Sunday, July 15, 2018

Our Love Letter

I was being so organized. Last year at the Reece's Rainbow reunion my battery died on the camera so I was only able to take pictures for the first few days.
I mean - a reunion without a camera is like leaving part of my soul behind....
So this year I got smart. I would charge the battery before we left so that there was no danger of running out of battery.
I plugged that battery nicely in the charger and went about the frenzy of packing for 6 people for 6 days away. Packing this year included figuring out little girl's food for the week which added a thousand hours onto the entire packing process.
All the while - my battery was charging nicely in charger.
It was a wonderfully charged battery.
It charged wonderfully for the entire time we were gone. It was nicely charged when we came back 6 days later.
Who goes on vacation and leaves the camera battery at home??
Frenzied, harried me!!
No camera. Just a phone to take pictures.
I know that some people ONLY have phones to take pictures and love them, but I am not one of those people.
I so missed my camera.
I will be real.
Taking a newly adopted child is a traumatic experience. It is out of routine, scary and overwhelming. We spent the first few days looking at each other and wondering if it was worth it. Adding her seizures that are currently increasing by the day just adds chaos to the chaos. Cooking separate meals for her and for us was nuts. She was happiest in the pool and most unhappy out of the pool. So we swam. A lot. Having three disabled kids adds crazy to the crazy.
But, despite the meltdowns... she had a blast.

You would think that fracturing her collar bone from falling off one of these would mean she would never ever want to get back on one again..
Think again.
She was fearless and we were both having mini-strokes.
She didn't think the group photo was much fun but she LOVED Yogi!!
She made friends and even worked on her sharing skills a bit... that's a work in progress...
She got to meet Auntie Andrea (founder of Reece's Rainbow). How cool is that!!
Her brothers had a lot of fun too. They made new friends and played with old friends.
Going to Yogi is the absolute highlight of their year. They are already talking about going next year.

John celebrated his 14th birthday on the trip! He got to explore in a cavern as part of his birthday.

We had our third annual invite to our cabin for fellowship and smores.
On the last night Mary sang in her first Karaoke. No - she will win no awards for her singing abilities, but it was stinking adorable. Yes. I have it on video. Come to my house and I will share!!
 We had some great talks with so many moms and dad who are in the same trenches we are in. Those conversations were priceless. I needed those talks. I needed to share my heart, my exhaustion, my struggles with people who get it. Adoption is hard and emotionally costly. Many are living hard lives but as someone so poignantly reminded me - what we are doing with these children is our Love Letter to the One who gave His life for us. Every day they give us an opportunity to express our Love to Him.
Yep. It was a wonderful week despite meltdowns and seizures.
 Little girl learned that we can go and have fun and come home again and all is well. Those are important life lessons for her and she needs to have them.


Goodbye Yogi...
Until next year....
With fully charged battery and camera in tow...

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Friday, June 29, 2018

Seven Alone

Back in the 1970's I watched a movie that had a huge impact on me. It was a true story about seven children who were traveling on the Oregon Trail in 1844 when both their parents died.
The oldest was 13 years old and the youngest was a newborn baby.
Seven orphaned children lost on the Oregon Trail.

Seven Alone.

They eventually made their way to safety and lived happily ever after.

At least that was the way the movie ended.

In reality they did make their way to safety and into the open arms of a loving, Christian missionary couple, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, who had experienced their own tragedy. Their little girl drowned years before, but despite their grief, they willingly took in needy children. When the seven Sager children showed up at their mission they did not turn them away. They took all seven children in and adopted them. Sadly, happily ever after only lasted for a few years and then tragedy again struck. A local Cayuse tribe, in anger over the diseases that the settlers had brought with them which had killed countless of their numbers, attacked the mission and killed the Whitmans and the two oldest Sager boys. One of the girls died in captivity. The other four girls eventually were released and were split up among four different families.

It isn't a feel good story.

It's about loss and survival and rescue and loss and survival and rescue again.

We like adoption stories to be the feel good kind.

Seven children adopted by a missionary couple is a great happy ending.

It's what makes a great movie.

But it's not real.

Adoption stories are messy and hard and born out of loss and tragedy.

The ever after, even if it doesn't involve death and violence, is rarely the fairy tale kind but instead the cycle of loss and survival and rescue and loss and survival and rescue again.
Children who have lost their parents are emotionally tossed in a pounding sea and bringing them to the peace of the shore sometimes takes a lifetime of lifeboat attempts.

But despite it's messiness...

Orphans need families.

They need families with open arms and willing hearts to welcome them knowing that the ever after will sometimes include loss and survival and rescue again and again.

Sometimes orphans come by themselves.

And sometimes they come with a sibling or two.

And sometimes...


They come Seven Alone.



All from the same family.

And sometimes there is a family - one family - with open arms - willing to bring them home.
I have recently discovered one such family.

A family of four who has suffered through their own losses when it comes to children.

Their heart's desire has been a table full of children.

But infertility and loss have plagued them. They have two beautiful girls but their hearts long for more.

Despite their grief over their losses, they began to consider adoption. As a beginning step, they opened their home to hosting and in the process fell in love. Three sisters.

After spending a summer with them and then again hosting them over Christmas (2016), they decided to adopt them.

But the three sisters had four other siblings.

And they all wanted to stay together.

Without blinking, they moved into a larger home and opened their arms to welcome them all.

But the courts said no.

Only four could be adopted at a time.

That didn't stop them.

They did all the paperwork, crossed the ocean and then crossed it again and then crossed it again and at the end of May passed court for four of the children.

In less than two weeks they travel back across the ocean to bring them home.

Oksana 18, Natalie 15, Jacob 11 and Emily 8

 Once they hit American soil they are planning on starting the process all over again so that they can go back and bring the other three home too.

In the meantime, after the courts split the four children from the three children, the other three were transferred to a special needs institute. Oh My Heart!

Adopting four children is massively expensive. Our adoption of Mary cost us close to 30,000.

Adopting four is way over that amount. Especially when you have to cross the ocean four times.

They have borne the vast majority of the cost themselves. They fundraised and borrowed and worked to the bone to get the funds they need.

They travel in under two weeks and still need around 9,700.

And then they will start over again.

Crazy Love.

To keep a family of seven children together.

Will you help?


Their Reece's Rainbow grant account is HERE. Their  grant account needs to read 13,000 to be fully funded.

You can also donate through this link: CONNECTED HEARTS

Give knowing that this family has been sacrificing everything for these seven children.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wednesday Edition

It's Wednesday....

Guess who lost a tooth????

This is what we do when we are bored...


My littlest beautician can be rather rough sometimes...

Ta Da!!
 And that's our Wednesday edition!
Short, sweet and a bit crazy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Treading in the Ocean

We took little girl swimming a few weeks ago. She was crazy in the water. No fear. I sat with a friend and watched my three littles swim with their Papa. We sat and watched little crazy girl in the water. Rob had her in a floaty to keep her safe, but each time she had a seizure, her face would submerge in the water. It didn't phase her. She would recover and go right back to pure joy mode.

Then she decided she didn't want to be in the floaty. Papa had his back turned and out she slipped. The only bad part to her plan is that she has no clue how to swim. So little girl sunk to the bottom of the pool. Arms reaching up. Mama screaming on the side for Papa to grab her. Grab her.

You would have thought she would have wanted to get out of the water after that. I mean she swallowed a bucketful of water in her state of drowning. It didn't phase her. She was back in the floaty as fast as she could get back inside of it and happily swimming around the pool.

The water's been deep for us around here. We aren't quite drowning but are treading water in the deep end of the ocean.
Navigating a Keto diet and feeding the rest of the family is a whole new world. We are finding our way but it has been a definite challenge. An on-line friend kindly made us some easy to wear clothing that lets people know not to feed our little bear.

We write homeschool curriculum. We both work full time for our business. Three littles, three special needs, Annie shows, soccer for Aaron, surgery for John, teaching and grading papers for Julia all have taken their toll in the last months.
Our newest book just came out. We should be dancing and shouting for joy. It's hard to dance when you are treading water in the ocean. We have barely even advertised our newest book.

Three conventions in a row have me so bone weary I can't think straight right now.

This past weekend I took the little boys to the Virginia convention with me so I could have Mama time with them while I worked. Little girl stayed home with Papa. I get a telephone call. Little girl fell. She had a seizure on some playground equipment at the park and fell through an opening next to the slide. The babysitter cushioned part of the fall with her own body, but Mary landed on her shoulder. I dropped everything, threw the little boys in the car and raced home.

Friday night in the hospital is not a good place to land. That Friday night happened to be one of the worst places to land. Mary's spot in the emergency room was a bed in the hall right smack in the middle of everything. Beds were filled all up and down the halls. I climbed in bed with her and poor Rob stood next to us trying to stay out of the way. After a few hours someone was kind enough to bring him a chair. While she watched Frozen on my phone, we watched the chaos of the emergency room around us. Security guards and police coming and going. Stretchers going past us every minute or so. Nurses. Doctors. Residents. Cleaning staff. I started diagnosing people going by for fun. One poor man went hobbling by holding his gut. Definitely appendicitis. Score one for me when we heard the doctor telling him he needed to get them out.

Five hours later we left. Two small fractures and little girl's arm and shoulder wrapped and wrapped again to keep it safe and to give it a chance to heal.
How in the world do we keep little crazy girl still and quiet until it heals? How in the world do we keep her from having a seizure and hitting her shoulder every time?

Yesterday morning... back to the hospital. Little girl started seizing and wouldn't stop. I can't even describe the fear we experienced. Waiting for the ambulance while she seized again and again and again was agony beyond words.
Five hours later back home with heavy hearts as we realized anew that our little girl's epilepsy has no easy fix.
Treading in the deep hasn't been easy.
We really would like to get out of the ocean for a while. Conventions are almost over. One more trip to Texas next week and traveling will be done. Did I say our book is done? Rob wrote the lion's share of it so I can say with utter pride and pleasure that it is an amazing book. I had the privilege of teaching a classroom of children this year who read the rough draft of the book and they loved it. They came to class each week filled to overflowing with stories out of each chapter to tell me. What a chuckle. Mrs. Nalle... did you know....
Our older sons are amazing. They jump in during crises and carry the load. They travel to conventions and do all of our packing and shipping and help with the three littles. They go shopping and pick up prescriptions and mow and cook and whatever else we need.
My dad next door. He's priceless. He is here every single day helping us with our littles. I truly don't know what we would have done this year without him.
We are beyond grateful for the helping hands that the Lord has provided for us this year.
Yes, it's been a rough 2018.
But we are hopeful that over the crest of the next few waves... we will find solid ground and get to the shore.
Treading in the ocean can't last forever!
P.S. … If you are looking for an amazing history/literature curriculum... check out BIBLIOPLAN!!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Little Girl

Rob and Aaron wanted to do "Annie" this spring so off to practices they went for several months. We debated about putting Mary in the show. She loves music. She loves dancing. It is her love language. We knew she would love to do it but how? How can you put a child who has out of control seizures on a stage??

We decided to compromise. No. She could not be an orphan. But she could maybe have a small small part on stage with the adults. We chose a tiny scene where some of the adults and boys come in and sing a small part of the NYC song. She could sing with them and someone could hold her and she would be safe. Eventually another small scene was added. At one of the practices, during the Hooverville song when the adults were doing their dance, she got up and walked over and sat down in the middle of the scene. She was so cute they decided to let her do that in the show. Sit quietly by the dog and keep it company. It sounded like a great idea. She went to the practices and sat and watched the adults singing and dancing and played her cute part well.

The first night of full rehearsals when the song started, it was her signal to go be cute next to the dog. Not Mary. Not this time. Instead of sitting cute next to the dog, Little Girl got right in the middle of the adults and proceeded to sing and dance alongside them. She turned when they turned. She did all the hand motions. She did all the moves. She sang at the top of her lungs her version of the song.  I laughed and laughed and laughed. She had been watching and knew every single part of that song. Yes. She had a seizure. It didn't phase her. She was in her glory. Everyone watching was cheering and laughing. Little Girl won the right to be on stage in "Annie."

She gets to sing. She gets to dance.

Her part in the show... she's listed as "Little Girl."

Yep. That's her name in the show. Little Girl. I laughed out loud when I saw it written in the program.

"Little Girl" does have adults who are spotting her. She isn't on stage without support. But she's singing. She's dancing. She's having a total blast. And what's really fun... she gets to be on stage with her Papa (reading the newspaper) and Aaron (brown coat front left). You can't see Little Girl in this picture as she is behind the crowd.
You Go Little Girl!!
You Go!!

If you are in the Charlottesville area this weekend... come see Little Girl and the rest of the cast in "Annie"

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Beast

Yesterday was a hard day.
Epilepsy is a quiet beast. It too often catches us unawares and rears its ugly head.
I was in the bathroom with little girl. She was standing next to me when the beast struck. Her head slammed into the sink. I grabbed her but it was too late. Blood came pouring out of both her nostrils. Cries of pain and terror. Cradled in my arms with a towel against her nose I yelled for Rob.
I hate the beast.
I hate it.
Over the last few days he's reared his ugly head. Slamming her head into the sink was the last straw.
Little girl is sporting her pink helmet again.

She took it in stride.
We wanted to cry.
Thankfully, we think we know why the beast is currently striking. Some of her most recent bloodwork had a few rather severe deficiencies. So we are adding more supplements to make up for the imbalances caused by the diet.
Unfortunately, the four times a day, 7 day a week nifty pill box that we fill up with all her pills is not big enough. Her new regiment of drugs now requires pills five times a day.
I hate the beast.
I have to remind myself that he's much quieter. Less fierce. We have pushed back against him and claimed much of what he had taken. We are impatient. We want him gone. But her kind of beasts do not disappear quickly. Some of them never leave entirely. We know this.
We know but choose to believe the best.
She is so worth the fight.
To all of you who have given to the Ewer family - Thank you.
Yesterday they passed court.
Jonathan is an orphan no longer.

They can't take him home this trip.
They have the 30 day wait and then cross the ocean one more time.
They are still not funded and so if you have not donated you have time!!
They are doing a quilt giveaway.
It's an Amish quilt - "Picnic Basket" - from Lancaster County, PA
It's 91 in. x 100 in. Spring/Summer colors.
Just $3.00 gets you an entry.
$10.00 gets you 4 entries.
$20.00 - 10 entries.
$30.00 - 15 entries.
$40.00 - 25 entries.
$50.00 - 50 entries.
Donate and then e-mail your receipt to Dana - so you can be entered to win!!
The family needs their FSP to reach $14,168.00 to be fully funded.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Caged Boys. Caged Men.

His Reece's Rainbow name is Jonathan.

I saw him three years ago.  He was standing behind a fence reaching out his hand for me to touch.  Other boys were crowded along the fence reaching for me too.  The yard they were standing in reminded me of a cattle yard.
A cattle yard to contain men and boys. There is an overhang in the back with benches but other than that - nothing. Inside they stand or sit or walk or rock or wander. Penned in behind a fence to keep them contained. Safe. Yet imprisoned. I only saw him for a brief moment. Jonathan.
A beautiful boy with a beautiful smile.
He has a family.
They met him.
They want him.
They traveled a little over two weeks ago to have court. They practiced together the YES they would say to the judge. They were so ready.
The judge was sick.
Court was canceled.
Two more weeks.
They would have to wait two more weeks. Two weeks they couldn't wait out in country because they hadn't planned on two weeks away.
So they flew home. To wait. So they can cross the ocean again to stand and say YES.
They are short funds but not love for a little boy named Jonathan who spends his days pacing around a cattle yard with other boys who also pace the yard.
They are willing to cross the ocean again and again just to bring him home.
They are doing a quilt giveaway. So far only a few people have entered so the odds are HUGE!
It's an Amish quilt - "Picnic Basket" - from Lancaster County, PA
It's 91 in. x 100 in. Spring/Summer colors.
Just $3.00 gets you an entry.
$10.00 gets you 4 entries.
$20.00 - 10 entries.
$30.00 - 15 entries.
$40.00 - 25 entries.
$50.00 - 50 entries.
He's one boy among so many in that place. But he has a gift. He has a chance to come out from behind that fence.
Please, let's help this family. Every little bit helps. $3.00. $50.00. $100.00. Whatever you can give.
I've seen Jonathan's world.

It's sad. It is no place for a child to grow up. Caged boys. Caged men.
Break our hearts, Lord, for the things that break yours!
Donate and then e-mail your receipt to Dana - so you can be entered to win!!
The family needs their FSP to reach $14,168.00 to be fully funded.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Build Your Bundle!

Each year I take a moment on this blog to share about the Build Your Bundle Sale.
I do it because we have some of our BiblioPlan products in the sale and it is a great way to get some amazing homeschooling material AND material for the teachers in the classroom at a very low cost.
I can't share what is in the sale but I can tell you that by clicking and looking now you can enter in to win some prizes and can get a coupon code when the sale starts... So read below and go check out the sale!!

We are so excited for the upcoming 5th annual Build Your Bundle Sale that starts next week on 5/7/18. You can save up to 95% on 20 individual bundles for your home and school. Sweeten the deal by signing up for a coupon code that you can use when the sale starts!

When you sign up for the coupon code, you will also get instant access to the FREE Homeschool Portfolio Pack!

The homeschool year is filled with accomplishments and events you and your kids will want to cherish for years to come. Whether you need to meet your state law or you want to keep the precious memories of your child’s homeschool year, a homeschool portfolio will keep it all organized and decluttered.

The Homeschool Portfolio will not only serve as a scrapbook of your child’s year it provides practical sheets and a place to record goals for the next school year.

Pages Include:
  • About Me
  • Attendance Sheet
  • Basic Daily Schedule
  • Extra Curricular Activities Sheet
  • Curriculum and Resources List
  • Book Log
  • Goals
  • Field Trip Log
  • Report Card
  • Subject Evaluation
  • Subject Binder Divider Sheets
Enter to win a HUGE giveaway, grab a FREEBIE & coupon code


Friday, April 27, 2018

Successful Surgery!

Woo Hoo...
While little boy was sleeping yesterday...
His leg and foot went from this position...
To this position...

Yes. That is a smile on his sleepy face!!
We are hanging out at the hospital hoping to go home today. It's pouring rain outside and we can hear the wind howling, but if we get the green light, we are not going to let sheets of rain and wind gusts hold us back!
Of course we have to be fever free and prove we can get out of bed and manage crutches! 
Go John, Go!!

 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.
 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights.


Save up to 95% on Homeschool Curriculum at the 2018 Build Your Bundle Sale