Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Three and a Half!

This November my littlest guy turned three and a half and I have to say I love this age! There are things to love and not love about every kid age, but this one is pretty great.

Potty-trained, sleeping through the night but still not too big to carry around occasionally, not quite as much the mess-maker as a two year old (or maybe it's just because I don't leave the powder sitting on top of his dresser anymore!), a little more self-control than a newly turned three year old, old enough to have an actual conversation with, and they say the most hilarious things!

That picture at the top is one of my recent favorite pics of my three and a half year old little man.

He had gone potty and put his jeans back on by himself. The elastic waistband allows him to pull them on and off without undoing the snap and zipper.

The really funny thing is he ran around like that for a while with the backwards jeans and I didn't notice until he was walking out the door with me to pick the dog up from the vet. Thankfully as he walked towards me I caught on to the issue and was able to grab my camera and snap a few pics before fixing the problem!

And here's my other favorite picture of the three and a half year old enjoying the leaves in Nana and Papa's backyard:

Pure joy!

Find more Wordful Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, and Not So Wordless Wednesday.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tackling the Christmas Shopping

I wrote a post last year titled The Colossal Christmas Conspiracy about the true meaning of Christmas being so lost in the commercial spending mentality. And how Americans spend 450 billion dollars on Christmas every year. More people die from lack of clean drinking water every day than anything else. It would cost 10 billion dollars to make clean water available to everyone. So, we are choosing to spend money on stuff at the expense of lives!

My husband and I challenged ourselves to spend 50% less on Christmas last year and give away the money saved to people truly in need.

I'm happy to say we did it and loved it!!

And we're doing it again this year!

The true meaning of Christmas was definitely more felt in our household as we reflected on what Jesus would really want for His birthday, as we talked about giving more than getting, as we spent more time and money shopping for strangers.

And I had less clutter to find a home for once Christmas was over and clean up from the rest of the year!

Now we do buy
some gifts for our kids, for friends and family, we are just spending less and trying to make things more meaningful. Also, we look for the gifts we buy to at least go to a good cause when possible.

I just got my daughter and niece the cutest, super cheap necklaces with their initials from this site and the best part? All of the proceeds (100%!!!) go to help provide clean water to thousands living in Ethiopia! Awesome! And a secondary benefit to visiting their blog is that you can admire adorable Grace adopted from Ethiopia this past summer!

For more gifts that will benefit great causes, check out this link and this link for lists of Christmas gifts you can buy and help fund a family's adoption. You'll get a gift to give and be helping a child gain a forever family!

And all proceeds from gifts bought at the Mercy House Shop will go to fund a maternity home in Kenya, Africa.


Sunday, November 28, 2010


Arriving back home this afternoon after being away for 5 days, and on the eve of the busy season that preludes Christmas, feels a bit like re-entry.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and got to celebrate the very special event of my mother-in-law and father-in-law's 50th wedding anniversary. We had a party with some wonderful food and a lot of friends and family who love this precious couple. Their lives and fifty years of love and commitment to each other are an inspiration. My husband and I are so thankful to have their example of a marriage that lasts!

We are also thankful that our kids have become pretty good car-riders and the 7 hour drive each way is much easier than it was a few years ago!

Once home, I set to the tasks of unpacking, making dinner, and tackling laundry after 5 days of not doing a single load of wash!

My kids and husband were playing outside when my daughter suddenly came running in, she'd remembered the caterpillar and wanted to check on her.

I'd debated actually taking the jar with us on the trip because I was afraid the moth or butterfly would emerge from the cocoon while we were gone and then be trapped in that jar, but I'd forgotten completely about it since returning home. We grabbed the jar, my husband came in, and we figured out that the moth had emerged from the cocoon, but when we found it among the leaf debris in the bottom of the jar, we thought it was dead. My husband commented that it was still cool that it had actually come out of the cocoon and went back out to resume the football game with our boys. But, as my daughter realized it was dead, she burst into tears. And I felt terrible that the moth had died trapped in that jar, and very guilty for not taking it with us on the trip!

I called my husband back to help with a moth funeral and consoling our daughter, but when he took the jar out to the yard he began yelling, "It's alive! It's moving!"

We got it out of the jar and the moth flew away!
I've never been so happy to see a moth flying around in all my life!

It was like a pre-Christmas miracle!

Bye Caroline the caterpillar-turned-moth! I'm so glad we didn't kill you!

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy, happy Thanksgiving!

I'm signing off for a few days. But before I do, I want to wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving!

And just in case your kids have grown out of the turkey crafts and you haven't gotten your fix of fake feathers this year, I'll share ours:

I love how the turkey on the left with the upside down heart truly looks scared, as any Thanksgiving turkey really should!

And one last smile, I helped with the kindergarten Thanksgiving feast at my daughter's school today. Parents brought in various things to contribute to the lunch, with the main entree being Chick-Fil-A nuggets. Part way through the lunch, one of the girls from my daughter's class very happily exclaimed, "I LOVE Thanksgiving chicken!"

So, if you're still struggling with how exactly to cook an entire turkey for Thanksgiving Day, or you haven't started thawing yours yet (did you know the big ones take DAYS to thaw?), you could always go with the famous Thanksgiving chicken, AKA chicken nuggets from Chick-Fil-A!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thankful I Wasn't On the Mayflower!

First, I'd like to begin this thankful post by saying I am truly thankful I was not on the Mayflower voyage to the new world, thankful not to be among those pilgrims that first Thanksgiving. We watched a movie with our kids recently on the pilgrims and if that animated video was even 10% accurate in depicting what life was like on that boat for months and then the first few months in the new world, it was rough, y'all! And cold and there was no food and everybody was dying, and on that boat? Seasickness and close quarters and nothing to do for weeks and weeks that turned into months! Eye-opening, that little Charlie Brown cartoon was!


We put up our Christmas tree this weekend, and I love that my children have NO CONCEPT of spreading out the ornaments! Even when I started laughing about a particularly crammed section of the tree and got out my camera to document it, they were looking at me like, "What?" They had no clue why it was funny to me to see about 30 ornaments in a 6 inch section of the tree!


A family trip to Target, buying and wrapping gifts for children who may not otherwise get gifts this Christmas. Such a blessing!

Every year after Thanksgiving our church takes a week and for about 4 different nights we send buses to low-income apartment complexes all over our city and pick up bus-loads of people, bring them to our church where they are served a hot meal complete with dessert by our church members, entertained with a spectacular Christmas show, delivered the Gospel message, prayed with, invited to come back to our church any Sunday, and then when they board the bus to go home they are greeted with bags full of groceries for everyone and toys for every child, geared for their specific age! It is a great ministry and a blessing to be a part of!


These babies arrived in the mail today! What are they? Well, plastic molded flowers to be exact. But really? Pure happiness is what they are! What am I going to do with them? Well, what couldn't you do with them? I've already made 2 rings, one for me and one for my daughter, just glued them onto a blank ring (that you can buy for less than $1.00 on Etsy.com). Want some of this happiness for yourself? Here's where I got mine.


My kids and I made little paper cities today. Printed them from here.

Oh so fun! Although there was some frustration when the cities kept falling over (my kids haven't mastered the art of a delicate hand, yet), so we taped them to the floor!

I was busy cutting out the 22nd or 23rd little .5 inch person

and looked up to see my 3 year old getting a little crazy with the tape!

Notice in this picture 15 minutes later he's still sportin' the tape head. Yeah, he thought it was hilarious and wanted to show Daddy when Daddy got home from work. Big Brother was happy to do the honors of pulling the tape out at the end of the night. Thankfully my 3 year old is tough and didn't yell at all about all his hair being ripped out!
All three of my kids playing together with smiles for hours over toys that cost us nothing, except some paper and printer ink?

More than priceless!

Find more Tuesdays Unwrapped here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Projects for, you know, right after you make the Thanksgiving meal

I warned you guys yesterday that I have projects in mind. Many, many projects I want to complete! And because I'd like to pass on the neurosis, I mean inspiration, I'm sharing a few (a mere fraction of my long list) ideas with you. I know it's kinda crazy to think of tackling extra tasks during this busy time of year, but these crafts are sure to make any holiday extra merry!
  • We really need a new duvet cover for our master bed and I'm thinking of trying something like this.
  • This ruffle necklace is so cute and seems really easy, would even make for good Christmas gifts!
  • And I admit that the instructions to make this fabric basket intimidate me a little so I probably won't attempt it, but oh my at the cuteness! And just think of all the things you could store in something like that -- so practical!
  • While we're talking about crafts that are over my head, this softie doll is out of my league, but it is so sweet, I really may try it!
Happy weekend before Thanksgiving! The stores will be crazy for the next 5 weeks straight, so stay home and craft!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

7.2 Months Waiting

The fact that this post is marking 7.2 months waiting and not 7 months is a blessing! The 7 month mark passed last week with little notice of the milestone!

We are surviving this wait without losing our minds (even though it has admittedly been longer than we expected at the beginning of the adoption process)!

All that is not to say we are not ready, more than ready, to see her face, learn her age, and mostly to bring her home.

But we're getting closer.

And we're going to use these next few months without her to really get ready. I have a whole slew of projects in mind to tackle! Can anyone say nesting? Yes, I think it may not only be a pregnancy instinct but occur for pre-adoptive mamas, too! Feel very sorry for my husband! I'm broaching this idea to him tonight! A little Christmas break project! Hey, our current shoe and backpack shelf only accommodates 3 kids!! And the project does say it's for skill level: beginner!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This Is Our Life

We have a new member of the household. A caterpillar found in our backyard garden and brought in on Sunday has now taken up residence in a pickle jar on the breakfast room table. The 5 year old's vote won out and so she is named, "Caroline", which is what the 5 year old has named nearly everything/one she's been privileged to name for a couple years now. The 3 year old lobbied for "Tessie", or maybe he would have spelled it "Tessy"? Doesn't matter, he yielded to Big Sister's wishes and Caroline the Caterpillar it is.

Here's her close-up there on the underside of the leaf:

Did I mention I know nothing about the care or keeping of a caterpillar?

In fact all I really know about caterpillar eating habits and life-cycle came from the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. So, after the first night when she ate nearly all of her nice green leaf, I picked her some more, and threw in an apple slice for good measure. You'll be glad to know I did stop before I added a piece of chocolate cake.

And just when I thought Caroline the Caterpillar may have died, lo and behold, she began creating a silky, weby, cocoon-like thing around herself!

My limited (as in I only had about 6 minutes to devote to it) Internet research tells me it will take at least 2 weeks for the metamorphosis and that in all likelihood, if on the very remote chance that this thing survives to emerge from the cocoon, it will be a moth, rather than a butterfly.

But, we'll take what we can get.

In other "This Is Our Life" moments from the past couple days, the 3 year old managed to get a hold of some dental floss and had big fun before he was caught all tangled in it. Anyone else ever have the feeling they live with Curious George?

And then there was this Kodak moment while baking some cornbread with the 3 year old. And I wonder why when one of gets sick around here we all get sick! Stirring with one hand, licking with the other!

Find more Wordful Wednesday and Not So Wordless Wednesday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

When You Do Have All the Answers

I choke up on the thought that because of this, this one decision, his whole life will be different, the pessimist wants me to wonder if he really gets it, if he really means, “Jesus I give you my life.” Or if he’s just saying the words that seem right to say.

I know it will be a journey, the journey of a lifetime, this walk between the Lord and my now 7 year old boy. There will likely be times they walk closely together and times my son runs ahead too far or lags behind.

But this is one area in parenting, the only area, where I do have all the answers. And they are absolutes, they are true, and I believe them beyond a shadow of a doubt. There are so many uncertainties in this life, so much room for debate, so many times I honestly need to answer, "I don't know."

But this much I know, and am so grateful to be able to tell my son, "Jesus loves you. He loved you before you were even born, He created you. He died for your sins. He wants to have a relationship with you, but you have to make that choice. He's not going to choose for you. You only have to ask once and really mean it. Sure, you'll mess up, and you'll need to ask for forgiveness, but you'll never need to ask Him into your life again. . . "

I’m just so thankful to have a loving, all-powerful God and Father to lead my son to. Grateful that although I have no idea what his life has in store, God is good and he’s got my son right in his grasp. I’m grateful to know the end even while the middle has yet to unfold. And I wonder what it is like for parents that don’t have that.

What do they give their children -- what hope, what guidance, what legacy, what purpose, what truth, what eternity, what assurance?

Find more Tuesdays Unwrapped here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cute, Comfy, Cheap Jeans for My Girl

My little girl doesn't really like regular jeans, says they're uncomfortable, mostly because of the whole snap or button at the waist. Typically I'm great with that, I love dressing her in skirts and dresses anyway, but there is a practicality to jeans, especially in the winter, so I made my girl some ruffle pants out of soft denim material.

She's a fan of the elastic waistband (and if we're being honest, who isn't?)

I love that they're cute, a durable fabric, and practical for times when skirts or dresses are not best!

I bought the denim at my local Joann's Fabric and followed this tutorial for ruffle pants.

They really were not hard to make, and I ended up spending way less than if I'd bought her some jeans!

Making Keeping It Simple

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'll try not to step on your shadow.

I was walking out to the car through a parking lot with my 3 year old one day this week, holding his hand, when he said, "M-ahhh-m" (in this drawing out the word kind of way that he has of saying "Mom" like a 16 year old would, but he only uses this when I have done or said something he just really can't believe I would do or say; otherwise I get a pleasant "Mommy".). I couldn't imagine what his tone was about, I hadn't said anything that could have possibly offended him.

But then he said, "Stop stepping on my shadow!"

The nerve of me!


My 7 year old is going through a phase where he loves putting on little magic shows for us (he recently saw a magician perform at our preschool's bookfair). But, his skills are a little lacking. Tonight, for example, he held up a blanket with his little sister behind it, turned to my husband and I (the audience), said, "I'm going to make her disappear!", and then turned to the held up blanket and whispered very loudly to his sister, "Now, run!"

Not exactly the master of illusion, but hilarious to watch, none the less!


My 5 year old daughter is really bummed that she's likely going to be too sick to go to school tomorrow, too, she loves it so much! But wow, I'd forgotten how great it is to have her home! She totally entertains my 3 year old, who has been very cranky this week as he recovers from an upper respiratory infection and ear infection. Now, my daughter, who has Strep throat along with a cough and a full-body rash? Her mood is mostly lovely. You wouldn't even know she was sick aside from the initial fever, positive Strep test, very apparent rash, and coughing. Funny how the gender stereotypes of men/boys being terrible patients seems to apply even to my young kids. When my boys are sick or hurt, and often for days afterward, everyone knows! They complain, they whine, they're cranky, they are demanding, and generally hard to deal with.


I don't know how teachers deal. I was emailing my daughter's kindergarten teacher this week about her sickness and expected days out of school and she replied that many kids were absent, several with confirmed Strep, and of the kids that were in class she said, "EVERYBODY is complaining about something -- head, throat, tummy." Now that times a classroom of kids would be hard to put up with all day! Hurray for the cooler weather but boo for all the sickness of this time of year!


Speaking of sickness, can I just get a "Praise God!" right now for pediatricians that prescribe parents medicine, too. I love this about our family pediatrician! When I took my 3 year old in on Monday for his fever, I knew I wasn't feeling too great, and likely had caught his same sickness, but I wasn't about to mention it. But, our pediatrician has 5 children around my age, and grandchildren similar ages to my kids, and treats us like family. He heard me cough once and said, "That sounds bad; I'm giving you something, too." No arguments, no negotiation, that's just the way it was. And good thing, too, because there's certainly no time for me to get in with my own doctor!


But we're surviving, I finally made it to the grocery today and stocked up on some yogurt probiotic drinks, even found some my kids like, and chocolate ice cream to make chocolate shakes. I served my daughter a shake for a snack today and she wondered as she drank it, "Why can't I have regular ice cream, too?" She's not demanding, she just likes chocolate ice cream a lot. And she had a point, I mean if you have Strep Throat why not chase a chocolate shake with a bowl of chocolate ice cream? So, that's what I let her do!


I just recently came across this, and was really happy to see a positive news article on adoptions from Ethiopia. The article points out that Ethiopia wants to work with countries like the U.S. because they want to do their adoptions the right way. And even goes so far as to say, "Other countries should look at what Ethiopia is trying to do."


Happy Friday!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

When It's Your Baby That's Sick . . .

One out of ten children die before their first birthday. One in six children die before their fifth birthday.

These are stats about Ethiopia.

The reality of those figures were heartbreaking as we learned about Ethiopia and part of what led us to get in the process to adopt a child from there.

But, nothing personalized those figures for me like reading the blog of The Five Lewis Crew. They had 3 biological children and began feeling God tugging on their hearts to adopt from Ethiopia (sounds familiar, right?). They did all the paperwork and anxiously awaited the exciting day when they'd get their referral for the child they'd adopt, see his face for the first time (again, sounds familiar except they are adopting a boy and us a girl). They got The Call and were matched with a precious one month old baby boy, who was tiny weighing only 4.4 lbs at birth and 5.5 at the time of referral. They were overjoyed, named him Judah because it means "to praise". They began dreaming of bringing him home, of the bunk beds he'd one day share with his big brother.

And then a couple weeks later after a few calls that the baby was sick and in the hospital, they got this call, letting them know that the baby didn't make it. He died of pneumonia.

And the reality is that his death was preventable.

That's hard to hear, hard to bear.

And I couldn't stop thinking, "That could have been our baby." Nevermind the fact that they are with a different agency and requested a boy and us a girl. Still, the hard statistics of a 3rd world country suddenly hit very close to home.

My children are sick right now, I've already made 2 trips to the pediatrician this week and 4 to the pharmacy and it's only Wednesday!

And today, when all 3 of my suffering children seemed to need my attention at the same time, I was tempted to wonder how I'd be able to manage 4 children through sickness.

But, when my kids need medical care I can get it, often within 30 minutes of my initial call. And if they need medicine? Again, 30 to 60 minutes later it's there on the medicine spoon ready to enter their little bodies. Less than 5 miles from our home there are pediatric specialist for every illness and disorder you could possibly imagine! And, we have abundant food and vitamins, so when my kids get sick, it is not piling on top of an already weakened state.

So, with all that being said, how can I possibly think it would be too hard? It will be a privilege to be able to care for another child, in sickness and in health, who wouldn't otherwise have it, who would have otherwise faced the tough odds. One in six don't make it to their fifth birthday!

To compare, in Ethiopia the exact figures make it about 8 babies out of every 100 born each year that will die before they are 1 year old. In the United States, it is 0.6 babies out of every 100 born each year that will die before they are 1 year old.

Click here to see what the Lewis family is doing to use the life of little Judah to bring hope to many other babies in Ethiopia and the families that love them.

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Laundry Math

Maybe I've been checking a few too many of my 2nd grader's math word problems, but here's the way a load of laundry went one day last week:

27 socks from 3 different kids I attempt to match up.

I successfully made 11 pairs.

How many socks were left without a mate?

Answer = 5

Matches are on top sorted by child, and socks missing their mates are on the bottom.

My children take their socks off all over the house and car. I find them stuck down inside shoes, under the bed, under our shoe shelf, and occasionally in my purse!

So the odds of both socks making it into the dirty clothes, through the washer, out of the dryer, and ready to be paired with their mate is not very high these days.

And I didn't think about it when I bought these socks, probably because it was August and my kids had not worn socks in 3 months, so I had blissfully forgotten what it was like to wash socks times 3 children, but why, oh why, are each pair of socks in the packages I bought slightly different?!!!

And if they are the same on top (you know the part that sticks out of the shoe) can I match a sock with 2 sharks to a sock with many sharks?

Before my perfectionistic ways would not allow that kind of thinking, but now?

As a reformed perfectionist thanks to the daily refining God has allowed through mothering 3 children?

Well now, I'm really, really close to calling that a match!

And these socks:

Same size, basically same on top, just different stripe pattern on the foot part (which has the sole purpose of driving me insane) = match!!!

The current system is that the lonely socks are put in the drawer with the matched up ones where they can anxiously await their match, perhaps in a few days (or weeks) when the car, under-bed, backpack, etc. is cleaned out!

I really wish I could remember which blogger it was that I read her tip a year or so ago that she only buys one size and style of kid socks for her many children so matching them up is a breeze, because I love the idea in theory, but in practice? My kids are only 2 years apart from each other and 4 years & 3 months from oldest to youngest, but they encompass 3 different sizes of socks! And if I put a too big sock on one of them it's inevitable that I hear whines about the wrinkles inside their shoes, and a too small sock, well the heel doesn't fall in the right spot and that just doesn't work! So, I'd like to ask how she gets around the size issue or if she's found a magic kind of one-size-truly-fits-all-sock!

So, what do you think?

Life on earth is too short, just get close and call it a match.


Your mothering skills will be seriously scrutinized when/if your kid takes his shoes off at a friend's house and the mismatched socks will serve as proof of your lazy home-making; matching socks = an orderly life.


Do you have another way of handling the sock chaos?

Find more Wordful Wednesday and Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Prospective Adoptive Parents Need A New Dog In Their Bed

I attended an adoption conference on Saturday and now there's a new dog sleeping in our bed.

Did I succumb to the getting-a-new-puppy-will-take-our-minds-off-the-wait-for-our-new-child-from-Ethiopia idea?

Not exactly. Actually not at all.

Here's the new dog in our bed:

And here's the story:

At the adoption conference I attended a breakout session on bonding and attachment. I've been to a few different speakers on this topic and read a few books, so most of the material presented was not new to me, but there was one suggestion I'd never heard before!

The presenter said that an infant's strongest sense is smell and therefore she suggests to adoptive parents that they sleep with a stuffed animal for a month or so and then get it to the baby they'll be adopting as soon as they can so the baby can process that scent.

In domestic newborn adoption this might mean the stuffed animal would go in the newborn's hospital crib during those 48 hours before the adoptive parents can take custody.

But, in an international adoption there's often a window of a few months when you have been matched with a child and are waiting for your court date to travel, but other families are traveling for their court dates and can deliver small items to your child. I've seen several families with our agency do this for each other and I thought how cool if our little girl could not only get a gift from us but something that smells like us, too!

I have had 2 of these pink puppies tucked away from when my daughter was a baby, long story, but I thought those puppies were going to be her security item and wanted a few duplicates, but she ended up attaching to her blankies instead.

So, I have one pink puppy that, God-willing, we'll be able to send over to our girl in the Ethiopian orphanage in the next month or two after we get our referral, and then if that one gets lost or left behind at the orphanage, I have an identical one she can have once she's home.

I'm grateful for the adoption community and all the wonderful people who so generously share their knowledge and experience and have such big hearts for orphaned children (I got to have a conversation with a senior VP from the adoption agency we are using and was so touched that even after years within the business of adoption, his heart is still with those children in orphanages all around the world.)

And I'm excited with the hope of even the smallest bit of our world entering hers.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Anybody else threaten to throw away all the Halloween candy this week if one more child asked if they could have just one more piece?!!


Anybody else have the kid who had to try asking for a piece of candy after breakfast on Monday morning? In our house that would be the 3 year old. Nice try, Buddy, but no, no candy until at least after lunch!


Anybody else consider it their motherly responsibility to pick out and eat all the Reese's peanut butter cups right away from the candy stash since there is a child in the house allergic to peanuts? Better to get those out of the way right off the bat so nobody accidentally eats them who can't have peanuts -- just protecting my child!


Anybody else have kids who were suddenly wheeling and dealing the Halloween candy with each other? "I'll trade you one Twizzlers plus one Laffy Taffy for your jelly beans." "I'll give you 3 M&Ms if you give me half of your Kit Kat."

Just imagine the negotiation skills they're acquiring!


Anybody else cringe when their 2nd grader came home from school and said, "I have good news and bad news about my next school project."

Me: "What?!! Didn't we just do a project?"

My 2nd grader: "The good news is, we have all month to work on it. The bad news is, we're working on it only at school so you can't help me with it."

Me: (extreme happy dancing on the inside before lying to my kid) "Yeah, that is bad news."


Anybody else hate it when you are holding a "40% Off Any One Regular Price Item" coupon but the thing you want to buy is on sale for 10% off? In fact everything in the store appears to be 10 or 20% off and the coupon you meticulously cut from the Sunday paper and carefully stored in your purse, and managed to find again amid the old grocery lists, spider rings, and used Kleenex, seems to be mocking you because it is actually next to impossible to find anything in the store that is regular price! And should you happen upon the magic item that is full price, you're tempted to buy it just to be able to use the 40% off coupon even if it is not at all what you came shopping for. Tell me I'm not alone here!


Anybody else look under their 3 year old's bed and find this:

Me to the 3 year old: "Why are all your toys crammed under the bed?"

The 3 year old: "That's my garage."

I made him scoot under the bed and get every last thing out. He got on all fours and protested that he couldn't fit under the bed. My reply? "Sure you can, just lie on your tummy and slither like a snake." And that's what he had to do until it was all cleared out.

We'll see if all the effort to clean up the under-the-bed mess keeps him from doing it again!


Have a wonderful weekend and if you're somewhere that observes "Fall-back", enjoy the extra hour of sleep or use that extra hour to make this adorable Thanksgiving shirt or ruffle up one of your sweaters or transform some of your regular jeans into skinny jeans!

It will likely take me the full hour to decide which of those options I'd most like to do during my extra hour!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Financing an Adoption

One common misconception about adoption is that it is an option only for wealthy people.

I'm thankful to be here to tell you during this National Adoption Month and this week leading up to Orphan Sunday, that this is simply not true.

Just as there are a variety of types of adoptions (international, domestic, infant, older child, special needs, foster care, agency, private, open adoption, etc.) there is a wide range of costs associated with an adoption.

In Texas, adopting a child from the foster care system is often free and in many cases there is financial help that extends even after the adoption is complete. If you adopt a child who is legally available through the US foster care system in Texas, and that child meets any of the following criteria:
  • white and over the age of 6
  • minority (including biracial) over the age of 2
  • sibling group of any age and race
Then your child qualifies for post-adoption assistance in the form of:
  • Medicade
  • all your attorney fees incurred during the adoption process paid back to you in full
  • free college tuition to any state school, including graduate schools (even med. school!)
  • between $0 and $400 per month per child depending on your income
If you adopt a child out of the foster care system who does not meet the criteria to qualify, the roughly $1500 you will spend to complete your adoption from CPS will be given back to you by the government in the form of a tax credit.

And although our current adoption is not through the US foster care system, due to a variety of reasons, I have volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for nearly 9 years now and met many children in the foster care system and although they come from hard places and do need special attention tailored to their specific situations, they are adorable, lovable children.

I think a misconception of foster care kids is that they are somehow undesirable, castaways, unhappy kids. But, this has not been true of any I've met. They've been a wide variety of races, ages, and backgrounds, but they've all been precious kids that I would have brought home and raised as my own with very little hesitation if their circumstances had warranted that possibility.

Also, if you work through the foster care system for your adoption you could do a foster to adopt program where you foster the child first, have a chance to get to know them, and then if they end up becoming available for adoption, you'd have the option to adopt.

To answer a few other common questions about foster care:
  • There is no age limit on being a foster parent. I heard it straight from a foster care agency representative. As long as you can basically get around then you are young enough to foster children.
  • You must attend training (in TX it's called PRIDE training and consists of 10 three hour sessions and be certified).
  • Single parents can be foster parents.
  • You can work and leave your foster children in daycare (sometimes state pays for the daycare sometimes not).

I don't have time to cover financing a non-foster care adoption right now, but there are resources out there to help you. This link has some great information and links to foundations that can help.

And when it comes down to it, God loves adoption and He funds what He favors.

You'd be surprised the creative ways to raise funds for an adoption. I've heard of people having garage sales with their own stuff and things friends donate to the cause, holding spaghetti dinners where they invite friends to come and contribute whatever, and selling everything from t-shirts they have printed up to handmade crafts.

Also, we've been surprised how much money we've been able to free up through changes in our spending. Canceling cable TV = $80 per month! You add up several changes like that and marvel at the results!

And, can I add that having a child biologically is not cheap, either? Prenatal care + maternity clothes + hospital delivery + newborn medical care + diapers those first few months of life that you may skip if you adopt a slightly older child!

I've know someone who has walked with many families through a variety of types of adoptions and he says he's never seen a couple that God called to adopt that did not figure out a way to fund the adoption.

If you still are not in a position to adopt a child, but want to help orphans, check out this link for other ways you can make a difference.

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How a 3 Year Old Naps

All moms have been there, right? The exact age varies by child, but usually around age 3 or 4, they stop napping every day.

They don't think they need that rest, but the meltdowns that begin around 5PM if they don't get a nap argue otherwise.

Even as actual naps subside, I insist on rest time. During the summer when my older kids were home, even my 7 year old had rest time. They don't have to sleep, but they must do something quietly, alone, for 45 minutes to an hour, like look at books, read (if they can), or play by themselves in their room.

Rest time maintains my sanity. It is, some days, my only break from the constant chatter, yelling, neediness, and messes.

I've found with all three of my kids that they go through a long period, lasting a year or more, where they don't nap every day, but more like every 3rd day. They try to stay up and just play quietly, but sometimes their little bodies just cave to the sleep.

This is how I found my 3 year old at the end of rest time today:

Completely passed out on the floor in the hallway on top of his Big Duke dog!

Because I like to be practical and not just say, "I insist on rest time," I'm going to break it down into how I have kept rest time through the years.

Each of my kids has gone through phases of challenging rest time, like the 7 year old at the beginning of summer or the 2 year old who is suddenly able to climb out of the crib.

But, you must stick to enforcing it and the phase will pass in a few days and you will have won yourself several more months of fairly drama-free rest times.

When kids are old enough to understand it (maybe around age 4) a great consequence for coming out of their room or being too loud during rest time is to tell them that because they are not resting, they now have 5 more minutes added to their rest time. And increase it as they protest more. They will get the message. Even my most stubborn one did!

With 2 and 3 year olds what has worked well for me is to allow them to choose if their door is opened or closed as I put them down for a nap, then if they come out too much or get too loud, I say, "Since you feel like being loud, I'll have to close your door." And my younger 2 hated this! They'd scream and cry and after a few minutes I'd open the door back and ask if they were ready to be quiet. If so then they could have their door opened again. But, if they are loud again or came out, I had to follow through right away and go back and close the door again, this time leaving it shut for a longer time.

It makes for a very tiresome rest time for a few days when you have a kid going through a period of challenging it, and it is so tempting to just let them get up, but trust me, stick with it, otherwise you will have lost the rest time war, possibly forever!

Find more Wordful Wednesday and Works for Me Wednesday here.



Monday, November 1, 2010

Children shouldn't have to hope for a family

It was around 16 months ago. My then 2 year old woke up in the middle of the night, which was pretty unusual for him. He didn't seem sick, so my guess was it was due to cutting his 2 year old molars.

He was crying, sobbing, but between the sobs I could make out him saying, "I want Mommy! I want Mommy!"

I carried him downstairs so he wouldn't wake up his older sister and brother. I held him, rocked him, and whispered over and over again, "Mommy's here. Mommy's here."

But, because children in need of families had been on our hearts so much lately, and we were praying about if adoption was something our family should pursue, as I held my toddler and he quieted, falling back to sleep in my arms, all I could think about were kids that wake up crying for a Mommy that never comes. I was grateful to be there to comfort my 2 year old, but my heart broke for kids just like him who wake up scared or hurt in the night without a Mommy to come to them.

Children need families. They need people they can count on to love them and be there for them for the rest of their lives.

I've heard the viewpoint that money spent on international adoptions would be better spent providing for the care of orphans in their home country and culture. Like, you could use that money to feed and medically care for several orphans, instead of just one. But, that argument ignores the fact that they'd still be orphans, and there is no price that you can put on a family. The best orphanage workers in the world cannot replace a family in a the life of a child.

November is National Adoption Month and this Sunday is Orphan Sunday.

There are over 145 million orphans in the world.

Are you the hope for 1? Is your church the hope for 50?

Hope is Fading – Orphan Sunday from Allan Rosenow on Vimeo.

This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.