Thursday, August 30, 2012

Having my kids go to school wears me out!

Nearing the end of our 1st week back-to-school and we are all dog tired!

I was sitting in a parent orientation with a fellow mom in my youngest daughter's preschool classroom and she was saying, "I'm just so tired!  I don't know why, I'm just tired."  I know she has an elementary-aged son in addition to the 3 year old girl who is in my daughter's class.  I said, "It's back-to-school.  The getting up early, the simultaneously packing lunches and serving breakfast, getting everyone out the door before 8am, rounding everyone back up at pick-up time, dealing with all the forms sent home from school, not to mention navigating the moodiness of extra-tired kids in the late afternoon hours!"  She was like, "That's it!  I hadn't thought of it until you said that, but that's exactly why I'm so tired!"

I'm so glad we have the 3 day weekend coming up to rest and re-group before another week!


Might I also mention the 6 page registration packet I had to fill out on each of my 3 elementary school kids?  Homework for moms is not cool, not cool at all!


This is probably, okay definitely, not the best time to try giving up my daily Coke Zero, but I'm doing it anyway.  It's something I've wanted to do for a long time for health benefits.  I have some cancer history and lately there's been a ton of stuff coming out about the hazards of that caramel coloring.  I'm substituting iced green tea because I've also been wanting to add green tea into my diet for its health benefits, but so far it doesn't give me quite the same energy burst to breeze through my afternoons of ballet/soccer/swim lessons/homework-shepherding/dinner-making, hence the dog tiredness. 


On a happier food front, I'm loving my latest go-to lunch for myself.  It is a whole-wheat tortilla I spread with hummus then add spinach leaves, sliced tomatoes, sliced yellow and red bell peppers and roll the whole thing up -- yum!  Really, don't knock it until you've tried it.


This week I've also decided that it's easier to have all 4 of my children home with me all day than it is to just have my 3 year old.  

Turns out over the summer her siblings filled much of Little Girl's need for constant attention and entertainment.  And days like today when she doesn't have preschool and it's just she and I?  No matter how much one-on-one, quality time I give her, as soon as I shift gears to tackle something on my to-list it starts.  Literally every 15 seconds it's something.  "Mommy!"  "Mommy look at me!"  "Let's play game!"  "I'm thirsty."  "Let's go outside!" "Oh no, look, I spilled my water!  My shirt is wet, can I change clothes?" "Where are we going today?"  "I'm hungry"  "Is it time to pick up the kids from school?"  "Is it my school day?"  "Swim lessons?!!"  "No swim lessons!  Why not?"  "Can I help you cook mom?"  I let her stir but she's not satisfied.  "I can cut with the knife.  I'll show you.  I can do it.  I am bigger, Mom.  I am!"  "Mom, don't you think I'm bigger?"

And that's just a glimpse of about 3 minutes of my day!

So, all that could explain the dog tired, too.


It will get easier, I know it will.  

I remember this time with my 3rd child before he was old enough to go to big school with his older siblings and he pestered me to no end the first couple of weeks.  

And we'll all settle into the new routine and then making 3 lunches while serving 4 breakfasts and helping littles put on socks will not wear me out, right? 


 My house does stay cleaner, though, when all four children are not home all day.  I can pick things up and they sort of stay clean until 3:15 when the house blows up again!


I found this little happy note while straightening the playroom.  The 9 year old must have written this note for his 7 year old sister when she was sick the beginning of the week.

Makes me happy that they care about each other!


Now I intend to stop blogging about how tired I am and just go to bed.  You're welcome!

Happy Friday, Friends!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Day of School

It has been a busy week getting the kids back to school!  

We had some sickness in the house so my 7 year old's first day of 2nd grade was actually on the third day of school.  But, she's well now and had a great day today at school.  

I'm thankful that so far so good!  No tears.  Everyone is happy with school, my new little kindergartener is behaving himself in his class and even Little Girl started 2 day a week morning preschool and did great!  One of her teachers even told me at the parent orientation night after the 2nd day that she was "the smartest kid in the class!"  Hehe.  That kid I feel like I can brag on because any successes she has are not at all due to our efforts or genetics, just one big God!  I mean, really, she's in a classroom of kids that all most likely had the best starts in life -- 2 caring and interested parents, the best nutrition, medical care, maybe even baby classes like Gymboree -- yet her very experienced preschool teacher thinks Little Girl who suffered malnutrition, lived 13 months in Ethiopian orphanages, and has only been in American for 8 months is the smartest?

First day pictures that totally seem to say, "My mom drug me out on the porch, made me hold this sign, and told me to smile!":

P.S.  Anyone willing, please come sweep my front porch!  Oh my, is it really that dirty?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Re-Adoption Day!

The paperwork and red tape seems to never end with an adoption.  For real, nobody and I mean NOBODY tell me it's easier to have a child through adoption than biologically -- I've done both and I assure you that statement is very far from the truth!  But, we can see the end of the tunnel o' paperwork and government hassles!

One of our final steps was re-adoption here in the U.S.

After an investigation and court proceedings, our daughter's adoption was finalized in an Ethiopian court last October.  We were issued an Ethiopian birth certificate with my husband and I listed as the parents of our new little girl with her name being her Ethiopian first name, my husband's first name as her middle name (this is a standard in Ethiopian adoptions and was not our choice) and then our last name as her last name.  Then there was a separate investigation done by our U.S. government in the American embassy in Ethiopia.  That investigation reached a favorable outcome last December.  Our daughter was issued a Visa allowing us to go get her and bring her into the U.S. where she became an American citizen when she landed on U.S. soil here in Texas.

She was legally our daughter by both U.S. and Ethiopian law.  She was an American citizen, she was living with us permanently.  We'd already adopted her, so why the need to re-adopt?

Well, the re-adoption allowed us to get the adoption recognized by the state of Texas (where we live), thus the U.S. government (again) and now we'll get a U.S. birth certificate which is much easier to use to turn in at schools and such than the Ethiopian document, not to mention replace if it was ever lost.  Also, we were able to change her name from her Ethiopian name to her American name.  And there are also some legal technicalities that were cleaned up by doing the re-adoption, like some weirdness around inheritance rights.  Before it would have been possible for our biological children to fight our adopted child for her inheritance when my husband and I pass away.  Heaven forbid our biological children would have wanted to do that, but now our new little girl holds the same legal status as our other three children, which is as it should be.

There.  Enough legal jargon.  On to the excitement of the day!

We drove to a county about 3 hours away from us because we tried this re-adoption in our own county and it was going to be a huge ordeal requiring an attorney to represent our daughter in addition to our own attorney and a lengthy, expensive process.  My husband and I spent several hours one morning (golden hours where all 4 of our kids were being babysat, no less) sitting in a judge's courtroom waiting for him to hear our case just to tell us the ordeal it was going to be!  And while we waited through numerous other cases, the judge kept making snide comments and jokes about Ethiopia, like his questions to an African-looking man, "Hi, Sir, maybe you can tell me something about Ethiopia?"  "Oh, you're not from Ethiopia, well maybe you can at least tell me where it is on a map, because I don't know and they're wanting me to sign off on an adoption done by Ethiopian law!"

Praise God we learned through a fellow adoptive family of a saint of an attorney who worked in another county where the judge was more than happy to sign-off on our adoption and our daughter's legal status in our family!  The judge's exact words were, "It would be my pleasure!"  He had chairs pulled up for the kids to stand on and had us all raise our right hands and even asked my kids questions about if they wanted this adoption (they all 4 said yes).  I loved it because we have been all about this being a family thing my kids were actively a part of since the beginning rather that it just being something that happened to them.

And the judge let us pose for pictures with him.

He's a rock star of a judge, both for the way he appreciates and treats adoptive families (you would not believe how many people treat adoptive families like the enemy) and literally because he plays in a rock band as a side jig (hence the cymbals in his courtroom).  My oldest son now has aspirations to be a judge!

To celebrate and since we drove 3 hours and all, we took in a nearby amusement park and spent the night in a hotel!

Little Girl LOVES roller-coasters!  She laughed the whole time and wanted to ride "Again!  Again!".  Thankfully there was no line!

Little Girl pouts A LOT when told she's not big enough for certain roller-coasters (especially ones her older siblings can ride), "I am bigger!!!  I AM!"

Happy, happy Re-Adoption Day!  At least with all the hassles involved with adoption, there is much to celebrate as well!

We are thankful. 

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

His First Day of Kindergarten

Tomorrow I'll send another baby off to kindergarten.  My 3rd child in big school!  I just can't believe it.  This one?  He was supposed to stay little forever!  

To remind myself of what I've already learned, I'm re-posting this below from sending my firstborn to kindergarten 4 years ago. 

***Originally published on February 9, 2009***

Okay, so this is technically in the past, but I was not blogging in August when my firstborn started kindergarten and it is one of those mom milestones, so please allow me to share!

For starters, his first day of kindergarten was not the first day of kindergarten. Yes, I do believe he is the first person to miss the first day of his entire real school career! School was to start on Monday, and the Sunday prior my husband and I were sitting in our Bible Study class when his cell phone vibrated, our 5 year old was in the preschool department throwing up. As we rushed to him I had already begun the panic, “He'll miss his first day of kindergarten!”

I tried not to freak out my child, but on the inside I was freaking out! “What would this mean? Would he be behind for the rest of the school year? The rest of his elementary school years, even? Well, now we can kiss the perfect attendance award good-bye!” All of these things I was thinking. I shared my neurosis with my husband and he jumped on the chance to poke a little fun at me, “Oh yes,” he said, “I'm sure even in high school it will haunt him. His teachers will say, 'we covered this the first day of kindergarten, too bad you missed it!'”

So his first day was actually the 2nd day for everyone else and that made it harder, but maybe easier. The first day the parents walked the kids to their classroom and had a longer goodbye. The second day the parents were suppose to drop the kids off in the cafeteria and say goodbye before the teachers came to get them and walk them to class.

So there I am dropping my beloved son off at big school, in a cafeteria full of kids to spend 7 hours with a teacher we met for 5 minutes the week before. And to top it off, he had not vomited in over 24 hours, but was still looking rather pale. “He needs his mommy!” my heart screamed at me. But, as the 1st bell rang, he whispered to me, “Mom, you have to go.”

All I could do was walk away and pray that God would take care of him and that if there were any tough situations that they would serve to build his character for the better.

You know people always say, “I don’t know how people go through serious illness, death of a close family member, etc. without relying on God.” Well, I absolutely agree with that question, but now I have one more. How does anyone send their kid off to kindergarten without believing in God? Without believing that there is someone, and a huge all-knowing, all-powerful someone that loves my kid even more than I do and knows them better than I do, that is watching out for them.

It doesn’t mean that it is always going to be easy, in fact, God gives us struggles to grow us into the people he wants us to be. James 1:2-4, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Oh, it is so hard, though, to “consider it all joy” when your precious offspring is going through something tough. It would be easier to endure the hardship yourself than have your child suffer even a little! But if we completely shelter our kids from anything difficult in this world -- that not so nice teacher, other kids who may not always be kind or Christian-like, getting a zero for an incomplete assignment, not making the basketball team, not being invited to the party, sitting out the entire game because they were late – then are we not hampering God’s ability to work in our child’s life?

Consider the story you may have heard about the man who while watching a butterfly struggling through a small hole trying to emerge from his cocoon, reached down and widened the hole a little. The butterfly was never able to fly. He spent his entire life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. What the man didn’t know was that the butterfly needed that struggle getting free from the cocoon to push fluid out of his body and into his wings in order for him to able to fly.

It is so hard, this letting-go process with our children! But this Tuesday, and every day I am thankful that God is in control of my children’s lives and that He is good! I just pray that when they drop my hand in the cafeteria they grab onto His!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bye-Bye-Summer-Vacation Festivities

We are saying "Bye" to summer with some big fun.  There's more to come this weekend, but today we had "Outdoor Day" at home:

No, they don't really all fit in that wading pool, but togetherness is it's own kind of fun!

Shaving cream is a hit for all ages!

And of course there had to be Popsicles!

Guess who wanted to come out and join in the fun but was trapped inside because she'd just gone to the groomer yesterday and would have rolled in the muddy water in about 3 seconds flat?

I'm always a little sad when summer winds down.  I enjoy having my children at home and kind of hate sending them back to school.  But, my kids love school and they learn so much there.  We are so blessed with a wonderful public elementary school just minutes away!  I can't even count the life lessons my kids have gained from public school that I could never teach them at home.  So, off they'll go on Monday (even one heading off to kindergarten - I'll repost my kindergarten post from years past this weekend), but we are going to really enjoy these last few days of summer vacation!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Easier Mornings

We are about to start back to school and with it comes the crazier schedule.

One thing that really helps us get the kids out the door easier in the mornings before school is having a set of kid toothbrushes in our half-bath that is right by our backdoor.  

The kids have toothbrushes in their bathroom upstairs, but sending them back up after breakfast to brush was a recipe for disaster as they'd get distracted playing and we couldn't really monitor who had brushed and who hadn't.  Having a 2nd set of toothbrushes downstairs means all four kids for sure get their teeth brushed before school and we can get them out the door with a bit less hassle!

This one little tip really helps save my sanity!

Do you have any tips for easier mornings?

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Front Row Seat to the Extraordinary!

That picture is from last month and my 3 year old daughter's first two weeks of swim lessons. 

She's floating on her back.  Pretty good for a 3 year old, but not mind-blowing, unless you know her story.

That little girl lived in an orphanage in Ethiopia 9 months ago!

She was a female orphan over the age of infancy in a 3rd world country.   A pretty low state of being by the world's standards with typically a terrible life prognosis.

So, every time I see her achieve a regular-American-kid milestone, it leaves me in awe of our miracle-working God!

She has come so far!  And anyone who has spent time with her would tell you, this little girl can take on the world.  She has a future and a hope, not only with her Heavenly Father someday, but here on this very earth, this side of eternity!  Without the chains of poverty or the stigma of the term "orphan" and with the security and love of a family, a whole new world was opened up to her.

He redeemed her life.

Not us.  Him! 

Please hear me out on this.  We fall short every single day.  The only thing we did out of the ordinary was say "Yes" to an extraordinary God.

And now we get a front row seat to every day miracles.

I want her to be a regular kid.  I don't want her to feel strange or singled-out.  But sometimes I just want a banner to exclaim how amazing it is that she fits right in with "regular" kids despite her very irregular first 3 years of life.

Today we visited her new preschool class, the one she'll attend 2 days per week starting next Monday.  Her teachers taught my older 3 kids, they know some of her story, enough that together we shared some moments of awe today watching Little Girl take to her new classroom.

God's in the business of redemption.  He changes lives!
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine."  Isaiah 43:1

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Banner Day!

I took my 4 kids to the dentist today by myself (my husband didn't even come along like last time) and it was so much better than 6 months ago!  Don't think I didn't try to change pediatric dentists after that February visit, but the one I tried switching to that is super close to my house and several of my friends use and love, well, the insurance would only cover 90% of that dentist and they cover 100% at our other place, plus the new dentist I tried calling was pretty weird about my trying to schedule my 4 kids all at the same time.  It all gave me new appreciation for the old dentist that doesn't bat an eye about bringing all 4 of my kids at the same time!  

And then today went really well.  Thankfully!  I was dreading it.  I'm glad my older kids were really mature about going off into the x-ray room without me, so I could stay back with the 2 younger ones in the exam room.  We had a good assembly line going - one kid getting cleaned by the hygienist, one off getting x-rays, and one getting looked at by the dentist.  We just cycled them through in age order, oldest to youngest.

And, no cavities!!!  When you take 4 kids to the dentist and you leave without anyone requiring any sort of follow-up appointment, it is a banner day, indeed!


Also exciting:

My husband and I have been joking with each other for a while that I ought to teach our older daughter to do the younger one's hair since Little Girl's hair takes so long.  And today was a good first step!  I began taking out the 3 year old's many tiny braids while the girls played in the playroom and after about 15 minutes of braid removal and I still wasn't done, my 7 year old asked, "Why does it take so long?"  So, I was all, "Here you try.  You'll see.  It's harder than it looks to get all these little braids out."  

And sure enough, she gained new respect for the process!  And she enjoyed helping me, so now I need to get two of those metal rat-tailed combs and maybe we can take out braids in half the time - one of us on each side of Little Girl's head!


I made this ice cream cake for my daughter's birthday last weekend and it was really yummy and so easy!  The recipe is definitely going into my recipe hall of fame!


We still have one more week before school starts, but I'm excited to say as of today, all 4 kids have everything they need to go back to school!  They already had a lot of clothes and it's so warm here for August through October that our fall wardrobes are pretty much the same as summer, but gathering the backpacks, lunchboxes, thermoses, shoes, and socks seemed like a lot.  Just getting shoes for all 4 kids is a feat!


Of course I'm picky about their shoes.  They wear pretty much the same pair of shoes to school every day, so I want them to be good sturdy shoes.  For my boys I like sneakers with a lot of navy rather than white accents because the white gets dirty looking so fast.  And for my girls I like a daintier sneaker-type of shoe because they wear a lot of dresses and skirts, but still need to be able to run and play on the playground.  Needless to say, I had to go to several different stores and even order several pairs over the Internet, sending back the ones we didn't like.


Then there is the complication that my children have just worn sandals and Crocs all summer, so every shoe they tried on they would complain felt "too tight" when really the shoes fit, the kids just need to get used to a confining shoe again!


And I'll have to get used to washing and matching up socks all over again.  Just the thought of 8 dirty socks each day, 56 kid socks to deal with every week, is enough to make me wish it was always summer!


Happy Friday, Friends!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to Take 4 Kids to Target

While I know that 2 posts in one summer containing pictures of my children in the Target cart is a bit much, really it's just reality.  And if I'm chronically our life, there just is some Target.

Now, I give you a pictorial on how I take 4 kids to Target:

The 3 year old in the baby seat, the 5 year old in the main part with the groceries, the 6 (now 7) year old laying on the bottom reading a book, and the 9 year old pushing the cart.

Don't go anywhere near the toy aisles and it works, people!

I will actually miss this when they go back to school!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

She's Seven!

Sweet, Sweet Baby Girl,

Now you are seven!  Oh how the time flies!

I cannot tell you how much I love that you still let me dress you in smocked dresses every now and then!

At this point in life your favorite things are swimming, gymnastics, purple, roller-coaster rides, crafts, ice cream, your dolls, and your books.

You really, really love to read, and are such a good reader that you devour books much harder than your grade level.  We have tons of books in our house and you've read many of them three times!  You've written some stories, too, and not just stories that you read to your Daddy and me and we think, "So cute for a little girl" but stories that are really good and entertaining!

You want to grow up to be a writer, a mom, and a kindergarten teacher.  I'm certain you can do all three of those things if you want to!  I love listening in when you have school with your little brother and sister.  You are so good with them and are already a teacher, having taught them so many things!

This past year the little sister you prayed so long for, finally came home to share your room.  You have been an amazing big sister to her and helped so much with her adjustment into our family and American life.  Your unconditional, selfless love for her has been an inspiration to me!  The two of you are the best of friends and I pray that is still true many years from now!

You are beautiful and precious and a blessing.  I cannot wait to see what God has planned for your life!

(your biggest fan)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Expanded Fragments!

These are supposed to be fragments, like random thoughts consisting of a few short sentences.  Random I can do, no problem!  But the keeping it short?  Not so much.  Oh my at the wordy!  My apologies.  I just cannot convey my thoughts succinctly.  Somebody should kick me out of Friday Fragments!


Two weeks ago when I was packing for our beach trip, I had the kids gather some things they wanted to take, I gathered the essentials and then we packed that stuff together.  I also had a few new workbooks and books I'd gotten for them.

My 6 year old daughter loves stuff.  She's my pack-rat because she doesn't ever want to part with anything.  When she was a young toddler she often carried 2 blankets and a stuffed animal anywhere we'd let her.  So, the fact that she over-packed for the trip was not surprising, but when I told her it was too much stuff and that she'd have to choose, she just agonized over it all.

It was comical!  I was running all around the house trying to get things in bags, trying to think straight about everything we'd need.  And each time I'd run up the stairs there would be my 6 year old lying on the floor crying, "Packing is too hard!!!  I can't choose!"  I'd stop and try to help reason her through a decision like not taking the life-size baby doll, but rather a smaller one, but then she'd just wail, "But, I LOVE Baby Olive!"

Meanwhile, my 3 year old daughter had seen me get out her swimsuits to pack, and all she wanted to do was put one on and go swimming right then.

"Mom, can I put on my swimsuit?  Swimsuit?  M-O-M, swimsuit!"

I tried explaining it all to her, that we were going on vacation and we'd swim once we got to Florida, that we were not going to put on our swimsuits right now because we needed to pack them.  It didn't work!  No matter what room I went in, she'd pop up asking, "Swimsuit?"

That combined with the "Packing is too hard!!!!"  really I just had to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

And my boys?  Everywhere I went in the house they seemed to be underfoot wrestling.  Trying to get to a dresser to grab underwear for a child?  They were in the way.  Getting shorts out of the closet?  I couldn't even open the door for boys rolling on the floor in front of it.  They were having fun and nobody was getting hurt, but man, I did keep fussing about them being so in my way!

Somehow only by the grace of God, did I manage to get us all packed and not leave behind anything important.


The packing scenario probably adequately illustrates it, but we've been dealing with some girl drama lately.  Really in the last month it has escalated to epic proportions! 

I have no idea if the new level of drama is a result of having 2 little girls in the house now and it just took us a few months to get here, or if the ultra-drama was brought in by Littlest Girl who is unquestionably a drama queen and my older daughter has just caught the flair for dramatic, or if there's something about my older daughter's age - 7 tomorrow (a birthday post to come, but for now, I'm too tired!) - that brings some sort of high drama phase. 

I'm really hoping whatever the reason, it ends soon but I'm a little afraid we're just in for it for the next 15 years!  Running out of the room in tears over the slightest thing, saying things like, "You NEVER let me do anything fun!"  or "You ALWAYS get me in trouble and not him/her!"  or Little Girls favorite, "You ALWAYS be mean to me!"  Then there's the silent sulking or moping which my boys never do, but my girls -- oh yes!  Someone told me once that boys were harder as toddlers because they were definitely more active and getting into things more than girls, but that it switched after than and then girls were harder.  Maybe there is some truth there.


On a positive note, I've been working on teaching my 9 year old to cook some basic things this summer.  And he really likes it and now he offers to cook dinner every night!  Of course he's not quite able to do it all without my help, but I see promise for the future!  I just hope his excitement over getting to turn on our gas stove never wears off!

Making Organic Choco-Crispy Treats

Looking for some real, actual fragments?  Find Friday Fragments.

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mama, are you black?

As our 3 year old daughter adopted from Ethiopia about 7 months ago masters the English language, our conversations are becoming more interesting.  Here's one that came out of the blue the other day as I carried her down the stairs in our house.

"Mama, are you black?"

"No, I'm white."  I answered, then returned her question, "What color are you?"

"I'm blue!" She said smiling.

"Really?!!"  I smiled back but raised my eyebrows a bit.

"No," she said skeptically looking down at her arm, "I'm chocolate!"

"Yes!  Yes, you are!"  I said, "I could eat you up!"  and then I pretended to eat her arm which she thought was hilarious.

Then she squealed, "You're vanilla, Mommy!  You're vanilla!"

She came up with that all on her own, I swear I've never described her skin color as "chocolate".  Yes, there is a book called, I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World and a blog called "Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care" (which offers tons of great hair advice and ideas, by the way)  but my 3 year old daughter has never read those things.

Over time I imagine our racial differences will lead to more complicated situations, and we are trying to be prepared for those times as best we can.  And I'm trusting God to fill in where I'm sure to fall short.  On our airplane ride home from Ethiopia last December I actually watched the movie The Help for the first time somewhere over the Atlantic ocean, my headphones on with my African daughter sleeping on my chest, tears streaming down my cheeks as I imagined the day when she learned about the terrible ways people with her skin color were treated by people of my skin color and shuttered even more at the thought of discrimination she'd likely sometimes experience even in our modern-day world.

But for now, I'm relieved to be able to keep things focused on matter-of-factly acknowledging the colors we all are, teaching that God made people many different colors, and conveying to my little girl just how beautiful she is, just exactly as God made her.

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I have a few favorite snapshots from our beach vacation last week:

On the roof-top balcony, I caught this moment between my youngest two:

I love the view captured with the ocean just beyond the rooftops and trees, but I also love the interaction between those two little ones.  It has been fascinating to me to see relationships grow and develop among my children.

Those two are only about 18 months apart in age and definitely have a unique and often comical relationship as a result.  She's younger but sometimes tries to baby him, which usually makes him mad!  When the older kids are not around those two are the best of friends but their allegiance to each other is quickly left behind if there is an opportunity to play with an older sibling!  Eavesdropping on their conversations is always entertaining!

And then this shot of my daughters:

Oh how much my 6 year old daughter loves to read!  We walked to dinner that night and stopped off a few places to take some pictures on the way, she brought her book (she nearly always has a book or a stack of books close at hand) and she read it even while walking!  The beautiful scenery of Seaside was not as interesting to her as that book (the book we've already read once, by the way!).  But, I do have to say that I first read aloud The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy to the kids this summer and fell in love with the book, just such wonderful stories about the adventures of 4 sisters!  The book reminds me of the type I loved as a child!  I'm not one to push any of my children into one career path or another, but that little 6 year old?  Just may be an author someday.

Not to leave out my oldest:

This trip we bought him a boogie board; he had so much fun on it!

I made him stage this picture for me because I couldn't get close enough to get a good shot when he was really riding out in the waves!  When he moaned about posing for the picture, I gave him they typical mom talk of, "Someday you'll be glad I captured this memory for you!"

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's Been a Year!

One year ago we were in Ethiopia meeting our youngest daughter for the first time, falling in love with her country, and being absolutely wrecked by so much of what we saw during that trip -- the poverty, the orphanages.

One year later and we have not recovered. 

We are not the same people as we were when we boarded that plane bound for Ethiopia.

I don't think we'll ever be the same.

I know I hope not.

Reflecting on one year ago, it is also so wild to think about meeting our little girl for the first time and how we know her now.

What a difference a year makes!



I'm so thankful that my daughter's clothes no longer hang on this clothesline outside an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

But never forgetting the 5 million orphans we left behind.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I'm back, did you miss me?

 Even though there have been blog posts this week, I've actually been gone.  The wonder and amazement that is advance scheduling of posts!  Really I ought to do that more often instead of waiting until the last minute to write all my blog posts! 

There was also the sneaky benefit that I went on vacation without announcing to The Internet that I would be away so anyone with super sleuth powers to track down my house would not know it would be unoccupied for several days!


We just got back from a family vacation in Seaside, Florida.  It was wonderful.  A beautiful, quaint beach town, perfect for relaxing.  We are hoping to make it an annual vacation spot for our family!

We left last Saturday early, early and drove about 11 hours to the beach.  The kids did surprisingly really well during the long car trip there and back.  More about our trip next week when I've recovered from the re-entry to regular life, and my kitchen is no longer covered with every single item we took with us on the trip!

But here are some initial pictures:

I fell in love with the house we stayed in!  Really we did not want to leave!  All the houses in Seaside have white picket fences and charming character. 


Instead of unpacking I spent the night tonight glued to the TV and relishing the U.S. Olympic Team successes in gymnastics and swimming.  Awesome, just awesome!  Love Gabby Douglas!  Such poise for such a young girl!


There was also the fanfare of a dog show at our house today!

Here were the contestants:

Scruffy (the brownish dog in the front center position) won the long jump contest which consisted of my 6 year old daughter throwing the stuffed dogs across the living room and the one that landed the farthest away was the winner!  Lucky Scruffy!  

Talk about entertainment, that dog show competition ranked right up there with a Michael Phelps/Ryan Lochte race!


Wishing you an entertaining weekend!

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Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Flashback 3!

Okay, so I promise to take a break from the flashbacks soon, but oh, the memories!!

Today, we're flashing back to October 19, 2003. 

We only had 1 child back then, our son was 8 months old.  We were on vacation in Siesta Key, Florida and in this picture we'd gotten up early to watch the sun rise.  I remember this moment and just how perfect it was!  Cuddling with my baby boy as the sun came up over the water.  

I loved those dinosaur jammies!  And he was so easy to travel with back then, which was just a couple months before he started walking and everything got harder.  Also, that vacation to Siesta Key was one of my favorites, it is a beautiful Florida destination!