Merry Marshall Christmas

Since we are headed out of town tomorrow, today was Christmas for us. We managed to put the big boys off until 7:45 am, and then we woke the reluctant teenager and began our gift extravaganza.

Drama Queen was content to lay in the chair and have her gifts presented to her, but the boys were much more actively involved.

Even the pets got a little bit of a gift each.

I am so grateful for my sweet family and the chance to give and receive gifts. May your Christmas be as good and loving as the Marshall's Christmas this year.


It finally happened...

After 40+ years of being blessed with great eyesight, my eyes have finally started to rebel. Earlier this week I noticed that my left eye was twitching when I looked at things that were close. I could still read and see fine, so I was a bit nervous about what could possibly make my eye twitch.

Luckily Drama Queen and Z had eye exams scheduled, so while I was there I asked the eye doctor a couple of questions, and she did one simple test and proclaimed me over 40. It seems that she sees people all the time who suddenly can't see after then turn 40 - some of them on their actual birthday. So I got a bonus year and a half.

The doctor recommended proceeding to Walgreens and trying on reading glasses. Sure enough, when I tried on the 1.25 glasses I could suddenly see details I hadn't known I was missing. And my eye stopped twitching immediately. Turns out the twitching was muscle strain.

So here they are - the first of many pairs I am sure.



After more than a year of detours and stalls, our Homestudy has been approved by US Immigration! Finally we can submit our information to China, and we are leaps and bounds closer to our daughter!

What next? Once our dossier is accepted by China (this is called a Logged In Date or LID), our agency will watch the current and new lists of Waiting Children for a girl that fits our qualifications and family. They will present us with a file of information on a child, and if it seems the Lord is saying she is our daughter, we will reserve her file and seek permission from China to adopt her. At that point we will travel within 1 to 3 months to get her, spending 2-3 weeks in China.

Yay - we are one huge step closer to actually having our daugher home!


Getaway to Milwaukee

When Ivan and Isabel Allum were in town, Ivan spoke a prophecy over Perry and I that was very surprising. He said we need to learn to stop striving. He said "I have one word for you: Vacation." This was not what we expected to hear. Both Perry and I work pretty much constantly, and have more to do than we can get done. But if Ivan said it, it must be done. So we set out to Vacation. We figured out that long periods of time away were more than we could do, but we could carve out at least two nights away fairly regularly. So we try to take two or three nights away every 6 to 8 weeks.

Our latest trip was just last week to Milwaukee. And once again, it was a time of real refreshment for us. When we get away, physically and mentally, our outlook changes and we can open ourselves up to our relationship with God and with each other. We are finding what works and what doesn't in terms of logistics, but regardless of the details, the time away is well worth it.

Milwaukee was great because we were able to hop on a Metra train and connect with Amtrak. No driving, no worries about weather or snow-covered roads. We just settled into our seats and got some wine and almonds and relaxed.

We had found a great deal on Hotwire for Hotel Intercontinental. Perry doesn't really care where he stays, but I have found that a really nice hotel gives me a totally different level of relaxation, and can often be just as cheap as a moderate hotel if you know how to shop. We booked tickets for a show the following evening and went out for Ethiopian food. Perry and I share a love of interesting cuisines, and even though Ethiopian is not my favorite, it is so very much better than a burger or a steak.

The next day we visited the Pabst family mansion, which is now a museum. We have toured mansions all over the country, and I find them fascinating. The details of how people used to live are just so interesting. Then we headed over to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The museum is beautiful, and right on the lake. In some of the rooms the artwork is overshadowed by the beauty right outside the windows.

We both thought the huge table and chairs was pretty interesting. I'm not sure it's art, but it makes a good photo op.



Lately I have been getting my inspiration from the most amazing families out in the blogging and adoption communities. This video from www.k6comehome.blogspot.com summarizes many of their stories. It is worth watching:

We Can All Make a Difference - 2nd Version from connie johnson on Vimeo.


Gingerbread Men

Last week The Artist discovered that our local Trader Joe's carries pre-made oversize gingerbread men, all ready to be decorated. Well, we had to have some!

And though they had great fun decorating them, they took about one bite each and then ate the frosting and M&Ms off.

Totally worth it - who needs to eat all that gingerbread anyway?


A Christmas Carol

Drama Queen just finished her last day as Fred (Scrooge's nephew) in A Christmas Carol, a Play of Movement and Puppetry. She did an awesome job as Fred, as well as Belinda Cratchitt and the Undertaker. The whole show was done with enormous puppets that the cast was inside, so all the inflection came from movement and voice, as well as lighting and sound design. I hope to post pictures soon. We weren't allowed to take pictures, but a photographer came and took some posed pictures of the kids and their puppets.

I'm proud of Drama Queen and her first role at her performing arts school. She got a big role and did it very well. Tonight she makes up for all the time spent on the play by doing tons of homeworks and working on her two monologues for Juries on Tuesday. The work seems neverending, and she's really looking forward to Christmas break!



So many of the blogs I follow are doing fundraising by selling or raffling great items. One crazy blogger mama is actually giving away really great stuff - a new item every day for 30 days. To read about it or to enter for her awesome prizes, go here:

Ni Hao Y'all


Christmas Decorations

I feel very on top of things this year: we have our decorations up and it's only December 1st! The boys and I spent the evening on Monday decorating the tree and putting up the various nativity sets I've collected over the years. So many of our ornaments bring back memories.

Perry managed to get our new angel to stand up straight on top of the tree - no small feat. His final solution involved a wire coat hanger, and it looks beautiful.

Drama Queen got home late from school and play practice, but jumped right in adding garland and lights to the stairs.

Zed most of his time detangling and testing lights. Since he loves anything electrical that was right up his alley.

Now we just need to hang the stockings and hang some more lights. You can never have too many colored lights - at least according to The Artist.

It's not the most beautifully decorated, themed tree in the world, but I think it's just about perfect.