Thursday, May 31, 2012

I couldn't wait to throw away those lunchboxes!

Today was the last day of elementary school for my 2 older kids.  I am so excited to start our easier summer schedule!  And have a 3 month break from packing lunches!  I celebrated by throwing their lunchboxes away.  They'd gotten pretty nasty throughout the year and all the washing them with baking soda or vinegar to get rid of the smells just never quite did the trick.  We'll start fresh in the Fall.


Somewhere between attending my 3rd grader's awards ceremony this morning and my 1st grader's end of the year luau lunch party, the 2 littles and I made cookies and this "Happy Summer" sign to help celebrate the occasion.  

Every year as an end of the year gift, I give each of my kids, even the preschool ones, a big (550 page) workbook for their next grade level, to keep them fresh over the summer.  It seems like a real "Seriously, Mom?" kind of gift, but the funny thing is my kids are always so excited with the workbooks that they immediately start working on them!

Then there was this:

Nothing like a slip n' slide to ring in summer!


After the slip n' slide fun was over, I dumped off the water and hung it up on the swingset to dry.  Then I got busy with laundry, dinner, helping little ones with workbook pages they wanted to do, and cleaning out the workbook drawer to make room for the new books.  Without thinking (or maybe because I was doing 4 things at once) I let the dog out into the backyard.  The light blonde dog that just got a bath and blow-dry yesterday thanks to an hour of work by my 9 year old and I.

A few minutes later, this showed up at the backdoor:

She apparently had a fine time rolling and rubbing around in the mud generated by the slip n' slide!

I declared her to forever more be an outdoor dog.

My husband came home from work about an hour later, though, had pity on the filthy creature and bathed her.


There's no school tomorrow and early swim team workouts don't start until next week, so what are the chances my kids sleep in, in the morning?

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

That will change your life!

I've written a bit about things people have said to us since we brought home our daughter from Ethiopia, but I haven't yet shared the best, most accurate comment.

It was from a lady I volunteered at church with a few years ago (before our adoption journey began), and in the years since I've just seen her in passing and we've exchanged pleasantries or I've inquired about her oldest child who was headed off to college.  But, somehow she didn't know about our adoption plans.  I ran into her a couple months after we brought our daughter home, she asked what we'd been up to and I mentioned that we'd been busy with our new little girl.  I quickly realized she didn't even ever know that we were in the process of an adoption and gave her the summarized version of everything, complete with our two trips to Ethiopia.

She paused for half a beat, smiled and said thoughtfully, "Wow, that will change your life!"

Yes, yes it will!  It has!  So much!

And not just in a way of adding a child to our family or adopting or becoming a multi-racial family or traveling to a 3rd world country or hugging many, many orphans (way more than we could ever adopt) or sitting in a tiny mud hut with an HIV+ woman and her little daughter and praying for them.

But, all of it combined and then some I haven't even mentioned?

World changed.

I really hadn't been able to put my finger on a good description, even in my own mind, for what has happened to us in the past couple of years, I certainly haven't felt like anyone else really understood, except other Ethiopia adoptive parents, maybe.

But, in a very succinct way, she nailed it.

Our world has been changed.

I know it is for the better.

But, change is hard.

And being changed, well, that's super hard.

Familiar things began to feel uncomfortable, foreign, sometimes even wrong, and we've found ourselves re-evaluating, debating just about everything.

Our family size, where we should live, how should we spend our money, what kind of house should we live in, what kind of cars should we drive, or maybe just sell the cars, donate the money to charity and ride bikes everywhere?, why do we have so much stuff cluttering our house and how do we get rid of it?, does the church we are members of still make sense for our family?, how do we want to raise our children?, what are our biggest priorities for their lives?, what is our parenting style?  is it working?  will it work for our adopted child as well?  how do we blend two cultures, two races into one family?, is our neighborhood diverse enough?, are our local public schools diverse enough?, what exactly is diverse enough?,  what kind of people should we be spending our time with?  should we just move to Africa and become missionaries?

What does it look like to follow Jesus?  Are we doing it?  Really doing it?

I don't have all the answers.  We've made changes, lots of changes, but still most days now I feel like I don't have any answers.  But, really it's not my answers I want anyway.  I guess I was just hoping for God to clearly spell out every detail for us, much in the same way He did when He called us to adopt (there were literally street signs, y'all).

But, one thing I'm seeing is that probably a key part of the process of following Jesus is in the asking of the questions.  He wants us to ask, to seek Him, daily. 

 "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23 (NIV) 
"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." Matt 7:7 (NLT)
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."  Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Beach Reactions

At the beach yesterday, my 3 year old daughter cried because the sand made her dirty,

while my 6 year old daughter gleefully coated her legs in sand by the handfuls!

Little Girl loved playing in the waves, though!

Monday, May 28, 2012

5 Months Home!

We spent so many months counting down, waiting, praying for her to come home.

Now praising God for the months she's been home!

Grateful for 5 months with her!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

There is no to-do list.

You'll be happy to know that I finally got around to updating my "About Me" page since two of my children have had birthdays so their ages were wrong, and oh yeah, it still said something about "hoping to be able to bring her home soon" for our 4th child, who has now been home exactly 5 months.  I know.  I am blowing your mind with how on top of things I am, right?

The sad thing is, it only took about 2 minutes to update, and so could have been tackled long ago.  But, really that's a typical theme in my life, letting millions and millions of 2 minute tasks pile up, until it all makes me so crazy that I just stop keeping a to-do list altogether because I don't want to know!

And, yes, speaking of blog maintenance, I am aware that we need another cereal bowl added to the blog header picture.  Can I let you in on a little secret?  That hasn't been our morning cereal bowl and cup set-up in probably over 3 years!  Do you feel misled?  It was what our counter looked like in the mornings when I started this blog.  And there are times I wish my 5 year old still drank out of that sippy cup and had the suction bowl!

So, the blog header picture update?  Is on the to-do list.

Well it would be, if you know, I actually were able to stick to the discipline of writing down or typing a to-do list and updating it regularly.  I recently tried anew with an iPhone app to keep track of my to-do list.  It lasted a whopping 2 weeks, the habit of checking it daily, doing things on the list, and adding new things!  But the whole cycle of crossing off 2 things and adding 7 more each day just made my head want to explode!  Am I more productive with a to-do list?  Probably, but much happier not knowing all that I have to do!  Turns out ignorance is bliss!


Love this time of year with fresh black-eyed peas from our garden!  They cook up so yummy; all the kids ate them and asked for seconds, doesn't hurt that I use bacon in the recipe!


I also harvested some lettuce from the garden for a salad a few days ago and found a small snail on one of the leaves (good thing for that thorough washing, wouldn't have wanted to bite into that!).  But, now we have a new pet.  One that is on his (her?) way out.  I have to talk the kids into setting it free tomorrow (just far from the garden so he doesn't eat any more of our lettuce); he keeps crawling all the way up to the top of the jar and trying to escape and really I just can't stand it any more, feels too cruel.


Last Friday was the last day of pre-school, but my elementary kids don't get out until next Thursday, so I've enjoyed hanging out with just my 2 little ones during the day this week!  I definitely haven't missed pre-school drop-off and pick-up - two less car trips each day- horray, horray!


We had not yet tackled the mound of stuff my 5 year old brought home from his last days of preschool and now the 2 oldest kids are bringing home tons of stuff every day -- school workbooks they are done with, rulers, journals, summer reading logs, projects, artwork, other random school supplies!  I'm ashamed to say it's all just piled up on the breakfast room table (the one we don't eat meals on since it's not big enough for our whole family).  The pile has become like an end-of-the-school-year centerpiece!  

Sometimes I really wish I was one of those moms who could just throw it all away without giving it a second thought.  I have a friend who does that.  As soon as it comes home, into the trash bag it goes.  But, no, I have to involve the kids in a whole sorting process - some trash, some keepsake, some kept to work on over the summer for fun or pass on to a younger sibling.  The problem is none of us has had any energy for the sorting process, hence the piles of clutter.  My friend needs to come over and do an intervention with her trash bags!


We could tackle the school stuff clutter over the long weekend and probably still have time to update the blog header, but a day trip to the beach is calling!


Happy weekend, Friends!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Thankful For

Thankful for

my four.

Four loud voices at 6:30am.

Four little people at breakfast.

Four children I get to watch grow up.

Four different personalities.

Four toothbrushes lined up on the counter.

Four clean little bodies tucked into bed.

Four good-night kisses.

For each day with you four.

For the privilege of being your mom.



Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dodging Awkward Adoption Questions

Prior to our adoption, one of the things the adoption community had prepared me for were the questions and comments we'd get from strangers being white Americans out and about with our dark-skinned Ethiopian daughter.  I can tell you so far (she's only been home 5 months) I've actually been surprised at the LACK of comments from strangers.  

Don't get me wrong, I've gotten some looks.  And I think I've also gotten really good at avoiding eye contact when I sense someone staring and perhaps about to say something to us, thus effectively shutting them down before they begin.  Occasionally I feel bad about this because I'm proud of our adoption, generally am happy to talk about it, and there is certainly so much of God woven into our story that I know there are situations where He could use it as a witness.  But, so far my daughter has needed so much of my attention that pretty much her plus my grocery list/errand/daily mission plus the deadline of needing to get somewhere to pick up other kids at a certain time is really all I can handle and I just haven't been able to add educating strangers to my plate.

Now, I have had many, many opportunities to share our story with casual acquaintances, people I knew before our adoption, just not really well, our kids are in school or activities together, etc.  But, now sitting next to those people at kid practices or standing with them at school pick-up, suddenly I've had many opportunities for deeper conversations than the small talk we had before, which is really cool and a privilege I don't take lightly!

While, I've been surprised at the lack of comments and questions from strangers, I've been equally surprised by the number of awkward questions about our child's history from people we know.

Thankfully I was prepared before our adoption, and understood the significance of keeping a child's history, particularly the details around how they became an orphan, private.  So, I knew not to answer people's questions about things like, "What happened to her parents?"  or "How many brothers and sisters did she have in her first family?"  or one that really came out of left-field, "Were her parents murdered?!!"

The short version of why we've chose not to share our daughter's private history is because we feel it is her story to tell to the people she feels comfortable sharing with when she is old enough to do so.  Like, how would she feel if in a few years she got to kindergarten at the school where her 3 older siblings attend(ed) and everyone knew the story of how she'd become an orphan because we'd told some people, who'd told some people, and over the years pretty much everyone knew?! 

Also, just to point out the obvious, there is never a happy story behind a child becoming an orphan.  Anything that can happen to or within a first family to make a child go to an orphanage just isn't really the stuff of every day topics of conversation.  These are deep, emotional stories that are not to be tossed around lightly.

So, I've been really stumped about how to get out of these situations gracefully, because I don't want to respond rudely or make the person asking feel bad.  I know there are some in the adoption community who believe you should make people feel bad for asking these types of questions, but I'd rather go with grace, God knows I need tons of it daily!  And really I'm not sure that I wouldn't have made a similar mistake a few years ago before we learned so much about adoption.  

Also, there's been the tricky aspect that a few times the person asking is a person I really don't want to offend like a parent of one of my older kids' friends or one of my older kids' teachers!

But, I think I actually did figure out a way to get out of the situation gracefully!  Okay, well, here's my definition of "getting out of it gracefully":

1. I don't divulge any sensitive info. about my daughter's past.

2. The person stops asking, meaning they don't keep pushing for an answer and I get to actually walk away!

3.  I don't feel guilty at all later because I truly don't think I was rude or hurt anyone's feelings (which is probably way more important to me than it should be, I am a people-pleaser by nature!)

So, here's what I do to respond to any question like, "How did she become an orphan?" or "What happened to her biological parents/first family?"  

I say, "There are a lot of reasons children become orphans in Ethiopia.  Some are relinquished by birth parents for reasons similar to those we see here in the U.S.  - the birth mother was young, it was an unplanned pregnancy, they had no way to provide for the child, etc.  Also, some have parents die.  It is very sad in Ethiopia that people die of so many things that basic medical care could cure.  Did you know that in Ethiopia only 5% of women give birth in a hospital?  It's true!  So many women still die in childbirth over there, often leaving not only the newborn baby an orphan but 4 or 5 other older children!  Also, I've heard a story of a birth mother dying from a cut on her hand.  Something that here in the U.S. would only require a few stitches and some antibiotics and we'd be on with our day in a matter of hours, but that injury kills people in Ethiopia!  And leaves children orphans, or leaves them with one birth parent who now faces the impossible task of caring for a small child/baby while also working to provide food for their family in a place with nearly no childcare!  If they do not have family support, they often are forced to make a hard decision to give that child up for adoption.  Then there are cases where parents have tried for months or years to care for a child and they are either too sick or too poor to do it any longer, they realize their child will likely die if they do not give the child up or abandon it.  They make a long walk to an orphanage or if there is not one anywhere near their city or village, they leave the child in a public place hoping (and likely praying, Ethiopia is predominately Christian) someone will find the child and be able to get them to a home where they can be cared for.  I cannot imagine the agony of that decision!"

And by the time I get done with that long answer the person doesn't ask, "So which reason is it for your child?"  Really, I honestly don't think they realize I've dodged their question until probably much later and then I also think they get the message that I want to keep that private.

I happened upon this way of answering that awkward line of questioning totally in desperation in the heat of the moment, but it really works!  I've used it many times now!

If anyone reading this has asked me this question and gotten my dodging response, please don't feel bad, I truly don't hold any grudges at all.  I just wanted to share this on the blog in case it helps other adoptive families dealing with the same issue of wanting to get out of that question gracefully!  We are all in this together!

P.S.  I really want someone to ask me, "Who do you think you are Angelina Jolie?!!"  because I think it would be really fun to reply, "Yes, yes I do."  But, sigh, nobody's asked that one yet.

Monday, May 21, 2012

How to Entertain a 3-Year Old

I've had a 3-year old before.  Actually, I've had 3 years of experience parenting a 3 year old before my current 3 year old.  But, my daughter who is 3 now, joined our family through adoption.  And that adoption dynamic turns so much of parenting upside down. 

It is refreshing, though, when a universal truth shines through.  When experience DOES help.

Like, NEVER take a potty-trained 3 year old anywhere without having them go potty first.

This is true no matter the way that child entered your family.

Of course, there is sometimes some convincing involved to get that child to "just try" to go potty, but even then, the old standby of, "We'll get in the car just as soon as you try to go potty." works most of the time even with the strong-willed.

I found another universal truth recently.

All my kids at age 3 loved to cut things with scissors, entertained for long periods of time making thousands of tiny snips!

A catalog I don't want any more + some super dull scissors (so dull they won't cut hair or clothes!) = 10 minutes for me to eat breakfast in peace!

It's like magic!

I just have to be sure to put those scissors up when she's done before Big Brother or Big Sister's homework gets cut to bits!

Don't ask if I've learned that from experience!

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

You can always count on us for some chaos!

In our living room we have a leather ottoman instead of a coffee table.  It worked great when the kids were toddlers and we didn't have to worry about them bumping their heads on it.  Now it's comfy to stretch our legs out on.  And the dog enjoys that for some reason we allow her to get on it when she is not allowed on the other furniture!

Tonight the dog ran into the house after her nightly walk with my husband and she immediately jumped up onto the ottoman and settled down to chew on something.  I thought it was a little strange that she ran right in and grabbed her chew bone, so I was suspicious that it was something else she was chewing on, something she'd picked up on her walk.  My husband has told me many times that he's always getting her to spit out dead frogs she picks up off the street while they are walking, so I was really hoping that was not what she had.

But, sure enough, it was!  Look there on the end of the ottoman!

A dead frog, right there in the middle of my living room (actually in the same spot where the dead beetle was during our last adoption caseworker visit), on top of the ottoman!

Because we are not really grown-ups, my husband and I had a little "Not me!" back and forth argument about which one of us was going to get rid of the dead frog.  We both thought it was just too gross to deal with.

I even brought out the big guns for my argument with, "Just think of all the dirty diapers I've changed!"

He knew he was beat and said if I'd hold the dog off so she couldn't get it again then he'd pick it up.

He decked out in rubber gloves while I grabbed the camera and snapped a picture to show the kids in the morning!

Really, I just couldn't make this chaos up!


We've been talking with Little Girl a bit lately about the concept of a "full name", and letting her practice saying her own full name complete with first, middle and last names.

I was putting my make-up on the other morning and she walked in and asked me what my "name full" was (our English language structure with the whole adjective then noun order is tough, but makes for cute mistakes, like the way she calls Puff the Magic Dragon, "Dragon Puff").  I told her my full name and said, "But you get to call me 'Mommy'."

She paused for half a beat, pointed at her brother and said, "But he calls you 'Mom!'"

She's a smart one, that Little Girl!  

I really need to instigate the rule that you must at least be able to read before you switch from calling me "Mommy" to "Mom"!


We got a new couch this week.  Actually it's a sectional.  Our last couch we'd had for I-can't-even-remember-how-long and it really only seated 3 of us comfortably, then we had 2 other chairs in our living room, neither all that comfortable, but at least usable for family movie night, but ever since we've been a family of 6, my oldest has been sitting on the floor for movies!  We really needed more seating.  Our living room is not very big, so my husband had to measure a bunch of times and draw a scaled diagram to figure out what configuration of sectional would even fit.

It was delivered this week and is such a perfect fit that the delivery guys made the comment, "Someone must have done their measurements!"  I admitted that, "My husband has an engineering background."

But, the problem is that I had it all set up for the day before our new sectional was to be delivered, a charity was going to come pick-up our old couch.  But, they didn't show up to collect our couch for donation!  My husband and I were forced to move the old couch outside onto the covered patio to make room for the new couch delivery.  I was all, "Look!  Now we have fancy outdoor furniture just like all the catalogs are showing!"  He he!

No, instead we've covered it with a blue tarp and I've got another charity lined up to come tomorrow.  Only I can't actually be home to let them in all day, so my plan is to have my husband help me move the couch onto the driveway in the morning and then leave a note on the front door that says, "The donation is on the driveway!"  Here's to hoping the plan works and somehow that couch is gone by the time I get home tomorrow afternoon.  Anyone looking for a 10 year old couch (that I promise, miraculously was never thrown-up on), feel free to drive by our house tomorrow!


Happy, happy, dead-frog-free Friday!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ever-present Friends

My children are each other's best friends.

Sure they squabble at times, tattle, and can drive each other (and me) crazy!

But, there are also great adventures, charming make-believe, giggles, and gleeful shouts.

Today 3 of the 4 had a dirt picnic in the backyard after swim team practice.  

(I am happy to report that no dirt was actually eaten, just pretend!)

Their lives are so much better for having each other.

May that always be true!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What could be more peaceful than a family hike?

My four children standing in age order (oldest to youngest) staring out across a tranquil pond, complete with lily pads:

What could be more peaceful, more perfect?

And actually that moment, all 60 seconds of it, WAS peaceful.

My husband and I even sat back on a bench, so confident we were that nobody was going to fall or jump in!


if you have kids (especially more than 1 or 2), you might know that there were many, many moments leading up to that picture and following that picture that were far from peaceful!

That picture was taken a few weeks ago when we thought it would be fun to do a little hiking as a family.  Hiking that also ended up combining some biking for my littlest kids, hence Little Girl's sporting of the bike helmet in the picture.

Hiking that entailed some hot weather, bugs, a nature center that closed before the kids had a chance to really see everything inside that they wanted to, an irrational fear of snakes by one child, egging on by other children, and well, WALKING and some children's desires not to have to walk while on a hike (I know!  My husband and I remind each other often that we are not exactly dealing with rational human beings while parenting our children)! 

There was a lot of whining and loud fussing.  Which all had me exclaiming, "Really I assure you there is no need to worry about the snakes because with this commotion they are slithering the other way, away from you people!"

But, then we got to the pond I knew was there and pressed on to find despite my oldest son and husband's map wielding insistence that the marsh we'd walked through was actually the pond, just mostly dried up!  And it was so pretty, there were no signs of alligators that the snake-fearing child was equally worried about, and all four of the children were content to stare down into the pond in awe of the turtles and fish swimming around.

It was worth it.

The whining, the heat, the annoying behavior, all we had to endure to get to that moment. 

 I could have just posted that picture of the kids without the backstory, I guess I'm feeling the need to keep it real around here!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Motherless

I read this post by Kristen at Rage Against the Minivan and it so well summed up what has become of my thought processes over the past couple of years and most intensely over the past year since visiting orphanages, meeting my own child at an orphanage, adopting her, and bringing her home.  Seeing with your own eyes hundreds and hundreds of orphans, learning their names, hugging them, suddenly puts so many other issues of life into perspective.

Yesterday in church there was a video about mothers and all the work they do in the backgrounds of their children's lives and all I could think while watching was, "Some kids don't have one!  A mother.  Some kids don't have one."

My youngest daughter didn't have one either for a while.  The scars from that reality are heartbreaking.

A few weeks ago we tried to leave our daughter at the church nursery for an hour while we attended service, we waited several months to even try it because we imagined it would be a hard scenario for her.  Separation anxiety is normal in kids, but for kids who have known the forever loss of their first family, being left can be truly terrifying.

The first try leaving her didn't go well, at all.

She freaked out and would not stay in her classroom, even with my husband and me sitting in the back of the room.  Her behavior became really uncooperative, even her language skills regressed in those moments.  I could see past the frustrating scene and recognize what we were really dealing with was fear.

She wanted to see all the rooms of the nursery area, so I walked my 3 year old past each room, holding her hand, peering in from the doorway.  Even I could pick up on some similarities between that setting and the orphanage she had been in in Ethiopia.  Rooms were divided by age, some of them had cribs lining the walls of the room, there were several children and about two care givers in each room.

Although she didn't verbalize it to us, I imagine that she was afraid we were going to leave her there and never come back.

So, so sad for a child to have a real reason to believe that was a possibility!

Thankfully, her little class has playtime in the gym at one point every Sunday morning.  The gym wasn't scary at all to my girl.  There was no gym at her orphanage!  And she loves to run and play.  This was a huge room where she could do just that and kick soccer balls, too.  I took her in there while her class was in the gym and sat off to the side where she could easily see me, but she left my side quickly in chase after a ball.  Have I mentioned Little Girl is fast?  Well, she is, even in a smocked dress and sandals!  And she happily tore all around that gym!  Then when her class lined up to go back to their classroom she lined up too, of course checking to make sure I joined the line!  But she was content to hold hands with another child and not me!

The kids had some water and heard a story for about 10 minutes and then parents started picking them up.  I know I was completely obnoxious with this, but each time a parent came for a child I'd say enthusiastically to my little girl, "Look!  Hannah's mommy came back!  Hannah's going home!  Hannah does not live here.  Hannah comes here for church and then she goes home!"  "Look!  Ethan's dad is here!  He came back!  Ethan is going HOME!"  And on and on I went through about nine children.  I kid you not!

The two young ladies who work in my daughter's room probably think I'm nuts, but they were so sweet to my little girl and really are very gifted at working with preschool-aged children!

I counted it huge progress the next week when my daughter willingly walked in the room, after watching me take my seat on a 3-year-old sized chair in the back.

I spent the next few Sundays in the 3 year old room.  A human crutch.

And at home we read the book Llama Llama Misses Mama a ton and talked over and over again about how Mama would always come back.

Then we thought she was ready and really talked it up for this past Sunday for her to stay without Mommy at church.  Even getting out of the car she started some squirrely behavior and I got this feeling in the pit of my stomach that, "Oh no, this is not going to go well."  I prayed right then for God to, "Please calm this child.  Give her peace, take away her fear."

We walked into the nursery area and she said, "Bye Mom!"  Waved and ran to her room!

Seriously.  She really did.

I gave the teachers my cell number, set it on vibrate, and clutched it hard the whole church service.  But, it never went off.  The first sermon I've heard live in 5 months!

As we hurried to the nursery to get her, I joked to my husband that maybe I'd written a number down wrong when I gave them my cell number and really she's been freaking out the whole time, they just couldn't reach us!

She was happy when we got to her room!  Her teachers said she did great.

A Mother's Day miracle, for sure!

Praise God for healing, for progress!  We still have a ways to go, and it's certainly not the easy road, but we are grateful for the privilege to walk it.

Praying, especially today, for the kids walking alone.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Yes, please give me cleanliness for Mother's Day!

Overheard at the breakfast table this week:  

the 5 year old to his 3 year old sister: "You're loud!"  

the 3 year old:  "No!  I'm not loud, I'm (insert her name here)!"


Well, we've only watched a couple shows and still all love it!  But, my husband also had the brilliant idea of ordering Brady Bunch via Netflix!  It came last week and we haven't had time to watch, yet.  How out of control is that?!!  Can't wait to introduce my kids to Marcia, Jan, Cindy, Greg, Peter, and Bobby!  How weird are my kids going to be -- they have no idea about any modern-day shows on TV right now (and I intend to keep it that way for as long as possible), they are going to be talking to their friends at school about Little House and Brady Bunch!


I made these granola power balls yesterday and they are so good!  Really easy and healthy with flax seed and oats!  I used Sunbutter (made from sunflower seeds) instead of peanut butter because we have a child with a peanut allergy.


Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!  

My 6 year old daughter already gave me the best gift -- coupons for her to clean any room I want!  She gave me 3 coupons and said I could use each one 3 times -- awesome!!  And as an aside, that particular child is my best cleaner, she totally gets my organizational systems and actually puts things away where they go, unlike her brothers who think nothing about cramming things under the bed and calling the room "clean", so her cleaning services are worth GOLD!


Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Seams

I saw a friend recently that I've known for several years, but haven't seen since we have been home with our new daughter.  She asked me how things were going (she doesn't know about my blog to read it).  I gave my usual answer that really our new little girl is doing amazingly well, that we were prepared for the worst and things have gone better than we expected.  (Which is all true!)

Then she asked, "So, was it seamless?"

I was very confused at that question, so I repeated it, "Seamless?"

She said, "Bringing her into your family, was it seamless?"

Actually that's what I initially imagined she meant by the question, but thought, "Surely, no, that's not what she means."  

Because, really??

If a 3 year old raised in your family were one day placed in my family, we'd have issues, seams, because families are just different and there is a steep adjustment for both the new child and the rest of the family.  And that would be a 3 year old who was used to living in a family, used to the American way of life, and spoke English!

Four and a half months ago we took a 3 year old child who had lived her entire life in Ethiopia, 13 months of that time in two different orphanages, who didn't speak any English, flew to America, and brought her home to our family as our daughter/sister.

Has it all gone better than we expected?  Yes!

Seamless?  Oh no!  Not even close!

I'm not offended at all by the question and hold nothing against my friend for asking it that way.  My husband and I just had a good laugh about it later!  

I simply replied, "No, not seamless."  Of course then she asked about issues we'd had and being that all four of my children were nearby, I just answered pretty generically about some of the challenges.

I know my friend's intention, and from being in a Bible study together a few years ago, I know her heart, she was truly happy for my family and our conversation was short as we ran into each other unexpectedly, she likely just wanted to tie a neat bow around the whole thing, kind of giving our adoption story a happily-ever-after ending. 

But, that's never reality, and while I try to focus mostly on the positives, it's just not accurate to say that's all there is.  The truth is, there are often times the seams bring all of us to the end of ourselves.

But, the beautiful thing is that God is there in the seams and I am so thankful that He is creating something beautiful despite us, despite the seams.  And really, I've lived long enough to see that God does some of His best work with a lot of seams!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spinach Popsicles!

Wanna know what's even more awesome than getting your kids to drink spinach smoothies?

Getting them to eat SPINACH POPSICLES!

Seriously, you can't help but laugh when you see them actually eating them!  And then you can totally justify in your mind that it's okay to feed them hotdogs for dinner two different times later that week, 'cause, you know, they ate spinach popsicles on Saturday!

I promise that is just his this-is-really-cold face, rather than his this-is-gross face.  The kids liked them!

In fact, 3 out of 4 of my kids finished all of theirs!  And that 1 child that only ate half, she lived the first three years of her life in Ethiopia and is still kind of weirded out by super cold food!

I just used the recipe here for the smoothies and had some left-over one day and decided to freeze it in our popsicle molds.

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Can you tell she has big brothers?

My daughters definitely have their girly sides.

That little 3 year old in the photo above spent most of the day in a yellow sparkly princess dress!  

Below, the 6 year old daughter is even having a water gun fight while wearing her pink tutu skirt!

But, there is a tough side that having two brothers has given my girls!

Like so many other experiences these past few months, not-so-new-anymore-Little Girl took to the concept of water guns quickly and enthusiastically!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday!

I promise I'm not to going complain about how busy the week was and whine about wanting summer to get here so we can quit running around like crazy people!  But, I will admit that we've had hot dogs for dinner not once, but twice this week!  Y'all, I never make hot dogs (okay maybe 3 or 4 times a year), typically opting for something more healthy to cook for my family, but all four my kids love them and they are so easy to boil and just put onto buns!  Yeah, it was that kind of week.


I usually make my kids take their sheets off their beds and bring them to the laundry room when I wash sheets, but this week the kids were so busy, I stripped the beds myself one day while the two older, top-bunk sleeping kids were at school.  

When I crawled up onto my 6-year-old daughter's top bunk, I was totally overwhelmed with the amount of stuff up there!  I've never seen an episode of the TV show Hoaders, but I've heard friends talk about it enough to fear my daughter could be a candidate for the show!

I stuck everything in a laundry basket and am going to make her go through it all this weekend, I already broke the news to her that she just could not keep that much stuff in her bed!

The stuff filled up the entire basket and overflowed onto the floor!  Many stuffed animals, several dolls, 10 to 20 books, a frog beach ball, a foam rocket-launcher she got from treasure at school, various bead jewelry pieces she made with our bead kit, paper bag puppets she made last week, a snow globe, and on and on it goes!

 Peeling off the top layer so you can see a bit underneath:

I suspect what is really going on here has a little something to do with that 6-year-old's desire to keep these things away from a certain 3-year-old little sister she shares a room with.  A 3-year-old I don't allow up on the top bunk!

But, that 6-year-old does have a fairly good sized "treasure box" I've allowed her to keep some prized possessions in and I don't let her little sister get in that box!  The treasure box is overflowing, so I think it's time for another discussion about cleaning-out.  Maybe I can even throw in a little Bible verse about storing up our treasures in heaven rather than on earth (Matt 6:19-20)!  Wish me luck with this intervention!


Have I ever mentioned how many times each day I hear one of my kids say, "Mom or Mommy"?  I've never really counted, but it's gotta be close to eleventy-billion!  Typically I love it, I mean it is such a blessing to get to be their Mommy, but sometimes (like when 3 or 4 of them are saying it at the same time from different regions of the house), it kinda can drive me nuts!  So, this week when Little Girl made up a song with the Lyrics, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy," just to sing for fun, I was less than enthused.  Does it make me a bad person if I suggested to her that maybe the song, "Doggy, Doggy, Doggy, Doggy" would be a better one to sing?  Probably.  Yes, I feel sure the answer to that question is "yes".


Happy Friday, Friends! 

Mommy's Idea