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Wednesday, June 13, 2012


We have packed up and moved to a new web-home.
Come join us at www.LibertyHillHouse.com

See you there!

Monday, May 28, 2012


Our family has a special connection with a generally unknown milky pink rock called rhodochrosite.

My father tells a story of when I was a very young toddler. He took me to the grocery store and an older woman came up to me and cooed "Say Mama," to which I obediently replied, "Mama." She smiled and continued to play with me asking me to repeat Dada, and I obeyed.

My dad, a geologist who knew my great 1 year old oratory skills, turned to me and cooed, "say rhodochrosite," and I dutifully repeated, "Rhodochrosite!" to Dad's great entertainment.

And so my great attachment to Rhodochrosite was born.

The special necklaces in the photo above were a gift from my inlaws who traveled to Argentina, and, knowing my special fondness for this rock, brought them back for both my girls and me.

Apparently, the Argentineans (hmm... That spelling looks wacky, but spellchecker approves, so I'll move on) have a custom of giving rhodochrosite to girls. They believe that women who own this stone will stay married for life.

I'm happily married, so I'm assuming that the rocks have been at work.

My favorite rock. Now you know.

The Rules of Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye to Daddy every morning is one of those adorable kid-designed rituals that requires explicit care to execute just right. This is the basic plan:
1. Each child must be hugged and kissed before Daddy can leave.
2. Daddy walks out the door.
Aah, you say that sounds easy... but this is where things get complicated.

Should a delay happen between the hugs and Dad's departure (a quick conversation, or a return to the house for forgotten keys), the hugs are void for the purpose of saying goodbye, and step 1 must be repeted.

All hugs must be given out equally. If a child is still in bed and they hear the door open, they will dive down the stairs to get their hug. Should Dad not hear them running, they will stand on the porch waving their arms to get his attention until he comes back in and hugs them ... necessitting a return to step 1 because of the delay mentioned before. If a child is so deeply asleep tht they miss Dad's departure, another one will appoint themselves hug-master and will give the sleepy child "half" of their own goodbye hug from Daddy when the child wakes up and inevitably cries because Daddy is already gone.

Weather can also play a role in our goodbye routine. On rainy or cold mornings, the kids are content to kiss Dad at the front door, but if it is sunny outside, they consider it a great thrill to wave at his car from the front porch. On particularly beautiful days they will run barefoot through the yard waving and shouting "Goodbye! Goodbye!" until his car is completely out of sight. The neighbors must think tht we have royalty visiting the house on those mornings.

Oh, and just to put things in perspective, Dad only works about 4 miles down the road.

We obviously love that guy a lot.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bathtub Tribute

Aww...  I luv uoo too little boy.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Charming snake charmers

This isn't what I expected.

When we invited the cousins over we decided that the boys would go with my husband to move dirt (much more exciting than it sounds ... tractors are involved) and that the girls would play in our backyard. I envisioned the girls feeding the horses, giggling, and creating pretend worlds. What I did not see coming was this:

The ladies played with this snake for so long that it eventually appeared as if it trusted them.  They could put it down, pick it up, pat it on the head, and carry it around without startling it.


Sunday, April 8, 2012


The Easter story is one of my favorites.  

Luke 24:1-12 ESV

(1) But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. (2) And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, (3) but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (4) While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. (5) And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? (6) He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, (7) that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” (8) And they remembered his words, (9) and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pulling the Story Together

I promised several people that I would send them the link to my sister's adoption story, then I realized that the saga is currently scattered across the internet and getting to all of the bits involves a lot more than one link. So, for all of you who have asked, or are curious about, these three adorable boys, I tried to organize it a bit.

Click away. Everything should fall into chronological order.

If you are looking for the truly long version of the story, snuggle up with your laptop and read straight through my sister's blog starting at The Golden Ticket (click "newer post" at the end of each post and you should work your way forward in time), but be aware that it is long, there are several stories that are about other children waiting to be adopted, and you will see lots of fund raising information. To simplify I linked the most informational posts below.

Start here: Jen answers the question, "why adopt?"

Anxious about transfers - there are many posts similar to this one, but the idea conveyed is the same. These boys really didn't belong in the baby house any more, and the alternative was horrific institutionalization ... for life. From another post:

What does it mean...


with only minimal amounts of food,
with very little attention,

with no thought to teaching basic hygine,

with little to no communication,

nor any form of education,

or any ability to age out of the institution.

They will never have a job,

never get married,

never feel the love of a family,

never blow out candles on their birthday,

never have a dad to take a thousand photos of them because of some minor accomplishment,

never catch rain drops.

The boys are promised to another family and the Demls must grieve and decide what to do next.

Traveling to Ukraine: Day 1

Finding out that the boys are still available for adoption! Unbelievable!!

Day 11 - Permission to go to the boys' location

Meeting the boys!!!

Groundhog day - aka. daily visitation

10 day waiting period - a deeper understanding of just how small the boys are for their age

Grandpa can't help with the flight home so Jen Miller steps up to help

Gotcha Day - The boys are now officially Demls!
Gotcha Day 2 - juggling more paperwork

Adventures in traveling from home from Kiev with 3 small children who neither speak your language, nor understand what is expected of them ... and the frustrating hoops that need to be jumped through.

Home and thriving! Everything is new to these boys. I watched the 4 year old reach out to grab a lightbulb this evening simply because it was close and shiny. The sweet little guy had no understanding that it would be hot. As Jennifer says, they are in all in the 2 year old exploring stage. What we take for granted is fascinating to them, and it is impossible to predict what they will do next. They are all adjusting well, and play beautifully with their new siblings.

Keep checking out Jen's blog FillingTheHouseWithBlessings to see what great things happen next for my new nephews!

Monday, March 5, 2012

International Arrivals

Waiting is never easy. Waiting with children in airports can be . . . interesting. However, waiting in an airport with children who are looking forward to meeting their new siblings is a kind of excitement that is rivaled only by Christmas morning. It was fun to see all of the sleepy happy faces and to hear them chattering about their new brothers.

You would expect that with all that excitement, the kids would be bouncing off the walls and behaving poorly. Not at all. They spent a good portion of their time in an orderly line like this:
Okay, so they were flipping up, over, through and around the bars in their eagerness, but they were being good while doing it.

Our eyes were all glued on the gate. We knew that it would take a long time to clear customs, but it was simply impossible not to look. Old middle-eastern men got the same "is it them?" glance as ladies in wheelchairs and pilots. We had to check. I don't really think any of us believed that they would arrive in disguise, but not looking simply wasn't an option.

At last, we finally heard Dad's cheerful "They're Here!" ring through the terminal. (Of course, the 4 year old needed to take a trip to the potty just a moment before, so guess where Robert was when his wife and new sons walked through the gate. Grrr... we spit on you Mr. Murphy and your law!)

I loved the way that the kids greeted each other. There was no awkward phase, skirt clinging, or shyness. They were friends from the very first moment.
They locked eyes for the first time, smiled, and Elizabeth said "Hi Max, I want to show you something!" and off the two of them ran to look at the perpetual motion machine displayed nearby.
That's it. Siblings. Joined for life. Done in a moment.

It was a good thing that there weren't many arrivals at the terminal that night. We spread out, took over, and had a wonderful time getting to know one another. Gabriel showed off some yo-yo tricks, Andrew and Amy got down on the floor to play trucks and planes with their brothers, and even Lillia went around saying "Hi, Hi!"
From all of the interaction that went on, you would never guess that these kids speak different languages. It didn't seem to bother them in the least. Nothing can stop play.

Check out that look between Robert and Jen - proud parents of 9!

And just another bad word for Mr. Murphy and his awful law. I had the entire Deml family lined up for a beautiful family photo when my camera battery died. Aargh! I guess we will have to wait for another opportunity. ~ They have their entire lives together now, so I'm sure there will be time.

I am so honored to be part of such a great family.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fairness vs. Kindness

We had an interesting conversation over the breakfast table this morning.

Is fairness important?

My husband was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about a group of men who stole hundreds of millions of dollars, yet are being fined only a tiny portion of that amount, despite being found guilty. Without question, this is not fair to the poor misled investors who lost their assets.
But, how does that play out in our house?
At first glance it seems as if everyone should treat one another fairly ~ Equal portions of cake, equal time at the computer, everyone getting their fair share. Fairness should result in happiness for everyone, right?

Reality doesn't work that way. Not everyone should have cake. A 5 month old doesn't need it and Momma' may not even want it, so should it really be divided in a strictly "fair" way?

Or what about this example? We won tickets a while ago to a big BIG game, but had no interest in the sport, so we gave them away. It wasn't "fair," but it was kind, and we were happier to see the recipients enjoyment much more than we would have been to watch a game in which we have little interest.
We decided that kindness is more important than fairness.
If each person is intent upon treating others kindly, then fairness no longer matters. The baby will receive what she needs, despite being unable to fight for her "fair" share, and the person with the desire to see a game may be provided for, even if they do not have tickets.

Consider Matthew 6:25
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. ... Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Fairness is being concerned about self - full of worry that things won't equal out in the end; worried that we won't be able to take care of ourselves in the future.

Kindness is being concerned about others - intentionally taking care of the needs that are around you, and allowing God to take care of us in his own timing.

Compelling thoughts for 7AM

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics

Phew!!! I made it.

This is absolutely not my style of reading, but I promised myself that I would read it, and I did it. Hooray for me!

Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics was originally written as a graduate paper by Liping Ma, and it reads as such, Dry. Dry. Dry. But - it is revealing, and worth wallowing through.

My kids are just beginning their journey into the world of math, so I'll focus there, although the book discusses much more.

Undertaking the task of teaching young children sounds easy: 1 + 1, great, got it! ABC, okay, what's next? Oh, how very wrong that thought is. Simple concepts are the building blocks for bigger, more complex concepts. The sturdiness of the foundation is absolutely key to a great education.

As a kid, I was a good student, but honestly, never developed a great understanding of math. Sure, I passed algebra, calculus, and trigonometry, but I never knew why the procedures worked. I simply memorized formulas, plugged in the right numbers and spit out an answer. Now, years down the road, I neither remember the formulas, nor the purpose that they were designed to perform. I want something better for my own kids. Enter Ma's book.

In essence, the author urges teachers to develop a profound understanding of fundamental mathematics, not just knowing the surface of the procedures that they teach, but deeply understanding the theory behind mathematical actions. "It is not enough to know how, one must also know why."

What I took away from this book was a greater dedication to speak the truth to my children in regards to math. Statements such as "We can't subtract a bigger number from a smaller one" or "Just borrow a one from the next column," slip easily off my tongue, and I need to break these habits. It is easier to teach the truth once, and to teach it well. In the best case scenario, each lesson will reinforce my kids' previous learning, rather than causing them to have to start over with a new concept.

The reasons behind facts are more powerful than individual procedures. Period. My goal is to intentionally make these connections tangible and obvious for my kids, so that they can fully understand how all of their math lessons are related and how/why they work in real life.

So, despite its difficult writing style, my copy of Knowing and Understanding Elementary Mathematics has been underlined, highlighted, and written all over. It is full of excellent information, and is sure to be re-read.
Submitted to 52 books.
My next "12 Challenging Books" goal is to read Gone with the Wind. After my tedious but rewarding slog through Ma's work, I need something much more readable. This one will be challenging simply because of its length. 1048 pages of drama. I think this is going to be a fun month.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Flying Books

If you haven't yet seen The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, then you are in for a treat. This adorable short is similar to Up stylistically, and the score puts Pop Goes the Weasel in an entirely new genre ... you just have to see it for yourself.

Run time is about 15 min. so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy
Hmm... The old link isn't working anymore. Try this one instead:

My kids all grabbed their journals immediately after watching this show and spent the next 30 minutes happily scribbling away. They even broke out the fountain pens so that they could write just like the character in the book.


Friday, February 3, 2012

The view from my window

8 kids in the house
1 brief moment of silence
Thank you repair man!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

God's Practical Gifts

I have been learning a lot about God's gifts recently.

I have this weird tendency to try to put all of God's gifts in tidy categories like these that sound lofty, intimidating and unreachable, but I am learning that God is much more practical than I imagined.

Take for instance the gift of shopping. Yes it could be lumped in with one of those lofty gifts, but in my world shopping is just, shopping, something we do regularly because we need stuff. But now I am learning that shopping can be a gift. I know it sounds strange, so bear with me a second and I will try to make sense of my thoughts.

A lovely lady (who shall remain nameless so that I don't embarrass her) asked how she could help me and I answered that it would be great if she could drop off bread, milk, and fruit. WELL, I expected to receive just that, a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, and a bag of apples ~ not on this dear woman's watch. We were bowled over with bags of amazing snacks to thrill children's hearts, laundry soap, baby bottles, the specific items that I requested, and much more that we needed, but I didn't even think to ask for. It felt so good, not just to receive the things we were desperate for, but to know that she cares and went to such lengths to help out, even though I'm sure it put a crimp in her own daily routine.

Personally, I am not blessed with the gift of shopping. Had a friend asked me for bread, milk, and fruit, they would have received just that. It would not have occurred to me to bless someone by shopping, but now that I have been personally touched in that way, I can see and feel God at work.

Another really practical gift I have recently become aware of is parenting. A lot of us are parents, but not everyone is gifted in the same way. God knows us, and he grants us wisdom and resources as parents to meet the needs of our children, but the ability to meet the needs of many children at once is not something all of us are able to do.

Then there are people like my sister. She has been given a very special gift. She has not only the passion for many children, but the astounding ability to keep her home running well while chasing several little ones in diapers, educating the older ones, and taking great care to meet the needs of her hearing impaired daughter. God created her this way. It truly is a special calling in her life and I am stunned when I stop and watch her.

God did not create me the same way, and I feel myself struggling to fill my sister's shoes while she is half a world away finalizing the adoption of their newest additions to the family. We currently have 6 adults scrabbling as best we can to take care of their 6 kids and fill the void left by just my sister and her husband. *Have you done the math yet? That is 1 adult to 1 child if we were able to all help out at the same time. The equation is faulty. I swear. Extra kids must be walking through my door when I'm not looking 'cuz the reality is that we are all busy every minute of every day. We are loving it, but we are tired.* Obviously, they (and their God-given abilities) are deeply missed and we anxiously await their return in a few weeks.

God is at work and we don't all serve in the same way. Isn't it interesting how the obvious can become so extraordinary when it touches you personally.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sleep Tight

"Momma, I s'eep in you's bed? Please?"

My little girl loves to be in our bed, whether we are there or not. She doesn't mind sleeping in her room, but if she can't fall asleep for any reason I know she will be asking to sleep in my bed instead. She totters along, dragging her favorite stuffed animal into our big room and securely curls right into the big bed all by herself.

My boy, on the other hand, rarely asks for anything after bed time. Seriously, this kid hardly ever even asks for a drink of water or an extra hug, so I was inclined to indulge his wishes when he snuck to the stairs and asked for a special treat.

"Can I snuggle in your bed too?"

I almost didn't want to carry them back to their own rooms when I found them so cutely cuddled up.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Finally Snowing Again

After the devastation of the October snowstorms I wasn't sure if I wanted to see any more snow, but having made it through all of November and December without a flake, I fully admit that I changed my tune.

Today, I woke up to "Hey! Snow!" from my husband, and not long after "It's Snowing, It's Snowing. IT'S SNOWING" from my little ones. Instant happiness. We love snow in our family. A lot.

The kids were outside playing before I even got breakfast on the table.

Snow angels, forts, snowmen,

and lots of snowball fights.

We even almost got the steps shoveled off ... almost. Well, we thought about it anyway.

With such an exciting start to the day, I knew that school would be out of the question unless I switched priorities fast, so we made the day into a snow focused party. We read books about snow (Snowflake Bentley being the favorite of the big kids, and The Snowy Day won high accolades from Little Miss), did snow crafts, wrote snow poems, and did everything else "snow" that we could think of.

My floors are still littered with mittens and boots, snow-pants and soggy socks. Proof that we played hard.

It's funny what a difference a snow day can make.

A A A A A!!!

Guess which 2 year old figured out how to write the first letter of her name? ... Unsupervised and on carpet of all things.

It was adorable to hear her yelling "Did it! Look Momma, A! Hooray... clap Momma. A. A. A!!"

So we spent the next hour writing one A on each of a thousand little slips of paper and clapping at her great achievement.

I wonder if the rest of the letters are going to be this exciting?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Repairing Grandpa's Boat

My husband loves to keep busy. In the winter this usually means focusing on coaching the ski team. Unfortunately, we haven't had enough snow this season to keep him on skis, so he has tucked into yet another project. A very different project. One that makes me think of summer although it is months and months away.

His most recent undertaking is to restore two old boats, the Bouncin' Babe and the Bug to their former handmade glory. These tiny wooden speed boats are a hoot to ride in. There is something about being only inches above the water that makes you feel as if you are going a zillion miles an hour ~ regardless of the tiny motor.

The Bouncin' Babe was built by my husband's grandfather in 1953. Sadly, grandpa passed away before my husband was born. The two men never met in life, but they have lived their lives in a very similar way. Anytime Grandpa is discussed you will hear about his industriousness and love of a good time. That pretty much sums up my husband. Always working, and loving every minute of it.

I have a feeling Grandpa would be thrilled to see his grandson working so hard to get these boats back in the water.