Wednesday, December 22, 2010

cookie day

Yesterday was cookie day at Mom-mom and Pop-pop's house. Pop-pop was at work, but Mom-mom was ready and prepared to bake cookies. Everyone had fun making and decorating the cookies and I don't think we left too big of a mess! Thank you, Mom-mom!

Tonight we are going to deliver some of the cookies to our neighbors. It is also the night when Jeremy and the kids sleep on the living room floor by the lights of the Christmas tree. It is a fun night of Christmas movie watching, popcorn eating and falling asleep under the tree.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

More Memories...

On Thursday night we all piled in the van and headed out to see the beautiful Christmas lights! The kids had a great time rating each of the displays we saw.

There are 2 houses we especially enjoy seeing. This one just has a million lights and so much to see. Jonathan did not want to leave. There is a 2nd house around the corner, which is quite unique. It has a light display that is set to music. So you put your car radio on the designated channel and sit back and watch the lights "dance" to the music. We easily sat there for at least 10 minutes watching and listening to the lights. I tried to get pictures of that house but they all came out too dark.

After driving around for awhile, Jeremy treated us to a Sonic ice cream treat. The kids enjoyed eating their treats in the van.

Normally we would have spent today driving up to the mountains with family and cutting down our Christmas tree, but we have started what I hope is not a new tradition. Jeremy started our week off by being sick, then Jonathan had a less then 12 hour fever, then Jordan had a fever for about 12 hours, then yesterday afternoon Amanda started. Only problem, her fever is lasting longer and she also has a sore throat and ear ache. (last year, Amanda had pneumonia for tree day) Amanda is typically not sick. It just seems like her body doesn't like tree day. We opted to all stay home and Jeremy and the boys went and got our tree locally. We then spent the evening decorating it.

I love this picture of Ben!

As we were finishing decorating the tree, I'm not sure how it happened, but all of the kids started playing Away in the Manager together on their respective instruments. Tyler-trumpet, Jordan-piano, Amanda-violin, Ben-drums, and Jonathan-flute. It was one of those moments that if we had tried to initiate it would have been a disaster, but when left to their own devices they provided us with a very nice concert.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

All I Really Want For Christmas

Well, I don't know if you remember me or not
I'm one of the kids they brought in from the home
I was the red-haired boy in an old, green flannel shirt
You may not have seen me, I was standing off alone

I didn't come and talk to you 'cause that's never worked before
And you'll probably never see this letter, anyway
But just in case there's something you can do to help me out
I'll ask you one more time

All I really want for Christmas is someone to tuck me in
A shoulder to cry on if I lose, shoulders to ride on if I win
There's so much I could ask for, but there's just one thing I need
All I really want for Christmas is a family

Well, I guess I should go ahead and tell you now
If it's really true about that list you have
Somehow I always seem to end up in a fight
But I'm really trying hard not to be bad

But maybe if I had a brother or a dad to wrestle with
Maybe they could teach me how to get along
And from everything I've heard, it sounds like the greatest gift on earth
Would be a mom

All I want for Christmas is someone who'll be here
To sing me happy birthday for the next 100 years
And It's okay if they're not perfect or even if they're a little broken
That's alright, 'Cause so am I

Well, I guess I should go, it's almost time for bed
Maybe next time I write you I'll be at home

'Cause all I really want for Christmas is someone to tuck me in
Tell me I'll never be alone, someone whose love will never end
Of all that I could ask for, well, there's just one thing I need
All I really want for Christmas is a family

Monday, December 13, 2010

Making Memories

I am finding it difficult to comprehend that this time last year we were celebrating Christmas for the first time as a family of 7. I am not exaggerating when I say it feels like Jonathan has always been a part of our family.
Last year we kept everything low key as we were adjusting.

This year we are going all out!

We began our festivities at Thanksgiving in New York when we celebrated Christmas with Nana and Uncle Dave and Aunt Tita. We haven't stopped yet.

We began the month of December by going to our favorite Living Nativity in Mount Laurel, NJ. This is by far the best Nativity I have ever seen. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures because it is all outside and dark.

We kept the festivities going by making a Gingerbread House with Aunt Peggy.

I love the detail of a bike against the back wall designed by Tyler

We also helped her put together some special trains.

She even had a special train set just for our more active boys.

Our next stop was the North Pole. Pop-pop and Mom-mom treated our gang along with Aunt Suzy, Uncle John and Andrew to a ride on the Polar Express. It was a great time as everyone (minus Pop-pop and Uncle John) wore their PJ's and listened to the Polar Express story as we sipped hot cocoa and cookies. The train ride was almost 2 hours!

Even Emma is getting into the Christmas spirit with her reindeer ears!
We still have many more fun activities planned! It is easy in of our business to lose track of the reason we celebrate Christmas, but it is our prayer that the birth of Jesus will remain central in all we do during this month.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I need to start drinking...

coffee that is. It is weeks like this one that I need an extra boost to keep going.

Today, I took Jonathan to the urologist. During our visit it was confirmed that Jonathan does indeed have a hernia, but there is also another condition with his "boy parts" that is correctable but will need surgery. The urologist can do the surgery for the hernia, but not for this other issue. So next Thursday, we have an appointment to see a Pediatric Surgeon so she can confirm that he does also need to have this other issue corrected. The goal is that the 2 surgeons will coordinate so that both surgeries can be done at the same time.

Tomorrow, all 5 kids have routine dental appointments. It will be Jonathan's first time to the dentist. I can already anticipate the conversation with the receptionist- yes, we homeschool, yes, all 5 are mine, yes, we adopted Jonathan, no, I am not a saint, yes, some days I go crazy- every 6 months we go through this same conversation. I think we are the only family with 5 kids that sees our dentist.

On Wednesday, Jonathan and I head down to Shriner's for what I believe is a routine 6 month check-up. Although, when we went for our last "routine" check-up that was when they surprised us with the prosthetic fitting.

I think on Thursday I will take a nap. Mom-mom will also have earned a nap as she watched the kiddos today and will also be homeschooling the children left behind while I am at Shriner's on Wednesday.

In all this business, I am thankful that none of these appointments is for a life threatening condition. All of these situations are manageable and 2 out of the 3 appointments this week are preventive appointments. Isn't it wonderful to live in a country where we have dental care, where we have hospitals like Shriner's that provide quality care and want to see my boy live his life to its fullest. Yes, he needs surgery, but it is routine surgery to correct problems that in other countries would go untreated. Yes, all of these appointments may keep me hopping, but I need to remember to not take any of them for granted.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

We are in upstate New York celebrating Thanksgiving with Jeremy's Mom and brother and his family.

This morning we did a little photo shoot as we enjoyed our beautiful surroundings. I enjoyed taking pictures of my blessings. I am one blessed Mama!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Will YOU?

My bloggy friend Shirley is trying to find a home for this little guy. You can read the full post at
She has more picturs posted- I just coldn't figure out how to get them over here!

Will You Wednesday on Thursday? For Luke, I'll Switch Things Up
Seriously, if you don't want to fall in love, don't keep reading.

Born in August 2007, Luke is another little guy benefiting from An Orphan's Wish.

At three years old, he looks quite small, his big dark eyes just begging someone to love him.

Luke's special need is listed as right clubfoot and cerebral palsy, but his real need is for a family.

A little shy, he is receiving the best care possible, but he has no parents to tuck him in at night, no lap to sit on when he is feeling timid, no one to gently encourage him to try new things. With proper therapy and much love, Luke will reach his full potential. All he needs is someone to believe in him.

Will you?

If you're interested in learning more about Luke, please email Shirley at or contact Betty Betz at FTIA.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Something kind ...

To follow up on Kim's post. I must admit, as I was cleaning up vomit in the van I was thinking "Do something kind, do something unexpected, do something costly."

In my book ... cleaning up puke counted as all three.

In Spite of Throw-up

Gotcha day has come and gone and life goes on. Jeremy had actually written the post Getting it on Gotcha Day on Monday evening as we knew Tuesday would be a busy day. We had decided to celebrate Gotcha Day by going out for a Chinese Dinner. We also had our 1 year (and last) home visit with our Social Worker scheduled for that evening.

We went to the Chinese Buffet that is right up the street from our home. Everyone had a delicious dinner and we all got in the van to head home. As we were pulling into our driveway at 6:30 PM, one of our children (who shall remain nameless) proceeded to throw up all over the van. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Our SW was scheduled to arrive in exactly 30 minutes. We very carefully assisted all of the children out of the van- attempting to keep them from stepping in throw up. The "child" went into the house and quickly got a shower and immediately felt better. Thinking- it was something they ate. Jeremy then got the unpleasant job of cleaning up the van. I quickly vacuumed the sofas (yes, our hairy dog only goes on the sofas while we are out- gotta work on that). Thankfully, we had everyone looking presentable and smelling pretty by the time our SW arrived. She never knew what had transpired.

How did our visit go? Ben refused to answer her questions, Jonathan showed off, Tyler put his hair in a mohawk and came out to show everyone and they all watched lots of videos while we answered numerous questions. By the time our SW was done we were quite confident we had somehow "passed" this last milestone.

Today, I took Jonathan to what turned out to be his last physical therapy appointment at Shriners. We are scheduled to meet with his team at Shriners in December and they will evaluate his prosthetic and assess how he is doing at that time. We also discovered about a week ago that Jonathan has a hernia. We are scheduled to see a urologist at the end of this month.

Back to my van- Jeremy did a fabulous job cleaning up the mess, but there is still a lingering smell. Sometime this summer, I purchased a car air scent thingy for a friend and picked up a pack for us as well. The scent was Sun and Sand. I sent this to a friend in anticipation of our upcoming beach vacation together. I used one in our car and had just thrown the other one in the pack on the van floor. As I was driving to Shriners today - I found it. The van still smells like throw up I thought to myself what we need is this great Sun and Sand air freshener. So I opened the package and attached it to the front of the van. We went into Shriners only to return to our car 2 hours later- smelling like someone threw up at the beach because of too much sun. Not the pretty smell I was going for.

Some days, life gives you throw up and other days it gives smiles and hugs and some days you just need to smile in spite of the throw up.

Monday, November 8, 2010

“Getting it” on Gotcha Day

Yes, it was only one short year ago that we first met Jonathan. Is it cliche to say that this doesn't seem possible?? Well, cliche or not, that's where Kim and I find ourselves. Jonathan... is... a ... Shafer. He's one of us. We are his and he is ours and it simply feels like it has always been that way.

We're gonna celebrate anyway.

We have consciously chosen not to give gifts on this special day because we do not want to stir up any sibling rivalry! But we will all go out for a special meal together (a Chinese buffet!) which, you understand, costs us a small fortune. It is so worth it. Then we'll hurry home for our last official follow up visit from our Bethany case worker. And that's a bitter-sweet milestone because we like her so much!

I must admit that both Kim and I have both had our share of nostalgic feelings as we look back on our adoption experience. It was hard, tiring, and emotionally taxing. But it was also quite a rush! It was great to be engaged in such an undertaking together and, on top of that, the experience of traveling to far off places ... Wow, some days you just want to hop in a time machine and go back. (Or maybe jump on a plane and do it all over again!?)

This past Sunday we shared our adoption story with a Sunday School class at New Life Glenside Church. It was great to visit aunt Peggy at her church, share with others about what God had done in our family, and (best of all) hear the stories of some grown adopted children. What a privilege that was!

In my "quiet time" this morning I found myself journaling about contentment, happiness, and emotional energy (in other words, the same old stuff.) You'll think me less spiritual if I admit that I was (at least in part) inspired by the latest VeggieTales video "Its a Meaningful Life" ... which I whole-heartedly endorse!

I was also reminded of these words:

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Mathew 16:25

I know everyday can't be a gotcha day, and the likelihood of hopping a transcontinental flight right now seems pretty slim, but I can find ways to lose my life a little bit each day. You can too. So, the challenge I am left with, and the challenge I will pass along to you, is to do something. Something kind, something unexpected, and something costly.

Hmm... maybe I an finally “getting it” on Gotcha Day!

The Night before Gotcha Day....

Twas the night before Our 1 year Gotcha Day Anniversary and all through the house ... children were running crazy and being very loud! Jonathan set the table and rearranged the place settings. He decided he should be King of the Table and no one dared dethrone him on the eve of this important occasion. If you remember one year ago - we posted a picture of this beautiful cake, which was presented at a Going to China Shower given by our dear friends.

Well, somehow, someway, last year the leftover cake was placed in our freezer. Once, I realized it was there, the perfect occasion never arose to eat the cake. Well, 1 year later- the time came for us to finish off this cake. The leftover portion of cake was all of our faces. Jonathan was thrilled to see his face on a cake.So I gently did surgery and separated every one's face and we each ate our own image. To every one's astonishment - the cake tasted GREAT! And that is how we have spent the eve of our Gotcha Day 1 year Anniversary.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Orphan Sunday

This Sunday is Orphan Sunday.

I would challenge you to watch the following video and prayerfully consider what part your family can play in the life of a child.

Stream the video online for your Orphan Sunday or awareness event. This video will be available for streaming online until November 14th! Click here to watch now! Answer the Cry streaming provided as a courtesy of our friends at Flannel.

Be prepared with a box of tissues when Steven Curtis Chapman sings the last song on the video.

Monday, November 1, 2010

One of those days

too much Halloween candy + not enough sleep = one of those days!

Ben- "Can we get rid of Jonathan? He is really, really giving me a bad headache."

much discussion ensues which somehow leads to a conversation on death...

Tyler- "Well, you know mom I could die before you if I grow up to be a missionary and I am arrested and persecuted." Can you tell we are reading a lot of missionary biographies this year?

I then kick everyone outside or rather nicely encourage them to get fresh air.

Jonathan comes back in crying or was it whining. "I hurt my finger." I then ask if he will be OK and his reply- "candy would make it feel a lot better"

Let's just say if anyone asks- there is NO problem with his English understanding or speaking.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

We will be forever grateful to Show Hope and Steven Curtis Chapman and his family. Show Hope was one of the organizations that gave us a grant. We also love Veggie Tales. So what could be better then- Steven Curtis Chapman partnering with Veggie Tales for a video! The video shows some Show Hope families as well as the Chapman's meeting their daughter.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The One Factor

I have begun reading the book “The One Factor” by Doug Sauder for the second time. I don't recommend reading this book if your life is going well and you are content to not make any changes. The challenge for me is to interpret what this book is challenging me (and my family) to do.

I was sweetly reminded of Psalm 25:14 ~ “The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”

Tyler and Jeremy went to a Farm with a group of 3-5th graders from our Church. They both had a great time bonding together and apparently taking lots of silly pictures.

Monday, October 11, 2010

He's All Boy!

He's silly!

He's strong!

He's handsome!

He's smiley!

He's my BESTEST boy named, Jonathan!

and he LOVES to have his picture taken!