About Me

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My husband and I, the Dynamic Duo, have been married since 2003. We've weathered the storm of chronic disease (diagnosis 2006), infertility (diagnosis 2007), turning 30 (2006/2007 respectively) a first adoption (2009) of a tender hearted, compassionate Ukrainian BIG boy (born 2006), who has told us he'd like a baby sister, baby brother, big brother, and REALLY big sister. We recently completed our second Ukrainian adoption journey, which brought us a daughter (born 2005). We'll see what else God brings our way!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

September in a flash

When we returned from Georgia, after my hospital stay, we had about a week before school started.  And, boy, oh, boy did that week go by fast!  While we were away, Dave started and finished a wooden box around a HUGE tree in our backyard.  The dog kept running through the previous flower bed destroying everything in his path.

What's the next step?  Filling it in, of course.  Which meant about 100 trips back and forth.  I handled the shoveling into the wheelbarrow/hauling it to the backyard, while Dave handled the dump and distribution.  Man, was I sore the next day!

The kids stayed busy digging out all the sand from the sandbox and dumping it in the flowerbed.  We got rid of the sandbox because they never really played with it.

Amelia...she's so creative.  And strange.  I love it!

Nothing like waiting until the last possible minute!  This is her haircut the day before school started.  I have a friend who does hair and she fit me in.  THANK YOU TONYA!!!

Goofy girl...her hair is at her shoulders now and it's really cute.  She's such a ham!

Getting ready for the first day of school...ah the anticipation and excitement!

My kids, best friends.  Love it!

At school waiting to figure out when to go in and avoiding the chaos.

This goofy kid pulled out his two front teeth.  In the morning.  After Dave left.  EW!  Blood everywhere.

And, of course, my birthday is in September.  I turned 35 this year, and my body is letting me know that I'm getting older.  I enjoyed a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles (can you guess who chose all these things?)

Eli was at floor hockey, so the girls played!  Nothing like stick on nails with a trip to the store!

How is school going for the kids?  Sigh.  Throughout September I prayed everyday that I wouldn't have to meet with the teacher about something one of them did.  Everyday (it seemed) I was having a meeting with Amelia's teacher about disruptions, like a high pitched squeal she'd make in the afternoon...a constant sound that she wouldn't stop.  Amelia's been written up twice (although I'm not sure they do much with these...I think it was a way to show her the severity of what she'd done), and the teacher sends her to the office for "quiet time" when she gets out of control, which is about 3 or so times a week.  The teacher keeps asking how she can be a better support to Amelia, and I just don't know!  We've tried weighted pads she puts on her lap to remind her to stay still.  Instead of being helpful, it ends up over her head, or being tossed around, or a distraction in any and every way.  Her teacher is VERY patient with her, and I'm so thankful for her!  However, it's been very emotional and frustrating to go through.  

Towards the end of September, we decided it was time for her to go through counseling.  It's been about a month and we've already seen great improvement at home.  But that's another story for another day.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Electric Woes and Work?

August held a few extra adventures for us.  Do you remember back in July when we lost power for a few days and the electric company came out and replaced our transformer?  Welllll, that's about to get a whole lot more interesting.

While the kids were gone (fortunately) - I think it was Friday, I woke up at 5am and heard a really crazy sound.  It sounded like someone was dragging metal trash cans across concrete; amazingly, I heard it through my ear plugs.  I woke Dave up, and we both listened intently, trying to figure out where in the world this sound was coming from.  And then we noticed that our fan was running at full speed, then dying down, then full speed, then dying down.  Dave thought our electrical was out of whack so he turned off the electricity in the house from our circuit breaker.

Good thing, too!  We put two and two together that morning when our neighbors didn't have electricity.  In fact, it was only a portion of the neighborhood (not sure how many houses it affected).  But all our neighbors connected to us lost thousands of dollars of stuff.  The family that lives behind us woke up to find smoke coming from the computer in her son's room!  Can you imagine if it had caught on fire?!

The electric company was called (they told my husband that nearly everyone on the block called!) and they came out pretty quick.  There was something exposed that wasn't supposed to be exposed...yikes!  Since then, we've found a few weird things that were affected, but nothing major like our neighbors...phew!

And the final crazy thing that happened...Before the kids and I went to Georgia, my pastor called and our conversation went something like this:

D:  The Children's Director is leaving the church...good story, excited for her.  However, we need someone to fill that position.  Would you consider working with Nancy (his wife and a woman I adore) to job share this paid position?

Me:  Stunned silence

D:  We don't know what this would look like, but pray about it and let me know.

Me:  Uh...ok!

My husband (when we talked about it later) YES!  DO IT!

This is a part time job (8 hours) and mostly administrative, although I do take some additional responsibility for the younger kids.  And I love it!  I love, love, love working with Nancy and all the volunteers at my church.  We're very blessed to have so many with servant's hearts.  I brag about them all the time.

Oh, but that's not the end of the story!  Remember how I ended up in the hospital after my Georgia trip?  The day I got out, while I was still in a lot of pain, I got another call.  This time from the Student Ministries Pastor.

M:  Hey Natalie.  You've been on my mind.  I've seen the way you work and how organized you are (with the volunteer position I'd taken over) and I'd like you to consider being my administrative assistant.

Me:  Stunned silence

M:  Think about it, pray about it and let me know your thoughts.

My hubs (when we talked about it later) YES! DO IT!

I'm quite humbled that I would be trusted with such important tasks.  And I'm thrilled to be working for such wonderful people.  Everyone is more concerned about my spiritual and family well being than being in the office.  And it's a smaller campus, so it's got that family feel.  Even though I'm only working 18 hours, and the kids are at school the entire time, it's still been a tough transition.  I eased myself into it by starting the children's role first, and I just started the admin role this month.

Life has been busy!  I'm off to sign an offer for some land now...more on that when I get caught up!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I alluded to some health issues I'd been having back in the spring.  I'd gone to my doctor because my energy level was really, really low.  She took some blood work, which showed that my levels were a little on the low side, but not low enough to be out of the "normal" range.  However, there were some "abnormalities", so they recommended an in house ultrasound of my thyroid.  I had the ultrasound done, which showed a few nodules that had grown quite large (over .5mm).  So they sent me to a specialist (which is my regular endocrinologist anyway).  What I love about him is that he takes in to consideration lifestyle changes as a part of his practice.

I went to the endocrinologist who recommended an ultrasound guided biopsy of two of the 3 nodes.  I. was. freaked. out.  I made my appointment.  I got to the hospital with my husband and I was fine.  But once they took me back in the room and explained what was going to happen, I was terrified!  I just took deep breaths while they searched via ultrasound for the nodes my doctor wanted to have biopsied.  And, guess what?!  They couldn't find them!  I was sooooo relieved.  I have more tests coming up in January - another round of ultrasound/biopsy to see if there's any change.

And to add to that, the day we got back from Georgia (I drove the entire way straight through- 16 hours!), I had intense pain in my lower right abdomen.  I Webmd'd my symptoms and I thought I had appendicitis   Not something to mess around with.  So I drove myself to the ER, told them of my symptoms and spent the next 2 days finding out I have diverticulitis.  I have to cut out caffeine (no coffee) and CHOCOLATE!  I haven't been successful with the chocolate part yet, but I'm working on it (NOT!).


I know, I know.  Been pretty busy running the Children's department at my church...but that's another blog!

August was awesome.  And surprising.

We ended our summer with a few bangs.  Mmmm, grilling and water fun!

I bought the kids their very first pair of tie shoes with the understanding they'd practice tying on their own.  Amelia picked it up pretty fast, but it took Eli a little more time.  One of the issues were his laces.  Black shoes with black laces isn't the best combo.  So off to the store we went;  I let the kids pick out their own new laces.  Look at how much bigger Eli's feet are than Amelia's!

The kids went to the dentist - no cavities!

And the kids went to Buffalo to visit Grandma Karl and Aunt Wendy for a week without us.  What a great time of rest.  Dave brought the kids back on Sunday and Tuesday I left to take them to Georgia for a week or so.  And, yes, I drove.  With both of them.  For two days.  And, yes, it was really, really hard!

But they love being at Bop and Grandpa's house being tossed around like ragdolls by Uncle Alex (who, by the way, was called Uncle Mike all week by Amelia.  We still haven't figured that one out!)

Two very spoiled children!  They made cakes and had chocolate chip pancakes every morning with Bop.

My family had to work during the day, so I ventured out a few times with them.  We went to this really cool outside zoo.  Yes, zoos are outside, but this one was situated in a wooded area, so it felt like you were actually in nature.  The kids LOVED it!  We saw (and heard) all kinds of animals!

For those of you who know me, you know that this site terrifies me.  I kept praying God would keep all the snakes away!

This was Amelia's favorite animal.  I don't know why, but she LOVES pigs!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mostly July

The kids were in summer school for one week, and then we headed for Buffalo to celebrate my great Aunt's life, and Amelia's birthday.  She got to meet lots and lots of family for the first time.  She did really great, except a few times when we had to take her on a walk to help her calm down a bit.  

My great Aunt passed away last year unexpectedly while visiting her daughter.  The funeral was on the east side of Canada, so none of her family on this side were able to come.  Instead, her daughters planned a memorial the last Saturday in June.  We were able to attend, and so were my parents.

That night, we had a family get together with lots of Dave's family.  We had a great time and Amelia was introduced to lots more family.  We celebrated two birthdays, hers and Nadine's.

We stayed at Mr. Rick's house (my mother-in-law's boyfriend) on the lake.  Even though it was pretty warm outside, the wind off the lake with open windows we were very comfy.  It was so relaxing to sit on the porch and hear the waves break.

Amelia's birthday was the following Monday, so we had a smaller party just for her.

What a pretty princess :)  She loved all the attention lavished on her.  I sort of expected her to get shy, but she ate it up!

Yes, Grandpa Stobie, I had to add this in as retaliation for all those M&M's you've given my kids ;)

Amelia got a lot of clothes, which she loved, fake nails, fingernail polish, sticker earings, lip gloss, and money to buy a brand new bike.

We got home on the 4th of July (planned that way) to no electricity (not planned).  Apparently the transformer (which happens to be in our backyard) blew the night before and they replaced it that morning.  We had some issues the day before we left with 4+ hour outages, but we hoped all would be well when we got back.  The transformer was replaced, but it was still a few days before we got our power back.  And it was HOT!  Like 90s and humid hot.  I. was. miserable.  I don't do hot, and I don't sleep well when it's hot.  

On the 4th, Amelia got to see her first fireworks.  A guy about 4 houses down does a really big show each year (which has always annoyed me, but I was thankful for this year).  It kept Amelia awake, and I think she was a little scared.  So I took her outside to show her what all the commotion was about.  Unlike Eli, she didn't hide or cower.  She thought they were really pretty, although a little loud.  Eli, on the other hand, was so exhausted he passed out and didn't budge threw the entire thing!  I kept checking on him, but he was out like a light.  

The rest of July was pretty low key.  It was hot-perhaps the hottest summer since the late 1800s.  We even reached 100s a few times.  And, of course, the kids learned to ride their bikes.  I'd imagine they'd do fine without training wheels, but they insist they still need them.  Next year, for sure.  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

June Continued...

Back to posting about June.  The week after school was out Dave went to Germany for work.  I had planned to work at our church's version of VBS - Kreative Kids Day Camp.  The kids work on songs, drama, and art throughout the week.  It's from 9-4pm M-F, so I figured it would help keep the kids worn out; and it did.  But it also wore me out!  I got to partner with another woman to run the mini camp.  The preschool aged kids (more than 20 of them!) only come for half the day.  And then I stayed for the remainder of the day to watch the 4 or 5 kids of volunteers.  

It was during this week that we kind of put two and two together to figure out that Amelia can't handle big groups of people, period.  She gets a crazed look in her eyes and is very "active".  There was a woman, Weny, who would bring Amelia to me every once in a while just so Amelia could see where I was and what I was doing.  During the week, Amelia whacked her head - twice, got a carpet burn type injury from the big bounce house slide, put a handful of hand sanitizer in her hair, and lost most of her projects from the day.  But Wendy told me she had things under control.  She told me there wasn't a kid yet that she couldn't handle.  She has a way of understanding children, and dealing with them in a very compassionate way.  She knew Amelia's story and just kind of went with it.  She was such a God send!

I really like the way our church handles counselors.  They use the teens as team counselors, and they report to adults if there are any problems.  They have requirements that need to be met, and they move up with the kids each year if possible.  Wow!  I love that our church encourages teen volunteers, especially in the traditionally adult roles.  

And I had such a great time leading the kids in their song Friday night at the variety show.  I was so worn out, but the kids were so much fun!  I can't believe how much I enjoyed myself.  And I got to see my two crazy kids singing the songs they'd been singing to me all week.  They had so much fun :)

June 25th, the kids started their summer programs.  Amelia qualified for an English Language Learners program.  Not only was it free, but she got to ride a bus!  I was pretty nervous since she'd only been on a bus once before.  The program was 6 weeks, although she missed a few days for our Buffalo trip to celebrate her birthday and introduce her to family.

Yes, I know.  My daughter is wearing a hoodie.  And, no, it wasn't cold enough for a hoodie (it's been a very hot summer), she insisted on wearing it (instead of putting it in her backpack) because her classroom was cold.  

I enrolled Eli in a program designed to help kids transition from kindergarten to first grade.  He was having a hard time with reading; his math was pretty much on target.  Well, Eli had different plans.  He woke up one day and wanted to read.  In fact, unknown to us, he was reading books at night (instead of playing with cars), teaching himself to read with the phonics cues we'd been studying.  One day he came to me and said "Mom, I want to read this book to you."  And he read 25 pages!  I was amazed :)  His first book was Chester the Horse.  And he hasn't stopped reading since.  He loves reading, and I couldn't be more excited for him.

So that's most of June.  The next post will take us in to July.  Yeah!  Progress!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Vacation

Sorry about the lack of updates this week.  The kids are in Buffalo and I've  been busy!  What have I been doing, you ask?

Spring cleaning the house, reorganizing the kids' rooms, eating ice cream and waffles for dinner, getting things together for our trip to Georgia next week, sleeping in, watching movies, going TO the movie theater,

Getting my toes painted:

And my hair darkened:

And the week isn't over yet!