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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Those Disney Princesses....


They got nothin' on you! You are a princess body, soul and spirit. You radiate joy. You shine your beautiful love into our days and I can not imagine one second without you. 
Happy 9th Birthday our beautiful princess! I love you more than you will ever know.....



Gabriella~woman of God 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

One year....

One year anniversary. NOT that this feels like something to celebrate. How can death be something to celebrate? But nevertheless, tonight is the one year anniversary of my father-in-laws death. Death..no matter how it happens...is tragic...heartbreaking...life changing. Death by suicide adds so many other dimensions to that. So many questions. So many feelings of guilt....why didn't I see it? Could I have changed anything? Life becomes about secrets because the truth - suicide - carries such a stigma with it. And yet, unfortunately, suicide is so prevalent in our society today.

I can still remember everything about that night. The phone call. The mind whirling. The fear. Wondering if he made it or not. How? Why? How?

Then the months and months and months of agonizing questions. The anger. To be honest, I still struggle with anger towards him at times. Even though I too wrestled depression and yes, contemplated suicide, not too many years ago, I STILL struggle with the selfishness of it all. Sean has been my constant source of level-headedness when I go off on my wild tangent of pain. He reminds me of all that Bud meant to us, who he really was and what his life was all about. And so...in honor of this anniversary, I'd like to share those thoughts with you.

My father-in-law, Edgar, or Bud to those who knew him best, was one of my best friends. The last 12 years before he died were filled with so many happy memories together. If I try really hard I can still hear his laugh and it makes me smile and then cry. :) He was the catalyst for me to begin this blog and writing. He would call me and say "so Lisa, when are you going to write that book of yours?" and I would just laugh him off but he didn't give up, he would always be encouraging me forward. He LOVED his grandkids. He would come up to visit and spend time playing with them, wrestling, tickling, ball, you name it he would do it if it made them happy. He was at the airport for each of the Korean babies homecomings and at our house as soon as we were home for the last two. In fact, my in-laws helped ENORMOUSLY to bring each of our adoptions into being financially. He was so giving and loved St. Jude's. He was so smart. Seriously smart. And like me he loved to read and gain knowledge from books. We often would talk about something he had read or just learned. He said his favorite place on earth was here on our mountaintop. He said it was so peaceful here which always made Sean and I laugh because we thought it was anything but peaceful with all the chaos and noise that comes with 5 small children! LOL! He loved to enjoy life and made friends wherever he went.

Not a day passes when I don't think of him. My precious children still talk about grandpa in Heaven with Mordeai (our dog who passed this summer, Smokey, our cat and Geronimo, my dad's goat). However, Gabriella, 8 years old, has been the one who hasn't forgotten to bring grandpa into all our family celebrations. I still cry when I think of her picture she made for grandma for Christmas and the constant reminders of her thoughts of him through her pictures and cards of him. I guess one thing that hurts the worse is knowing they won't have him there as they grow. That the littlest ones won't remember him.

In some ways a year feels so short but then again it also feels so excruciatingly long. We've walked through some things this past year that I never thought I could have nor do I ever want to again. BUT, we have grown in our faith and in our relationships with one another. I always said before family was the most important thing to me but now, without a shadow of doubt, I can say it loudly. Life is too short. Make each and every moment count. Love hard.

Bud is gone but not forgotten because after all...love never fails.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Neglected.....

Hello.....anyone out there??

 Hello...can you hear me??

Geez, it has been way too long since I've checked in here. I just can't seem to be consistent with blogging. I have plenty to share but time just is fleeting for me. It saddens me though that I won't have a steady record of the "goings-on" here on the Mountain Top. :(  BUT life is to be lived and enjoyed to the full and no matter if I post here or not I can guarantee you that we are doing just that! Most days I fall into bed beyond exhausted but all in all I am so very, very thankful for my life! 

So on to the good stuff..... Well, the VERY good stuff is that my precious son, Ryan, who is serving in the Army in Korea is home right now on leave!!! We haven't seen him in 15 months! Seeing him walk through the airport doors was amazing but hugging his neck after this long was......priceless! So extremely grateful that God has allowed us this time with our boy. Today is his 20th birthday and we are so happy to spend it with him this year. Lasagna in the oven, ice cream cake in the freezer and a table full of family gathering to celebrate this precious one. I have to tell you that after all these years it has become glaringly clear to me that it doesn't matter how much money you make, how much you have in the bank or if you drive the top of the line cars that determines your wealth. I am RICH. Rich in love....rich in God's good gifts....rich in ways that money could never buy. Forget the diamonds and 5 star vacations just give me my family, a cozy home, and books and I'm good. :)

We are coming up to a year that my father in law suddenly, tragically passed away. The wound is no longer tender and raw. Much healing has happened in my heart and my soul but you can bet that I cherish each moment with my loved ones nowadays. Life is truly just a blink.

Samuel is heading quickly towards his 4th birthday, which is so hard to believe. Our littlest is full of spunk and joy and brightens our lives. I will try and do a post on the children here soon. They are changing and growing so much. 

Until then I pray you are all well and keeping your eyes on the One who sustains.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

PA and Chicago

Several weeks ago I had someone contact me about joining with her to do a post about the areas we live in. I thought it sounded fun. Let me tell you a little bit about my new friend, Kendra. She's a mom of 3 and before being promoted to the full time position of mom, she was the former Orbitz Director of Communications where she was able to travel a great deal.  She now lives in Chicago with her family, where they are her number one priority in everyday life. It was neat learning about what her family enjoys about the city. This is a two part post with the first part being all about my "stomping ground" here in PA and then the second part is all about hers'.  Hope you enjoy it and if you'd like to share about "your neck of the woods" please let me know and I'll pass your email onto Kendra.


I say living in Pennsylvania allows you to experience every season of life fully. Our four seasons seem to never slip in quietly but come in with a roar whether it's summer to fall or fall to winter. Pennsylvania offers such a wide variety of things to do that everyone in the family can find something that interests them. Here are just a few of our favorite things....


Gettysburg National Military Park - This is truly where history comes alive! We have spent countless hours here walking the paths, climbing Little Round Top, learning our history and enjoying picnics and bike rides. The new visitor center opens the door to learning and the specific historic tours that you can take deepen and enrich the experience even more.  

Utz Potato Chip Tour - Who doesn't love a "how do they do that?" tour! We have done this tour several times as our family continued to grow. When the newest child is old enough off we go to see how these fabulous chips are made. It really is educational, fun and the smell is delicious! LOL! 

Caledonia State Park - I can't say enough about this place. Hiking, swimming, fishing, camping, fabulous nature programs, the Appalachian Trail, lots of wildlife...so much to do. A must for anyone travelling this way.

Totem Pole Playhouse - A fantastic little playhouse right smack in the woods! It may be small but it offers BIG entertainment from the very well known to the little known actors and actresses. Every single show we have seen has been very well done and the shows vary from musicals to drama to comedy. 

Antiques and crafts galore - Fayetteville has it's own antique mall and there are plenty of craft shoppes to pique your interest. I'm not much of a shopper but I can attest that the parking lots at these places are usually full. I do know that many people travel to this area because of the quality and quantity of antiques available. 

Let's Eat! - The Chambersburg area offers any kind of cuisine your heart desires. From Aki Steakhouse and Sushi Bar to Windy Knoll Farm Market and Creamery. Our personal favorite is Ciao Bella which is owned and operated by Vince and Nadia. They have the BEST pizza and subs and most everyone we know "in these parts" frequent this restaurant weekly. LOL! 

So that's a quick glance at life around this area. I feel so blessed to have these amazing opportunities and experiences available to us. Most weekends find us out enjoying nature as we hike, kayak and play in the great outdoors. As a homeschooling family, the educational opportunities, as you can see above, are enormous. So even during these snowy, cold months we can say with certainty, we LOVE PA! :)


Chills and Frills in Chicago
Living in Chicago usually means that there are two seasons to think about during the year. Those seasons are spring and summer, and my family figures out things to do during both. We love being in Chicago because there is a wide variety of things to do like going out to eat or shopping. It is a city full of entertainment at any time of the year. Spring is perhaps the best time of the year because we can go outside and walk through the parks.

1. Shopping for a Steal
Wicker Park is a fun place to go when we want to window shop. There are several stores in the park where we go to find bargains on clothing and crafts. Some of the shops are for the luxury shoppers who have a little more money than us to spend. However, it is an area where I like to find birthday gifts for family and friends. There are also special events held outside through the year.

2. Walking Through the Wilderness
Although Grant Park is not in the middle of the woods, there are times I take my children when there are very few people there. This is when it feels like we are in the middle of nowhere. We enjoy going early in the morning before it gets crowded so that we have all day to play. We pack a picnic lunch, and if it hasn't rained, we sit in the grass to eat. It is amazing as to how many children play in the park and how many families enjoy the wonderful area. There is a large fountain in the middle of the park, and I always try to throw in a few pennies to make a wish.

3. Sleeping the Night Away
I have had several friends and family members who have come to Chicago to stay weekends with my family. There are numerous hotels in the city that have history behind them. The Drake is a large hotel with a grand design. It not only offers a spectacular view of the city at night, but the rooms are full of luxury and comfort. A large swimming pool awaits guests, and there is delicious food served in the restaurant. I have stayed in the hotel a few times with my children just to pretend like we are on vacation. There are so many great hotels in the city itself and sites like Gogobot make it easy to find user reviews on the various hotels.

4. Pizzas and Pasta
Glenn's Diner is perhaps one of the best places I have ever been to when it comes to food. The staff is fabulous, and they will make just about any kind of pizza you want. It has always been clean, and the service is fast. Before I go to work, I like going by the diner to get a big plate of eggs and hash browns. This is the place that serves authentic diner food with a Chicago twist.

Whether we go to the park to relax or to stay in a luxury hotel, my family enjoys every bit of the windy city. Chicago has a lot to offer residents and visitors. While there is a lot of snow in the winter, we tend to get through it by staying inside, watching movies and eating junk food. When there is no snow on the ground, we like looking at the tall buildings and looking at the shops in the historic parts of town. There is no other place I would rather be.






Monday, December 30, 2013

K-5 Review

K5 Learning - Main Logo 400 px

I was asked to review this wonderful program and in exchange received a free trial period for each of my children. The website is easy to navigate and very engaging with lots of color and fun graphics. My children were drawn to it right away. Let me tell you what this program entails....

K-5 is an online reading and math program for children grades Kindergarten through 5th grade. It's to help build fluency and understanding in a fun way for kids through engaging games and stories. To begin, your child takes an online assessment which will help place your child in the correct area which will challenge them and help them grow in their knowledge and abilities. After taking the "test" your child is then free to begin learning. There are over 3,000 lessons and activities and with it being so child-friendly these lessons can be completed independently even for a child as young as 4-5!  The best part is that their work and progress is tracked and sent to you, the parent, in a report so you can know how well they are doing. Another very important element is the child safety factor. This program has no external links, no advertising and no chat which means your child can play and learn safely and that certainly gives us parents a sigh of relief! :) 

Go check out the website and sign up for a free trail. I feel confident you and your children will be happy you did!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ginger....

I'm sure you have all heard of Elf on the Shelf, right? Well....here's my twist on it.....Ginger! Went to the Dollar Store and bought a cute gingerbread stuffed toy and voila same concept with a fun, cheap twist. LOL! Here are some of her adventures thus far:






Tomorrow the little's will find her relaxing in her bathtub enjoying a bubble bath. My mother-in-law and I are having so much fun coming up with and then putting the ideas into place. :) Actually, we are probably enjoying it more than the kids! LOL! 



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Now she's....

11!
Can hardly believe our precious, tiny, happy girl is 11 years old!
 She's the first one home and I have no doubt that her contagious joy 
helped propel us on to adopt 4 more times. :) 




She is a lover of all things but especially birthdays! If she hears it's someones' birthday she gets so excited and plans to be at their party even if she wasn't invited. LOL! She's been diligently reminding us every.single.day sometimes every.minute.of.every.day that her birthday was coming up. There were only two things she wanted.....a Veggie Tales Lord of the Beans dvd and a harp. Yes, you read that right....a harp! Oh my, this girl is a big dreamer but that's better than not dreaming at all! :) So Sean and I set our brains to thinking how we could pull this off for our girl and my man came through!! Check out this beautiful harp he threw together. 


And it's the perfect size for her and even plays music! Sweet! Kyalynn was thrilled and is so cute playing her harp. She also scored a microphone from her grandparents so she is all set up now. Keep your ears open you might be hearing this precious one on the radio someday!!  


Happy, happy birthday sweet Kyalynn!!