Thursday, December 30, 2010

Big Plans!

We drove a ways out of town tonight to see a big Christmas lights display and my husband could not resist stopping off here on the way home:

Now mind you we live inside the limits of a city with rules, so we only left with sparklers and those snap things that pop when you throw them down, but we have 3 young children, let's face it, that's about as crazy as New Year's Eve gets.

We may even mix up a little apple juice and Sprite!

For the record, the inside of that Fireworks Warehouse was a strange place -- think boxes and boxes containing all manner of explosives with crazy, sometimes obscene-sounding names, and specific well-posted rules that customers are not allowed to touch any of the fireworks until after they have been paid for -- really glad we trotted our 3 little ones through it!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We still mean it!

Below is the Christmas letter we mailed out along with our card this year. And even after the news of yesterday that rocked us and many other prospective Ethiopia adoptive families with our agency, we still mean it -- "And so we march on with the realization that we would wait years if it came to that, do all the paperwork over again, even, for her." Yeah, we weren't exactly counting on God calling us on that one, but with the new delay our fingerprints among other things will likely expire and need to be redone. Yesterday we were a little depressed, but today we say bring it, we're all in! Nobody said international adoption was for the faint of heart!

Text of our 2010 Christmas letter that was sent along with our card:

Hopefully you’re looking at the last official picture of us as a family of five!

We’ve been working with an agency for about 15 months to adopt a child (a girl between the ages of 0-30 months) from Ethiopia. We could have had a biological child in that time, but we wouldn't trade this adoption experience for anything. God has used it to change and grow our hearts in ways we never could have imagined!

There have been many points during the adoption process where we’ve just had to laugh. Like during the many trips to the bank where we had to get documents notarized and both of us had to be present to sign, so we’d take our kids with us and while we waited and they climbed, crawled and ran all over the bank, we prayed that nobody would notice it was adoption paperwork we were having notarized, because seriously, “One more kid is just what that family needs!”

Then my fingerprints that were done for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration came back as unclassifiable after going in for multiple attempts to let them fingerprint me! The fingerprints were for the visa that grants approval to be able to bring the child we adopt into the U.S. It sounds kinda cool to have unclassifiable prints, but in reality? Not so cool. Especially if you are not trying to live a life of crime, but rather trying to adopt a child from a foreign country!

We had no idea our city even had one Dept. of Homeland Security office before beginning the adoption journey but got to visit three in less than three months! The best was the final visit, when I had to take the toddler with me, he took one look at the sea of people sitting on folding chairs waiting for their turn and said loud enough for everyone within about 32 rows to hear, “Why are all these people just sitting here? What are they doing?!!” Exactly!

Within the next few weeks we expect to be matched with the specific girl we will adopt. We don't yet know her name, age, or what she looks like, but that doesn't really seem to matter right now, we wait, pray and love just the same. She may technically be an orphan but to us she is the beloved "Baby Sister" with a family waiting for her. A few months after being matched we will travel to Ethiopia twice, once to meet her and appear in Ethiopian court and the second trip is for our embassy appointment after which we’ll be able to bring her home. We are hoping to take our two older children, one on each of the trips.

Setbacks, delays, and waiting are all parts of many adoptions; they are certainly not unique to our story. And so we march on with the realization that we would wait years if it came to that, do all the paperwork over again, even, for her.

And that love does not come from us! We hate paperwork, waiting, and often are overwhelmed with the three children we already have! This is very much God’s story; we are thankful to be a part and can’t wait to see what He brings in 2011!

Psalm 68:5-6b, "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families"

Find more Thankful Thursday here

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Focusing on the Joy

There have been a few things hard this holiday season, painfully hard.

My mom is now a shell of her former self, the dementia has already taken so much and somehow that's easier to bear when it is not Christmas.

My dad who is divorced from my mom and married another woman about 16 years ago, he and his wife have not been very supportive of our adoption plans, but we'd thought they had come around in recent months, a pre-Christmas visit and a gift in particular revealed that to definitely not be the case.

Then there's the adoption waiting, that has very admittedly gone on longer than we ever imagined it would.

And today an email with unexpeted news that makes the wait longer and more uncertain.

But, I'm trying not to focus on those things, because then I'd miss all the joy going on around me.
One of the only things my daughter asked for was a "baby doll that was the size of a real baby". We got her one that wears real 3 month old baby clothes, so on Christmas Eve I dug out the storage tub with the baby girl clothes and oh the joy at washing those precious things again! (Although, I did have to soak about half the clothes overnight to get out some spit-up stains that strangely reappeared during storage --- I know I washed them before storing them away! But, my daughter was my worst spit-up baby of the three!) So I was finishing the baby girl wash even on Christmas and my husband was like, "You're doing wash on Christmas?!!" "Yeah, but this is fun wash!"

Here's my girl with her real baby sized doll!

And all her old 3 month old clothes really do fit that doll. Oh, how much fun we've had changing that baby's clothes! Here's the baby on Christmas day in the Christmas jammies that my daughter wore for her first Christmas!

My daughter was a little upset when her new doll wouldn't fit in the dolly crib with the other dolls. I had to reminder her that it was a doll-sized crib and that her new doll was real baby sized! I did draw the line at dragging the real baby crib out of storage but appeased my daughter by getting out the Moses basket for "Baby Olive" (my daughter named her that) to sleep in.

But seriously, how sweet is this baby doll?!! And no spit-up, 2 am feedings or overflowing diapers!

In case you want one for your own home (and you know you do):

Find more Wordful Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, and Not So Wordless Wednesday.

Friday, December 24, 2010

It Feels Like Chaos Unveiled for Christmas!

You guys know how rare it is for me to show our faces on this blog, but we're temporarily unveiling to properly wish you and your family a very merry Christmas!

In appreciation of you reading and encouraging me on a daily basis, a sneak peak at the Christmas card we mailed out this year. . .

Merry Christmas from our family in Texas

with our hearts in Africa as we wait to bring our daughter
home from Ethiopia!

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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Teaching Kids to Give

We watched a cartoon version of A Christmas Carol (you know the movie with Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim) with the kids tonight and they were glued to it the whole time, full of questions during the movie -- "Which one is the mean guy? Why is he so mean? Will he turn good at the end?"

At one point during the middle of the movie I asked my 7 year old, "Would you rather have a big house and a lot of money and be all by yourself, or live in a small house with very little money, but family around?" His answer, "The small house with other people!"

My husband and I hoped the moral would have an impact. But, we were skeptical when my 3 year pondered for a moment at the movie's end and as the credits rolled, declared very seriously, "I NEED MORE COINS IN MY BANK!"

We laughed at the hilariousness of it, but told him the movie was not about getting more for yourself, but sharing what you do have with others.

He ignored us and went on to explain, "But I have only one coin in my bank."

And, it was true, he did indeed only have one coin, because he crawled up to the high shelf on the bookcase and emptied the contents of his bank one too many times, not to spend the money, but just to play with, and it got lost (likely gathered up by his brother and sister and deposited into
their banks!).

I had just decided he was too young for the bank my mom had given him anyway and so let it sit with it's one coin for months now.

But, as we shooed the kids up the stairs to their beds after the movie, I turned back to the kitchen and reached into the coin jar grabbing a handful of pennies and nickles. I called my littlest son back and and handed him the coins, telling him, "Now you have more for your bank." He couldn't wait to get it into his bank! Then my older two children wanted to get their rather full banks down off the shelves. I wasn't really sure why they wanted their banks down except maybe to lord over their little brother that they still had more than he did.

But, as I helped my 3 year old get the coins I'd given him into his bank, they came, first my 7 year old gave his little brother one of his shiny gold coins, then my daughter came with a few coins, and quickly returned with a handful more for her little brother.

At one point, my 3 year old asked his sister, "Why are you giving me this?"

And her answer, "Because I have so much."

Find more Wordful Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, and Not So Wordless Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Random Information

In the interest of keepin' it real, we did not mail our Christmas cards last weekend as semi-planned. But, they are all going in the mail tomorrow, only thanks to the help of my husband's parents who are visiting and my husband set them to work!

So house guests beware, if you travel to our home during the Christmas season, you may end up stuffing tons and tons of envelopes or if you're really, really lucky, attaching return address labels!


I was in the Target recently (shocking, I know!), and I was looking for some Christmas M&Ms to use on some cookies. You know, just plain chocolate in the center M&Ms but in the red and green colors.

And can I just say, it was staggering how many different kinds of M&Ms there were! I had no idea there were so many varieties! I'm used to peanut and plain and mint at Christmas, but now? Pretzel,almond, dark chocolate, dark chocolate peanut, peanut butter, and cherry!

However, amid the sea of choices, I still could not find what I was looking for, the plain Christmas colors M&Ms!


That's it, I'm too tired to write any more, have a wonderful weekend!

Mommy's Idea

It's How We Do Wrapping Paper

And this is another reason I love warm weather this time of year, because this project inside is well, too crazy even for me!

Actually that's not totally true we did do it inside one year when it was cold and wet, but my kitchen only recovered from the red and green madness with the help of several Mr. Clean Erasers!

Find more Thankful Thursday here and Things I Love Thursday here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Something Meaningful in Their Stocking

I'm not sure if I can even post this as a Works for Me Wednesday tip because I haven't actually tried it. But, as I was getting the kids' Christmas stockings out of storage a few weeks ago and hanging them on the mantel, I had an idea.

The kids were eager to hold their stockings and immediately stuck their hands down in them to see if anything was inside, but they were empty. So, I had the thought that it would neat if before we packed away the stockings after Christmas this year, we wrote a note to each child and put it in their stocking for them to find and read the next December.

The note could be particular things about each child we are thankful for and/or memorable stories from the year. But, I think it would be a meaningful tradition to start!

Maybe we'd even have the kids write notes to each other and put them in the stockings.

Anybody else do something like this?

Monday, December 13, 2010

8 Months + 1 Day Waiting for Her

Yesterday marked exactly 8 months waiting for her.

The toddler girl or baby girl we will adopt from Ethiopia.

I've said before that we began this adoption adventure because there are 147 million orphans in the world and we want to make that number 147 million MINUS ONE!!

But, for now the minus one is on our side.

Until we can bring her home, our family is minus one.

And although life is very busy and joyful, somehow it is always there, the fact, the feeling that someone is missing.

We are trying not to go crazy being in the "any day now" phase of waiting on the referral for the child we'll adopt. "The Call" could come today or 2 months from now.

In addition to longer waits for referrals, there has been a slow down recently in the length of time between getting a referral and getting to travel to meet your child. It was just about 2 months after getting a referral and now sometimes it is 4 or even 6 months later! So that's hard, I'm afraid once we see her face the wait will be even more difficult, but we are trusting God's perfect timing and trying not to be impatient.

We have heard updates from our agency that the longer waits are not for lack of orphan kids, our agency's group home is actually overcrowded right now, it is just getting through government red tape, like traveling back to remote villages to track down birth certificates on kids that the court is now requiring. I try not to think about the fact that our future daughter is very, very likely in an orphanage right now.

And yeah, this beautiful Christmas song makes me cry, but there is hope, the song begins with, "It's Christmas time again but you're not home, your family is here, yet you're somewhere else alone, tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms. . ."

But it ends with, "It's Christmas time again and now you're home, your family is here so you will never be alone, so tonight before you go to sleep I'll hold you in my arms. . ."

We are praising God that with His help this year will be her last Christmas without a family and our last Christmas without her!

P.S. If you click on that YouTube video, pay attention to the pictures. They are actual photos from one of the band members of Third Day and show him, his wife, and their 3 daughters as they journeyed to adopted a little girl from China. He wrote this song as they waited for her. Their wait was over 3 years! Makes ours seem short!

Find more Gratituesday.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The good news is: it's not staying!

So my kitchen looked like this over the weekend:

but the good news is that NONE of that stuff is for the children who live in my home!

Those presents were generously donated by sponsors for the 2 children I serve through Child Advocates who will spend Christmas in a foster home. Every Christmas Child Advocates creates wish lists for each of the children we serve and then corporations and individuals sponsor children, buy them gifts and deliver them to a warehouse where the Child Advocate (CASA), like me, goes and picks them up to deliver them to the abused children on our cases. That warehouse is like something out of the North Pole. It is huge and filled with toys, Christmas stockings, bikes, and big tables lined with wrapping paper and bows (if volunteers want to do their wrapping at the warehouse)! And it's a testament to the fact that people are still generous in this day and age.

I got everything wrapped and now I get to deliver them, such a fun job! Seriously, it's awesome to be able to watch the delight when children open gifts and know you don't have to be the one to find spots to put them away or ever enforce that they get picked up!

And as a side note, it turns out that my 5 year old daughter is an excellent voice-activated automatic tape dispenser! I'd just said "tape" every time I needed a piece and then a piece would be handed to me!

She's staying!

Another thing that's not staying:
Notice anything strange about that nativity scene?

Hint: look at the white thing right behind the donkey and in front of Mary.

Yeah, it's a snowman.

What? You don't remember that part in Luke? You know the angel, the donkey ride to Bethlehem, no room at the inn but you can stay in the stable, baby Jesus was born, Mary laid him in the manger as Joseph, the animals, and the snowman looked on?

No, no snowman mentioned in the Bible?

Then there's an infiltrator in my nativity!

One of my children created that snowman a week ago out of clay and when I wasn't looking, managed to smuggle it into the manager scene. Nice try, but it's NOT staying. The children have 2 nativities sets to play with, add Yoda to, whatever, but this one is mine! Mine, mine, mine!


And the last thing that I'm glad is not staying? The cold weather!

Y'all, it's been rough. We've had about 20 hours now where you really need a winter coat outside, it's that cold. And I don't like it. I don't like to be cold. There are people that live where I live that whine and complain when it's warm in December, "It doesn't feel like Christmas." I can assure you I am not one of those people!

But, the good news is that it's not staying! The high on Wednesday is 76 degrees F! Hurray! I get a lot more done when I'm not huddled under a blanket!

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Icing on the Cake

I made a cake last night for a Christmas dinner I went to tonight. I iced it this morning with the help of my 3 year old who was standing on a chair helping me. When I finished I handed him the beater so he could lick it, and then I set to cleaning up the kitchen. I looked back over a couple minutes later and this is what I saw:
Totally reclined on the chair he'd been standing on, using his Big Duke as a pillow and licking off the icing!

So hilarious, but I'm telling you, that kid knows how to do life!


My daughter's kindergarten teacher is going to Egypt over the Christmas break and she's been telling the class about pyramids and the Valley of the Kings and apparently about mummies because I overheard my daughter telling her little brother yesterday, "And when you die they wrap your body up in toilet paper!"


My 7 year old just finished another class project and I'm happy to say this time we really did not help him much at all! The tiny shred of a perfectionist that's left in me can hardly stand to look at the poster because it is, well, far less than attractive, but nobody can argue that it's not a 2nd grader's work!


Nobody hold your breath, but we did get the Christmas cards ordered last weekend and they arrived in the mail this week, so we just may get some addressed this weekend . . . or maybe not. And can I go ahead and confess that the outside lights are not up either?

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Baby Jesus can handle our playroom.

This morning as my 3 year old and I were cleaning up the playroom, I noticed an amusing scene:

An ambulance

carrying none other than Baby Jesus!

Yep, Jesus dwells in our playroom and turns up in some wacky ways!

He's been known to hang out with these guys:

And now this is a funny pair:

Yoda and Jesus! Can you imagine the conversations those two could have?

Some might argue that this type of play is sacrilegious, that we are dishonoring Jesus by allowing the nativity scene to run free in the playroom, but I believe that misses one of the biggest points of that first Christmas and every day since.

John 1:14 says that “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us”

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, 'God with us.'" Matthew 1:23

So, yeah, I bought a few different nativity sets for the main purpose of the kids being able to play with them (love the Fisher-Price Little People Nativity and added this cheap one this year).

Because if my kids start to get it that Jesus is with us everywhere -- whether we're having fun playing or in the back of an ambulance, He is there, then I think that's awesome!

And if I can have a conversation with my 7 year old about similarities and differences between Jesus and Yoda, being quick to point out that Jesus was a real person who really lived on earth and still lives in heaven and in our hearts as opposed to Yoda who is not real, then that's amazing.

And if my kids want to take Jesus along to help as they fight the dark forces of the world, well I just think that's the best idea ever!

Find more Thankful Thursday here and Things I Love Thursday here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Playin' on the Train Tracks

Before you applaud our stellar parental judgement,

know that those train tracks haven't been used in a long time!

Find more Wordful Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, and Not So Wordless Wednesday.

Monday, December 6, 2010

On the Trail of Jesus Again

I first published this last December, but it is still true today and in fact, my family and I just went to this same church Bethlehem Town re-enactment this past weekend (because really you just can't search for Jesus too much) and it was lovely to see that it was just the same! Only changes, this year I had to shush my husband as he commented a bit too loudly that, "Shouldn't Mary be played by a 14 year old girl rather than a 40 something woman?" "SHHHHH!"

And this year for some reason, I felt the need to explain to my 3 year old as we walked away, "You know that wasn't the real Baby Jesus, right?"

So here it is from December 7, 2009:

"Would you help me find the baby Jesus?" the shepherd asks my family and me. "Sure!" we reply.

The church has set up a make-shift Bethlehem town. We ask all over -- at the baker, the weaver, the work-working shop - and they've all seen a man with a very pregnant woman on a donkey. We follow the trail and are finally led to the inn.

The innkeepers tell us, "Yeah they came here, we didn't have any room left. Every room in town is full because of the census. But we felt bad since she was obviously about to have her baby, so we said they could stay in the stable out back. They're out there now."

And so we head outside and there they are in the stable. "Mary", "Joseph", "Baby Jesus", an angel, and a donkey.

This is our 2nd year coming to this church tour and I love watching my kids the moment we find "Baby Jesus". The look of amazement on their faces is priceless!

Even though I know what's coming when we head outside, I can't help feeling awe myself when encountering the manger scene.

My boys showered the donkey with much love and pats, and my daughter got to hold "baby Jesus".

And then we headed inside for some hot chocolate and a cookie.

BUT FIRST we stopped off at the massive bottle of hand-sanitizer and ensured that the whole family got a thorough cleansing.

Don't get me wrong, I realize the importance of washing your hands after petting animals, and I'm glad the sanitizer was there. But the idea of encountering "Jesus" and walking back in to douse ourselves with hand-sanitizer just struck me as funny.

Then I started thinking how often we do that in regular life.

Encounter Jesus here on earth but then it feels a little messy so we immediately go lather up in the hand-sanitizer. And then from the safety of our comfort-zone we can reflect on the "moving sermon" or great quiet-time.

Tom Davis has a book called Red Letters: Living a Faith That Bleeds and the "red letters" he talks about are Christ's words as they are printed in most Bibles. But his point is how many Christians don't seem to really take these words to heart.

When Jesus tells us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44), show compassion for sinners (Matt 9:12-13), deny ourselves and follow him (Matt 16:24), become servants to others (Matt 21:26-27), do for the least (Matt 25:45), or show mercy (Luke 10:37) I believe we are at first in awe of the message, but then we close our Bibles or drive home from church.

And rather than letting that uncomfortable God-wants-me-to-do-something-different feeling settle into our very being, we start washing it off, diluting the message.

"Well, that wasn't really a message for me in this stage of life." "God knows I serve him." "I give my time and money already." "That person doesn't want me to show God's mercy to them." "I can't allow my son to play with that boy, his family is not Christian. Think of the influence!"

And on and on it goes. We sip our hot chocolate and walk further and further away from the uncomfortable smell and cold of the stable.

But Jesus was not found in a sterile hospital room or even a hotel!

Find more Gratituesday.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Good Stuff

A snowball fight with manufactured snow.

Some days it's still 70 degrees here, how else can a small town have a holiday festival? We truck it in and dump the icy stuff in a small orange construction-taped off area and the kids line up to play in it!! Yeah, yeah pity us if you get to play in the real stuff whenever you want without waiting in line, but we got to wear shorts on Saturday, so ha-ha!

P.S. Just this week I heard one of my kids say to another, "Ha-ha is not a nice word!"

An example of the early bird not always catching the worm: After my blog post on Friday about still not having ordered my Christmas cards, there was a comment left by that she owns a business custom designing photo cards and said, "I will also give you a great deal on pricing. Just email me at and let me know you came from It Feels Like Chaos and I'll set you up with discounted pricing to help you all out." A coupon for all you fellow procrastinators! I love it!


Making a snowman outfit for my daughter and a matching one for her "Baby Rose"

The gingerbread house that Daddy built and the kids decorated.


A gift under the tree for a child we don't even know yet, but who will hopefully come home to us in 2011!

God Found Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren is a really, really sweet book and did this waiting mama's heart good to read!

An excerpt:
"No matter how much I prayed it would happen. I still had to wait."
"You waited and waited and waited?"
"And waited. But I knew that someday you'd arrive, when God would find us you."

And another:
"Did you ever want to give up?" Little fox asked.
"Sometimes," Mama said, rubbing Little Fox's cheek with hers. "But I trusted that God knew you, and knew me, and knew when we'd fit perfectly together."

And the picture of the mama fox waiting out in the snow, staring across the water? Well, tears.

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tell me you haven't sent out your Christmas cards yet!

- December 2nd has been a bit kinder to me, thanks for asking!

- Mainly because I hope to have scored the easiest volunteer position for the elementary school 2nd grade holiday party -- the movie and popcorn station! I believe I will only have to provide popcorn (so gonna store-buy it) and paper cups to put it in and hand it out to the kids. So much better than the decorate a holiday cookie station (where you'd deal with 2nd graders and icing and no doubt have to provide the baked cookie shapes ready to be decorated) or the craft station (not that sequins and glue and 2nd graders do not equal fun, but maybe just a bit more than my December can handle!)

- When my my 3 year old wore the footie jammies recently both my 7 year old son and 5 year old daughter, independent of each other, asked, "Why can't I have jammies like that?!" "Um, because they don't make them big enough for you," I replied, but my husband said, "Yes, they do, they make them even in adult sizes!" So, apparently I need to find a source for some bigger footie jammies. All I know is that they don't sell them in the Target, which is just about the only store I go in these days besides the grocery!

- But I do know me some Target. I have been to a Target 3 times in the last 8 days because apparently I'm unable to make a complete list on the 1st or 2nd try. At least I have the freedom to mix it up a little and not go to the same Target, but the other also close-by Target!

- I came across this Teen Driving Contract by Lysa TerKeurst this week and am so filing it away to be referenced and used in about 8 years!

- Anyone else not even ordered their Christmas cards, yet? And we got a few in the mail this week just to help emphasize my slackerness in my own mind!

- But on a non-slacker note, I have managed to do, count 'em up, 2 Shred workouts post-Thanksgiving with another planned for tomorrow morning! Too bad I'm too sore to pat myself on the back!

- Happy Friday all!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's December 1st!

December 1st is eating me alive!

Seriously, so many things demanding my attention.

But only
one that really matters.

This season, the days leading up to Christ's birth,

how is it that we've managed to complicate it so much with the frenzy?

And 5 of the invitations in my email in-box awaiting a reply and promise of a baked good are from church/Christian groups!

So, I'll say "no" to a lot.

But still, likely, "yes" to too much.

But for now, on this December 1st?

I'm thankful that Jesus doesn't care

how attractively wrapped the presents are,

which dessert I make or even if I make one at all,

if we attend all the Christmas parties or none,

if I *gasp* even forget to RSVP at all to a few of the Evites,

that I got the notice in the mail that the kids are due for a dental cleaning in December and I said, "No way, it's waiting until January!",

or that later in the day when I saw the dentist office number come up on the caller id I ignored the phone to avoid dealing with scheduling an appointment at all,

or that I took my 3 year old with me this morning to drop off my older kids at elementary school, walking all the way in the school and back out again, looking like this:

Snowflake footie jammies tucked into tennis shoes! Now if that's not an outfit full of Christmas cheer, then I don't know what is! And yes, apparently, I have no shame anymore, or at least not at 7:50AM!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Three and a Half!

This November my littlest guy turned three and a half and I have to say I love this age! There are things to love and not love about every kid age, but this one is pretty great.

Potty-trained, sleeping through the night but still not too big to carry around occasionally, not quite as much the mess-maker as a two year old (or maybe it's just because I don't leave the powder sitting on top of his dresser anymore!), a little more self-control than a newly turned three year old, old enough to have an actual conversation with, and they say the most hilarious things!

That picture at the top is one of my recent favorite pics of my three and a half year old little man.

He had gone potty and put his jeans back on by himself. The elastic waistband allows him to pull them on and off without undoing the snap and zipper.

The really funny thing is he ran around like that for a while with the backwards jeans and I didn't notice until he was walking out the door with me to pick the dog up from the vet. Thankfully as he walked towards me I caught on to the issue and was able to grab my camera and snap a few pics before fixing the problem!

And here's my other favorite picture of the three and a half year old enjoying the leaves in Nana and Papa's backyard:

Pure joy!

Find more Wordful Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, and Not So Wordless Wednesday.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tackling the Christmas Shopping

I wrote a post last year titled The Colossal Christmas Conspiracy about the true meaning of Christmas being so lost in the commercial spending mentality. And how Americans spend 450 billion dollars on Christmas every year. More people die from lack of clean drinking water every day than anything else. It would cost 10 billion dollars to make clean water available to everyone. So, we are choosing to spend money on stuff at the expense of lives!

My husband and I challenged ourselves to spend 50% less on Christmas last year and give away the money saved to people truly in need.

I'm happy to say we did it and loved it!!

And we're doing it again this year!

The true meaning of Christmas was definitely more felt in our household as we reflected on what Jesus would really want for His birthday, as we talked about giving more than getting, as we spent more time and money shopping for strangers.

And I had less clutter to find a home for once Christmas was over and clean up from the rest of the year!

Now we do buy
some gifts for our kids, for friends and family, we are just spending less and trying to make things more meaningful. Also, we look for the gifts we buy to at least go to a good cause when possible.

I just got my daughter and niece the cutest, super cheap necklaces with their initials from this site and the best part? All of the proceeds (100%!!!) go to help provide clean water to thousands living in Ethiopia! Awesome! And a secondary benefit to visiting their blog is that you can admire adorable Grace adopted from Ethiopia this past summer!

For more gifts that will benefit great causes, check out this link and this link for lists of Christmas gifts you can buy and help fund a family's adoption. You'll get a gift to give and be helping a child gain a forever family!

And all proceeds from gifts bought at the Mercy House Shop will go to fund a maternity home in Kenya, Africa.


Sunday, November 28, 2010


Arriving back home this afternoon after being away for 5 days, and on the eve of the busy season that preludes Christmas, feels a bit like re-entry.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and got to celebrate the very special event of my mother-in-law and father-in-law's 50th wedding anniversary. We had a party with some wonderful food and a lot of friends and family who love this precious couple. Their lives and fifty years of love and commitment to each other are an inspiration. My husband and I are so thankful to have their example of a marriage that lasts!

We are also thankful that our kids have become pretty good car-riders and the 7 hour drive each way is much easier than it was a few years ago!

Once home, I set to the tasks of unpacking, making dinner, and tackling laundry after 5 days of not doing a single load of wash!

My kids and husband were playing outside when my daughter suddenly came running in, she'd remembered the caterpillar and wanted to check on her.

I'd debated actually taking the jar with us on the trip because I was afraid the moth or butterfly would emerge from the cocoon while we were gone and then be trapped in that jar, but I'd forgotten completely about it since returning home. We grabbed the jar, my husband came in, and we figured out that the moth had emerged from the cocoon, but when we found it among the leaf debris in the bottom of the jar, we thought it was dead. My husband commented that it was still cool that it had actually come out of the cocoon and went back out to resume the football game with our boys. But, as my daughter realized it was dead, she burst into tears. And I felt terrible that the moth had died trapped in that jar, and very guilty for not taking it with us on the trip!

I called my husband back to help with a moth funeral and consoling our daughter, but when he took the jar out to the yard he began yelling, "It's alive! It's moving!"

We got it out of the jar and the moth flew away!
I've never been so happy to see a moth flying around in all my life!

It was like a pre-Christmas miracle!

Bye Caroline the caterpillar-turned-moth! I'm so glad we didn't kill you!

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy, happy Thanksgiving!

I'm signing off for a few days. But before I do, I want to wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving!

And just in case your kids have grown out of the turkey crafts and you haven't gotten your fix of fake feathers this year, I'll share ours:

I love how the turkey on the left with the upside down heart truly looks scared, as any Thanksgiving turkey really should!

And one last smile, I helped with the kindergarten Thanksgiving feast at my daughter's school today. Parents brought in various things to contribute to the lunch, with the main entree being Chick-Fil-A nuggets. Part way through the lunch, one of the girls from my daughter's class very happily exclaimed, "I LOVE Thanksgiving chicken!"

So, if you're still struggling with how exactly to cook an entire turkey for Thanksgiving Day, or you haven't started thawing yours yet (did you know the big ones take DAYS to thaw?), you could always go with the famous Thanksgiving chicken, AKA chicken nuggets from Chick-Fil-A!