Monday, June 30, 2008

5 Years Ago Today

5 Years Ago today I was pretty miserable! It was a Monday morning and I was tired of being on hospital bed rest. My doctor had told me on Friday that they may or may not induce labor on Monday morning. Jim arrived before my doctor did and found that I had packed my things and had expected to be sent home. Much to my surprise the doctor had decided for the safety of me and our baby we would need to go ahead and deliver right away (3 weeks early). Just minutes before 6PM that evening we were given the gift of our darling Luke and our lives were to be changed again forever.

Photo above: The boys make cookie cutter pancakes for the start of an all day celebration

Happy Birthday Luke!!! You have brought so much love, fun, and laughter to our lives. We know without any doubt that God has really fantastic plans for your life!

We have some fun plans for our day. He's kind of getting a double celebration since we had a family day at Disneyland to celebrate last week also. Double the fun!

Friday, June 27, 2008

More Birthday Celebration Moments

(These 1st two pictures are a bit out of order)
Me and my "baby". How did he grow up so fast?!

The boys play at the Lego store while waiting a LONG time for our turn at Rainforest Cafe

Luke's birthday celebration day included more then just building his gifts. We had a really full fun filled day!

Luke's choice of travel was by train.

We did get to ride a few rides too. Luke takes me on a bumpy bug ride.

Behind the wheel again. We spent a lot of time at Toon town.

We showed Cheety the sights of Downtown Disney

And ended our day at Rainforest Cafe

Luke makes a wish and blows out his candle before the Happy Birthday song is even finished. We hope all his wishes come true!

Luke's Build-a-Birthday

Wednesday we had an early birthday celebration for Luke. If you know us at all you don't even have to ask where we celebrated~ Disneyland of course! We made it to Disneyland right at 8 AM (pretty impressive for a houseful of non-morning people) when it opened. The gift parts of his day were all about building something he loves. The first thing he made was a build-your-own light saber. We didn't even know this existed and Luke was SO excited!

The finished product- A two sided light saber. Red on one side, white on the other but the white end lights up and turns purple and the saber makes sounds just like a REAL light saber.

Luke battles the forces of evil in the Mickey Mouse Cartoon theater. Hey, you never know where evil will be!

Ready to fight the battle with the ultimate enemy. Of course this one was made out of Legos. Doesn't every great warrior bring a stuffed animal to battle with him?

The second gift Luke built was at Build a Bear. He had a blast picking out all the pieces that would go into making his new best friend:

An excited crew getting ready to assist the birthday boy.

Luke has picked out his favorite stuffed animal~ The Cheetah.

Luke stands by, waiting for his cheetah to be stuffed, while big brother Johnny drills the employee with questions. Someone's got to make sure he does it right!

Luke is placing the heart (after kissing it and making a wish) in his new furry friend

Gives him a bath

May we introduce to you the fiercest Pirate Cheetah in the world~
Cheety The Cheetah!
He almost became a beautiful princess in pink. Dad was happy when the Pirate costume was chosen instead. ;)

And our new friend is ready to experience Disneyland with us!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

June Update Photos

The June update is here! The report is that our children are healthy and doing well. We think they are just stunning!!! Oh how we hope this will be the last update we ever receive. There was no updated news on where the kids file is. We have been told we will receive news about it ASAP. It didn't come this afternoon so I will be watching for an email tomorrow. We are so ready for them to come home to us.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Back in the IBESR!!!

Today we "accidentally" came across the most wonderful news. I was checking my old email address that we don't use anymore and happened to do an email search for all emails from New Life Link. I was looking for a document that was sent to us as an attachment a long time ago. When the search was complete I notice that the very first email to come up was from last week. Anytime we get an email from the that has "news" as the subject we know it will be exciting. My heart started pounding and tears flooded my eyes when I read that Jacques entered IBESR a week ago today! The first time we tried to submit him (and Vilner) to IBESR over a year ago we were denied. They would not even accept their paper work. So this event is really long overdue and to see that he has been issued a file number was so exciting!

This is the stage of the adoption that Jacques has to be at on the Haitian side of the adoption before he turns 16. There is a step that has to be done for immigration before his birthday as well but we really don't see there being any problem getting that done in time. So, what does this all mean?~~ After over a year of delays and worries the adoption of our dear son has finally begun!!!!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Shaking things up

You know you are in CA when your house suddenly starts moving! This morning while exercising we had another earthquake. It was LOUD! Nothing scary at all. When there is no damage or injuries they are kinda cool.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Soak City

Yesterday (first day of summer and the happiest day of the year) was a record setting 108 degrees at our home so we decided to escape to Soak City Water park (part of Knotts Berry Farm). It was just a chilly 99 degrees there so we felt we had really beat the system. We had such a fun family day together and thought it was the perfect way to bring in summer.
The day had just a few mishaps: I felt bad when I took Luke down the very first slide thinking it wasn't a scary one and it was more then I expected. Poor thing was scared away from the water slides for the rest of the day but there was plenty of other things for him to do. Also, I was wearing an old pair of sandals that decided to just totally fall apart. I could not walk without them because the ground was so crazy hot so I found myself facing a decision~ I could stay put and allow Jim to pick out shoes for me at the shop (Oh dear) or find a way to get there myself. So I ripped the rest of the material off the top of my shoes, wrapped the material around the sole of the shoe and across the top of my foot and we laughed all the way to the shop. Today Jim and I are nursing some sunburns (even though we applied sunblock a couple of times). Overall we had a fantastic time and it was well worth it!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happiest Day of the Year?

Today is said to be the happiest day of the year AND it's the 1st day of summer. So get out and have some fun!!! Our family is off for a day of celebration to remember. I'll update when we get back. Hey... If you can' t have a good day today you are really in trouble! ;)

Cliff Arnall, a psychologist at the University of Cardiff in Wales, has come up with a formula that considers a variety of emotional, physical, and stress factors to determine the most blissful day of the year.

Apparently it's the combination of brighter evenings, childhood memories, and the prospect of summer holidays that puts the best possible spin on today.

On paper, Arnall's equation looks like this: O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He.

O is time spent outdoors.

N is time spent in nature.

S is more socialization in the summer.

Cpm relates to positive memories of childhood summers.

T factors in temperature.

He is vacation anticipation.

Arnall said his calculation isn't rocket science. Being outside produces energy, while increased socialization — such as barbecues with neighbors — stimulates pleasure zones in the brain.

Also arousing feelings of euphoria are pleasant memories of childhood summers and the fact that vacations are just around the corner.

And it's no coincidence that the happiest day of the year falls on the summer solstice, the day with the most sunshine.

But Arnall's formula does not take into account the gloomy forecasts for world economies, dragged down by dropping house prices.

It also doesn't consider record fuel prices, which will make travel more >expensive this summer.

Even so, try to enjoy yourself. In six months we'll be marking what Arnall figures to be the gloomiest day of the year, generally the third Monday in January

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Our Sweet Jacques

Yet another updated dossier was FedEx'd to Haiti yesterday for the adoption of our sweet Jacques. It's been more then a year since we thought his adoption would begin. Please do keep praying for this adoption. He is getting closer and closer to his 16th birthday and we can't let it happen until the things that need to be done are done. At 16 a child is no longer adoptable (if you are not already at certain stages of the adoption).

How God brought us together:

It was about 2 years into the wait to bring home Stephanie, Jude and Lovenie when we met Jacques. We were sure we were done with adding to our family (HA). With 3 young boys and 3 more children on the way I was in no way thinking about more children. I had become friends with Kez online. She was living with the kids of HFC and NLL (the 2 orphanages share a building) and not only was she a wonderful connection to our children but also quickly became a dear friend. One day I got an email from her telling me about 3 of the HFC boys that were really exceptional kids that would be turning 16 soon and would no longer be adoptable. Thinking nothing about how this would end up impacting our life I suggested she send a photo and short description of the boys and I would blast out emails to everyone I know and all the adoption groups I was a member of. She quickly got that information to me and I was stunned when I looked at the photo of Jacques and heard God speak to me (clear as anyone else speaking to me) saying "This is your son". What? "No way, I'm sorry but no God. It's just too much. I'm terrified of going from 3-6 kids and now your asking me to add to our family a teenage son. No, No way... It's just too much for me!!!" For about a week God continued to confirm what He told me (and confirmed it separately with Jim). I could think of nothing else and to be honest for that week or so I begged and pleaded with God not to call me to this. I was just too overwhelmed at the thought. Then one morning I was going to spend some time in prayer and made a decision to pray about anything except Jacques because he had been all I had been praying about for a while. I started praying for other loved ones and heard God speak to me again and say "I want to talk to you about Jacques". I tried to ignore it- thinking that I was imagining it. I tried to continue to force myself to pray for others when God said it to me again. This time it was louder and clearer and it could not be dismissed. Somewhat reluctantly I said "OK God, I'm listening." This is when I received visions for the first time. Sitting with my eyes closed I saw that Jim and I were sitting in a hospital waiting room. I looked up from where I was sitting and saw a grown Jacques (I was totally aware that it was him) walking towards us. As he got closer he flashed us this gorgeous smile that started really slow until it spread into the most beautiful smile I'd ever seen! I knew that he was coming to tell me if his wife just had a son or daughter- our 1st grandchild! It was so real and tears started to fall. Immediately following that vision I was given another one. I knew I was surrounded by people sitting in chairs but everything around me was a blur. There was music playing and I was walking down an aisle and was led to a seat in front of everyone. As I sat down everything became clear and again there was the grown Jacques looking down the aisle with his big smile watching as his wife was about to walk down the aisle and there I was as the mother of the groom staring with joy at our handsome son. At that moment God spoke clearly to me again and said to me "Children do not need parents only when they are young." I burst into tears and said "Yes God, I'm sorry. Thank you, thank you for this precious gift!"

It was only a few days later that I got the opportunity to fly to Haiti for the first time with a friend that was going to pick up her daughter. Kez had informed Jacques that a family had requested to adopt him and his mother was on her way to meet him. I'm sure it was quite overwhelming for him. He had never known a Mom and Dad of his own. He met me at the airport and the first time I saw him he gave me his very unique smile that starts out slow and then ends in a big beautiful smile- just like in my visions. The moment I hugged him it was as if I had known him forever. The bond was so strong right away! I thanked and thanked God for not allowing my lack fear to hold us back from being blessed beyond our wildest imaginations. It was unreal getting to know him over the next several days. What shocked me most is that he is just like his Dad. I couldn't believe how much my son and husband were alike. It's almost like God knows what he is doing or something! ;) It was the most natural thing in the world to hug him, kiss his cheek, hold his hand, sit near him, and be his Mom.

I returned to Haiti just 2 months later with an adoptive parents mission team. At that time I hand delivered our updated home study and dossier for the adoptions of Jacques and Vilner (who we had also just learned about and agreed to adopt- that is a whole other crazy story). At the time we were told that Jacques and Vilner could be rushed to be added to the adoptions of Stephanie, Jude, and Lovenie and they would all be coming home together. Whew! So we began to prepare our home and family for the arrival of not 3 but 5 new family members.

A couple months later we received a blow. The director of IBESR (Haiti's social services) refused to allow us to add Jacques and Vilner or even to let us start over for their adoptions. She insisted she would not approve them until Stephanie, Jude, and Lovenie were home and a home study update included them. So it has now been over a year from when we thought the adoptions of Jacques and Vilner would be started. We were told that adding them to our adoptions could have been done just one month before but in that short time things had totally changed. Welcome to Haiti (or any government really).

It is pretty bittersweet to be finally bring home Stephanie, Jude and Lovenie but knowing that we will have to say goodbye again to Jacques! Vilner is still living with his Birth Mom and does not know any different... but Jacques, he knows. :( So we wouldn't turn down prayers for this adoption or for our hearts and Jacques' heart as we bring home his new brother and sisters soon and spend precious time with him again in Haiti.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mighty Warriors

Luke has on his armor today and is ready for any battle headed his way.

And if he needs any help, big brother Johnny is ready to fight for him too!

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Change

My husband and I like to believe that we are a bit adventurous and a "roll with it" kind of couple. We love new starts and new journeys and it looks like we are going to be served up another one. We learned today that it looks very likely that we will be moving again in the very near future. Yep, you read that right! Yep, we did just move and still have 3 garages and a closet still full of unpacked boxes (I may just leave them boxed up for the next move). The details are all very fuzzy at this point. We may be moving in the very near future, but it is expected to happen for sure within this coming year. We've REALLY enjoyed Southern CA and have created some fantastic memories as a family.

I do feel badly for our children. We are asking a lot of them to have their lives turned upside down so often but hopefully it will result in raising "roll with it, adventurous" children as well.

I'm still letting the news sink in a bit. It's a mixture of surprise with just a bit of excitement (and sadness about saying goodbye to friends again). I'm trying to keep in mind the verse I heard on the radio just this morning:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

The last time God brought us to a place like this He had some really wonderful surprises in store for us. So we will not fear this change but begin thanking God right now, even before we have all the details, for what He plans to do with us. Won't it be exciting to learn where we will be next?

More details to follow when this news has sunk in a little more!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my favorite guys!

Jim: It would not have been possible to bless me with a more amazing father for our children. I love that they are such a priority to you. Your constant love and interaction in their lives is going to have such a wonderful impact on who they become. Thank you for all you do and all you mean to us. We really hit the Dad Jackpot in this family!!!
Dad: You said no matter how old I got I would always be your "baby". I feel that status is a bit threatened now that you have this new baby named Harley. ;) You are such a loving Dad who always makes everyone around you laugh and feel good. How could I ever thank God enough for giving me the gift of you as a Father?

Have a wonderful day. Me and the boys love you both so much!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thrill Seeking

You know how sometimes you have a dream that seems totally real? I had one this morning that was so fantastic that I didn't want to wake up. I've wanted to skydive for years and this morning I dreamed about it in great detail. The sensation of falling, falling, falling, the slight jerk of the parachute opening, and then floating to the ground. LOVED IT!!! When I told Jim about it he tried to take the cheap way out and say that now that I've experienced it I don't have to do it. NICE TRY! I just want to do it even more now. I've seriously considered it in the past but because I would be hit with a blast of cold air when I jump out (suddenly getting cold was a trigger for seizures in the past) we thought it best to wait. I'm well now so now I just need a good excuse to do it. ;) If anyone would like to contribute to the "Angela jumping out of a plane" fund please let me know!

I was telling the boys about it this morning and started reminiscing about thrills from the past: Ziplines, Flying through the air like superwoman, being shot up into the air in a bungee ball, rappelling down large rocks, and parasailing (I found parasailing to be surprisingly mellow). I'm just building up to the big jump. BRING IT ON! I hope I can dream of it again tonight!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Happy 48th Anniversary!!!

Today is also the 48th Wedding Anniversary of Jim's parents. Happy Anniversary. We love you and were so glad to get to celebrate with you last weekend. May God bless this coming new year together and make it the best one yet!!!

With Love,
From All of us

Minnie Mouse bakes a cake for Lovenie

It's a good thing that it's the THOUGHT that counts!

Happy 4th Birthday Little Lovenie!

Happy Birthday to our beautiful little girl. You have already changed our lives more then we could put into words. You are an amazingly strong girl that God has shown his glory in again and again and we know he has great plans for your life! Please come home to us soon.

This morning Bryn emailed me about plans her and Stephanie are working on to make this a special day for Lovenie. I'm so very thankful that they will be showing her extra kindness today.
Yesterday me and the boys decided to head to Disneyland for an early birthday celebration for her (how I wished she was with us!). We even visited Minnie Mouse's house and thought what a PERFECT little home it would make for Lovenie. So cute!
Big brothers on Minnie's Loveseat

Today we will attempt to make her a homemade birthday cake. The boys are really excited about baking it. Let's hope it turns out better then the one that was baking at Minnie's house! (video to come soon).

Sorry for any confusion from yesterday's post about the date. Lovenie's birthday is today. I was saying may June 12th come soon because I looked forward to getting past her birthday without her. So far I have a lot of peace about it. Knowing that Bryn and Stephanie are giving her such a special day really helps!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fast Forward???

It's already starting to really sink in. Tomorrow is Lovenie's 4th birthday and she won't be home again. That's 4 birthdays and all of them missed by us. I am beginning to make plans to make her a cake with her brothers. It is with a sense of dread that I head towards this day. On one hand it is a great time to really thank God for the precious and even miraculous gift of Lovenie and how much she has already changed our lives. On the other hand... it's just plain a drag to hit another milestone and miss it. So I brace myself knowing that tomorrow morning I will try and act like everything is okay while trying hard (and unsuccessfully) to suppress my sadness and disappointment. This is one of those times I wish I just had a fast forward button. I don't want to not acknowledge the special day and it being a special day makes it all the more difficult. I just need to pray my way through to June 12th when Lovenie's birthday is behind us and I can celebrate there (Lord Willing) never being another birthday missed. May June 12th come quickly!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Science and Magic

What a great event packed weekend it has been! Too much happened to post at once so I'll just share this part for now....

Jim's parents were with us for a few days and we had a lot of fun together. One of the things we did was to check out a nearby Tom Farms. It was fantastic! One of our favorite things to do there was watching the magic show. When he came to the part of making his assistant float in the air he said he needed a volunteer from the audience, somebody really strong. As soon as he said that I knew he would be dragging Jim up on the stage, and he did. ;)

Jim and the boys also spent some fun time together working on science experiments. Jim's work allows him to do community service while on the clock. For the last couple years he has been teaching science to a 5th grade public school class. At the end of the year he organizes a science fair for them. While he prepared for the science fair our boys got to benefit from helping him out. They had so much fun doing them together!
Hot water, dry ice, and food coloring (for effect) makes a great fog.

With added corn syrup. Anyone want a drink?

Here are the links to a couple of video's of Jim and the kids having fun with dry ice:


Friday, June 06, 2008

And The Winner Is.....

It's been a joke around here that we are in a race to see what will happen first: license reinstated or our children coming home. As of this morning we have ourselves a winner.... My license was reinstated this morning! WOO HOO!!! I can't tell you how great it feels to put this process behind me.

I'm off to drive somewhere... ANYWHERE!!!!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tick, Tick, Tick

The month of June is here and the days are quickly ticking by, which is good! We anticipate this being the very last month without Stephanie, Jude, and Lovenie in our home so the faster it goes~ the better! I've been given the advice many times of enjoying these last days and going out and doing fun things with our family. This is excellent advice except for the fact that we've been doing that for 3 YEARS now. ;) So we are ready for the change (I think).

Every morning Luke comes in to my room to give me "snuggle ups" (his words). I laid there wondering if Stephanie, Jude, or Lovenie will also give me snuggle ups in the mornings too. What will it be like to wake up to all six cute little faces?

Today we are expecting Jim's parents and their new puppy to arrive. Spending time with them for a few days will definitely help the time fly by. Next weekend we plan on having a Father's Day Celebration game night with our friends.

Next week our little Lovenie turns 4. I'll have to inform our friend Chuck E. that it just isn't going to happen again this year. I'll have to tell him "I know, I know, I told you next year for sure last year... and the year before that, and the year before that......

Then the month will go out with a bang when Luke turns 5 on the last day. Luke 5 and Lovenie 4? What happened to my babies???

I'm also still waiting for word from the DMV safety office that my license has been reinstated. I can't believe it is taking this long but really do expect it to happen within the next week. So I'll spend the rest of the month driving at every opportunity! I continue to be seizure free (14.5 months seizure free, 19 months of not driving) and am so ready to get behind the wheel again.

So hopefully these things will help the clock continue to tick by quickly!

If you think of it, I could use some prayer. I thought for sure I would end up in the ER yesterday. My neuralgia is hurting me again and I've been in an unbearable amount of pain. The surgeries I had a few years ago for this really helped but about every 6 months or so one side will get irritated and all the pain comes flooding back. Usually the only thing that stops the pain is going in and having them stick a sharp needle right into the nerve with a shot in the back of my head. Just imagine being in intense nerve pain and throwing in a sharp needle~~ OUCH! So with the help of way too many prescription pain killers, muscle relaxers, heat, ice, and massage I was able to stay out of the ER last night but I'm still in quite a bit of pain today. It would sure be great if I could hang out with my in-laws tonight instead of hanging out at the ER.

Monday, June 02, 2008

You Are So Beautiful To Me

I'm missing our little Jude (tiJude) today so pulled a little blogtheft (thank you Bryn and Kez!) to post these beautiful pictures of him:

Just being sweet:

Helping out with the babies:

Hanging out with his friends (Jude is in blue shirt and shorts):

It will not be long until I can wrap our darling son in my arms everyday and tell him how wonderful he is. May that day come soon!!!