Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Flashback 2!

Today I'm flashing back to August 28, 2006.

So, not too far off from yesterday's time period, we had 2 kids, my son who was 3 years old and my daughter who had just turned 1 year old.

I had to document this, because I say all the time that she "climbed before she walked" and it's true!  My boys walked pretty early but my little girl didn't walk until 13 or 14 months old, but she had mastered climbing by then.  She'd crawl over to things and then climb up!  Here I'd left the fridge open for a second and caught her climbing in!

She looks pretty proud of herself!

Tell me you had/have the Leapster Fridge Letter thing.  Now it's been years since we've had that thing on our fridge but I can still sing you the song, "The 'A' says 'ah', the 'A' says 'ah', every letter makes a sound, the 'A' says 'ah'."  Really I attribute the school success of my older two to that device alone!  Kidding.  Sort of!

Monday, July 30, 2012


As I've been tackling pictures lately, I thought it would be fun to have some flashback blog posts to feature some photos and bits of life before It Feels Like Chaos.  Not that it didn't feel like chaos back then, too, because I'm sure it did, but I just wasn't blogging then, so the chaos is not documented.

These flashbacks will be totally random and could pop up on this blog at any point ('course the most likely outcome is that I'll be all excited at the beginning and inundate you with them before totally forgetting about the whole thing!).

Today I'm featuring November 11, 2006!

We had 2 kids back then.  My son was 3 years old and my daughter 15 months old.

I love these pictures of them cuddled up together in a chair.

Really, couldn't you just EAT them up?!!

When I look back on these pictures now nearly 6 years later, my heart hurts a little because they've grown up so much and so fast!  I miss cuddling and hugging those babies but I'm so proud of the little people those babies have turned into!   And they are pretty cool to hang out with and still sweet to hug!  Not to mention potty trained, that's a plus!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I love

Anybody have some Olympic fever?  I must say, we don't watch much TV in our house, as in we don't have cable, just an antennae and Netflix subscription, but the exception to our typically very low TV time is the Olympics!  And it's very fun now that my kids are old enough to get into it, too.  There are so many great lessons and conversations wrapped up in it -- world geography, sportsmanship, hard work, the illustrations that even the best fail sometimes.  Love it all!


Something I don't love?  All this back-to-school talk that's everywhere!  My kids still have a full four weeks left before they are going back and we intend to enjoy it to the fullest, so everyone please stop acting like summer is over!

I mentioned yesterday that I finally finished the 1st year photo book for my now 5 year old son.  What was really sweet while I was working on it was that my oldest son, the 9 year old, was so interested in me getting the book done for his little brother that he kept offering things like, "I can make lunch for the kids so you can work on it." and "Don't worry I'll watch and make sure they play nicely, you can work on the photobook."  Love the heart of that boy and his desire of good things for his little brother!


Who doesn't love a cold treat in the summer?  This summer I've been freezing a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt in my star-shaped ice cube mold and they are the perfect snack to pop in your mouth on a hot day!


I love this post from Kristen at Rage Against the Minivan about teaching empathy to our kids and helping them avoid being a bully.  Really, it is some wise, wise advice and worth a read!  I love how she points out that sometimes we as parents get so wrapped up in worrying about if our kids are being bullied that we are not worrying that they are the bully!  



Happy Friday, Friends! 

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Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Life Trumps Blogging

Whew!  The last few days have BUSY with all sorts of different things and there has been no time at all to blog.

There's been the good -- A fellow adoptive family over for dinner with their precious 4 month old.  Oh how I loved having a little baby in the house again!  And then an out of town guest for a few days, who came with last minute notice but we had a great visit with.  Great well-child check-ups at the pediatrician for my oldest 2 kids; praise God for their health!  Completed our 6 month post-placement adoption caseworker visit and not only did all 4 kids behave beautifully, but this time I don't think there were any obvious dead bugs around!  And 10 pages of preschool forms nearly complete and ready to turn in! 

The bad -- 3 hours spent in a courtroom downtown to finalize some paperwork for our adoption and we still didn't get what we needed.  Really this is minor.  Our adoption is still finalized, our youngest daughter is still legally ours and absolutely a U.S. citizen.  It's just going to be a little (or maybe a lot) more trouble than we thought to get her a U.S. birth certificate (it's much easier for school registration, etc. to have a U.S. birth certificate rather than just the Ethiopian one we have, also if we lost it, the U.S. version could be replaced, the Ethiopian one not so much!) and get her name changed from her Ethiopian given name (which includes my husband's first name as her middle name per Ethiopian law) to her American version.  We are just so, so tired of paperwork and government hassles!  But, at least this time we are not fighting our own government just to be able to get her home!

And the big project completed -- I had a coupon for 50% off a hard cover photo book that expired yesterday at midnight and I've been needing to do a 1st year album for my 3rd child for the past 4 years!  With the incentive of the coupon (came out to about $40 savings, so it was a big deal) I decided to tackle the project and finally get it done, but instead of a little at a time for such a big job, I did it all in 2 days, completing it and ordering it literally 45 minutes before the coupon expired!  Not particularly fun, but it is DONE and I can't wait to see my little guy's face when it arrives!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mother of the Year!

I remember shortly after our little girl came home from Ethiopia, asking, "How long will it take her to really be able to speak English?"  I knew other adoptive parents had said the kids caught on really fast.  But really fast is relative.  She definitely seemed to understand us speaking English to her very quickly, within weeks!  But, I wanted her to be able to communicate back to us.  I wanted to know what she was thinking, what she was feeling and wondered how long -- 3 months, 6 months, 12 months?  I really didn't know how long it would be for her coming home as a 3 year old and not knowing any English at all.

Being around our daughter every day, sometimes I think it's easy to take her progress for granted.  She's just our child and we are doing regular, busy life. 

But, occasionally it hits me, like this week, at just shy of 7 months home, my husband went to help the kids get ready for bed and I overheard the following from our 3 year old Little Girl quoted word for word: "No!  You said underwear.  It's not underwear, it's PANTIES, Dad!"

"Wow, that was perfect English," I thought to myself!

And now we know what she's thinking and feeling, all the time, because she can tell us!  'Course there is something to that whole, "be careful what you wish for" thing!  Kidding.  Mostly.


I've been in spring cleaning/project mode this week.  And, yes, I do know it's not spring, but I'm a little/a lot behind!

I think I'm driving my family crazy.  I had my husband hanging pictures at 11pm tonight, really hoping the hammering didn't wake up the 4 sleeping children.  It didn't.  And then there's the whole grocery situation.  I've decided we have a lot of food clutter.  You know, random boxes of pasta or bags of frozen okra that have just built up and I buy new stuff and we don't use the old.  So, I'm on a mission to get rid of all the backlog of food while also having the benefit of avoiding the grocery store except for the occasional milk runs.  This plan is making for some interesting meals!

I'm not sure when I'll cave and go to the grocery store for real.  I've said not until it's all gone, like there's 2 things in the pantry and nearly nothing in the fridge.  But, I should probably stop short of feeding my kids lunch consisting of pickles and V8 juice!  We are having some friends over for dinner on Sunday and I'm certainly not going to feed them the dregs from our pantry so at least the family will get a reprieve for one night, then it's back to eating what we have!


We were at gymnastics for my daughters this week and my boys had been playing a DS game so I hadn't really been paying attention to them until near the end when they stopped the game and were standing up by me.  Then I noticed my 5 year old son had his shorts on backwards (notice the half-way zipped up zipper there in the back)!

He's my kid that really likes to make people laugh and doesn't take himself too seriously, so he was fine with me taking a picture with my phone and telling him how silly he was to have put his shorts on backwards.  He was also the first one to announce loudly to his sister when she came out of gymnastics that he had his shorts on backwards!


Then tonight we were at family night for a VBS my 3 oldest kids went to this week at our old church and we were walking between classrooms (we had 3 different classrooms to visit) with the 4 kids trailing behind us and I heard a lady say to our 3 year old daughter, "Sweetie, be careful running.  I wouldn't want you to trip and fall since your shoes are on the wrong feet!"

Yeah.  Between that and the backwards shorts I'm definitely in the running for Mother of the Year!


Happy Friday, Friends!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You know you like Pinkalicious!

I'm so thankful for my girls, and the sweet sisters they are to each other!

We went to see a children's theater production of Pinkalicious so the girls were all decked out in their pink dresses.  And my 6 year old's life-size baby doll came along, too, in her pink dress, of course!

I love that my girls love dolls so much.  It is so sweet to see them mothering their dolls!

Thankful, too, that the boys (my husband, the 9 year old, and the 5 year old) came with us to the show, not letting the fact that it was Pinkalicious deter them!  Although the 9 year old did ask as we were walking in, "Why am I coming to this show?!"  I was all, "You know you'll enjoy it!"  He kind of agreed.  But, then oh I had to laugh when we ran into a girl from his class at school in the show!  At least he can use the excuse that he was there with his little sisters!  Hee hee!  Good thing he's not a teenager to be really mortified by such an experience!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chore Consequences

I'm certainly not a parenting expert and I get parts wrong every day.

But, this much I've figured out, chores really help straighten out bad kid behavior!

Better than lectures, better than time-out or time-in (smiles and waves to my fellow adoptive parents), and better than taking away privileges. 

The work has a way of soothing the out of control child, I believe, and helps them see things with a new perspective.  It works out some strong emotions.

And a really awesome part is that you, the frustrated parent, actually get paid back a bit with a job completed!

My little guy got to clean the shoe shelf today.  Clearing all the shoes off (yes, my kids have way too many, especially in light of the knowledge that many children in Africa don't even own one pair of shoes), vacuuming off the shelves, wiping them, and then putting the shoes back. 

I certainly felt better about his misbehavior after the job was done!

Also a few times this summer, towards the end of a day spent all together, my 4 kids have gotten to fighting too much.  I can't even make dinner for running upstairs to solve disputes.  So, after the 3rd time or so, I just say, "Okay, everybody downstairs for some chore time."  No arguing over who is pestering whom or who was just reading a book and not doing anything -- I don't want to hear it, chore time!  They work while I cook and peace is restored!

One of my favorite chores to hand out is sweeping because it always needs to be done in our house and even my littlest can do it without help.  I keep two of these hand broom & dustpan sets hanging just inside a closet ready to hand out!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

More Proof of the Chaos

That's not a stuffed dog there on the table.

Nope, it's my real dog just resting on the table!

Not the table we eat on, it's the craft/work table, BUT STILL!!!

What in the world is she doing??!!

Do you feel the chaos?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Story of My Life

Today I let the dog outside and she showed up at the backdoor minutes later, not only wet and filthy (it was another rainy day here), but also carrying a dead bird in her mouth.

Asking to come in my house with a dead bird IN HER MOUTH!

Really we've had a lot of shenanigans with this dog in the past 16 months she's lived with us, but today topped it all!

My 6 year old daughter said in a very what's-the-big-deal voice, "Mom, just open in the door and pull the bird out of her mouth."

I replied, "YOU open the door and pull the bird out of her mouth."

My 9 year old son's suggestion, "Call Dad and tell him he has to come home."

Okay, I did call my husband but just to commiserate, I could not ask him to come home for this!

It was completely disgusting, but I handled it.  I'll save you the details, just know the dog did not want to give up her prize!  And there was a comical moment when I found myself standing out on the back porch looking her in the eye and trying to reason with a goldendoodle, "Look, you just can't take that bird in the house.  You just can't."  

So, just another chapter in the story of my life titled, WHY Oh Why, Do We Have a Dog?!!


We toured a nearby ice cream factory recently.  It was a lot of fun to see how they make it and package it.  But the best part was the free ice cream at the end!  I totally expected a sample sized portion but it was a good two scoops!

The kids looked cute in the hats they handed out, too!  'Course no way would they allow me to actually get a good picture of the 4 of them wearing the hats.

And then check out the next photo opp. of my Fab Four.  Really, the following pictures are the story of my life:

Nobody's smiling, the 9 year old is holding up fingers over the 5 year old's head, and the 5 year old's choice of hand position is not because he needs to go potty, that just seems to often be his picture stance -- lovely!

At least here I caught the 5 year old adjusting his hat, but Little Girl notices what her biggest brother is doing.

So, she starts doing it too.

No idea why Little Girl busts out with the jazz hands in this picture, but that's pretty much her personality.

And now there's jumping.  Of course, there is jumping! Why wouldn't there be jumping?

"Alright, People.  I give up.  Let's go before we make any more of a scene."

Like I said, The. Story. Of. My. Life.

Very fun, very exhausting!


Happy Friday, Friends!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's the Little Things

There was a moment of quiet with all 4 kids in the car on the way to my 3 year old's swim lesson.  We'd just dropped off the friend who'd spent the night with my 9 year old.  It was a welcome silence following 18 hours of 5 kids.

I took a deep breath.  I could relax.  Just my 4 kids now.  No extra child I had to worry about who wasn't used to the routines or rules or food at our house (but really this boy is great and his family has similar values and expectations as ours, so he blends pretty well into our household).  As soon as I had that thought I marveled at how Little Girl is just one of my 4 kids now.  Not so much the new kid, now home over six months from Ethiopia.  I remember back to the early days when she was not used to us and we were not used to her.  Not to say that everything is perfect now, because it's NOT.  But, she has adjusted amazingly and we do know her now.  And I can typically anticipate most behavior.  So huge what God has done knitting us all together in such a short time!

Then I hear it.

A small giggle from the back seat.

Then a pause, some quiet, before the adorable giggle again.

It is Little Girl and I wonder what she's laughing at.  There is nothing obvious and none of the other kids are laughing.

The pattern continues.  Giggle, pause, giggle, pause.

It hits me.  The windshield wipers!

It's a light rain and the giggle comes every time the wipers swish across the front window.

It's not the first time she's seen the wipers, we've had a lot of rain since she came home.  And sometimes she seems so Americanized.

But, it's still there.

The joy.  The wonder.  The delight.  Over something so commonplace to most of us!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Organizing Toys in a Boy's Room

I don't know what your experience is with your sons and daughters but around here my children can equally create messes.  In fact, they are all four GIFTED in the area of mess making.  But, my girls are far better at cleaning up the messes than my boys.  My boys are capable of moving the mess, but not really putting things away where they go

So, we came up with an organizational system in the boy room that is really simple.  There are 2 large white plastic bins/drawers (we got ours from Ikea for cheap) that slide under the bed (since the room is carpeted they slide super easily).  They house all the loose toys that live in the boy room.  And it doesn't even matter which toys go in which bin!  When the boys need to clean their room they just throw all the toys in and slide those babies back under the bed, put dirty clothes in the laundry bin and books on the shelf and the room is clean!

I'm not saying this system means their room is clean all the time, because it's NOT, or that they do not still sometimes act like it's too hard to clean up their room, but things are WAY better than before we started the under-the-bed-bin system!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cheaper Than Ballet Lessons!

A few weeks ago, thinking our Little Girl who loves to dance would like it, my husband found a YouTube video of a Swan Lake production and played it on our TV. We were amazed at how well our little 3 year old imitated the dances when it was the first time she'd ever seen it.  And with no formal ballet lessons (ain't no ballet studios in Ethiopia, but wow, do they have some amazing dancers!)!

Here's a 22 second clip of her 20 minutes of dancing and even then we had to make her stop and get ready for bed.  Little Girl just wanted to keep on dancing!  Love her bow at the end!

We are so blessed by our tiny dancer and all the ways God shows His awesomeness through her!

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Parenting Highs and Lows

Today I had my 5 year old crawl way under his bunk bed and bring out all the random toys and books so I could vacuum under there.

To get him to do it, instead of asking him straight up which typically leads to resistance or whining around here these days (yes, we are working on this issue), I was all, "Wow!  Look at all those things under your bed.  You know I'm wanting to vacuum under there, but I don't think I can crawl way back by the wall and get those things.  Do you know anyone in our family that could do it?"

He said enthusiastically (meaning loudly because that's how his excited voice sounds), "I CAN!  I can do it!  I can get way back under there!"

I responded in an incredulous voice, "Really?!!  You can get all those things out?  Show me."

It was awesome!  That little dude went under 7 or 8 different times and came out with all kinds of stuff.  When he pulled out one action figure he was so happy and exclaimed, "I haven't seen him in years!"

I was amazed that with all the action figures that kid has he'd even miss one, but apparently that particular guy had long been looked for.

The 5 year old even ran out to show his 9 year old brother and the 9 year old, too, was happy to see the return of this particular little gold king guy!


My only other parenting genius this week:  One of my children got angry because I enforced a consequence for their bad behavior and that child called me a "Mean Mom!"  There was another consequence for that outburst.  But, it was still bothering me what the child had said and even though we'd talked about it, I wasn't sure he/she really understood the issue.  Later after finishing dinner that child asked, "Mom, can I have dessert?"  My reply, "I don't think mean moms give dessert."

I had to give that child a hard time and it felt better to do it through humor, and also I feel better now that I don't think that mistake will be made again any time soon!


Don't let my 2 successful parenting tactics fool you, those are pretty much it.  And then there was the extreme low parenting moment when I  tried to justify a 2nd night of skipping baths for the kids because we were out late and feeling lazy.  I actually said to my 6 year old who really wanted to bathe, "I know you didn't bathe yesterday either, but it's fine, some people only bathe once a week!"  As soon as I said it, I knew it was wrong.  My husband had to whisper that perhaps we were taking things a bit far.  So, the 6 year old was allowed to "rinse off" last night at 10:15 pm after we returned from fireworks!


I hope you all enjoyed a happy 4th of July, complete with a bath afterwards!

We had our usual fun at our little city's parade and festival.

There's nothing like a duck wearing a patriotic bandana to really get you in the spirit of our country's birthday!

Little Girl really like the llama in the petting zoo.  

We love the Llama Llama books, so there was much squealing about "Llama Llama!"

And then there was something new this year:
My boys fighting each other in the ring!

And my husband's great parenting moment as we watched the boys he yelled out because the boys were being kinda hesitant, "HIT HIM!"

"What?" my 9 year old yelled back.

"HIT YOUR BROTHER!"  my husband hollered.


May your weekend be filled with your only your finer moments!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Birthday America!

Revisiting some 4th of July's past (and wondering just WHERE did my babies go?!):

Monday, July 2, 2012

And I wonder why people look at me funny in Target!

As if parading through Target with my 4 loud children (3 who happen to be white and 1 who is black) and our family-sized quantity of toilet paper isn't spectacle enough, this is how my 6 year old daughter sometimes rides on the cart:

Wedged there on the bottom of the cart with the 3 year old in the baby seat and the boys walking alongside!

Good thing my children have completely desensitized me to stares in public.  Feel free!  Point and laugh!  I do!  And then I take pictures.

Find More Wordful Wednesday here.