Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Normally, I am not one for surprises. I suspect that stems from my control freakishness. Anyway, Sunday night my cousin calls me from her cell phone. The conversation went a little bit like this - Oh - I should mention my dear kin live in Rockford, Illinois. It's a good five hours from here so I was unsuspecting.

Kim - "What are you up to?"

Me - "Nothing really - just looking at seven baskets of laundry I haven't put away yet. Why? What are you doing?"

Kim - "Oh - we are taking Hannah on a college visit to Ohio and we are driving through Fort Wayne. We really didn't realize we would be driving so close to you guys."

Now - this should just prove to all of you that my navigational skills are inherited - apparently from my father's side. I wouldn't have really paid attention to that kind of thing either. That's what is so funny.

I was able to convice them to stop and stay here for the night and the hotel was good enough to cancel their reservations. The kids love Hannah (and the other two who had to stay home and go to school - sorry Daniel and Olivia - next time for sure) so this was a great surprise! Now we are all hoping Hannah's college ends up even remotely close to us so we can go visit!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Signs of Warmer Weather

It must be getting warmer outside. Of course, forecast for tomorrow is in the low 40s. We've been celebrating around here by eating watermelon, having sleepovers (with friend Samantha), and sporting new sunglasses, hats, crocs, and flip-flops. If you look closely to Claire and Grayson's left, you can even see some of my tulips coming up. Yeah!

The countdown to Disney has begun. Two weeks from tomorrow. I admit to being more overwhelmed than excited right now. People are so helpful with giving me advice - however, it is often contradictory. What to do? Take the double stroller or rent one there? Take two swimsuits apiece or three? Roll-on sunscreen or spray? It may seem trivial .... but people have very strong feelings about their Disney experiences and we want to do it all correctly!

Feel free to send me your "we did it this way and loved it OR the never again" stories via email or comments. Enjoy the weather!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Congratulations Emma - Young Author Winner!

A recent assignment in Emma's class was to author a book - actually, to serve as both author and illustrator. The assignment was not optional for first and second grade students all over Fort Wayne but each school did things a bit differently. Emma was given a hard cover book and some specific guidelines about what was to be included. Some things surprised me a bit - a dedication page and a section about the author - among others.

I admit, I was a bit intimidated but Emma took on the challenge. It took a few weeks to finish the story and illustrations but I think it turned out pretty nicely. Her book was chosen as the winner for her class and she was able to attend a Young Author's conference this weekend. It was actually pretty inspiring - after sharing their books with other children who attended, the kids got to attend a conference put on by authors of children's books and producers of a few movies geared for children. We got to purchase a few of their things and they took the time to look over the children's books (and oohed and ahhed) and autographed anything. She even got her picture taken with them.

It was a looong morning but after all was said and done - it was something to be remembered. I hope it inspires her to keep writing. She has a talent for it and it boosts her confidence. I am going to try to set a better example by writing more in the kids' journals - and maybe blogging more than once every five days!

Way to go Emma - we are proud of you!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Invisible Moms ...........

So recently, I bit the bullet and purchased some maternity clothes. It is now apparent to people we are having another baby. I expected a wide range of reactions - and I've gotten them. I've never doubted that our friends and family would have a lot to say! Well, some of them anyway.

I've heard the "Why" question a few times and I have never been able to articulate our thoughts on wanting a family with four children in it- whether that child was biological or adopted. To be honest, it was a little frustrating not being able to say out loud what was so definitive in our hearts. Plus - while I realized that people were either curious or just making conversation, it frequently occurred to me that we didn't have to justify our actions to anyone else - and sometimes, that is what it felt like.

So when I got this email, I just knew I had to post it here. So many of you reading this are moms - and are great at being invisible while building some seriously great works of art. I know it is long - but worth every word. For me, this answers the "Why" question as eloquently as I know how.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because noone can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this?Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guideto answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sittingthere, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . Iwasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:' To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals -we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied,' Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my ownself-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add,'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Works for Me.... Sunday version

Some of my bloggy friends participate in the very fun and frequently very useful "Works for Me Wednesday" idea - where cool ideas are posted. I intended to wait until Wednesday but the way this week is shaping up - I am sure I will forget. So... here it is - the Sunday night version.

Grayson and Claire's preschool has some pretty crafty ideas but they are really focusing on "being green" lately. I love that idea so when Grayson came home with his newest creation, I just knew I had to share it.

It's a box tower. It involves two ingredients - boxes (all types, shapes, etc) and masking tape. Yep. That's it. The teachers and other grownups saved their boxes for the year then let the kids choose the ones they wanted to use. Add a little masking tape and voila - a masterpiece.

They even stressed to the kids that they could further recycle their masterpieces by dismantling the creations, adding more tape, and "rebuild" it. So. much. fun.

So... we now have a garbage bag in the garage where all of our boxes will go. I foresee a rainy day in the future when several boxes and a few rolls of masking tape may just entertain three kids - and their mother.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Has Anyone Seen My Kids?

I'm just wondering - because these three big kids can NOT be mine. They bear a certain resemblance but they can do all kinds of things my OWN children certainly can't be capable of.... for example...

1. Wake up, make their beds (from an airplane they look pretty good), assemble breakfast with minimal spilling, and clear their plates.

2. Put on their coats and get their bookbags.

3. Live their own lives at school with no assistance from me - unbelievable!

4. Get their own pajamas on and brush their teeth (of course, a repeat performance is required from us).

5. Read books to each other or silently until lights out.

Other than the physical similiarities, these new children have a few qualities that are eerily familiar...... for example...

1. Selective hearing.

2. Inability to flush a toilet.

3. Visual difficulties in outside lighting - can NOT locate bikes in driveways or grass and put in garage without help.

4. Fine motor defecits - unable to squeeze toothpaste onto a toothbrush without smearing it on countertops and mirrors.

5. Central nervous system malfunctions - as noted by the eye rolling and shrugging of the shoulders when asked "How was school?" and "Tell me about your day."

Some of these things might be serious - however, they are awfully cute and these new kids seem to like American Idol too. We think we may keep them. But what do we do if the old ones come back?

Friday, April 4, 2008

We Are Rockstars........aka My First Metallica Solo

We met up with our friends Sarah and Kevin recently for a night out and some good Mexican food. No margaritas for me, sadly. One or two may have proven useful for the night's entertainment. Sarah and Kevin graciously hosted us to a night of playing "Rock Band" - I think that is what it is called. If you know anything about Play Station 2 or Wii, think Guitar Hero with a full band combined with Karoake. Yeah. Sarah is a bonafide percussionist from back in the day and Kevin is skilled on guitar. Monte and I only sing in the shower and have NEVER played an instrument. Not even the triangle. Yet - we gave it a shot. Because I had no idea how to play bass or drums, I had to sing. Into a microphone. In front of people.

If you know me at all, you realize there are only two stations on my car radio. If it isn't Contemporary Christian or Country - chances are great I don't know the song. The only selections here were rock songs. Good things the words were on the screen and my bandmates were too busy playing their stuff to listen to me.

We had a great time. Monte was so good on bass that he got himself a groupie (see above). Suffice it to say, it was my first Metallica solo. It may not be my last. Good thing we don't have that game at home or I may be jamming out to some Black Sabbath instead of cleaning out closets.