Thursday, May 10, 2012


This morning when I went to get Elli out of bed, she was nowhere to be seen.  For just a second, my heart dropped.  It's amazing how much can flash before your eyes in one second... was she playing in the toilet?  Had she snuck into Daddy's office?  Was she climbing on food storage shelves?

Then I realized that there was breathing coming from somewhere nearby.  I soon found our Elli, sound asleep under the bed with blankets stuffed around her so that there was no way I could have seen her.  Elli, Elli, Elli...

Graci is dying for a pet.  This girl is asking me every single day, multiple times in a day.  I've already ruled out a dog (thanks in part to many of your comments) and a cat is definitely out of the question with Jer's allergies.  At this point, she has asked for a tarantula, hamsters, turtles, fish, bunnies, a parakeet, and a snake.  We haven't ruled it out yet, but I am trying to be very careful about this whole thing.  I told her she needed to research about all of the pets and narrow it down, then come up with a plan about where she is going to keep the pet, how she is going to pay for the food, how often she has to clean the cage, how she will take care of it, etc.  I am so afraid that she will be enamored with whatever pet she chooses for about 2.5 days, and then resent it for the rest of its life.  She is very responsible, but she doesn't enjoy cleaning "gross stuff." And really, we don't have room for a pet in this house.  But she is sooooo insistent that it is important to her, so I am torn.  Ugh.

We are SO proud of Xander!!!!  He is playing baseball this year, and it is machine pitch.  He really struggled for the first three games and didn't get a single hit.  Last week he said that he was the worst player on his team.  Jeremy asked, "Who told you that?" and he replied, "Nobody.  I just know."  Sigh.  Jeremy and the boys worked with him in the backyard and something finally clicked.  The last two games he has gotten on base four out of five times-- all off of solid hits.  I was jumping up and down the first time-- I am just so happy for him! Go, Xander!!!

On Monday, Jessica had to get four teeth pulled out at the dentist.  It was quite the ordeal.  When we told her that morning (yes, we waited until the last possible minute) she was absolutely distraught.  I mean just TERRIFIED.  I talked her through it, and what finally got her to calm down was talking about how much money the tooth fairy would probably leave her that night.  She actually ended up doing much better than I expected at the dentist.  That night, she was so excited to put four teeth under her pillow and was thrilled to get ten whole dollars!  Well, this week is teacher appreciation week at Jesi's school.  Jessica has been begging to go and buy something for her teacher.  Finally last night she said, "Mom, I have such a great idea.  You can take me on a Mommy Date to the store and we can buy some dry erase markers for Mrs. Critchfield."  She had on her puppy dog eyes, and Jer was kind enough to put the littles to bed while we went to the closest store-- Walgreens.  We found the dry erase markers and found that they were nearly $12 for an 8-pack.  I was planning on buying little gifts for all of the other teachers as well  and didn't want to spend that much, so I convinced her to buy clorox wipes instead.  We got enough for all the teachers, then went to the chocolate section and picked out some nice chocolates.   We wanted to include all of Lexi's and Elli's helpers, so we had to buy 17 of them.  (This didn't even include Taylor's and Graci's teachers.)  Again, Jessica asked if she could please buy the dry erase markers, insisting that her teacher absolutely needed them, but I explained how much everything was going to cost and that it would just be too much money.  When we got to the checkout, Jesi turned to me with bright eyes and exclaimed, "I know!!  I can use my tooth fairy money, and then you will only have to pay $2.00 for the markers!"  She was so excited, and of course I let her get the markers.  She smiled all the way home and picked out a pretty ribbon to tie it all together with.  I thought she had forgotten about the tooth fairy money (and honestly I wasn't really going to make her pay me)  but this morning she came in my room first thing and happily handed me her $10 bill.  I'm telling this story to convey how much she LOVES her teacher.  I mean, she just worships her.  Almost every day as I do her hair she says, "I think Ms. Critchfield is going to just love my hair today, don't you?!"  It is so sweet.

Sophi is back in preschool twice a week for two hours after being off track for a month.  I must say, it is good to have her back in school!  That little break can do wonders for my psyche!  It is why I'm able to blog this right now!  Soph is really growing up.  Some of the phrases that come out of her mouth just crack me up.  She keeps me on my toes, as she repeats everything I say!  (;

Lexi continues to worship "Erin C."  Whenever she is sad, she wants me to rock her and make up songs about Erin C.  We're so grateful she has a best friend!

Taylor and Parker are doing GREAT at baseball this year.  Jeremy is their coach, and I'm not sure who loves it more- the boys or him!  They are both in the top league and they play against some really tough competition.  They lost their first game 18-3 against a coach Jeremy hadn't ever beat.  It was a rough start, but they went on to win their next several games.  Their last game was against the same team that killed them the first game and who was undefeated.  It was pretty intense and ended with a win-- for US!  The team was so excited, and I knew I could milk it for all it was worth that day because it put Jeremy in such a good mood.  (;

On the adoption front...

Our homestudy is completed and at USCIS.  We had our fingerprints taken earlier this week and are now just waiting for our I171.  Once we receive that, we'll get all of our documents authenticated and translated and then they will be sent off to China.  We're still looking good for December travel!  Conner and Calais are in our thoughts and prayers every day and we can't get them here soon enough!  We're still praying for a miracle to get a bigger home before they come and we have faith that it can happen if it's His will for us.

Thank you so much for all of the supportive comments about our new adoption and particularly about our little announcement video!  For those who have asked where to find it, you can now view it from the sidebar by clicking under "Meet Conner and Cali." We have been so grateful for the support and kind words!


  1. I love reading your blog. Thanks for keeping it. Just a note about pets: when I was young, we had parakeets and bunnies. Parakeets are annoying (at least ours were) because you can't really take them out much-- when we did, they would fly head first into walls and stuff. And ours were really loud and screechy. As for bunnies, their cages got SO stinky (maybe we should have cleaned them more...). Our favorite pet (at least mine) was probably our guinea pig. He was cute, we could take him out and play with him, and with cedar chips in his cage, he wasn't so stinky. That's just my experience :)

  2. If you do get another house, and IF there's land, we have the world's easiest pets---goats. Someone actually gave them to us and they just eat our brush and bramble. I don't feed them anything extra! They hardly drink anything either, so I fill up a trough every blue moon or so and they're good to go. They're pygmy goats, so tiny and very gentle.

    Of the pets you mentioned, seriously an older, well behaved dog is the easiest. Parakeets and hamsters are both very smelly and really not great pets. They're not cuddly and they die least ours always did.

    Another fantastic pet, again, if you have room, is a chicken or two. My kids get such a kick out of getting the eggs and they're very low maintenance.

    Humane societies are generally pretty good about taking requests for older, housebroken, dogs. Newspaper ads can be good too. With people moving and with other circumstances, sometimes there are some really great, EASY dogs that need a new home. I would never recommend a puppy to a busy person!

    1. I completely agree with you about an older (older meaning not a puppy) well behaved dog being the easiest. As a vet, keep in mind to be prepared for the unexpected. Exotic pets get sick easier when their environments aren't perfect (ie guinea pigs get sick if its too dusty, teflon and air fresheners are toxic to birds). And it tends to cost a lot more and be a lot more intensive to treat these animals (reptiles with calcium deficiency can need daily injections for months). A lot of exotic pets also have the added expense of bedding (never use cedar chips, these are always toxic to all pets) in addition to food and supplements. If you can find a dog, though it will still require regular vet care like any pet will, it will only require regular bathroom breaks. If you have a fenced in yard, even easier. And your only regular bill will be food, and vet bill! No litter, no bedding! Just monthly heartworm prevention and vet visits twice a year :) But as always, plan for the unexpected just like with kids!

    2. Yes yes yes! I "older" dog from a rescue group. That way the rescue knows the pooch's personality and whether he'd be right for a family with kids. both our dogs are rescues. ONe was 7 months old when we got him, the other was 2 years old. The only advice i have is don't get a hound. We love Foxy Roxy, our foxhound, but God gave us hounds for hunting and they NEVER stop trying to follow the scents they catch.

  3. Just a comment about the pets. I am not a big pet fan either. We live in the country so we have a farm dog who lives outside. I mean all the time, he never comes in and is so used to this arrangement that on a cold night last winter, (we live in Canada), I could not even coax him in. He has his spot under the porch where he always sleeps and that seems to suit him. Anyway, my kids too begged for a "real" pet, ie. the kind that lives in your house. My daughter was sure that she wanted a snake--I was not so sure--but somehow dad got to the pet store and bought a corn snake before I could veto the idea. Long story short--despite my initial reluctance, a snake turned out to be a REALLY low maintenance pet. They eat about once every 10 days and can go as many as 20, so it is easy to leave them on their own. Because they eat so infrequently there is something else involving "gross stuff" that they also do only about once every 10 days. We had our snake in a terrarium with wood chips for 2 years and never once cleaned the terrarium, just took out the "gross stuff" and the terrarium never smelled, It really didn't, no kidding! The down side is that snakes are not cuddly and unless Graci really loves the idea of a snake you may find that the "cute" factor quickly fizzles. I have one child who hates little dogs and cats and hamsters, (scratchy nails) and she loved the snake, no problem with it crawling anywhere on her. With the large number of kids in your family, you'll want to be sure that no one has an absolute snake paranoia. We had one friend who could not come into our house when she found out there was a snake, even with the snake under lock and key she couldn't bring herself to come in. The other donw side of snakes is that if they escape their terrarium they are unlikely to come home the way a dog or cat might. We also had a parakeet for a bit and as lovely as they look, those things are noisy and messy! Seeds everywhere around the cage all the time. Not my pick for a pet.
    The corn snake and parakeet have both departed our family, (but we still have the old dog sleeping under the porch) and I am doing my best to fend off the children begging for a pet to take their place. Right now I am using the argument that a new little brother is soon to arrive so it is not the time to add a pet too. How about trying that logic--you've got double the excuse that I do!

    Good luck! MayLynne

  4. Hello,
    I have seen you video on You Tube......oh, how sweet and precious. We are currently in the process of adopting from the Ukraine. Hope to be in the Ukraine by late June or early July. We are hoping to bring home a 10 year old little girl who we did host last December. We have three grown children and currently almost 7 grandbabies. But feel God has sent us on a mission to rescue this beautiful young lady. I will keep you in my prayers and thoughts.
    Our daughter is in the process of adopting from China a little boy from China who is also blind from 2 years old due to cancer of the eyes. She is a Special Needs Teacher that has a degree to work with vision impaired. We do not know when she will be traveling.
    Hope to keep in touch during your journey on another adoption.
    Warmest Wishes,
    Charlene Wilhite

    1. I am so happy for you and for this little girl. Older child adoption is challenging but absolutely wonderful. Best wishes!!! And best wishes for your daughter as well. She will be such a blessing to this little girl. What a head start to have the vision impaired education!

  5. How in the world do you fit baseball into your schedule - and Jeremy coaches?! Seriously super parents! :-) That is so sweet about Jesi and her teacher. What a big heart she has!

    Okay, so I will in my advice about the pets, too. My kids begged for years, and we have always given in after they showed responsibility... but once the "Honeymoon" is over, it became my responsibility. Over the years we have had guinea pigs, parakeets, hamsters, fish, turtles, dogs, cats, goats, chickens and ducks. Jessica BEGGED for a pet rat a few years ago and we settled on a hamster (I just couldn't get past that tail!). The hamsters escaped and we could not catch them for months. They ended up chewing the wires to the dishwasher and we moved from that house before we could catch them!

    Our kids LOVED our pet ducks and they are super low maintenance. We had them in our backyard. You just need a little wading pool for them, that will need to be dumped a few times a week and refilled, and maybe spray off the back porch. We got ours as ducklings that the kids had them inside for the first couple weeks and they held them ALL the time. The ducks became attached to the kids and followed them everywhere. The kids loved it. They would get so excited when the kids went outside and come waddling. The best thing is that you will not have a single bug in your backyard if you get them. Ü Kids want some more, and I'd love to not have any ticks or mosquitoes this summer so we will be getting some in the next month or so.

    What Graci needs to do is write letters to anyone who may possibly help you get a home (Ellen, Dr. Phil, Today Show, Good Morning America, etc). Surely someone will help you with this sweet girl's letter to them. Tell her that once you get a bigger home, you can get an older Goldendoodle. I'm telling you - they are the BEST dogs. We have had a lot of dogs over the years, and nothing even comes close to comparing to her. Ours is six and she is so well behaved, trained, yet playful when it is time to be. Great jogging companion, too!

    1. Here is a post I did about when we first got our ducklings. These were Indian Runners. We have also had Mallards and Peking. One of them their quack was almost silent; I can't remember which one though.

  6. Morning guys - wow - lots of stuff in this one. Congrats to the baseball team and coach - well done guys - and enjoy the satisfaction!

    Glad to hear that all the kids are doing well - wow - and have the dossier mostly done too - y'all are really incredible - how much coffee do you drink in a day? ;)

    Pets - we've had many - and the only ones we found really satisfactory were dogs. Hamsters were OK - but if mis-handled they can bite, and if they escape the amount of damage they can do is incredible! One thing to consider - aside from dogs - all "pets" are wild. Some may become 'comfortable' around people (cats for example) but still retain some of the feral side (that's why cats seem to have an "attitude" that humans joke about). Certainly lower mammals (hamsters, GP's, ferrets etc) are basiclly 'managable' wild animals. Cold blooded (snakes etc) lack the mental capacity for "tameness". You didn't mention fish - we've had them for going on 30 years - is that a possiblility? I'm kind of with the earlier poster, an older (2-3 years?) small dog of the non-shedding family is probably a good bet. Do y'all have a local poodle rescue group? The "doodle" family (F1 or F1B or F3 groups) of a Poodle and Golden or Lab retriever are an extremely excellent hybrid. Avoid generation F2 however, I don't "get" the science part but I to "get" owners and breeders - and for whatever reason the F2 generation is a poor breed. Just thoughts - our's is a perfect a pet as we've ever had!

    hugs - love you guys -

    aus and co.

  7. This was a great post! I enjoyed reading it so much.
    I'll also be praying for the right house for you. But I betcha if you end up staying put, the love that's in the one you have will make it suit everyone just fine. (This from a mom with almost 7 kids who left 3600 sq ft two years ago for 2100 on land...we're much happier here, stacking kids up the walls in the two little kids rooms than in that neighborhood.)
    As for dog? REALLY? Awww..think about it again. They're great! And you don't have to ask USCIS to approve anything when you adopt one! :) Silver lining!
    Love from Mississippi!

  8. Just weighing in on the pet idea! I recommend a milk snake. They're low maintenance and don't require a lot of clean up or feeding (water must be given every day though). Our snake hides a lot in his cage, but is a lot of fun when you take him out, which you should do fairly often so they get comfortable with you. We've had this snake for about six years and he's never once ever tried to bite either. Milk snakes have good temperaments! He is a Honduran Milk Snake and looks just like this.

    My cousins also had snakes growing up, and they loved them.

  9. Fun update! Thanks for all the news...big events or small it is all so fun to read and get to know my nieces and nephews.

  10. visiting from the awesome announcement! Weighing in on the pet topic - agree on an older rescue dog could be a wonderful fit for your family.

    We also have a Bearded Dragon lizard, and while it requires a bit more learning to care for, so far he's been super duper easy. Calcium issues are the main thing we watch for, cleaning the "cage" as needed/weekly...but he's interactive...yet contained. However, the tank is HUGE and we have a wonderful exotic pet store for help when needed in discussing the various issues we've had.

  11. another thought - we have several local no kill animal shelters in our area, and they are always looking for short term foster families for animals. Sometimes fostering young puppies until they can get all their shots, sometimes fostering a new arrival that needs some medical care (like given a pill daily that they can't keep up), or just giving some much needed TLC while they are doing the initial vet care. Sometimes it's a foster family until the animal is adopted, and then the animal shelter pays for all vet care (well you have to take them to the one specific vet).

    The local humane societies are also starting to do this as well. So maybe that would be an option.