Wednesday, March 28, 2012

One Year Ago Today in China

We met a sad, scared little boy.  

Who would not be swayed by trains.

Or fruit snacks.

But a ball hitting his sister's forehead?  Well, that's funny in any language.

Oh, what a smile we'd added to our family!  Life would never again be the same.

Our XiXi was an amazing boy before we ever stepped into the picture.  

He needed no "fixing", but he did need a family.   

And we needed him.  This last picture of our family of 6, taken a year ago today as we left the hotel to meet our XiXi, looks so......well.....lacking.  Has it really only been a year since XiXi has been with us?

Has it only been a year since our little boy ate only with chopsticks?  Has it really only been a year since he spoke only Mandarin?  He now speaks only English.  I don't say that as some sort of triumph.  I wish so much that he could have kept the Mandarin, but it was clear early on that he had no interest in holding onto that tie to China.  He truly does not understand it at all anymore.  Even the most basic Mandarin is as lost on him as it is to the rest of us.   Actually, I think I know more Mandarin than he does.

In the past year, he's shown such courage and strength.  He's embraced his new life wholeheartedly and rarely looks back.  

He adores his siblings and church and school.  He's a boy who is always ready to go, ready to jump into new experiences.   He is sweet and loving, smart and funny, and he gives the very best hugs.

Tonight we'll put XiXi back into his Gotcha' Day attire.....the many, many layers, and we'll eat noodles and we'll talk about the great miracle we've seen in our lives over the past 365 days.

And we'll thank Heavenly Father for about the millionth time for pricking our hearts and telling us in no uncertain terms........This little boy belongs in your family.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Our Most Popular Blog Post Ever

I recently discovered that with Blogger, you can check the number of hits on each blog post.  Most of you probably already knew this, but somehow it had escaped me.   Most of our Scravings posts average about 60-80 reads, with some in the 200-400 range.  There are two posts, however, that blew them all away.  The easy guess would be Gotcha' Day number one and Gotcha' Day number two, right?  Well, lots of people certainly did read those, but we're talking in the hundreds.  These two particular posts are clicked on in the thousands.  The first, with about 3,500 hits, is (drumroll please)

Lyle's German Pancakes Recipe!  Who would have thunk it, huh?

I'll admit, it is tasty, but over three thousand?  Seriously?

And the winner, with nearly five thousand hits, is.....

Our patio project from a few years ago.   It did turn out lovely, but who knew?  Cholita would be thrilled to see that her dearly departed shoes have gotten so much press.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Prom Night--Family Style

Today Bruder had a track meet, followed by a choir concert, followed by prom.   He had made plans to eat with a group of couples, but since he would have to be a little later due to the concert, those plans fell through at the last minute.   We assured him that we could do a nice dinner at our house.   He worried that we'd hover, which we promised we wouldn't, but he still wasn't sold on the idea.

The tipping point was when we mentioned that XiXi could be the waiter.
Because who could resist freshly ground pepper served by this guy?

He had an adorable little waitress helping him, and another older, more experienced waitress to handle advanced tasks like drink pouring.  

We moved a little table into our music room and strung lights 
and hung a curtain in the doorway.

With the curtain closed, it looked dreamy.

Lyle went with a fairly ambitious dinner:
green salad with pears and raspberry vinaigrette,
parmesan chicken,
garlic mashed potatoes,
roasted vegetables,

And for dessert, mango pudding topped with cream and shaved chocolate, served with berries.

I was so worried about hovering, I apparently didn't even have time to focus my camera.
Because I'd made a promise not to hover.

Bruder's great-great grandparents on the other hand, made no such promise.
They totally hovered.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Great Morning

It felt like Spring today and XiXi and I donned our gardening gloves and began to dig our yard out from under its layer of winter sludge.

XiXi tired of the task pretty quickly, but was good company nonetheless. 
 "Look Mom," he said.  "I'm fishing!"

Charlie wandered on over to the boat/rock.
  He's still wobbly, but much improved from yesterday.  
He was happy to sit in the sunshine and get some Yi Man love.

The scene was a little too idyllic when this filthy beast joined the party.....

......and decided to help with the Spring pruning.

Old dogs certainly have their issues,
but oh my goodness.

They can try the patience of a saint.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Celebrated Too Soon

When the vet called this evening and asked if I could come to the office to get an update on Charlie, I knew it couldn't be good.  We'd pretty much covered vestibular disease earlier in the day.  He'd be dizzy for a while and then get all better.  End of story.

Well, he does have vestibular disease and it will go away.  Sadly we learned that vestibular disease is the least of his troubles.   While doing x-rays, they found a large tumor in his spleen.  Due to his age, the size of the tumor, and the location, there's nothing really to be done.  He said some dogs will live months, some not.

The kids are a mess.  I'm not feeling especially great myself.   Years ago, when puppy Olaf joined our family, we looked at the average life expectancy for their breeds--Bernese Mountain Dogs 7 years, Labrador Retrievers 12 years.  With our dogs being 5 years apart, we knew Olaf would be 7 when Charlie was 12, with the potential for a perfect storm of doggie heartache.   At the time, it seemed a long way down the road, but from this end of things, it sure went fast.

Losing Olaf so recently, and now with Charlie's diagnosis, we've definitely had a rough spell.  But boy did we have some great times with these wonderful dogs.  And hopefully will still have some more with good old Charlie.  I wouldn't trade a minute of it.  Nope, I really wouldn't.

And in the words of Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.

Good Old Dog

Poor Charlie.  He's 12 years old, which is getting pretty elderly for a big dog.   He's had some aches and pains, but mostly, he's still amazingly spry.  Until this morning.  I seriously thought we would be having yet another dog funeral.

When I opened the door for him to go out this morning, he stood up, promptly fell down, got back up, walked into the table, bumped into the wall, and then stumbled awkwardly out the back door.  At one point he even flipped over onto his back and then flipped right back onto his feet again.   In what appeared to be a drunken stupor, he trotted down the hill, looking exactly like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz right after he fell off the pole.

I called him, but he wouldn't come.  I walked after him, but couldn't find him.  I got in the car and drove, with windows down, calling his name.  Nothing.  After I took the littles to school in the afternoon, I decided to look once again on foot.  I found him on our neighbor's acreage, but when I called him, he couldn't seem to come to me in a straight line.  He wobbled and fell, weaved and spun.  I ran our puppy back up to our house and while texting Lyle, got the car and went back to Charlie.  He was in the woods and didn't seem to be able to stand.  He's a heavy dog and thankfully Lyle had just started his lunch break, so he drove home, loaded Charlie into the car and we went to the vet.

I was sure it was curtains for our dear Charlie.  In my head, I rehearsed how I'd tell the shocked kids when they got home from school.  So soon after losing Olaf, I could only imagine the therapy sessions.  Before we even got into a room, the vet, who's known Charlie since puppyhood, looked into his eyes and saw that even with his head still, his eyes involuntarily darted back and forth.  He said he's almost sure it's something called "Old Dog Vestibular Disease".   It happens very suddenly and the dog totally loses all equilibrium.  The eye twitching apparently is a classic sign.  The wonderful news is that it should go away just as quickly as it appeared.

They're doing a few tests and we'll pick him up tonight, but it looks like our noble lab will live another day!  Hip Hip hooray for Old Dog Vestibular Disease!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Favorite Recurring Dream....Came True!

No, it's not the dream where I forget some or all of my clothing and then head to church and hope no one notices.  Although that is a recurring dream, it's not a good one!  My very favorite recurring dream, one I'll have at least every year or so, is that I discover a new room in my house, one I never knew existed.   I'm well into furniture arranging when I wake up, feeling a bit jilted.

Well, now I feel like I do have a new room.  Except for the practicing pianist and the baby chicks, our music room has never been used.

I started by painting the fireplace and then debated painting the bricks (and thought better of it), and then painted the room (twice), settling on a blue-green Benjamin Moore color called "Whispering Spring."

We added a recliner and couch, and because I could think of no other option, I put the couch against the window wall, facing the piano.  The recliner was then against the wall on the left and you couldn't actually recline unless you moved the seat forward.  So, I moved the couch away from the wall and angled it toward the already-angled fireplace wall and put the recliner in the corner, where it could actually recline, and suddenly the room seemed so much cozier for talking, or sitting by the fire, or listening to the piano.  The room is quite small and I felt sure moving the couch away from the wall would make it seem even smaller, but surprisingly, it works.  An added benefit is that it makes the fireplace more of a focal point.  The piano couldn't go anywhere else and I always felt like it was a battle between the piano and the fireplace.  Which is the focal point?  Are they both?  Can you have two?  Anyway, with the new furniture arrangement, I think fireplace has won out.  

Lighting at the piano was also an issue and since Lyle didn't want to cut into the ceiling or the walls, these plug-in wall sconces from Lowes worked well. 

They look very much like the Pottery Barn version, but much cheaper.  I was thrilled to find them. Admittedly, they're a little skeepwampus, but I've decided to overlook it.

We changed out the can light above the fireplace with this cute pendant.  We  got it for a steal since there's a defect in the glass on one side, but we knew it would be going against the wall, so no one would ever be the wiser.  We moved the ancestor wedding pictures from over the piano to over the fireplace.  I love how the sepia tones work with the colors of the brick.  So, so glad I didn't paint the brick.  I'm still not sure about the arrangement on the mantle.  It's not my strong suit.  Suggestions?  Lyle's still talking about doing a little woodwork on the fireplace wall, so I'm excited to see what he comes up with.

It's funny, but probably one of my biggest splurges was this throw pillow.  I love how it tied in the colors of the couch with the walls.  I took the pillow with me when I looked at drapery fabrics.  Honestly, when I finished and hung the last of the drapes yesterday, I thought it was overkill.  It just looked like too much and I told Lyle I wasn't sure I liked them.   He looked very tired.  He patiently but firmly told me that I really do love them.  

And lo and behold, today I do!  
I also love the crocheted throw over the recliner.  I found it at an antique shop for only $15 and it looks brand new.  It would have taken me years to finish such a project, and the resulting blanket would have been in the shape of a very long triangle.

There are still a few things to do....some pictures to hang, some accessorizing to do, but my favorite dream has happened.  I have a whole new room!

Now I just have to be absolutely sure that I always put on every item of clothing before church.....
..........or if I don't, at least hope no one notices.

Friday, March 2, 2012

I've Got Some Sewing to Do

I vowed that I would not dust off my sewing machine for this room.  Surely, there had to be drapes in existence that were already made and packaged that would look beautiful in our updated music room.

I'm pretty sure I bought all of them, only to haul them home, have Lyle hold them up, and then stand with hands on hips, head tilted, and say, "Nope.  Don't love it."

So, 15 yards of fabric later, and I'm on my way to drapes.  One panel down, 5 to go.

I opted for sheers inside the windows.  The estimate for custom blinds for the 6 windows which face our front porch was (cough) $968.00 and the sheers from Target were $4.99 each, so the choice was fairly easy.  But even going the cheapy route, I do love the look of the sheers with the drapery fabric.  The blue in the flowers perfectly matches the walls and it's just so pretty I can hardly stand it.

I'm hoping to be done this weekend.