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Hey Working Moms!
Do you - like me - want to order a wife
off Amazon? Well, we can't. So here's
the next best thing to help you stay

"Just One More" - C'mon, make a box!
And make a difference.

Hey - It's Us!

It's a mighty big world. Better have a sister to hold you.

Yo. Chill'ax with these blogs we love. Peace out.
Rachel's My Space
Durham D'Railed
Lisa's Boys
Ah So - Allie's Cats
Always Wanted Four
A Twist of Kate
From Russia With Love
Family Reunion
The Bryants
One Day More
Long and Winding Road

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Saturday, January 17, 2009
Wild Hair

Every now and again, glimpses of my pre-maternal life pop up and startle me.  Like, I'll find myself car dancing to Bruce Springsteen.  Or I'll buy a can of biscuits without a coupon.  Experiences my mom would call "wild hairs."


Red sequined jacket and The Boss on the boom box - definitely not maternal.  But a great "Jingle Bell Rock" Christmas card picture with Sarah and David in 1986.  Note the bells on David's wheels.  He used to say, "Hair is just entertainment."  You can't see my wild hair here - a 6" pink-bleached rat tail.  My boss Vicki would gulp hard every time I sauntered into the Southwestern Bell Comptrollers building wearing my matching hot pink jelly sandals. 

The girls and Keith will tell you - I'm the mean one who is always trying to balance the paychecks with the mortgage payment, car payment, insurance, etc.  As Keith says, "We'd have more money if you didn't fritter it away on bills."

Three times at Sam's this holiday season, I fingered - then replaced - certificates for a local spa entitling the bearer to a hair shampoo and cut, microderm abrasion treatment, facial, massage and make-up application - for $45.  I kept thinking how much fun it would be to do with Rachel, Lois and Hannah.  How we don't have that many more years with all of them at home.  Then I would (responsibly) remind myself of fall expenses not fully paid for.  And sigh.  And walk away to check the clearance corner in the back of the store.  (Remember that when you're shopping there!)

Fast forward to riding the bus home my last day of work before the hoildays.  Only 10 of us - very unusual - and mostly women chattin' it up instead of taking our afternoon naps.   One of my bus buds decribed buying certificates for her mom and sisters, and how much fun they were going to have using them.   That did it.  I told Keith, "I'm going to get them tomorrow."  I surprised the girls on New Year's Day.

We used the first today - for lovely shampoos (with heavenly scalp massages) followed by haircuts.


BEFORE:  Rachel told us, "Frown, like they do in all the 'before'  diet ads."  All we need are numbers under our chins.

AFTER:  Rachel, Lois and Hannah have Keith's thick, shiny hair.  Hannah went for layers which were Texas-big-hair-poofy before we we traipsed through the grocery store.  I just wanted mine shorter.  ("Mom, you've wasted a salon cut.")  Rachel got her hair thinned with side bangs.  Lois got a "semi-dramatic concave bob," which sounds like something you get if you fall off a trampoline - but it looks really cute.


Over the holidays, I (finally!) completed photo albums for each daughter, the first since Julia came home.  I devoted a page in Lois' book to her ever-changing locks. "Am I the only person in this family who will ever do anything different with her hair?"

Rachel had a great idea for using the make-up applications - we'll go get them the afternoon of her high school graduation.  I'd planned to take that day off anyway.   As for the massages, microderm abrasians and facials...well, we're not sure right now.  We'll use them sometime this year when we are just feeling crazy. 

You know - just having a wild hair.


Posted at 12:08 pm by beckyww
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Sunday, January 11, 2009
Where's the family?

My brilliant niece Sarah, her husband Joe and their two kiddos visited from Houston this weekend.  Laura (5) and Julia (8) are close to the same size and behave like typical cousins - best friends one minute, arch rivals the next.

Beats a slimy bar of Ivory, doesn't it?

Rachel tossed them into the pillow bin at Costco.  I'm sure the store personnel were appreciative.

Laura attached herself to Hannah, to the point of allowing Hannah to feed her, carry her, cuddle her in a blanket, etc.  Julia snorted and rolled her eyes at every display of their mutual affection.

Their McDonalds Happy Meal toy dogs came pre-named "Juliette," which prompted Laura to counter, "Well, I'm naming mine Lauraette."

James - almost two - uses two words constantly - "Snack" and "Ball."  A perfect world would have ball-shaped snacks.  Or snack-flavored balls.

Julia will - from time to time - ask about people she sees in photographs around the house.  I will explain, "That's my mother" or "That's my brother" - people that will never be her grandmother, or her uncle.   And I wonder - as she matures - how will I tell her stories about objects from obscure people with whom she does not share a genetic history?   Will I point to the three scarred, charred china plates in the corner cabinet and say, "Those were pulled from the burned home of my father's grandparents?" Or will I say - as I do to Rachel, Lois and Hannah - "Those were pulled from the burned home of your great-great grandparents?"

Her family now is the people she knows - us, Keith's parents and brothers, my sister's family including Sarah's kiddos.  Not names on a tree, but people she can talk to and touch.  As she said tonight in her prayers, "I love all my family, even my cousins." 

Family is in genetics for sure.  Julia had a "first mother," and there is simply no denying that.  Nor would I want to.

But family is also in other places. 

Like the behind the suds in the tub.  And in the pillow bin at Costco.

Posted at 06:07 pm by beckyww
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Saturday, January 03, 2009
Episode 8 of "A Man and His Pond"

When last we left "A Man and His Pond," Keith was introducing his koi to their new, watery home.

He's made major progress since March, including replacing the back fence, which looked like this yesterday (yawn):


But now today - wow!  Finally!  These whimsical terracotta creatures have been buried in blankets in our cedar chest for four years.

Parrots, frogs, lizards, a dragonfly, a moon and sun - and a huge snake that I personally carried across the border at Laredo, when it was still safe to go there.

My favorites - the turtles.  But watch the video.  You'll see we both have a thing for turtles.

Three months - we all heard it!  So the backyard should be ready for prime time around Easter. 

What's up, Doc?  A beautiful backyard!

In addition to all the pond work, Keith is also (again) coaching Julia's church basketball team.  So we have to work on the dribbling.  But still - pretty good!

We went to a lovely wedding tonight of a friend at church.  As I watched our girls enjoy the service and reception, I thought for about the millionth time:  I hope they each marry somebody every bit as good as their daddy.  Maybe we'll have the ceremonies by the pond?!

Posted at 06:27 pm by beckyww
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Thursday, January 01, 2009
You Do What You Have To Do

I've always liked hanging out with people better than myself.  Fortunately, they're easy people to find.  Smarter - happier - more godly - prettier - quicker - better organized - deeply generous - people.   

I marvel at many of my friends who make such differences at food banks, hurricane shelters, free clinics, Sunday Schools, student mentoring, etc.  And now I have friends online who absolutely blow me away.  They work in Russian orphanages, or create crafts to benefit orphans, or raise money to provide clean drinking water in Africa.  These are regular women.  No big red "S" on their camis.  They are not infused with super powers, or great wealth.  They just decided to do something that mattered.

My mother also did much that mattered.  The older I got, the more I marveled at what she'd managed to do.  And when I would question or recount an incident or accomplishment to her, she'd simply say, "You do what you have to do." 


Mom with David - a big part of what she had to do

What we decide we have to do is a choice, of course.  My friends whom I admire so much have defined their choices.   They teach and preach and reach deep into souls and far out to the world because they choose to do so.   If you try to discourage them, or they hit roadblocks, they'll still find ways to do what they have to do.

I'm not big on new year's resolutions.  But at this start of 2009, I feel the need to really consider what I have to do.  Because as my mom said, "You do what you have to do." 

And it's all about how you define that "have."

Posted at 04:40 pm by beckyww
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Almost Happy New Year

Because a city worker opened the hydrant in our cul-de-sac just now.  And this is Texas.  So we can.

Currently listening to:
WOW Hits 2009
By Various Artists
    Read Review

Posted at 12:38 pm by beckyww
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008
From A Upstairs Lair

A gift.  For tonight.

From two of these.


Including this one sparkly one.

Merry Christmas!


Posted at 07:13 pm by beckyww
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Sunday, December 21, 2008
Now showing on our kitchen table....

Julia's has always wanted to make a gingerbread house.  So we are.  Right now. 


Costco had these kits out in September, so you know it's freeessssh!

Hannah's peppermint-flavored icing is really pretty good.  She's learned cookie and cake-making/decorating from the best - her daddy. 

Highlights last night at Fiesta Texas' "Holiday in the Park," which is always a lot of fun.

Rachel and Lois on Goliath.  "Mom, it was rad."  There's not enough blood pressure medicine made to get me on this monster.

Lois and Julia on Boomerang.  Julia has ridden this gut-twister by herself. 

Rachel and Julia sledding down the "hill." 

I have this entire week off.  I am just loving it.  Every single minute of it.


Posted at 06:17 pm by beckyww
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Saturday, December 20, 2008
Our Sweet Rides

Dashing.  Rachel and me. 


All of the other drivers laugh but none call us names - we hope.  And if the weather holds, it will be a foggy Christmas Eve.  C'mon over for a reindeer game of Trivial Pursuit.  I broke down and bought a new table-top edition, replacing my original 1983 version.  Maybe I can memorize the Sports and Leisure questions before I have to play Keith, who tromps me on those. 

Posted at 11:48 am by beckyww
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Saturday, December 13, 2008
O Tannenbaum

I have classy friends.  And often when I visit their homes during the holidays, they explain the themes of their Christmas trees.  "Angels we've collected on our travels."  "Everything in purple."  "Antique snowmen."  "The children's tree has unbreakable ornaments, while the tree in the front room shimmers in Waterford crystal snowflakes."


Our tree is done in Woodworth. From the lighted Tinkerbell topper (thanks, Sharon!) down to the lovely hand-made tree skirt (thanks, Jean!) - our tree is just us.  Sunday School crafts.  Sciene Fair and volleyball ribbons.  Pictures.  Classroom gifts.  Sparkly package decorations.  A small stocking my grandmother made me. 

Hannah, Lois and Rachel are tall enough now that Tinkerbell barely peeks over.

I asked the girls what they liked best on the tree this year.  The answers were as different as they are.  When Julia came home in 2006, we hurriedly and heavily salted the tree with her crafts and photos.  I with I had toddler pictures of her with Santa - but at least, thanks to Irena (see below) - we do have some earlier pictures of her now.

We were off to the River Walk tonight, where we stopped in front of this school-themed tree.....

....before scarfing up flavored ice.  Julia warned me, "Mom, don't eat the yellow snow."  Spoken like a true native of St. Pete.

We circled a gorgeous tree during our boat ride.  Downtown San Antonio is just beautiful at Christmas.   You walk right by the Alamo to get to the River Walk, which leads into the mall.  Which leads to the debit card being whipped out way too often.

A Christmas tree seemed to be the only thing missing from inside Rachel's purse as she emptied it at Starbucks, in search of the perfect lip gloss.  Two full-sized colognes, a smaller cologne, a full-sized water bottle, wallet, make-up bag, copy of "Twilight," Zen mp3 player, Blackberry.....what, no garland?  No tinsel?  She is turning into my sister Judy, who basically lugs a small suitcase as her purse.  Great arm strengthener, I guess....

We've seen plenty of lovely trees this season, but none for which I'd trade ours.  Because while it may not be a work of art, it's a work of the heart.  And it's already got plenty of prize ribbons.


Posted at 08:43 pm by beckyww
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Wednesday, December 03, 2008
A God Wink?

When Keith and I entered the world of international adoption, we immediately joined scores of user groups, our favorite being the Russian Adoption board on adoption.com.  At the American Embassy in Moscow, we surprisingly recognized and joyfully visited with another family from that board.

Monday, "Irina" - a mom and social worker in St. Petersburg - posted a general "I lurk here" kind of message.  Being polite, I was one of several who posted a "nice to meet you" return message.  My board signature always contains a link to this blog.

I thought no more of it.

Tuesday, I had a Private Message from Irina in my adoption.com inbox.  In a city with 10,000 children living in 100 orphanages, Irina had visited Children's Home #47 and recognized Julia from the photos of this blog!   Here's part of her private message:  "I came to them in 47 DD and saw Julia very small! I have its some photos - if want, I can send you them on an e-mail!"

If want....IF WANT???   I picked up my jaw and shared my real email address immediately.  Within hours, pictures popped in my email inbox.

Julia's the cutie in the orange dress.  I'm guessing she's age four or five here.  The children are standing in a common area between the school/play room and the dorm.  We dressed Julia right here before we took her hands and walked out of Children's Home #47.  In retrospect, I marvel at the courage she displayed.  I've lived six times as long and have never displayed half as much courage as she showed walking away from everyone and everything she knew.

I'm guessing she's age four here, which is when she came to Children's Home #47.  Can you hug a picture?  Can you fold a blanket around it and promise to love it until the day you die?  I long to do so.

Russian Orthodox baptism via kitchen pan at age five.  We knew a priest visited monthly.  Julia remembers our lighting candles in Moscow's Kazan Cathedral.  I think the priest either brought candles to light, or she had visited a church at some point earlier, because she knew to drip wax on the base, then insert the candle.  (I sure didn't know it!)

Keith and I are thrilled to have these bits of her past to share in the future.

The web surfer in me says, "Oh, what a wonderful coincidence - that Irina would make the leap from a user board posting to sending us these pictures." 

The business person in me says, "Wow.  Here proves the value of social networking."

But the real me - the "me" that's buried way down deep - knows it was what my friend Johnnie calls "a God wink." 

He loves the little children, you know.  All the children of the world.

Posted at 06:32 pm by beckyww
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