Monday, April 30, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes

Yesterday marked exactly one year since the day we first saw our youngest daughter's face.

One year since our referral of her during our Ethiopian adoption process.

So much has happened in this one year.

I can't even wrap my own mind around everything that has happened from then to now.

One year ago in a matter of minutes she went from being a 2 year old who was a stranger to us to our beloved daughter.

And we hadn't even met her!  Didn't get to meet her for 3 more months!

But, it was supernatural, something only God could orchestrate.

Just how normal, how right it was.  "Yes, that's our daughter."

"No, we don't need time to think it over or discuss any issues with medical doctors."

"Whatever problems we encounter, we'll deal with them.  Just as we've done/would do with our other three children."

If you met her today, you'd never, ever guess she lived in an Ethiopian orphanage a year ago, much less 4.5 months ago!

We celebrated the referralversary with traditional Ethiopian injera and shiro and a side of left-over pizza!

How's that for an unplanned combination of her Ethiopian and American heritages!


And Now (after being home 4 months):

Dancing at her older siblings' swim team practice!  Yes, she picked out that dress to wear today and often sports her pink goggles even when she's not swimming!  Little Girl's got some style!

There is no way to go from our then to our now, or her then to her now without seeing the amazing, powerful hand of God all over our stories!

So grateful for His goodness bringing this little girl into our family!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

We got our kids hooked on Little House on the Prairie!

As I said last Friday, it's the busy season of end-of-school year events plus a perfect storm of kid activities, so it's been a non-stop week.

This evening my husband got home a little early.  The kids all swam today in various swim workouts or lessons, (even Little Girl who was not actually signed up for any swimming but took a dip anyway -- in full clothes, no less - oh, the crazy!), so all four kids were chlorine-coated and desperately needed showering or bathing.  The house was in shambles from a hurried schedule that allowed children time to change clothes but not time to put away the clothes they'd changed out of.  There were backpacks and lunch boxes and folders and wet swim towels everywhere and also the stuffing contents of a new ladybug toy the dog got yesterday and has already gutted all over the floor!  I had gone to a store this morning but not managed to get the stuff I bought put away yet.

We really should have all buckled down and gotten done what needed to get done, but instead my husband suggested we shower everyone in record speed, eat dinner, and then watch as a family the hour and a half pilot episode of Little House on the Prairie (the original 1974 version) that we got in the mail via NetFlix.  

We never have family movie night on a school night, but I was a pretty easy sell on that idea and told him the kids could NOT go to bed late so I was game as long as we could get the movie started in time.

We did and the house is still in shambles but it was such a fun hour and a half!  The kids really enjoyed the show (who wouldn't LOVE classic Little House??) and we had some great little conversations about what life was really like for early settlers/pioneers and just how hard everyone had to work, including the kids!!

And while it was not what we should have done, it was exactly what we needed!


I am making myself feel better about the guilty pleasure of a 1.5 hour show by the fact that I spent about half the show styling Little Girl's hair.  I didn't get pictures, though, but here are a couple pictures of last week's style -- twists!!!

Wow, those little things are hard to do, but I was pretty happy with the results of my first attempt at them!

She's finally letting me try out some more elaborate styles and with us being outside more this time of year, I'm seeing the beauty of a more protective hairstyle than free hair because it's easier to keep the grass and sand out.  I really need to do a blog post just on the hair, because oh my at all the things to discuss there!

But for now, I'm just going to say Happy Friday, Friends!


Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Know better

Please go read this: The Boulton Family: UNvitation

The little girl the blog post is about was in the same room at a care center in Ethiopia with our little girl for months and months.  My heart aches for what this family is going through all because people don't know the truth.  No 4 year old should be un-invited to a birthday party because she is HIV+!

Please do your part to make life better for many children like the precious Miss B, educate yourself.

This video is a good place to start:

I'm so thankful and really in awe of the brave families who have stepped up to help educate the rest of us!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Little Scientists

My 9 year old son LOVES science.  He has been known to literally study the periodic table in his free time!

And my little 4 year old loves pretty much anything his big brother loves.

It's just a good thing for my little scientists that they are so cute in lab goggles because otherwise I'd have no patience for the all the messes their experiments create!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Hide & Go Seek, 3 year old style

Playing hide-and-go-seek with my 3 year old today.

I count "one-two-three-four-five.

Ready or not here I come!"

I already know where she is.

But I pretend not to,

and wonder out loud where she could be!

I look in a few places I know she is not.

She giggles loudly from her hiding spot.

Then I peek behind the chair and loudly squeal,

"I found you!  I found you!"

I tickle her a bit.

She laughs and laughs.

She catches her breath and asks, "Again?"

"You want to hide again?"  I ask as if I can't believe it.

"Yes!  Again!"

"Okay, " I agree and close my eyes and begin counting again.

Guess where she hides next?

Behind the same exact chair as before!

Eight different times she hides behind that chair.

And eight different times I pretend like it's hard to find her.

Because I know.

I know the days are coming when she will be good at hiding.

When she'll be able to be so quiet in her hiding spot it will be harder to find her.

She will grow up and know better than to hide in the same spot 8 times in a row.

She will grow up and someday pretend to search for her own obviously not hiding children.

But for today, I finally suggest that I hide and she find me.

She agrees and mimics the exact way I counted.

I hide behind a different chair.

But, I don't let her wonder where I am for long.

Children who have known the loss of a first mother, shouldn't be left feeling they can't find their mother for long.

I begin to call out, "Find me!  Find me!"

She does.

We shriek and squeal with laughter!

She wants me to hide again.

But, then she tells me where to hide, behind the same chair I was just hiding behind.

And so I do.

Because so often in our days together she wants to be the boss and I can't let her.

But, in this, in this hide & go seek game she can be the boss.

Cherishing these days.

These frustrating, joyous, exhausting, blessed days!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Maximizing the Chaos

We've hit the busy season.  The time of year that makes Christmastime look rather unbusy and not at all stressful.  It used to be just May that killed me, but much like Christmastime now bleeding over into October, the end of the school year crazy schedule now includes the last two weeks in April in addition to the month of May.

Preschool open house where kids showcase what they've done all year, 3rd grade musical, 1st grade musical, science fair, recycled materials project, 1st grade gifted and talented expo, 3rd grade gifted and talented expo, 2 different school field trips, preschool outdoor/water day, elementary school field day, a birthday party to celebrate the 4 year old turning 5, the end of soccer season for my youngest and beginning of swim team season for my oldest ones!  Wow, I'm so glad I didn't let my 6 year old do dance so at least there's no dance recital/rehearsal/pictures crazy to go along with the other madness!

I'm soooooo ready for summer!  And to all my friends that have asked me if I'm signing my child up for whatever summer class/camp/activity the answer is "NO!"  We have a few things planned for the summer and swim team does run through June, but other than that, we are going to enjoy a lot of downtime and a much easier schedule!


In other news, our 3 year old daughter adopted from Ethiopia just 4 months ago, is still making amazing progress with her English speaking.  She's added, "It's not fair!" to her repertoire, which is lovely.  Then recently when my 6 year old daughter was doing her homework, Little Girl loudly asked, "Where's my homework?!!"  Everyone that meets her is really surprised she's only been in this country a few months!


This week there's also been this excitement:

Little Girl figured out how to pump herself on the swing.

But do you see what else is going on in that picture?

How 'bout this one, notice it now?

My 4 year old son had not quite mastered pumping although he's been working at it for a while now.  So as his little sister pumped higher and higher, hollering, "Mom!  Look at me!  Look at me!", all he could do was sit on the swing and fuss, "I wish I could pump.  I try and it doesn't work.  I can't go high."

Of course what was really going on was that he'd pump himself two or three times and then get impatient and discouraged that he was not yet going high, so he'd quit moving his legs and pulling with his arms and then all of his momentum was lost.

I coached him through all kinds of whining and "I can't do it"s and finally I decided he wasn't really trying and gave up.  No amount of instruction was getting through.

But, where adult teaching falls short, the prodding power of a sibling doing something you can't (a younger sibling no less) produces amazing results!  By late afternoon, my 4 year old son was also pumping his own self on the swing!


Two different posts from this little blog were featured in the e-book That Works for Me! 

The e-book shares in an organized, categorized fashion, 800 practical tips to make your life run smoother.  These are tips that have been shared over the years in the Works for Me Wednesday blog carnival, so they are tried and true, the harnessed wisdom of so many bloggers!  Oh the excitement!  (And late nights spent reading up on how to remove permanent marker, organize your grocery list, make homemade ketchup, get rid of poop smells, maximize your closet space, store wet swimsuits, etc., etc.)

Keep in mind this is an e-book, the little "e" stands for "electronic" so this is not a hard or soft-backed book you will hold in your hands and thumb through the old fashioned way.  No, this is a book you download to your computer or kindle or whatever electronic reader you prefer and then you can click and instantly move from page 27 to page 142!  Really, I'm not sure how I feel about e-books because I'm old school and like to actually hold a book in my hands, but for this it works being an e-book and judging by my overflowing bookshelves, I could probably use more adventures into the e-book world!

The regular price of the book is $8 but I have a little coupon code I have permission to share with you guys.  For $1 off use code: SAVE1.  To purchase the book go to the website:  


Happy Friday, Friends!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I write it across four-fifths of the page.


And this is the forth time I've found myself here in the past few months.

Frozen while filling out a new patient form at a doctor's office for my 3 year old daughter who we adopted 4 months ago.

Each time I feel very strange writing the word and sad at all we don't know.

Was she born premature?  Unknown

Birth weight?  Unknown

Bottle Fed or Breastfed?  Unknown

Any history of the long list of diseases in her biological family?  unknown, unknown, unknown . .

Has she ever had chicken pox?  Unknown

And on and on go the list of questions I cannot answer.

But, you know what?

I could focus on all that I don't know or focus on the things I do know about our little girl.

Like how to get her to go to sleep.

What she likes and doesn't like to eat.

What makes her laugh.

When I really need to get her to a bathroom right away and when I can ask her to hold it for a few minutes.

Her mannerisms and facial expressions.

I know her.  I know who she is.

But, more importantly, God knows.  He has always known her.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you"  Jeremiah 1:5


Praying as she grows that she will not let the unknowns define her, that she will embrace her identity as a daughter who is known and loved and cherished. 

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Another fun first!

Little Girl's first experience playing in the sprinklers:

Her expression makes it crystal clear -- she LOVED it!

It feels like summertime here, now if that school would just end we could really settle into the relaxing days of summer where nobody wears anything besides swimsuits - sure makes laundry easier!

Monday, April 16, 2012

You take the good, you take the bad . . .

Anyone else watch some Facts of Life back in the day?

You know the theme song - "You take the good, you take the bad.  You take them all and then you have the facts of life.  The Facts of Life . . ."

Those lyrics kept running through my mind today.  But, aren't those words telling the truth?  Life is the good and the bad.

The bad:
This morning we woke up to no power.

Actually I was awakened at 5am to my girls notifying me that there was no power, "The light in our closet is off and the light in the bathroom won't turn on!"  They hollered down the stairway.  I stumbled upstairs to see what the fuss was about, tucked them back in and assured them that even though the power was out they were safe.  I was really, really wanting to get out of there as fast as I could and crawl back into my bed.

Them:  "Why?  Why, Mom, why is the power out?"

5am version of me:  "I don't know, let me wake up Daddy and ask him."

7am's wake-up brought still no electricity.

The good:
99.9% of the mornings we wake up and there IS power!  And our power company worked like champs to get the transformer issue fixed and power was back up by 11am.

The bad:
Turns out our coffee maker needs electricity to actually make coffee and the version of me who was awakened at 5am just cannot survive 4 kids in the morning without coffee.

The good:
Since being introduced to the real deal of coffee during our trip to Ethiopia, my husband has started using our French press to make Ethiopian coffee for us some over the weekends and it only needs boiling water which we were able to achieve since we have a gas stove!  Just had to light that baby with a match and we were on our way to hot coffee after all!

The good:
My entire house was clean for about 5 minutes today.  

Clean because I paid someone to clean it.  Every 2 weeks we have a housekeeper come in, just to keep the place sanitary.  Because I'm really good at making sure the kids don't leave their shoes any place besides the shoe shelf -- drives me crazy and I am on them as soon as I see that.  But, the shower?  That I could easily forget to clean for a month!  Probably noticing stuff growing in there would catch my attention but otherwise it doesn't stand a chance on my to-do list!

The bad:
My kids messed up the place in what felt like 5 minutes!  

"Why?  Why did you get all this stuff out?" I ask as if there is a logical answer!

The good:
Children who willingly do their homework without being nagged about it.

The bad:
The pile of sheets waiting to be folded in the background?

The good:
Princess Belle danced all around the house this afternoon.


The bad:
Backpacks that are not hung on their hooks.  Random stuff everywhere, all the time!

Life.  I'm grateful for God's gift of a beautiful, messy life.  I guess the trick is to be thankful for the good and ignore the bad?  I'm challenging myself to work harder at that!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Riding Alligators

It's Thursday evening and I have no idea why I'm so tired seeing as how if you asked Hilary Rosen, my homemaker/mommy job would not be considered "work".  I'd like to invite her to do my job for a day or so, I'm betting that would take her definition of the term "worked" to a whole 'nother level!

**Really this is not a political blog, don't worry, I just couldn't resist that one!**


If you come to my front door, you might see this scene:

Really it doesn't mean my entire house is trashed (although maybe it does), my kids just like to set up elaborate camps, complete with tons of dolls and stuffed animals, right in the entryway!


I took Little Girl for an appointment yesterday, a place where you ride an elevator up from the garage parking and then get a 2nd elevator from the lobby of the building up to the floor you're visiting.  The 4 different elevator rides reminded me I need to document the cuteness before it disappears, right now Little Girl calls it an "alligator" not elevator!  I kinda hope she never gets it right!


You cannot imagine my glee when the notice came home about my 3rd grader's science fair project assignment and there were the words, "This project will be a mostly in-class assignment."  Did I mention how much I LOVE this teacher?!!!

I really do like helping my kids with school work.  I enjoy science.  Heck, I majored in science in college!  But, Science Fair?  With the hypothesis and the backboard with all the headings and write-up and border and results and pictures -- torture!  But, don't tell my 3rd grader I said that because he's excited about his first science fair!


We have this bush in our backyard with flowers that change from deep purple to light purple to white.  Someone much wiser in plants than I told me it was called a "Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow".  So fun this time of year when it blooms!  It's like a little bit of magic right in our backyard!


Happy Friday, Friends!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I don't want to!

Don't you hate it when your kids find a dead mouse in your backyard and there's nobody there to handle the situation except you?

Happened to me just yesterday.

You debate leaving the thing there until your husband gets home from work, but the possibility that the dog will get to it and chew on it is too disgusting to risk.

Too bad the 9 year old isn't home, maybe you could talk him into dealing with it, but nope, just the 3 and 4 year old children squealing about the dead mouse one thought was a rabbit and the other a possum.  

You mull over the different ways you could pick up the mouse and dispose of it.

But really you are just wishing there was somebody else here to do it!


Because it's gross and unpleasant and not at all on the to-do list you created for this day.

Largely, plainly, you just don't want to!

Or is all that just me?

Do normal people promptly put on gloves, pick up the dead mouse, throw it away and go on with their lives?

Maybe.  But I submit that if it's not the dead mouse that gets to you then there's something else, probably many somethings.  Things, issues, situations you encounter in your life that you must deal with when you just don't want to!  Messy things, gross things, hard things.

Really, as far as things-I-don't-want-to-do go, the dead mouse is pretty minor.  I scooped it up with the pooper scooper, the one with the really long handle, dumped it in the outside trash can, and went inside and washed my hands several times even though my hands truly got nowhere near the carcass.  Over and done with in about a minute.

But, listen to what the Bible tells us to do:
"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," Matt 5:44
"Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you." Matthew 5:42
"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

You know what all three of those things have in common?

(Besides being in the Bible)

They are not fun.  Not easy to do.  And most always fall into the category that my natural, selfish self looks at and says, "I don't want to!"

So, why?  Why do things we don't want to do?

Because we are Christians.  Christ followers!

"He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them." 2 Cor 5:15

Because He died for me.  Because He lives.  Lord help me to no longer live for myself!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Healthy Smoothie My Kids Love!

A few weeks ago I was playing around sneaking some raw spinach in the smoothie I was making for my kids and figured out a combination of ingredients for a healthy smoothie all 4 of my kids love!

They call it the "Chocolate Smoothie"

Makes about 6 servings (my kids always want seconds so we use it all in one sitting!)

Puree the following in the blender:

24 oz tub of plain yogurt (I like to use Greek yogurt to up the protein content)
2 frozen bananas
2 tablespoons coco powder (unsweetened)
2 cups raw spinach
1/2 to 1 cup milk (depending on how thick you like it)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons honey

The first couple of times I was careful not to let any smallish people see me put the spinach into the blender for the smoothie.  But I got bold and let the loud 4 year old help me make the smoothie one day, and he immediately announced to everyone that there was spinach in it!  However, the chocolate smoothie is good enough that my little people don't care that there's spinach in it, they still love it!  This is our after school snack at least once a week, especially now that the weather is getting warm and they are begging for something cold!

See even the newest, smallest child likes it!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Road Trip!

We survived our first road trip with 4 kids! 

I do feel like I need a t-shirt with that slogan.

About 8 hours each way to grandparents' house, but really the kids were very, very good!

The car scene:

I may or may not have insisted on a roadside stop for the cheesy Texans-in-the-bluebonnets photo.

That is the best picture we were able to get of the 4 kids after much questioning about just why were we stopping here, whining about the bugs, and squinting at the sun!

Then, while I was taking an individual picture of one child, I turned around and this had happened:

Um, it's actually illegal to pick the bluebonnets in Texas because they are the state flower, but seeing as how she's new here and all, hopefully everyone can just let it slide!

A little day-before-Easter egg hunt:

And the proverbial Easter morning we-are-all-dressed-in-our-Easter-finest-and-not-all-that-happy-about-it picture:

I hope your weekend was filled with the blessed knowledge that JESUS IS ALIVE!

Y'all that tomb was empty!

God wins.  Every. Single. Time.  Evil cannot overcome His goodness!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

To Know Him

Leading up to Easter, I didn't give up anything, mainly because I knew I'd fail.  I pat myself on the back for just managing to get all 4 of my kids' teeth brushed twice each day (that is the teeth of my 4 kids, not their 4 teeth -- collectively they have like 87 teeth), so no way was I up for anything even semi-complicated this Lenten season!  But I have been trying to focus on things that draw me closer to God, what makes me know Him more?  Those are the things I want to spend my time on, those are the priorities for my life right now when earthly life is so full and trends towards busy.  Everything cannot be done.  So what is important?

In my search for advice on how to know God more, I found Jeremiah 22:16 and read it with fresh eyes.  

Jeremiah 22:16 in 5 different versions of the Bible:  (Why 5 different versions?  Because I don't want anyone - and by anyone, I mean me - to blame the wording on the translation.  It's the same message, in black and white.)

New International Version: "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" declares the LORD.  Jer 22:16

New Living Translation:  "He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn't that what it means to know me?" says the LORD. Jer 22:16

English Standard Version:  "He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me?" declares the LORD. Jer 22:16

New American Standard Bible: "He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; Then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?" Declares the LORD. Jer 22:16

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.): He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the LORD. Jer 22:16

I truly believe we don't hear this message enough as Christians, but it is no secret, God is telling us right here, how to know Him.  The poor and the needy.  

Convicted.  Again.

Re-evaluating how we spend our money and our time.  Again.

May we know you more, oh Lord, may we know you more!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Never Alone

 What would you say if I said, no matter what troubles you are facing, any really hard things you're walking through, that you are not alone?

A couple weeks ago, God kept presenting me with a particular Bible verse, meaning I came across it multiple times from different places all in a few days time.   Then I realized that this recent picture of my 6 year old daughter hand-in-hand with her daddy while facing tremendous waters, was a beautiful illustration of the verse!  God, our father, promises that when we pass through those waters (notice it does not say "if you pass through the waters" but "when"), He will be with us.  He's right there holding our hand!

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."  Isaiah 43:2 (ESV translation)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Best of My Internet

This is the best beans recipe - I've made the crock pot version of these beans twice and they are so good and really easy!

Easter Egg Scriptures - I've seen this idea a few times and done a couple different various, like the Resurrection eggs, but this post from Leigh Anne makes this wonderfully meaningful activity so simple to create, she even has a pdf you can print with all the scriptures!

This post from Katie Davis - If you're not reading Katie Davis, you should be.  This post, in particular, is stunning! 

And this from Ann Voskamp - carries the secret to what will truly bring you peace!