Monday, January 31, 2011

The Best Kind of Sign!

This past Sunday we got the privilege of being a part of something really neat. We got to be at the airport to welcome home a family from the adoption community group at our church who have been in the Ukraine adopting 3 children, a 9 year old and two 15 year olds!

There were about 5 families from our church group there as well as other friends and family of the people adopting. We made signs.

At the airport, the kids held them up.

And to see them, a new family of 5 on American soil after such a long fight with many hurdles to cross to get the kids out of the Ukraine, well, it just made you want to do a fist pump in the air for God. Victory! Three less orphans in the world tonight!
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
Eph 1:3-5 (New Living Translation)

Just imagine, God, the creator of the heavens and the earth, standing there with a "Welcome Home" sign waiting for each of us!

Find more Gratituesday here.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The End of the Doggy Name Debate

I expected the debate to go on for another week, the doggy name debate, that is.

But, then the breeder sent me an email late Saturday asking what the puppy's name was, and rather than have her suspect we may be unfit puppy parents with not yet having decided on a name, I pressed my family, "We have to decide!"

We had pretty much narrowed it down to two names anyway. And by this morning all 3 of my children and my husband were in agreement (amazing!).

The new puppy's name is . . .


Yes, you do pronounce the end "line" not "lynn",

I know, I know, a bit fussy of a name for a dog, but:

we do like human names for our dogs,

our last dog was Isabella,

Madeline sounds a bit like Caroline, no? (compromise with a 5 year old girl is no small feat!)

we love the Madeline books (you know "In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, live twelve little girls in two straight lines. . .") and recently saw a
Madeline play,

and the little girl Madeline has reddish hair just like our little puppy!

we've always got the option to call her "Maddie" if Madeline gets too cumbersome during training,

and it's way better than "Doggy", which the 3 year old suggested!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Busy Week!

It's been a crazy busy week, something every night, which is unusual for us. We try to keep things at a calmer pace, but several things just happened to fall this week. We've had things at our church and things at both the preschool and elementary school. But, on a positive note, they've all been events that involved dinner, so I haven't had to cook since Monday!

I have, however, re-washed a load of laundry that was run through the washer and forgotten about for two days, added baking soda to the 2nd wash cycle and thankfully it all came out smelling fresh!

The debate over the new puppy's name continues around here, my daughter, of course, wants to name her Caroline because that's what she wants to name everything. We have Caroline the doll, there was Caroline the Caterpillar that turn into a moth, and it is a name contender for the new baby sister. So, I said to my daughter, "I thought you wanted to name the new baby sister Caroline, we can't name the new dog Caroline
and the Baby Sister." She asked, "Why not?" She has absolutely no concept why that would be weird!

Happy Friday, Friends!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When life gives you puddles . . .

My 3rd child has this zest for life that is really inspiring to me. The zest is always loud, usually messy, and has most definitely contributed to my graying hair, but I do admire the way he does life in a big way.

For example, a few days ago we were walking down a long sidewalk to pick up my two older kids from school, it had rained all day long and was still raining. My 3 year old was wearing his rain boots and literally tried out every puddle along the way, even hiking up his jeans well over his knees so he could really jump and splash in the many big puddles. His jeans were soaking wet, but he had a blast! I wish I had my camera for the really big puddles, I had to settle for capturing his re-enactment once we got home.

Life often gives us puddles, big ole ones right in the middle of our path, are we gonna complain and tiptoe around them trying to keep dry or are we just going to jump right in with both feet and make the biggest splash ever?

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What does Tuesday night look like?

I've been attending a new Tuesday night Bible study. And Tuesdays were already our crazy day. I pick the 2 older kids up from school and we go straight to swimming for all three kids, then home for a quick dinner and homework before I take them with me to the church where I have the Bible study and my husband meets me there from work and we switch cars (I admit that sometimes it really feels good to hand-off that car-full of kids!). I head into my Bible study and he drives to my oldest's basketball practice.

So, after all that, what does my house look like when I get home from Bible study?
Two thoughts I had as I gazed at the reality of my kitchen:

1. I'd take His Word over a clean kitchen any day.

2. Were these children raised in a barn? The coats and shoes were thrown on the floor rather than put on the proper hooks and shelves that are two feet away!!!

What does your Tuesday night look like?

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

Monday, January 24, 2011


I've seen them.

The baby beds in the foster care center where over a hundred children reside right now.

Stuffed beyond capacity the care center is.

And from the pictures of families who've gone before, I've seen them.

The cribs that house 3 babies with a dividing wall between each one.

Three sections to the one unit of a bed.

And it's not that there is anything particularly terrible about them.

It's just that I can't stop imagining her there.

My daughter.

There, instead of here. At home. With her family.

I wonder what she's doing, what baby or early toddler phases she's going through that I'll never see.

And there are so many, so many babies
there with families waiting on them here.

Families that are ready and willing to drop anything they're doing and fly to the ends of the earth at their own expense to bring those babies home, if only given permission that they could.

I've asked God, "Why?" many times. It just doesn't seem to make sense. What good could possibly come out of these delays? It is common knowledge that the more time a child spends in an orphanage the worse it is for them.

But then I study it, really looked at it, unlike all the times before.

The interaction between Jesus and His half-brothers in John 7:1-10 when they were telling Him to go to Judea for the Feast of Booths and verse 4, "show Yourself to the world." They wanted Him to go public with who He said He was
right now, according to their timing. Verse 5-6b goes on, "For not even His brothers were believing Him. Jesus therefore said to them, 'My time is not yet at hand,"

If I'd been a half-sister of Jesus I'm afraid I'd have been doing the same thing. I mean if He was really the Messiah, why not go public with that info. sooner rather than later?

Would more people have been saved, healed, or converted if Jesus had began his public ministry sooner than age 30? He was crucified a mere three and a half years later.

But, God's timing is always perfect, even if it doesn't make sense to us. After all, God
invented time.

Jesus knew it was not the right time! He was there when the universe was created. There was a divine plan that began unfolding from the very beginning of all time, and the plan would end with salvation for all who believed.

Without God we would have never been led to this adoption journey, without Him we could never have afforded it, never gotten through the paperwork, never endured this much waiting. I must trust Him with the rest of the story. I must focus on
Him even more than her.

Psalm 27:14
Wait for the LORD; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.

Isaiah 40:31
Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

Find more Gratituesday here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A New Family Member (of the canine variety)

My kids have been praying for a new dog.

My daughter's kindergarten journal prompt on Friday was, "I wish". She wrote, "I wish for a new dog."

We spent a good part of last week perusing and much of Saturday driving to various shelters and rescue groups around our city in the hopes of finding a new dog, a dog who needed a family just as much as we need a dog.

Obviously we are a family that loves adoption, redeemed lives, and I really wanted to find our new dog at the shelter, but we didn't.

What we did find were tons and tons of pit bulls and pit bull mixes, which I'd never consider allowing near my children. The force at which they jumped up and hit their pens barking at us terrified my 2 younger kids.

We wanted to find a young girl dog, preferably a puppy, who'd grow into an adult dog of 40 lbs or less, a breed or mix of breeds that typically do well with children.

But, all the puppies were going to be really big dogs, like german sheperds and rottweilers, and all the small dogs were around 8 years old. Having just lost a dog and going through several expensive senior years with her, we're ready to begin with a young dog and looking forward to several good, playful, healthy years.

We did find a little rat terrier girl puppy, only 6 weeks old and so cute, you could hold her in the palm of your hand. But, she was likely only going to grow up to be 8 to 10 lbs and we worried that a dog that small may not fare well in our house of 3 or 4 young children. How terrible would it be if one of the kids accidentally smushed the puppy or dropped it and injured it badly?!!

So, we decided with our specific dog criteria that is required right now in life with small children, we'd better go the breeder route. And we're so excited that we've found one with the absolute perfect puppy for us!

We haven't seen the puppy in person, yet, only pictures, because the breeder lives a few hours away from us, but we know enough and trust the breeder, so we've reserved a puppy who is a little over 6 weeks old and we'll be able to bring her home in less than 2 weeks! She is a mini goldendoodle -- a dog that is a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle. She's a second generation cross, meaning both her parents are goldendoodles. I had a poodle that was my 7th birthday present who lived 19 years, I also had a golden retriever as a teenager, so I'm very familiar with both breeds and can't wait to see the combination! Our puppy is considered a mini and she'll only be 25 to 35 lbs. at maximum adult weight. Goldendoodles have wonderful personalities, very smart, great around kids and typically either non-shedding or very low-shedding due to the poodle genetics! She and her 7 litter-mates are seriously the cutest puppies I've ever seen - - blondish-reddish-apricot coat color with a slight curl to it.

I'm so thankful to have these happy pictures posted in our house now, to be debating dog names amongst ourselves. Such a blessing to the five of us as we grieve the loss of our Isabella dog and wait what sometimes feels an unending wait for the Baby Sister from Ethiopia.

One of those precious pups is our new baby! And that baby girl is coming home very soon! Can't wait to hold her!

Oh, and the best part? Her breeder family that she lives inside the house with has 5 young kids, even a 3 year old that interacts with her regularly, so this little girl is already used to a chaotic, kid-filled house!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Finer Things!

My 3 year old's vivid imagination was back at it this morning, but instead of being a baby bird I needed to feed worms, today for some reason it was all about hatching eggs. As in, "Mommy! Come see! The baby chick is hatching! Quick cover it up to keep it warm!" And there he'd be curled up in a tight ball and then suddenly he'd pop up - hatched! By 7:55 am I'd already hatched a chicken egg, a penguin egg, a snake egg, and a crocodile egg!

What can I say? It's a glamorous job!


Speaking of the 3 year old, I found his new habit of falling asleep on the floor in the hallway during naptime really cute,

until today, when he had a pee-pee accident while sleeping! Now why I don't just put a diaper on him at naptime like we do at night, I have no idea. I guess that would be too easy. Most likely its stubborn mommy syndrome that thinks he shouldn't need diapers at all any more because his big brother and sister were completely done with them by his age, but the little dude? Is a heavy sleeper!


I found this in my bed recently:

thankfully it is not a real mouse/rat-like thing, but just Num-Nums my daughter's Zhu-Zhu pet. Even so, the electronic hamster will be booted out before I sleep there, I'm not sharing my pillow with anything resembling a rodent!


I have done many Beth Moore Bible studies where we watch her on video along with discussing the lessons and they are always phenomenal. But, I'd never seen her live until this week. And y'all? It was something! She was fabulous and the place was a sight; imagine a large Southern Baptist church completely filled with women (as in not only did the worship center fill up but there was overflow into the chapel and fellowship hall). I kept commenting on the shear number of women all in one place to my friend who is a veteran of the Beth Moore live Bible Studies and I'm sure she thought I was a nut. But, really it was amazing, awesome, and a little eerie all at the same time! Beth Moore announced that the church had run out of toilet paper and I don't doubt it. We women can use some t.p.!

I went to print off the homework for next week and had to laugh, it's 24 pages! Only Beth Moore can ask a grown-up to do 24 pages of homework in a week! I'll do it, somehow, and be all the better for it!

Gotta go help my husband track down which of our roughly 12 smoke detectors is doing the high-pitched, low-battery beep!

Happy Friday!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tell me what I was going to say!

Today was one of those days with my 3 year old.

Every 45 seconds, "Mommy!"

And he wanted my attention. Either he was pretending to be a baby bird and wanted me to come feed the baby bird pretend worms (and that bird needed to eat many times!) or he needed help doing something or he wanted to tell me a joke or play a game. On and on it went.

So much so that today I told my husband, "I guess it is not actually possible to pester someone to death because I'm still alive!"

And to really illustrate what I'm dealing with:

At one point he said, "Mommy" which was shocking (not!). I said, "What is it buddy?"

Him: "Oh, I forgot what I was going to say."

Me: thinking not saying - he probably didn't really have anything to say, he's just so in the habit of saying, "Mommy" every 45 seconds.

Him: "What was I going to say?"

Me: "I have no idea what you were going to say."

Him: "Tell me! Tell me what I was going to say!"

At least he doesn't ask for much!

Although the demandingness has the potential to drive me crazy, I'm thankful for these days with my 3 year old guy and know that the time will come when he's all grown up and I'll miss getting to feed him imaginary worms!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Taking My Kids to the Beach in the Winter

My kids had Monday off school, my husband had to work, so I was trying to figure out something fun the kids and I could do, and I felt like we could use a little change of scenery (see yesterday's post for reason).

So, I decided a drive (about an hour each way) to the beach might be nice.

We take the kids to the beach a few times each summer, they love it!

But, when my 2 younger kids woke me up Monday morning talking about how they weren't going to get to go as far out in the ocean since Daddy wouldn't be on the trip and Daddy is taller than Mommy and carries them on his shoulders way out into the surf, I realized they had no idea about the winter beach. When I said go to the beach they expected the beach they know of from summer -- swimsuits, sunscreen, hot sand, swimming in the ocean, diving in the waves kind of a beach.

I tried explaining it to them, about how we were just going to play in the sand and only get our feet wet because it would be cold, but they came down with their swimsuits packed any way. I threw the suits in the car to avoid their protests thinking surely once they felt the temperature at the beach they would not be putting them on.

They began the afternoon my way, fully clothed and frolicking just near the edge of the water.

But, they begged, "Swimsuits! Swimsuits! Swimsuits!"

I stood there watching them in the 50 degree cloudy, windy weather, freezing in my jeans, sweatshirt, warm boots, with a towel wrapped around my shoulders for extra warmth, and couldn't imagine why in the world they wanted to put on their swimsuits!

But, I was clearly outnumbered.

So, being the mother who doesn't believe you actually get sick from brief periods of time in the cold without sufficient clothing, I caved.

And let them do this:

It only took about 4 minutes before they were, you guessed it, cold!

Here's my daughter in what we now call the "turtle picture", curling up into her pink and white shell in an attempt to warm up!

So, we finished the day like this:

drinking hot chocolate while looking out at the ocean -- the best way to enjoy the winter beach!

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

Monday, January 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye to the Family Dog

Our dog died this past Saturday.

She had been sick with kidney disease for a few years now. It was well controlled with medicine for a while, but she'd been doing a bit worse lately. Even so, her death was pretty unexpected as she was still running around, barking at the mail lady just the day before.

She was a member of our family. The first baby for my husband and me. The first other being the two of us cared for together as a team before the real babies came along.

My kids have all grown up with her, never known life without having a furry dog named Isabella. Many times when they woke up crying in the night as babies or sick children, I'd stumble sleepily to their bedsides and then hear her come in the room seconds after me, the worried nurse also waking up to tend to the children.

As they made their first attempts at crawling and walking, she was right there, usually very noticeable in the background of those milestone pictures.

Each of my three learned at young ages not to leave a snack unattended because Isabella would help herself! And any food spills were never a worry, we'd just call in the dog and she'd lick the floor (or table sometimes) clean!

Isabella was very fearful of strangers and pretty much most people outside our family of 5, (I attribute it to the fact that I rescued her at the age of 4 months old, just beyond the window of key socialization age for puppies, but maybe that was just Isabella's neurosis, we all have them, right?) but for any of her faults, I always had to praise the fact that never once was she anything but kind and gentle to my kids, a super dog to see them through their baby and toddler years.

My husband and I have dreaded this event, her death, and hoped to have a couple more years before dealing with it. But, death is part of this life here on earth and we recognized the opportunity to model for our kids how to deal with loss.

We cried, we hugged, we talked as a family about what we liked about her and what we'd miss. And the kids immediately wanted to know, "Can we get another dog?" So we talked about that, too. About how we will get another dog some time (not exactly sure when) and the joy that they'll get to experience helping to pick out the new dog and train it to be a member of our family, about how fun it will be to play with a dog that is younger and more playful than Isabella was in her senior years.

Then they had questions about death in general and heaven and we shared with them truth from the Bible about how much God loves them and that His word says heaven is going to be better than anything we could even imagine. Even after we'd tucked them into bed, the 7 year old couldn't sleep, kept coming down with more questions, worries.

We assured him that he didn't need to worry about dying because as believers in Jesus when we die here on earth we go on to eternal life in heaven with Jesus where there is no more pain or sadness. Rev. 21:4 says, "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.”

And after tucking him back into bed, my husband looked at me and asked, "What do atheists tell their children?"

Just that when you die, that's it? I have no idea.

We are especially grateful for His promises right now.

Isabella is missed. The house feels so quiet, which is funny considering we still have 3 loud kids, but going from 6 lives to 5 here under this roof is a loss.

So many ways she was part of our life. I have no idea how I'll bear to do my Shred workout again knowing she won't be trying to lick my face while I lie on the floor for the ab parts or the "Superman". I always shoed her away not wanting the dog breath or the interference during the toughest parts of the work-out, but oh, how I'll miss it now!

I think we're leaning towards getting a new dog sooner rather than later, so stay tuned! And if you hear of any friendly, cute, calm, playful, obedient, non-shedding dogs or puppies who are experts at vacuuming stray food off the floor and in need of a home, send them our way!

Isabella, we're grateful to have had you a part of our lives!

And finally, Isabella the day she stole the hot dog buns:

Find more Gratituesday here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sharing the Dream

This post was originally published January 16, 2010.

The other morning my 4 year old daughter suddenly looked at me and asked, "Mommy, when I get big am I going to look exactly the same as you?"

As I turned to her and began an attempt to answer the question, tons of thoughts raced through my mind all at the same time.

I hadn't put on make-up or gotten ready for the day yet and I'm sure I looked terrible, so I was thinking she's probably asking and hoping the answer is "no"! So, I asked, "Do you
want to look like me?" in a very incredulous voice. Still her reply was, "Yes."

But the part that hit me like a ton of bricks was the thought, "So this is the age when
she'll care." Four years old. My daughter whom I have not yet met. The one I'm adopting from Ethiopia.

For my biological daughter the answer is easy. I told her, "Sweetheart, you won't look exactly the same as me when you grow up. You may be about as tall as me and may look a little like me, but no, you will not look exactly like I do. And that's good. You'll be your own beautiful person."

And for my future daughter, the answer is the same, but oh, how much more complicated the issue is!

Most likely her skin will be brown, mine is an extremely pale peach. Her hair will likely be curly, either a little or a lot, mine is super straight. We will be different races.

And, oh, how I wish that didn't matter. But I know there will be times when it will. There will probably be different ages and stages of my future daughter's life when it will be a very big issue to her. And, very sadly, I fear there will be times when people out in the world will make that an issue for her.

I pray that she will see herself as the beautiful, cherished, loved child that she will be to us.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I share in your dream!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

9 Months 2 Days Waiting, Etc., Etc.

We've now officially been on the waitlist for the child we'll adopt from Ethiopia for 9 months and 2 days!

And that's all I have to say about that.

Only not really! Depending on the day I have a lot to say. Everything from "all in God's timing" to "we should start training to be foster parents in the mean time because this wait may go on forever!!!" But if I'm really honest, as much as I hate the wait, bringing home our girl in the summer (which is how it's looking now) is probably better timing than smack dab in the middle of spring like we expected. In the summer we can really focus on bonding with our girl without all of the running around that goes on for school and extra-curricular activities of our older kids.


In other news, it's been cold here. No snow like many of you have, but cold by our standards (it even dipped below freezing!!) and we had to dig out some real winter gear.

I have to say, again, I have no idea how you Northern moms do it!!!! The gloves, hats, coats, extra layers of clothes, etc., etc. times how ever many kids you have for months and months on end!!!! This Southern girl couldn't do it! In all likelihood, we'll be back in Crocs and flip-flops next week, which is the thought getting me through the cold spell!

Oh, and this:

It's how we do hot chocolate around our house. Homemade using this recipe (The best! You have to try it!) with marshmallows and whipped cream, then topped with sprinkles!

Our hot chocolate season is short considering it's usually upwards of 90 degrees outside, so we do it big when we can!


I'm really excited that my pack-rat daughter seems to have jumped on the January clean-out bandwagon. I told her to go through her cubby (the place my kids keep their random junk that is treasure to them -- think birthday party favors) because it was overflowing. A few minutes later she brought me this and said, "I'm thinking about throwing this away."

It's a used, run out of glow, glow stick bracelet left over from Halloween! Where exactly is the decision here? But to her I said, "I think that is an excellent decision!"

Baby steps, people, baby steps!


My potty training post got many hits this week, but for those of you who are envious of our potty-trained status, I'd like to share a little glimpse into life post-diapers:

One morning this week when I walked into the bathroom to wipe the 3 year old who had gone #2 in the potty, I stepped in a puddle with my cloth-slippered foot.

I grabbed a bleach-wipe and said to my 3 year old, "Just a second, let me get this, it's a little bit wet."

Then he said, "Yeah, I peed there. . . accidentally."

It was 2 feet from the potty! I knew I'd rue the day I ever let my husband and older son teach him to go pee-pee standing up!

So, we've graduated from pee in the diapers to pee on the floor and on my slippers. The grass is not always greener, my friends!


Have a wonderful weekend!

Mommy's Idea

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Who do you want your kids to be?

My kids have had the civil rights movement as a topic at school lately and we've continued the dialog at home talking about what discrimination means.

When I recently read this post from Kristen at Rage Against the Minivan about how some kids didn't want to hold hands with her two sons at a basketball camp because they were black, I raised the scenario for my kids, "If you were at basketball camp and the coach said to circle up and nobody wanted to hold hands with one kid because they were black, what would you do? Would you go along with the group or would you go against them and hold hands with the child?" They answered correctly that they would hold hands, but the question started up a good conversation about how we don't judge people by the color of their skin any more than the color of their eyes, hair, or how tall they are. We talked about the wide variety of colors God made people in and how silly it would be to think one color was better than another. My 3 year asked, "What color are we?" "Peach," I said, (or according to the name stamped on the bottom of Mommy's make-up foundation bottle, "Pale Ivory"). "People will call us white, and we are considered white people, but if you get the white crayon out of the box, we're not exactly that color, are we? And even within our current family of five, there are differences, my skin is very fair, and Daddy's not as much."

When I told my husband about the conversation he found a YouTube video about the Little Rock Arkansas school integration and we watched it with our kids.

The video mainly depicts one of the Little Rock nine, Elizabeth Eckford, with real life footage of what it was like the day the Arkansas National Guard blocked her from entering the school and the angry mob she faced. The video was a great one to show the kids. There was such a huge juxtaposition of the ugliness of the mob and what they represented and the grace, dignity and composure of little Elizabeth Eckford, just a teenager at the time! And it was an opportunity to talk about choices, Elizabeth made a choice in how she behaved that day and the people in the mob made a choice about how they behaved. And do we want to be the kind of people that treat others with kindness and respect or the kind that live to regret their actions?

I'm so impressed with and thankful for the example and the heroism of Elizabeth Eckford!

Here's the video:

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Define Productive

I've found it necessary in life as a mom to redefine the idea of a productive day.

The toddler and I put this together after lunch:

while the rest of the playroom looked like this:

I got a batch of these made today much to the delight of my kids:

However, I'll go to sleep tonight and the playroom will still look like this:

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

Monday, January 10, 2011

13 Signs you May Be a Potty-Training Mama

Remember my toddler's new year's resolution from 2010?

I'm happy to say he did it! We did it. Potty-trained except for at night. Diapers only at nighttime (although there is the occasional post-naptime sheet change)!!!!

Every time I hear another mom say her child is pretty much potty-trained (it takes a long time before you'll claim them completely potty-trained, am I right?) I say, "Don't you think there should be some sort of award given to the moms (or dads if they are in the thick of the process day in and day out) when they make it through potty-training their kid?"

And I'm serious. Because I know the effort on the parent's part that has gone into that process. The countless trips to the potty, the clothing changes, the washing of urine-soaked and worse clothes, the books read about going potty over and over again, the cheering, the rewarding, the carpet cleaning, the 3 minute car trips that somehow still led to the complete dismantling and washing of the car seat.

It is an experience like none other! Tears and laughter are pretty much guaranteed from both potty-trainer and potty-trainee. But we all make it through, eventually.

So a year away from the trenches I share with you this list I first posted January 2010. We've come a long way Baby!

13 Signs You May Be a Potty-Training Mama:

1. Your 2 year old jumps up in excitement after filling an entire toddler potty with pee-pee, grabs the potty bowl in an eager attempt to dump it into the big potty but accidentally dumps it in your lap instead and you manage to still clap & cheer, "Hooray!!! You went pee-pee in the potty!"

2. You have made up a song that goes, "Pee-pee in the potty, pee-pee in the potty, let's go pee-pee in the potty!"

3. And you sing it loudly whenever your toddler demands.

4. You have also enlisted your older children to join in the chorus!

5. You can quickly calculate the amount of time before your toddler will need to go pee-pee based on the minutes since he last went combined with the critical factors of when he last drank something and volume of beverage consumed!

6. You have washed the car seat cover more times in the last month than in the previous 2 years combined!

7. You begin to think really mean thoughts about the mothers you've heard say, "She just potty-trained herself one day!"

8. You spend a good portion of a day wondering if and worrying that your house smells like urine!

9. When your neighbor stops by you debate asking her if she thinks your house smells like pee, but ultimately you chicken-out.

10. You create a "special seat" which is a folded up towel your toddler must stay on whenever he sits on your couch.

11. You begin rewarding your older children with M&Ms when they go potty in the hopes it will inspire your toddler to do the same!

12. You begin treating yourself to M&Ms when you go potty!

13. When you go potty and your toddler wildly claps and cheers, "Hooray, Mommy, you went pee-pee in the potty!" it occurs to you that nobody else in the entire world would ever praise you for that accomplishment and you are overwhelmed with love and thankfulness for that little potty-training toddler!

Find more Gratituesday here and Tackle it Tuesday here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Our New Friday Night Hang-Out

Those are my 2 little kids during our Friday evening outing to Ikea.

Yes, their shoes and my daughter's coat are off and piled on the floor, so they can really relax in the display living room!

We've been to Ikea with the kids many times before, but I guess it's been a while because it all seemed new to them. And they were in love!

"I wish we could live here!" My daughter squealed as she tried out all the display rooms.

And then they were entertained with the little pencils and paper provided to write down things you want to buy. My 7 year old and 5 year old began making their lists.

The best part was that all three of my kids were eligible for the store attended play area/childcare (kids have to be within a specific height range and out of diapers and pull-ups). So when they got annoying (you know running around, yelling so we couldn't really shop), my husband and I checked them into the play area and got 45 minutes (there is a 1 hour maximum) to shop through the store without kids! We were even were able to begin and finish a few conversations!

All for free!! I have no idea why we haven't taken more advantage of this before!

My oldest only has another inch or so before he'll be too tall for their restrictions, so we are definitely going to have to capitalize on the magic window of free babysitting again soon!

Also we had a really good laugh about the childcare, because they give you a plastic bin to put your kids' shoes, jackets, hats, etc. in, then they stamp each kid with a number (to match the number stamped on the parent dropping them off). And when we got back to pick them up, the lady stood at the door and called each of their names one by one, checked their numbers, and gave them back their "belongings" from the bin as they exited. I whispered to my husband that it was like they were getting released on parole! But the childcare was not jail-like other than their procedures, the place was pretty fun with a ball pit and other cool things for the kids to do.

After that we ate dinner at the Ikea restaurant for the cheapest amount our family of 5 has ever eaten out -- around $15!!! And the food is a notch healthier than fast food. The kids had mac n'cheese, applesauce, and milk. My husband and I shared a huge plate of the famous Ikea meatballs with a couple side items and two drinks (the Ligonberry drink -- if I ever make it to the real Sweden and they do not serve the Ligonberry drink, I'll be disappointed). So a lot of food and drinks for more than half what we typically spend to eat out!

I think we found a new Friday night hang-out. And no Ikea has not/is not paying me to say that except with an hour of free babysitting (which is available to anyone whose kids fit the criteria) and all moms know that is, well, pure gold!

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Randomness on a Friday

How many times have you written 2010 on something in the last week? Be honest! I usually catch on to the year change around April.


We got my 7 year old a magic set for Christmas and I have to say the gift has been amazing for my husband and I, too, because the really lame magic shows he kept forcing us to watch were only cute for about the first 2 times and then it got super hard to act surprised or in awe when it was so painfully obvious how he'd pulled off the "magic" trick. But now with the new magic set (link to the one we got him: Fantasma Toys Super Deluxe Legends of Magic DVD Set) his shows really are impressive! I honestly don't know the secrets behind many of the tricks!


The doll we got my daughter is still a hit, although, it has raised an interesting issue. My daughter likes taking the doll with her places, but sometimes (like at church), it's really not best to bring her in, I mean she may get lost, the other children in Sunday School may destroy her, etc., so I've told my daughter to leave her in the car. Well, last Sunday she left the doll (that is the size and look of a real baby) sitting up in her own car seat after she'd gotten up. When we got back to the car I pointed it out to my husband and laughed wondering if somebody had suspected it was a real baby locked in the car and he was like, "Don't do that again, somebody may break the window to rescue the baby left alone in the car!" Hmm, hadn't thought of that before! She does look pretty real! I do know the doll is going to kindergarten show-and-tell tomorrow so if you see what appears to be a 3 month old baby zipped into a kindergarten backpack, nobody call CPS! It's just a doll!


My 3 year old asked me today if people wear clothes in heaven. Huh? I have no idea. I know we get resurrection bodies, but clothes? Can't remember anything about that. Except maybe I do. Rev. 1:13, "I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet. . ." So, robes? Should I go with the answer that people will wear robes in heaven? Because my little guy didn't really seem satisfied with my pat answer of, "We don't know all the answers about heaven, the Bible just gives us a little bit of information, but we do know it is more wonderful than we can ever imagine."


Right now I'm really glad I haven't made any resolutions yet, because I'm pretty sure I would have broken them this week, just dressing everybody in something other than jammies has taken nearly all my energy this week! Although I have to brag that my Christmas stuff is packed away! And I've pondered a few positive changes for myself, I even printed off this January cleaning schedule although now I'm already 5 days behind, so there really is no hope for catching up, but hey I could probably join up mid-month and my house would still thank me. Next week is window treatments -- talk about something to look forward to all weekend! For those of you who just can't wait, no fair doing it early!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Taking vacuuming to a new level

I've come to the conclusion that with 3 young kids and a dog, the floor needs to be vacuumed pretty much every day.

And the bathrooms? With 2 boys ages 3 and 7 years using them in addition to the rest of us? Need to be wiped down every day. Okay, in reality it needs to be wiped down after each time my 3 year old uses it (I've been begging my husband to work with him on aim!), but I'll settle for once a day.

And we gotta eat. So there's dinner to be cooked and dishes to be done every day.

For 2011, we have decided to enlist more help from the little people who live in this house to tackle the daily chores needed around here.

Because they are not so very little anymore at ages 7, 5, and 3, and having all three of them combine efforts to set the table every night just is not quite enough chore responsibility anymore.

So, we divided things up, even let them choose which chores they wanted.

It's only week one, so we'll see how the year pans out.

I can report that first couple days were glorious -- no complaints, the kids were excited and enthusiastic about their new chores, but about day 3 the moaning began. But, that's okay because learning to do chores joyfully is a life skill worth tackling, too.

And occasionally they surprise me by doing things even better than I would have. Like today, when I found my daughter literally vacuuming under the dining room table!

She definitely didn't learn that from me, but I'm thankful for her attention to detail and determination to get all the crumbs!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tattletales Occasionally Appreciated

If you have more than one child, chances are you've heard the tattling.

"No tattling!" becomes the mantra and rule of many who spend a good bit of time around young children.

I began that way, too, but it was the addition of my 3rd child that made me rethink the "No tattling" policy.

No mama can be everywhere all the time, but especially a mama of 3 or more who is out-numbered may begin to realize that the extra eyes of siblings combined with their loud voices that are perfect for announcing situations in need of attention can be used for good. And that hmmmm, maybe tattling is needed sometimes!

For example:

"MOOOOOOM, he's coloring on the wall again!"
Good to know! (My 3rd child was the king of toddler antics!)

But, then there's the tattling that is not good to know, "She's looking at me!" or, "He's not sharing!"

So, I realized the rule "No tattling" was not working for me, because there were times I did want my kids to rat our their siblings.

So, the rule was changed to "Tell me if they are hurting someone or hurting the house, otherwise use your words and work it out yourself."

When my kids come to me with a tattle that doesn't fit the criteria (which there seems to have been a resurgence of lately around here), I ask, "Is that hurting anyone? or hurting the house?" Usually after a few days of repeating the question several times they realize what is and is not going to get my attention and the annoying tattling dies down.

Do you have any tricks for handling tattling and harnessing the power of those little eyes for good?

Find more of the special themed edition What Doesn't Work for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Best Gifts Can Be Given Lazily

Some of my favorite moments from Christmas 2010 were from Christmas Eve morning (no not Christmas morning when my own kids dug into presents) when our family of five gathered around the computer together and picked out gifts for children in 3rd world countries, children that have known poverty the likes of which we cannot even fathom.

Last year we did our Christmas giving in the form of sponsoring a local needy family and it was great, but we didn't get their wishlist until kind of last minute so we couldn't buy anything on-line and spent a weekend running all over town dragging our kids through crowded stores to find coats and shoes in all the right sizes for the family of 3 kids plus a single mom. I was really glad that we did it, but in hindsight I think the spirit of what we were doing was entirely lost on our kids as we snapped at them to behave in long check-out lines and stressed over if we'd gotten all the right sizes.

So, this year doing the biggest chunk of our giving through shopping on-line at World Vision seemed like the way to go. The lazy way to go, perhaps, but still a tremendous organization doing great things around the world!

We watched the videos on the various gift choices learning things like how just 2 chickens can completely change a family's future, suddenly with that gift they have an ongoing source of nourishment and income as the chickens lay eggs and also give birth to baby chickens.

My husband and I had an amount in mind that we wanted to give overall and helped the children dole it out among various gifts. And when our amount was exhausted, the 7 year old offered up some of his allowance towards another gift.

It was one of the most fun gift giving experiences I've ever had! We were all together in the comfort of our home, thinking about people other than ourselves, nobody was whining or hiding under racks of clothes, we learned about agriculture and how people on the other side of the world live, and it kinda felt like we were actually giving Jesus presents for His birthday!

And how exciting it was to be able to give someone a goat for Christmas or chickens or a rabbit or a Bible (which will likely be the only one in their entire village and read and listened to by many)! I'm so grateful we had the privilege!

Find more Gratituesday here.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

If year 2011 were a pancake . . .

Our first breakfast of 2011:

Awesome what some cut-out numbers and powdered sugar can do! And yes, those are chocolate chip pancakes because nothing says celebration quite like throwing in some chocolate chips!

But apparently our breakfast food of choice is cereal from a box.

I started saving our empty cereal boxes about a week before Thanksgiving when I heard about a collection that was happening in my area for The Apparent Project in Haiti. The Apparent project calls itself "The Un-Orphanage" because they are addressing Haiti's orphan crisis at the root by finding creative ways for Haitians to be self-employed so that they can take care of their own children with dignity and joy. One of those ways is teaching them to use cereal boxes to make jewelry! In about 6 weeks time we went through 36 boxes of cereal! How is that even possible? That's nearly a box a day!

And when I drove across town one day at 4:30pm to drop off the boxes at the designated spot and time, I may or may not have done it with 2 out of my 3 kids still in their pajamas from the night before! In fact, during the week between Christmas and New Years my kids pretty much spent every day in their pajamas. And when I did the kid wash yesterday it was so much less than usual -- awesome!

But, I have to admit, the letting your kids go places in pajamas is a slippery slope. We all know when I have to do elementary school drop-off at 7:45am, I take my 3 year old in with me still in his pajamas, walking all the way to the cafeteria (where my kindergartener lines up), and back out. That I've gotten comfortable with. I mean it is early and he's cute in his jammies. But, after we dropped off those cereal boxes last week, I remembered my boys really needed haircuts and considered swinging by to get that done while we were out. Then I realized my two younger kids still had their jammies on and I actually considered taking them into the haircut place like that!!! Thankfully the sanity won out, but there must have been a part of my mind that actually thought that would be okay -- scary!

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters