Saturday, December 29, 2012

When Family Lines are Permeable

We survived! Christmas came and went and we made it. It was by far the least stressful Christmas we've ever had, but we sure did stretch it out. Saturday night we headed to Nick and Joys to exchange gifts with them. Then Courtney and Isaac and Salinda and Gabby came on Saturday night. Sunday noon Courtney and Isaac opened presents and it was fun to see Gabby and Isaac interacting. They were so cute and Gabby was so patient!

Christmas eve we did our traditional routine. 5 p.m. service (where our family lit the advent candle -- a story in itself) and then went out for Chinese. A friend from church joined us as she was going to be alone. We had a nice time. Everyone was there except for Mike, Ricardo, and John. John is still in jail and we hadn't heard from Ricardo in months. We knew Mike was coming on Christmas with Tessa and Aiden. We unwrapped gifts at the Chinese place -- kinda chaotic but fun.

Christmas morning we waited until 9:30 a.m. to open presents. A record for us. It was fun and there were even some surprises. At dinner another friend joined us for dinner -- and I think he had a good time. The kids were appropriate and it was a good time. Mike and Tessa showed up -- and Ricardo was there as well! We loved seeing him again. Aiden was especially cute and I loved seeing him with his dad.

So we did it.... we had five gift openings in 4 days and everyone got along and it was all good.

So if you're in the middle of the trenches wondering if it will ever be ok.... it might be. It might not be perfect, but it can be what it is. And sometimes, it's good enough.

So we had 11 of our kids here, 3 grandkids, 2 grandbabymamas, four really good friends, and a daughter-in-law.... and we love them all.

Bart said the other night that the lines of our family have always been permeable. It's a wonderful way to live....

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Too Many Details

Remember the day when I told you everything, blog world? I just don't have time anymore. Our days are getting fuller and fuller. Why you ask? Well let me try to answer.

We are back to 5 kids at home with both Sadie and Tony completing Job Corps (Sadie in the right way, Tony in almost the right way). They now both have jobs so we are getting them back and forth to work on top of everything else. Crazy days. Sadie is at the Target bakery/deli and Tony at Pizza Hut.

Leon is not going to be able to wrestle this year because of the high school league rules. I don't even want to blog about this because it makes me so angry I could spit nails -- and our appeal was strongly written and very valid. There is no way we would have been working hard to get him on one of the worst wrestling teams ever -- but it was what he was counting on for his emotional and social sanity -- and now he is let down again. Like I said, angry, angry, angry. But we have a friend who is a lawyer who has a lawyer friend who has had 360 cases against the MN high school athletic league and he has lost all 380 cases. I can't tell you how wrong this is on so many levels, but that would take me hours and hours....

John has been back in jail for about a month. Probation violation. Sad. People think he will learn his lesson... but can he?

My husband preached a compelling sermon right before our music ministry program at church did our program. He started by reading the names and ages of the victims in Connecticut one by one. Powerful. He then talked about the shooter and how maybe there could have been an intervention -- asked us what we could do to prevent that in the future by reaching out to those who don't fit in. I keep asking myself why I am constantly thinking about the shooter and his family more than the victim. Maybe because I can see myself in that situation more easily. And that's scary.

Still enjoying our friends, our church, and trying to survive the special needs of the Tony/Dominyk combination in addition to Leon's struggles... but we are hanging in there.

I haven't read a blog for months. Between my job at Bethany and the church, where I seem to be 3-4 nights a week, there isn't much time left.

God's good, though, all the time.....

Sunday, December 02, 2012

We Need More Parents

A few years ago when we hit 12 kids, we said to each other, this family does NOT need more kids. What we need are more parents! We had a lot of great friends in Mankato ... you know that. And they are still our friends.

But since moving here we have been super blessed by a couple whose kids are grown who have been so good to us. They genuinely like our kids and theirs are young adults now, so they have some extra time. And we seem to fill it. Lots of it... and sometimes, when we need them to fill that role, it seems like our family has four parents. This weekend it was like that.

Historically we have had horrible Christmas decorating experiences. We have arguments and stress and crabby kids and parents. By the end of the night we are mad at each other and the tree doesn't even look that great.

But this time we asked Nick and Joy to help us have fun with it. They both love Christmas so we've made this a project. Nick and I made several trips to Menards and other similar stores and by last weekend the lights were up on the roof. And yesterday we went to cut down our tree at a tree farm. Joy had other commitments, but Nick drove his truck with Tony in it, and Bart and I and the other three boys who live at home. They each took turns sawing and we brought the tree home. Here's what that adventure looked like.

Tonight Nick and Joy came over and had chinese takeout with us and then helped us decorate. Joy (who is appropriately named) brought reindeer antlers and santa hats and made all the kids and Bart and I wear them. The tree is the nicest one we've had and we had fun!

I'm grateful for my kids cooperative spirits tonight. For them, they did good. And I'm grateful for our friends who took time from busy schedules (we had a packed day at church today -- two services, practice for Christmas program, and a memorial service that the choir sang out -- and they still made time for us.

So far, it's been the best Christmas ever. God is so good. It's so nice to feel happy. Aren't our kids gorgeous???

Friday, November 23, 2012

It Was a Happy Thanksgiving

Pictures to come, but we had a really good Thanksgiving. For the first time in years there was really zero stress... other than Dexter ... but I'll tell you about that in a minute.

So, we started the holiday season with five kids living at home -- up from 3 two weeks ago. Sadie is now at home working full time and Tony (who quit Job Corps early but later was told they were going to call it a completion) is home not doing much. But now that they have told him he completed he should have some transition help and maybe they can get him a job.

Rand was the first to show up and arrived about 2 on Wednesday afternoon. He was happy to be home and planned to stay until Thursday afternoon as he had to work on Friday.

Kyle and Christy stopped by on Wednesday night for dinner on their way to Oklahoma to spend Thanksgiving with Christy's sister. They dropped of Dexter, the new Puggle puppy, who has been terrorizing Gizmo since. We figured out that Gizmo is 77 and Dexter is 2.5 in people years, and the old man wanted nothing to do with the puppy. And the puppy wanted to play. So it was comical and yet annoying to hear the puppy barking and trying to get Gizmos attention. However, Gizmo was not amused. He has been very patient but he just stands there while Dexter yelps and yelps and looks at him like "Can you please shut up!"?

Salinda and Gabby arrived after I went to bed on Wednesday night. Bart did an amazing job of cooking and was up late Wednesday and up early Thursday to make our typical feast.... lots of appetizers, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, homemade buttermilk roles, green bean casserole, and four choices of pie for dessert -- homemade - apple, cherry, pecan and pumpkin.

Mike, Aiden and Tessa showed up around 10 a.m. and it was so fun to see Aiden -- he is getting so big. He only weighs 8 pounds less than Gabby and Gabby is almost three. He looks more like Mike every day. Mike seems to be doing well right now -- has a job at a tattoo place that he likes and has stayed in the same apartment for 5 months.

So we had dinner. Everyone was appropriate and kind of quiet. It was weird since some of our meals have been very stressful. The guests stayed until around 3:30 or so and then the house cleared out. Those at home watched a movie last night... it was a good day.

John is back in jail for a probation violation and we didn't hear from Ricardo. Jimmy got himself into trouble at Job Corps so he couldn't come for Thanksgiving. He should be home for two weeks at Christmas though.

Life continues to go at full speed. My job keeps me incredibly busy and then there is family and friend stuff that keeps us going. It's a new phase of life.

We are still waiting to hear if Leon can wrestle varfsity and we could use your prayers that for his sake and mine he gets a job soon.

I am hardly ever online any more. Haven't sold a book in months. Am hardly on Facebook. Don't have time to blog.

But things are ok. God's good and I'm grateful.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Upcoming Training

This event will be held here at Bethany. Would love to see you!

Very Brief Update

Came to blogger to put up a poster (to follow) about a transracial parenting seminar that I'm going to be doing here at Bethany in a couple weeks and thought I better let you know what was up over the past couple weeks.

1. Sadie completed Job Corps and moved home. She had had a phone interview for a seasonal job at Target in the bakery the Monday before she completed the program and the day after she moved home she had a face-to-face interview and got the job. She was supposed to have training on the 27th, but somehow that quickly got moved up and she started working full time last Tuesday. It's a great opportunity for her -- being a pastry chef is her ultimate goal -- and she is getting full time hours. She's very proud of herself for completing the 1 year program in less than 6 months and we are proud of her too. She turned 18 this past week. I'm now parenting only 4 children -- the rest are adults!

2. Tony quit job corp without completeing Tuesday morning. He had gotten in trouble again and instead of going to the review board to ask to stay longer, he just quit. They called us in the morning, he was at the airport by evening the same day, and it has been a real jar to the family system to go from 3 kids home to 5 in just a week's time. He is looking for a job and already beginning to push my buttons. Fortunately he did get his GED.

3. Mike and his son Aiden and Aiden's mom stopped by for a while yesterday. That was fun. They should be back for Thanksgiving.

We are having our Thanksgiving on Thursday this year (we had switched it to Fridays so more could come but it wasn't making a difference) and at this point are expecting to see 8 or 9 of the kids...

Life continues to be busy. I have pictures from a month ago on my camera that I keep saying I'm going to post. I will. Someday. I promise.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Pay It Forward

Surprise! I have a few extra minutes this morning so I'm going to quick share something with you.

Over the past couple months we have been attempting to rearrange our ridiculous cell phone bill situation. It's a very long story and it has taken a very long time to iron things out, but by the end of today we should have it done.

As part of all of this in the past month I have been able to be a part of seeing four people besides me either get new or used Iphones . Today the fifth will be receiving his. I cannot tell you how much FUN it is to bless someone -- and blessing them with a piece of technology -- ESPECIALLY an Apple product -- I'm not sure it gets much better than that.

So in the midst of all of my busy-ness with work and all that needs to be done, I've been having fun paying forward the blessings I've received.

I suggest you do that today. If you are overwhelmed or feeling not-that-happy -- go do something nice for someone. It will make your day...week...month.

Try it.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

It's November Already!

In the past I have blogged that life is a blur... very full and very fast-paced. But never before has it been so much of a blur -- so full and so fast-paced -- that I haven't been able to find time to blog. But apparently that time has come.

My job at Bethany is very time-consuming and intense. When I was working from home I would work 15-17 hours some days, but I apparently was taking breaks or something because I sure wasn't as tired as I am now. I used to hear people talk about how they didn't want to touch a computer after working 9-10 hours a day on one, but I never felt that way. I could be on the computer for 15-16 hours a day and never get tired of it. But now, I come home and I just don't want to touch the thing. (please, don't faint).

Another thing that has changed is that I am getting more involved in church than I have for a while. I sing in the choir and play bells which takes 3 hours of my Thursday night... The women there are determined to turn me into one so I've joined "elizabeth circle" which meant crocheting a scarf. I know, I know, just don't even comment on that one. I have some friends that are very good "servants" and am trying hard to be more like them, but I still believe that I am a much better "servee" than a " servant." But this involves extra time -- and extra thinking time about how to do it. And every Sunday evening we have people over for dessert from church (a dozen at a time) to get to know them. We have had about 200 people come and it's been fun. We started the first of August and still have a ways to go.

And then there's our social life. For the first time ever Bart and I can leave the house completely worry free and enjoy ourselves. So we have been! We have been to people's house for dinner, gone out to eat with just one other couple (something that we rarely got to do before (sans kids) and have enjoyed other kinds of outings. I am loving all the social stuff -- Bart is getting warn out -- so occasionally I don't plan something but I have to work on controlling myself.

Our kids are fine. There is some unbloggable news.... that I'll have to share another time. A quick update on the kids: Wilson has just started wrestling and is very excited about that. Dominyk never complains about school and has a couple of good friends that he does things with socially (a first in his life at age 16). Leon has just started wrestling as well but I apparently I am going to have to take on the MN State Athletic league about his eligibility because he is not attending the "attendance area" school. Please help us pray about this because he has been quite depressed and was looking towards wrestling as his salvation and now it is at risk.

Sadie has finished her GED and is now done with her culinary program at Job Corps. Since it is a 1 year program and she is done in less than 6 months, we are very proud of her. She will be moving home on Thursday or Friday of next week. Has a job interview Monday at the Target Superstore bakery. We are crossing our fingers that she will get it.... I'm a bit nervous about her return home, but taking things one step at a time.

Tony completed his GED at Job Corps as well! He almost got kicked out because of behavior, but apparently they are going to let him stay. Jimmy is also in trouble there often, but so far they are both still there. WE are planning to get them for Thanksgiving... assuming they are allowed to come home and haven't been kicked out.

Rand is doing well. We hear nothing but positive from and about him. Mike seems to be quite stable and Tessa and Aiden apparently are doing well. Isaac was here last weekend and was the cutest he's ever been. We babysat and Courtney then stayed a couple extra days with him/us. John was in jail for a bit this week, not sure why.

Ricardo is now out of jail. We seldom hear anything from him. Salinda and Gabby seem fine -- she is having car trouble, but otherwise we don't hear much. Kyle and Christy closed on the new house they had built and have bought a very cute puggle named Dexter.

Bart is happier than he has ever been and he nad I both are challenged by our jobs. We love our new home and are very content with how things are at this moment. We are enjoying it while we can as we know things can change at any time....

That about sums it up.... Pictures above I stole from their facebook pages -- the three grandkids and the new grandog......

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Early to bed... early to rise...

The time zone where my parents live is 2 hours earlier than what it is at home. But they also go to bed very early and wake up very early. So when I am here I pretend like I'm still on Minnesota time and then I don't get myself all messed up. So I go to bed between 8 and 8:30 and wake up between 4;30 and 6 and it seems to work well.

After spending a full day with my parents yesterday running errands, going through old letters and pictures, and talking, we have decided that today we need to at least mention to them that they need to consider moving out of their own home. Bart says I am in denial -- I still think they are doing OK -- but based on years of experience as a pastor and working with people in the same situation he can see signs that we need to do this. It troubles me in a lot of ways. My parents are doing very well for 83 and 90 and I didn't want this day to come.

On the other end of things, an administrator from Job Corps called yesterday and indicated that Tony was going to have to go before the review board and ask for an exception so that he can stay in the program. Apparently he has had some anger management issues (not news to us) and they have caused him to lose many points (that and smoking as a minor)> Hopefully he is going to be able to get his act together because if he gets kicked out of the program when he is this close.....

Being away from the office and from home this week has been hard when so many exciting things are happening at the church. But time with my parents has been good and tonight we get to hang out with some awesome friends from college. We will be home tomorrow afternoon and tomorrow evening Sadie and I will be heading to Women of Faith ...

Time just keeps moving forward......

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Claudia's not dead, she's surely alive .... roaring like a lion ;-)

Wow. I can't believe it has been almost 2 weeks since I wrote on my blog. Nearly daily for 7 years and here I am missing two weeks.

Got those taxes done, though, and my budget for my new all-consuming job. Had a couple of very fun Friday nights with friends and some full days -- Isaac's birthday and time with Tim and Sue and Mike and Kari last Saturday, and now Bart and I are in Arizona visiting my folks. Internet has been quite tricky and we're trying not to work too much.

A quick update on things:

John is out of jail and seems to be doing ok. Mike is more stable than he has been in a while. Ricardo is in jail -- we don't know the full story. Kyle and Christy are living in their new home that they had built -- we haven't seen it yet. Salinda still living in an apartment with Gabby -- Rand happy in Mankato in the basement of friends from church. Tony and Jimmy plugging away at Job Corps, Sadie got her GED last week -- YAY SADIE -- will finish Job Corps early -- maybe even in November. Dominyk, Leon and Wilson doing fine -- Leon staying home to take care of the dog this week, Dominyk and Leon with our friends Nick and Joy and loving that! They get spoiled there.

Things at Bart's church couldn't be better -- all kinds of exciting things happening and the enthusiasm is contagious.

I have a full staff now at Bethany -- and while I won't talk about it much on the blog -- it's a very challenging job -- hopefully with great rewards ahead. It is incredibly consuming though -- both time and energy wise -- and I am seldom home. I like living like this but it is a big change from working from home for 16 years.

But life is really good. I just don't have time to tell you about it. I would promise to do better, but can't guarantee it.

Hopefully when I get back home I'll have Isaac's 2nd birthday party picks to upload for you.

Otherwise I hope everyone is doing well!

Saturday, October 06, 2012


I wish I had time to blog for a long time today as there is much to tell. A bit of family drama, a lot of work stress + exciting stuff, the fact that Bart is coming home tonight after a week in Florida (yay) another big paragraph about our new friends and how much fun I'm having with them, etc. etc. etc.

But I have to have my tax stuff for 2011 to our accountant by Monday and I'm ... well, let's just say I"m not even close to being done.

So today.... it's taxes.....

Monday, October 01, 2012


Sometimes you just want to hit rewind and go back.....

I had that feeling this morning. About 3:50 a.m. I was standing not exactly fully clothed in my bathroom trying to shove the faucet handle of the shower back into the wall to keep the water from pouring out like an exploding geyser as it also leaked on to the floor. I was going to fix it and not wake up Bart because he had an early flight and we were going to have to get up at 4:50 anyway. But I couldn't fix it and the bathroom kept getting wetter and so did I.

And I just wanted to be back in Mankato where we could turn off the water and call Mike (kari's Mike not our son Mike) and ask him to come over before work and fix it. But instead I had to call a plummer who can't come until tomorrow. And I fixed it -- but not completely. The water no longer gushes, but as long as the main water is on the shower is running.

It's now 7;10 and I've been up for 16 nad a half hours. And I'm tired. And I have a lot of challenges in my new job and there was a misunderstanding today making the "perfect world" i've been describing seem very imperfect today. And I wanted to hit the rewind button.

But fortunately I've learned somewhere in my 49 years that it all comes to pass. I've learned that some of the best advice I ever learned were the words my mother said to me as a child and young teen "get some good sleep tonight. It will all look better in the morning."

I've also learned that true friends never stop being friends even though locations change... and that new friends, while they don't replace old ones, expand us and make us better people.

And so even though tonight I'm very tired, missing my husband, missing running water, and wanting to go to bed, I recognize that tomorrow will be another day.

But for a minute there it would have been nice to rewind to a different era.....

Friday, September 28, 2012

How about a family update? Just in case you were wondering how things are with the kids.

Kyle and Christy closed on th house on theeir new house this week. He has tenure at his teaching job and she just got hired full time in the same district so they built a house! They are very excited ... I've seen pictures. It's really nice.

Speaking of houses, did I tell you we are closing on our Mankato house sale on October 23rd? This is a HUGE answer to prayer.... we secured a loan to pay off the third mortgage so by the end of the month we will have one mortgage and a loan instead of three mortgages. God worked it all out very well -- it just wasn't quite according to my timing. But it will be SO nice to have that done.

Rand seems fine. I haven't checked his account for a couple weeks so I'm hoping he hasn't spent the money he is supposed to keep for bills... but we hear good things about him from our Mankato friends.

John got out of jail! After being there since January, he got out on Tuesday morning about 9:00. At 11:00 Mike went back in for a parole violation -- something minor -- but it's funny that we couldn't go even a whole day without one of our kids being in jail. Apparently according to our friends Mike and Kari John is heading to meet up with Salinda. Maybe he is going to stay with her for a while. He hasn't called us. And I'm practicing the "out of site out of mind" philosophy with the kids that don't live here. I'll be happy to talk to them if they call -- but if they don't, I'm good. I am way too focused on my own stuff to get drug into drama I can't help with.

Mike being in jail postpones Aiden's baptism that we were looking forward to for October 7th. So we are back to square one with planning that.

Salinda and Gabby seem to be fine. I haven't heard from her in a couple weeks -- since the carnival weekend.

Sadie took her GED tests this week. She thinks she might have failed the math. I didn't want to warn her that that might happen because she would have just argued with me. But if you can't pass math from 6th grade on, the GED test might be a bit difficult.

Tony called and he "got in trouble" at Job Corps. Not sure what that means. But at least he's getting disciplined there by them instead of here by me. Makes a big difference in my stress level.

Leon is working hard in school -- can't say he's enjoying it but he's trying. He hasn't made many friends and misses mankato a great deal. Moving a kid between Jr. and Sr. years isn't easy.

Wilson seems to be fine. Says he is making friends. Is doing well in school.

Dominyk's going camping with his best friend Nick's family -- and Nick's parents happen to be our friends Deb and Nate. THANK YOU Deb and Nate!

We don't hear from Ricardo. It makes us sad.

The three grandkids are doing great as far as well know.

Life is good.... and I'm off to work!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Breaking the Record Again

Now it has been eight full days since I blogged. My life is a whirlwind right now. Between church and work (and a bit of time for friends) I've just been so swamped I can barely move. Let me just tell you about the last few days...

Last Wednesday I left for the office at 6:50 (I drop Leon off at school on the way) -- went and worked until 5, had dinner out with some new friends and Bart and then he and I went to pick up Leon. We ended up getting home after 7:30.

Thursday -- again left for the office at 6:50. Worked until 5:15 -- headed straight to bells and then to choir practice, got home at 8:50.

Friday -- tried to sleep in but couldn't. Ended up leaving for work at 7:30. Worked til 10:30 p.m.!!!! We had an open house in Willmar for Bethany there to mingle in a dress for 3 hours. (Yes, I've had to grow up).

Saturday -- didn't go into the office, but spent most of the morning working on budget. Funeral in the afternoon -- again amazed at the way these people love each other - then at night I got to speak at an adoptive mom's retreat. So fun to see Deb, Ginny and Kari all at the same time in the same place. Other people there were those I had known in the past as well. A great time -- my only job was to make people laugh and that I did.

Sunday -- wow! Church, then transporting people to activities -- shopping for more clothes (I have to speak at two Gala events in November) and then hanging out with friends until 4 -- cleaning the house to get ready for people over until they came at 6:30 -- took Sadie back to testify.

Monday -- left for work at 6:50. Worked until 5:45, then came home and actually ate at home with my family! Bart made the most delicious salmon..... mmmmm. Then at night we did paperwork together and I headed to speak at practice for our praise band who is singing at this conference. Please register if you are planning to come. We have worked really hard on the conference this year and registrations aren't coming in so if there is anyway you can come it would be great to see you. Some of you from other parts of the state should carpool together! Maybe we could have dinner after .... hint hint hint. Deb and Kari are both speaking there as is Bart and I think Ginny is coming -- it's going to be so good. You could hear Sadie sing.... really guys, this is going to be good.

Yesterday I left for work at 6:50 -- worked all the way through til 8:45 p.m. as it was my first Board Meeting. Came home and went straight to bed. Leon drove himself this morning because Bart is in Duluth, but my day today looks to be about the same. I have meetings tonight (church related) and a doctors appointment after work so I'll be pulling in about the same time.

Tomorrow -- same routine -- work, dinner with a friend, possibly some bell practice -- choir.... home late. Friday night is our coffee house where Sadie will be singing with Testify -- now THAT is something fun to come to. Praise and worship music -- people come and sing along, or read, or play games, or visit -- very casual and fun.
And Saturday -- lunch with Tim and Sue (YAY) and dinner with Nick and Joy, new friends of ours from church who are quickly becoming old friends -- or feeling like that -- even though we have only known them a few months.

So, since I don't blog from work, that explains some things right?

Here is a pictures that I promised from the carnival (my favorite of the day). The others are refusing to upload at the moment....


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Feeling Guilty

SO the one thing in my life that is getting neglected is YOU. I haven't posted for a full week and that is a record in the 7.5 years I've been blogging. I have been gloriously and intensely busy... I hearaven't even read any one else's blogs this week.

But since Leon overslept for the first time (school starts at 7:20 so he has had to get up mighty early) I have 10 minutes....

My weekdays have been up early, to work by 7:30, work til 4:30 or 5 or 5:30, evening activities, etc. I have been intensely involved the whole day at work with meetings and appointments and interviewing others so I haven't had any free time during the day to blog. Since I leave at 6:40 to take Leon, no time to blog before work. And when I'm home - either time with the family, church stuff, or out with friends.... it's nuts. I did go to the gym twice last week, but this week I only have one day that I can do it.

This past weekend was my 49th birthday. The day of my birthday was challenging -- with the high point being dinner with Mike, Kari and the kids who were up from Mankato -- even though I messed up picking the place to eat and traffic made me almost an hour late -- not a good thing while several kids with special needs are waiting and hungry. Later some new friends were supposed to come over for cake but they were with friends who were saying goodbye to their friend.... he died hours later.

But Saturday was awesome. Our church had a block party -- Carnival of Community -- and it was so well attended. About 250 people from the neighborhood and over 50 volunteers made it an amazing evening. Sadie sang in the praise band and the atmosphere there was incredible.

Pictures and this quote are on Facebook. I will post pictures here tonight (hopefully) -- Gabby and Isaac and their moms were with us -- a very fun time But the whole weekend at our church reminded me of this quote:

One of the most profound comments made regarding the early church came from the lips of a man named Aristides, sent by the Emperor Hadrian to spy out those strange creatures known as "Christians." Having seen them in action, Aristides returned with a mixed report. But his immortal words to the emperor have echoed down through history: "Behold! How they love one another."

- Chuck Swindol

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The New Normal

After 16 years of working from home, this morning I was at my new office by 7:30 in a dress. Seriously???? yes, seriously.

I worked a full day, stopped on my way home to work out, at dinner alone -- delicious, but Bart had an early meeting, did a few things on my computer, had a fun phone conversation, went with Bart to pick up Leon and Dominyk from Leon's work, and now I'm finally blogging.

Great day full of challenge and fun. Our kids are doing well. Bart and I are loving challenging jobs and new friends. It's good.

Our other kids have some drama. But right now they are not needing to share much of it with us and we are really enjoying the break.....

I'm heading downstairs to get to bed so I can get up tomorrow and do it all over again.

But there is SO much good to do in this world.... I love getting paid to be part of it.

Wanna have some fun with us on Saturday? Bring your kids to our church's block party!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Transition Day

I can't believe I haven't blogged since Wednesday. Time is just speeding by. I'm not sure what happened Thursday, but Friday and Saturday I was in Owatonna doing the last 16 hour pre-adopt training of my life. It was bittersweet. It is a very tiring experience, but I like knowing that I am doing my part to prepare families on a very personal basis. Both Friday and Saturday nights Sadie and I worked on a project with my friend Joy and got black and white pictures of my kids and grandkids ready to cover a wall of my new office.

Yesterday was a great morning at church followed by lunch with friends and an afternoon of errands including getting a fitness center membership -- with people from church over last night for 7-layer bars that Sadie made.

For just a couple more hours I am finishing up some loose ends for Downey Side and Adopt America and then I will be heading off for lunch with my co-trainers for the adoption competency class I teach -- and then heading to Bethany to begin my first day there.

I'm having some pretty conflicting feelings. Even though the work can be emotionally exhausting, I love the relationships that I have had with the families I have worked with providing direct service to those in the adoption process. The relationship is a very intense one -- not like some professional relationships and I love the way I have been included in their lives.

I will now be moving into a supervisory position where I will be one step removed from that. I have always enjoyed management -- in fact ever since we got married I told Bart "The only thing I'm really good at is telling people what to do, and ever since we started parenting I've been surrounded by people who won't do a thing I say."

When I was a college VP I loved being the leader of a team who was passionate and working together. I already know a few of the people at Bethany here in MN and I know it is going to be great.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

10,000 Reasons......

Here are a few of my 10,000 reasons why I sing, "Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul!"

One of the best days I can remember in a long time -- State Fair August 31st. Everyone's faces show how much fun we were having. Really great day.

First Day of School pics for the kids still living at home who are doing so well.

A Day of Isaac Swinging with Grandpa

I love this picture -- his look of admiration and expectation -- and the connection that they have is so obvious.

Bart dared stop the swing before he was done....

A very long day....

Fast asleep 5 minutes on Grandpa's shoulder after his bath:

The Weekend of the 18th we had some of the kids home for a while...

This is Gabby with her Uncle Kyle:

and her Aunt Christy

Gabby feeding her new cousin Aiden

Gabby enjoying the bubbles we brought home from a wedding we attended...

And finally, the Sunday afternoon nap, father and son...