Friday, December 31, 2010

Praying...

Update: This morning when I woke up I felt aweful. Thankfully Mike was abble to come home and take care the girls so I could get some extra rest. Christiana was a little worried about why Daady was giving her breakfast and stood outside the bathroom door yelling, "Mama!" while I took a bath. Hopefully this is the worst day and tomorrow is better.


...for supernatural protection from this virus that is ravaging my family.

Amanda, then Mike, then Tali, then Tyler and now Christiana. I feel a little run down (imagine that) and a tickle in my throat but I'm hoping it doesn't get full blown. Last year, my neighbor introduced me to Viracillin. It's a supplement that you take just as you start to feel yourself starting to get sick. When I take it as I start to feel a virus attacking, I always stay just on the verge of getting sick. If I let it run out and don't take it, I am miserable. This virus will be the ultimate test.

Now if I could only get some rest...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What day is it?

Sick kiddos...

Tired mama...

This is when my mettle is tested.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All...

Here's the picture and letter we sent out to our friends and family. We hope you have all had a lovely Christmas enjoying your families.


Dear Friends and Family,

What a year…or two… or three! For quite a few years, there weren’t many big changes in our house; we were home schooling the boys, they were playing baseball, Mike was busy managing the lumber yard and we were praying for a baby. That is, until we decided to adopt.

August of 2007, about ten months after starting the adoption process, we were in Texas bringing home a three-week -old baby girl that we named Amanda. Amanda is three now and she has been such a delightful addition to our family. When Amanda turned one, we began the process for a second adoption. Nine months later, we were matched with a mother who was expecting a baby in the middle of July. About three weeks before the baby was due, we found out that I was pregnant.

We were shocked, surprised and delighted but we were concerned it meant we wouldn’t get to adopt the little girl we had been waiting for. However, her birth mom decided that she still wanted us to adopt her baby girl. We knew it would be really challenging for a time, but babies grow up so fast and we knew it would be worth it. Christiana was born on July 8th in Tampa, FL. Mike, Amanda and I met her when she was a day old. She was released into our care the next day and we flew home a week later. Our feisty little Christiana is now seventeen months old.

On February 17, 2010, Little Miss Talitha was born. We pronounce her name like “Tabitha” but with an “L”. Her name is found in Mark 5:41 when Jesus heals a little girl. He says to her, “Talitha cumi!” Which means, “Little girl, arise!” Talitha is a testimony of faith, healing, and new life in our home, and we couldn’t be more thankful. She is now nine months old and is a very happy and easy going baby.

There have been big changes for the men in our house too. Tyler is 16 and is working on getting his driver’s license. Last year he was enrolled in three classes at the public school and this year he is there full-time as a junior. Tyler is very talented on the piano and is mostly self-taught. Tony just turned 14 and is enrolled as a freshman. He is doing very well in school and has wonderful guitar skills. Both boys have adjusted well to the school routine according to their personal strengths. They have accepted the invasion of little girls but prefer to hang out downstairs in the “Man Cave.”

In addition to running the lumber yard, Mike is enrolled online with Ohio Christian University. He is working very hard and has been at the top of his classes. He also continues to play guitar at our church where he is also an elder and treasurer.

My days are spent caring for the little girls, and I do my best to cherish these days because they are fleeting. Life is crazy and busy, but I am always provided with enough grace to get through each day. I post stories, photos and updates on our family blog: www.mikeandkatie1.blogspot.com.

We hope your family has a joyful Christmas and a New Year filled with blessings from above!

Love from: Mike, Katie, Tyler, Tony, Amanda, Christiana and Talitha

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17 ESV)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Uh-oh

Christiana can climb up on the dining room chairs and Talitha can pull herself to stand.

And you thought my life was crazy before... :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Three is so much fun!

Amanda, Amanda, Amanda. Such a fun little girl. She is so full of life and imagination.




Three is such a great age because she is starting to grasp abstract concepts like God, adoption and birth moms. We sat down for the first time and looked through the book Amanda's birth mom made for her. She embraces everything with enthusiasm and curiosity. She loves the little stickers and embellishments. There are pictures of her birth mom holding her in the hospital and when we got to the pictures after her birth mom left the hospital, she said, "Oh no, no! Where did baby Amanda go?" She was very excited to see Mike and I on the next page.

The other day I was making green beans and she said that she didn't want any. I told her that she had to eat some. Of course, she said, "Why?" So I answered, "Because God made them as good food for you to eat and grow up big and strong." Later as I placed the green beans on her plate, she looked at them and said, "I have to thank God for these green beans!" I explained how when we pray before eating, we were thanking God for our food. Ever since then her prayers are no longer gibberish followed by an "Amen," she actually speaks about things she is thankful for. At least, she did until she decided that she really liked the Catholic prayer ritual that we always say when my mom and grandma come to visit. Now she always asks to do that one.

She also enjoys saying the rosary with Grammy when she comes to visit. She loves getting out the special rosaries and participating. She talks about how Jesus died on the cross...and then goes on to say, "I died on the cross, Mama died on the cross, Baby Ana died on the cross, etc..." I decided to just let that one go. She wasn't completely wrong but I thought she was a little young for a discussion explaining propitiation.

I remember when Tony was three. One day, he was sitting at the table declaring, "Jesus is God! Jesus is God!" (Sadly, when I told the story to the senior high students I was teaching at the time, many of them looked me in confusion, "Jesus is God?" These were confirmed Catholic kids.) Anyways, things are different for the boys now.

Mike and I took the boys to the third Narnia movie last Thursday. At the end, Aslan tells Lucy that this is the last time she will be in Narnia. He says that she has seen him for a little while in Narnia so that she can learn to see him in her own world. My boys are at the same point of transition. They are too old to see God in the magical, mysterious way they did when they were younger and now it's time for them to learn to see God in the more mature way that comes with age and experience.

I'm sure glad we have another batch a little ones that we can take to Narnia for a little while.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What's under your dining room table?

Have I mentioned how Amanda likes to play puppy? It seems like she always asking to tie a leash around her and then hold onto the leash for a good part of the day. It started out with a short little necklace. That didn't make a very good leash. For almost a month, she walked around attached to me by a retractable leash. That was this summer before Ana was moblie. Of course, Ana copies and asked to be tied up too. Although she doesn't not like actually being tied up. Silly girls.


Lately, Amanda's been asking me to make dog houses for her. The problem has been that they are never big enough or safe from Christiana's grabby hands. One morning last week, Amanda was asking for a dog house and I decided to go all out. I cleared off the table and got out the big quilts. And then I remembered the creative design of our table. When we outgrew our table, Mike made a top for us out of a 4'x8' sheet of plywood. Then he removed the thick butcher-block top from our old table and secured a thinner piece of plywood to the top. Then the large sheet just sets on the smaller top.

What this means is that I can lift the table top and tuck blankets underneath. We can still use the table, Christiana can't pull the blankets down, and the girls have a fabulous little play space. I've spent a couple of afternoons laying on pillows under the table with them. On these chilly winter days, hanging out in a little blanket fort is nice and cozy.




I almost considered taking the fort down today when Tyler had company, but I didn't. I'm going to guess that we will have a fort under our table for quite some time.

Amanda is a pretty neat eater and I don't let the babies self-feed messy foods so I'm not too concerned about the blankets getting dirty. If anything, it keeps the crumbs and such from going all the way under the table and I just need to sweep up under their chairs.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sixteen Below

So what do you do when it's 16 degrees* below zero?


Dress up in snuggly animal costumes of course!!!

And then wait for Mom to spoil the fun by making us all cram onto a chair for a photo.

She was smiling earlier.

The little panda bear outfit was a Christmas gift from my dad. Mike nicknamed Amanda, "Amanda Bear" so it was very fitting. We don't do Halloween but my friend Stacy had the idea of picking up clearance Halloween costumes to have for dress-up play. I've never gotten to those sales but someone handed down the tiger and Eeyore costumes this summer.
They are stored in Christiana's "room" and every so often they get brought out and the girls want help getting them on. Talitha just laughs and laughs when some one's dressed up. She wasn't too thrilled with having the hood on her head yet. Amanda can squeeze into the little outfits but they are uncomfortable once she pulls the hoods up. The Eeyore one fits her the best. Christiana doesn't like the hood either. So often the request to help take them off comes moments after the request to help put them on.
It was a good activity to get us all warmed up on a chilly Minnesota morning.

*That's in Fahrenheit. It's -26 Celsius.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Family Photo Shoot

I'm finally getting around to posting the rest of the photos from our photo shoot with Nicole Marie. Nicole and her family came to our house for a family photo shoot this September as a "thank you" for the breast milk that I donated to her little boy.


We had planned the shoot for earlier in the summer when it would be warmer, we would have more time, and perhaps the kids would be more cooperative. We did our best but that perfect family picture just didn't happen.






Nicole was able to capture some beautiful pictures of our family separately though. She is a very talented photographer and we are very thankful for the work she did for us. Nicole and I have a lot in common; infertility, adoption, induced lactation, we worked with the same adoption agency and social worker, home schooling, dealing with food allergies and when she came to visit us, she was feeling a bit queasy due to a delightfully unexpected pregnancy.

But sadly, on Saturday, their first daughter, Aurora Marie, was born still. Nicole and her family are just heartbroken, of course. And my heart has been with them. While I was pregnant with Tali, the thought was never far from my mind that I could lose her. I could only imagine how devastating that would have been for me and it must be for Nicole.

Now when I look at these photos they remind me again that life is so precious and yet so precarious. We need to cherish every moment because we don't know how many are left.




Nicole has bravely shared her story on their travel blog. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she begins to heal physically and emotionally.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sometimes I dream about him...

It been almost a year since I last talked to my dad. He was preparing to have heart surgery; a valve replacement. His heart valve had been damaged by the kidney dialysis. His kidneys were damaged by the chemotherapy. He needed chemotherapy because of the lymphoma caused by the interferon treatment. He was given interferon to treat the Hepatitis C that he contracted from a military vaccine protocol during the Vietnam War.

He had to wait because they had built a new hospital and were in the middle of moving everything to the new hospital. He was going to be the first heart surgery at the new hospital. It was going to be reported on the news. It was scheduled for Friday.

He called to get my social security number. He was filling out his beneficiary paperwork in case something happened to him. He told me that we should put an addition on our house because that would be the easiest way to deal with our sudden lack of space. He told me he loved me. I told him I loved him too. We said, "Goodbye."

I never spoke to him again. My sister called on Monday to tell me that he had passed away at home in his comfy chair.

I have thought of him many times during the past year. I have often thought of something I wanted to ask him; something about my childhood, our my parent's marriage, or his childhood, and then I realize that I can't just call him for the answer. And that now I'll never know the answer (this side of heaven anyways).

Sometimes I have dreams about him. Usually he's healthy and we're together visiting or traveling or something. But tonight, I dreamed he was very ill. We were all together at some kind of church service. He was in his comfy chair. My sister and I were with him and he told me to find my brother. He wanted us all together to say his "goodbyes." My brother was in the basement playing video games with my boys. My three little girls were sleeping.

And then Amanda was awake and so was I. I never got a chance to say "goodbye." So, here I am thinking about him. One year later.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nine Months

At nine months, Talitha weighs about 20 lbs and is 27 inches long. She has two teeth in the middle on the bottom and two more coming in on the top; the middle left and the tooth next to it. The tooth next to the middle is coming in crooked just like Tyler's did and mine are. She nurses about five times a day and takes three naps a day and finally goes to bed for the night between 10 and 11 pm. I would love that to be earlier but I don't mind that she usually sleep until 8 am. She eat two to three meals a day of pureed foods. She does not like sweet foods at all. Bananas make her gag. Pears make her pucker. Peas, beans, carrots, and squash she eats very happily. She picks up things off the floor and puts them in her mouth but I haven't gotten around to giving her finger foods yet.

She still uses the army crawl to get around but she's pretty fast. She likes to climb up and pillows, blankets, and people who are on the floor. She can get herself into a sitting position and often gets ups and rocks on her hands and knees. She's beginning to pull herself up on us and we help her to stand. She's still pretty wobbly on her legs though. She no longer pleasantly accepts her sisters taking her toys from her hands and often protests loudly, holds on tight and tries to grab the toy back. She's also pretty aggressive about going after the toys she wants even if someone else is holding them.

Tali is very spoiled by her daddy and will squawk if he doesn't pick her up right away and when he puts her down. Usually if I come over and reach for her when he's holding her she will turn away from me and cling to him. It's very sweet and it makes him feel loved. She enjoys her sisters but sometimes they can be a bit smothering. She is often torn between wanting to nurse and wanting to see what they are doing. It's so much fun to hear them all laugh and giggle together.

She's finally starting to grow some hair although I think she'll be sporting a mullet for a while since the sides on front are coming in more slowly than the back. Her little strawberry mark on the top of her head has flattened out and has really started to fade. She's wearing mostly 12 months clothing and size 2-3 shoes. I had to get a picture of her in our favorite yellow dress before she outgrows it. I'm not sure if she'll be able to wear it on her first birthday like Amanda and Christiana did.


I just love her smile!!! Don't you?


Here's Amanda wearing the dress on birthday and Gotcha Day. Here's Christiana wearing the dress on her birthday.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Just Keep Singing!

Singing- one if the most used items in my little bag of tricks.

If Amanda's whining about bedtime, I start singing the Veggie Tales thankfulness song. If Christiana's squirming during a diaper change, I start singing the diaper changing song from My Smart Hands. If the girls are fighting over a toy, I start singing the Magic Words song from Signing Time. If I'm trying to get the dishes washed quick before church and Amanda and Christiana are pestering each other, I start singing the name song. "Ana, Ana bo-bana, banana-fanana fo-fanana, me my mo mana, Ana!" They were mesmerized by that one! Amanda would shout out the next family member's name and listen intently to hear how the song would turn out.


If Amanda has never heard the song before, she will ask me to repeat it again and again. I used to think this was just one of those annoying toddler quirks, but since we have obliged her request for repeating a book or song, she has shown us that she's trying to memorized them.


Lately we have been listening to some Bible verses set to music. It is a CD created by Heidi Hoilien for the Children Desiring God ministry. We listen to the music and I have printed out the verses and posted them in a couple of places in the house so even when the CD isn't on, seeing the words makes the song pop into my head and I start singing.

It has been a great way for ME to finally memorize some scripture. I have always wanted to be able to pull up verses for my kids as they face issues and behaviors but hadn't committed enough verses to memory. Now, they're in my head and when Tyler started complaining about having to get up and come to the table, I started singing, "Do all things without grumbling or questioning. Do all things without grumbling or questioning. Phillippians 2:14 says, 'Do all things with out grumbling or questioning.'" He may have commented about how I had lost all self-respect for blurting out such a silly tune, but he came to the table and quit complaining.

When I first became I Christian, I learned of the importance of praising God because it keeps our mind focused heavenward and not on our earthly circumstances. During these days when my hands are kept very busy, singing helps to lift me and my littles into the lofty places where God lives. There is no better place to be!