Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kaylee's Got A Brand New Doooo!

The girls and I are all quite the Twilight fans.

This weekend Kaylee took her self to the next level of fanhood. After seeing the movie on opening night she fell in love with Alice Cullen's hair style. I agreed, it is cute and fun! She asked if she could get her hair cut?

I though why not? This would be adorable on Kaylee, and it is!

now, if I could just find a way to look like Rosalie????

Sunday Funnies

If you can't see the whole comic, just Click!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giveaway - A Christmas Music Sixpack!

We got all up in the Christmas Spirit today... And one of the things that really helps us get in the Spirit, is the wonderful Music of the Season!

When I was a teenager, I began making Christmas Music tapes for my family. In 1997 I started producing Christmas Music CDs... Over the years, I've built up a library of six solid Christmas Albums, and one lucky KUWTB readers is going to win all six of them!

Not only that, but six additional readers will pick up the single disc of their choice. Pretty sweet deal, huh?

All you have to do is leave a comment here, saying which of the six would be your favorite if you were one of the six runner ups. We'll randomly draw one of those to be the grand prize winner, and then we'll randomly draw six additional names to receive the disc of their choice.

Sound good? Here's a shot of the grand prize package to get you inspired:

Now, just so you can make an educated request, here's a quick rundown of what's on each disc, starting at the left...

A Modern Christmas is a contemporary, rock 'n' roll era Christmas album. Includes "Do They Know It's Christmas," and 23 other neo-classics, including Bryan Adams' "Reggae Christmas."

A Traditional Family Christmas is just what it says. It's the music my parents listened to when I was a kid, family classics from Julie Andrews, Nat "King" Cole and Bing Crosby, along with some newer tracks from Mannheim Steamroller.

Merry & Bright is an instrumental smooth-jazz disc, perfect for background music while wrapping presents or having a nice relaxed dinner.

A Good Cup Of Cocoa is an update to a really lame disc I tried to do in 1998. That one was called "A Warm Cup Of Cocoa" and I quickly realized that while it may have been warm, it sure wasn't good... So I did a complete makeover on it a couple years ago, and now it's MUCH better. It's all warm sounding, relaxing Christmas Music, and includes Josh Groban's "Believe" from the Polar Express.

The Best Kids' Christmas CD contains classic music from the Christmas Specials that used to be such season-defining events when they'd show on TV once - and only once - every year. Music from Frosty, Rudolph and the Grinch... and LOTS more!

A Country Christmas is, believe it or not, a CD of Country Christmas. It, along with the Traditional Family Christmas, are the only ones that haven't been tweaked at all since their original pressings. That said, everything on here is ten years old, and I could probably make a sequel by now... But it's a great disc. Even though I'm not the biggest Country Music fan, this disc is a definite family favorite around here!

There ya go - We'll run the contest through next Thursday (the 4th) and then get the discs out ASAP so you can unleash the festivities!

And if you know someone who would enjoy some Quality Christmas Music, send them on over!


Black Friday Funnies

(If you can't see the whole picture, just click!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful for a break!

Today was SUCH a crazy day!

Our "Adoption Home Study" is happening in 5 minutes... I am happy to report that Mike and I (with a lot of help from Heavenly Father, my Mom and Mike's co-worker Carol) were able to accomplish all that we needed to!

At 7:00 am Mike dropped Andy off at school, then headed for Olympia to get a copy of his birth certificate. For whatever reason, both of ours came up missing. This was important - we had to have these today! He was home by 9:30, birth certificate in hand, and we were off to the doctor to get a "health report" signed off by our doctors... Then it was off to the County building for finger printing (these have to be sent to the FBI, processed and sent back "cleared" by Dec. 4th). When we got there, there was one guy in line ahead of us, and a few people filling out paperwork. (we had filled ours out last night!) When we got done though, the line of people - the line that WE would have had to wait in - was a good 15 people deep! If we'd gotten there even ten minutes later, we would have been in the middle of that! Just one of the many miracles delivered to us today....

As we were leaving the county building, Mike's cell phone rang... *bringgggggg* it was the doctors' office. My report was ready, which was amazing in and of itself, because they usually require a 24 hour turnaround. As luck would have it, Mike hadn't had a physical in the past two years and would need one in order for the health form to be filled out. We started to panic, thinking NOOOO!!! Physicals as you know, can take weeks - even months to be scheduled. Again Heavenly Father was already opening a window... Within seconds, the receptionist was back on the line and asked Mike if he could be there at 11:00 am - TODAY - it was currently 10:38... He dropped me off at the house and made it to the doctor on time! By noon, we had all the appropriate forms, except for my birth certificate. I was born in California, so getting it the same day was gonna be tricky. My wonderful mom was willing to drive to Ventura (she lives in Carpinteria / Santa Barbra) and get a copy for me. She fought parking, lines and traffic, and was successful!

In the midst of all that, I had an appointment at At 3:00 today. I was invited by Romeo to come and watch his classroom play. I was really concerned that I wouldn't make it with everything else going on. I had already told Ro that I would be there a week ago and he was counting on me. Romeo is an honorary Brinkerhofff. He spends each Tuesday night with us while his Mom works the midnight shift at work. We have all grown very fond of Romeo and love him as if he were part of the family. Kaylee calls him her "brother from another mother"!

I just had to get to this play. Disappointing Ro was not an option. Well, Kaylee and I made it along with Romeo's Mom Nicole.

The play was so sweet, titled The Ugly Pumpkin. The kids were really cute with their lines and so proud of their work.

They served up Pumpkin pie afterwards which was enjoyed by all...

But the best part for me, was seeing Romeo light up when we all walked in the room.

We were successful with getting everything done, and I am so glad that I made Romeo's play a priority! It was a wonderful break from the day and gave me an opportunity to slow down and be thankful for all the little blessings in my life.

Oh, and we passed our home inspection, so keep your fingers crossed that our prints will make it back in time for our court date a week from Friday! (Yes, the same day that Danee's being born!)

The Race Is On!

As I type this, Danee will be born in eleven days and two hours...

It's Go Time!!

We got our initial legal paperwork done and filed, and we will be going to court on December 4th, seeking a temporary custody order so that we can take our little girl home from the hospital as soon as she's able to leave. There have been a few attempted complications, and it really is hard to resist the panic attack that they TRY to induce, but we're finding that as each stress-wave peaks, and we start to calm down, we see that it all fits into the master plan that we have been aware of from the very start.

Yesterday we got our appointment for a "Home Study", where they'll come and make sure that we feed the kids we have, have room for the kid we're adopting, and are good, decent people who don't abuse kids or each other. Not really worried about that... But the amount of paperwork (actually paperless paperwork) was daunting! Given just over 24 hours, we need to have everything filled out by 7:00 tonight when the investigator arrives.

Last night we got nearly all of it filled out! Oh, but we're not out of the woods yet... As part of the package, they need birth certificates for each member of our family. No problem... We go look in the file, and there's Andy, Ellysa, Kaylee, Tyler... ummmm... WHAT??!!?? Nothing for Cindy. Nothing for Mike. We had them six years ago when we got married, what the heck happened to them now??

So I'll be going down to Olympia to get a new copy of mine this morning. Cindy wasn't fortunate enough to be born in Washington, so I can't just grab a copy of hers while I'm there... But her mom still lives in the same area in California, so she's going to go get a copy of Cindy's certificate a fax it up to us. Then we need to go to some government building in downtown Tacoma and get finger printed for the FBI to investigate us. While filling out the forms for that process, Cindy shook her head and said, "ya know, anybody can get knocked up and MAKE a kid... but they sure make it hard to give one of those kids a better life..." Amen Cindy... Amen...

Once all that running around is done, we need to re-arrange our bedroom to make room for, and set up the nursery, quick-clean the house, feed the kids, and be on our best behaviour when 7:00 rolls around tonight.

THEN we can think about making pies for Thanksgiving...

Needless to say, I've taken today off work... Wish us luck to get through all this in one piece, and on time - we're gonna need it!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fall is a wrap!

The fall sports have wound down and our family is enjoying a leisurely Saturday together. As I write this Mike and the kids are enjoying a game of Doctor Mario!

Last Saturday was the soccer party for Kaylee's team "The Barracudas". We ate Pizza and the girls were given their trophies. Kaylee was a high scorer for her team this year and was 1 out of only two girls to have a "hat trick" (three goals in one game) this season.

Kaylee will start basketball in December for the first time. I am not sure what to expect but I do know with Kaylee it will be a lot of fun!!

Ellysa celebrated the "Curtis High School Girls Swim Team" season on Thursday night. She had another great season cutting her times with her best at 1:09 for her 100 freestyle. She started the season with a 1:13! Way to go! She is now timing for boys' swimming while she waits for girls' Water Polo to start.

Tyler recently started a rec league volleyball team. He has never played before but seems to be enjoying himself quite a bit. He says he has a "Killer Serve," and we are excited to watch him play in December. (since we haven't seen him play yet, here's an artist's rendering)

I have been busy restoring this!

This baby cradle was lent to us by our sweet friend Heidi. Her babies used it and Danee will too. It has been a lot of work scraping and sanding what I would guess is 28 years worth of paint, but I am pleased to announce the cradle will finally move into the house this weekend.

Please continue to pray for a good outcome with Danee... We hit a wrinkle with the biological father. Although our attorney is certain "pigs will fly backwards in Australia" before any court would give him this baby, it does sit in my mind as a possibility. I toured the NICU on Thursday night and met with the charge nurse. Danee will be in good hands! We are close to being ready for her arrival and are praying that her biological Mom will continue to eat. Danee's weight estimation is 2.5 lbs, we are hoping for 3.5-4.0 when she is delivered on December 5th at 8:00 am. I will be in the delivery room to welcome our daughter into the world. I know that Heavenly Father is working this out and in the process my faith is being made stronger. All in His time, right???

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Funny!

I'd like to think that somewhere there's one of these with my picture on it, and that I just haven't found it yet!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wild Wednesday Round Up!

This morning I had something on my mind that I wanted to post on the blog... Then another thing popped into my head... and another, and now I can't even remember what my original thought was!

So here's a quick look at November 19, 2008!

Yep, time once again to spend a whole day or two pressing the F5 key to refresh the Woot page in hopes of scoring great deals on all kinds of stuff, from mp3 players to Roomba robot vacuum cleaners! And if you're REALLY lucky, you may score a Bag o' Crap for a buck!

If you have absolutely no clue what I'm talking about, I've covered this before.. Just click here! Then head over to Woot and get all your Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving!

First off, Today is the Nintendo Wii's 2nd Birthday! Hard to believe it's been two years since that successful, early morning trip to Fred Meyer... I still love the Wii, and it's just gotten better with the WiiWare downloadable games. With the exception of my daily WiiFit, and occasional online Mario Kart battles, most of my recent Wii Time has been spent on the dowloadable games such as Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People and Dr. Mario Online Rx. If anyone else out there has been bitten by the Dr. Mario bug, we need to swap friend codes and play some brutal deathmatches together!

Finally, this morning gave me the best laugh I've had in a long time... On Wednesdays and Fridays, Kaylee gets up early and plays racketball with me at the Y. This morning, her shoe had dog crap on it. Not only did it smell HORRIBLE, but it was dropping little bits of nastiness in the court. After trying to play for a few minutes, she went to the bathroom to clean her shoe off. Wanting to keep my heartrate up, I ran on a treadmill for a few minutes. Thinking she should be back soon, I wrapped up the running, and grabbed a paper towel to blow my nose. (is there a NON-allergy season??) The nearest garbage can is right by the entrances to the locker rooms. I went over and tossed my used paper towel in the can, and looked over to the locker rooms to see if Kaylee was coming out yet... Sure enough, she was! Ummm.. But something was wrong...

Kaylee came out of the Men's locker room... The look on her face when I pointed that out was priceless!! And then she said "I wondered why the bathroom looked so different..."

Good job Kaylee.. You've boldly (and unknowingly) gone where no woman would (knowingly) want to go!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Baby Name Reveal!

After more twists and turns than a Summertime Hollywood Blockbuster, Cindy and I have come to a conclusion on what our new baby's name will be!!

First though, a recap for those of you just tuning in.

Kate, the birth-mother of our little girl had requested that she be named Grace, since she feels very strongly that it's only by the Grace of God that she's even making it to this world. We love the thought, but aren't really so hot on Grace as a first name. It's fine as a middle name though, and Kate is perfectly happy to know that she had that lasting influence on this baby.

For Cindy and me, our task became to find a name we liked that went well with Grace as a middle name. We were also hoping to make the first name somewhat simple, since it's being offset by an eleven letter last name.

My favorite from the beginning was Emily Grace, and we'd call her Emma. The problem is, we know a LOT of kids named Emily and Emma right now. Cindy was definitely justified in pointing out how common those names are. While looking at baby name websites, she fell hard for Ava, but for some reason I'm just not feeling that one... Then I offered up Julia, which I was PRETTY okay with, but Cindy felt just like I did about Ava. From the same list-looking session we pulled out Mikayla as a possibility, but with the exception of Tyler, none of us really thought it would make it through to the next round.

At that point, we did a secret ballot election with the family, and put a poll up here on the blog... The secret ballots revealed Ava to be the winner. In the poll, it was Julia by a pretty big margin. Then we had our 36 hours of cold feet, took the poll down and cancelled the announcement of the winning name.

If you were here yesterday, you know that we had since committed to adopting this baby no matter what, and with that added sense of reality, I realized that I really didn't feel right about Ava as a name. Can't put my finger on why - just didn't fit! So Cindy conceded that we could use Emma. I even went so far as making up a fancy graphic of her name to use here in revealing the name.

But... It didn't feel quite right to use Emma either, especially since Cindy really didn't want it from the start. So I hit up the lists again. I found a really good site that gave the top names for every year going back over 100 years, and as a bonus, next to each name, it showed how much it had increased or decreased in popularity that year. That made it much easier to see trends, and watch the rise and fall of naming fads.

Not seeing anything on the recent years that we hadn't already looked at several times, I decided to check the years we were born. Me (1968): Blah... Cindy (1970): A couple of intriguing ones, including Danielle. I always thought Dani was a VERY cute name for a little girl, so I brought it up with Cindy and the kids last night.

An amazing thing happened next:


In fact, everyone said something along the lines of "I Like Dani!"

So then it was up to us as responsible and yet unbelievably awesome parents to come up with a spelling that was unique enough to be fun, but simple enough for a young student to handle when paired with our rather intimidating last name.

So now that you know The Rest Of The Story, please join us on December 5th in welcoming to the world:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Faith Preceeds The Miracle

Happy Monday!! And for these Brinkerhoffs, it is a VERY Happy Monday!

There was a very unhappy post put up last Monday... Please disregard that one...

As I was writing that post, my heart was broken. In a very short time - less than two weeks - I had fallen completely in love with our soon-to-be-born baby. Last Monday Cindy and Tyler (who was out of school for the day) went to the local baby consignment store and bought out the preemie section. As I was writing about how we had decided not to adopt, I could see the smallest little onesie I'd ever seen, and in my mind I pictured a teeny tiny baby filling it, kicking her teeny tiny legs. I cried.

Tuesday, I did my best to force myself to move on, but there was a gaping hole in my heart. I knew that the logic, the world-view said we were making the "smart" choice. But my heart told me without a doubt that we were making a horrible choice. Praying for wisdom only confirmed this.

On Wednesday, Cindy told me that she was feeling the same way, so we called our attorney back and told him that since we hadn't cashed our refund checks yet, he could just keep our money and proceed with the adoption. Our first order of business was to file a motion to find out what SPECIFIC neurological disorder the father has, so we'd know what we're going to be dealing with.

Friday after work we went to the hospital to meet with Katie (our baby's birth mother) and see how she's doing. She's still eating, and is very excited that we're adopting her baby! While we were there, we got to hear the heartbeat, and Cindy got to feel a kick. (I would love to feel our baby kick, but it was just too weird to be putting my hands all over some other woman's abdomen... so I just listened...) Afterward, Katie told her mom that she loves us, and that our visit meant the world to her. We will be visiting regularly for the next couple weeks.

This past weekend, we talked more in depth amongst ourselves, and decided that it really didn't matter what the father's conditions are, we are going to adopt this little girl either way. We were now committed, acknowledging that all the signs are pointing to this being a big part of God's plans for our life. With Him as a partner, there was no question that we would love our new baby and sail through any storms that may come with her.

Last night Katie's mom called us with some news that literally blew my mind... The father we were so concerned about, has had a vasectomy, and is definitely NOT the father of our baby! Katie had been keeping the "other guy" a secret, but told her mother that she loved us so much after our visit, that she wanted to tell the truth. The actual father of our baby doesn't seem to have any neurological disorders, just lots of bad habits.

After so much anguish and worrying about problems that may or may not happen, it wasn't until we truly committed ourselves, and put our trust in God, that it was revealed to us that our greatest hope for the baby was a reality.

It's been about 12 hours now since we found out, and I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around all that's gone on in the last three weeks. All I know for sure, is that on December 5th, our new daughter will enter this world, probably spend a little time in the NICU, and then come home with a family that is 100% ready to shower her with all the love a baby can receive.

We also have a real-life testimony of the Biblical principle that before a miracle can happen, you must have faith.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Whole Lotta Butta!

If you saw my weekend update a few hours ago, you're likely scratching your head and pondering a 68 pound block o' butter. And I, being me, naturally didn't grab the camera and take a picture until we'd already sliced off a layer. But this first pic shows a pretty good representation of what 68 pounds of butter looks like...

That's a lotta butta. But how?? How do mere mortals come to possess so much coagulated cowjuice? Well, like so many things in life, it ain't what you know, it's who ya know.

I have a co-worker, who has a friend... the friend works at a local dairy plant, or warehouse, or something... And every now and then, the warehouse guys will goof while moving pallets around, and impale a block o' butter, rendering it un-sellable. Since quantities this large are generally sold by the pallet, the entire thing is broken down and sold to the employees at Crazy Liquidation Prices!

For example, lately when butter goes on sale at the store, it's $2.50 a pound. If you're lucky, you can find it for $2.00 a pound.

The 68 pound block o' butter cost us $34.

Yep, that's right. FIFTY CENTS PER POUND!!

And not only that, but at the rate we burn through the butta, that's got to be pretty close to a year's supply.

So today, for our "after church wholesome recreational activity," we cut the butta! We did a few of the three-pound blocks shown above, but the majority of them were somewhat similar to the familiar quarter-pound cube we all know and love. Since we don't have an industrial grade butter cutter, our cubes are very inexact. That just means that when I'm baking, I'll have to dole out the butter by weight rather than by following the little markers on the wrapper. Fine with me, my good buddy Alton Brown always says you should measure by weight rather than volume anyway.

Butter as far as the eye can see!

Now all the portions are in the freezer, ready to serve all our buttery needs for the rest of 2008 and beyond... The Brinkerhoffs are OFF the Butter Grid, Baby!!

Weekend Update

Way back on Friday night, which really does feel like a long time ago, Cindy put up our To-Do list for Saturday... How did we do? Here's a recap:

1. Mow and winterize the lawn, weed flower beds WIN!
2. Clean and prepare chicken coop for winter WIN!
3. Fill holes in the yard dug by Abby - bad dog! WIN!
4. Last soccer game of the season 3:30 - Go Barracudas! WIN! (though the team lost... but they played great!)
5. Finish painting trim down stairs FAIL!
6. Round Table,end of Season Pizza Party WIN!
7. Movie with the kids and popcorn - extra butter! FAIL!

Five out of Seven - Not Bad!! The movie would have happened, but Kaylee arranged for a sleepover at the soccer party, and when we all got home, she just wanted to play with her friend, and Cindy and I were TIRED OUT!! Since Ellysa was in the pep band at the high school football playoffs (unfortunately, they lost too) I had to stay up until she was ready to be picked up... So while Cindy crashed on the couch, I played Dr. Mario (as seen in this week's Rodney and Jim!) online against various opponents, most of whom took great advantage of my sleepy status.

And then today we cut up a 68 pound block o' butter!

Sunday Funnies

If you can't see the whole comic, just Click!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Things To do Tomorrow...

Finally a weekend that is NOT calling for rain. We will be busy!

1. Mow and winterize the lawn, weed flower beds

2. Clean and prepare chicken coop for winter

3. Fill holes in the yard dug by Abby - bad dog!

4. Last soccer game of the season 3:30 - Go Barracudas!

5. Finish painting trim down stairs

6. Round Table,end of Season Pizza Party

7. Movie with the kids and popcorn - extra butter!

A good and productive day indeed!

Friday Funny!

Forget the yellow snow, I would avoid this stuff at ALL COSTS!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Intervention - Noun

the act or fact of intervening.
interposition or interference of one state in the affairs of another.

This past weekend Kaylee, Ellysa and I experienced a true intervention. You see their father, my ex-husband is an alcoholic. This horrible disease effects millions of people everyday and has turned my life and the lives of our young daughters upside down for years. Yet alcohol, the culprit is so accepted in our world ... why? I will never understand this. The good news is that after 16+ years Robert is receiving help. It was amazing to see the family come together and express love and worry for his health and to see him reach out and receive the offer.

After all these years I finally have something back .... HOPE.

I am so proud of our girls for the strength they showed to stand up to this disease. I will pray for Robert to stay strong, what a brave step he took.

Please keep Robert, the girls and his family in your prayers, it will be a long journey back.

I am hopeful he will make it.

Little Victories - Take 'Em Where Ya Can!

Hot on the heels of mourning the adoption failure, I was (possibly a little too) excited this morning to fill up my gas tank...

At a very reasonable (in contrast to what I paid even a week ago, but I'd still love to see it lower, so don't any sleazy oil executives take this as permission to leave prices here) $2.05 per gallon!

My car was about as empty as it gets, and my 14 gallon fillup cost a mere $29 even! I fondly remember Christmas 2001, when we filled up for 99 cents a gallon. I'll let a repeat be my Christmas Wish for 2008 - We're heading out on the 26th for a road trip, after all!

Monday, November 10, 2008

With Sad Thoughts, And A Heavy Heart

No easy way to say this... We will not be adopting a baby any time soon.

I got a call from our attorney this afternoon. He said he had some "probably not very good" news for us. So we went to see him...

He received a call from a fellow attorney, representing the father of the baby we had hoped to adopt. This attorney gave him several details regarding this man, and none of it was good. Being the age of sealed files and privacy laws, we don't know what the official condition(s) is/are, but what we do know is enough to make us back off from the adoption process.

Knowing that Katie's fetal alcohol syndrome is a birth defect, and not a genetic trait allowed us to look past any shortcomings she may have. But the father, it turns out is the middle link in three known generations of "a neurological disorder." Symptoms described to us included "chronic bad judgement, anger management issues, severe depression, and seeking frequent hospitalization for non-existent issues." There was more, too... But this list sums it up quite enough for us.

Now we needed to make a decision, and it was not an easy one. Ultimately, we chose to walk away from this adoption, because while we are confident that we could, and would raise a newborn in a great, loving environment, we do already have four other kids and we needed to balance the impact on all of our family. In our attorney's words, "you have to look out for the ones you have, and accept that not everyone can be parents to every child."

The news hit me like a boot to the gut. I had started a baby registry at Target for us. Cindy had gone to a local consignment shop and bought a ton of preemie clothing. Now we need to process the absence of that soon-to-be-ours baby, as well as the feelings of guilt at saying no because of risks that we determined to be too great.

Thanks to all of you for the encouragement, help, offers of more help, and everything else over the past week. Sadly, this story ended just as quickly as it began.

P is for Preemie!

Preemie. Officially, it's short for Premature.

In my mind, however, I keep thinking of it as being short for Premium.

Part of it is that like any new father, I feel that OUR baby is a cut above the rest, putting her on par with the expensive grade at the gas station.

Then there's the other side of me, who looks at her tiny size and thinks of the word Premium as the technical term for free items found in cereal boxes!
Now through the end of the year, all 24oz size boxes of Baby-O's will include a special Premium!

I've only really been around one preemie baby before, and it was a lot of years ago. My niece Jennifer (or as I generally refer to her, Fennifer) was born early, and spent a lot of time at my house when she was a baby.

I have a couple of memories about her when she was really little.

The first one, and this isn't something I'm proud of, but as you know, that never stops me from writing about it, was the day she came home from the hospital. She arrived while I was at school one day. I came home and set my stuff down and turned on the TV for some quality after school cartoon time. With my eyes mostly fixed on the animated antics, I glanced at the couch as I was about to sit down. There was some stuff on it, looked like Jennifer's older sister had left a doll wrapped up on the cushion, but no reason for me to not sit there. So I just plunked myself down on the couch.

And the doll wiggled and started to cry... OOPS!! That wasn't a doll, that was my newest niece!! I didn't FULLY sit on her, but I did disturb her newborn nap enough that she felt obligated to complain about it. I picked her up and started trying to calm her down, and I was shocked at how tiny and lightweight she was! I'd held a few babies up to that point, but this was almost unreal due to the size...

The second memory of Newborn Fennifer was that she was much too small for any of the baby clothes that were available. Her dad had gone out on a quest for tiny clothes, but all of the newborn size sleepers were like circus tents on her. His brilliant solution was to buy some doll clothes. One outfit actually turned out to be just the right size. It was a grey and white striped overalls outfit, like a train engineer costume. It went on fairly easily, and everything was good until we took a final look at her. The outfit had been intended to go on a Snoopy doll. Snoopy, you may recall, is a dog. Dogs have tails. This adorable little pair of overalls had a round hole in the butt that undid any of the good aspects, like being the right size. It was very hard to clothe a preemie in the early '80s.

Luckily, it looks like we'll have plenty of good, non doll-clothes options available to us for our new little baby girl! A quick search of the web revealed several Preemie-centric stores, and we've gotten several tips that Walmart and Target also carry a decent selection of extra small baby clothes.

So far, my favorite aspect of shopping for preemie clothes is the size names!! Everyone's familiar with the standard designations for Newborn, 0-6 Months, up through 1T-4T... Well in the preemie world, you get fun sizes like Micro, Tiny, and Preemie. The largest size in the Preemie world is Newborn, where you cross over to the mainstream.

If our baby goes to December 4th as planned, she'll be in Tiny clothes... You'd think someone would jump on the marketing opportunity to include Tiny Sleepers as a Preemie Premium in your next box of Preemie-O's!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Puttin' it to a vote!

In my daycare whenever there is a decision to be made, we put it to a vote.

It works like this. "everyone put heads down and eyes are closed" I give approved choices and the kids voice their opinions by raising their hands.

Tonight we as a family have put to vote what our new baby will be named... Our approved choices are this:

  1. Mikayla
  2. Julia
  3. Ava (my favorite)
The ballot box is in the kitchen and everyone is casting their votes. Tomorrow we will announce the winner!

What is your vote?

Sunday Funnies

If you can't see the whole comic, just Click!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mike's 5 x 5

My sister Susan tagged me back on Monday... Time to finally get it done!

5 Things I Was Doing 10 Years Ago

  1. Producing and hosting the Friday Night PartyZone and the Ambient Hour on Seattle's C-89.5 FM.
  2. Working at AEI Music, where in 1998 I was doing music for NikeTown, Williams Sonoma, Rave and others.
  3. Being a King County snob, thinking very poorly about Tacoma and anywhere else in Pierce County. (Note that a few months after moving to Tacoma, I decided you couldn't pay me to move back up north...)
  4. Paying a fortune in daycare costs.
  5. Not even imagining that my life would ever be as fulfilling and amazing as it is today!
5 Things On My To-Do List For Today

  1. Get in to work early enough to be done with the server upgrades I need to do, so I can get on with the other 4 things on my list!
  2. Hop a ferry to Vashon Island for Kaylee's soccer game.
  3. Clear the pine needles off of my roof, un-clog any plugged downspouts. (Flat Roof + Way Too Many Fir Trees = Rainy Season Nightmare)
  4. Head up to my uncle Richard's house to play games, have fun, and work on musical arrangements for his church Christmas Party.
  5. Get my family safely home and tucked into bed.
5 Things I Would Do If I Were A Millionaire

  1. Buy a nice, big house overlooking the Tacoma Narrows and Puget Sound.
  2. Open and run the burgers & ice cream restaurant that Cindy and I have dreamed about.
  3. Buy Cindy and I the cars of our dreams.
  4. NOT change our lifestyle drastically, so that our kids will still have an appropriate sense of value and work ethic.
  5. Adopt a baby even though we already have 4 kids in braces... oh wait, we're already doing that! =)
5 Places I have lived (all in Western Washington...)

  1. Des Moines
  2. Bellevue
  3. Federal Way
  4. Tacoma
  5. Fircrest!
5 Jobs I Have Had
  1. Pizza Guy
  2. Record/CD Store Guy
  3. Music Programmer / Recording Engineer
  4. Organic Bulk Foods Merchandiser
  5. Information Technology Manager
I can't think of 5 people to tag who haven't already been tagged to death, so I'll just leave it open - if you wanna play along, leave a comment telling us where to go to see your answers!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Tastes Like Chicken?

This is our little Pink Lady apple tree in our front yard! It's been there for two years now, and for the first time, has real, credible, edible apples on it!

But this is no ordinary Pink Lady apple tree... It's FORTIFIED!!

Allow me to explain...

In Spring 2006, we got four baby chicks, because they're cute, and because the make eggs way fresher and tastier than anything you can get at the store. We had a much easier time naming them than we are having coming up with a name for NewBabyGirl who is coming in a few weeks... In fact, we were rather proud of the names we had come up with!

Two of them were named after chickens in the movie "Chicken Run", Babs & Ginger. One was named Marzipan, after the character on And for the 4th one, we got REALLY creative!! The first pet we ever got was a kitty, who we appropriately named Kitty. So naturally, if we had a cat named Kitty, we HAD to have a chicken named Chicken. So we did.

The chicks grew quickly, and before we knew it, they began to look like chickens. Chicken herself was leading the way developmentally, and was showing signs that she would soon start laying eggs. Then one August morning at about 4:00, my peaceful summer slumber was shattered by the most horrible sound I'd ever heard. It woke me up from a deep sleep the first time it went off, and I laid there wondering what it had been. Before I'd come up with any good answers, it went off again. It wasn't cats fighting, but it was definitely not human. After the third time, I heard a quiet "cluck" after the screechy noise, and immediately knew that something had gotten into the hen house.

Normally we lock the henhouse up every night to prevent such intrusions. But I'd gotten home late that night and forgot to check... So naturally that was also the night that a raccoon came prowling through our yard on the hunt for food. And it felt like Chicken Tonight. As soon as I heard that telltale cluck, I threw some clothes on and ran outside, with Cindy close behind, armed with a flashlight. It didn't take long to find our poor, now dead Chicken... And it was Chicken who had been grabbed. At first we weren't sure what had gotten her, but then a rustling in the bushes led us to a raccoon who was waiting (impatiently) for us to leave so it could take its kill off and eat it. I had other ideas... I told Cindy to shine the light right in its eyes, and just as I'd hoped, the 'coon froze, balanced on top of our fence. I looked around for something substantial to throw at it. I found a brick, wound up, and clocked it right on the side of its head, spinning it around and off the fence. Immediately, Kitty took off after it, and they disappeared into the night. We hears occasional fighting noises, but didn't see anything else from either of them for a while. About 15 minutes later, after we had fortified the chicken coop to where nothing could get in OR out, Kitty came prancing back into our yard, as if to proudly inform us that the raccoon had been dispatched to the demon portal from which it had come.

Oh yeah, one other thing. When we bought our house, there was a big, old apple tree in the front yard. About a week before the great Chicken massacre, one of our daycare kids had been running across the yard, and in a brilliant episode of slapstick humor, completely clothesline'd herself into one of the branches on the apple tree. She was okay, once she caught her breath again. But a couple days later, the tree just fell over. Roots came up out of the ground and everything.

Soooooo... here we are with a gaping hole in our front yard, and a dead Chicken. Cindy actually wanted to have Chicken cremated, but I wasn't having that... I pointed out that we would likely eat chicken for dinner that night, so no way was I paying to have a dead chicken - pet or not - cremated. Instead, we decided to bury her deep in the gaping hole in the front yard, and plant a new apple tree on top of her.

I had visions of plucking the first apple from the tree, taking a big bite, and saying in a very Timon way, "Tastes like Chicken!"

This week, I decided it HAD to be time to pick an apple from the tree... I picked the largest one and washed it off. Kaylee wanted to try it too, so we had an apple biting ceremony... And it tasted like... apple... Seriously. No subtle chicken overtones, just apple. It wasn't even all the way ripe! In reality, I'm GLAD it didn't taste like Chicken... That would have impacted me in such a way that I wouldn't want to eat apples again for a VERY long time.

Now that the mystery of whether or not it would taste like Chicken has been solved, I'm hoping that next year it actually produces more than three apples... Like our egg-laying hens, I'd love to have apples that I don't need to buy from an outside source!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Baby Update

I forgot to mention in my rush-to-get-the-story-out post yesterday, but when Katie heard that our family was adopting her baby, she got really excited! She remembers Cindy and the girls from their time in her mother's classroom, and couldn't be happier that we'll be loving that baby!

In fact, she's so excited that she has started eating!! (remember from yesterday's post, that Katie suffers from anorexia) She's been ordering pizza, pot stickers and more, and says she wants to help give us the healthiest baby she can!


As I was typing that, Cindy called me... Katie has developed blood clots in both arms, from being in a hospital bed with a feeding tube for the past several weeks. The doctors can't do anything about the clots until the baby is born, so they have set a date for a C-Section birth, and it's a lot sooner than we were hoping...

On December 4th, we will be the proud parents of New Baby Girl Brinkerhoff!!


Pray for us... And.. ya know... send us baby stuffs!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Why We're Adopting - Part II

Okay, I'm home from work!! I should be making dinner, but I think I'll let it be a "fend for yourselves" night and blog instead!

Okay. To understand what happened last Friday, I need to give a bit of backstory. You all know we live in Fabulous Fircrest. The thing that brought this wonderful town to our attention is the elementary school here - part of the Tacoma School District, but worlds apart in almost every way. We drove our kids there for years before finally buying a house in town, just a few blocks from the school.

There's a teacher there named Mrs. Reese. Ellysa had her for 5th grade, and then a few years later, Kaylee had her for 4th grade. Through parent-teacher conferences, we got to know her fairly well, and always enjoyed seeing her. Mrs. Reese has an adopted daughter named Katie, who is 28 now, and when our girls were in her class, Katie occasionally came in to help out. Ellysa and Kaylee loved it when Katie visited, and Katie loved them too!

Katie is a victim of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and as a result has some mental disabilities. (please note, that since she was adopted, Mrs. Reese didn't cause this problem - she instead gave Katie the best life she could get!) She lives in a group home where she enjoys independence to the extent that she can experience it, and is cared for in all the ways she can't. One of the issues she's battled over the years is anorexia, which has caused her to have heart problems from time to time.

Recently Cindy heard that Katie was in the hospital, and we assumed it was her heart acting up again. Kaylee, being our super-sympathetic and always concerned kid, took a strong interest in this, and asked Cindy to check in with Mrs. Reese while picking up the daycare kids from school, to find out how Katie's doing.

Last Friday, Cindy ran into Mrs. Reese at the school, and being the wonderful mother that she is, remembered Kaylee's request. She asked Mrs. Reese how Katie was doing.

The answer was 100%, completely unexpected.

It turned out that Katie wasn't in the hospital with heart problems, she was in the hospital because she was pregnant. With her anorexia, the developing baby had been consuming what few nutrients Katie took in, so she was admitted to the hospital and given a feeding tube to ensure proper nutrition for both of them. Mrs. Reese had an understandably heavy heart about the situation... In Katie's condition, keeping the baby wasn't an option, so they knew it would be adopted out. The heartache for both of them was wondering how to ensure a good family who would love and cherish the baby, and Katie desperately wants to be allowed to receive pictures and occasional updates on how her daughter is doing. They both really want the baby to know, later in life, that she wasn't given up for adoption because her birth mother didn't want her, but because she wasn't able to keep her.

As Cindy listened to the situation unfold, she realized what an amazing opportunity it presented us both as parents. She called me as soon as she left the school and described what was going on. Immediately, I felt a burning inside me that it was much more than a coincidence that:
  • Two of our kids had Mrs. Reese as a teacher
  • We've kept in touch with her even though Kaylee left her class 2 years ago
  • We had pretty much decided that we would adopt a baby someday
  • We hadn't actually adopted a baby yet

Feeling such a strong urge that this whole saga was part of a much larger plan, it only took a couple minutes for Cindy and I to agree (still on the phone) that we should spend the weekend discussing, pondering and praying about the opportunity before us.

By Sunday morning we knew that we wanted to go ahead with it, so before church we looked up various adoption websites - everything from the state DSHS to private adoption agencies - and all of them catered to people who wanted to adopt but didn't have a child in mind already. They were long, expensive processes that just didn't seem to fit our situation.

And it occurred to me: One of our friends at church is an attorney! We decided to ask him if he handles adoptions, or could refer us to someone who does. That conversation didn't take long, as he does handle adoptions, and could even fit us in to a Monday afternoon appointment!

All day Monday, we were anxiously awaiting our 3:00 appointment... Wondering how long it would take, how much it would cost, how many hoops we'd have to jump through to receive this precious baby before she ever enters the foster care system. The meeting finally came, and greatly surpassed all of our expectations! The price was low enough that we had to TRY to not act too surprised - don't want him raising his fees or anything! And he said there won't be anything stopping us from taking her home from the hospital after she's born!

After that, this whole thing started to feel like it was really happening. I called my mom and told her, and she was very excited - but I also told her to NOT tell my sisters because I was looking forward to taunting them with a teasing information drip. We had wanted to wait until this weekend to tell our kids, because Tyler's at his mom's house until Friday night. But our excitement was too much to contain, and we spilled it out over dinner Monday!

Yesterday morning Cindy was sick... I really thought we'd AVOID the whole morning sickness thing doing it this way, but I guess fate just felt like playing a little joke on us. I went into work late, ran the morning daycare shift, and took advantage of the opportunity to go visit Mrs. Reese's room after dropping our daycare kids off. See, the day before, Mrs. Reese had said she would bring in the ultrasound pics of Kate's baby for us, and I wanted to see them as soon as possible!

Based on the ultrasound and all the other tests they've run, the doctor says she is a perfectly healthy little girl - I love the shot I posted yesterday where you can see her nice big tummy! Seeing those pictures brought a whole new level of reality to the situation!!

Today it took another leap, as Cindy browsed through the baby section at Target... And wouldn't you know, there was lots of cute pink baby stuff on clearance! We now have the start of our new baby collection...

Thanks for all the congratulations! We are excited beyond words, and can't wait to welcome this new little bundle of baby joy into our family!! The actual delivery date is still up in the air, but she'll be coming by C-Section sometime in December or January... And we'll keep any and all updates coming right here!

Why We're Adopting - Part I

Okay, before I get into the details, I just have to say that any enjoyment I was getting from teasing out information in "fun size" pieces has dried up, and now I just WISH I had the time to tell everything about how this all happened! Unfortunately, work and home life have been crazy busy, and my blogging time has been severely impacted! Just to write this opening paragraph has taken me half an hour because of those annoying distractions! So I should really just get past the intro and in to what you want to hear. After all, you are the reason we do this blog... even you lurkers... who look but try your hardest to never make your presence known... you.. you're the reason... (I know that if this was a flowery chick blog, we'd have tons of comments on every post... but that doesn't mean I'm not gonna keep begging!)


As you likely know, when Cindy and I got married, we each brought two kids to the family. I brought the boys, and she brought the girls. We considered adding an "ours" to the mix of "yours" and "mine" but decided against it for a number of reasons. We even went so far as putting me through a... uhh... "procedure" to ensure that we would remain a family of six.

Wouldn't you know it, by the time the incisions had healed, we began to question our decision. For the past five years we've thought, talked and prayed about various ways to welcome a new bundle of joy into our family. Out-of-country adoption, foster parenting, reverse vasectomy (shudder), but we never got that "yeah, go do it!" feeling.

Over the last 18 months or so, we've leaned more and more toward the adoption end of the spectrum, but still hadn't actually DONE anything to make it happen.

Until last Friday...

(I gotta get back to work - lunchtime's over... Part II will be coming soon!)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's A Baby!

Wow, I really didn't mean to drag it out this long, but it has really been a crazy-busy day so far!

But no Heidi, we're not getting a bunny or any more chickens... And no The Donald, we aren't housing another long lost relative...

We are, however, adopting a baby girl as soon as she's born, some time around January 24th!

It's been a pretty amazing story so far, and it will all come out here over the next couple months... Along with her name when we finalize what it will be...

In the meantime, I'd like to introduce you to our new little girl!

Full story and all details following soon!

What A Crazy Morning!

Okay, I *really* didn't mean to leave everyone hanging for this long... I meant to put an update up this morning with more info, but things went crazy because Cindy woke up sick this morning, so I took over the morning shift at the daycare.

Now I just got to work a couple hours late, but will post more when I get a chance!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Soon, We Shall Be Seven II

For the last eight years, Cindy and I have headed up our Family of Six as we've gone through life's many adventures.

Now, after much discussion, thought and prayer, we have made a decision that will bump our numbers up to The Magnificent Seven!

Oh, oh, OH, how I'd love to just leave it at that and let the wild speculation run rampant...

Actually, that does sound kinda fun...

Wha Wha Whaaaa?? Deja Vu?? Nope.

And Alicia already gave us a kitten, and Cindy already got a puppy.

Details to follow...

Mike's Fitness Goal - Crunch Time!

Like many people, I set a goal back in January.

Unlike many people, I'm still actively striving toward that goal in November!

Like many people, I've had several slips and lapses in goal-tending.

Unlike many people, I've gotten back on track several times!

Like many people, I haven't stayed on track as much as I'd like.

Unlike many people, I am revising my goal slightly, so as to not get discouraged and give up on it altogether.

Many of you may remember, my goal was to hit my 40th birthday in better physical shape than I've been since my 20th birthday. Actually, the last time I know I was truly physically fit was when I was 17-18. So I made my new year's resolution to do something about it, because at the end of 2008 I'll be hitting that big Four-to-the-Oh.

Now that birthday is just over a month away, and I've made tremendous progress!!

Unfortunately, most of that progress took place between January and June, where it peaked and kinda slipped backward for the past five months.

So I have revised my goal. At my peak in June, my weight had dropped to 195 so I know I can do it. I'm back up in the 202-204 range (depending on daily food intake) right now. By December 15, my goal is 190. If I start 2009 under 200 pounds, that will be a huge victory and the rest of my ultimate goal will be reachable, probably in the first half of the year, since that seems to be when I do my best!

All year, I've gotten up ridiculously early on Tuesdays and Thursdays to play racketball with some friends. Last week I started getting up at the same time Mon, Wed and Fri and either playing r'ball with Kaylee, or doing a cardio & weights workout. This week continues that discipline.

And starting this week, I'm doing a Wii Fit fitness test each morning when I get home from the Y. This is a great tool to help stay on track! If you haven't seen or tried it, here's what it entails:

First a welcome... Along with a not-so-subtle reminder that I have been a complete Wii Fit slacker for the last three months!! But it was Summer, and I knew I wouldn't stay current with the Wii Fit program when I had all kinds of outdoors things to do.

Then it weighs you and shows your BMI and/or weight. As you can see, my BMI is a quarter-point higher than it was 67 days ago. Not a surprise to me, I knew I'd gained a bit...

Finally, a timeline. Kinda pointless when the most recent point is three months ago, so this will become more meaningful as November progresses.

This awareness, coupled with the discipline of getting to the Y every morning, coupled with my old favorite, PORTION CONTROL at dinnertime, will undoubtedly help me reach my goal.

And of course, the extra accountability of publicly displaying my progress can only help too...