Adopted Joy Wed, 27 Feb 2019 02:00:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Adopted Joy 32 32 Easter 2019 Tue, 23 Apr 2019 18:04:18 +0000

In many ways I feel like I missed the Easter season this year, because I missed the observance of the Paschal Triduum: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Paul was able to take most of the kids to Maundy Thursday, but I stayed home with Ruben. Friday it was impossible to make the Good Friday service, and I can’t even remember why.

Holy Saturday dawned early. We had to leave the house by 7:15 in order to pick up Malinda and then head down to Sun Lakes, where Grandma had the kids registered to join in the annual Easter Egg Hunt. We all thought it started at 9am, so we were there early enough to get a perfect shady spot for our chairs up on a little hill to watch the fun and let the kids run around before the 9:30 start time. Paul had picked up Ana and Jose, and it was a really beautiful time with family. There were balloon animals, face painting, and egg hunts for three different age groups. It turned out only the younger kids decided to participate, and that was ok because the field for hunting was small, and the eggs were few, and it took about 10 seconds for each age group to empty the hunting ground completely. After the hunt we headed back to Grandma’s house for a little belated birthday party for ME! Then it was back to our side of town, drop off Malinda, then home to get everyone shiny for Sunday morning. I also spent some time making a fairly delicious Chicken Dip to bring along to Easter Dinner. Anyway, as full as our Saturday was, there was really no hope of getting to the Easter Vigil – and plus, Geneva was planning to join us for Easter Sunday mass and dinner at Grandma’s, so we opted out this year.

Sunday morning went pretty well, all things considered, despite a row over the color of a certain person’s Easter dress, who shall remain nameless, but is rather fixated on navy blue, and the gorgeous Easter shade of turquoise I bought her (knowing that she loves all things blue, and thinking how much she would love it) was deeply offensive to her sensibilities. Nonetheless, everyone looked beautiful in their Easter Best, and we made it to church a half hour early, in time to snag the perfect pew at the front of the back. Nothing, my dear friends, nothing in the whole world, makes me happier than sitting in church with my whole family together! It’s been too long and I was so ready for this Easter celebration!

And then I started coughing. And as it got worse, and I’d had nothing to drink and knew that even if I went back and got a drink from the fountain, it was not going to improve, I made the split second decision at about 10 minutes till 9 that I wasn’t going to make it, and had to just leave. I drove home, got my phone that I’d forgotten, drove back, stopped for gas (I was on empty) and then ended up spending most of the mass in the baseball field overflow parking, listening and watching on youtube. But even that wasn’t as bad as it could have been, as the weather was perfectly perfect, and I sat in the van, coughing, but appreciating the blue sky and cool breeze blowing through my shaded window.

It was a good thing I finally had my phone, too, because Paul had been trying to call me. Apparently Ruben had not only pooped his diaper, but also knelt on the ground while playing outside and landed his knee in a pile of doggy poo, so his beautiful seersucker suit was all messed up, and he was really ripe – and they had forgotten the diaper bag in the van. So I came round to meet Paul at the sidewalk by the church. However, when he looked in the back – there was no diaper bag! So at that point he just left Ruben with me and went back into church and I got to wait with Mr. Stinky until everyone else came out.

Thus we arrived at Grandma’s house in quite a state, and were eternally grateful that she is always prepared and has the appropriate size diapers and wipes on hand for whichever grand-thing is currently in need. God bless Grandmothers!

Once his diaper was changed, all the boys were wanting to get out of their fancy vests and ties, so we had to quick wrangle the lot of them into some semblance of formation outside by the back yard prickly pear cactus for family pics. It went pretty quickly, especially since Ellie was NOT in the mood for photos and nothing could mollify her.

And, aside from some cactus bloom photos from the yard, that was it for photos for Nettie. I spent the rest of the time enjoying the fam, and watching the cousins enjoy each other. What a gift it is to have family close by!!

Pics from the weekend. (Note: I’m very proud that my Photoshop magic skills were sufficient to the task of cleaning up Ruben’s messed up suit pants.)

Nettie’s Blazing Chicken Dip

Ok “Blazing” might be a stretch, depending on how much red pepper you put in. I’m going to just tell you how I made this, and you can scale it down to your family size. This would be enough for a good sized party.

Preheat oven to 350F.

6 cans chicken, drained
2 bunches green onions, slice the white, chop the green in 1/4 inch segments
1 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes, oil drained
2 cups shredded cheddar or cheddar mix cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
3-6 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
2 bricks cream cheese, warm enough to mix easily
Equal parts Sour Cream & Mayonnaise
2-4 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1-2 Tbsp Splenda (Optional)
Chili Lime to taste
Red Pepper, either flakes or powder, to taste. Remember, it gets hotter as the flavors mix.

Place canned chicken in mixer and shred. Add in all the rest of the ingredients, and mix in enough sour cream and mayonnaise in equal parts to make a stirrable concoction. It will become smooth when warmed in the oven. Place mixture in baking dish and bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until browning on top and bubble through and through. Serve immediately with whatever you like to dip. Also makes a yummy hot sandwich on buns!

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Thank you, Lord, for hard days. Tue, 02 Apr 2019 07:47:36 +0000

Every night (with rare exception) since before we were married, my husband and I have prayed together. It’s a commitment we made early on when we were dating that I believe has contributed profoundly to the success of our marriage for these 25 years and counting.

In those early days our prayers were always about the future: our life together, where God might take us, and especially for our children, that they would all be followers of Christ and seek to use their gifts to help build His kingdom.

As time went on we prayed about all the ups and downs of our lives, the joys and struggles. Thanksgiving for our children and the joy they brought, intercession for their struggles and those of our loved ones near and far. Prayers for our neighborhood kids and the hard realities they faced every day. Prayers for wisdom and guidance in our journey into the Catholic Church.

Recently, almost every night it seems like our prayers begin with, “Thank you, Lord, for hard days.” We are most definitely in the hard days. Day after day, week after week, month after month, this process of transitioning from foster to adoptive family has brought so many surprises, so much joy, but so much heartache and trauma.

Yet, St. Paul tells us:

“Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We can’t possibly walk this path without praying, literally, without ceasing.

Why? Because there’s so much you don’t know, you can’t possibly know, and nobody can adequately tell you or prepare you for the way trauma manifests itself in children who have suffered this unspeakable tragedy in being severed from their birth families. And when you commit to love them for however long God sees fit to place them in your care, you are, however unwittingly, committing to taking all that trauma, anger, fear, and profound anguish, upon yourself. Whenever, and in whatever ways it comes out, no matter what: you are bound by love to absorb it and live through it with them every day, all the way through a loss you can barely fathom and onward, by faith, toward healing.

This makes for hard days. Days when you must learn how to respond in love to a child with impulse control issues who screams “I HATE YOU! I HATE GOD!” and slams doors and runs away barefoot, because it’s all too much. Days of comforting a four-year-old who can’t stop wailing in agony every time daddy leaves the house, due to her separation anxiety. Days of rage fits and apologies and hugs and reassurance. Days when, at our house, any or all of these may be happening with up to seven children at once. Days we can’t get through without a whole lot of prayer.

So thank you, Lord, for hard days. And thank you for the way you bless our lives by sprinkling us with liberal reminders of your constant presence. By your grace, keep us clinging to gratitude as we cling to your hand, and help us never to miss the beauty beside this rocky road.

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Wildflowers Mon, 25 Mar 2019 02:05:05 +0000

After a Spring-break week of mostly-stellar behavior from the kids, who cleaned every day, played outside, barely fought, and got to watch tons of Marvel movies too, I wanted to top it off with some exploration. It’s been agonizing for me to see so many gorgeous wild-flower photos online from all my AZ Photography people, without being able to join in the fun, so I decided we had to head up to Bartlett Lake, where I heard there is a bumper crop of wildflowers this year.

It was NOT disappointing!! I’ve never seen anything like it, here or in any other state I’ve lived. The hills were covered in orange, yellow, purple and white for miles! I could have stayed all day, trekking around and getting shots of the landscape, but I was happy to capture some color right beside the road, and doubled my enjoyment with kids romping amongst the flowers.

We will definitely be heading back up there again now that we’ve seen what a beautiful area it is.

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Looking Ahead Thu, 14 Mar 2019 07:14:57 +0000

Last week I took mom in for what we both supposed was going to be just your typical yearly eye exam, and turned into a four hour ordeal of tests, exams, consultation with the Ophthalmologist, and ultimately the beginning of another round of monthly injections to help reduce the swelling in her retina. But the ice-cream topper on that cake of fun was a referral to a cataract surgeon for cataract surgery as soon as possible. Neither of us expected that. For over a year, all has been quiet on the eyesight front, so we’d gotten rather settled.

Well, it’s time to shake things up. Tomorrow she goes in for another test to determine what lens they will use. Then in two weeks, she will have cataract surgery in her right eye, with two followup visits, and two weeks later they will do the left eye, and two more followup visits, and then continue with the injections monthly. And all these appointments and procedures have to be scheduled around her thrice weekly dialysis. As you might imagine, this is going to be a much busier time than usual!

Everyone we talk to who has had the surgery exclaims about how much better they were able to see as a result. However, the doctors are not necessarily predicting a big improvement in her vision with this (although there might be some), but they say it will help them see INTO her eyes better, so they can better treat the retinopathy.

I am hoping there will be some improvement for her so that it will seem a little more worthwhile to go through all of this! I know mom will appreciate your prayers for her as she undergoes these procedures, and I will surely appreciate them as I manage the schedule and keep everyone going in the right direction at the right time.

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Finally Five!! Mon, 11 Mar 2019 06:56:23 +0000

Elyany Lucy Therese:
Clever. Cheeky. Creative.
Artful. Affectionate.
Sensitive. Slight.

For our March family birthday bash, we got to party at Heidmann East out in Apache Junction at Jon’s place. It is grand to let all the kiddos run around outside on their acreage and play with the dogs and chickens.

Xavier has been pestering me like mad for a chance to use my camera, and I finally relented and sent him off with stern instructions about keeping the strap around his neck, and one or two technical pointers, and wondered what would come back to me. Turns out the kid has a good eye! All the pics below that are not people are his, the ones at the end in the chicken coop were from Paul, and a few others are Natalie’s but I’m not sure which. Next problem is he’s going to want my computer to do editing…. I’m going to lose all my tech if I’m not careful! Lol!

Anyway, the bulk of the presents were for the brand new Five-Year-Old, and her favorite thing was her new balance beam, until she opened the Club Chelsea doll sets from Grandma and Laurent. they are so cute! I suddenly don’t hate Barbie anymore! ūüėÄ Hilariously, even the boys are having fun playing with her – although their style of play is more “Just how far can we stretch these movable limbs?” and various other boyish high jinks. Anyway, the new Barbies have brought the kids together in unforeseeable ways and it’s pretty fun to watch.

Pics from Saturday, really had a fun time editing the ones Xavier took, and I’ve promised him some editing practice in the next week, so I might have another gallery of these with his own particular artistic slant coming soon.

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B-52 Mon, 04 Mar 2019 22:10:39 +0000

Yesterday was Paul’s 52nd birthday! Having a birthday fall on Sunday means all sorts of good things. For Paul, it meant going to mass with his family, and getting to stay in mass the whole time while I took the fussies out. It meant a Sunday dinner at Popeye’s! It meant taking the crew to a nearby park for some play time and running around in the underbrush nearby. It meant taking – I kid you not – 27 tries for a family photo of which the best had, as is typical for us, room for improvement in the focus department, but plenty of fun nonetheless. It even meant taking the whole bunch to the nearest Dairy Queen for blizzards after they got all hot and sweaty on the first reasonably warm day of the year.

In short, it meant Paul doing a lot of daddy things with his kiddos, which is what he loves, and what makes him so incredible.

Pics of our fun at Granada Park (pop it out for a full screen slide show!).

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I have to share with you how delighted I am with my new rosary. For several years I have been pondering and waiting for the right time (ie. when I had enough money) to purchase for myself a rosary that would not fall apart, and finally the moment came. This sea-sediment jasper and aragonite beauty was made by Elizabeth Royer, and I bought it from her Etsy shop, Instruments of Peace. Everything she does is filled with care and beauty, including the ribbon-wrapped box and handwritten note. I highly recommend you check in at her shop, and let her know I sent you! (I don’t get anything out of that, so you know – I just think she would appreciate knowing you were referred by a happy customer!) I am so thankful for how her handiwork has already enhanced my prayer life.

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Meeting Ellie Wed, 27 Feb 2019 01:59:21 +0000

Sunday afternoon, after years and years of Grandma’s tales about her best friend Ellie, we finally had a chance to meet in the flesh! Ellie and her daughter, Karin (who happens to also have been a Concordia College buddy to my brother, Doug) came down to AZ for a week-long visit – so naturally we spent Sunday at Grandma’s. A lifelong friendship is such a treasure and gift, and I’m so grateful to God that He has given them to each other!!

It was also only the second time in two months that my health has allowed me the privilege of actually attending church and being out with the family on a Sunday, so I was especially conscious of the many blessings of the day.

Among those were a very slow walk to the greenway, where I watched my youngest four cavort about on the grass, waving sticks, rolling barefoot down the gently sloping green, and hugging the giant willows.

Alyssa took a few pics, and captured me in two that I absolutely loved. I’m so thankful I took the sound advice someone gave me to get over myself and allow my family take pics of me and include myself in our family albums. Watching how much joy it gives my children to see me with them in photos has changed my worldview for the better.

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Into the Wild Tue, 19 Feb 2019 13:48:13 +0000

All these hooligans were home from school on Presidents day. This meant that daddy, who was working from home, had a choice. He could either mount the monumental effort required to concentrate on his code while they ran in and out the back door through his office to squeal and laugh on the trampoline, as well as the usual screaming and fighting when they disagreed, and pestering him in between with questions ad infinitum; or he could take half the day off and drive the lot of them out into the wild to have an adventure. Even though the temperatures were unusually cold for Arizona, and the weather quite precipitous, he wisely chose the latter.

Though I was unable to join them, due to the endless sinus infection I’ve been fighting since Christmas, Megan was able to come along, and they had a very cold but enjoyable hike around Saguaro Lake in the wind and rain. I sent along my camera in hopes of a few pictures, and my sweetie did not disappoint. It’s always interesting to edit photos I didn’t take myself. It feels more like an art project, and I had fun with these.

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Books in my Cart Mon, 18 Feb 2019 15:51:49 +0000

Recommendations can be a wonderful thing. When a friend links to a book on social media, 9/10 times I will click that link and read more about it. And 9/10 times, that link will link me to other books in which I am at least as interested. I end up with a cart loaded with goodies that I can’t afford (at least, not all at once) and end up “saving for later” until I have several hundred “saved for later” books that I never remember to get back to. But then again, that’s better than buying all the books and never reading any of them, right?

Well, here are a few that made it into my cart this morning. If you read them, let me know what you think! I’ll do the same.

The Woman Who Was Chesterton 
by Nancy Carpentier Brown  (Author), 
Dale Ahlquist (Foreword)

This is a love story. But it is also a detective story. And best of all, it is a true story, told here for the the first time. Gilbert Keith Chesterton was a romantic, a writer of detective tales, and a teller of the truth. His own story and the stories he told are becoming better and better known. But what has remained unknown is the story of the most important person in his life: his wife Frances.
Nancy Carpentier Brown has done incredible detective work to uncover the mystery of Frances, tracking a figure who managed to leave very few traces of herself.
It is quite likely that as more is discovered about Frances, more biographies will be written of her, and they will be even more complete. But they will all come back to this one.
— Dale Ahlquist, from the Foreword

The revered teacher and bestselling author reflects on the power, importance, and joy of a life dedicated to reading books in this delightful collection drawn from his wide body of writings.

More than fifty years after his death, revered intellectual and teacher C. S. Lewis continues to speak to readers, thanks not only to his intellectual insights on Christianity but also his wondrous creative works and deep reflections on the literature that influenced his life. Beloved for his instructive novels including The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, and The Chronicles of Narnia as well as his philosophical books that explored theology and Christian life, Lewis was a life-long writer and book lover.

Cultivated from his many essays, articles, and letters, as well as his classic works, The Reading Life provides guidance and reflections on the love and enjoyment of books. Engaging and enlightening, this well-rounded collection includes Lewis‚Äô reflections on science fiction, why children‚Äôs literature is for readers of all ages, and why we should read two old books for every new one.

A window into the thoughts of one of the greatest public intellectuals of our time, this collection reveals not only why Lewis loved the written word, but what it means to learn through literature from one of our wisest and most enduring teachers.

Living the Good Life presents a brief introduction to virtue and vice, self-control and weakness, misery and happiness. The book contrasts the thought of Aquinas with popular views, such as moral relativism, values clarification, utilitarianism, Kantian deontology, and situation ethics. Following the Socratic dictum “know thyself,” Steven J. Jensen investigates the interior workings of the human mind, revealing the interplay of reason, will, and emotions. According to Aquinas, in a healthy ethical life, reason guides the emotions and will to the true human good. In an unhealthy life, emotional impulses distort the vision of reason, entrapping one in futile pursuits. In the human struggle to gain self-mastery, a person must overcome the capricious desires that enslave him to false goods.

Jensen ably guides readers through Aquinas’s philosophy and explains the distinction between the moral and intellectual virtues. The moral virtues train our various desires toward the true good, helping us discard our misguided cravings and teaching us to enjoy what is truly worth pursuing. The virtue of justice directs our hearts to the good of others, freeing us from egoism in order to seek a good shared with others. The intellectual virtues train the mind toward the truth, so that we can find fulfillment in human understanding. Most important, the virtue of prudence directs our deliberations to discover the true path of

Intended as a text for students, beginners of philosophy will gain access to a key aspect of Aquinas’s thought, namely, that true happiness is realized not in the animal life of passion and greed but only in the reasonable pursuit of human goods, in which we find true peace and rest from the distractions of this world.

The Human Person presents a brief introduction to the human mind, the soul, immortality, and free will. While delving into the thought of Thomas Aquinas, it addresses contemporary topics, such as skepticism, mechanism, animal language research, and determinism. Steven J. Jensen probes the primal questions of human nature. Are human beings free or determined? Is the capacity to reason distinctive to human beings or do animals also have some share of reason? Have animals really been taught to use language? 

The Human Person touches on topics that bear upon the very fabric of the universe. Are human beings merely well-ordered collections of chemicals or do they have a soul that gives them life and understanding? Is there any element in human beings that survives death? Can human minds get in touch with the objective world or just forever dwell in the domain of their subjective experiences? The book closes by considering the most fundamental question of all: are human beings merely cosmic accidents with no purpose or is there some meaning to human life? 

In this book, beginners of philosophy will learn the wonders of their own nature by studying Aquinas’s thought on the human person.

Many scientists and philosophers believe that you are no more than a machine. By their account there is no afterlife and you are no better than any other kind of animal. The existence of mankind, according to such thinkers, is purely the outcome of chance events. There never was any tendency, natural or supernatural, to produce life and the human mind. The universe is hostile or indifferent toward you, and you occupy no special place within it.

At the heart of this story of mankind lies not science but a rarely expressed philosophical assumption that modern science, at least in principle, tells all there is to know about you and the world. With his unique blend of cogency, clarity, and charm, philosopher Michael Augros hauls that assumption out into the light and demolishes it. The Immortal in Youdemonstrates how an astute use of common sense and a study of common human experience reveal that there is more to you–much more–than science could possibly say.

From the author of Who Designed the Designer?, this modern response to the ancient exhortation “Know thyself” delivers a wealth of fresh, powerful, and uplifting ideas about what it is to be human, which will engage thoughtful readers regardless of their beliefs.

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