share in another post.) We really wanted the whole family to be together, but it just didn't work out. I have to say that I would not have survived the day without help from dad's mom and aunt, who were here at the house almost the whole day helping with children and running errands for me.
I'm surely blessed!