So long 2012.

As I reflect on this past year, I can't believe it is has gone by so fast.  When we were waiting for Kerri, it seemed time stood still.  And ever since she joined our family, it seems time is now on fast forward constantly, sometimes at warp speed.

This year, Kerri graduated from occupational therapy and started gymnastics.  She became a Brownie circle leader in her third year of Girl Guides.  She learned how to use her asthma inhaler by herself and she gained independence (and the confidence to attend meetings without Mom waiting in the wings).  She joined the choir, and danced in a play.  Kerri took cooking classes, and began reading full chapter books.  She created and completed her first bucket list (in Toronto).  She learned how to deal with her dyslexia and learned how to write letters and numbers correctly.  And Kerri spent quality time with friends near and far.  Kerri became a powder monkey, and received her pirate name "Wee Lady Thunder".  She learned to knit, tie shoelaces, zipper and button clothing by herself.  And she no longer lets me pick out her clothes.  Kerri learned more about Judaism and Catholicism.  She learned that love has no bias.  And she started third grade with an IEP and the support of awesome teachers.  Kerri started to learn cursive writing and keyboarding skills (not taught at school, to my surprise).  And she outgrew Scooby Doo and became a One Direction, ICarly and Victorious fan.  Kerri decorated her room with posters, and decided she wanted to learn how to swim (so she took a few lessons).  She visited several museums and learned more about the things that interest her (mostly rabbits, spiders and dolphins).  And Kerri decided boys are gross.  She learned all about sexuality, anatomy, and puberty.  Which is why she thinks boys are gross.  And this year, Kerri dedicated herself to doing charity and random acts of kindness.

I could go on, but you get the picture.  It has been an amazing year of growth and change for Kerri - and for us.  Our dream to become parents was fulfilled when Kerri was placed in our arms in China.  And it has been anything but boring.  We have watched our daughter continue to overcome some pretty big challenges, and grow into a beautiful, smart and funny young girl.  She is 8 going on 21. But she will always be our baby.  Adopting Kerri was the best thing we ever did.

So goodbye 2012.  I can't wait to see what life with Kerri will be like in 2013.

Life with Kerri wishes everyone a safe, happy, and healthy New Year! 

White Christmas

Yes, we had one! It was a doozy- so much snow fell on Christmas Eve and Christmas morn that we had to cancel our morning church service and worship at home.  After our Christmas celebrations and exchanges of gifts we all dressed up and headed out for a walk in the winter wonderland.

We stopped at the neighbors for a bit of "Joy to the World" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas!"

Then we tramped on to the trail through the white woods.

Snow balls flew of course.

I have five boys, remember.

And it was perilous to walk under snow-laden tree boughs because one of those boys delighted in lobbing snowballs onto them just as someone walked underneath resulting in a pile of snow on their head.

But he eventually got his come-uppance.

Snow angels were made too.

There are lots of ways to have fun in the snow.

Danner got to release his inner Iditarod husky.

We made some fun Christmas memories this year.

Way to go club!!

Because of your generosity, the children at Sunshine Acres have $230 in gift certificates to Burger King, AMC, and Harkins Theaters! They also have around $200.00 worth of toiletry items (such as vitamins, cold medications, toothbrushes, shampoo, etc.)  Thanks ladies!

December Business Meeting

At this months meeting we went over the upcoming calendar, made aprons with the kids, and organized all the items for our charity, Sunshine Acres.  We then put the items together, wrapped some of them, and made gift card trees.  It was a lot of fun!  
Some of the items for Sunshine Acres

Working on one of the gift card trees!

Little Helper

30 $5.00 gift cards to Burger King and then movie tickets!

Working on our aprons

Having Fun

What to do with a shovel.

 Hubby's car buried under all that snow.

 Hubby, trudging through the snow.

Kerri, building a fort with the shovel Daddy went to the car to get for her.

Life with Kerri is putting our shovels to good use!

The Best Gifts

My dad always said that the best gifts are homemade. He lived by that too. Every Christmas the family would look forward to the hand crafted surprises made with love by him. His last career (of many) was working as a cabinet maker and kitchen remodeler. On Christmas Eve there would often be some new pieces of furniture or cabinetry with a big red bow, everything from footstools, sewing cabinets, baby cradles, to TV entertainment centers. Dad was also an amateur oil painter and sometimes had a new work to give. Another of his hobbies was collecting rocks, typically agates, that he would polish and with which he would make jewelry. When I was a teenager I followed his lead and presented crocheted shawls and afghans as gifts.

Dad's philosophy sprung from his youth when he grew up in northern Minnesota in a family that was short on money but long on talent and ingenuity. He told how at Christmas the big brothers would take a well used toy truck and fix it up, give it a new coat of paint and present it to the littlest brother as a new gift. Any of the years that the family was struggling stood out in memory as one most full of love at Christmas.

Our youngest boys are getting to an age where they can start employing their own skills and creativity for gift giving. This fall they learned from homeschooled friends how to make an archery set out of pvc pipes, duct tape and wooden dowels.
The simple bow works so well and is so much fun to shoot that the guys made three sets as gifts this year, one for a cousin and two for the neighbor boys. Sam and Peter had a great time in the local hardware store with their list, gathering up the various supplies they needed for their project which they purchased with their own hard-earned cash. Each bow set was spray painted a different color.

Duct tape has always been lauded for its versatility but who would have thought it would make good arrow fletching? I think Dad would have been proud.

The arrow tips can be blunted with pencil erasers but of course these boys want them sharpened.

Since Sam has been attending art school he is honing another skill to use for gifts. He gave several of his works for presents, including this special request from his dog-loving little brother. I helped Sam find a photo of a painting on the internet that he used as a reference to paint this St. Bernard at class with help from his teacher.

He gave this pencil drawing of Mt. Hood to his older brother and a lovely colored pencil rendering of a rose to me.

The homemade gifts didn't end there. The boys had requested aprons on their Christmas wish list so they wouldn't have to wear mom's girly things when they are helping in the kitchen. Their big sister came through with these homemade aprons that have a more manly appeal.

Gifts that are homemade have power to bring warm thoughts and memories of the giver. With the time and effort that goes into them they are expressions of love and thoughtfulness that are satisfying to the giver as well. I'm so glad my little boys are learning these lessons.


Christmas has come and gone, leaving boxes and cookies and tiny little bottles of alcohol* in its wake. I suspect that 2012 is the last year my daughter will believe in Santa, so I wanted to preserve the magic as much as possible. After we got home from church on Christmas Eve, she set out cookies and almond milk for the big guy and even opened the little fireplace doors, just to make sure Santa didn't get trapped in there or anything. Together we watched Santa's progress on the NORAD website. "He's almost in Puerto Rico," I told her. "You'd better go to bed right away!"  And so she did. Her father and I, for once, got a little quiet time together. Thank you, NORAD!

Although my daughter cannot be pried out of bed even with a crowbar on most mornings, she was up bright and early on Christmas Day. I was already awake, because the foster puppy apparently needed to get an early start on his evil-doing. He was up by 6:00 a.m. As any dog person will tell you, when a puppy wakes up and starts wandering around . . . you get up, too. You don't just let him wander around because you're "sure he'll be fine."  Nothing good can come of an unattended puppy.

We decided to gate off the living room while we opened gifts. The dogs (including the puppy) sat on the other side of the gate, looking very put out. A climbed the gate and then dove in.  Santa brought her a bean bag chair and she was thrilled. It's a fuzzy fuchsia affair with sequins on it. Santa also brought her several items from her list, including a stuffed horse, clothes, a DVD, a CD, and I can't remember what else. Her Meemaw and aunties hooked her up, too. My mom made her a beautiful robe. My middle sister got her a sleeping bag with A's name on it. My baby sister got her a shirt from Justice. Santa brought her an ugly rainbow blanket from Justice, so the kid was thrilled to get two things from that store.

I could see a definite shift in how Christmas went down this year. Now that the kid is a little older, there are slightly fewer toys. Sometimes P and I still have flashbacks to Christmas of past years, when we spent the entire day trying to liberate a Dora play set from its box. Just when you think you've just about freed the doll from the box, you find that her hair is actually stapled to the cardboard. Ai-yi-yi. Although some kids hate getting clothes for Christmas, my daughter actually had clothes on her list. I got her some red boots that I would love to wear myself and some cute outfits from Gymboree and Crazy 8. Both stores had kick-ass sales right before Christmas.

After the frenzy of unwrapping was done, we got dressed and headed to our niece and nephew's house for a potluck lunch. My family is far away but P has relatives in the area. We rotate with hosting responsibilities for Christmas Day. Next year it will be our turn. I brought along a casserole and a pastry. A was thrilled to have a chance to play with her cousins. The challenge that we always run into is that A is an only child, our nephew's daughter is an only child, and P's brother's daughter is an only child. So we had three young girls with iffy sharing skills trying to get along. It went well for a while and then eventually all three were mad at each other for various reasons. That's how we knew it was time to wrap things up and head home.

My daughter had a bunch of items on her Christmas list that included the word "maker." Slushie maker, cotton candy maker, ice cream maker, etc. I didn't fall for any of that, but our niece and nephew did. They got her a cotton candy maker. "Thaaaaaaaanks," I said when A opened the gift. I made a mental note to buy their kid a drum kit next year. So, of course, we hadn't even made it back to our house before she started asking about making cotton candy. P decided to humor her and the two of them sat down together to give it a try. He read the instructions while she impatiently waved a paper wand around, ready to catch the spun sugar as it flew out of the machine. Only . . . it didn't fly out. It turns out you can't just dump in the colored sugar. You have to sift it in slowly. P had to scoop it back out and then try again. Eventually, at long last, some wisps of cotton candy began to appear. By that time, the kid had gotten bored and went to her room to play with a new art set. So, I grabbed the paper wand and started twirling it inside the cotton candy machine.

I pulled it out and grabbed a pinch of cotton candy for tasting. "Oh, it's . . . ummmm, gritty," I said. "What flavor is it?"


I tried another pinch but could not place the flavor. I had no context for it, I guess. By then, the kid had re-emerged and swept more of the cotton candy onto the cone. She tried a pinch also. "Oh," she said.

We're going to try another flavor next time. We're also going to try following the directions more closely.

*I asked Santa not to put any chocolate in my stocking, so he tossed in a few mini bottles of booze instead. I'm either vaguely offended or secretly delighted. Or both.

Christmas morning.

 Kerri reading the note Santa left her, thanking her for the milk and cookies.

 Pookie yawning, because Kerri woke us up way too early!

 Kerri excited to see the gifts under the tree.

 The girls, in their jammies.

Part of the should have seen the floor!

Life with Kerri hopes your Christmas holiday was as wonderful as ours.

Merry Christmas!

This night a wondrous revelation
Makes known to me God's love and grace;
The Child that merits adoration
Brings light to our benighted race;
And though a thousand suns did shine,
Still brighter were that Light divine.

The Sun of Grace for thee is beaming;
Rejoice, my soul, in Jesus' birth!
The light from yonder manger streaming
Sends forth its rays o'er all the earth.
It drives the night of sin away
And turns our darkness into day.

O Jesus, precious Sun of gladness,
Fill Thou my soul with light, I pray.
Dispel the gloomy night of sadness
And teach Thou me this Christmas Day
How I a child of light may be,
Aglow with light that comes from Thee.

Caspar F. Nachtenhofer, c. 1683
Tr. Anna Hoppe 1922
The Lutheran Hymnal 88

12 Weeks and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Hello readers,

Well, we did it.  We made it to the 12 week mark!  This is a huge deal to me.  I've felt sick (meaning, wanted to puke for 2 months), tired (meaning, exhausted), anxious (meaning, petrified).  But for some reason, that 12 week doctor's visit really felt like a weight came off of my shoulders.  I did it.  I held onto this baby for 12 weeks.  The risks are so much lower now.  I can relax a little bit.  Granted, I know I will probably never truly relax again in my entire life, but this was a big milestone for Mark and I.  Thank the glorious heavens that we did it :)

My 12 week doctor's visit was on Dec. 19.  It was originally supposed to be with a female doctor, but at the last minute was cancelled/rescheduled with the only male doctor in the practice.  I was a little nervous about this-I've never seen a male doctor in my life.  I've had two OB/GYN's in my life and both have been women, so this is not a part of my body I share with everybody!  It's a personal decision for me-I try to have even my eye doctor and dentist be women!  But I was so relaxed with this doctor.  He put me at ease.  He came in and told me we were going to listen to the heartbeat first, and not to worry if we didn't find it right away because sometimes it takes a little while to find where the baby is.  But he found it right away!  That is because my baby has the best, strongest, most perfectest heartbeat ever.  I can say that because the doctor said the heartbeat was "perfect," and I don't think doctor's say that about just any old heartbeat. It was 150 bpm and according to the old wives' tale, that means Nugget is a girl!  (So we have the old wives', the Chinese and my dream on the side of "girl".  Obviously we should be getting ready for a boy.) The doctor also sat down to answer my many questions, some of which I'm sure sounded silly to him but he still made me feel like he was going to give me his time and attention.  So we have decided to stay with this hospital rather than switching to Elmhurst and I feel good about that decision.  We took our two hospital tours and though Elmhurst was really pretty and new, I just feel more comfortable staying with the doctors that I know. 

Physically, I have been feeling much better.  (Caution: TMI ahead!)  I haven't thrown up since Monday!  Yay!!  This is basically a record for the past 6-7 weeks.  So, pretty excited about that.  I still get really tired pretty easily and I've noticed once or twice that my feet seemed more swollen than usual after a work day.  I haven't really had any true cravings at this point, but I have wanted orange juice more often than normal for me.  I usually don't really want orange juice because the acidity has a tendency to upset my stomach.  But me and OJ get along ok for right now. :)  Nugget must want the Vitamin C and extra calcium for growing teeth and bones!

At 12 weeks, Nugget is the size of a lime or a plum (which is bigger?!).  Reflexes including sucking  are starting and the baby is moving but is just too small to feel right now.  All of the important body systems are in place and just need to grow and mature.  He/she weighs about a 1/2 ounce, is about 2 inches long and the head takes up half of the body length!  So Nugget is still a little freaky looking.  But in an endearing way!

I've regained some of my perspective compared to my last post.  I would still say though that my emotions are still a roller coaster.  I'd love to be one of those moms who posts only the glowing things about loving Baby so much already, and getting more excited every day and all of that, but I just don't feel that way.  I am excited (when I'm not scared) and I do love Nugget, but more in a logical way than an emotional way, I guess.  I KNOW that I love Nugget rather than necessarily feeling it some days.  I think that that will come maybe a little later, once Nugget gets bigger and maybe after we have our other ultrasound.  Which, by the way, will be on Valentine's Day, so hope that Nugget is in a "show and tell" kind of mood so we can find out the gender!

My husband continues to be the most awesome husband in the universe.  You may think yours is, but you would be wrong.  Mine is. :)

I know that he doesn't discuss all his fears with me because he doesn't want me to worry, or get more scared than I already am.  I know that if I feel sick, or complain of a little cramping, or whine about feeling so tired, I know it makes him worried.  The 12 week mark was a big deal in his mind too.  Hopefully, this means the worst is behind us, in terms of the risk and of how I feel.  I love my husband, I know he is going to be the best dad.  I know it because he already takes such good care of his family, of me and of Marty.  He looks out for us before he worries about himself.  He told me recently that doing things for me or for the house gives him a little bit of control over the pregnancy.  He can't grow the baby, and he can't decrease the risks, but he can take care of me and protect me and make sure I'm as comfortable as possible.  Him saying that let me know (again, as if I needed more reminders) that he is the perfect partner for me.  I just hope he knows how much I appreciate what he does for me, and for Nugget and Marty. 

Well, readers, that's about it for this week.  Stay tuned here for more updates, of course.  My next visit will be mid January, a week or two before my birthday and the doctor's recommend to start considering birth classes around that time.  Every month brings new decisions and new planning to do but it's going to be awesome.  Because, I'm making the best baby to ever live.  Just so you know. :)  Get ready world!


PS-Although I want a girl, Target had the cutest boy bedding called "Baby Bots" that was all these cute little robots.  February can't come soon enough!  Not knowing the gender is torture!!

Some Chanukah pictures.

Life with Kerri did a lot of unwrapping!