Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sledding + Crazy Bounce...

= great Christmas break Fun!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Random Christmas pictures...

Christmas eve at my parents, a big family slumber party! The kids got to open their "date books!" My mom takes the kids on dates and then gives them a photo album with pictures from their dates! The kids LOVE both the dates, and looking back at them in their books!

Then of course Christmas morning, after our big breakfast, dishes and the reading of the Christmas story, we finally get to the gifts!

I love this picture of Jayden, I think he likes his new cowboy boots!

This is the way it looks when each person opens their gift, there is a crowd watching in anticipation, so fun!

Then later in the afternoon we headed to a hotel for our little family Christmas party!

First the "stockings," then the group gift...

It was a picture of the trampoline I bought on black Friday. I think they were pleased! Except for Anaya, she wasn't sure what the fuss was all about!

We are going to do Christmas with the Vander Zwaags in a couple of weeks, once Lisa is home!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Another quick update...

I talked to Lisa tonight, and she is doing well. She has been up and walking around! She is her usual bubbly self and it was great to chat with her! She is amazing!

Thanks for all your prayers, and please continue to remember her as she has yet another long road to travel!

*For those of you who don't know, (beginning late summer 2007~I believe) Lisa had breast cancer, surgery, chemo, radiation, reconstruction surgery, and yet another surgery. Yes, the girl has been through the ringer so to speak. But she has the most amazing spirit and I am blessed to have her as my sister in law/friend!

Friday, December 25, 2009

MeRrY ChRiStMaS!!!

May your hearts be lifted in praise this Christmas for the wonderful gift of Jesus and the joy He brings to our lives.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed new year!
The VanderZwaag Family
Ryan, Stacy, Dylan, Jayden, Spencer, Easton, and Anaya!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

some good news...

This was posted on my sister in laws Moms facebook status:

"We just left Lisa's room...she is doing great and is a little loopy. The surgeon was amazed that she was talking as coherently as she was. He said the next two days will be the most painful. Praise God she can wiggle her fingers and toes after such an intricate surgery amidst all the nerves and the spinal cord! Thanks again for your prayers!"

YAY! Thank you Lord!!!

Out of surgery...

Lisa is out of surgery, and the doctor said that it went as good as can be expected. She is in recovery. They were not able to get all of the cancerous tumor removed, but the doctor was very happy to get as much as they did. They stabilized the spine with 2 rods and eight pins, did a bone graft to fix the hole in the spine. Doctors feel that at this point there is no paralysis, but there is still a small chance of that being a possibility during recovery. In about a month she will need to go back to the Mayo clinic for radiation.

Thanks so much for praying. Jesus is the reason for Christmas and our eyes and hearts are definitely drawn to Him, even more so these last few days. I am glad we serve a LIVING savior.

Have a very merry Christmas.

another quick update...

Lisa is having surgery NOW! *8:30 AM*
Please pray and I will update later when I hear more.
Thanks, Our God is good all the time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


And please keep praying...
We just received word that the doctors have said the cancer has NOT spread to any organs. They are shocked and amazed at the fact that she is not paralyzed already, as the tumor is quite large and in a very critical spot on her spine. She will be having surgery tomorrow or possibly Christmas morning to remove what they can. They even said that her risk of paralysis is greater now than in surgery. So please continue to pray that she will be able to have the surgery tomorrow, that they can remove it all and she won't be paralyzed. If you know my sister in law, you know her incredible spirit, and her generous heart, and she of course is being a real trooper! We are so grateful for this news. We know God is in control, and we are praying for the peace that passes all understanding to dwell in their hearts and minds this Christmas! (Robb, Lisa, Brylynn, Mady and Tryna)
May God be glorified.
Amazing how perspectives can change in an instant.
We did NOT want to hear that Lisa has cancer...AGAIN. Though we don't understand, we are resting in you Lord.


Urgent Prayer request...
Please pray for my sister in law Lisa, she is at the Mayo Clinic right now and having tests. We should have more info at 3pm. But for now...Please pray that the cancer that has returned, has NOT gone into surrounding areas, and is contained in the bone. Even that is a bad thing, but the much worse.
Thanks and I will update later.
We serve a God of miracles, she needs one right now.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

you know you're a mom to...

many children when your lonely sock pile looks like this...

boys, when you find these stuck to/laying around everywhere...
a small curious little girl when you find this (her pink toothbrush) floating in the apple juice...
a couple of crazy kids when you find them doing this, while doing chores...

Oh my! I hate that my lonely sock pile is so large, one of these days I plan on trashing all the singles, but I keep holding out hope for them to find a mate! The bullet is an experiment, says Jayden, to see how long it will stay stuck. The apple juice is ruined, since a couple of my kids share my germaphobicish mindset and there is no way they will drink it now.(I should save it for Ryan and the other ones who couldn't care less!) Then there are these two who found a much better use for my rolling pin, if I might say so myself!

Even with all the craziness that goes on...I love being their mom!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


So I have gotten a few questions about our adoption and I will try to answer them here. Where to begin is the question I struggle with, as this has been in the works for a long time.

We had been praying for direction, (actually I was praying for a baby to be dropped into my lap~no joke) as we wanted to adopt, but didn't know where, when or how. One day I got a call asking if we would be interested in praying about the opportunity to adopt a newborn baby. Ah yeah... of course! We prayed and met the birth mom, and were excited about the possibility of adopting. Then we got a call asking if we would be interested in adopting the birth mom(she was very young,) her baby, and her 2 younger brothers. 4 more kids! We prayed and were truly open to whatever God had in store for us. There were so many hurdles that stood in our way and we weren't sure how this would all play out, but we were committed to seeking God's will in this situation. Finally we received the call that the baby had been born, and that the birth mom decided to keep HIM (yes, it was a boy!) and that the family would stay together. Prayer answered.

So, we finished our home study, and were still not sure of what to do, we were thinking Ethiopia, as there are not many countries that find our income level, and amount of children desirable!(imagine that!) Anyhow, our social worker suggested domestic adoption since I REALLY want a newborn baby. We had never considered it before, for several reasons, the most obvious is...will a birth mom EVER choose us to raise her baby when there are so many couples with out any children out there vying for a baby? Apparently, (we shall see) there is a need for more families who will take an African American baby. When we contacted the agency that she recommended, the director seemed confident we would be chosen, although she did say it may take longer since we want a girl, and with our family size.

I am not worried at all, yes, I long for a baby, and would really love to have one SOON! But I know God is in control, and if He wants us to have a baby, we will get a baby. Sometimes I think we should go with a bigger agency, so it would be faster (but with that comes much bigger fees,) but then I remember that God doesn't need any help, so I am going to let Him do as He sees fit!

We will need a new 8 passenger vehicle...hopefully not a 12 passenger van, yes, I have "VANity issues" But, if God calls me to adopt a bunch more kids, I will have to give up those issues as well! We are praying for both the money to cover the adoption, and a "new" (used) vehicle. We are so excited to see what this new year will bring, and will let you know if and when or what is going on, as soon as we see God moving!

We had no idea how we were going to pay for Anaya's adoption, and I am so pleased to say that every last bit of it is paid off. WOW look what GOD did! We had many gifts given, we skimped and saved, and sold our beloved property in Hamilton, we have no retirement, or savings to speak of, but it was totally worth it! She is the one "thing"(I realize she is definitely not a thing) in this world we can(prayerfully) take with us into Heaven, and there is nothing else in this world that matters. No our kids will not (likely) have college paid for, we will never be able to have all of the things we want, Ryan will never retire!!(just kidding...I hope!) But, so what. This life is just a breath. It's not about our comfort, (though I am a fan of comfort!) It is about eternity. As Frances Chan puts it, we are (trying) to place deposits in our eternal bank account! Good thing, cuz the one here is looking pretty slim!

I hate posts without pictures, so here is a new picture of Ry and I. It has been a long time since we had our picture taken together. Each kid took a few and we finally got one, lets just say one of us is not so photogenic.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh my...

This just cracks me up, poor kid may have some speech therapy in his future. All of the boys have had some cute little speech impediments, Dylan and Jayden have grown out of them, so I am sure the other ones will too. It has helped having him learn his letters and what they are supposed to say, but he still has a hard time with quite a few words! Including his favorite song, which is International Harvester, by Craig Morgan. (Just in case you don't understand him!)

Easton also has a hard time understanding the concept of tomorrow. How do you explain tomorrow when tomorrow always turns into today. If we say we are going somewhere tomorrow, he will wake up the next day and ask if it's tomorrow today. Well, today is the tomorrow from yesterday, but tomorrow is actually tomorrow, and today is today. I know what he means, but Oh my...

Monday, December 7, 2009


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We finally have snow, and the kids were very eager to head outside!
I'm glad only 2 of them need help getting ready, everyone else was out as soon as their schoolwork was finished! I love it when they have an incentive to get done quickly.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


All the cousins opening presents for the extended family Christmas party we had tonight!
I love that smile! He lost a few teeth last week! I can't believe how fast these kids are growing up! Where did my baby boys go? They are all getting way to big!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Market Day...

Jayden working hard on his project.
Dylan did not want to see another batch of play dough ever again!
Dylan's project ~ Play dough!
Jayden's project ~ Gumdrop pops! They turned out so cute(picture is bad, sorry!)
Market Day finally arrived! The boys did great, and all came up with a profit! Spencer's candy necklaces and bracelets were a big hit!(You can read about his project here.) He sold all but one bracelet! It was a great experience!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Unfortunately this is how Ryan spent most of this day! We have had stomach issues going on this week, and it was Ryan's turn today! Jayden was bummed, usually he gets to do something special with daddy since they share a birthday, but not this day! At least Jayden wasn't sick today, he already took his turn! Anaya and I have yet to get anything...we are hoping it sticks to the male gender!
It started with Easton, we breathed a sigh of relief when we passed Thanksgiving with no sicknesses, last year we missed it all due to that, and well this year we made it to the Friday night after Thanksgiving...then it hit! At least I got my shopping in, and we were able to get our Christmas Tree so all is well! Easton helped me decorate it, it was so cute all the balls were clustered at the bottom of the tree!
I remember last year having a problem with the wood floor and glass I bought some "shatterproof" ~plastic~ones this year, someday I will switch back, but for now it feels good to say "that's okay!" when they knock one off!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Did you know...

~Each year November is designated National Adoption Month by the President of the United States. This was first declared in 1990.

~There are approximately 143 million orphans

~Every 15 seconds, another child in Africa becomes an AIDS orphan

~Over one-third of Americans have ever considered adopting, but no more than 2 percent of Americans have actually adopted. Somewhere between those percentages lies the number of people seeking to adopt-that is, those who have taken concrete steps to adopt a child.

~Each year 14, 505, 000 children grow up as orphans and age out of the system by age sixteen


~ Just as a side note...According to Planned Parenthood's latest report, abortions increased to 305,310 abortions up from 289,750 in 2006.

~We are home study approved and praying for another baby girl to join our family! Just wanted you to know, I will post more about this at a later date...

My heart is for adoption. However, in a perfect world, there would be no need for adoption. Biological families would stay together, children would be raised in their homeland, surrounded by their culture and connected to their roots. But we do not live in a perfect world. Adoption is not the answer for solving the underlying issues of poverty and disease and famine and war. It won’t stop the cycle of more children becoming orphans. It is a life-line thrown out to a precious few. The tough question is what is the solution to the root of these issues?… how do we make a difference not just in one child’s life(or 2!) through adoption, but in the lives of the thousands left behind… and ultimately how do we stop the cycles that turn innocent children into orphans?

I don't know. I just know we have so much to be thankful for. And a whole lot of work to do. We each have a part, and I by no means state all this to say... "Yay for me, I have done my job." Oh no, I have to and want to do so much more. Those statistics break my heart and blow my mind. It is just as a reminder that something ~ lots of things ~ have to be done and if adoption is "not your thing" then find what is and do it!

James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Now, off to celebrate Thanksgiving with lots of food, Black Friday shopping, and getting our Christmas about being polluted by the world...UGH!

Oh one last thing, you NEED to see the movie Blind Side, it is awesome!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

whoa, long time no post....

First of all, thumbs up for Ryan, he shot a nice buck last Friday night with his bow! The boys helped with the short tracking job, thus the cute picture, they were pretty excited!

And a great big thumbs down for me, who has been super busy doing SEVERAL things other than blogging! But, I am happy to report some of those things are finally finished! One of the things I was working on was a photo album of our trip to Guatemala. Yes, I am aware that was well over a year ago, however I had over 500 pictures to deal with and let's just say it got a little overwhelming for me. I go into shut down mode when I get overwhelmed, but I got a 20% off coupon plus free shipping that had to be used by the end of the month, so, nothing like a good discount to get me moving, and I finished it up. All 208 pages of it! I also put my blog in there for that period of time, I am so happy it is done, it didn't cost me a fortune, and we will have a nice big ol' coffee table book of our time spent there!

Anaya has been playing with her babies so much lately, so I hauled all of my old babies out and she was thrilled! The doll with the bib is wearing one of the outfits Anaya wore on our first visit trip! It was tight on that doll!

The look on Easton's face says it all! That is a LOT of mandarin oranges ~ the sick thing is they ate almost all of them in ONE sitting! WOW! I don't want to see our grocery bill in a few years!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

fall fun...

A couple bugs, several Star Wars creatures, some pretty girls and a cow!

Who is that masked man catching a ride?

All that fun wore Anaya right out! She was cold, so we put her in the wagon, covered her up and within minutes she was out!One cute little lady bug...
2 adorable bees!
These pictures are from our hayride with the Jr. Highers last week...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chubby cheeks!

This little guy has been very busy lately! In one day, he managed to clear off 2 ears of corn...

With a little help from this guy.
Unfortunately, this is right in front of the table we were doing home school at, my back was to him, but I immediately knew when he was there because the boys would giggle and get all excited..."He's baaack!" This went on for a while, and finally even I was getting into it! It is amazing how much he could fit in his little cheeks!
He was pretty determined...
He cleaned the whole thing off...

Then somehow he managed to throw it out! I just had to laugh at his determination!

Yet another animal manages to deter us from our work! To read about that, click here.