Monday, December 28, 2009

Brace Yourself!

That's what I'm doing right now. January is going to come in like a lion for me. There is SO MUCH on my To Do List that it can get intimidating at times. I feel a bit overburdened, but I know I am not alone. Thank God for prayer! I sincerely do not know how I would make it through life if I did not have prayer. The older I get the more important my relationship with God becomes. I have grown so much closer to Him in my 30's...only one year left for me in that decade. I am so thankful that God is always there for us no matter what. What a blessing!

As January approaches I find myself in preparation mode. Avery will be here by February, and there is so much to do in the meantime. Today, I updated and paid the bills. The other biggie on my agenda is to get as much done for the lawyer as I can. All of the paperwork and documents need to be in place before Avery is born so that the paperwork can be filed upon his birth.

Tomorrow I plan to get started on the 2009 tax preparations. I figured it was a good idea to get as much of that as possible out of the way before I have a newborn under my wing. I know my days will look a lot different in just a few short weeks. I find myself wondering what kind of baby he will be. Will he be content? (I pray so!) Will he be fussy? Will he like to be held? Will he want to be rocked? Will he have dark skin and hair? Will his eyes be brown? How much will he weigh? Will he take to the bottle easy? Oh my, the questions go on and on.

Wednesday is my day to shop for our family Christmas celebration. We always celebrate on December 31st from NOON to 4PM. This year we are having a soup, salad, and baked potato bar. It should be nice, and simple. That's what we were going for; simple. I'll need to shop for the produce and make my soup ahead of time. Also, that is the day that Adrian and I are going to lunch at Ike's and to a movie. That is his Christmas present to me. I always enjoy hanging out with him.

Thursday we celebrate Christmas with family, then in the evening we celebrate the New Year with the boys and our good friends. Harmony may even be staying the night. We'll see about that one. I haven't decided yet, but she'll likely end up here. She can barely go a week without a Nana and Papa fix!

As we get into January there will be Christmas decorations to put away, things to clean, our daughter moving out, furniture to move around, a room to paint and prepare for Avery, and a lot of shopping to do. I have been waiting to buy things like diapers, bottles and formula. There is so much to consider in their purchase. In the middle of January I will be attending a diaper class through No Pins Required. They are based out of Ferndale which is about 20 minutes from my home. Yes, I am actually considering cloth diapers. They have come such a long way, and they are so economical compared to disposable. We'll see where this adventure leads.

Fortunately, I have my mom coming to help me the week after Christmas. We'll likely do some cleaning and moving of furniture. Then, after our daughter moves out my best gal pal will be coming down to help me prepare Avery's bedroom. Currently we have a bassinet in our room for him, but I know he won't be in that long. I think it will be nice if I am able to have everything set up and waiting for him. Less stress is good by me.

Speaking of stress, my poor hubby has been under a lot for the past couple of months. I know he is real frustrated with personnel type issues at the shop. It seems he will have no choice but to fire and hire. That is such a tough spot to be in, especially when friends are involved. Unfortunately, he seems to have no choice. I just keep praying for wisdom and guidance for him. I know that God works in mysterious ways, and experience has shown that something much greater typically lies on the other side of tough decisions and situations.

A lot is going to change around the Smith Household during January. I am sure there will be blessings and challenges. That's what life is made of, it seems. I am reminded of the Bible verse I have hanging on a tile above my stove, "...rejoice in our suffering, suffering produces perseverance , perseverance character, and character hope..." Romans 5:3 I don't see life as all suffering, but I have learned to see the blessing in suffering. I am thankful for my trials, as that is when I learn and grow. It really is a beautiful thing.

It is my prayer to you that in this New Year you will find the blessings in your struggles and rejoice knowing that there is always hope. Have a richly, blessed 2010!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Old Tanenbaum

Christmas just isn't Christmas without a real Christmas tree. This statement comes from my husband. In the 13 years of our relationship this has always been a strong point of disagreement. I now find myself really struggling to honor his real tree Christmas fantasy fulfillment for yet another Smith Family Christmas. I have been pondering this point all evening, and I am still in conflict.

This year is exceptionally challenging in the "having enough time" department. Apparently my Wonder Woman Cape has mysteriously been donated to charity, because it is nowhere to be found. I spent the first part of November sick with a bad cold for about 11 days and recovered just in time to pull off Thanksgiving. Then, this past Tuesday I suddenly came down with a very bad cold/flu type thing that I actually suspected to be H1N1. I stuck with my natural remedies and chiropractic care and accepted the five day grounding to my room. Needless to say between these two illnesses I have fallen completely off course in regard to preparing for Avery and preparing for Christmas, and both are right around the corner. Quite literally.

With so much to do that now includes catching up on my normal household duties, the November and October month-end bookkeeping for the shop, updating the bills, locating a counselor to assist us through our family adoption process, securing all the documents and paperwork for the adoption, preparing our house for the home visits related to the adoption, and all of my holiday baking, gift making, shopping, and wrapping seriously just how important is a real tree? The actual pivotal point for me was when I found out hubby is going to go hunting one more time after telling me that he would be home next weekend. See, this means that I get to do it all by myself AGAIN. Somehow, gathering the tree, setting it up, caring for it, cleaning up after it, decorating it, undecorating it, taking it down, and disposing of it are all my responsibility. Hubby NEVER helps aside from actually putting it into the stand...sometimes. The rest of that list is all me with the occasional child helper; which is getting less and less the older they get.

Finally, I had visions of a family day together decorating the home and putting up the tree coming to fruition this coming Sabbath. What a beautiful way to spend the day, right? I could live with the beast of a chore making tree if it was a fun family day. However, my vision disappeared like a movie tape in the heads of an old, dirty VHS player when hubby let me know that he was going to go hunting again one day next weekend. Of course, he has no idea which day. This man knows nothing of planning. Can you say, "AHHHH!"

My defiant, independent self wants to just chuck everything and not have a tree. Well, I know the revolt that would come from that one, so the next best thing in my book is a good old-fashioned fake tree. My ideal? A 4-foot tree on an end table covered by a pretty, white sheet in front of the window. Totally works for me. Easy up. Easy down. No muss. No fuss.

Any opinions?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Christmas Oatmeal

This is my favorite way to use leftover oatmeal and cranberry sauce. Here is a recipe for my favorite homemade cranberry sauce:

Cranberry Sauce

2 cups Sugar
1 cup Pineapple Juice, from reserved juice
1 cup Water
1 - 20 ounce can Pineapple Tid Bits, juice reserved
6 cups Fresh Whole Cranberries

Combine sugar, juice and water in large pot. Bring to boil.

Add cranberries. Bring back to boil. Reduce heat. simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add pineapple. Continue cooking another 5 minutes.

Move to container. Cover and cool completely. Refrigerate before serving.

Okay, now for the Christmas Oatmeal. What I do is warm up leftover oatmeal in a sauce pan with about 1/2 to 1 cup vanilla soy milk. As the oatmeal warms, break it apart with a wooden spoon. Once it is warmed through, mash with a potato masher to get desired consistency.

In a small bowl, dessert size works well, spoon about two tablespoons of your leftover cranberry sauce into the bottom. Top cranberry sauce with warmed oatmeal and sprinkle with brown sugar. Can you say, "YUM!"?

I absolutely love this, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Phase One Complete

With baby planning, Thanksgiving hosted at my home, and Christmas on the horizon it has been difficult for me to focus my thoughts long enough to even consider writing a new post. To my regular visitors, please accept my apologies. I know it has been pretty boring here with no new content. So much for my old rule of at least one new blog entry per week. My brain is just on overdrive, and if it were not for lists I would never accomplish a thing.

Seeking out cute baby clothes has been quite a pleasure. Who remembers new babies are so tiny? Have you looked at a newborn baby diaper lately? Are their butts really that small? I had to put a stop to my clothes shopping; at least for a while anyway. About the only thing this child needs in the fabric department is some more Onsies and those cute little mittens that stop their little nails from scratching their cute little faces. Other than that, I have the newborn department filled. Time to focus on other things like bottles, nipples, diapers and accessories, blankets, sheets, a monitor, and the million other things I'm not thinking of right now.

Over the years I have grown to know and love certain resale stores in the area. That is one good thing about living in such an urban setting, there are plenty to choose from. Imagine my surprise when I found the cutest little boutique style resale shop, Secret Treasures Upscale Resale, right in the neighborhood. I have managed to find over 95% of the things I have purchased so far all under this one cool, little roof. The quality of their goods is amazing, and you don't have to pick through armloads of items to find something good. It's all good. You just spend your time deciding what is cutest in your size and price range. Love it! This past Friday I found an adorable, like new bassinet for $40; a steal in my book based on the prices of the new ones. I spent the weekend rearranging our bedroom and redecorating the walls. It looks great, and I find myself staring at the bassinet hardly believing that in less than two months there will be this cute little miracle in there completely depending on me for everything.

How is it that babies can be so cute, lovable, and awe inspiring while at the same time completely terrifying? Of course, I don't mean that literally, but there are moments when I do feel a little intimidated. There is solace in knowing that my feelings are all completely normal. It is also interesting to note that this is the most relaxed I have ever been anticipating the arrival of a baby. Maybe it's the fact that I don't have to give birth. (Heaving a BIG sigh of relief!) Barring some unforeseen miracle of God, which we all know he is capable of but hope he's not planning on demonstrating, experiencing the miracle of birth is something permanently checked off of my list of things to experience in my lifetime. AMEN!

As the arrival of our beloved Avery gets closer and closer it is becoming more evident to my husband as well as myself just how different life will be with a newborn around 24/7 and completely dependent upon us for his nurturing. Pat, my husband, and Andrew, our oldest son, went to our friends' home in Big Rapids to do some hunting. When he came home he told me all about this idea he had for us this summer. Our friends would come to our home, and we would ride the motorcycles up the coast of The Thumb to those great cabins we stayed in two years ago for our anniversary. I thought it was a great idea, but I wondered how much fun it would be on the back of the motorcycle with Avery in a sling. Of course, this got a few chuckles out of both of us. The fact that we would then be new parents had completely slipped his mind. So, the original plan switched from riding up together to me driving the car with our new bundle of joy while they rode the motorcycles so that motorcycle riding would still be a fun option for the excursion. A win, win situation for all of us.

It's strange to think this time next year we will be preparing to celebrate our first Christmas with Avery. Who would have thought we would ever have that experience together? I was most certain that big landmark firsts were a thing of the past. This just goes to show that one really does never know what lies around tomorrow's corner. Life is full of wonderful experiences and opportunities when one is a willing participant in the plans of God.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Good News Today

Today was the day. We had to be in for her ultrasound at 10:30 this morning. The purpose? Determine whether or not the placenta has moved out of the way of the birth canal. The previous ultrasound showed that the placenta was blocking the cervix putting both our daughter and the baby in grave danger. Praise God! The placenta has moved off to the side, so there is no more danger to either of them, and we can plan for a natural birth.

The next doctor's visit will be next Tuesday. At this visit we will discuss a birth plan. This is something that is going to require some thought, prayer, and sensitivity. It is our daughter's desire for us to take Avery immediately upon birth. Up until this point we really haven't given the birth plan too much thought or conversation, because we did not know what her delivery might entail. Of course it would be a completely different situation had we needed to go the way of a planned C-Section. Now, it looks as though things will progress normally, so we need to determine what that means for us as a family.

This is such a unique opportunity and something we never could have foreseen. There is so much to do and such little time to do it. I have been painstakingly considerate of our daughter's feelings. This means that I have not done a whole lot of preparing for the baby. She asked to not be a part of the shopping, planning, or any other aspect of the preparations. Due to the fact that she will be living in our home for another six weeks or so, I have been trying to wait to do too much in the baby department. I have purchased some clothing and things for the baby's bedroom walls, but that's about the extent of things. It's just weird to me. Anyone that knows me would see how this is just so against my nature. I am a perfectionist planner type.

I have found myself sick with a cold for the past week, and that has really slowed me down. So, last weekend I made a list of everything we will need for Avery. Wow! Who remembered that babies required so many things. Even if one takes a conservative approach to the whole development, the list is still long. It seems January will find me consumed in everything baby.

Friday, November 13, 2009

He Has a Name, and Other News

I have discovered a few things since my last post. My first consultation with our lawyer was just over a week ago. It sounds like the process should be pretty simple. Fortunately, family adoptions are very relaxed in our county. It will run about $2000 for the legal services. We have some basic documentation to gather; birth certificates and the like. There will be paperwork to fill out. We will go before the judge as a family in a very informal setting; not the court house. The most anxiety provoking part will be the home visits from Department of Human Services. Although, I have been assured that they are very nice, ever as intrusive as they may be, by a very reliable source.

There have also been some developments with the pregnancy. The baby is for sure a boy. After some research and some encouragement to name the baby from our lawyer, we have decided on Avery Thomas. Avery means counselor, wise, sage, and Thomas is in honor of the first born son that my husband's parents lost while he was still a baby. This carries on my personal tradition of connecting the children to the family through their middle names.

That's the fun part. The other developments aren't as fun. A big concern is that her placenta is covering the cervix. This is very dangerous. There is a risk of hemorrhage that could cost either or both of their lives. Another ultrasound will be performed next week to see if the placenta has moved. If it has not, we will meet with a specialist to set a date for c-section. The reason for the precaution is so that she experience no labor. Just one contraction puts their lives at risk. The goal would be to deliver the baby before labor has a chance to start. An ultrasound would be performed right before going into surgery. If the placenta has moved even at that point the c-section would be canceled, and the pregnancy would be allowed to progress naturally to and through labor and delivery.

Also, she has RH-. If you are not familiar with this pregnancy twist, being RH- means that your blood cannot mix with the baby's blood until they find out the baby's blood type. If the baby is also negative, then there is nothing to worry about. However, if the baby has positive blood, and the mother's blood mixes with the baby's blood the mother will begin to form antibodies making her womb inhospitable to future babies. A shot is given at integral points throughout the pregnancy and again after delivery if necessary. There is no risk to mom or the baby. The steps are taken to protect future babies.

We are learning a lot with this pregnancy. Oh! Harmony, the oldest grand, and myself both felt the Avery move for the first time last week. It was SO exciting! I totally forgot how equally cool and weird that is. Harmony is really coming to understand the whole situation. She told my girlfriend the other day, "Auntie is having a baby for us!" She also signed up to be the babysitter. Happily, she doesn't even care that he's a boy, and not a girl!

I have purchased some things in anticipation of the wee one, but I have to say that I've not bought that much. Pat of it is that I really don't have anywhere to put it yet. Once our daughter moves out we will be able to better prepare the home for Avery's arrival. I am really trying to honor her wishes and respect her presence. Part of that is keeping the baby hoopla at a dull roar. She asked to not be included in the preparation process. I am doing my best to respect her wishes. I do have to say that I didn't realize how much went into preparing for a baby until I searched online for a checklist. Holy cow! Babies need a lot of stuff even when you are being conservative. Maybe we'll get lucky and have a baby shower. Who knows? I do know that we will not go without. So many people have offered to give us things that we will need. God always provides, so I know I can just relax and let things take their course. It truly is a beautiful process.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Here Comes the Next Phase

I have been thinking about this post for months now, and I am still finding the exact words elusive. Please bear with me as I sort my thoughts. It really is amazing how life goes. We start out so pure and innocent with these great plans and ambitions. I have always been such an idealist. It has never been much of a challenge for me to see the good in people. In my mind things always work out. That is just the way it is.

Given everything I have been through I find it no real surprise where I find myself today. Is it the way I planned things? Of course not. Plans are quite silly, really. Honestly, who do we think we are anyway? The course of our life is not up to us. God is in control, and the sooner we learn that the better. Do I understand His plan? Not at all, but that is okay. I am glad to not have the responsibility that would encompass. Playing my part is challenging enough. I can handle no more than one step at a time.

My life has seen much pain and many disappointments. It has also provided many lessons, miracles, and accomplishments. Everything is all a matter of perspective anyway. The less time we spend wondering what others think and the more time we spend putting one foot in front of the other the better. Things always look better if we are focusing in the right spot. If only I could have learned that lesson years ago.

It seems it took the recent turn of events to bring this lesson into full perspective. I spent a couple of months processing, praying, and healing. It was the most paralyzing bout of depression I think I have ever had, but it may have been the most productive. I have honestly never experienced anything quite like it. I really did feel paralyzed. It was a frustrating spot to be, that is until I embraced it. Once I recognized that I was right where I needed to be the healing began, and progress moved in. It was an awesome experience.

When we are feeling depressed we always want to do something about it, and that just may not be the way to go. Numbing out feelings and emotions with prescription drugs can most often prove counter productive, in my humble opinion. I would venture to guess that we have the feelings we have when we have them so that we can learn something from them. If we numb them out, how on earth will we ever learn and grow? It has been my experience that it is best to embrace our circumstances and open our hearts and minds to guidance and growth.

Back in July, when I was in the thick of VBS planning and preparation, my husband and I learned that our youngest daughter, our remaining beacon of hope for all things dreamed and wished for in a successful daughter, had joined the ranks of her older sisters. She was now uneducated, single, and pregnant. Talk about a shocker. July was to be the month that we made our first OB/GYN appointment. This daughter was a virgin, or so we thought. Fortunately, we had some time to process this information before she sat down and talked with us herself.

Honestly, she was in a state of panic, and we were in a state of shock. We had known there was something quite wrong for a few months, but we were unable to crack the case. It was obvious to me that she was depressed, but not so obvious why. I had attributed it to the recent breakup of her and her boyfriend, her failing grades at school, and some other poor decision making she had been doing in relation to finances. I couldn't have been more wrong.

It seems there had been a momentary lapse of judgment during the two-month breakup of her and said boyfriend that culminated in a "one night stand" and about 10 positive pregnancy tests. This child set into panic mode and was bent on moving out of the house rather than dealing with the situation head on. Finally, after some strong encouragement from the sister she was to move in with, she stepped up and talked to us. An unexpected journey was unfolding before us. We had no idea where we were headed.

What set in for me was an unrealized bout of depression. Really, I think all three of us, (my daughter, my husband, and myself), sat in depression for some time. I finished out VBS without being able to deal with anything. Any of you that have ever done VBS knows how consuming it is the week it is going on. When VBS wrapped up we started taking baby steps.

The first thing I did was take our daughter to see a woman at a crisis pregnancy center. She talked to us about the dangers of abortion from a much experienced position. It was an emotionally draining day for me. It became obvious to me that this child was terrified of her situation so much so that she was actually considering abortion. What came out of my mouth was a shock to me, "I will promise you right now that if you do not abort this baby I will raise it." Who knew I would be that desperate to have my daughter not kill my grandchild? Through conversation, I learned that she didn't really want an abortion. She was scared, and she was not ready to raise a baby.

The next step was to visit an adoption agency. She was interested in placing the baby through an open adoption. We made an appointment and drove a few cities away to an agency that was recommended through the crisis pregnancy center. We talked with the lady, and she made it clear, "This is not your decision. This is your daughter's decision." Well, duh? BUT, we are a family, and we do rely on each other. In the end she just didn't sit well with either of us. Our daughter was not in this alone. We were facing this head on, together.

I searched and searched for information. I learned that there are people out there that were placed through open adoption that are very unhappy and against the system. I learned that there are alternatives. I prayed. I searched. I prayed. I searched. I prayed, and I searched some more. I checked out books from the library and dug through the internet. There is a never ending supply of information on the subject, but it does require some digging through.

One thing that kept tripping me up is that I just could not get comfortable with the idea of adoption. When I expressed this to my husband he said, "We may not agree, but we have to be supportive." I did not say too much after that, but I kept praying and researching. I talked to friends that have adopted. I spoke to good friends about people they knew that were looking to adopt. Still nothing felt right. Then, when my husband spoke with our daughter on his own, and she told him she wanted to place the baby for open adoption, he had to fight back tears. This was when he knew it was not so okay with him either.

Where we were led next was, what we thought, just crazy. We questioned God and each other over and over. Did we really want to do this? Were we really considering adopting our grandchild? Did we really want to raise another child right at a time when we were actively viewing our empty nest? Our youngest is just getting ready to turn 16. What on earth were we thinking? Were we crazy? Are we crazy?

Well, it is impossible to say no to the prompting of God and the calling of your heart. Through some loving guidance and challenges to my moral stance I was prompted to search through the Bible on the subject of adoption, and it just cleared it up for me even more. This was the right thing to do. This baby is family no matter his origin. He needs to know his roots as best he can and have a sense of belonging and position in this world. He needs to know that his family cares and wants the very best for him. We were prepared to offer just that, and we made our feelings known to our daughter. She said the most mature thing I had heard out of any of our young ladies in a long time, "Can I take a week to think about it?" Of course we were elated. We had just had the most productive conversation we had quite possibly ever had with any of our daughters, and it ended on a positive note with a mature direction.

In the week that followed I took our daughter to see a friend of the family that does some alternative therapy. It seemed to have gone well, and she took the time she needed to process. Then, I'll never forget the day that I came home from some morning errands and found a note on my planner. My stomach did a few flips. I have a couple of children that like to communicate through letters when they have something big to deal with. She is one of them. I had company, but I couldn't help but read the letter right then. I just had to know what she had to say. Was I going to be a mother again, or did I have to find it in myself to let this baby go? Where were we heading from here?

When I was reading the letter I found myself impressed with the thought she had put in to expressing what it was she needed and where her limitations lied. The bottom line was that she wants my husband and myself to adopt her baby. I actually found myself giddy, in the words of my husband, and it was a shock to me. I still couldn't believe that I was getting excited about raising another child. What was I thinking? But, what an opportunity!

Now it was time to include the boys. Shortly after reading the letter and talking together my husband and I sat down with our two boys, almost 16 and 18 years old. It is important to us that they feel free to ask questions and get answers through this entire process. Both boys were okay with the idea much to my surprise. Honestly, I really was not sure what to expect, but I have to say I was a little surprise at their acceptance of the situation. The almost 18 year old is actually excited about the idea and thinks it is "cool". What more can we ask for?

After our conversation with the boys, that left the older girls. I spoke with two of them via the telephone. They asked questions, and we discussed different issues. They still cannot believe that we are going to have another child, but they are happy as well. The two oldest girls came over for dinner on a Sunday afternoon. We spoke then. Our oldest daughter was very excited that there had been a solution that would allow the baby to remain in the family. All in all everyone seems to be having fun with the idea. We will see what we think about it when we are in the thick of two a.m. feedings and diaper changes. (BWG)

Of course, we still need to take care of the legalities of the matter. There are some sensitive issues that need to be addressed. Our daughter will be moving out a couple weeks before the baby is due. In the mean time we need to create a birth plan. Praise God we were led to an amazing doctor right in our neighborhood. She has experience in these types of situations and is completely open to working with us. Our daughter is in good health. The baby is progressing well. At the ultrasound last week we learned that he is a boy. Hubby was VERY happy about that.

Right now we are taking it day by day. We are learning how to communicate better, creating a birth plan, preparing for a daughter to move out, and a son to come in to our life. This whole thing could not have been more unexpected, but we are happy and blessed. I have had this strong desire to do mission work. What I am learning now is that my mission is at home with my family. This is where I am needed. Home is where I need to share the love of Christ. God has planted me here for such a time as this.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Henry Ford

Pat and I celebrated our anniversary a couple weeks ago by spending a weekend at The Henry Ford. It was a wonderful way to spend a weekend. Our hotel was beautiful and much like an art gallery and museum itself. The halls were lined with pictures of automobiles and period pieces. Antiques were also placed throughout. It was like a beautiful, pink palace. Our room was spacious and comfortable. The bathroom was even stocked with Bath and Body Works products.

After arriving Friday afternoon we settled in and went to dinner at the restaurant downstairs. They served local food products, and dinner was nice. Afterward we just relaxed in our room. It was a lovely evening.

Saturday morning brought our included hot breakfast at the hotel restaurant and a need for walking shoes. We spent the entire day at Greenfield Village. It never disappoints. However, one thing we did notice is that it seems much smaller when you're there with no children, and you get to enjoy every corner. We even took a ride on one of the cars there. That was an enjoyable experience that I'd never had before.

Lunch at Greenfield Village was amazing! At A Taste of History restaurant they serve all locally manufactured and grown food products. Everything was amazing. I didn't go vegetarian this time, though. I just had to try this interesting chicken dish. It was well worth it. I enjoyed every bite.

Returning to the hotel we changed into our swimsuits and relaxed in the pool area. We swam a bit and laid in the sauna. I'd not been in one of those in years, and it felt so good! I was a bit disappointed that it was a dry sauna. No pouring water on the rocks.

The next morning we headed down again for our complimentary breakfast buffet. Yummo! This time we set off to explore The Henry Ford Museum. There were so many interesting displays. I especially liked the newer farm display and freedom display. What a feeling to sit on the bus that Rosa Park made her historical decision to not give up her seat. It was also touching to go through the part of the display that taught about the suffrage movement. Heart breaking! I am ever so thankful to those women.

Sunday evening we arrived home a little wiser and well rested. What more could one ask for out of a weekend? If you ever get a chance to spend your weekend like this, the package is so worth it. What a bargain!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Getting it Together

Writing something new and interesting here has been on my mind, oh since my last post. I'm sure you are familiar with those times that life just kind of sucks you in, and there really isn't anything you can do about it. You just need to go with the flow. Well, I'm coming out of one of those times.

In mid-July we got some life changing news that I am not a liberty to discuss fully as of yet. After some decisions are made, then I will share the full story here. It is my hope that at least one will benefit from our experience. Be that as it may, this news just sent me into a tail spin. It blindsided me so to speak. Fortunately we had a little bit of a heads up, so we were able to process things a bit before we had to face the situation head on.

Currently, we are still facing the situation head on, but the process paralyzed me for a time. It was rather unexpected. I think I was in shock, then it was a deep depression. Fortunately, I have grown a bit over the years, and this did not freak me out as it would have years ago. Before I understood how we function I used to get terribly frightened when I would get depressed. I would fear I was going crazy, literally. I would fear I was always going to feel that way and never be able to snap out of it.

After some experience, and a bit of education, I can see depression for what it is. It really can be therapeutic in and of itself. Sometimes we just need to go through it to have clarity on the other side. Depression is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be positive and beneficial if we embrace the process. Looking back I can see a few stages that I went through. Initially it was shock, then I was depressed and didn't realize it. Next, I became aware of the fact that I was depressed and just kind of went with it. I allowed myself to process, and it was the best thing I could have done. I talked with God a lot. Then, I started to come around. Things became more clear. After intense seeking I reached out for help. Now, I am able to see things more clearly, and it is a wonderful feeling. God never disappoints. He will guide us if we desire and request his guidance. It's a beautiful thing.

Sometimes God even surprises us. Have you ever found yourself thinking, "Really, God? You want me to do what? Right now? After all this? Really?" That is where we are right now. I'm sorry I cannot say a whole lot more. Decisions still need to be made before I can move too much more forward in this area, but we are in process. It is a beautiful place to be. It took us a while to get it together enough to be in process. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Have you been there, done that? Are you there right now?

Know that God has written His Word on your heart, and he is always guiding us. Seek Him and He will lead. He will hold you up in the good times and the bad. He is always there. God never fails us. AMEN!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The First Time

Pat and I had the privilege of taking my niece to the Detroit Zoo for the first time. We took Jordan and Harmony, our granddaughter, this past Sunday. It was a lot of fun! We saw some animals that we haven't seen in previous trips, explored areas that were until then unexplored, and paid a small fortune to ride the train.

What is up with that anyway? Do you know it cost the four of us $12 to ride the train from the back of the zoo to the front of the zoo; a one-way trip behind the zoo with no real sites to see! It just blew my mind. When we used to take all seven of our kids it was a mere 50 cents. That was just a few years ago, really. At today's rates it would have cost us $27 for a quick ride from the back to the front of the zoo! How on earth could we have justified doing that? I guess three dollars is the new fifty-cents! Sad...

Anyway, despite my sticker shock at the cost of the train ride, we had a spectacular time. See for yourself:

Jordan and the Big Blue Dog!

Amphibiville is very interactive!

Everyone has to get their picture taken here!

She's trapped in a dino cage!

This feels great on a hot day!

The Arctic Zone is awesome!

The ice wall is C-O-L-D!

Harmony pushed Jordan for quite a while!

The prairie dogs are so cute!

These prairie dogs aren't too bad either!

Who knows what this is?

"I want to ride the zebra!"

The zebra.

Waiting for the train to leave.

The zoo was fun...

...for me too!

The train is loud!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sheldon Churchill and The Cheerful Flowers

As any one of you that regularly visits here must know by now, I LOVE HOMESCHOOLERS! I love homeschooling and everything about it. It is my experience that homeschoolers are awesomely creative people; children and parents alike. Homeschoolers are unique in such an awesome way, and I am so proud to have had the courage to take the path that led to homeschooling on my personal life's journey. And, might I add, the courage to have stayed the course.

Homeschooling is not for the weak or faint of heart. It is for the brave and the bold. Homeschooling requires guts and persistence. It requires trust and honesty. Homeschooling definately requires thinking outside of the box, and what could be more cool? My favorite people, of all ages, are those that think outside the box as a normal part of life. Thinking outside the box is a natural part of life for the most interesting people around in my humble opinion. Free thinkers are interesting, inventive and creative.

Where am I going with this you might wonder? Why, to Sheldon Churchill and The Cheerful Flowers, of course. This film was created by Adrian's friend Kevin Rossi and the band he has with his brother, Two-Toned Sterence. You will see his parents are even involved as actors. I love this film and think it is truly inspirational. It is an eight part series that will require some time to watch in it's entirity, but it is so worth the view! Please take the time to support some really cool homeschoolers. Watch their film and up their views on YouTube. Be inspired!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Photo Journal

I took these pictures over a week ago with the intention of sharing here. However, with the Matt Landry incident and other things going on in our life it just didn't work out that way initially. Some time has passed now, but I am managing to get on track again. Adrian, Harmony and I set out to weed the garden. Well, this was how Harmony helped:

Talk about having a monkey on your back!

Then she basked poolside!

Adrian getting rid of the weeds.

My coneflowers are amazing!
They are the size of kidding!

I love the way the sweet peas look against the fence.

The white roses are lovely again this year.

I have all kinds of sunflowers. This one is an heirloom.

Vegetables are few this year. This is a summer squash.

I believe this to be cucumber.

My poor tomato plants! I am used to them being taller than me.

The only produce I can find in the garden!

What's the story morning glory?

Rose of Sharon.

Jordan helps Great-Grandpa open his gifts.

Grandma and Grandpa look at the photo book made for his 77th!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Matt Landry Fund

The HTML code to embed the latest news broadcast is not correct. It is linking to an old broadcast. For the most current information you can visit the WXYZ website here.

Here is the information in regard to the funeral services and memorial fund for Matt Landry. Please continue to hold this family up in prayer. Maybe you'd even be willing to support the fund his family set up to help pay his funeral expenses and create a music scholarship in his name.

3:00pm - 9:00pm on Monday, August 17th
3:00pm - 9:00pm on Tuesday, August 18th
Vigil Service, 7:00pm on Tuesday, August 18th

In-state at 9:00am, Service at 9:30am on Wednesday, August 19th at:
St. Michael Catholic Church
40501 Hayes Road
Sterling Heights, MI 48313

Memorials may be made to the Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union, Attn: Matthew Landry Fund, 34826 Twenty-three Mile Rd. Chesterfield, MI 48047

Resurrection Cemetery
18201 Clinton River Road
Clinton Township, Michigan 48038

Kaul Funeral Home
35201 Garfield
Clinton Township, MI 48035

This Sunday from 6 p.m. from 2 a.m. a benefit for Matt's family will be held at the Emerald Theatre in Mount Clemens. There will be food, entertainment and a cash bar. There's a $20 donation, with proceeds going to the family.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Matt Landry - UPDATE

CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) - They're in shock. Family and friends of Matthew Landry are devastated by the discovery of what's believed to be his body in a burned-out house. There won't be positive identification until tomorrow, but Matt's loved ones already seem to know the heartbreaking truth.


Family members are understandably so heartbroken tonight that Matt is gone, that the 21-year-old who loved his family, his friends, music and hockey was taken from them in the most unexpected and violent way.

He disappeared on Sunday. Witnesses say they saw him being carjacked and today the body of a young man, believed to be Matt, was found in a burned-out Detroit home, shot in the head. The prime suspect is 17-year-old Ihab Masalmani. Matt's family has a wide range of emotions towards him.

As Matt's mom and dad and sisters and brothers and other relatives wait for formal and positive identification, they're doing a lot of remembering Thursday night; a lot of crying, but even some laughing. They say Matt was a wonderful young man who always made them smile.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Now, More than Ever

The family of Matt Landry has been notified that the body found in the burned out home in Detroit is that of their 21-year-old son. Now, more than ever, they are in need of our prayers and support.

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Developments continue to unfold in the discovery of a body in the area of 7 Mile and Gratiot.

The body was found inside a burned out home at Maddelein and Monarch around 10:40 a.m. A friend of the family tells Action News that the family has been told the body is that of 21-year-old Matt Landry. However, it has been transfered to the Wayne County Medical Examiner's office for final identification.

The body was found in the same area investigators found Landry's car. It appears as if he was shot, and had been left at the scene for several days. However, an exact cause of death has not yet been determined.

Landry's family was notified about the discovery shortly after it was made. They were told during a meeting with authorities in Eastpointe.

Investigators are still on the scene. They tell Action News that three people were arrested at the home earlier today. However, it was not made clear why they were taken into custody.

Stay with Action News and for the latest on this developing story.

Not Looking Good

Things are not looking so good for the young man I have been telling you about and asking for prayers. Please continue to keep his family close to your heart and in your prayers.

Missing Man - UPDATE

Matt is still missing. Here is the latest information:

Link Between Bank
Robbery, Missing Man?

Updated: Wednesday, 12 Aug 2009, 6:25 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 12 Aug 2009, 6:22 PM EDT

ROSEVILLE, Mich. (WJBK) - Local police are investigating a possible connection between a violent bank robbery and a missing person's case. Matt Landry has been missing for three days. His car was found abandoned in Detroit, but there has been no sign of the 21-year-old.

Now, police believe they have clues in this case that link Landry's disappearance to the gunman who robbed a Flagstar Bank this week.

A man who doesn't want to be identified says he hasn't slept in days after he and his wife claim they witnessed the kidnapping and carjacking of Matt Landry in the parking lot of an Eastpointe Quiznos Sub shop. The 21-year-old Chesterfield Township man has been missing since Sunday.

"This guy was punching this other fellow in the face. Then he drug the guy by the head, a headlock" the witness said. "He wouldn't go into the trunk, so he jerked him back and pushed him back into the car and sat him down by the car and hit him really hard in the face."

He says with their victim in the back, he watched the men take off in a green Honda believed to be Landry's vehicle. Police are examining surveillance tape at the Quiznos because they believe this kidnapping/carjacking in broad daylight sparked a three day crime spree led by 17-year-old Ihab Masalmani from Flint.

From Quiznos, they headed to a Sunoco station at Seven Mile Road and Hayes in Detroit. Surveillance video shows what the gas station owner claims he saw, Masalmani walked in, bought a shirt and changed by the ATM before he used Landry's ATM card three times to pull out hundreds of dollars.

"He was acting really suspicious. He spent 15 minutes over (at) the atm," said Sadaam Alkhi.

Police say Masalmani made his next appearance Monday, caught on camera robbing a Flagstar Bank in Harrison Township. The gunman in that robbery pointed a semi-automatic handgun at a customer's head. Sources say the green car used to get away is Landry's vehicle.

"I don't know. You just pray for the best. It doesn't look good," said Landry's sister Gina Harriman.

Roseville Police finally caught up with Masalmani Tuesday after he allegedly attempted to carjack another man driving a red Honda in front of a Wal-Mart on Gratiot. Witnesses called police, who tracked him down behind the complex and arrested Masalmani on the spot.

Masalmani was arraigned in the shirt he allegedly bought at the gas station. He's been charged for the Roseville carjacking, but police are working to connect him to the other crimes.

The family of Matt Landry is just hoping he's still alive. In fact, they're taking matters into their own hands, searching areas he was last seen.

"Maybe he's beat up, tied up somewhere and we can find him alive and get him home," said family friend Bob Berugi.

Masalmani will be facing charges for the bank robbery in Harrison Township. He is being held on a two-million dollar bond for the carjacking in Roseville. It turns out he has quite an extensive criminal record and was wanted on other felonies.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Missing Man - PLEASE READ

Since I have such wonderful people that visit my blog everyday, I just know you will take the time to read this. This young man is the brother of my nieces' friend. This happened in the city where I live. You just never know if you may know something. Thank you for helping!

Police find car, atm withdrawals on account of missing man last seen Sunday in Roseville
by Jonathan Oosting |
Wednesday August 12, 2009, 6:03 AM

Police found 21-year-old Matt Landry's car in an abandoned Detroit lot. They found records of ATM withdrawals. But they haven't found Landry, who was last seen in Roseville at 2 p.m. Sunday.

"I'm scared to death," his mother told Fox 2. "I'm scared to death I'm never going to see my son again."

Roseville and Chesterfield Township police are on the case, and they discovered several ATM withdrawals from a Sunoco gas station near Hayes and Seven Mile in Detroit. Surveillance footage revealed that Landry was not the one using the card.

They also found his car behind an abandoned home near Redmond and Rossini.

On "missing" fliers they were putting up around Roseville, Landry's family described him as 5 foot 11, 155 pounds with brown hair and eyes.

If you have information, you can contact Roseville police at (586)775-2100 or Chesterfield Township police at (586)949-2322.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Should You get the Swine Flu Vaccination?

I have been a patient at McLeod Eastpointe Chiropractic for seven years now. Most of my family and some of my friends are regulars as well. When I first started there I had been diagnosed with endometriosis. This is not a fun disease. There is a lot of pain involved, and I really had no quality of life to speak of. I was miserable.

It wasn't long after I started there that my symptoms started to ease up. I started feeling better, and I wasn't so miserable. I could make plans, and I was even becoming a nicer person. Being in pain and spending so much time in bed didn't do much for my personality.

I've learned a lot over the years because of my involvement with McLeod Eastpointe Chiropractic. Spinal health is no longer a mystery to me. I understand it's importance in our overall health and immune system function. It has become so valuable to me that I don't mind the out of pocket expense each year. It is just part of our budget now. Trust me, it can be a sacrifice sometimes as we do not have health insurance. Fortunately, their rates are affordable enough for us to have all of our children attending regularly as well. I even worry about moving. Where would I get such good care? I cannot imagine life without my chiropractor.

Anyway, they have a monthly newsletter that you can subscribe to, and I receive it personally. I don't always read everything in it, but sometimes something catches my eye. As some of you likely know I am very leery of vaccinations. I especially find the flu vaccine an eyebrow raiser. Not to mention some of the things that have come up under our new administration. I'm just not a trusting soul.

If you have any reservations, or even if you don't, this article shared in their newsletter is a worthwhile read:

Swine Flu Vaccine Should Not Be Given to Children in Schools

The above is the headline from a July 22, 2009 release from the National Vaccine Information Center, (NVIC). Along with this article is a video by Barbra Loe Fisher, founder and president of the non-profit NVIC, an organization designed to provide information of vaccinations to the general public.

The video and accompanying article question the safety of the vaccination based upon very limited testing. Ms. Loe Fisher also notes that since a national public health emergency was declared by officials in the U.S. Departments of Health and Homeland Security, back in April, "..drug companies, health officials and anyone who gives experimental vaccines to Americans during a declared public health emergency, (are) protected from liability if people get hurt."

In the video, Ms. Loe Fisher calls for more proof, "The National Vaccine Information Center has been a vaccine safety watchdog since 1982. We are questioning the need to turn schools into medical clinics this fall where swine flu vaccines being rushed to market will be given to children first. We are calling on the Obama Administration and state Governors to provide solid evidence to parents that it is necessary to give children experimental swine flu vaccines in schools." The original NVIC article and video can be seen at the NVIC website.

In an additional article in the August 7, 2009 Examiner, author Bill Underwood asks the question with his headline, "Is Baxter International's swine flu vaccine a godsend, a scam, or something worse?". In his article, Underwood presents the case that the vaccine company may have actually created the problems for which they have created the vaccine. He makes his case by noting, "According to reports in the mainstream media, this strain of influenza contains viral code fragments from: Human influenza, Bird Flu from North America, Swine flu from Europe, and Swine flu from Asia. For this to have been a natural combination of viral fragments, it means an infected bird from North America would have had to infect pigs in Europe, then be re-infected by those some pigs with an unlikely cross-species mutation that allowed the bird to carry it again, then that bird would have had to fly to Asia and infected pigs there, and those Asian pigs then mutated the virus once again (while preserving the European swine and bird elements) to become human transmittable, and then a human would have had to catch that virus from the Asian pigs — in Mexico!"

Other articles also quote experts who question the panic and rush surrounding the swine flu issue. British epidemiologist, Dr. Tom Jefferson, was quoted in the August 2, 2009 Pittsburgh Conservative Examiner as questioning the continual over reaction to various flu scares, "There are some people who make predictions year after year, and they get worse and worse. None of them so far have come about, and these people are still there making these predictions. For example, what happened with the bird flu, which was supposed to kill us all? Nothing. But that doesn't stop these people from always making their predictions."

I am a big proponent of educating oneself on vaccinations and at least making an informed decision. I so wish I had been better educated when my children were younger. Here are a few resources for further investigation:

National Vaccine Information Center

Michigan Opposing Mandatory Vaccines

Vaccination Exemption Form

State of Michigan Immunization Waiver Form

World Association for Vaccine Information

It is my prayer that you will find this information beneficial and thought provoking. With something like this that has such potential to alter our life it is definitely beneficial and imperative to be educated. Knowledge truly is power.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Theft Through Inflation

This is a very interesting video series that educates on the real meaning of inflation and its impact on society.

Monday, August 03, 2009

It is Finished

Bible Mystery Investigation has come to a close. It was a long labor of love, and we had a wonderful time. The fact that God was truly in control could not have been more obvious to me. I am constantly reminded of a few lines from one of my favorite movies:

"What will we do?"

"It will all work out."


"I don't know. It's a mystery."

There were indeed parts of Bible Mystery Investigation that were a real mystery. However, with constant prayer, diligence, and a willingness to serve everything went off without a hitch. Which in and of itself is a real miracle if you think about it. What on earth do you possibly know of that just goes without a hitch and has so many factors involved?

VBS is a tremendous endeavor that takes many contributors to pull off. Everyone works together like a finely tuned machine. Each person has his or her job, and everyone is reliant on that person wearing their hat, and the hat fitting each person. Participating in VBS as a volunteer requires flexibility and dedication. We are all committed as a whole to the common goal of creating a positive experience for children, many we have never met before and may never see again, that expresses the love of Jesus and plants a seed in their hearts. It is not an endeavor that I take lightly. I truly see it as mission work for God. You did know that you can be a missionary in your own neighborhood, didn't you?

This year we tried a few different things that seemed to work out quite well. Our theme was Bible Mystery Investigation. The program covered the creation week, all seven days, and the plan of salvation. Encompassed in that was prayer and outreach. What a blessing it was for all involved! Each day the kids learned about the mysteries involved with creation and sought out answers through the stations in the program. They were literally tought how to pray, and they did a food drive for Solid Ground. We even had four of the children attend the program that are part of the Solid Ground family. It was quite an experience to be certain.

Through friendly competition the kids brought donations throughout the week. They learned about the mission of Solid Ground and earned tickets that they got to spend in our VBS store each day after snack. The group that brought the most items earned a free ice cream cone at Baskin Robbins. There was a "sneak attack" at the end, and an unsuspecting group won by THREE items!

The week culminated with a special VBS Sabbath Service and a potluck dinner where their crafts from the week were showcased. We had a lot of visitors, and it was a lot of fun! The kids participated in the service, learned more about Solid Ground. Nancy Skula spoke to the congregation. She shared a touching video that's used to promote Solid Ground. This is not the exact video, but it is the song:

It was very touching, and it sure got your attention. My heart has been tugged to Solid Ground for over a year now. I live right down the street, and pass it several times on some days. God has used me to help on more than one occasion, and I hope to continue my connection with the organization. It is a really unique program and a real blessing to the community.

Potluck was a success, and it really seemed like everyone had a wonderful time socializing and getting to know each other. We had such a large turn out that we weren't sure there would be enough food, but I prayed to God about "fishes and loaves", and all was well. We even had to add more places for people to sit!

We learned a lot running this program this year. Now, it is our ambition to extend the wonders of VBS throughout the year. We are not sure what we will do next, but we plan to stay connected with the kids. It may be a bit of a challenge since some of them did not get properly registered, but my God is able!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Out to...VBS!

Just a quick note to thank my dedicated visitors and Entrecard Droppers! I know I haven't been too active with the visiting and dropping myself. The month of July has been exceptionally busy. We had our mini-vacation, two birthdays, the family reunion that I was in charge of, and now VBS. I am the director again this year, and it is in full-swing this week. We are all SO blessed! Everything always works out, and everyone has fun.

If you think to, please keep our program in prayer. We have about 75% of the children as visitors! This is just so wonderful. Our church is a little short on young ones, so we really reach out to the community. This is the second year that my assistant and I have run the program, and we have learned so much.

We also have visitors from Solid Ground, a local transitional housing program. Please keep these families in prayer. They have been through so much and need all the support, love and encouragement that they can get. Solid Ground is our special outreach program. The children are actually learning how to pray, and outreach is actually part of the VBS program. It's a beautiful thing!

After the program is over, I promise to be back in full swing. I'll be visiting all of your sites, so keep leaving those Entrecards! Enjoy the rest of the month. Fall is just around the corner!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Harmony's 4th Birthday!

Well, the oldest grandbaby turned four this weekend. There was a big party to celebrate the occasion. She had many grandparents in attendance, and her cousins came in from out of state. This means that we actually had all six grandkids in the same place at the same time. Can you imagine?

It's amazing just how fast we forget about how quickly a baby grows. We saw the new twins, Jordan and Audrienna, when they were just about two weeks old. Now, they are five months old, and what a difference. They are too cute!

So, here's another photo journal for you:

The birthday girl is ready for her party!

New big brother, Rocco, with his twin siblings, Aurdrienna and Jordan.

Rocco playing in the water.

Dustin and Papa get everyone wet!

Do you think she's having fun?

Dustin got a good workout!

Kiley gets a drink from Great-Grandma.

Cousins are like sisters: Jordan and Harmony!

The little ones get their toes wet!

Kiley blowing bubbles with Great-Grandma!

She posed with EVERY present she opened!

Uncle Andrew and Jordan.

"Sisters", Jordan and Harmony pose by her cake.

All the twins!

All the grands: Harmony, Audrienna, Rocco, Jordan, Dustin, and Kiley!


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