Thursday, June 28, 2012

Do I have to title this?

I had a date tonight with my 9 year old son.  We hit the fine arts museum on the evening it's open until 9pm, which also happens to be the free admission day (you can't beat that awesomeness!) and a stop for ice cream after.  It was such a joy to do a big kid activity with just my oldest child without worrying about the little ones running or yelling or otherwise wreaking havoc!  The only immaturity of the evening was me whispering to him in front of a painting, "Now, seriously, your little brother could have painted that!  How is that fine art?"


Yesterday I ordered 12 photo albums.  Empty albums.  That I will need to fill.  With the past 10 to 12 years of our lives.  

Woo hoo!  I'm excited about that project!  NOT!  Which is why it hasn't gotten done since roughly year 2000.  But, it's been hanging over my head.  And really, I'd be totally fine with only digital albums, but my husband and I agree the kids would really enjoy hard copy family albums to look at.  OH MY WORD AT THE GUILT!  So, yeah, finally time to prioritize the task.  Step 1 complete:  Purchase many matching photo albums - check!  Kinda hoping those albums get lost in the mail and never actually arrive here so I don't have to proceed to step 2!  And as I think about it, I can't help hearing my own voice saying to my children, "Sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do."


The other day I was reading something to Little Girl (home from Ethiopia 6 months now) and it became pretty clear that she didn't know what a scarf was.  So, I got some out to illustrate.  Here she and the 9 year old are rocking some scarfs on a day with a heat index of 105 degrees!


We went out for ice cream as a family to celebrate this milestone (and also because the kids had earned free ice cream coupons from the library summer reading challenge).   My other kids deemed the 5 year old "Messiest Person Alive".  

At least we took him for ice cream in his swim suit and swim shirt, that chocolate just rinsed right out!


 I know, I know.  I didn't blog last night, so there was nothing new to read today, on a day of the week I typically have new content.  We've been doing a whole lot of this the past month:

 The middle of this week we wrapped up the swim team season, so we are all tired.  And really ready to enjoy these next several weeks of no school commitments or sports commitments!  So, my blogging schedule may be a little more unpredictable for the next few weeks as we relax and have fun and hopefully get some productive things accomplished, too. Is there really a way to intermingle those 3 things -- relax, fun, productive?  I intend to try!


Happy Friday, Friends!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tooth Fairy Alarm

I have 4 kids that range in age from 9 to 3 years old, so children losing teeth is a pretty common thing around here and will be for years to come.  My 6 year old lost her 4th tooth today.  And just after I told her to go find her tooth fairy pillow, I set my tooth fairy alarm.

What?  Don't you have need of a tooth fairy alarm?

You see with life being rather busy and all, and the commonness of the tooth fairy visit around our house, sometimes I forget about the tooth fairy coming.  So, now I set a calendar entry with 2 different alerts, 15 minutes and 5 minutes, before the time the tooth fairy typically comes to remind me to watch out for her visit.  I hate it when I miss seeing the tooth fairy when she's here!  I intend to print out my blog some day for my children to be able to read (and not feel so bitter about their lack of baby books or scrap books), so I won't reveal all her secrets, but that tooth fairy is really interesting to talk to!  Talk about some crazy stories?  Well, the tooth fairy has some good ones!

Anyone else have a need for a tooth fairy alarm?  Never forget another visit!  Trust me it is a bad feeling the next morning when you realize you've forgotten about the tooth fairy -- only happened once to me and I learned my lesson, always with the alarm now!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

We survived 6 months of 4 kids!

I'm really not sure which is more amazing, that we have officially survived 6 months of 4 kids or that our new little girl has been home 6 months now!  

Both milestones represent a whole lot of God!

Thankful for our family of 6, knit together by God alone!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Doggy Camouflage, No Shoes, and the Copying Game

Can you find my dog in the picture below?

Hint:  She's the same color as the bedding in her crate.


I love the more relaxed side of summer, but it's getting to the point that I'm seriously thinking about going to Old Navy and buying $2.50 flip flops in each of my kids' sizes and keeping them in the car because lately we've gotten out somewhere in the car before I realize 50% of my kids don't have shoes on and no way am I taking barefoot kids into the grocery store or library!


This week my 3 oldest kids taught Little Girl the joy that is called drive-your-sibling-crazy-by-copying-everything-he-or-she-says.  But, what they didn't count on is that she'd immediately turn her newly-found copying skills against them and just how good Little Girl would be at copying and how long she could continue without getting tired!

Here's a small audio snapshot of my week:

One of the older kids: "Mom!  She's copying me!"

Little Girl (the 3 year old):  "Mom!  She's copying me!"

One of the older kids: "Mom, she's STILL copying me!"

Little Girl (the 3 year old): "Mom, she's STILL copying me!"

One of the older kids: "Mom, make her stop!"

Little Girl (the 3 year old): "Mom, make her stop!"

Yeah, so you know you want to come over and delight in the copying game phase that's happening around here!  Really it doesn't get to me too much, I mean it is just so cliche'!  Brothers and sisters have been doing this to each other since the beginning of time!

And then there's always the fun I had when one of the kids started copying what I said, so I promptly began saying, "Mom is awesome!  I'm going to go clean my room right now, then I'll sweep and mop the floor right before I take a 2 hour nap!"

Hee, hee, hee.


Happy Friday, Friends!

Find more Finer Things Friday and  Friday Fragments.

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Adoption - When the answers are easy

The other day my kids were talking about baby pictures and they asked me if we had baby pictures of our 3 year old who joined our family via adoption just about 6 months ago.

Insert awkward pause as I scurry in my mind about how to handle this very hard question.

Because the answer is no.  We don't.  The earliest pictures we have of her are as a 2 year old.

There are a lot of questions around adoption topics and parenting an adopted child that are hard.  They just are.  HARD.

So, you can imagine my glee when I find an issue or question with an easy answer!

The issue was my very active 3 year old (anybody know an Ethiopian child who is not active?) with long legs is a seat-kicker in the car.  And because she is my only child who cannot strap herself into her carseat, her seat has been behind my driver's seat, so I could strap her in and then easily get in my side of the car.

But, the seat kicking became one of those minor annoyances that festers over months and months and finally reaches a breaking point.  

Hundreds of times the scenario would play out,  I'd ignore several kicks and then they'd just get worse so I'd finally say, "(Insert her name here), please stop kicking my seat." To which she would respond, "I NOT!  I not kicking!"  And I'd say, "Yes, yes, you are kicking my seat, please stop."  And she'd say, "NO!  I NOT!"

And on it would go, leaving me wondering which was more annoying, her kicking my seat or her lying about it.

Now, granted, this is a situation I'd handle totally differently with a child that had lived with me since birth, rather than just 6 months, with a child who was completely fluent in my same language.  And, I even tried some of those parenting tactics with Little Girl, things like explaining what a lie was and that she was not in trouble when she kicked my seat but that I just needed her to stop doing it and there was no reason to lie about it. 

Didn't work.  The same scenario so many times.

Until a couple weeks ago, my older 2 kids were in a VBS every day for 5 days about 10 minutes from our house, dropping them off at 9am, picking them up at noon.

Let's just say, I hit a breaking point somewhere in the middle of that week.

But, unlike many other times when I'm not proud of how I handle aggravation, this time, I actually handled it well!  I did not scream and bang my head against the steering wheel (even though I wanted to).  Know what I did?

We got home, I calmly unloaded my children from the car, and then I moved that carseat over to the passenger side!

Oh, it felt good!  The work of installing that whole latch system seat on the other side of the car was cathartic!  

And the first car ride with Little Girl not behind my seat?  Awesome!  

Praise God for one less daily frustration!  An easy answer!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stop Folding

Do you want to know something new that's working for me?

(Answer "yes" 'cause I'm going to tell you anyway!)

I've stopped folding some of my laundry!

Scandalous, I know!

When I finally decided my kids were too big for baby washcloths for bath time (this was about 12 months ago when my oldest was 8 years old -- bless his heart for putting up with the tiny washcloths and the construction themed quilts on the bunk beds he shares with his little brother!), I repurposed the washcloths as quick cleaning cloths to use on kid hands and faces throughout the day and as the kid napkins at breakfast and lunch (we switch to the classier, eternally stained cloth napkins for dinner).

With 4 kids I go through several of those little washcloths each day but throwing them into a load of wash is no problem there is always one going and those washcloths are not picky about what they wash with.  But, for a while I was folding those babies.  Each little square perfectly folded into first a rectangle and finally a square, although a smaller square than in its normal baby washcloth state.

I'm not sure what point it hit me, the ridiculousness of folding those napkins, but for the past several weeks I've just been throwing them into a messy pile and putting the whole pile into a bucket in the drawer under the oven.  So much easier!  And just think of the minutes I'm saving over the course of a week!  And my life is no worse for not having them folded, really the drawer looks no worse to me upon opening it than it did when I folded the napkins!

So, now I'm on a hunt to figure out more things I can get away with not folding, already the children's jammies have become pretty haphazardly folded because the kids rummage through their pajama drawers so much that why bother folding things neatly for those drawers!

So, tell me are you an all or nothing folder?  or somewhere in between?

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Revisting a Classic

This picture was taken almost exactly 3 years ago of my then 3 year old daughter.

It's one of my favorite photos!


That little girl is now 6 years old and still loves water!  Give her a hose or a pool or a fountain or sprinkler and she is a very happy, gleeful camper!

We broke out the backyard baby pool over the weekend.  My crazy water girl is the one holding the hose, spraying her little brother and sister!

I'm a little sad that the 9 year old seemed to think he was too big for the baby pool this summer.  Sigh, why do they have to grow up so fast?!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Love of a Father

Every child deserves the love of a father.

I'm thankful this Father's Day for the men who have taken their role as dads seriously, for all the ways they love and lead.

And I'm abundantly grateful for the love we all have of our Heavenly Father, and the awesome privilege to be His children!

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" –1 John 3:1
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost".  –Matthew 18:12-14  
 “No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God." — John 16:27 
 "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children." — Romans 8:15-16

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Grilled Cheese Breakthrough!

Something big happened at our house this week!

The kids ate grilled cheese sandwiches! 

What?!!  That's not news?  Well, it is around here.

My kids are pretty good eaters, they eat a variety of food, most fruits and vegetables, even broccoli.  And they enjoy the typical kiddie favorites like pizza and hot dogs.  But, until this week, they wouldn't eat grilled cheese, any of them.

I'm not really sure how things went so wrong years ago between the grilled cheese and my children, but the oldest swears at some point long ago I convinced him to eat some grilled cheese and he threw up after it.  I really do not remember this, but the story passed down from oldest child to younger siblings and I think everyone believed that grilled cheese would make them throw up, so they refused to eat it.  I tried talking them into it, but it was so futile that I gave up and stopped ever offering it. 

Grilled cheese was dead to us.

Then somehow this week, out of the blue, the oldest, now 9 years old, decided maybe he'd like to try grilled cheese again after all these years, you know, give it another chance.

I was all over that idea and fired up the skilled at lunchtime, lathered extra butter on the whole wheat bread with some organic sliced cheese in the middle.

It was a hit!  And lo and behold then everyone wanted some and loved it!  The 5 year old talked about it all afternoon, making me promise to make it again the next day.

Flipping those grilled cheese sandwiches felt like such a classic mom experience.  It's just what mom's do, right?  Make grilled cheese sandwiches for their kids.  And I'd missed out on it for so long that I couldn't help appreciating the moment, the blessing of getting to be there on a Tuesday at noon, making lunch for my four kids!  Convicted about the times I've grumbled about this mothering job, grateful for no shortage of food to serve my children.

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ahhh, Summer!

Let me count some of the ways I loved summer today:

Several custom-made houses were created before 9am.

 (I love the little head popping up in the middle!)

The girls stayed in their pajamas all day long (okay, so the 6 year old took hers off and put on her swimsuit for 7am swim team practice, but promptly bathed and put back on her pjs after swimming was over!).  This picture was taken at 5pm!  Although I wanted to stay home all day, we had two very short car trips to take and pick-up the 5 year old from a class he's doing with our favorite kindergarten teacher this summer, but no worries, I just took the girls in their jammies -- we're not proud!

In the jammies picture the girls are showing off their freshly painted finger and toenails that were made possible by the lovely unstructured, less-scheduled time that is summer!  

So was this:

My 5-year-old son's "Hole's Store".  "I'm selling holes if anybody needs any!"  he announced.  It's a messy business, but thankfully that 5 year old knows his way around a hand broom and dustpan!  If you're in need of some holes, he's your man!

Monday, June 11, 2012

How to Not Lose Your Children

I took my 4 children to the children's museum today and returned home with 4 children!

That alone deems the outing successful!

It was something that used to make me nervous even when I had 3 kids, much less 4, the idea of me being only 1 adult and trying to keep up with the kids in a large, crowded, public place.  But, I never wanted to say we couldn't go somewhere just because there were too many kids.  Or that we had to wait until the weekend to go places when my husband could help.  So, I didn't allow the fear to force us to be stuck at home.

And, over the years I have developed a few tricks that help.  First is to dress the kids alike when at all possible.  I used to think big families that dressed all alike were kinda goofy, but now I realize they are not goofy, just smart!  When you are a mom watching out for more than 1 or 2 walking, mobile, non-stroller confined children, and trying to keep everybody close, it is so much easier for your eye to catch all one pattern or color.  And it's always a bonus that if one of the children does stray too far, a stranger may bring them back because they obviously match your family!

Today, I dressed my boys alike and my girls alike.  I could easily spot those two patterns, of floral and stripes (ignore my 5 year old son's water soaked shirt, he had a little too much fun in the outdoor water play area).

Also, having a daughter who joined our family through international adoption and does not look at all like the rest of us, it helps in many ways to have her matching our family with her clothes when we are out in public!

The other thing I do is to review with the kids on the way into the public place, rules about not leaving an area without me and staying in one place if they think they are lost because chances are I'm really close by and if they start running to look for me, they're likely to get really lost.  And, I tell them to holler for me by my first name rather than, "Mommy!" when they think they are lost, becuase in a place like the children's museum there could be hundreds of kids yelling "Mommy!"  We also talk about safe adults (like the staff at the museum) they can ask for help if they get lost.  

Then I will remind them periodically throughout the outing, like when we entered the Science Lab room it was a natural point to say, "Don't leave this room without me and I won't leave without all of you!"  That way if I get involved in helping one child look through a microscope and take my eyes off the other 3, they will not run off. 

It's actually gotten to the point where I feel like I'm more likely to lose a child when we have my husband with us because we fall into the, "I thought you were watching him."  "No, I thought you were watching him!" mess!  So, now I've found myself saying to my husband when our whole family is together, things like, "Okay, you watch the boys, I've got the girls" or some combination like that!

Short of leashes, anybody have any other suggestions for keeping your kids from getting lost?

And how many more years do I have of my 9 year old not complaining about dressing like his little brother?  Please tell me several years!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Random Pieces of Our Week

Last year, shortly after we got our referral for our Ethiopian daughter,  I met someone in our area who adopted her little girl from Ethiopia about 2 years ago, but our girls were only 2 months apart in age.  We talked of the playdates we'd have and how fun it would be to get our girls together someday.  Well, that someday came this week!  It was such a joy to watch those two little 3 year old girlies both born in Ethiopia, playing together.  Most Ethiopian children I know are pretty driven, spirited, competitive, active, excelling at sports and games.  Our two girls are no exception, so let's just say there were some intense Hungry, Hungry Hippo Games!  But, they got along well, and even though they are both bossy and bossed each other around a bit, they didn't fight and seemed to have a mutual understanding about things!  Not showing little J's face here to protect her privacy, but oh the joy at seeing those two together!


Speaking of active, Little Girl was so excited for her first gymnastics class this week!  I think it's going to be a great activity to match her energy level, fearlessness, and flexibility.

When she still lived in the orphanage, we'd get update pictures every month and they were often blurry, I assumed the camera they had to use at the care center in Ethiopia just wasn't very good, but now I understand because I get blurry pictures of her more often than not, too -- Little Girl is just always moving!


Except here, a brief moment of still while watching a show with her brother.  

I love how close together they are, with our new super long couch they really could have spread out, but chose the togetherness!


Have a wonderful, cozy weekend!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The recovered patio furniture is still going strong!

Could you ever guess what one of the most popular posts is from this blog?  Popular based on number of times someone has clicked onto it after doing an internet search.  It's the post How an Uncrafty Person Recovers Patio Furniture from May 9, 2010.

I laugh about this because my method of recovering that outdoor furniture is well, comical to say the least!  Not exactly a Martha Stewart approved method. 

But, y'all it worked!  And what I'm here to say today as an update is that it still works!

The furniture still looks great now, over 2 years later!  I haven't had to repair or recover any of the cushions!  They've stayed on even under heavy kid use!  The fabric I bought was the kind they make the reusable grocery bags out of and it has really stayed very nice for being on outdoor furniture (granted our patio is covered by a roof)!

I never expected the recovering job to hold up this well, I would have predicted back then that it would only be a matter of time before we'd need to buy new cushions!

So, uncrafty friends, take heart, if I can do it, you can too!

Original post from May 2010:

** Disclaimer I had no idea what I was doing. I just made up a process as I went along. I am happy with the outcome but have no guarantee it will hold up to the test of time! **

So here you go.

How I, an uncrafty person, recovered my patio furniture cushions:

Before my cushions (2 chair cushions and 1 bench cushion) were terribly stained. Too many times hosting kid birthday parties, too many nights of our neighbor's cats sleeping on them, too many coatings with yellow pollen that blows through the air freely for a couple months every spring all contributed to the ugliness.

I went to the fabric store and because I am cheap I limited my choices to the discount fabric. I found some great fabric for around $2.00 per yard. The material is not technically outdoor fabric, but the furniture is under a roof and the material is rough textured and stiff so it seems like moisture would not absorb too easily and some debris would brush off.

I am uncrafty so I didn't really closely measure and pretty much just guessed and got 5 yards (I ended up with a bunch extra but I'm glad to have spare in case a cushion needs to be recovered in the future.)

I cut the fabric to wrap around each cushion and then pretended like I was wrapping a present.Only instead of using tape, I hand stitched the fabric to the cushion in a few different spots using heavy-duty thread. The heavy-duty thread I had on hand was a beige type color and it would have been much better to use a color that exactly blended with my fabric, but I was worried that adding another trip to the store for this project just may have been enough to put it over the edge into the land-of-projects-I-plan-but-never-accomplish, so I foraged ahead with the mismatched thread, knowing the goal was not perfection!

I folded over the edges that would end up showing on the outside before I stitched them to the cushion to get a clean edge without hemming.

And the finished product:
And here's what they look like on the furniture:
I did the bench cushion first. I wanted to tackled the hardest part first because I thought once I got it over with then I'd surely be motivated to finish the other cushions because I'd just have the easy chair ones left. But, in hindsight, I wish I'd done the bench last because I learned so much during the process and got better with each cushion. For the bench I actually used a combination of stapling the fabric and sewing it, but I realized the staples didn't work very well and hated the areas where I could see staples showing. I ended up adding a ribbon trim to 2 ends to cover staples, but that step would have been unnecessary if I'd just stitched it all to begin with!
I really love the way it turned out. I hope it holds up over time. But if not, I'm only out about $10 and a few hours of my time (the bench took me a couple hours and the chairs about 45 min. each) and for now it looks so much better than the stained fabric!!

If I can do it, you can too! From a girl who actually managed to poke herself in the lip with a needle during this process, trust me on that one, and also trust me that you should not attempt to hold the needle with your mouth while you position fabric!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

For The Love of Blueberries

Not much could entice us to wake up on Saturday morning at 6 am before even our loud children wake up.

But we did.

On the trail of . . .



With a mission to beat the heat and many of the other pickers, and of course, pick tons of blueberries!

We tell our kids every year there will be a prize for the kid who picks the most blueberries and a prize for the kid who makes it the longest without whining.

It worked pretty well.  We picked a family record 15 lbs of blueberries!

We ate blueberry pancakes for dinner that night, per our tradition.  I've also made tons of blueberry banana bread, healthy blueberry muffins (with flax seed), and there are plans for blueberry bars.  Mmmmmm!  We love blueberries!

Monday, June 4, 2012


Friday brought a beautiful, perfect summer day with nowhere we had to be all day!

Caught this picture of all 4 of my kids relaxing on our playroom couch that makes into a bed.  They opened it out and brought blankets and pillows off their beds to make it comfy.

Their togetherness is one of my favorite things about summer.

And the relaxing.

Except I'm trying to figure out why I let this week get so busy.  

We just need to rinse and repeat last Friday's routine all summer long!