Thursday, June 30, 2011

First World Problems

I've been talking with my 8 year old about first world problems lately. In the past couple years as we've become more aware of the acute problems so many people living in 3rd world countries face every day, it's definitely changed our perspective on many of the "problems" in our American lives.

Which is a good thing, unless you happen to be one of our children!

Real life example of what I'm talking about:

The 8 year old son needed some new jeans and one evening this week I announced that he was coming with me to the Old Navy to try some on because what with all the choices -- 8 slim, 8 regular, 10 slim, 10 regular, boot cut, skinny, loose fit -- I had no idea which ones would fit him. He immediate began the whining (remember this is a new lovely phase we're in with the 8 year old), "Do I haaavvvve to go?"

To which I responded with a very exaggerated whining routine to mimic him that went something like this: "I cannot believe I have to get in the car and drive to a store that has tons of clothes to choose from, clothes my parents can afford to buy for me, stand in a dressing room in air conditioned comfort and TRY ON some jeans! I mean, seriously, does life get any worse?!!! Nevermind the fact that there are lots of children in this world with only one set of clothing to their name. A set of clothing they didn't get the luxury of trying on to see how it fit; it doesn't matter if it's too small or too big, they wear it because it's all they have!"

I'm not really sure if my little routine changed his perspective on his life, but he was laughing by the end of it, so at least the whining was put to an end!

Then tonight after the kids were in bed I found this little gem of a YouTube video. So hilariously convicting and illustrates exactly what I've been saying (by the way my smarty 8 year old of course wanted to know who are the "second world countries" when I was explaining about 1st and 3rd world countries)! I can't wait to show this video to my 8 year old tomorrow! (Double click to view it in full screen)


Speaking of first world problems, it seems like we're in a streak of several household appliances/gadgets having issues all at the same time. The other night my husband was mowing when the lawn mower suddenly gave up, halfway through the front yard! He announced he was going to the Home Depot to buy another and I was all, "Really? You're going to just go buy a new lawn mower, just like that? Are you sure it can't be fixed?" I know, I know, you're glad I'm not your wife! And yes, there are cons to having a thrifty wife!

But, he was all "Fine." And he spent the rest of the night rebuilding the thing.

I did cheer him on and snapped this picture of the taken apart mower. He got it working and was pretty proud of himself. I was proud, too!

But our neighbors? Probably not too happy about it because he proceeded to finish the other half of the front yard at 10:45 pm using this light:


The swim team season is over! No more 7am workouts!!! We spent a combined total of 11 hours at 2 different swim meets this week, but it is a short season really lasting just May and June with meets only in June. And we did come home with some medals. I really don't complain too much about being a swim team mom because I love the sport and am thrilled my kids do too! But now the relaxing/restful part of summer can begin!!!


And on that note, I'm taking a break from the blog, really unplugging from all technology (which is completely crazy considering all the checking of emails, blogs, Yahoo Groups, etc. we've been doing so much of lately monitoring Ethiopian adoptions) for the next week to enjoy a bunch of uninterrupted family time! I may schedule some reruns to appear on the blog during the break.

Happy 4th of July! Happy Birthday America!

Mommy's Idea

The Empty Laundry Basket

Today I saw something in my home

and it was a note-worthy enough sight

that I took a picture of it.

And I thought to myself,

"I am thankful for that."

An empty laundry basket!

Granted the rest of the house was a disaster (still is),

but that one empty basket shows progress,

something had gotten done today!

So tell me, how elusive is an empty laundry basket at your house?

Find more Thankful Thursday and Things I Love Thursday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Building or Tearing Down?

The house right next door to ours was built back in the 1930s, it survived all the tearing down and building anew that changed the landscape of our entire little town in the past 25 years when nearly all the old homes were torn down to make room for new ones.

But finally, it had to go. Too far decayed to live any longer.

So the wrecking crew came in.

The walls of our house rocked as if in an earthquake for about 3 days as the demolition took place.

My 4 year old son was mesmerized. A live Bob the Builder episode right before his eyes!

He and his trusty stuffed bulldog sidekick found the best seats to watch, from the tree house in our backyard, sat there for a long time, the two of them did.

The destruction reminded me of a verse I've reflected on often since becoming a wife and mother.
"The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands." Prov. 14:1 NASB
And we do, don't we Ladies?

The man is the head of the household, but, oh Girls, do we ever have the power to build our houses or tear them down! And with our own hands, no one else to blame.

Our attitudes, our words, they are powerful!

Our children are watching and listening.

My 8 year old has an unlovely new habit of giving a very exaggerated sigh, a loud emptying of all his breath, when I ask him to do something he doesn't want to do. Oh, it's ugly! Definitely NOT an attitude I desire from my children!

But, do I do that, too, sometimes?

When the milk spills for the 3rd time during dinner?

When I'm standing in the 110 degree heat of the grocery store parking lot waiting on them to get out of the car while they sit in the cool of the backseat finishing up a page of the book they had to read during the 5 minute ride over?

When we get to the pool and everyone has forgotten their goggles and says, "Mom, why didn't you pack my goggles?"

Yes, I'm afraid I'm guilty.

And I need to be constantly holding my actions, my attitudes, my words up to the light, to the standard, "Am I building my home or tearing it down?"

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

Monday, June 27, 2011


This past weekend we were incredibly blessed to spend two different evenings and well on into the night (we let our kids stay up way too late the past 4 nights, once you include the swim meet from tonight, too and I'm paying for it with grouchy kids) with some amazing friends who share our heart for adoption!

Friday night we ate dinner, watched the kids swim in the pool, and talked for hours and hours at some friends' house with a few other families who either have adopted children or are in the process to adopt.

It was sweet fellowship with people who "get it", who don't think we're crazy at all for what we are doing, who can discuss things like raising a child who doesn't look like you, who understand the agony of waiting to be able to bring home the children you already love as your own.

And by a crazy, unexpected, unplanned twist, a young lady who has volunteered for the past 10 months in the care center in Ethiopia where our daughter is, was there! She is back in the U.S. on vacation. We got to meet her, to hear all about the reading program she does with the toddler and preschool aged children in our agency's care in Ethiopia. And best of all, we got some inside details on our girl, from someone who has been with her 3 days a week for the past 7 months! Amazing!!!

We now know which crib is hers from the series of cribs that line the room in the pictures we've gotten. We know that she can sing the ABC song. And among many other things, we learned of the sweet nickname the nannies use for her. A nickname I can imagine us continuing to use once she's home with us.

Then Sunday evening was our church adoption group meeting. A group that did not exist at all a little over a year ago and we lamented the fact that we had no obvious support within our own church. But what a difference a year makes (and a ton of prayers and beating down the doors of church leaders helps, too)!

It was such a sweet evening as adoption testimonies were heard, God was marveled at over and over again, and children representing many different cultures ran around together!

There is just something about the community of adoption.

I think it's because by opening ourselves up to adopting children, our idea of family has to become more fluid. Family is no longer just people related to you by blood or marriage.

And therefore within this group it's possible for people to feel like family when you've only just met!

There was a two and half year old little girl adopted at age 13 months from Ethiopia there last night. Of course I couldn't take my eyes off her! She's about 1 month older that our little girl who is in Ethiopia. Her momma is my new styling-Ethiopian-little-girl-hair mentor! And because of how sweet, open, and candid that mom was to me, even I, the girl who hates to ask for help, will not hesitate to drive my new little Ethiopian daughter over to her house with us both in tears and say, "Help! Help me figure out how to take care of and fix her hair!"

I'm so, so grateful to have this community. Adoption is most assuredly a road that should not be walked alone.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Does anybody have a life that isn't random?

We FINALLY got rain here in our part of Texas this week! A much needed 1 inch! Only 14 inches more needed before we'll be out of the drought!

My 5 year old daughter spent the entire day it rained asking me every 5 minutes, "Has it been enough rain now?"

My 4 year old son couldn't resist the mud in the backyard. Check out how much is caked on his leg!!!

When I pointed out to him how dirty he was and that he could not come in the house like that, he said, "It's okay, I'll just brush it off."

"Um, no. You have long passed the brush-it-off kind of dirty, and have achieved the get-a-hose-bath-in-the-backyard-like-the-dog level of dirty!"


We completed our little painting project and I even painted the insides of our bathroom drawers, so nice to have a fresh white surface! However, I don't think it will be dry enough to put the stuff back in them for a couple days, so our entire drawer contents are on our counter right now -- quite the mess!


Lest you think I'm on top of all things household what with my 2 bathrooms worth of freshly painted baseboards and drawers, I must share the reality that my husband made the mistake earlier this week of turning our bedroom fan that always stays on "low" to "high" because he was hot. Well, I cannot accurately describe the volume of dust that went flying across our bedroom once that fan hit high speed, but let's just say that fan? Had not been cleaned in who-really-knows-how-long!


The kids and I have been escaping the heat every day with our own version of homemade frozen yogurt. I put some plain greek yogurt, frozen peaches, frozen bananas, and a little vanilla in the blender, puree it, and create the yummiest cold treat (which is actually very healthy)!


We are still waiting on a court date for our adoption, hoping to get to meet our little girl in July or early August before the Ethiopian courts close for their 2 month rainy season. Would you pray? We are certain God has a plan and we know His ways are often better than anything we could imagine, but we also believe in the power of prayer.

By the grace of God, I happened upon this blog post today. The waiting has been hard this week and I really needed to read that message. Such a good word! Anyone else waiting for something? Go read this post .


Have a beautiful weekend!

Mommy's Idea

Oh how I love a good project!

Why clean baseboards when you can paint them?

We have two bathrooms lined with newspaper and blue tape.

A new coat of paint was very badly needed.

The current mess is definitely worth the likely results!!

And, I have the best arrangement worked out.

My husband tapes and I paint.

I so got the best end of that deal!

Seriously, I hate taping, hate it.

I think my husband knows I'd likely just skip that step, hence him taking it over!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guess what we did!

This past Saturday we woke the kids up early.

Can I just repeat that line?

WE woke THE KIDS up early ON A SATURDAY!

And the first Saturday in a long, long time without a soccer game or swim meet we had to be up and out of the house early for.

Seriously, why in the world would we choose such craziness?

For this:

Do you know what our little guy's doing in that picture? How about the older kids below?

Last hint, when the kids finished, they looked like this:

It's one of my very favorite things we do every year -- Blueberry picking!!!

Things other people picking near us at the blueberry farm overheard us hollering through the bushes to each other many times:
"Remember the rule. No whining until your bucket is full!"

"For every blueberry you eat (yes, eating while picking is allowed and encouraged where we pick!) you must put one in your bucket for later."

"Remember the Little Red Hen story, if you want to help eat the blueberry pancakes then you must help pick the blueberries! Okay, so in the story it was grain and bread, but same idea!!"

"There's no crying in blueberry picking!!"

"There will be a prize for the child who picks the most!"

"There's also a prize for the child who whines the least!"

It is really humorous to me that my children still get very excited about blueberry picking and look forward to it all year, because it never fails that after about 15 minutes of picking they begin to act like we're torturing them with the whole thing. But, my husband and I always press on, determined to get a lot of berries! We just ignore the whining and take turns with who has to pick near the kids and who gets to go deeper into the bushes "for the better berries", really it's to get some peace and quiet for at least a few minutes!

It was a great time and we're quite literally enjoying the fruits of our labor now!!!

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

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grateful for a Chance to Help

It really happened simultaneously, our deep love for adoption and our love and respect for Ethiopia.

Is it strange to love a land you've not yet visited? No stranger than loving a child you've never met, I suppose.

But, from the beginning we've known that, for us, adopting a child from Ethiopia meant that country would forever be an extremely important part of who we are and we're excited about this fact! We desire to help the people of Ethiopia, not just to take one of their children and never look back, but to somehow, do something, hopefully many somethings, spanning the rest of our lives, to make things better for them.

As we freed up money from our budget to pay for our adoption expenses, we realized just how much money God had given us that we were not being the best stewards of. And even after the adoption expenses were covered we didn't want to go back to the old way of living, with our main focus being our own enjoyment and comfort when there were people (children, even!) with enormous true need in the world.

We've prayed a lot about what we could and should do to help with both our time/energy as well as money. We were already giving in a few different ways, but wanted to do much more.

There are so many needs, and so many different organizations out there (which is great) but it's sometimes hard to know who's really helping and who's not helping as much or maybe even creating more problems.

It got overwhelming and we kind of decided we'd just wait until we traveled to Ethiopia and scope out some opportunities then.

But, in the last 6 months God has shown us two different initiatives where we could help. Two projects we are very excited about, clearly see the importance of, are confident in the people leading up the efforts, and are grateful for the opportunity to partner with them! I also love that they focus on different sides of the needs. One will help orphans in Ethiopia (the children we will visit in the orphanages but leave behind when we return to the U.S. with our new child) and the other will hopefully, prayerfully, help address issues causing the children to become orphans in the first place. We love adoption, but the best case scenario is for the children to be able to stay in their birth families if they can be properly cared for and loved.

We'll get to see the work with our own eyes when we travel and imagine these two adoption-related required trips to Ethiopia will not be our last, but that our family will return as often as we can in future years.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Her name is written on the fabric of our family

Friday afternoon we got an email about some more changes regarding Ethiopian adoptions that may further delay us being able to bring home our little girl. We've gotten several of these bad news emails in the nearly 2 years we've been working towards this adoption, and you'd think we'd be immune by now, but the amount of panic and fear that one email can elicit really does amaze me! I think I'm a pretty positive, optimistic person typically, but something about these adoption emails just send me into a funk that lasts several hours.

This past Friday was no different, the fear and worry crept in. What if it takes a really long time before we can bring her home? What if something else changes and we never get to bring her home?

I tried to suppress the thoughts and go about everyday life, but it was really hard to keep from being distracted and depressed. We went out to dinner and it was the worst dining-out experience we've had in a long time. The restaurant was terrible, one child started feeling sick part-way through the meal, so I sat in the car with her, not wanting to risk her throwing up in the restaurant (She was fine by the time we got home, though, eagerly inquiring about what was for dessert!). Another child fell out of the bar stool type chair he was sitting in and the third child choked and gagged so bad on some food that the med students one table over were at attention ready to assist with a rescue if needed. He was fine and no Heimlich needed, very thankfully. The evening, however, was rather miserable.

My husband and I managed to get home and get the kids in bed, and I have to admit we were irritated with each other by this point. Probably in an unconscious attempt to put order to the few feet of this world I could control, I set about the cathartic task of cleaning out my craft/project closet (our under-the-stairs closet). I had let it get too messy and began pulling things out so I could purge and better organize it all. I got towards the back and then I saw them. The two Christmas stockings I'd bought off Ebay last summer.

We have matching Pottery Barn Christmas stockings for our 3 biological children, monogrammed with their names. They no longer sell the same style in the store, so to get a matching one for the child we are adopting I had to buy it off Ebay. The only ones I could find were a set of 2 already monogrammed. I bought them anyway because I knew I could remove the old name and get it monogrammed with a new one. When I got the stockings in the mail, I'd attempted to remove the old names myself but it was pretty hard, so I decided to just get the names removed by the monogrammer whenever we knew who our new child would be and could get the new name put on. So, the stockings got stuck pretty far back in that closet.

Until Friday night, nearly one year later, and now as I pulled them out of the closet the name on one of the stockings froze me!

Our Ethiopian daughter, who we were matched with 2 months ago (9 months after buying the stockings), has a rather long Ethiopian name (5 syllables). The first part of her name can be incorporated into a more commonly heard American name, which we plan to do, and then the last half of her name we are planning to use as her middle name, it makes up a very, very uncommon name here in the U.S. But guess what name was monogrammed on that stocking? The 2nd half of her Ethiopian name! Her American middle name!

What are the chances?!!!

I can't tell you the names right now because we haven't passed court, yet, but if I could you'd say zero chance. It is not a common name/spelling at all!!! Without God the chances of that stocking being monogrammed with that particular name has to be 0.00009% or something like that.

But, with God?

Matt 19:26, "Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

What a sweet reminder, just when we needed it so much, that God is all over this adoption, in even the tiniest detail. He wrote this particular little girl into the very fabric of our family long ago!

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's quite the nail and hair salon around here!

This week my 5 year old daughter and I painted our toenails. I always hand her my bucket of nail polish and let her pick which color she wants, only this time she picked 10 colors! One color for each toe! She lined the little nail polish bottles up in the order she wanted them on her toes! Perhaps a bit high maintenance, that girl?

Last Sunday late afternoon I ran out for a quick errand to the fabric store. I left my husband filling up the backyard baby pool for the kids to play in. About 20 minutes later while in the aisle at Joann's Fabric, my husband sends this picture to my phone:

Our dog with, of all things, her head completely covered in mud!

Apparently she'd had a fine time playing in the pool and then running to the dirt and rubbing her head in it!

Needless to say, I wasn't in too big of a hurry to get home at that point, I mean who wants to deal with that!!! Kidding! But, I was glad by the time I got home my husband and the kids had managed to get her clean, and all I had to do was blow her dry!

Because I have by default fallen into the position as resident doggy hairstylist. The only one willing to blow out and brush all that long fur!

Happy Friday!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Terrific Summer Reading

In the past 6 months I've read two of my favorite books that happen to be by the same author. They are rather long books, but they were so good I was actually able to finish them in a reasonable amount of time. It helps that the chapters are short so it's easy to sneak in a chapter here and there as your children are occupied. However the books are so enjoyable you'll find yourself neglecting chores to read just a little more!

The first book I read by Melissa Fay Greene was There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Her Country's Children. It is a true story about an Ethiopian lady named Haregewoin Teferra who took in many, many orphans during the height of the AIDS crisis in Africa. Melissa is a journalist who spent a lot of time in Ethiopia getting to know Haregewoin.

The book does a great job sharing some of the fascinating history of Ethiopia! And, I loved the mesmerizing detail the author uses to describe the sights, sounds, scenes, and people of Ethiopia. I was truly sad when I finished the book because while reading it I could almost imagine I was there, on the same continent, in the same city, even, as my little girl!

There will be tears when you read the stories of how many of the children became orphans in need of Haregewoin's care, but the anguish later turns to rejoicing as the children are eventually adopted by loving families and you get to "see" them in their new lives with plenty of food and doting parents.

But, probably the biggest thing I took away from the book was the power one individual can have to bring light to the darkest of situations. And it almost didn't happen at all! When Haregewoin takes in the first orphan she was at an extremely low point in her life. She'd tragically lost her husband and a daughter within just a few years of each other, and she'd decided to leave the real world, to present herself to the Orthodox priest and ask to be taken into seclusion. However, God had other plans for her life! And thankfully Haregewoin agreed when approached about taking in an orphan, because that one decision snowballed into the saving of many lives!

It is a great reminder that God has a purpose for each of us and as long as we are still here on this earth we should be actively looking for ways to be used by Him, even when our immediate life circumstances are sad and seem hopeless.

The other Melissa Fay Greene book I read is her newest, No Biking in the House Without a Helmet. This one is about Melissa's own family. She and her husband had four biological children and then adopted five children, one from Bulgaria and four from Ethiopia. That makes a grand total of nine kids!! The book is hilarious, heart-warming, and extremely entertaining! It is a must-read for parents adopting internationally because she honestly shares the challenges and joys.

Be warned the book may leave you not only thinking it's not so strange to have nine children but that it's actually fun! Seriously, I have so many stories I loved from this book, I think I completely ruined the book for my husband because several times I had to read him passages out loud after I'd read them because they were just that good!

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

****I was not compensated in any way or asked to write these book reviews, however I am an affliate and will receive a very small portion of the price should you purchase one of these books through the links in my blog.****

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When You Don't Want the Newest Thing!

Do you remember the game Battleship?

My husband and I both have memories of loving the game as children and we knew our kids, especially our oldest child, would love it, but the modern version just isn't the same and to me the modernizing made it much worse, so I didn't buy it.

But, then I decided to look on Ebay. There are tons of old versions of Battleship out there from pretty much any year over the past few decades!!

For not much more money than the current version sold in stores, I got a 1998 edition of the game in excellent condition and without the annoying modern twists. It's perfect! And there's been a lot of this going on around here:

So fun!!

Ebay also didn't fail me a couple years ago when I was looking for the more classic Strawberry Shortcake dolls that I remembered from my childhood, not the souped up versions they sell today! I got some super sweet, gently used dolls made in the 1980s!

Because really sometimes I just don't want the newest thing, sometimes the older models were better!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

One Window at a Time

How much do I love seeing my boy with some Windex and a rag?

A lot!

And I'm also loving the fact that he's wearing his Ordinary Hero "I'm Gonna Change the World" t-shirt while doing it!

Changing our world one window at a time!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Doggy Tooth Brushing

I want to share one of our recent big laughs. Here's our dog Madeline brushing her teeth:

Madeline's a huge fan of the vanilla mint flavored dog toothpaste (Totally not kidding that is the kind of dog toothpaste we got at the vet! I haven't tried it, but it smells awesome!)

No dog breath here!

It's important to get those back teeth really good!

All done!!

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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Court Date Wait: It's a Nail-Biter

If I had the habit of biting my fingernails, they would be chewed off right now.

Another family with our same adoption agency who received a referral for a baby from Ethiopia 2 weeks before we got our referral, just got a court date! For July 14th!!!!

I am so excited for them, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit to the excitement and panic that ensued in my mind about what this might mean for our chances of getting a court date to go meet our daughter in Ethiopia before the courts close for the rainy season which last year happened the 2nd week in August (no word yet on the exact closure dates this year) and lasted until October. Of course no two adoption cases are the same and really I cannot at all judge if/when we will get a court date based on someone else's totally different case. BUT, it does mean it's a possibility that we could meet our daughter in person this summer!!! However , it also means that if we get a court date it will very likely be for a date later than July 14th (they seem to give them out in order) and that really only leaves us 3 weeks of possibility before that window closes for months!!! And mid-October becomes our next best-case scenario.

Oh, this may turn me into a nail biter after all! All the people that have said the adoption process is a roller-coaster seriously weren't kidding!!! The butterflies in my stomach will not go away.

But, at least we have some new entertainment around here.

We just got the game Twister and my husband and I think it's hilarious to watch our children play it. Now when we actually play it with them, we feel old -- very, very old and inflexible! But, it's super fun to see the kids tangle themselves up. "Left hand red! Right foot green!" There may or may not have been a moment when my husband told our 5 year old daughter, "There's no crying in Twister!"

If you need us over the next few weeks, we'll be here, on the edge of our seats, or Twister mat, NOT biting our nails.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:6-7

Find more Finer Things Friday here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's Called Embracing the Chaos

To me a huge blessing of having 3 kids fairly close together was/is learning to let go, to enjoy the crazy and the chaos that I tried so hard to fight before the 3 of them.

Sure, there are still parts of the craziness that drive me nuts, but in much of the chaos there is indescribable joy.

Snapshots of chaos from the past few days that made me smile:

I opened the tub of wheat pretzel sticks and found a green crayon amid the pretzels!

Yes, that is a common playdough color in our house, it's called multi-color. No, they don't sell it in the stores but it's been a staple figure in our home since the addition of the 3rd child, before that Playdough color mixing was frowned upon and should the colors have happened to inter-mingle they would surely have been thrown away and replaced with solid, proper Playdough colors!

Not sure if this was intended to be a booby-trapped door or a new method of closing the back door that I'm always hollering for somebody to shut -- "You're air-conditioning the neighborhood!"

I walked into my kitchen this afternoon to find two of my children had climbed up on the counter, were sitting behind the kitchen sink, and having a fine time "washing" some random dishes.

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of this crazy, beautiful life!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Toothbrush Management

Four years ago when we went from two kids to three kids the hardest part hands down was dealing with sickness.

That first year of 3 kids (ages 4, 2, and 0) it seemed like someone was always sick and we had several illnesses that ran through ALL FIVE OF US! I remember thinking, "I could do this if not for the sicknesses!" I could balance the attention among 3 healthy kids, but make that 1 sick kid plus 2 healthy ones and it got tough, and hand me 2 sick kids or 3 at a time and it felt near impossible. And don't even get me started on caring for 3 young children by myself while I was super sick. So miserable!

Most people can handle sitting up nearly all night for one night with a sick child, but what if that child gets well just in time for the next child to catch it and suddenly it becomes a marathon of sleep deprivation, round the clock nurse duties, and constant wash?

So, I became a bit of a fanatic about keeping everyone as healthy as possible. No, not going to extremes like keeping toddlers home from church for fear of them catching something. I'd rather my kids be sick all the time and in church most Sundays than live a germ-free life away from church. But, that first year I used a lot of bleach and Lysol -- door knobs, light switches -- any time someone showed the first signs of being sick, to try to keep the rest of us from catching it. It never worked.

But, in the past couple of years I think I've figured out a few things that do help lessen the spreading of the sickness within our family. This past winter we all had bouts of sickness, but none of them shared!!

We even had 3 separate (as in at least a month apart, way longer than the incubation period of Strep) instances of Strep throat, which is highly contagious, but my kids never spread it to each other!

One thing I did different this year was a new system for toothbrushes.

Instead of having all three of the kid toothbrushes in a holder on the counter where they could potentially touch each other, I separated them into individual plastic bins in a drawer.

And, here's the kicker, I believe.

Each child has their own tube of toothpaste!

It never occurred to me until recently how that toothpaste tube touches every toothbrush and can spread those nasty Strep or stomach virus germs.

Call it paranoia, call it overkill. I really don't care. We are hopefully, prayerfully going to have four kids living under this one roof next winter and this toothbrush/toothpaste system is staying!

And nobody eats after each other! Kids are little germ reservoirs. I don't care how healthy they seem, I'm not finishing off their food. That sandwich they only ate one bite of can be saved again for them, but anyone else that eats it is eating at their own risk!

I have some other tips on keeping the family healthy I'll share in another post at a future, undetermined date.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer's Finally Here!!

Last week was the end of the school year for my two elementary aged kiddos, which meant that every day of the week they came home and within seconds my straightened home became a never-ending pile!

Each and every day of the week they unloaded the contents of the elementary school onto my kitchen table. You know, journals, workbooks, pencils, markers, crayons they'd used all year at school plus tons of end-of-the year notices, report cards, crafts, gifts from teachers, etc., etc.! I was inside the school on the last day helping with the kindergarten party and it occurred to me how bare and empty the school seemed and then I remembered, "Oh yeah, all the stuff that used to line the walls of the school hallways and fill the classrooms is now in my home on my kitchen table!"

The last day of school seemed like a good enough occasion to try out Mint Oreo Brownies. They were yummy and certainly super easy, which is perfect for a crazy week like the last week of school!

And what better way to celebrate the beginning of summer than with a new Slip-N-Slide?!!

Something else I love about summer are the black-eyed peas we can pick by the basketful from our very own backyard garden! They cook up super yummy (with the glorious addition of bacon, of course) and my 5 year old daughter is the best bean snapper/sheller! Her brothers are way too impatient for such a task, they help with about 3 beans and then scurry off leaving just me and my girl for a good half hour of uninterrupted time together!

But, my very favorite part of summer so far has been swimming laps at our neighborhood pool with my 2 oldest kids. My son's been a good swimmer for a few years but this is the first summer my 5 year daughter old can really do laps, like making it all the way across without stopping, doing the side breathing and everything!!! I'm so proud of her and so excited that both my big kids LOVE to swim! It is a sport of my youth. I was a very serious swimmer in high school, on the swim team and swam two times a day, every day for years. There's just nothing like sharing that sport I still enjoy with my kids! And it helps that although my 8 year old son is getting really fast, I'm still faster than he is. Lately as his interest in science and chemistry has gone through the roof, often I feel like I fall short of his expectations, me with my biomedical science degree cannot answer many of his science questions. Oh how much I've forgotten! But the swimming always comes back to me no matter how long its been; he still looks up to my swimming abilities! That's a joy I plan on savoring while I can!

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Classifiable Fingerprints This Time!!!!

A couple months ago I posted about how our fingerprints were expiring for our adoption and that the first time I went through the fingerprint process over a year ago, it took several different appointments because my fingerprints were deemed "unclassifiable" by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration (CIS). We went in mid-April to get re-fingerprinted and we just got the notice in the mail of a successful renewal of our fingerprints! No unclassifiable, come-back multiple times headaches to deal with this time! I'm so relieved because if the fingerprint issue drug out for several months like last time it could possibly have jeopardized when we could bring our new daughter home!

I have Kathleen to thank for her wonderful lotion and spray, magic potions I now call them! And perhaps it helped that for the few months prior to the fingerprinting this time I was more careful about wearing gloves when using strong cleaning products!

Now onto the next step . . . renewing our homestudy! I used to say the only thing worse than paperwork was re-doing paperwork, but actually it's not so bad this time around! Whatever it takes to get our daughter home!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Good to Know!

This past Sunday we went to a Cookout at some friends' house and they had water balloons for the kids, which were a huge hit! My little 5 year old daughter, being the treasure (trash) collector that she is, gathered up several of the brightly colored deflated, popped balloons and smuggled them home tightly clinched in her little fist.

My husband and I had no idea the deflated balloons had come home with us, much less made it into the house. We gave the kids a snack and sat down to rest for a few minutes from the heat and activity of the outdoor party before attempting the bedtime process for our kids. Then we heard our 5 year old shrieking and the dog coughing a bit. "Madeline (the puppy) swallowed the orange balloon!" the kids were yelling.

Of course we were confused, "What orange balloon?" But, once we figured it out we were worried because we'd heard deflated balloons could be very dangerous for dogs as they can cause blockages in their internal organs. I stuck my hand down the puppy's throat. My husband stuck his hand down the puppy's throat. No luck!

We debated taking her to the emergency vet or waiting it out to see if she just passed it through. Then my husband said, "I'm going to go try to get her to throw-up," and he took her outside. He came back in very quickly and was like, "How do you make a dog throw-up?"

Me: "I have no idea I thought you knew since you suggested it."

But The Internet saved the day!

He Googled the topic and found out you should measure out 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide, have one person hold the dog's head tightly so her mouth is pointed up, and have another person squeeze the hydrogen peroxide as far down the throat as possible with a turkey baster. It said the dog should throw up within a minute.

So we did it, turkey baster and all!

We estimated only about one-tenth of the hydrogen peroxide went down her throat, the rest was slung out all over us. But, lo and behold about 2 minutes later SHE THREW UP!!

And there was the deflated orange balloon amid some dog food kernels and a whole acorn (would that have passed all the way through? Not sure.)!

Too much information?

Dog owners, take note, you just never know when this information may come in handy!

Likely saved us thousands of dollars at the emergency vet!!

P.S. After using this technique go ahead and keep the dog outside for a while. Let's just say the vomiting isn't limited to a single instance before it's over.

And a lesson for the darling 5 year old in our home: Trash goes in the trash can and, "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." Matt 6:20 and where puppies do not eat it!!!!

Thankful this is a story we can laugh about now!

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