My 4 kids made Christmas cookies today. For the first year, it wasn't total chaos; they were actually really good at the rolling and cutting out of cookies!
Do not fear I'll have to change the name of this blog, there was still chaos in the kitchen due to the dog desperately trying to help make cookies (she is in all 4 of the pictures below, although very hard to spot in the 2nd one):
Would anyone like a 4 year old goldendoodle for Christmas? I can drop her on your doorstep complete with a large red bow!
This year I the fun privilege of buying Christmas gifts for the two children on my Child Advocates case, children who have been in the foster care system for years! Children who told me they got nothing for their last birthdays, before I was assigned their case. Children who only got clothes last Christmas at a different foster home. Well, NOT THIS YEAR! No, sir! It was my mission to get these kids EXACTLY what they wanted for Christmas, down to the color. Who knew that the Nintendo 3DS was so popular in BLUE?! I could have easily gotten one in red or black at Amazon or most other stores and had it shipped to me like I like, but my girl wanted blue, so I stood in line at Walmart (my least favorite store, but the only one with the BLUE 3DS) for an hour to score the gift! The children who live in my home and call me "Mom," do not get this level of service. No way would I stress to get them the exact color of an electronic device, but these kids who have been through so much? Who sometimes feel like nobody cares about them? You betcha! Today I carefully wrapped each gift, made sure the brother and sister had an even number of gifts, because, well, I KNOW that is important. I even took the time for bows:
Then I delivered them to the kids at their foster home. Oh the joy!! Seriously, all gift giving ought to be like this! Please can I never again have to buy for a person who has everything and instead just buy for people who are so over the top excited about their presents? The kids didn't open their gifts today (the foster mother and I agreed they should save them for Christmas), but they gushed over the wrapped presents for a good half hour none the less, shaking and holding each one trying to guess what was inside! Many Christmases I've bought gifts for strangers in need. Angel tree, adopt-a-family, etc. and those are great things, but what was so awesome this year is that I KNOW these kids. I've spent time with them before Christmas and I know so many details about their history and so I was able to buy them the gifts I know they are going to love and unlike so many other giving-to-the-needy opportunities, I'll still be there for these kids next month. It's not just about giving at Christmastime, it's about relationship. As I left we laughed as we said, "I'll see you 2015!" But, I will.
This year at our church's annual gingerbread house decorating event, we decided to two houses, a girls' house and a boys' house. Fun for everyone and the best part is that the mess was not in my house!
We decorated our Christmas tree last weekend, and I can say for the first time in years my kids helped decorate the tree and I did not rearrange a single ornament after they went to bed! Not because they have become amazing tree-decorators or even learned to observe the rule that more than one ornament should not hang on the same branch, but because I do not care/do not have the energy or time to redecorate. I'm not sure if this is a positive step forward, but I'm counting it as one!
I was vacuuming recently (hence the hose in the picture) and this hilarious sight showed up in my kitchen:
My youngest son wearing a purple tutu and purple hair bow!
When you are sandwiched between sisters, one big and one little, these things happen!
We took our Kapla Blocks on our roadtrip to relatives' for Thanksgiving and they were the perfect thing for cousins to join in on and to entertain the kids (and adults, too!) at grandparents house!
The kids having a tower building contest:
Happy Friday, can you believe it's only 3 weeks until Christmas?!!! If it makes you feel any better I have yet to order my Christmas cards, wrap a single present, or bake a cookie, but I DID get my car inspected only one day after the sticker expired, so I'm patting myself on the back none the less!
We embarked on our annual family exhibition to cut down a Christmas tree this past Saturday.
Our 9 year old daughter fell in love with a certain tree we worried would be too tall for our living room ceiling. Literally there were tears, TEARS, over not getting that tree she wanted! Really, the ridiculousness of it is still amazing to me now 3 days later!
Lest the pictures fool you into thinking it was an
idyllic day, just know that we began the outing with a 15 minute lecture
right there standing in the parking lot of the Christmas tree farm, to
address bad behavior from all 4 kids that had gone on that morning. And
mid-way through our quest for the perfect tree I may have said we'd
never do this again -- I mean an entire farm worth of
trees and we couldn't all agree on one!
The 11 year old perfectly illustrating my feelings:
Then there was the colossal fit
Little Girl threw in the play area that caused my husband to carry her out screaming to
the car. He later told me he kept waiting for the police to come
question him for kidnapping. We worried about that a lot when Little
Girl first came to us and was throwing fits often and we were hyper
aware of not matching like typical parents and children, since we are
white and she is black. But, praise God, the fits got better and I
haven't thought much about being accused of kidnapping my own child in a
long time. Hopefully that Christmas tree farm fit was isolated and not the beginning a new pattern! So, just keeping it real, and telling the back story behind the pictures, but at the end of the day we did go home with a tree that we cut down, the kids had some fun, hopefully lessons were learned, and we are a family. We hang together through the messy and the beautiful!
There has been so much talk of Ferguson these past few days since the verdict came out and I was inundated with news coverage while at a certain relative's house over Thanksgiving who had the Fox News going non-stop. I've heard too many opinions on Ferguson from white people. So, honestly I've struggled with if I should even write about this, but I just can't let it go. I will try to be brief. I do not know what really happened the day Mike Brown died. I am not pointing fingers or taking sides. But, I can tell you the whole thing feels different when you are the parent of a black child. Really different. I know what it feels like to parent white children and now for three years since we adopted our youngest, I am learning what it feels like to parent a black child. It shouldn't be all that different, right? Well, except for hair and skin care. Only, unfortunately, there are things that ARE different because of the way others may judge my black child.
For example, when I just parented white children, it never occurred to me to coach them on what to do if approached by the police. "Police are your friends, they are your helpers, the safe people," is probably what I said. And I never thought about going over with my kids about how to conduct themselves in department stores when they are old enough to shop without me. Things like, "don't put your hands in your pockets," "don't carry a large purse," "always have your receipt with you for things you've bought," "do not dig around in your purse while in the middle of a store." Because I do not follow those rules myself.
The hard reality that the world may judge my two precious daughters, who decked out in princess attire just yesterday, differently, possibly assuming negative things about my Ethiopian daughter just because she is black, is heartbreaking! But, it is a reality for her, and thus me, as her mom.
Racism is still a problem in our country. I recently got a comment from a white person that caused my head to spin around and the only thing I could think to say was, "You know I have a black daughter, right?"
Thanksgiving is not even officially here yet, and I've already enjoyed all manner of festivities!
The kindergarten Thanksgiving lunch I attended today with over 100 pilgrims and Indians:
Now, I was not there at the very first Thanksgiving feast but I feel certain there were not Chick-Fil-A nuggets nor Capri Suns, however, I'm sure a nugget tray and a little fruit punch would have been a welcomed addition to their Thanksgiving bounty!
And then tonight, from the comfort of the couch in my living room, there was a Thanksgiving play put on by my three youngest children who played the parts of a pilgrim, the turkey, and an Indian.
My favorite part was when the pilgrim caught the turkey! But, the conversation at dinner when my 9 year old daughter was assigning parts, and the 7 year old, upon being given the part of "The Turkey", lamented that he always got the bad parts, was pretty priceless, too! But, he rallied and put on an Oscar-worthy performance as The Turkey, complete with lots of "Gobble! Gobble!"s.
Well, winter came and went here for us in the South. It was rough week of temps dipping into the mid 30s which is super cold for us in November! Of course it's nothing like many of you have experienced around the country from this cold snap. But, keep in mind that we Southerners who live at sea level just are not made for the cold, not to mention we do not own proper coats or gloves or really even know what winter gear is. So, there was a lot of whining during our week of cold. And also 2 different outside school field trips that I chaperoned on 30 & 40 degree days. For the 2nd grade field trip to the Arboretum I had 11 kids in my group and I can say that at the end of the day I loaded 11 kids back on the bus, but I cannot say the same for the gloves of all those 11 kids, we definitely lost some along the way!
The only way my kids and I got through the cold snap was this:
I'll have you know that is HOMEMADE whipped cream on that hot chocolate. Not because I am such a chef, but out of pure desperation because we ran out of the canned spray kind! I had a half-used carton of whipping cream in the fridge and was able to demonstrate to the kids that it does in fact turn into whipped cream with enough beating!
Now we are back to 70 degrees so all is right in my world again! Really, I'm doing well to get my 4 kids out the door on time for school each day, throw in 4 pairs of gloves and hats and y'all I need a serious nap by 8am!
In other news, one Saturday morning recently (after swim practice, hence the 11 year old sporting the swimsuit and sweatshirt look) my husband and oldest son realized we'd never taught Little Girl how to play baseball, so they set to the task:
She learned quickly as she seems to learn everything involving physical ability
My husband and son soon announced that she was "really pretty good" and wouldreally do well on a softball team. To which I asked, "So who has time to get her to and from practice?" Nobody, that's who. So, for now she'll just have to show off her stuff in the backyard!
The girls made this book together with some really cute illustrations:
And then there was a costume contest. The boys were the judges, like literally scored their sister's costume creations for several different criteria, including creativity! Here my younger daughter is a cupcake and my older daughter is a marshmallow!
I'm not sure what this was; it was in the "fantasy" category, but I think her serious pout face makes the outfit!
I'm feeling a bit proud of myself that I've already bought some Christmas gifts, but really still in denial that next week is Thanksgiving already!!!
I've posted exactly 4 times in November (not counting today). FOUR times, that's it! So obviously November is eating me alive and flying by! Christmas will be here before we know it! So, I want to get this out there in the hopes that it makes someone's Christmas shopping just a bit easier.
Do you have a child or children on your to-buy-for list?
Hands down, THE BEST, MOST PLAYED WITH toy we have owned!
Boys, girls, preschoolers, preteens -- all will love Kapla Blocks!
Do you know how some things you give your kids for Christmas they are excited about for about 3 days and then don't ever play with it again? Well, not so with the Kapla Blocks! Since buying these for my kids, currently ages 11, 9, 7, and 6 last Christmas, all of them have enjoyed the Kapla Blocks and played with them over and over again. So much so that we've added to our set with 2 different kid birthdays and now have THREE BOXES of the Kapla Blocks for triple the building fun!
The simplicity is really the beautiful thing about these blocks. No loud, bright colors! No need for batteries! Not even various block sizes to choose from! Just a big box of all the same blocks! Yet the building possibilities are endless!
The most recent creation (even the 6th grader joining in on the fun):
Lately my kids like mixing the Legos with the Kapla blocks. It does make for double the mess but oh the creativity and hours of screen-free entertainment! Plus, they can and do clean it up on their own when I tell them to. Okay, the reality is they clean it up when I tell them they can only have or do something they want AFTER they've cleaned up the playroom!
***I am an Amazon.com affiliate and will earn a tiny portion of the sale should you use a link from this blog, but I am truly recommending this product because it has been such a hit in my home!***