Thursday, February 28, 2013

I'm making the title optional today.

 My son finished his 3-D flower project.  He's a glue gun pro now and has TONS more appreciation for his mom's crafting abilities -- there was a lot of "Wow, Mom, how do you just have all this stuff?  Felt, pom-poms, pipe cleaners, beads, syrofoam balls!!"  For once my packrat skills paid off!!!  

The flower:

And of course the bee to display pollination during his presentation of parts of the flower:

I was a chaperone for my kindergarten son's class field trip to the livestock show today.  There's a little girl in his class who has a crush on my son (her mom told me so and my 5 year old says, "She likes me.")  I'm really in denial of such talk, I mean they are way too young for such things!  Well, she picked to be in his group for the field trip, so I told my husband last night, "It's basically like I'm chaperoning their first date!"  And that's how it was.  They were even holding hands at some points!  Somebody help me!

My favorite pics of the animals we saw today:

Butting heads:

And newborn baby pigs:


Between all that and a 4th grade musical tonight I'm wiped out (Is there ever a Friday post when I don't say "I'm tired"?)!  In all the busyness of the past few weeks I almost forgot to register my youngest daughter for her school for next year.  Thankfully the sweet office manager sent out one last email saying "The deadline is tomorrow at noon!"  The form and check are taped to my backdoor! 

I'm so looking forward to some rest the week of Spring Break and the time change coming up so my kids will sleep in later!!!  Losing one hour is a small price to pay for gaining an extra hour of sleep every morning of spring break when the three-fourths of my kids that have internal clocks that wake them by 7am every morning are tricked into actually rising at 8am instead!


Happy Friday Everyone!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Teaching My 10 Year Old Son to Use The Glue Gun

I've been thinking as I strive to have less clutter that maybe I should par down my crafting supplies, but days like today when I was helping my 4th grader create a 3-D flower complete with all the different parts (do you remember -- the whole stamen, stigma, sepal, etc.?) that he must be able to identify to his teacher, it comes in handy.  

This is the same child who NEVER did crafts in preschool, always chose any other activity station besides art, except when very strongly persuaded by his teachers.  His younger sister created more artwork in one 3 hour day of preschool than he did the entire school year.  But tonight as a 10 year old with a project assignment?  He was super impressed with my craft stash!  And we really, truly had fun working on his 3 dimensional flower!  

Look, I even taught him how to use the glue gun:

He crafts!  He will now take with him the VERY handy glue-gunning skill into the rest of his life! Can you see how excited I was about all of it?  I told my son, "Finally a school project that's actually fun!!"  

My husband walked in and said to our son, "I've never in my whole life used a glue gun."  And I said, "See, Son?  At the age of 10 your abilities now surpass your dad's!"

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Way It Is

I have no idea what happened.  There was an all-day adoption conference, followed by a birthday party, followed by sending my oldest child and my husband off to a professional hockey game (the 10 year old's birthday celebration of choice), and I looked at my other 3 children and said, "Do you want to have oatmeal for dinner?"  The oatmeal was started and then I ran upstairs to help them with baths and came back down to this:

Let's just say the jars that screw on underneath my stove to catch any drips were completely full of oatmeal!  And if you've ever wondered if you can soak that ignitor part of your gas stove in soap and water and still have it work to actually light again, you can and it does.  But, I'm glad I snapped a picture of that mess, because right now in this life mothering 4 young children, there are moments pretty much like that every day.  God is refining me though, I'm slowly learning not to get upset, just take a deep breath and start cleaning up the mess.

In other examples of my un-super mom abilities . . .

Our 4 year old Little Girl adopted from Ethiopia has only been speaking English about 14 months, and although she seems pretty fluent there are nuances to our language that still trip her up, so of course, I'm very careful with the terms I use with her . . .Um NOT.

Like today Little Girl and I were headed into a store to get about 5 things, but right before we went in I decided I should dash into the store right next-door to see if they had something I'd been looking for.  I said to Little Girl, "Let's just run in this store really fast."  She looked at me with huge, gleaming, incredulous eyes and said, "This is a kind of store you can RUN in?!"  Little Girl LOVES to run more than just about anything else in life.  But, no, sadly, I had to quickly set her straight that it was not in fact a store she could run in, but that I meant we were just going to hurry in and out." 

Then there are ALL the questions.  Little Girl is in a huge "Why?" phase right now.  I don't know if it's the age or something about her current grasp of the English language now having spoken it for 14 months.  I love getting to be the person who teaches her so much and recognize daily what a privilege it is but honestly, it also wears me out!

I think I've been answering too many of her questions with, "That's just the way it is."

Because today when she asked why a bus had a red gas thing and I said, "I don't know, that's how they made it."  And then she said, "WHAT?"  of course because that's what she always says when I answer one of her questions (my theory is that she hears me, but she needs the extra repetition to help her process the information).  So I repeated, but more half-heartily with, "I don't know, that's just the way it is."  And then she asked very dramatically,

"Why is everything the way it is?!"

Good question, Little Girl, good question.  Now Mama needs a nap before any more questions.  That's just the way it is.

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Is there an app for that?

As a mother of four children I'm more than a little familiar with potty training, and thankfully those days are behind me nowBefore today I would have told you I've lived through enough that nothing in the realm of potty training would surprise me.  That changed when I learned of the existence of this product:


An iPotty!

You'll be glad to know it has a touchscreen protector to guard against "smudges and messy hands".  Because we all know potty training is not clean business by any stretch of the imagination!

Someday my kids will be able to tell their own children, "When I was learning to use the potty all I could do was read board books and listen to my mom sing the 'potty song'.What poor, deprived little toddlers they were!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Roses are Red, Violets are blue. . .

Spring is definitely on its way.  Wanna know how I know?  The fruit fly trap is back in my kitchen!  My kids leave the back door open as they head in and out a million times and the flies take the opportunity to move on in!

 I took that picture outside because that was right before I released those critters, but all those fruit flies were caught inside, right in my kitchen --ewwwww!  That's why I can often be heard saying, "Close the door!  I don't care if you are going right back out, you can still close it in between!"


Little Girl likes to do the Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred with me:

I think Jillian would be impressed.  Pretty good form for a 4 year old!


My favorite moment of my new 10 year old's birthday celebration today, the presentation of the gifts his siblings made for him:
My 7 year old daughter wrote him this poem, "Roses are red, violets are blue.  We are brother and sister and I love you."  She came up with it all on her own!


Happy Friday, Friends!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


My oldest child will be 10 tomorrow.  Ten!  Double digits.  I can't believe it!

Recently when my husband was talking to him about his allowance increasing when he turned 10, our math-minded son said he planned to give 50% of his allowance to church, 25% to World Vision, and use the remaining 25% for gifts for his brother and sisters.

Later my husband said to me, "I think he should use some of his allowance money on himself, but how can I tell him to give less away?"

His allowance allocation well sums up who he is.  Generous, thoughtful, wise and pretty mature for his age.  He was such a strong-willed toddler and young child, there were really times my husband and I worried if we'd ever be able to mold him into a good person.  But, I have to say, the past year (really 2 years) has been delightful!  This man child has emerged and he is truly an amazing person that I am so blessed to get to be around every day.  I'm a little afraid to let nine go, it has been so great, but I know God has huge plans for this boy and greater things are yet to come!

Happy birthday sweet firstborn son, it is such a privilege to be your mom!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When The Third Child Goes to Kindergarten

I often wondered what it would be like when this 3rd baby of mine went off to kindergarten.

The one who was so smothered by his 2 close-in-age older siblings that big sister even climbed right into his pack-n-play to put his pacifier back in . . .

The one who took "getting into stuff" to a whole new level by literally crawling into the kitchen cabinets . . .

The one who could sometimes be found walking around the backyard with a bucket on his head . . .

The one who had his crib filled with tons of random stuff by his older brother and sister one day during naptime . . .

The one who was somehow always dirty, even 5 minutes after a bath and clean clothes . . .  

And not just a little dirty, check out those pants. . . 

The one who could be found entertaining himself in all sorts of crazy places . . .

 The one who swept the backyard in only his diaper . . .

That child from all those pictures went off to kindergarten this school year and now, several months into it, he's doing really well, truly he is, but the one message I've been constantly lecturing is for him to take kindergarten seriously.  "It's not just about having fun, it is your job."  I've said several times.  

Only recently did it hit me, the irony.  One of the things I love most about my 3rd child is his ability not to take life too seriously, to not only jump into the puddle with both feet, but go ahead and shower in it, too.

I sit with that child as he starts his homework packet and on the line in the middle of the cover page where it says "name", he correctly prints the letters in his name but when he gets to the "d" in the middle he makes the stick extend all the way from the middle of the paper up to the very top edge.  He laughs and laughs at the silliness of his "d".  His sister, 20 months older, is appalled and tells him the "d" is wrong and he needs to erase it right away.  He refuses and she is truly distressed.  "It is not right!"  "You are going to fail!  You're going to get a zero!" she tells him.  I really couldn't help but laugh with my 3rd child.  It was just a cover page and the "d" did look funny.  I stared at it and thought, "Yup, this is what happens when the 3rd child goes to kindergarten."

And you know what?  He didn't fail that homework packet, got a check plus plus smiley face, as a matter of fact!

(with all other letters hidden, I give you the "d")

Monday, February 18, 2013

Do you go camping with your kids?

 Soon we are going to go camping with our 4 kids.  4 KIDS! 

I have no idea why I agree to these things, but it's got to be better this year with a 10, 7, 5 and 4 year old than the time we went camping with 3 kids ages 6, 3, and 1 year old!

A few things I have to say about that photo above from 2009:
  • Why yes, if you are my daughter one does camp in a large pink hairbow!
  • That is indeed a blue toddler potty right up next to our tent in plain sight of anyone walking by, because we are nothing if not classy campers!
  • Those plastic storage tubs?  Are a lifesaver for storing your food items at night when there are strange creatures rustling through your campsite! 
  • It's been 4 years, but I still remember all the NOT SLEEPING that went on during that camping trip!
  • We survived, we survived, we survived!
Really, I think it has been too long, though, since we really camped (not counting the sleeping in a tent in our city park that we've done the past few years as part of our city's "Tents in Town" event).  So I've forgotten that I'm not a big fan of the camping, mostly because I am a fan of personal hygiene and climate control and sleeping more than a couple inches from my children!  Or maybe, just maybe this year will win me over, I'll be hooked on camping!  We shall soon see. . .

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Curled Up In Bed With A Good Book and My Dog

My husband was out of town for two nights this week.  Thankfully he doesn't have to travel too much for his work and usually he can manage day trips flying up and back in one day.  So, I don't have a whole lot of experience doing all the household work of 4 kids and 1 dog all by myself.  When he got home today at 5:20pm, I literally greeted him and then crawled into bed for a nap!


I'm super excited to read Big Mama's book Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn!  It just came out and I got it in the mail today (my Valentine's gift to myself).  I've enjoyed her blog for years and imagine her book will be great.  Nevermind that I'm currently reading 3 other books right now, I'm starting this one right away!  I'm terrible about starting several books and only finishing a small few.  Actually come to think of it, I do the same thing with projects!


With my husband away the dog really embraced her new status as a dog-who-is-sometimes-allowed-on-the-bed.  We are working out an understanding.  If she is cuddly and basically leaves me alone, I'll let her stay.  But too much licking or pawing at me or demanding too much attention or otherwise messing with me, and I order her "OFF!"  Lying on the computer will also result in "OFF!".  Often when she's doing this she is punching keys, so maybe someday I'll actually publish one of her blog posts!

Next to the computer, like below, is okay.  Marginal, but I'll let her stay.


Happy Friday, Friends!

Find more Friday Fragments here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Love This World Needs

Red velvet cake ball?  Anyone interested?

I made these today for my kids' teachers.  Followed Bakerella's (is that an awesome blog name or what?!!)  recipe and method and they turned out better looking than the batches from the previous 2 years!  Thank you, Bakerella

This Valentine's I'm thinking about a different kind of love.

Sure, I have a few special things to show my loved ones how much I care about them, but lately I'm convicted that it's about more than just loving the people immediately around us, the ones that love us back.

In our city there has been a story in the news that began as sad and horrifying - a 93 year old WWII veteran, two-time Purple Heart recipient, who recently lost his wife of 57 years had his home vandalized by a couple teenagers while he was at a doctor appointment.  They ransacked his belongings and covered his walls and furniture with spray paint.  The home he'd lived in for 55 years, built much of it himself!  It was definitely yet another story to illustrate all that is wrong with this world!

But, that wasn't the end of the story, folks!

The crime was mentioned on-air in a popular local radio show and suddenly people started calling in asking if they could help.  Contractors, restoration companies, alarm system installers, and just regular people!  For 3 weeks while that 93 year old man lived in a room donated to him by a local nursing home, volunteers filled his home.  As many as 120 volunteers some days!  They restored his home, fixed everything that had been destroyed, and keeping the home's original character and feel, made some improvements to help the elderly man's quality of life -- things like a monitored alarm system and a sprinkler system to water the yard he so enjoys looking at through his windows!  That man moved back into his home today with fellow Marines and the volunteers who did the work lining his sidewalk, clapping and cheering as his wheelchair was pushed up the walkway.  He was reported to be speechless!

I shared that story with my kids, reading to them straight from the newspaper.  In a world where there are acts of unimaginable cruelty and plain meanness, there is so much good, too!  Good people who donated their time, talents, and resources to help a man they didn't even know.  We talked about how we don't want to be the bad guys of this story, ruining someone else's things, causing sadness, we wanted to be the good people who helped make right someone else's wrong.

Then I challenged my kids to tell me something kind they'd done for someone else today.  My 5 year old son said he didn't want to play basketball but he played anyway because his older brother wanted him to.  My 9 year old son said he held the door for an old lady leaving the church where my daughters have choir practice.  My 4 year old daughter said she played with her sister (I don't think she quite grasped the point of doing something that was a bit of a stretch for you).  At first my 7 year old daughter couldn't think of anything, but as she was getting in her bath she reminded me of the question and said she'd thought of something.  When a girl in her class at school fell on the track today during P.E. she and another girl helped her up and walked back to the school with her.

I was so impressed with my kids' answers!  And I hadn't even given them the assignment in advance.  It was the end of the day and I said, "Tell me something kind you did today."  I'm planning to do this again and for us all to hold each other accountable to show love to others.

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 (ESV)

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Easy DIY Valentine's Shirt

It's not too late to whip up an easy Valentine's Day shirt for your little darlings.  

All you need is a plain t-shirt, iron-on adhesive (like HeatnBond), a small amount of fabric, and a heart template (I just free-hand drew mine).

1.  Iron the adhesive onto the fabric scrap.

2.  Cut out the heart from the adhesive-backed fabric.

3.  Pull the paper backing off the heart, position it on your t-shirt and iron it on.

4.  Use a sewing machine to sew just inside the edge of the heart all the way around.  (Set your machine on the slowest speed and you can turn the fabric as you sew to follow the outline of your shape.)

Ta-da!  A super easy, cheap, and fast custom Valentine's shirt for your little one!

Did I mention I taught myself how to sew using the Internet?  Trust me, if I can do this, you can too!  You can also check out this tutorial for more detailed instructions on applique.

Find more Works For Me Wednesday here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Your underwear is where?

I've lived here in the chaos for a long time.

But this?

UNDERWEAR hanging from the chandelier in our 2-story high entry way?

Was too much, even for me.  I was rolling on the floor laughing!

Apparently the 9 year old in preparation for a shower he planned to take downstairs (oh yes, we are already at the point of him taking over the shower in our master bathroom), threw down some clean underwear from upstairs and they got hung up on the light fixture.  

An underwear rescue operation ensued:

And success!!

Whew, saved from that lovely display for any guests who happened to look up when entering our house!  Although I have to say, bonus points for it being clean underwear!

Find more WordlessWednesday here and Wordful Wednesday here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Real Life Photos

 Infiltrators I found today while folding wash: a doll outfit (I have enough laundry to do with 4 kids, the dolls will simply have to do their OWN wash from now on!) and the scraps of a Kleenex, a little shred stuck to each and every piece of laundry in that load (This is a nearly every time I do wash occurrence.  If you think of it as confetti streamers then folding clothes = instant party!).


The "dinner" my 7 year old made for me.  Must get that girl started using real food!


I splurged a year or so ago and bought myself a nice pair of rain boots on sale at Nordstrom (Hunter brand - should last forever or at least until I have no more children in school).  Best purchase ever!  Walking through the drizzle or downpours to pick my kids up from school truly doesn't bother me at all because my feet stay dry and there are no worries about ruining my shoes!


Happy Friday, Friends! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Until there are no more orphans . . .

Before we were able to bring her home via adoption, we sent our Little Girl in Ethiopia a stuffed pink puppy with another adoptive mama who was traveling earlier than us.  That other mother who was adopting a daughter from the same room as our Little Girl, delivered the puppy and told Little Girl that she had a family coming for her, too, and that the puppy was "from her family".  That other mama reported back to me how much Little Girl liked the puppy and clung to it.  My husband and I lamented the current state of life when all that our Little Girl had of a family was a stuffed pink puppy.

Fast forward about 18 months . . .

Happily, thankfully, Little Girl has now been home with us for 13 months and just a few days ago as I fixed her hair in the bathroom she said to me, "Do you remember when I didn't have a Mommy and all I had was the pink puppy?"  

Children should not be orphans.   Governments can pass laws, NGOs can lobby for certain actions, and people can debate all sides of the issue, but it all boils down to that.  Children should NOT be orphans.  It's a reality for far too many children in this world.  And as international adoptions plummet in the U.S., those numbers are likely to rise sharply.  Whether a child is born in rural Russia or a big city in America or a poor village in Ethiopia, they need a family. They DESERVE a family!

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."  John 14:18

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Her To-Do List

My 7 year old daughter makes to-do list for her weekends.

This past Saturday's list:

I have no idea where she gets her organizational skills!

But, really if I had a to-do list like that, maybe I'd actually get things checked off! 

Find more WordlessWednesday here and Wordful Wednesday here.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Picture Wall Predicament

I tackled this a few months ago and haven't blogged about it yet. . .

I had this photo wall in my living room that featured each of my kids as a 1 year old.  All the portraits were done in different years but by the same photographer and with the same little white ladder.  I liked that they matched and that the scene captured that precious time of toddlerhood and planned to keep them up for always to remember my little ones even when they grew to be big ones.

That plan, like so many of my plans, needed to be changed because God brought us Little Girl, our precious daughter adopted from Ethiopia at age 3.  Sadly we do not have any pictures of her as a 1 year old.  But still we wanted her represented on the wall of our children.  And I didn't want to make it any harder on her than it's already going to be, the fact that we missed out on the first 3 years of her life when we have so many pictures of her 3 older siblings from their baby and toddler years.  Adding on a picture of her that would be so different in age just seemed to highlight all that was missing!

A dear friend helped me brainstorm and we decided, why not pick another age of the kids to forever display on my walls?  An age where we could have a matching one of Little Girl.  So we decided 3 or 4 years old was a great age to freeze forever in the living room!  The kids are still little and cuddly-cute, and even better, they have developed enough to have their unique features really shine!

So, for the sake of keeping the pictures uniform, I choose an outside picture of each child, my favorite one for them around at age 3 or 4 years old.  As a plus I really like outside pictures displayed in my house better than inside anyway, it brings that beautiful natural light in!

I love the results!  And feel it's as it should be with Little Girl on equal footing with the older 3 kids.

Those one year old portraits will probably move to a less prominent spot in the house.  Out with my little white ladder plans and in with God's huge, way-better than I ever would have imagined ones!

Now to get a large family photo that includes Little Girl framed and on the wall for the other side of that room. . .

Find more Tackle It Tuesday here.