Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What I am doing everyday?

So . . . what does a only-working-half-as-much-as-she-used-to-but-baby-still-isn't-here-day look like? I thought that maybe I'd fill a post with what I am doing now a days. I am currently working about 5-6 hours a day. This is more than the 20 hours a week I will be doing when baby gets here, but I am doing everything I can to be way ahead by the time the little one joins us.

Here is a traditional day for me.

5:30-6:00 am -- wake up with JB

6:00-7:00am -- do devotions, eat breakfast with JB, get garbage out etc.

7:00am -- JB leaves :( Bummer!

7:00am-10:00am -- work

10:00-11:00am -- Take Scrubs to the bay for a Frisbee playing session

11:00-2:30pm -- Do some chores around the house, some more work, eat lunch, blog, etc.

2:30pm -- Watch "Adoption Stories" on Discovery Health (I love this show!)

3:00-4:00pm -- Go for a run with the dog

4:00pm-7:00pm -- Do some chores around the house, some more work, play with Scrubs, blog, etc.

7:00pm -- JB gets home! Yay!

Usually, most days, I end up doing something away from the house. This includes yesterday when I took my friend Johanna to pick up her car at the airport. Yesterday, I also got a call from a very old friend, Tony B., one of my best friends from high school so I got to talk to him for awhile. We haven't talked in nearly ten years! He's doing great and is a husband and dad now and quite the grown up! He stumbled upon my blog a few months ago and has read the entire thing from start to finish! How impressive is that? Especially because I don't remember that he liked to read very much. :) Good memories! Today I also did lunch with the wifia at Joia's house. She made an AMAZING ice cream cake dessert. OH MY GOSH! It rocked. Her best performance ever!

Anyways, so that is quick overview of what is going on in my life. My days, since dropping one job, have been MUCH more relaxed. I am loving it!

Now, please don't post a comment which says: "Well, enjoy. That is all about to change." Sorry, but I am always honest on this blog, and I just have to tell you not to do that. :)

I KNOW it is about to change, and I am not dreading it. I am thrilled about it. You have to understand that I have spent the last fifteen years of my life dreaming about the day that I could be a stay-at-home mom and spend my day taking care of a child. More specifically, I have spent the last five years watching everyone I know become parents while we continued just being the two of us.

I know it will be hard. I know I'll be busy. I know I won't sleep. I know my life will change. The thing is, people keep warning me about these things as they play with their two or three or four or five little kids. So that means that obviously, giving up their freedom was worth it, right? I mean the people that warn me aren't people that had one child and never had another one again. They are people that did it, dealt with it, loved it, and decided, "Hey it's worth it. Let's do that again." That being said, I do not feel naive whatsoever. I have babysat and been around children plenty. I want a turn. I know it will not be easy. I know I'll be challenged, scared, overwhelmed, frustrated, disappointed, and lost . . . but that's okay. I'm choosing that avenue as people since the beginning of time have chosen that avenue. There's a reason people choose to have children, and I'm excited that we will soon have that chance.

Okay, stepping off soap box now! Seven days and counting . . . today, my birthday reminders sent me a reminder for Bri's birthday. Since her birthday is the day the baby is due, this caused my blood pressure to rise. It was basically like getting a reminder for Isaac's due date. Woah! Almost there.

Snapshots of preparation

Well, what better to do as we wait to get word it is time to go to Fort Lauderdale, than to take pictures of what we've been doing, how we've been preparing, and the status of the nursery. Here's some more waiting-for-Isaac-and-feeling-like-he'll-never-get-here-snaps . . .

First a few overall pictures of the now, completely-finished-with-nothing-left-to-do nursery.

And now a few more random shots to share:

Someone asked the other day what a luvy is. I'm not sure what the correct names are for these things. But here's a sample "luvy".

Here's a collection of four "luvys". JB thinks a luvy is a complete un-masculine thing to call these, but I told him that unless he comes up with a new name before Isaac gets here, I'll call it luvy, luvy will stick, and it will be luvy forever. Oh and he won't be allowed to complain about it being "stupid" ever again. He tells me he is trying to come up with something. We'll see.

A few of the cute little animals we've received.

Here is one of our two Story People pictures. If you can't read this it says: "In my dream, he told me to hold the secret of his birth safe and teach him when he forgot." This was a gift from JB's sister Katie and her husband Eddie for Christmas. The frame that this picture is in is one of only a handful of things we bought for the nursery.

Here is our second story people picture that we ordered and just received and framed. This one says: "For a long time, there were only your footprints and laughter in our dreams and even from such small things, we knew we could not wait to love you forever." A copy of this has been on my fridge since our last failed IVF, but we finally splurged and bought the print and a frame!

Here are just some of Isaac's clothes. I have everything from 18 months and up in another room.

I love baskets and organization! They make me feel so in control! :)

The bookshelf in the corner.

I have been going through and washing some of the new clothes we have received by size. I am doing newborn right now. I am not washing things that are hand-me-down but am trying to get through all the new things.

Somehow, a little collection of Curious George has emerged in our nursery. Curious George was my first (and favorite) doll when I was a baby, and my parents have continued on the tradition for little Isaac. In addition, without knowing it, Rita L. at FLCS gave us an entire basket with the George theme! It was adorable!!! JB bought the movie the other night at Target. It's really cute.

We bought this with some of our gift certificates. I stole the idea from wifia member Sarah. This will be perfect for bottles! We aren't going to used distilled water (not recommended) but are going to fill this jug manually from the Brita. Then I can just mix the perfect amount of hot and cold, straight from this machine, and have a warm bottle! I am very excited about this since we will not be breast feeding, obviously, and will therefore be making a lot of bottles.

Another thing we bought with our gift certificates was this gate which will be a HUGE blessing with the baby. We currently put up a gate when we want to contain Scrubs and step over it, obviously not something to do with a baby in your arms. JB had to rig it a bit (thus the wood on the sides) but we plan to paint that, someday, to blend in better. Scrubs just happened to wander through as I prepared to take this photo.

So that is life in the Kit. home currently and what has been going on. JB is on OB and thus leaving before 7 every morning and getting home well after 7 every night. Oh well. This is his last week.

This video below really has nothing to do with the blog at hand, but I'm including it here just because it was on my camera with all my photos. Scrubs had gone on one of his power runs, and I was trying to catch him in the action. Of course, as usual, he stopped running when the camera was in view, but if you watch carefully, he proceeds to bless me with a huge burp instead! :) The burp was so loud, I think it even surprised Scrubs.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Eight days . . .

Eight days to due date. EIGHT days!!!! One week and one day.

Honestly, I have NOTHING else to blog about. I have tried to come up with something else but there just is nothing else. Everyday is spent just thinking, praying, waiting, hoping, yearning, panicking, hoping etc., for Isaac. We've known he was coming for nearly nine months and yet this last few weeks has felt like an ETERNITY. Our projects are done. Our list of things to do is done. We are ready for him to get here. C'mon little man! Time to make your grand entrance. The hits on my blog have picked up quite a bit too so I'd imagine a lot of you are checking in more frequently, anxious to hear the news.

For now, we wait . . .

Once again, thank Joia

I didn't know that Joia got some photos of us playing volleyball on Saturday. I can always depend on Joia to add some visual entertainment to my blog. Anyways, I snagged these photos of me and JB playing! It was a hot day, and I am proud of the fact that I used an appropriate amount of sunscreen -- no burn for me! (That's JB in the white shirt and me in the skirt!)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday's appointment

So I have a video to share and some news to share as well. As for the "news", Bri had a doctor's appointment and an ultrasound today. The baby has dropped "into position." Heartbeat is 131 and weight looks to be somewhere in the 7 pound range. And that's ... all the news there is. Basically, it can happen at any moment. Unfortunately, we don't know when that moment is. More waiting ... I truly believe that is all I have done for the last five years of my life. WAIT!

Completely jumping topics, Jocelyn came over today as big sister Madison had a doctor's appointment. This kid LOVES Scrubs. She has no fear and is insistent that Scrubs lick her as much as possible. While Jocelyn had a great time, these visits with other kids encourage me that Scrubs can handle the new little arrival just fine. Once the initial novelty of a "new being" passes, he goes on about his merry way. Here's a video to prove it. Please note that Joceyln's mom is okay with the excessive licking. :) And take a look at one point as Jocelyn grabs Scrubs' whole leg -- not far off from the summersaults she did overtop of him later on.

Next appointment for Bri? One week from today. Unless he decides to join the world sooner than that which would be a-ok by us!

Well . . . here it is!

I suppose this will be a bit anti-climactic, but I thought today was as good as any day to reveal the worst-kept secret in our adoption journey and that is real name of XY. This is a bit sad for me because I know this will mean the end of calling him XY, but since XY would be hard to pronounce anyways, we have to let it go.

We have been sharing the name with people very slowly, but I have tried to avoid putting it on the blog until we were ready to broadcast it to the world. (Thanks to the anonymous person who pointed out my slip-up the other day on the blog ... which I quickly edited and then deleted their comment!)

I thought that the best way to reveal the name would be to show a picture of the awesome cake Joia made for my last shower. Before the big celebration, Joia asked if it would be okay if she put his name on the cake. How fun! But then, following the party, we realized that neither of us could put pictures of the cake up on the blog lest we give away the secret. Joia did a good job not putting any pics of the cake on her blog but now that the secret is out, I can not only share the name but brag on her awesome cake-making abilities. Trust me when I tell you that this cake tasted as good as it looked! (Joia learned her cake-making abilities from her mom who made cakes for a business. I think Joia should do it too!)

So there it is. It's out and now I can't ever get it back. Little XY's real name will be Isaac John. I hope you like it. But if you don't, please don't tell us you don't. Just pretend and go on your merry way.

A few people, especially those really deep people in my life (KELSEY!) wanted to know why we chose the name we did. To be honest, as soon as we learned of the May-baby adoption, we chose our boy and girl names. Our current plan is to use the girl's name for our China daughter so we'll keep that one a secret for now too. But we knew our boy's name before we knew we were having a boy. There really wasn't a second or third choice. We just knew it was going to be Isaac.

Isaac has a lot of meaning for us and probably one of the best ways to explain it is through a post I wrote in November of 2006 entitled: My Isaac. If you don't feel like reading the long entry, let me quickly summarize by saying that during this period of our infertility journey, I was dealing with the fact that I had to give the Lord everything in my life. I had to be willing to give him, as Abraham did, the thing in my life that I wanted more than anything. I had to be willing to tell him that I would give up being a biological or adoptive mother if that's what the Lord wanted from me.

I can still vividly remember the night JB and I had this conversation. All through my infertility journey I had my "ace up the sleeve" and adoption was the granddaddy of all of them. Adoption was something I could control. I could have a child if I wanted one through adoption. Sign my papers, pay my money, and leave with a child. Unlike biological children, something I could not control, I could control adoption which meant I was "guaranteed" parenthood in some form or fashion. But that evening, John asked me if I was willing to give it ALL up for the Lord. I have never cried as hard as I did that night. I wasn't willing. No way. But from that night on I knew I had to try.

During the next year and a half, we would face another failed IVF, take a trip to Africa, and move to Eglin. I also began a personal goal to give the Lord everything in my life including all dreams of motherhood. I am not sure I completely got there, but I was getting close. And just like Abraham, who was asked to sacrifice the child he had waited decades to have, at the last second God said, "Never mind." God asked Abraham to give up Isaac. God asked me to give up motherhood. Motherhood was my Isaac. And just when I had reached a point that I was willing to sacrifice it, God's voice pounded through and directed me to a ram in the thicket. A child after all. Originally, that was the decision to adopt through China. But the Lord had even better plans and would give me an opportunity to have a newborn!

Anyways, I didn't mean to go off on that big of a tangent. The original post I did in 2006 says all that. But that's why we chose Isaac. It means "laughter" and just the thought of Isaac coming to our home to be our son has brought laughter back into the walls of our home. Just the thought of his presence had brightened our days beyond measure.

As for the middle name, John. Well, that's a given I think. We felt it important, especially because he was adopted, that he knew how important he is. And how can you feel more important than to get your father's name? This means that even if someday, we are blessed with a biological son, it will be our first child, Isaac, that will bear his father's name. That's exciting to us.

So there it is. Isaac John. So long XY. You served us well.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Every day that goes by without little XY's arrival allows us to check a few more things off of our list. This weekend it was cleaning out the car and the storage shed. It was working on installing a gate for the entrance to the kitchen. It was framing a photo, packing a bit more, and putting away my scrapbook stuff. I am completely caught up on laundry. The kitchen has been scrubbed. JB worked on his palm pilot which is finally back from the fix-it place. I was able to do a bit of writing for pleasure, and we even snuck in a movie off Netflix. Friday night we also went to Target to spend our gift certificates and a coupon we had that entitled us to 10% off anything on our registry.

There was a mini-retreat on Friday and Saturday morning for all the physicians in the residency program. This included a dinner out at McGuires on Friday night with families and a family day at the beach on Saturday. I played volleyball with 11 Type-A male physicians and had a great time despite losing in three games. Today, we successfully finished our last class to become members of our church and will most likely participate in "New Members Sunday" during the last week in June.

Overall, a very productive weekend if I do say so myself. Each day that goes by we feel like we are more and more ready to have the little guy come home with us. As much as I am attempting to "tie up loose ends" at home, I am feverishly attempting to do the same thing at my job for the RLS Foundation. My job at Mayo is basically complete. I am still answering questions and helping a bit here and there, but I am basically just working about 25 hours a week for the Foundation. I plan to slow down quite a bit when XY arrives and then work my way back up to 20 hours in the months that follow.

Again, please add Bri and XY to your prayer list. Pray for strength, endurance, and peace for Brianna as she prepares to deliver this baby. Pray for our little boy's safety as well during the final stretch.

I have tried to blog about something other than baby and baby preparation, but truthfully, that is all that our life currently consists of . . . ten days and counting!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


The only word I have been able to mumble when asked the questions "are you ready? are you excited? or how are you feeling?"


Sur·re·al. Marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.

I think that pretty accurately sums it up. Intense. Irrational. Dream.

Sur·re·al synonyms include: strange, weird, odd, unreal, dreamlike, fantastic, extraordinary, and bizarre.

All of those words dance through the recesses of my brain on a nearly hourly basis as well. This strange event. How unreal. Is this a dream? Bizarre.

Antonyms for sur·re·al include: ordinary, normal, commonplace, usual, regular, common, everyday, average, mundane.

I am not sure if there is anything commonplace about what we are about to do. After fourteen years together as a couple and nearing ten years of marriage . . . after five years of infertility treatments including ultrasounds, blood draws, shots, medications, appointments, and procedures beyond count . . . after five phone calls indicating that artificial insemination was not the answer and four more telling us that our "ace up the sleeve" invitro fertilization wasn't either . . . after deciding domestic adoption wasn't for us and deciding on China . . . a son. Any day. Soon.

After all that, we are preparing to get a call of a different color. A call to tell us it is time to go pick up a little baby boy. A little baby boy being birthed by a girl that JB and I both watched grow up. The little girl that walked down the aisle with JB's little brother Robbie as our junior bridesmaid back in 1998.

Not exactly ordinary or normal.

Thus my reason for mumbling "surreal" any time someone asks me what I think about what is happening.

Surreal is the only word I know right now. Everything is surreal to me. Nothing seems believable. I know that in all actuality, he will come to our house sometime in the next days or weeks because that is what the order of events is indicating. But truthfully, I cannot convince my brain that it is actually going to happen. I'm not sure when it won't feel surreal anymore. I don't know the point that it will actually feel real. I'll make sure to post that moment. The moment I feel like a parent.

What I do know that no event in my life except for maybe the anticipation for my wedding equals the emotions of this event.

It's just surreal. When I have better words to describe things or at least more numerous words, I'll be sure to let you all know. But for now, that's all I know. Next appointment on Monday. Until then . . . we continue to exist in this dreamlike fantasy being told this is happening but not sure how to believe it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Night of celebration!

Last night, the wifia threw a shower for me at Jodi's house in Bluewater Bay. Joia and Jodi headed this event up, and I know that Jamie and Sarah also brought food as well in helping. Joia made an ADORABLE cake which I will show on the blog at a later date. She is so good at these! Thank you ladies! It was a wonderful evening and just a great time to get together without any of the kids. Everyone there has kids except Jodi and I (well, and Kristen, who is due the day before Bri.)

We were blessed with even more wonderful things! Despite the fact that this was my fifth shower, I didn't receive any duplicates and received a lot of things from the moms that they got without looking at my registry -- things that they just felt I needed. I loved this! For instance Joia got us a pacifier with an attachment for our trips in the airport (to avoid dirty trips to the floor) and sheets for our pack-n-play. Andrea got me some little toys that her son Johnathon loved, and Heather gave me my first race car. I also got some beautiful clothes, and some very unique gifts including a portrait sitting (how awesome is that?!), a handmade luvy, lotions for me, diapers, a five-year handprint set, and, from Jodi, free Scrubs-sitting when we go to pick up XY!!!! Oh and Joia also gave me a Three Musketeer bar! Yay! I love people who love to eat as much as I do!

Anyways, here are some other photos from the shower. Thanks ladies for making this such a wonderful evening. It still feels like I am playing make-believe. Thirteen days 'til due-date!

You can also view Joia's post on the events (where photos were stolen from anyways), here.

Here is the entire group that was there last night. Back row from left includes Aimee and Pam (friends from neighborhood), Andrea (wifia), Kristen (neighbor behind me), Johanna (wifia), Heather (from neighborhood), Joia (wifia). Middle row is from left: me (duh!), Tiffany (wifia), Jamie (friend from neighborhood), and Sarah (wifia). Jodi is the front row gal (wifia too!)

Fun snapshot of everyone talking. I really enjoy these casual showers. A time for all the ladies to get together without children and just hang out together. Jodi and I are the only ones there without kids so everyone is enjoying a night of kid-free-time!

Some of our gifts. AD -- check out the hippo! I'll be giving you that bag! (My sis-in-law AD loves hippos!)

Opening a card. Joia has more photos of my opening gifts on her blog, but I always think I look weird in these.

Here is Jamie, Sarah, and Heather. Jamie is a wonderful new friend. She has a son, Donovan, and a great little dog named Kucher. Sarah, is a member of the wifia, and Heather, is the gal who has the two labs that I sometimes dog-sit for. They are sweet pups: Caesar and Sully.

Heather and Kristen. Kristen just moved in behind us a few months ago. Kristen is due on May 6th, the day before Bri, so I always compare the two of them. Heather is due in August with her second.

I love Joia's artistic shots!

Goody bags! Fun goodies and another artistic shot!

Joia and me

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My t-shirt quilt

I have wanted, for as long as I can remember, a t-shirt quilt. I had over two hundred t-shirts, collected from my years playing high school and college sports. Over the last ten years, I have managed to whittle that collection down to about 40-50 shirts that I just could not, for sentimental reasons, live without. So then the question. What to do with 40-50 shirts that I can't really wear anymore? Most are too large being or too tattered or too inappropriate (picture me going to the grocery store in my old WKU jersey!) to ever be worn in public again, but yet I just couldn't throw them away.

For the last few years, I have been saving up gift money to purchase a t-shirt quilt. My mother-in-law gave me the last bit of it for Christmas this year, and a few months ago, I decided to finally go for it. There are a lot of companies that make these quilts, but I went with Deaf Initiatives, a program designed to help deaf individuals find employment opportunities.

Well my quilt came back today. I love it! It's hard to capture it on film, but here is my best attempts. (I know Joia would do considerably better!)

Our new theme is "1"

Oh my goodness!!!!!!

Now "1" is the number. 1 week and 6 days to go. That is 1-3 days. THIRTEEN. Yikes. Even if little XY goes late, the most days we are looking at is probably, maybe 21 days. That is a very small number of days.

Tonight, the ladies in the wifia, primarily Joia and Jodi, are hosting a little ladies shower for me at Jodi's house. They have said it will be a casual get-together which sounds wonderful to me. A few wives that I know from my walks with Scrubs on base will be joining us. Just a time to hang out some more and celebrate the new little guy making his way very soon.

Rachel, as my counter clicks down, so does the counter to your wedding! So exciting!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


So, before I show this video, a little background. Scrubs has two leashes that he uses. The first is a blue leash. It is called a "gentle leader." This leash goes around his nose. It gives us control as he has to pull with his nose instead of his neck. Scrubs . . . HATES his gentle leader. However, we don't leave home without it. If we go for a walk or run, he wears it.

Scrubs' other leash is one of those black "automatic leashes". It hooks to his neck and doesn't bother him in the slightest. He can pull with his neck which means he is in control. He loves his black leash. I use the black leash for a potty break or for a quick trip to check the mail or walk to the bay.

I've been telling JB that our dog is becoming wise to which leash I pull out. So John decided to test it. Check it out:

Congraulations Dorinda!

Congratulations to a friend of mine, Dorinda and her husband. They celebrated their new son from Korea -- Michael's "Gotcha Day" on April 19, 2008! Dorinda was a faithful member of the infertility support group I helped start in Minnesota: Hearts like Hannah. The group is still going today, and I celebrate with all of the women as our journeys evolve in different directions. Congrats Dorinda! What an amazing day! It makes me even more excited for our son and daughter to come home. This photo is from the first moments with Michael. Dorinda, I can only imagine how your heart feels now as you and I have travelled similar roads. Congrats!


We have a log-in date for our China adoption. It is: April 17, 2008. Now just a reminder, this means that this is the date we "go on the waiting list." This is sort of like the number we are in line. They have currently processed through January of 2007 I believe so there is still a whole lot of people in front of us in line. But, one step closer.

Amy . . . is excited.

My online friend Amy (see "Amy's adoption Blog") wrote me an email the other day. She said she is very excited about little XY's arrival. So excited that she compared her excitement to the "Surprise party woman on Saturday Night Live." Not being a SNL watcher myself (I'm never up that late) I really had no idea what she was talking about. Until she sent me this link. This is how excited Amy is about XY's arrival! How funny is this clip? CLICK HERE to find out what the heck Amy and I are talking about.

8 and 5

How can the dryer-fix-it-guy give you a time frame of "between 8 and 5." I mean how many people do you know who are able to hang out around their house all day, on a Wednesday (the only day he comes to our area) to wait for a dryer-fix-it-guy? Surely he could narrow it down a little bit? When I watch the Maytag commericals, the Maytag Repairman is bored out of his mind and can come whenever you want and stay as long as you need him. Why can this Maytag guy only come "sometime on Wednesday between 8 and 5." Hogwash!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A cold, foxes, and plenty of babies (just not ours)

JB snagged this picture of Scrubs and I taking a nap this weekend. Scrubs was just waking up when JB took this photo. You can probably tell how great I feel by looking at me. :)

As I have mentioned previously, we have a few fox (or is it foxes?) that live right around here on base. We think they eat the insane squirrels that we have in incredible abundance. Scrubs doesn't bark at things outside that he "knows." For instance, once he meets a dog, he won't bark at them anymore. He only barks at the unfamiliars. The fox is one of those unfamiliars. (One morning JB took Scrubs out without the leash and the fox was out. Scrubs took off and returned a few minutes later when he realized how fast that fox was!)

I have been trying to get the fox on film for many weeks. Scrubs will start barking, I'll grab the camera, and then the fox hears Scrubs and runs off. However, this morning I managed to capture him on film briefly. Look fast in this video. You'll see him running in the background. (And hold your ears as well as Scrubs is barking quite loudly.)

JB is on his OB rotation. This means that he is delivering tons of babies. Sort of ironic as we wait for XY to get here. OB means long days (7am to 7 or 7:30pm usually) and also John once again having to watch everyone else celebrate. He says that he looks forward to watching these celebrations with our own baby waiting at home each evening when he gets done. That will be refreshing!

There is truly not much else to report. Baby? Still not here. Countdown? Fifteen days! Holy cow. Holy cow. Holy cow. Keep checking back. I'll make sure to post before we rent our car and drive out! We make sure to be near the house phone, cell phone, or pager at all times. Our friend Jodi is on call to come over and hang out with Scrubs. It's all waiting here!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Still counting down . . .

I know everyone grows "concerned" when they don't hear from me as much via email or the blog . . . "concerned" that the time has come and they don't know about it . . . but to put your mind at ease, there is no news here on the home front. The only news is that I am quite sick with a head cold, thus the reason I am not quite as accessible to everyone electronically.

I spoke with Joan this morning. Bri is doing well. The baby has not dropped yet so there is no sign that delivery is immediately impending. We are just continuing to watch and wait. Being as I have this nasty cold, I am hoping that he waits a little bit so that I am good and recovered before he shows up.

Some of you have asked me how you could be praying right now. I have two main prayer requests. Those are for Bri's delivery and XY's health. If you could please just pray for those two things, we know everything else will work out. My major prayer right now is that Bri would have an easy time having this little boy and that he will be healthy. Thanks!

Stay tuned . . .

Sunday, April 20, 2008


My Tante Jan sent me the words to this song, and she told me she never heard it. I found it on youtube with a beautiful video to accompany it. For anyone who has been through the storm and is coming out on the other side or is in a raging storm now, this is for you. He is there.


When you have a dog that gets bored easily, you look for ways to occupy that boredom. I am extremely proud of my newest "invention" which provides hours of occupied time! Yay for me!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Don't see . . .

. . . the movie If Only starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. Saw it on Netflix with JB last night. Sorry, but if you saw it I know you'd agree with me. Cute in parts but geesh . . . what a cruddy ending. Sorry, but there's my advice for you. Don't see it.

JB is on call today. Never much fun. But being as I don't feel well, I've been on the couch most of the day anyways. I did take Scrubs to the dog park for about an hour and a half today to help wear him into the ground. It worked! He has slept away the rest of the day meaning I could lay around and sleep too. I did take JB dinner. It's always nice to see him. It's a slow night which those of you who believe in *jinxing* are aghast right now that I would dare say it is slow before the night is over. (Docs are very funny about ruining a good night. They are always knocking on wood every which way.) But I don't believe in all that silly stuff, and I say, I hope the night stays slow so John can sleep and can then hang out with us tomorrow.

I shared a few text messages with Bri while at the dogpark today. She's doing good but really ready to deliver this little guy. Next appointment is on Monday. More updates then.

Nite all!

Drugged by my parents

Click on the picture above for a great article sent to my sister-in-law Katie. Thanks Mom and Dad for drugging me! (Read the article to read what I mean!)

China Update

On Thursday, we received a packet in the mail from our Family Coordinator at America World. The packet contained the names of two other families who are in our "group." While we are not guaranteed that we will get to travel to China together, it is very likely, and we are therefore encouraged to reach out to these other families via email and stay in touch during the upcoming months and years.

That being said, I thought I would post some answers to questions that they answered for us in this package. I understand if this bores some of you, but I am putting this up here for my own sake as much as for the sake of others. These really helped answer questions about the next step of our process which is much easier on us time-wise but definitely requires a lot of patience.

1. What happens to your dossier in China?
Once logged into the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA), our dossier spends the next 6-8 weeks in the Translation Department. After the translation has been completed, our dossier will begin to move through the other departments at the CCAA. Unfortunately, the CCAA will not update our agency on the status of the dossier. Therefore we can only assume that no news is good news.

2. When will we receive our referral (sent info on picture on Child you are matched with)?
The current wait time to receive a referral (upon which you will leave in the next 4-8 weeks to get our daughter) is about 29 months with the trend of increasing by roughly a half to full month each month. This time begins from our Log-in-Date (which will be sometime in April) and ends when we receive a referral call from America World.

3. Why is the wait time so long and growing?
China's new requirements were designed to reduce the application flow for China -- and did so successfully. Prior to the requirement change on May 1, 2007 (which included a host of new rules about age, financial status, mental health, physical health etc.) approximately 80 dossiers per month from America World alone were sent to China. After the requirement change that average has dropped to about 20 dossiers per month. Therefore, the goal was achieved, but will not be actualized until the CCAA reaches those dossiers logged in through May of 2007. (I believe as of this post they have currently reach dossiers logged in before January 2006. This means there are still 1.5 years worth of dossiers in front of us before the new requirements were enacted.)

The number of login days the CCAA is able to process each month significantly effects the current China wait time. Over the last several months, the CCAA has processed anywhere from 3 to 8 days worth of login dates each month, with an average of 5 days pers month. When the CCAA does not process at least 30 days of login dates a month, the wait time grows. The amount that the with time grows depends on how many login days the CCAA processes within the month.

No one is able to accurately predict how long the China wait time will become due to the large number of unknown factors, such as:
  • the number of infants that will be available for adoption and paper ready within the upcoming year.
  • the number of domestic adoptions within China.
  • the number of families from around the world who have login dates between the last referral LID and today.
  • the number of families who will withdraw from the China adoption process due to the increased wait time.
  • the number of families who will adopt special needs children and will no longer be in the healthy line.

There was a large increase in dossiers submitted to the CCAA at the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006 which increased the wait time. As of May 1, 2007, the number of families submitting dossiers dramatically decreased. Therefore they do anticipate the wait time decreasing once they hit the login dates of May 1, 2007 and later.

4. What documents expire during the wait time?

The home study, passports, USCIS I-171H/797C (Immigration paperwork) approval, and USCIS fingerprints are the 4 documents a family is responsible keeping current throughout the wait time. In short, we will have to return to Jacksonville to be fingerprinted every 15 months. We will have to the Immigration paperwork updated every 18 months. Our homestudy will have to be updated every 12 months (which would have to be done anyways with XY's arrival as every new addition to the family must be noted.) And we have to make sure our passports are never within 6 months of expiring. I don't think mine will be as I had to get a replacement a few years ago. But JB's probably will and will have to be updated.

So that's a bit of an update for you. We plan to just enjoy XY's arrival and wait patiently. We still have 7 embryos waiting for us at the Mayo Clinic that we will also need to make a decision about when to return for. I think we have solidified our feelings that we will return for these ourselves and not use a surrogate due to a myriad of reasons that I can get into at a later point. When we go back for these will depend on XY's age and the wait time for China.

I hope you feel fully educated.

Friday, April 18, 2008


This gift arrived at my mom's house in Ft. Lauderdale a few days ago -- a gift from my mom's friend Marty. I've been letting my mom open newly arriving gifts as she is trying to organize the things I have down there, washing clothes and bottles, and packing things that will come back to Eglin after we get baby.

Aren't these the cutest? My mom especially liked how the socks say: "George baby" -- my Dad's name.

This looks like it might compete for the take-home-from-hospital outfit. Originally, JB and I were going to go pick out something special to take baby home in. The only thing, we have SOOO many outfits, it seemed more appropriate to pick something to buy ourselves for another special event in his life, later. We're already worried he won't have time to wear all the newborn outfits he has received. So we'll use one of the adorable outfits we've received to go home in instead. To date, we have only bought a few choice items -- some picture frames and hangers. I go into the baby section not afraid to buy something but just not in need of anything.

As for us, I have come down with a bit of a head cold. Please pray that it goes away before baby gets here! Scrubs' leg is, according to JB, healing, although you wouldn't know it by looking at it. It looks really nasty, but apparently this means it is healing from the inside out. John used some other big words to describe the nastiness oozing from this wound, but apparently these are good things, and Scrubby will be okay without another trip to the vet. Dogs cost a lot!!

John is on call this Saturday. Currently, John is tied with one other intern for first for the most number of call days for the year. This is a lot considering he hasn't had a call day in almost eight weeks! This shows how many call days he had early in the year! Unfortunately, after eight weeks of having his weekends off, I feel quite lost without him here with me tomorrow. I told JB that maybe I should volunteer to babysit for someone or do something. Normally, I'd be catching up on work, but with quitting my job at Mayo, I have been able to easily keep up on my work. However, John told me not to be so foolish. This could be the last weekend or one of the last weekends I have nothing to do so he said I should sit back, relax, and enjoy it.

We have talked about going to see that movie Expelled by Ben Stein tonight. Apparently, Stein discusses the fact that the theory of evolution is the only theory allowed to be discussed in schools across America. I don't know much about it, but if you know JB, you know he is a HUGE proponent of intelligent design. Take it from Kelsey who once tried to challenge his viewpoint on intelligent design's introduction into the classroom -- you don't want to fight with JB on this topic. He is very well-schooled and has read every book imaginable on this topic and apologetics and evolution in general. (He actually left early this morning to give a lecture to the other interns during Friday morning Bible Study today.) It isn't that JB believes a certain religion should be brought into the classroom. It is that he believes, as do many others, that the theory of intelligent design should be taught jointly with other theories (like evolution.) Anyways, let me stop now lest I make a complete fool of myself. I'll ask JB to fill you in after we see the movie -- which we currently have to wait to make a decision on based on how I feel.

Right now, I'm going to take a nap.

P.S. Just to put all of you at ease, my sister-in-law Gabbi has agreed to update the blog for me during the hours and days surrounding XY's arrival. I'll be conveying information to her via the phone as I can, and she'll be sharing it on the blog. Of course, we'll make phone calls to some individuals before we post the final news on the blog, but you'll be able to keep up-to-date on the little guy's entrance into this world pretty quickly! Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The number "2"

There's a "2" in front of the wait-time for little XY's arrival! A T-W-O!

There's also a "2" in front of the number of days left until due-date. T-W-E-N-T-Y days. Twenty!

I can say that we finally think we are ready. But as I sit in the glider each morning reading my Bible, reminding Scrubs that the squishy elephant book does not belong to him, it is still an unimaginable thought that this room will include a tiny little helpless being in just a few weeks that we will be entrusted to raise. JB will often wander into the room while I am reading and just stand there -- each of us feeling so many things but unable to put into words what those feelings actually are. We'll mumble words throughout the day like, wow, holy cow, are you kidding, is this for real, can you believe this. That is truly the extent of our conversations. How can you put into words something like this? How can you explain it? At our baby showers in Ft. Lauderdale so many people asked me how I was feeling. I had no idea! Or if I did know, I had no idea how to explain it.

Each time I tell the story of Bri's decision and our acceptance and try to paint a picture of the relationship that we share with Roy, and Joan, and Bri, and Brant, I find words escaping me. I was in Target the other day buying some more of the only things I have yet to purchase for XY: hangers! I put the 10 packs of 10 hangers up on the conveyor belt. "Redecorating?" the cashier asked me. Sort of, I mumbled. And then I tried to explain to her what was happening. People have been blessing us with so many clothes and gifts for this little baby. We've been waiting ten years for him to get here. I know I am not pregnant, but he will be here in a few weeks. He's growing in the belly of our junior bridesmaid from our wedding. She's giving him to us to raise. The response is always the same: goosebumps or tears followed by, "That is such an amazing story!"

For me, the story has become very "usual." But when I retell it, I realize how amazing and God-filled this story is. I believe God knows everything. That means that God knew. He has always known.

I have a memory of one particular moment that I put Bri to sleep when she was just five months old. It was in their house in Palm Aire. I have no idea why this particular moment sticks out, but it does. I had just fed her and was burping her on my shoulder. She was falling asleep and just breathing so softy and tenderly and comfortably in my arms. God knew then! He knew right then that seventeen years later she would be placing a child into our arms.

Driving up to the Fort Lauderdale Airport, I had a flashback to when she was two or three, and I was picking her and Joan up from a trip to California. Bri saw me across the sidewalk and came bounding toward me yelling "Na-ne" which is what she called me until "Wendi" became manageable. Has He been preparing this for me all along? If one of our many attempts at parenthood had worked, would Bri have asked us to parent this little boy? Goodness knows that I know that the moment I hold XY, I'll know that ten years of being "just JB and me" (and one year of JB, Wendi, and Scrubs :) will be worth it for that moment and that opportunity.

The nursery is ready. Diapers are bought. Bottles are washed. The swing? Ready to wind. (Okay, so this swing doesn't wind, but didn't it provide better imagery?) After tens years of marriage and five years of praying, begging, and yearning to have a child, we are preparing to bring a child into our home all because two teenagers in Fort Lauderdale have deemed us worthy of the responsibility. How can this be? It truly seems unbelievable, unimaginable, completely and totally surreal. How can I ever explain to Chris and Bri what they are giving us? How can I ever explain to anyone how this truly feels. Unless you have sat in an empty home month after month, year after year, and known there was something missing and not had a way to make that missing part go away . . . unless you have spent tens of thousands of dollars for something that they told you would happen only to have found yourself no closer to the "vocation" you have always dreamed of . . . unless you have watched everyone you know pass you, lap you, and leave you behind . . . I truly can't explain the state of my heart right now.

JB was in Home Depot the other day and a conversation ensued which resulted in the cashier asking him if he had children. "Not yet," he said. And then he said, "In a few weeks." There was no explanation of how a child was coming and no huge bulging belly was (not) present to force him to explain that the child was growing in another woman. We were going to be parents!

I have experienced that myself through my jobs telecommuting. Occasionally I will have an email conversation with someone about the fact that I am preparing to take a few weeks off for maternity leave. "CONGRATULATIONS!" they shout (as people do through email -- in capital letters.) It doesn't matter to them how the baby is coming to us. It's coming. That's all there is.

Those years of infertility are still something I live with everyday. They have not gone away. I am still unable to watch any of those "baby" television shows. Once the children have been born and are being raised, I can watch. But peering in at another woman, pregnant, and getting ready to birth a baby is still something that pricks my heart. I'm sure Bri is yelling right now, "Wendi -- you don't want to feel this way." And I understand what she means. But there is still something in me that wants more than anything to experience "moments."

It is those "moments" that I am grieving, have grieved, and will continue to grieve. It is not the fact that XY will not be my biological child that I will grieve. I believe I am as excited (if not more excited) about XY's arrival than I would be about a biological child. But the "moments" associated with having a biological child are moments that I have had to give to the Lord and accept, for now, as something I must be okay without having. Moments like finding out you are pregnant, telling your husband, telling your family, and successfully birthing and nursing a child. No matter how much Bri includes me, I can't have those moments. Those moments are grieved and are being grieved everyday.

There are no "signs" that a baby is coming. There's no big bellies, discomfort, or sleepless nights here in northern Florida. Those are occurring ten hours away in a different home, to a different person. All we have are the calls and emails from Joan and Bri. All we have are the updates on Bri's appointments and the signs that this is going to happen and within a 48 period, we will be leaving the hospital with a little boy in our car that two individuals have chosen to give to us. Two individuals have decided that we are mature enough, good enough, trustworthy enough, and ready enough to be parents.

All of this is coming. "2" weeks and six days. "Twenty days" total. Hang on Bri! We are almost there!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Shower #4

Yesterday, I had a bit of a "surprise" fourth baby shower!

The wonderful women I work with at the RLS Foundation in Rochester, Minnesota sent me three huge boxes yesterday so I could have a "baby shower in a box." The boxes included diapers, wipes, clothes, books, and other wonderful goodies like a stuffed animal, picture frame, beautiful cross, storage bin and much more! They even included a little bag with a card, bones, and a toy for Scrubs. (Ever since Tara sent him a gift in the mail, he thinks all packages contain a gift for him and watches with baited breath to see if he is going to get anything out of the deal.)

JB happened to be home and sat down to write down all the gifts we got (you know, like a girlfriend does at a real shower! He's going to be so mad I just wrote that!) It was an an awesome post-dinner activity. The women that I work with at the Foundation do such a good job of making me feel included in everything they do even though I am now doing it from my warm Florida kitchen/office instead of a snowy second floor office in good ol' Roch.

Thanks ladies for my informal "shower-in-a-box." I cannot wait to see you all when I come to visit in June with little XY in tow.

P.S. Today is a big birthday-day. My goddaughter Grace is 15! My cousins Jason and Justin are both, well old, or at least Jason's old. Justin is younger me so he is still young. Today was also the day that Roy & Joan's son Brant (Bri's brother) was born back in 1982. He passed away in 1989 but I always remember that today was his special day! I also thought my old friend Susie's birthday was today? But then I saw Kelly wished her a happy birthday a few weeks ago? April 16th seems to be a big birthday day. I think tomorrow (the 17th) is Bara's birthday?

I hate bullies

There is nothing in this world I hate more than bullies! As a young kid, there was one particular girl in my class that teased me unmercifully. I went to a private school because my dad worked there. It was obvious I didn't come from a family of money like she did. So she teased me and made fun of me for the way I dressed and how I looked.

(Don't worry. This story had a happy ending. When I was in eighth grade, I was 6'3". This made me quite a welcome addition to the varsity basketball and volleyball teams at my school. It also made me become the "little sister" of all the juniors and seniors at the school. One day, I came to practice crying, and all the upper classmen asked me why I was crying. I told them about my bully. To this day, I don't know the whole story, but they took her behind the gym. A few minutes later she found me in the parking lot and told me amidst her sobs that she would never make fun of me again. She didn't!)

I hated bullies as a teacher as well . . .

If you are new to this blog you may not have known that I taught school for five years. I taught high school English and Journalism and film and speech and coached basketball and volleyball (and even a year of soccer -- Egads!)

It was so frustrating as a teacher when you would see a certain child that was unliked. Many times there wasn't anything you could "get on" the bullies about. It was often something floating underneath the surface, too far down and hidden to point out. I'd want to go and sit with the freshman at lunch who was sitting by himself. But then I would remind myself that I was a teacher and that would probably make him get made fun of even more. My only strategy was to try and catch the bullies whenever I could and also try to encourage a few of the "good kids" to include the outsider in their circle -- to help him not be so alone.

Anyways, I say all this to share a video with you that was on youtube after appearing on Britain's Got Talent. Here's one kid who is going to make every kid that bullied him feel awfully sorry! I love things like this. Just love it! I love when the bullied kid wins out in the end. Too bad those bullies aren't going to be given free tickets to his concert tour!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Peace is my continual gift to you . . .

It flowers abundantly from My throne of grace. Just as the Israelites could not store up manna for the future but had to gather it daily, so it is with My Peace. The day-by-day collecting of manna kept My people aware of their dependence on Me. Similarly, I give you sufficient Peace for the present, when you come to me by prayer and petition with thanksgiving. If I gave you permanent Peace, independent of My Presence, you might fall into the trap of self-sufficiency. May that never be!

I have designed you to need Me moment by moment. As your awareness of your neediness increases, so does your realization of My abundant sufficiency. I can meet every one of your needs without draining My resources at all. Approach My throne of grace in confidence and in trust, receiving My Peace with a thankful heart.

From Jesus Calling: by Sarah Young

More bits & pieces

Lots of stuff in the news at the Kit home today. First of all, we are now three weeks and one day from baby. This morning JB told me that he feels like Owen Wilson in the movie Armageddon when he says, "I'm like 1% excited and 99% scared. Or maybe it's 99% excited and 1% scared. I'm not sure what it is, but that's what makes it so awesome." I'm not sure that's the exact quote, but it was something like that, and we laughed really hard. It's so true. We are excited and scared all rolled into one.

Last night we finished packing for baby. We now believe we have everything that little XY needs for his first week in the world -- or at least everything we think he needs. We have not packed for us yet, but we do have a list. We don't want it to take five hours to get everything together when the call comes. We hope to be able to be out the door within a minimum amount of time.

In other news, my niece Grace got her ears pierced this weekend. How cute are these pictures?

I also got some pictures from my friends Aaron & Kristen this weekend. They are the ones who adopted Noah a few months ago. What a great looking family they are!

The saddest news of all is that it is cold here! JB had to bring all his plants in last night with a freeze-warning looming. It is April! What is this Minnesota?! Okay, so seriously, I shouldn't complain as my Minnesotan-compadres had snow this last week, but still . . . warm up already!

Jumping topics even more, I am lovvvvinggg working only one job. I try to get 4-5 hours of work done a day, and usually about one hour of helping my replacement at Mayo. However, I have such freedom. Yesterday I took an hour just to clean my kitchen and do some organizing around the house.

I also have been taking Scrubs over to the bay every evening to play with new Frisbee. I bought a Frisbee that claimed to "battle tested" and so far, it is holding up against Scrubs' rigorous play and has not ripped or torn yet. It also just happened to be Dalmatian pattern which is really cute. Scrubs lovvveees to play with his Frisbee. He has now gotten pretty good at it and is catching it about 50% of the time. The other 25% he almost catches it but the thick rim on the Frisbee bounces out of his mouth. The other 25% has Wendi initiating a horrible throw. Yesterday, one of those throws ended up in a tree. I tried to use his heavy leash to knock it out which subsequently followed suit by hanging itself in the tree. Two benches stacked on top of each other later, and we were off playing again. Sometimes, my friend Bobbie's lab Deuce comes out to play too. He doesn't like to play Frisbee. He likes to wrestle with Scrubs and also do some other unmentionable actions to Scrubs nearly constantly. We just laugh. Scrubs lets Deuce do the unmentionables to him but then as soon as I throw the Frisbee, Scrubs is off to catch the Frisbee. Bobbie has four kids who love to come out and play fetch with Scrubs too. It's a great time. If I can, I'll try to get some video of it one of these nights. Bobbie's oldest daughter Paige, is fourteen. I've already eyed her out for some babysitting!

Scrubs' wound is looking a bit better. JB talked to his former-vet classmate. She said the swelling is pretty normal and not to worry, it will eventually die down and Scrubs will quit licking it so much. Here's a picture of Scrubs just a few minutes ago with his wound showing up pretty clearly. After Scrubs gets up with us at 6am, goes potty, and eats, he always returns to his couch for a few hours of continued sleep.

I'm also watching closely to see who has their baby first: me or Katie. Katie was a classmate of JB's from medical school who is doing medicine through the Army in Texas. She's about a week ahead of us so we'll see who finishes this race first!

Enjoy a beautiful Tuesday everyone!

Monday, April 14, 2008

If dogs were teachers ...

Remember, if dogs were teachers you would learn things like:

  • When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
  • Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
  • Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
  • Take naps.
  • Stretch before rising.
  • Run, romp, and play daily.
  • Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
  • Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
  • On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
  • On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
  • When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  • Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
  • Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.
  • Be loyal.
  • Never pretend to be something you're not.
  • If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
  • Be always grateful for each new day.
  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzlethem gently.

The last bullet reminds me of a passage from the book Tara gave me by John Grogan, author of Marley and Me. Here is one of the passages. I was especially touched by the segment about his wife's miscarriage. You'll see what I mean when you read it.

By: John Grogan / Inquirer Columnist

In the gray of dawn, I found the shovel in the garage and walked down the hill to where the lawn meets the woods. There, beneath a wild cherry tree, I began to dig.

The earth was loose and blessedly unfrozen, and the work went fast. It was odd being out in the backyard without Marley, the Labrador retriever who for 13 years made it his business to be tight by my side for every excursion out the door, whether to pick a tomato, pull a weed, or fetch the mail. And now here I was alone, digging him this hole.

"There will never be another dog like Marley," my father said when I told him the news, that I finally had to put the old guy down. It was as close to a compliment as our pet ever received.No one ever called him a great dog - or even a good dog. He was as wild as a banshee and as strong as a bull. He crashed joyously through life with a gusto most often associated with natural disasters.

He's the only dog I've ever known to get expelled from obedience school.

Marley was a chewer of couches, a slasher of screens, a slinger of drool, a tipper of trash cans. He was so big he could eat off the kitchen table with all four paws planted on the floor - and did so whenever we weren't looking.

Marley shredded more mattresses and dug through more drywall than I care to remember, almost always out of sheer terror brought on by his mortal enemy, thunder.

Cute but dumb

He was a majestic animal, nearly 100 pounds of quivering muscle wrapped in a luxurious fur coat the color of straw. As for brains, let me just say he chased his tail till the day he died, apparently convinced he was on the verge of a major canine breakthrough.

That tail could clear a coffee table in one swipe. We lost track of the things he swallowed, including my wife's gold necklace, which we eventually recovered, shinier than ever. We took him with us once to a chi-chi outdoor caf and tied him to the heavy wrought-iron table. Big mistake. Marley spotted a cute poodle and off he bounded, table in tow.

But his heart was pure.

When I brought my wife home from the doctor after our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, that wild beast gently rested his blocky head in her lap and just whimpered. And when babies finally arrived, he somehow understood they were something special and let them climb all over him, tugging his ears and pulling out little fistfuls of fur. One day when a stranger tried to hold one of the children, our jolly giant showed a ferocity we never imagined was inside him.

As the years passed, Marley mellowed, and sleeping became his favorite pastime. By the end, his hearing was shot, his teeth were gone, his hips so riddled with arthritis he barely could stand. Despite the infirmities, he greeted each day with the mischievous glee that was his hallmark. Just days before his death, I caught him with his head stuck in the garbage pail.

Life lessons learned

A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours.Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things - a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter.

Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.When his time came last week, I knelt beside him on the floor of the animal hospital, rubbing his gray snout as the veterinarian discussed cremation with me. No, I told her, I would be taking him home with me.

The next morning, our family would stand over the hole I had dug and say goodbye. The kids would tuck drawings in beside him. My wife would speak for us all when she'd say: "God, I'm going to miss that big, dumb lug."

But now I had a few minutes with him before the doctor returned. I thought back over his 13 years - the destroyed furniture and goofy antics; the sloppy kisses and utter devotion. All in all, not a bad run. I didn't want him to leave this world believing all his bad press. I rested my forehead against his and said: "Marley, you are a great dog."