Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Baby Boy Turns Six!

Two days before his sixth birthday he lost his first tooth!

Tomorrow my 3rd child, the one who was supposed to stay a baby forever, will turn 6!

How can that be?

I feel certain he should still look like this:

And spend all of his time doing things like this:

 NOT losing teeth, riding a bike without training wheels, and reading!!

At least he still gives the BEST hugs, always has!

In fact, just tonight he thought we all needed hugging lessons from him the expert hugger.

Big brother's lesson:

 Sweet, sweet Six Year Old, never forget how loved you are 

and that you'll ALWAYS be MY baby no matter how big you get!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Getting My Kids to Declutter

Each of my 4 kids has a fabric tote/bucket on a shelf in our breakfast room (that we don't actually use for breakfast).   The buckets are to hold whatever treasures the child wants to hang on to, but I don't want to find all over the house -- think small prize trinkets, birthday party favors, crafts.  The shelf is in a prominent spot in our house and I walk by it a thousand times each day (to and from the laundry room and kitchen), so it bugs me when the kids' buckets become so full that I can see stuff coming up over the tops.  

My solution?


I bake some homemade chocolate chip cookies for the kids and give them each one for an after school snack.  Then I ask them if they'd like a 2nd cookie.  Their eyes get wide.  I NEVER offer a 2nd cookie!

Yes!  Yes, they DO want another cookie!

"Okay,"  I say getting each of their buckets down and putting them onto the table, "Then bring me some trash!  Cut down what is in your bucket by half (I use the term "50%" for my math-oriented kids) and I'll give you another cookie."

It worked!  No whining, no complaining, just trash bag filling!

It took my sentimental, pack-rattish child a rather long time to whittle her treasures down, but even she came through and earned that 2nd cookie!

A cookie for their trash?  Works for Me!

And don't go sending me your trash to get a cookie.  You only get a cookie for throwing away large amounts of stuff from MY house!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Saying It Again and Again and Again

Last Friday, I had the post, We do not need another pet!  Then, Saturday morning a bird flew right smack into our back window.  I heard it hit and looked outside and sure enough, there he was lying on the patio just outside the back door.  He was breathing, but otherwise pretty motionless.  The kids came running to see and insisted that I needed to help the bird.  "Bring him inside, Mama!"

I do what I always do in these types of situations, I consulted my good friend, Google.  I typed "bird flew into window" and instantly had all kinds of advice!  I decided to go with the easiest option, "Observe the bird for a few minutes and keep predators away, it may just be stunned."  We watched and watched.  Two children grew tired of watching (one was away at a friend's house where he'd spent the night) but one child set up vigil just inside the window for the bird, and I began to worry that she was just going to watch the bird die.  I prayed for healing for the bird, got tired of watching it myself, and set to unloading the dishwasher.  Lo and behold a few minutes later, the bird was standing up!

It was a little miracle!  That poor bird just stood there for a good 15 minutes still trying to recover from the impact with the window and finally he started hopping around and hopped off into the yard.  We watched him until he hopped out of sight, hopefully he was able to fly again.   And I reiterate that we do NOT need another pet!  Besides, Google informed me that it's illegal to keep a wild bird as a pet, now the kids can't argue with that reason!


Monday at noon I picked up Little Girl from preschool and the whole way home she jabbered on about her class guinea pig and how cute it was and how much she liked it.  I knew it was coming, and sure enough, she said, "Mama, I'm going to ask for a guinea pig for my birfday.  A guinea pig and that's all.  That's all I want for my birfday!"

Good thing her birthday is not until October!  Here's to hoping she forgets about the guinea pig because if I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times, "We do not need another pet!"


Tuesday afternoon the kids caught a love bug and the 7 year old named him "Bobby".  I had a time explaining exactly why it was called a "love bug".

I had to Google "What do love bugs eat" and then the kids stuffed the bug habitat with leaves and flowers.  

Bobby was with us a whole 24 hours until I suggested he should probably be set free because, "You know he'll be happier if he's free,"  I told the kids while I secretly thought to myself, "We do not need another pet!"


Want to know why we do not need another pet?

Because there is plenty of chaos with just the one dog we have!  Here's a glimpse of one morning this week:

What is going on there?

The kids are brushing their teeth in the half-bath that is just before they head out the backdoor for school.  Only Madeline the Goldendoodle LOVES to drink water fresh from the faucet.  She jumps up with her front paws on the sink and someone helps her drink by cupping their hand under the stream of water!

But, seriously, the chaos!  Let me zoom out and just give you another perspective of the scene in this tiny bathroom:

 And yes, the 5 year old is standing on the toilet lid.  I keep a set of kid toothbrushes in the cabinet over the toilet so they don't have to run back upstairs after breakfast.  The little kids climb up to get their toothbrushes down, which explains why there are often shoe prints on my toilet!

Clearly, we do not need another pet of any kind, but at least the dog we have can read (if you missed the video here's a link)!

Happy Friday!  And I'd love to hear about the strangest pet you've had.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What The Chick-Fil-A Cow Says About Our Life

This picture was taken last year, when Little Girl had only been home from Ethiopia 3 months and she met the Chick-Fil-A cow for the 1st time:

She really loved the cow, but see that look on her face?  That look on her face as she took in yet another new and strange thing about her new life in America, and the question she must have asked in her mind a billion times that first year -- is this good or bad?  Am I safe or not safe?

It is 16 months, exactly today, since we brought home a 27 lb. non-English speaking Ethiopian 3 year old as our daughter.  We've watched her blossom into a 35 lb very fluent, talkative, English speaking Ethiopian/American 4 year old!  The past 16 months have been such a whirlwind of joy, pain, laughter, tears, new experiences, screaming, tremendous blessing and hard work.  Really, it has been a privilege to walk this road, but honestly, most days I'm just exhausted!  Between our new Little Girl and the other 3 children, there's been little margin of time to reflect, which is a huge reason I keep up this little blog, to process my life as it unfolds so fast.  But, it's impossible to adequately capture all that has happened from that moment we stepped off an airplane from Ethiopia with our Little Girl until now.  However, I think these cow pictures illustrate a bit of what I'm talking about.

Here is the one year later, just a couple weeks ago, when she met the cow again (he changed shirts and added a hat) at the same annual event:

She loved him this year, too.  But, look at her face here -- confidence!

We've learned in our adoption classes that when children feel safe they begin to blossom -- socially, mentally, physically.  If they know that their world is safe, everything can build on top of that.

This time they even danced!

Is all this to say that things are perfect now?  That all the hard work is done?  Not a chance, but we've come a long way, Baby!

We are continually in awe of the work that God has done in the life our Little Girl!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

She taught our dog how to read!

Recently my 7 year old daughter taught our dog how to read!  I know, I didn't believe she could do it either!

But watch the video to see Madeline The Goldendoodle read each letter of an alphabet book:

Madeline The Dog Reads! from It Feels Like Chaos on Vimeo.

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Yes, a vacuum cleaner is my best friend.

The entire 1st floor of our house is hard floor, either tile or hard wood.  Between the crumbs spilled by the kids and yard debris brought in by our super furry dog, the floor needs to be vacuumed daily.  I do not usually actually vacuum it every day, I just wear shoes inside the house (my "inside shoes") to avoid stepping on grit -- I hate the feel of grit under my bare feet!

We have a central vac. system that I use to do a thorough vacuum once or twice a week, but to haul out the long hose more often than that was troublesome and not happening.  Over the years I bought many different lightweight cordless, stick vacuums to use for quick clean-ups, but I've found their batteries stop holding charge after about a year and I got really tired of buying new ones or using one with a weak battery!

So, this time I decided to go with a corded vacuum, but stole a tip I learned from a beach house we stayed at last summer -- I hooked up an extension cord to the vacuum to make it a longer distance without unplugging/replugging.

And it works great!  The cord does not even bother me and it is so easy to whip out and do a quick vacuum or hand to a kid who is acting annoying and therefore earned some vacuum time!

Here it is, my new best friend:

See the extension cord in the background?

Here's the vacuum again:


Only don't buy it on Amazon, because it's $19.88 at Walmart .  I know, I know, I don't really like going to Walmart either (Target is my happy place but Walmart is too dark and crowded with stuff or something; it makes me feel claustrophobic) but it's worth it to save nearly $12.00!

***This is not a paid endorsement.  I paid for the item with my own money and truly do love it.  If you purchase it through my Amazon.com link, I will receive a very small advertising fee.***

Find more Works For Me Wednesday here.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

We do not need another pet!

The Christmas stuffed dog bone met it's demise this week . . .

Madeline puts on her innocent face and says, "What?  I don't know who made that mess!"

And her guilty face, "Okay, it was me.  But, I didn't mean to, I just got a little carried away playing!"


Apparently Madeline the dog is not pet enough around this house.  My 7 year old daughter insists she wants her very own dog, a little dog!  And she'll pay for it with her own money and take care of it and train it . . .

I casually mentioned the vet bills and cost to board the extra dog every time we go out of town.  I may have even had a vet receipt handy from a recent boarding and showed it to her.  That pretty well ended the asking for her own dog!  

But, then there's my 4 year old daughter that has decided she really wants a little pet turtle!  Where she got that, I have no idea.  We do not have any friends with turtle pets.  Honestly as a former scientist, the Salmonella aspect scares me!  But, I just said we'd talk about it when she was old enough to clean out the turtle tank by herself (which I think will conveniently be the same age she can go away to college).  Little Girl has still added the turtle to her birthday list which grows longer each day and her birthday is not until October!  I finally did have to burst that bubble today and inform her that, "You know, just because something is on your 'birthday list' doesn't mean you'll definitely get it."

It's all about setting expectations!  And not getting a turtle as a pet.


Remember when I told you that my 5 year old son blows me a kiss after he crosses homeplate in his T-ball games?  Well, I now have photographic evidence:

Good thing he's not asking for another dog or a turtle because I just might cave under the pressure of that sweetness!


 Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sometimes it just is about the hair.

Today I sent Little Girl (who we adopted from Ethiopia) into her gymnastics class and watched through the glass viewing window as her teacher greeted her.  Little Girl's hair was fixed in the same style as the picture below, with 2 little puffs with bows in the front and free hair in the back (the last 2 weeks we've had braids, so it's not always free hair):

Her gymnastics teacher is African-American and she said to Little Girl, "I like your afro hair!  It's cute!"  To which Little Girl replied, "It's not my afro hair, it's just my hair!"  Her teacher smiled at her.

But, I just knew she was thinking, "Poor little girl with a white mama."

Just being real here.  And sharing a glimpse into the world of being a multiracial family.  Obviously we are so thankful for how God built our family, and the blessings dramatically counter-balance the hard parts, but there are challenges.  Often, I am sure I create many of the difficulties within my own mind.  In all likelihood the very sweet gymnastics teacher probably wasn't feeling sorry for Little Girl having a white mother.  And Little Girl only began learning English 16 months ago, so the fact that at 4 years old she didn't know the word "afro" is probably no indication that I have failed to properly educate her about and expose her to her birth culture.  But still, the insecurities are there.  And I know they are there for many other adoptive families.  The voice that whispers, "You are not equipped to raise this child well."  When I sense that voice, I remind myself that I am ill-equipped to raise any of my children well, no matter if they are genetically related to me or joined our family through adoption, and I am relying on all-mighty God, the creator of the universe, to fill-in where I fall short.

That being said, on the car ride home I did explain to Little Girl what an afro, or "afro hair" is.  And then spent nearly 2 hours washing, detangling, conditioning, and putting twists in her hair because today was already planned to be a hair-wash, style day.

Find more Thoughtful Thursday here and Thriving Thursdays here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Great Joke to Play On Your Kids

Want to know a super funny, harmless joke to play on your kids?

Pick them up from school and tell them you have a special treat for them -- Brown E's.  Of course they will hear "brownies" and be so excited.  When you get home, make a big production of slowly opening the foil lid you've put on a baking pan, then bring out a brown letter E!  "Here's your brown E!"

Oh, it is so funny!  Just hilarious!  Because a few of my kids were slow coming out of the car and one detoured to play on the swings in the backyard before coming in for snack, I managed to one-by-one do the joke to each of my 4 children last Friday.  It was really funny to see each of their individual reactions!  And the kids that were now in on the joke had fun watching their siblings fall for it!

My 10 year old son thought it was the funniest thing ever!  

My 7 year old daughter was the most mad:
The 7 year old:  "Hey!  You said you had brownies, THAT'S NOT A BROWNIE!"  
Me:  "Well, what color is it?"  
The 7 year old: "brown."  
Me:  "And what letter is it?"
The 7 year old reluctantly, "E".
Me:  "So it is a BROWN E!"

She did come around and saw the humor, though!

Because I'm not a totally mean mom, I did really have a pan of brownies hidden away ready to offer them once the Brown E fun died down!

On Monday, I packed each of the 3 kids that go to big school, a construction paper brown E in their lunch box because they wanted to play the little joke on their friends at lunch, "Hey do you want my brown E?"

They had fun playing the joke on their friends!  My kindergartener said one of the cafeteria workers saw him do the joke to his friend and she started laughing!  And my brave 4th grader played the Brown E joke on his teacher, luckily she thought it was funny, too!

So, spread the laughter -- who could you play the brown E joke on?

Do you know of any other good jokes/pranks we could enjoy -- good clean fun where nobody gets hurt?

Monday, April 15, 2013

When Life Is Not Unicorns and Rainbows

I sat on the rug today in the elementary school library with 24 kindergarteners.  The librarian had just read a story about Jane Goodall.  The book was  Me . . . Jane by Patrick Mcdonnell and it is told from the perspective of Jane Goodall as a little girl with her toy chimpanzee and describes her dream of "living with and helping all animals,"  Then one day she finds that her dream has come true and the book then shows a picture of the grown-up Jane with a real chimpanzee in Africa.  Our wonderful librarian then held up a book she had made about herself as a child.  It depicted her life as the 2nd oldest of 5 girls and on one page it mentioned her dream of becoming a librarian someday.  The now grown-up librarian said to the kids, "And now look at me!"  She motioned around the room and said, "My dream came true!"

Then she asked, "I wonder if any one of you has a dream for your future?"

A few of the kids said they wanted to work with animals one day, but I was amazed at some of the answers!  One little girl raised her hand high and when called on said in a strong voice, "I want to ride a unicorn someday!"

"Whoa!"  I thought, "Now THAT'S a dream!"

Then another little girl just couldn't wait to share her answer, "I want to slide down a rainbow!" she said.

"Me, too!  I want to slide down a rainbow, too!" said the the little girl sitting next to her.

As I smiled at their cuteness, I also marveled at the innocence of these public school 5 and 6 year olds!  "Thank you, God, for that.  Thank you that their dreams are about unicorns and rainbows!"  I silently prayed.

I helped the kids find and check-out books, then helped another class when the kindergarteners left, ran an errand, picked my 4 year old up from preschool, had lunch with her, played a round of the game Guess Who where I always end up letting her win, read her a story, and settled her into bed for some rest-time (which she never uses to actually rest, but it's quiet time for us both any way). 

Then my husband stopped by home during his work day to pick up something tax-related to take by the post office (yes, we are last-minute like that) and he asked if I'd heard about what happened in Boston.  I hadn't.  I opened up my computer and read a couple articles and my heart sank.

Evil had struck again.

"Why, God?  Why can't this world be unicorns and rainbows for our kindergarten kids to grow up in?"

Of course, I know a lot of reasons why life here on this earth is not going to be easy.  And senseless tragedies, like today in Boston, remind me so clearly that we are not home yet!  This world is not our home!  Here on earth the battle is on -- good versus evil!

But we are assured in Revelation 21 that one day God will dwell with us and, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Until then, may I live like I believe that and teach my children the same.  This world is not my home and He is coming back!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

One Big Life

Tonight we had my 2nd grade daughter's school musical, it was very cute.  I've loved seeing my shy girl blossom and branch out of her comfort zone some this school year.  Aside from the musical, this week she also did the announcements over the loud speaker in the morning at her school along with 2 other classmates.  Last year she didn't volunteer when given the opportunity.  This year her teacher didn't give her a choice (which I'm so happy about), and my girl ended up having fun doing it.  She said next year she'd willingly volunteer!


When my 4 year old little girl goes to a party, she does it up big, I tell you!  Here she is post-party last weekend:


We've had some strange weather lately with some near-summer-like days right next to still-need-your-coat kind of days.  Sometimes all in the same day!  Yesterday the temperature dropped 20 degrees right at mid-day, which meant my kids were sent to school in shorts and needed coats (which they didn't have) at pick-up time!

But we are enjoying the pretty, spring days when we get them.  Some reading and writing at the outside table:

Last Saturday night we camped in our local city park for the annual "Tents in Town" night.  It's like camping without all the work plus a mega-party.  You still have to set up your tent, but then you get everything else provided to you!  For dinner, breakfast and even smore's and ice cream you go through a buffet line.  Then there are jumpy things, a live band, games, nature demonstrations, and star gazing through telescopes -- the kids have a blast!

My 5 year old son loved this activity and spent so much time there.  In fact it was quite a hit with many of the boys.  Cars and tracks.  Pretty simple, really, but huge entertainment!


I am hoping for a bit more rest this weekend.  Although with a swim meet, a t-ball game, and an adoption class, all in addition to church, that's not likely!

Happy Friday, Friends!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

With Friends Like That, Who Needs Enemies?

Did you know that as Judas was betraying Jesus by turning him over to the chief priests who arrested him and crucified Him, that Jesus called Judas, "Friend"?!!  

And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.  Matthew 26:49-50 (ESV)

If Jesus saw Judas as his "friend" at that point, who else does Jesus see as his friend?

And just who should we as followers of Jesus see as our friends?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Best Cream for Dry Skin

Skincare can be a big topic in transracial adoption, because you are caring for a child that may need a different skin care regime than you would do for your own skin and there is a learning curve to figure out what works.  I have had other moms ask me what I use to moisturize Little Girl's skin, so I thought I'd share what we use here.  

What I've found that works best to keep my black daughter's skin from getting too dry or ashy are the same 2 creams that work best for my white daughter's eczema-prone skin, only with my Ethiopian child, the lotion needs to be put on twice a day, with my other daughter we can get away with once a day.  

The 2 creams are Vanicream and CeraVe Cream.


 Now if anyone has any hair product recommendations, I'm all ears!  We have tons we've tried but the one we loved most -- Curls By Sisters Smith is no longer being sold on the Internet and I haven't found anything even close as our new go-to leave-in conditioner!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The things we do for our kids!

What is my husband doing in this picture?

He's digging for a homework packet for a certain oldest child who lost it!  We were trying to get out of town for Easter weekend when the packet was discovered missing.  We looked everywhere for it and couldn't find it.  The 10 year old was in tearsMy husband thought it may have been thrown away.  His trash can digging didn't unearth the missing homework, either.

My son found the homework packet the following Monday when he when back to school Turns out even though it was supposed to stay home and be worked on little by little over a few weeks, he'd put it back in his backpack after doing some work one night and then took it to school the next day and left it in his desk at school.


I'm so glad I snapped that picture, though, because it sums up what parenthood is often like - sacrificial and messy!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Exercise Attire

This morning after taking the 3 older kids to school, I ate breakfast with Little Girl, did the dishes, played a game with her and then told her it was time for me to exercise.  As I set up my Shred Exercise DVD (Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred ), she ran off and then came back and told me she was "Ready to exercise!  See, I put on my special exercise things."

And so she had!  A Cinderella dress, a pink tutu, a bandana around her neck and several sparkly bead necklaces!

Gotta admire her sense of style when choosing her exercise attire! 

Find more Mommy Brain Mixer here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Super Easy, Super Healthy Snack

Snack foods are hard when you are trying to eat healthy, whole foods.

Sure, there's always a piece of fruit or raw carrots, and we do those a lot, but sometimes you want something else.

Lately to satisfy the times I really want crackers or for my husband, his snack food temptation is chips, we've started eating a handful of almonds.  

Plain, unsalted, non-roasted, natural almonds.  

Can't beat this ingredient list:

The first couple days they will seem too plain, because your taste buds are likely used to saltier/more processed foods, but stick with this snack and it will grow on you.  Not to mention the protein fills you up much better than a strictly carbohydrate snack!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

There's No Crying in Baseball

My littlest guy is playing t-ball right now.

I wrote a post a couple years ago called "So, you wanna be a Little League mom?" and I have to say nearly all that is still true now, except for a few things:
  • Sewing that Little League patch on the jersey is INFINITELY easier with a sewing machine!  I did not have nor did I know how to use a sewing machine back when my oldest son was playing baseball, and sewing that patch by hand just about did me in (although, surprisingly that blog post has been one of my most-viewed) and literally with the sewing machine I was done in 3 minutes!  
  • Something else that makes being a Little League mom tons easier is having a 10 year old son who can help the 5 year old son.  When there are practices that start early, before my husband can get away from work, I take my little guy to practice and watch, but my older son helps him carry his equipment, head to the right place when his coach says to go to "left field", switch between his hat and batting helmet when needed, and find his glove in the dug-out.  Not only is it a huge help but such a blessing to watch my older son willingly helping his little brother without me even telling him to!
  • I used to think it was the best when my older son would smile and wave at me from 2nd base, but my younger son has topped that.  During games, when he's running the bases and crosses home plate, my 5 year old turns to the bleachers, smiles, and blows me a kiss before heading back into the dugout -- precious!!
All that being said, there were some tears for his first few practices.  My younger son is much more of a people person than my older son was.  Basically both my older 2 kids don't really get their feelings hurt too much by other children, or really notice if other kids are performing better than they are.  But, my younger two, including my 5 year old now playing baseball, really care!  The positive is that they make friends easily and truly enjoy their friends, but the negative is that if someone doesn't treat them nicely their feelings get hurt!  Also, they have a tough time if they feel like they are not as good as some of the other kids at a particular task.

So, we had to work through/suffer through some issues the beginning of the season, which led to me giving my 5 year old some advice as I helped him tie on his cleats before his first game.  Advice, which I had to laugh at once he repeated it later to my husband and I realized how funny it sounded.  My 5 year old said more than once as we drove to his game, "Mommy said, 'No matter what happens, try your best and don't cry!'"

Should he really internalize that mantra, I'm sure there will be therapy later, but hey, everyone knows there's no crying in baseball (Name that movie line -- A League of Their Own with Tom Hanks)!  

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.