Saturday, December 29, 2007

Our BIG News...

I’ve wanted to post this for sometime now, but have not due to family issues, such as the death of my Granny, the holidays, and making sure we shared this exciting news with our closest relatives first, but now I can say it… we are “kinda pregnant”… as in WE ARE ADOPTING! Over the holidays, Wes and I saw a friend of ours that is about three months pregnant and everyone was asking her questions, sharing advice, calling her “little momma” etc, we did not want to take away from all of their excitement, so we chose not to share our decision at that point. As soon as we got in the car, Wes turned to me and said, “We could be three months pregnant…” and he is right. The adoption process is so fickle. As soon as we finish the paper chase, it could be a month or it could be two years before our child joins our family. At any rate, we now ready to tell the world!

I know many of you are thinking…Diana…small children…seriously?! But it is true, I guess Willow and Joey, my cousins, and Bryden, my nephew, have gradually made my heart ready to love a small child! Wes has been chomping at the bit and ready for children since we were married and was so excited when I finally said I that I was ready too! We are choosing to adopt FIRST. I know many people will want to ask, but not feel certain if it okay to ask, so I will share openly. We do not know if we are fertile or infertile, and we do not want to know at this point in time. We want our adopted child to know that he/she is the child of our dreams. We know we are in the minority of adoptive parents as most people arrive at adoption due to infertility, but we feel that God has made our family and our hearts open to adoption for a reason. We are comfortable with a non-traditional family and open to a trans-racial adoption. We are currently reading many articles and books with advice on raising adopted children in a trans-racial family.

So far, we have completed or are in the process of completing the following steps of the adoption process. For some, this may seem like a lot, but for those familiar with the adoption process, you know that this is only the beginning!

Step One: Discuss Adoption (pre-2003)
Step Two: Decide to Adopt (October 2007)
Step Three: Research Agencies (October 2007-November 2007)
Step Four: Choose Agency (The Barker Foundation) (November 2007)
Step Five: Choose Domestic or International (this was really hard for us, as we first wanted to adopt from Korea but cannot due to their Body Mass Index requirements. We are still exploring the possibility of adopting from Guatemala (they are currently closed to US adoptions due to Hague compliance issues but are anticipated to re-open in the near future), Ethiopia, and Colombia. After long discussions and prayer, we decided to proceed with domestic adoption and if we end up waiting for an abnormally long time, will switch to an international program. (November 2007)
Step Six: Complete Initial Application (approx. 16 pages of employment info, financial info, photos, etc) (November 2007)
Step Seven: Attend Pre-Adoption Group (December 8, 2007 8am – 5pm)
Step Eight: Attend In-take Interview (at this point in time, we are using our agency’s individual services, but will most likely move into their comprehensive domestic program within the near future) (December 28, 2007)
Step Nine: Complete Home Study Paperwork (We are currently in this phase)
- Signed Corporal Punishment Statement (stating that we will not abuse our child)
- Fire and Safety Self-Survey
- Immunization Form (stating that we will immunize our child)
- Copy of Marriage Certificate
- Individual Autobiographies (5-8 pages each)
- Criminal Clearances (Sate and FBI with fingerprints)
- Child Abuse Clearances
- Guardianship Agreement
- Medical Forms (we both have scheduled physicals and blood work on Monday 12-31)
- Copy of 2006 Tax Return
- Employment letters
- Financial Info (letters from our banks, 401k, retirement plans, etc)
- Copy of Birth Certificates
- Copy of Driving Records
- Written Evacuation Plan with Map

I hope to have this completed within the next two weeks, but I wanted to list it all to give everyone an idea of how complicated the process can be. Please pray that this collection of papers is as painless as possible and that our medical exams and blood work are “good.” Once the paper work is complete, we will begin our home study (which is a series of 4 interviews), make a scrapbook, and wait for a wonderful birthmother to pick our family!

We are so excited and can hardly stand it. I even went to baby pottery barn the other week… strange for someone like me.

As Christians, Wes and I know that no one has more love to offer than God, as he sent his Son to Earth to share His love with us. We trust that God loves our future child even more than we do and we must allow God’s timing to be our timing. Please pray that we will be patient through this process and make the right decisions and listen to God’s still, small voice. God’s plan is always better than ours… I must remember this as I rush around trying to get it all done as quickly as possible!

Soon after we made our decision, we learned that some friends of ours, Sara and Nate Hagerty, are also in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. Here is a link to their blog:

This is picture of me putting the finishing touches on our final application.
Our first trip to the Barker Foundation in Bethesda MD for our Pre-Adoption Group. (12-8-07)
Our second trip to Barker for our in-take interview. (12-28-07)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Missing My Granny

My Granny with her family...George, Meg, Whit, and Sue.

Sitting on a school bus, driving past many houses decorated for the holidays, thoughts of Granny entered my tired and emotional exhausted brain. Granny did not like a lot of "fuss" over anything and thought too many lights made a house tacky. In fact, she once stated that a very modest house, with one little light in each window, was "almost pretty except that the lights were too bright." That was my Granny folks...honest!

As many of you already know, my Granny, Helen "Hap" Vivian Farley Kemper, passed away this past Sunday. I was with her when she left this life and traveled into an everlasting one. My Granny was a lady of strength, courage, and wit to the very end and beyond. Although I am comforted knowing that she is know longer in pain and that she made a conscience decision to leave this planet, I will forever miss her honesty and spunk.

I want to post the eulogy my cousin meg and the rest of the family wrote for Granny. Meg read this at her memorial service.

Granny’s Eulogy

My name is Margaret Graham Kemper Parker (the 3rd!) and I am Helen “Hap” Kemper’s oldest grandchild. I’m here to share with everyone a eulogy of Granny written jointly by her children and grandchildren.

We all know Granny as a strong-willed, feisty lady who was devoted to her community and family. She wanted a simple, humble funeral service. She expected that everyone who came to this service would know her and so there wouldn’t be much to say. Nonetheless, we felt it was important for our family to tell some of Granny’s stories publicly to remember her.
Granny told us that she was her parents’ “second afterthought.” She was born when her father was 61 and she was the youngest of nine children. She lived on a farm in the eastern part of Virginia near Blackstone. She moved to Richmond when she was 9 after her father died. She had to adjust to city life and schools. Sadly, Granny’s mother died when she was only 12. She continued to be raised by her older siblings. She came to Grottoes when she was a teenager to live with her sister and brother-in-law who was the town pharmacist. Granny completed her last year of high school at Port Republic High. During this year she met her husband, George Kemper, who was the school bus driver. Granny completed one year of college at James Madison where she studied Home Economics. She got married a couple weeks shy of her 20th birthday in June, 1941.

George enlisted in the army in World War 2. During this time, Granny worked for the Lynwood Post Office and lived at Bogota with her in-laws. Later she moved to back to Richmond to work for the American Tobacco Company until the end of the war. After George returned from World War 2, Granny and George moved to Port Republic so that George could continue college at Bridgewater. Soon Granny and George bought and moved to Kemper Knoll Farm. Sue, Whit and Meg were born in 1947, 1948 and 1950, respectively.

Granny was always committed to her children and family. Aunt Meg remembers her nutritious four food group suppers every night. She also remembers Granny as a wonderful seamstress. She once found out on a Monday that Meg wanted to go to a homecoming dance and made a lovely dress in only 1 week. Granny was also quite stylish in her later years and insisted on fashionable hats to complete her outfits as wells as matching bags and shoes!
Granny loved her grandchildren dearly. She invented pet names for all us, many of which have stuck through the ages. She called me “Little Meggie.” She called Diana “Dede Sweetie” and Brooke, “Beauty Brooke.” She named Susan, “Pixie” and Will, “Willy Skilly.” She even called my brother Win, “Little Rascal” and my husband Mike, “City Boy!” Since Diana and Brooke lived next door to Granny, they spent a lot of time with her when their parents were busy on the farm. Diana and Brooke especially remember Granny giving them random household items likes potholders and marbles to play with and that she would tell them to use their imagination.

My mom, Sue, particularly remembers Granny for her progressive attitudes. She remembers Granny telling her that girls should go to college and not rely on men for everything. Granny always valued education and encouraged her children to go to college. Now her children and grandchildren hold many professional degrees between them! In addition, Darlene, Whit’s wife, remembers Granny’s acceptance of all groups. Growing up in an era when racism was prevalent, Granny felt that “people were people.” Granny judged people for their character, not their social class or color. In fact, in the past few years, Granny welcomed Darlene’s adopted niece and nephew, Willow and Joey, into our family. She loved them like they were her own grandchildren and put pictures of them up on her walls with the rest of us. She recognized and believed in an all-inclusive view of family.

Granny will be admired for her spirit and independence. After George died, she lived by herself in the small house on Kemper Knoll farm for over 20 years. Granny continued to travel with her sister and friends. She even drove a rental truck across the country to drop off furniture to Sue and her husband, Harry, with her friend Connie. She told us that she wasn’t sure why people needed to go abroad when there was so much to see in our own country. She traveled through nearly every state, and, of course, in typical Granny fashion, she had opinions about them all!
I’ve been particularly impressed with Granny’s strong will and fiery disposition during the last weeks of her life. Granny has had very advanced lung disease for quite some time. She fell while getting into her beloved special Granny-sized bed. We had asked her many times if we could get a safer bed that was lower to the ground and she refused. She said that “This bed has been in the family for 5 generations and I’ve been getting in it every night for more than 20 years. I will keep getting into it for a few more!” Nonetheless, Granny’s fall getting into her bed led to her last hospitalization. Granny broke her pelvis causing significant pain. We believe that Granny decided for herself that her disability and quality of life was more than she could bare and she made a conscious decision to allow death to come. She spoke to all of us and told us repeatedly that she loved us very much, but she needed to “move on.” She reminded us not to fight and bicker. She passed away comfortably and peacefully on Sunday night. We think that Granny left this world on her own terms.

The last few nights I’ve been sleeping in Granny’s bed. From her bed you can see pictures of all my cousins, aunts and uncle. I realized that the last thing Granny saw before she rested each night was her family. It has become clear to me how proud she was of us and how much she loved us. It’s no mistake that all of us have led happy full-filled lives. Granny’s independence, progressive attitudes and commitment to family lives in all of us. We will miss Granny very much, but we know that her influence in our lives will continue for the rest of ours.

Whenever we left Granny’s house she always said, “Bye bye love, “ not only to say goodbye, but to remind us that she loved us. Now we say “Bye bye love” to Granny in return, to remind her just how much we love her.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Lipizzan Stallions

A few weeks ago Brooke, Wes, and I went to see the Lipizzan stallions at JPJ. They were beautiful and magnificent. Enjoy some pics.

Monday, November 5, 2007


The past few weeks have been a blur! My classes completed some totally cool projects, the boys cross country team became REGIONAL CHAMPIONS, we celebrated Robbie (Wes' brother) and my Dad's birthdays, Wes' football earned a play-off birth at Regional tournament as a fifth seed for the first time since 2002, and we carved pumpkins.
Enjoy some pics of these events.

A sampling of the coll African wrap dolls my kids crafted!
The Kemper-Kite pumpkin with two uncooperative boxers.

My nephew Bryden helps his Daddy blow out the candles on Robbie's birthday pie!

The look on the boys faces when they announced "Spotswood: REGION CHAMPS!" Sue and I were so proud of their hard work. It was so hard to settle down and go to sleep that nite. To the state meet we go!

A fun Halloween run through the fear forest. There was one small casuality... sorry about that Coach Chris!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

District Champs!

On Tuesday October 23, the SHS boys Cross Country team became the first-ever Massanutten District Champions. The race was very close between TA, Harrisonburg, and Spotswood. THe SHS boys were able to pack together and hold on for the win! I am so proud of their hard work! Way to go guys! I was also just as proud of our (small) girls team! Six girls stepped to the line, and all six crossed the finish line. They had wonderful attitudes and came within a few points of Harrisonburg! Nice job, Ladies!

Free Rice

This is a totally cool website where you can help feed hungry people and increase your vocabulary! For every vocab word you match correctly, donor corporations give 10 pieces of rice to the UN for starving people! Try it out...but is addicting. Go to and start helping people!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Breath of Fresh Autumn Air

Today was quite a day. A day full of blessings and renewal. It is amazing how an everyday routine can truly take all of the fun out of life. As I post this, it is nearly 1am. I am such a nite owl and it seems that every nite I go to bed thinking that I did not do much that day and that I am so tired but I should do more. I don't know why I think these things, but I do. However, I know I do TOOO much. But today was the good kind of too much. I think that country song has lyrics that state "but I ain't never had too much fun." I seem to be rambling in a stream of thought here, but oh well. It is rare that I am so fulfilled at the end of the day. Anyway, I was blessed to be able to spend nearly the whole day OUTSIDE with friends and family. I started the day with a short run at Cross Country practice, then drove to watch Willow horse show her new pony, Kenny, then went on a hike with Wes and our four legged children and then went to the "Fear Forrest." WHEW! The pics below capture some of the amazing things I got to see and do today. If for some reason you are reading this and you are one of those indoor types that rarely goes outdoors, please step away from the computer, go out the door, take a deep breath of fresh air and enjoy the beautiful nature God has so wonderfully created!

Me with my "children."
Wes and his babies on the Skyline drive.

Just past Big Meadows on the Skyline Drive. Jackson looks like he is deep in thought.


We spent several minutes just watching deer. It was neat to watch how they all reacted to our presence differently. Even deer are created with different personalities. How amazing!

I think she is WORN OUT!

Linda, Mom, Willow, and I after a howling good time at the Fear Forrest.

I snapped this shot on Tuesday after some members of the SHS CC team completed one of the "challenges" at Massanetta Spring. Going thru the course was a lot of fun. I truly enjoyed watching the guys work together as a team to accomplish their goals. They worked together to get the piece of TP all the way up the tree. Look closely...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Attention Crafters!

I went to an inservice yesterday and had the opportunity to create an African Wrap Doll! It was so much fun! I plan to do it with my students at some point this year... Here is the link for the dolls:,1789,HGTV_3242_1372689,00.html and I posted a pic of MY doll. Craft away...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sawyer's Play Day!

Sawyer at two months...

Sawyer tormenting his mother (he is now 14 weeks old)!

Look at Daisy's face. She is a SWEEET girl and a patient mom.

My big boys!

WOW! I hope he continues to be a pretty mover.

Today, Wes and I had fun watching Sawyer be...well...Sawyer. NOTHING intimidates him! Wes put out a sprinkler to water the field (we are in desperate need of rain) and Sawyer decided to give himself a bath and spray his mother while he was at it! Then, we put a pumpkin in the field to see how he would react...sure enough, curiousity got the best of him. Within seconds he was playing kickball with the pumpkin and then he tried to eat it...poor pumpkin. Finally he was bored with the water and the pumpkin and decided to pick on his mother for a while. Daisy is so saintly and tolerates his teeth nashing and rearing and pawing. Like most babies, his spurts of energy are short lived. After 30 solid minutes of "horse play," (ha ha) Sawyer took a rest next to his favorite big brother, Bandit. A few of the pics I included are Sawyer at two months...he has grown so quickly in just the last 5 weeks!

Friday, October 5, 2007


Yeah...I know... I have not posted anything for a while now. I wish I had more time to think, reflect, and do things that might actually deserve a posting :) Wes and I are truly consumed by our coaching duties. But today, for the first time in many weeks, I was able to come home at 330 and decided to ride Bandit. This is the first time I was able to ride him without rushing against the clock! After a little schooling in the ring, I loosened my reins, Bandit lowered his head, and we slowly walked home from Mom and Dad's. A cool fall breeze blew through his mane and against my cheeks. I looked around and everything seemed to beautiful. The sun was starting to set, leaving streaks of blue, pink, and orange in the sky; the mountains were crisp and clear and everything seemed peaceful. I am grateful that I finally got a few moments of calm, mind-clearing, relaxing serenity. This is why I love animals and nature... they/it are truly the essence of innocence, purity, and God's way of reminding me that he does have a plan for everyone and everything.

The last few weeks were a busy time for my extended family. Pop-pop (my grandfather) became very ill and passed away. I ended up taking 5 days off of work to help out/ travel to the Baltimore area to be with my family. Although Pop-pops passing was sad, I did enjoy seeing all of my extended family on my Mom's side. There are always silver linings... right? Wes always says I am a pessimist (and right he is) so I am making an effort to see the positive things life has to offer.

A few other tid-bits:
- My Granny (Dad's mom) is in the hospital again due to difficulty breathing
-Wes' football team won an incredibly tight game last Friday
-Daisy's foot is on the mend after ANOTHER vet bill
-Sawyer turned 3 months old...and he is so big now!
-Wes and I went to a savor the valley festival and to the pumpkin patch last weekend and had a BLAST
-Aunt Meg received news that her chemo is continuing to work...praise God

Friday, September 7, 2007

Running Just As Fast As We Can...

The Speedy and Not-So- Speedy Runners and their Fans!

The Coaches (Wes, Diana, Sue, and Ashley)

King Wes and His Queens
Wes and I traveled with friends and family to Virginia Beach over Labor Day weekend to run the Rock n' Roll half-marathon. I must say, 13 1/2 miles is FAR more enjoyable than 26.2! Brooke and Meghan ran their first long race and Sue Rinker made her return to racing. Ashley Handrich schooled us all with an AMAZING time of 1:45! Way to go! And I got to run the last few miles with my college roomie, Shannon! Aunt Sue, Mom, and Mike were champion cheerleaders (with cow bells)! Shekoufeh and Meg also had great races with sub-2:00 times. I think it is safe to say the EVERYONE had a great time (even Wes, who was sooooo tired from a very late Friday nite game)! We plan to make it a family/friend tradition, so if you are interested in joining in the fun, let me know!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Visiting the Ellicotts in Erie

Carmen and I had a chance to go visit one of my college roommates, Emilie, and her husband, Mike. Emilie is starting her second year of medical school in Erie, PA and I had not been to see her since they moved (Emilie and I lived across from or with each other for 3 years of college and then 2 more years post-college). It was great to spend some time with her. We had a chance to go kayaking and visited with some of her local friends. I also got a tour of their new house (which, btw, they did a fantastic job of renovating) and see Em's beautiful flower beds. This is a picture of Carmen with Emilie and her two cockers, Milo and Oakley, in front of one of her beautiful gardens. Thanks for being a great hostess Em, I can't wait to come back!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

I'm Feeling...HOT HOT HOT

This week has been miserable. Aside from adjusting to the early morning practice schedule (which is hard enough for nite owls like me) it has been unbelievably HOT! We are talking above 100 with a 120 heat index! YUCK. Also, I hate this time of year because Wes and I NEVER see each other. He leaves for work at 6 and then goes to three-a-day football practices/metings until 11 pm. I am ready for school to start so I can reclaim my husband from the enslavement of FOOTBALL! Sorry for the whining. I just HATE football season. I hope all the other poor VA residents suffering in the AWFUL heat are feeling cooler than I am.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tahoe and Yosemite

Sentinel Dome in Yosemite. If you look close enough, you can see Willow. We climbed to the top!
This is the view from the top of Sentinel Dome. It is the most spectacular view of the park! You can see Half Dome so well!

Linda and Willow posed for pic just outside of the park.

Willow and I took a rest on an old tree at the top of Sentinel Dome. It was a little windy and chilly up there!

Willow and I walk through a tunnel...carved out of the base of a Giant Sequoia tree. They are the largest living things on earth!
Linda overcame her fear and went Jetskiing!

Willow and Wes went tubing!

Wes and I had the opportunity to spend this year's summer vacation in Tahoe. Aunt Sue let us stay with her. Thanks! We had a blast sleeping in, sitting by the lake, jetskiing, and tubing! Aunt Linda and Willow also came on vacation with us! Wes had to leave a little early to get back to work. Linda, Willow, and I spent the remainder of our time in Yosemite National Park. It sure is beautiful. Linda also overcame several of her fears on this jetskiing and hiking up steep hills. What a great way for her to celebrate her 50th birthday. I also got to go to some pandora stores and favorite... Christmas stores! I think we all had fun.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Home Again, Home Again...

Daisy and Sawyer finally came home on Saturday. We were so relieved. However, we are not out of the woods just yet. Sawyer is still on meds for his infection. We medicate him three times a day. He is so full of himself and seems to be feeling great so far! Wes and I are so thankful that Dr. Tracy Norman and Dr. Barry David were able to help our little guy (and his mom, too). Thank you, also, to all of the staff at Blue Ridge Equine. We love are horses and are so glad that they were able to save them.
Wes, once again, rode with Sawyer in the trailer. This was Sawyer's first time wearing a halter. How grown up!

Daisy and Sawyer enjoyed stretching thier legs after spending 9 long days in a stall.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Visiting Sawyer and Daisy at the Hospital

Today we had a chance to visit Daisy and Sawyer. They are in isolation because he has a low white blood cell count and Daisy had a fever. We had to don all kinds of gear before we could venture in to see them. Boots, scrubs, gloves, and another jacket over the scrubs. Whew! Daisy is now off all IVs except she still get shots of banamine and ace to keep her comfortable and prevent her from getting laminitis (that is inflamation of the hoof...the smae thing that ultimately killed Barbaro). Her uterine infection seems to be getting better. She seemed happy and was eating plenty...very Daisy like!

Sawyer, as you can see in the pics, is definately still on his IV. So much stuff that I will not list it all here. He is getting to nurse every 6 hours now, but he wants more! In fact, he escaped his foal pen yesterday and helped himself to a large meal. In the process he ripped out his tubes etc. The little turkey. They have since reinforced his pen and one of the interns spent the night in his stall to monitor his escape attempts.

His white blood cell count is marginally better and he cannot come home until it stabilizes and he is able to come of the IVs. He did have a siezure yesterday. His calcium level was depleted and he seemed to have developed a mild allergy to his antibiotics. They have diluted the drugs and slowed his IV drip. Poor little guy :( However, his last ultra sound indicated that the infection in his intestinal wall is less which means he is feeling much more comfortable. He was out like a light when we left today.

My cousin Joey was able to come along and see how a horse hospital operates. THe clothes were a little large, but we managed.

Please keep Daisy and Sawyer in your prayers... they need to come home soon!

I was so happy to touch him again...even if I had to wear latex gloves.

Joey gave Daisy some love.

Wes helped the vet put in a new IV.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Foal Update- Prayers Needed

Just wanted to update everyone on the status of our foal. Last nite (or early this am) we had to rush the foal to Blue Ridge Equine Clinic in Charlottesville. It is essentially like the ICU for people. He has gas in his intestinal wall caused by an infection he contracted not long after birth. He is on penicillin IV and seems to still be alert. We are hoping the drugs kick in and take out the infection so that this does not become a surgical case. The little guy is quite a fighter. We decided to name him Sawyer (after a character on LOST for non-Lost watcher info). Sawyer (the character) is such a tough guy and seems to always pull through. We are hoping this little guy will have the same bad ass attitude as Sawyer from LOST.

Daisy, his mom, was doing well until about an hour ago. She spiked a fever of 102 (normal is 99). They are starting her on antibiotics as well and then will flush her uterus. They think that she probably has a mild uterine infection.

Please keep Daisy and Sawyer in your prayers. The next 48 hours are critical!Oh, yes, one more thing.

Brooke was a great sister last nite and helped me get Sawyer and Daisy to the clinic safely. She had to drive extra carefully because Wes was in the back of the trailor with the horses. I am lucky to have a great sister and a great husband!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Baby Name? folks at the barn preferred our first name choice (Snap) to 'Duke'. What do you guys thing? Should we name the baby Snap or Duke?

It's A Boy!

For the last two weeks my alarm clock has gone off at 3Am, I've put on my boots, driven to the farm, peeked in Daisy stall, and driven back home. Tonite (well, this morning ,really) my alram went off at 3Am, I put on my boots, drove to the farm, peeked in Daisy's stall AND THERE WAS A BABY BOY! Welcome to the world, Duke! Daisy did such a great job! She and the baby were both up and eating by the time I arrived. I called Wes and my mom. They came to see the little guy right away. Then we did all the baby "stuff"...tetnus shot, dipped his cord, re-bedded her stall, etc. Ahhhh, I can relax a little...and play with the little Duke!

Duke is already making us laugh! Does this mean that he is going to be a handful?

I am so happy that that little Duke is here!

Wes is a proud horse Daddy!

Grandmother Kemper with her first horse Grandchild!