Thursday, November 29, 2012


My kindergartener came home with with a "thinking cap" he made at school.  How awesome is that?!  I love the lightbulb on top!  I think I need one.


Our little town had its annual Holiday Festival tonight.  And Little Girl got to experience her first snow.  I loosely call it "snow", it's the manufactured/trucked-in version.  But, it's the closest we here in South Texas get most years to snow!

Shorty after entering the snow yard, her 5 year old brother threw a snowball at 4 year old Little Girl and she cried out, "Hey!  Awwww!  MOM, look what he did!"

I told her, "That's what you do in the snow."

And she took literally half a second to process that statement and then got to work on a snowball of her own!

And the awesome satisfaction of throwing it at her brother!


We recently got a Trader Joes grocery store in our area and it's rapidly becoming one of my favorite places.  I may or may not have even gone there twice this week (and it's not exactly around the corner).  During one of my trips this week, I picked up these to try.  

Trader Joe's version of Oreos (which I kid myself into believing makes them healthy!) only with candy cane filling!  Pure awesomeness!  Now just wondering how many boxes I should stock-pile to get me through the non-holiday months when those babies likely won't be on the store shelves!  Candy Cane Joe-Joe's in July?  Yes, please!


So long November!  Happy Friday Friends!

Find more Friday Fragments.
Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


It was one of those days.  You know, THOSE days.  The kind where you are just done, DONE by 7pm.  The kind of days as a mother when you see your children less as the precious, adorable gifts that they are, and more as the most annoying people on earth.  The kind of day when there was such a string of frustrating events that you just want to get in bed and pull the covers up over your head, but you can't, because there are four children to put to bed and your husband is working late or out of town.

Somehow we made it through baths and pajamas and teeth brushing and lotion.  I was short with everyone, impatient, and just no fun at all.  Whereas many days I might delight in their stories and antics, today it all just brought irritation.  I could not wait to get them in bed!  But first it was storytime and Little Girl reached to pick a book from the 3rd shelf, the one with the longer books, "No, pick one from the bottom shelf."  I quickly corrected.  The bottom shelf has the board books, the super short, one sentence per page with a total of 8 to 10 pages.  

I read too fast, hastily turned off the light, started her music, and settled Little Girl in my lap with her blanket to rock for a few minutes.  On this night there were no feelings of awe or thankfulness for this little girl who we were desperately trying to bring home from Ethiopia this time last year.  I just wanted her to go to sleep.

I said a very quick prayer and then she asked, "Can I pray?"  I sighed way too audibly.  I mean wasn't it just a stall tactic?  But a very advanced tactic for a 4 year old because who can deny a child who asks to pray?  

"Go ahead" I said wearily.  

And she prays (she used her own name in the place of "Little Girl" but since I don't share my kids real names on this blog, I'm substituting), "Dear God, thank you that Little Girl is so happy in her family."

And suddenly I can't breathe.  God's mercy and grace pouring down.  She prayed thanking God that she is so happy in her family!

"Oh Lord, I don't deserve this!"  Really, I don't.  I deserve her to pray, "God, next time please give me a nicer Mommy."  That's what I deserve.

It's why I cringe when people tell my husband and me how great we are for adopting Little Girl.  Because we are not great.  It is God who is great.  Our Little Girl is thriving despite us.  God did that.  He set her in our family and He is an amazing healer and creator of families!  We fail so many times in so many ways, like on my "choose a book from the short-book shelf" night.  We run out of energy and patience and thankfulness and get caught up in our own selfishness.  But, God?  He is good.  All the time.  Even on THOSE days.  Especially on THOSE days.

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gifts That Give Back

In the shopping frenzy of the season, wouldn't it be nice to buy a lovely gift for someone on your list but also be helping someone in need at the same time?  Check out these links to some really awesome gift that also give back.  Win-Win!  Their mission from their website:  1. To provide food, water and medicine to children in need worldwide 2. To bring awareness to the orphan crisis 3. To assist adoptive families with fundraising through the sale of original and handmade products 

I have one of these magazine bead necklaces and love it.  I truly wear it at least twice a week! - Products that support survivors of modern day slavery
These necklaces are beautiful!  And have such an amazing story!  From their website:
Slavery survivors often create beautiful works of art as part of recovery therapy. The repetitive nature of stringing jewelry, weaving fabric, and embroidery provides these embattled survivors with a sense of comfort and security in structure and routine, engendering a feeling of pride and accomplishment.. These exquisite pieces reflect the strength, beauty, and resilience of each survivor. These Healing Necklaces, each one unique in color and design, are crafted by the women and girls as part of recovery therapy at our partner shelters in Southeast Asia. - There is so much to love here, I can't even narrow down the list - check out their beautiful jewelry, cheerful tea towels, and much more! - All of the products are handmade by wonderful amazing people who just happen to live in some of the most poverty stricken and difficult places in the world. By purchasing their products you are helping create and sustain jobs for them, which positively impacts all other areas of their life. Under each item for sale here, you will find the inspiring stories of the incredible people who make the products and learn how your purchase is benefiting them and their communities.

 I especially love their cute children's hats this adorable stuffed elephant or giraffe and these llamas

Also, don't forget about  These are my favorite shoes ever, I've worn them out a couple different times because I wear them so much and re-ordered another pair!  Their are the winter version of flip-flops -- so comfortable, easy to slip on and they go with pretty much anything!

Source: via It on Pinterest

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

O Christmas Tree

November flew by in such a blur, but December?  Well, December's got nothing on me!  I'm determined to stay ahead of it and allow plenty of time to enjoy family time and focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

We came home from our Thanksgiving travels late Saturday night and Sunday afternoon headed out to a Christmas tree farm.

Did a little checking out our options

Found one we liked and cut it down

Hauled it off

Rode the hay ride back to the main area (Little Girl is lying down with much exaggerated drama as if she were the one who just cut down the tree).

Tipped the man at the Christmas tree farm big to strap it to our car, worried the whole way home that it would fly off.  It didn't!

And decorated it.

Yay!  One Christmas task done!

Now if I can just get a certain dog to stop un-decorating it!

Yes, I'm talking to you, Madeline.  And yes, I know, if the children leave backpacks on the floor, they will become dog pillows.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Strangest Thanksgivng

The Strangest Thanksgiving
A Story Written by my 7 year old daughter

On Thanksgiving I woke up and my mom said, "Let's go."  When I went down the stairs I saw a turkey singing and some mashed potatoes dancing.  Then the pilgrims came in and said, "Hello" and left.  Then a jack-o-lantern and a snowman walked up.  "What?  It's not Halloween or Christmas,"  I thought.

Then they said, "Hello we came to be broken."  So I threw the pumpkin and it broke when it hit the ground.  Then I put the snowman in a sunny place and he . . . . didn't melt!  He said, "That's too hot!  Put me in a place cold."  So I did and surprisingly he melted!  "What?!"  I said. 

Then we were going to McDonalds, I saw a turkey dancing on the doorstep.  Then when we went inside . . . all the chefs were gone!  Instead mashed potatoes were cooking mashed potatoes!  We went back to the car and saw cranberries driving our car.  They were stacked on top of each other and the very top one was trying to drive.  "How do you work this thing?"  He said.  Then they left.

I went home, "Phew, no more crazy stuff!"  Then I went to bed.  

The End.

Wishing a very happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours, may your cranberries only be on your plate and not driving your car!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Surviving our Blessings

It's not just this time of year, I am always thankful for the children God has blessed us with.  Really!  Every day.  But, also nearly every day I pray, "Lord, help me survive my blessings!"

Notice anything odd about our playroom fan?

The kids were playing ball in there over the weekend.

The ball hit the fan and this happened:

We will likely survive this raising of 4 children somehow, but I'm not sure I can say the same for our house!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Did you know next week is Thanksgiving?!

 Really, WHERE did November go?  It's already half-way over and next week is Thanksgiving and just how did that happen exactly?  

My 7 year old's other top front tooth came out yesterday, so now she is really a poster child for the song "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth"!


One morning this week, my husband was out of town, so I got all 4 children up, dressed, fed breakfast, teeth brushed, 3 lunches packed, handled a couple squabbles, made sure a child fed the dog, and loaded all of the kids up in the car to drop off the oldest 3 at elementary school.  We walked through the school, chatted with some of the teachers and parents, Little Girl hugged the principal.  Then we came home, I ate breakfast, started a load of wash, unloaded the dishwasher, cleaned the entire kitchen, and then went into the bedroom to shower and I found the dog doing this:

She had gone back to bed, y'all!  I mean, really, can't she even pretend to be doing something productive?!!  I lamented to her about how I'd really like to go back to bed, but she just glared at me like, "Why are you taking my picture, can't you see I'm resting?!"


Want to know what's really good stuff?

I blessed my family with that Blue Bell Christmas Cookie ice cream last weekend, it didn't last long.  If you don't happen to live in a place where Blue Bell Ice Cream is sold, I'd consider moving!


 I've heard of freezer cooking, I've done a bit of it here and there.  And I LOVE having meals stocked in my freezer.  But THISTHIS is awe-inspiring.  It really is!  40 meals in 4 hours!  I can't stop thinking about it!  I'm really thinking about doing it!  Just imagine having all your family's dinners done for the entire month of December and on through the first several days of January?!  Yes, please!


Happy Friday, Friends!

Find more Friday Fragments.

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Butterfly Cupcakes

It's been a few weeks, but before I forget altogether, I thought I'd share the cupcakes I made for Little Girl's birthday.

She wanted chocolate cupcakes with pink icingThankfully she is not yet Americanized enough to request a theme beyond that!

I was really tempted to order her cupcakes from a bakery because we'd been so busy, but I also like to have cake to offer the parents at the party, so getting the number needed plus extras to be sure I had enough started to add up the price.  And ever since Africa took hold of our hearts, and children living in poverty, children dying of poverty, there are just many things I have a hard time spending money on these days, especially when I could just put in a little work and make cupcakes for a fraction of the cost of the bakery ones.

But, I wanted the cupcakes to be cute and had a hard time figuring out what to do to make them more special than just icing and sprinkles. 

Finally I got a great idea for decorating the cupcakes here.  And it happened to go perfectly with the theme I'd gone with for the goody bags because it was what I happened to find at the Dollar Store  - butterflies!

These turned out pretty cute and were yummy, too -- I'm a sucker for sweet and salty so the mixture of chocolate, icing and candy, with pretzels thrown in was really good!

The pretzels are store-bought white chocolate coated pretzels, then blue icing is piped down the body of the butterfly, a raspberry m&m is the head, and I couldn't find thin enough licorice for the antennae, so that is made from some candy fruit rope stuff I found and then cut into short strips.

And I say it again, HOW did people mother before The Internet?  Really!  No way could I have thought up those cupcakes on my own, but copy someone else's idea?  Yeah, I can do that!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

All she wants for Christmas . . .

My 7 year old lost one of her top front teeth today and the other one is super loose:

I have warned her that she'll hear the joke from every adult she sees over the next several weeks, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth"!

And I had to be the first.  I played her the song after her bath!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Garage Art

Anyone know why this picture Little Girl created is hanging outside on the door that leads into our garage?

Don't know?  Let's get a little closer to the picture.

Do you see it now?

Friends, that's about three-fourths of a cup of glitter right there on that yellow paper!  This is not my first time around the mother-of-a-preschooler block, so I KNOW that a paper coming home from school with that much glitter will mean MONTHS of finding gold glitter all over my house!  I am not exaggerating.  NEVER underestimate the power of glitter!

So after ohhing and ahhing over Little Girl's very sparkly creation when I picked her up at school, casually asking her if she'd left any glitter for the other kids to use, and noticing the new gilded state of my vehicle after transporting the artwork home, I knew I had to do some fast thinking to keep that paper from ever entering our home!

Of course I couldn't suggest throwing it away in the outside trashcan, she was so proud of it!

Hmmm.  "Think, think!  Wow, I wish I'd had another cup of coffee before picking her up."

Then, it came to me!  Let's display it OUTSIDE!  I ran inside for the tape and proposed my idea as if hanging one's artwork on the garage door were the equivalent of The Louvre!  

And she totally fell for it!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Not the Turkey Disguise Project!

My kindergarten son had the project to decorate a turkey picture the teacher handed out.  The prompt was something about helping Tom Turkey come up with a disguise so he could hide from the hunters.

The prompt also said that parents could help with the project but not do it for their child.  That it was to be the child's work.  Whatever, I seem to be the ONLY parent that actually follows the teacher's instructions because once the projects are posted on the wall every one of them except my kid's will look professionally done!

Anyway, because this is my 3rd child to go through this kindergarten and get this assignment, my enthusiasm about the project was a bit lacking (I know poor 3rd child).  I wanted to be done with my part "helping" as quick as possible (also we may have waited until the day before it was due to start working on it), so I suggested that Tom Turkey could hide in a big pile of leaves!

 "Yay!  Look how well hidden he is, Buddy!  Now you just glue those leaves on while I make dinner."

No, my 5 year old would have none of that!  He wanted to make a Spiderman disguise for his turkey.  That went about as well as you might expect.

At least no one will accuse me of doing the project for my kid!


Little Girl has told me every day for the past week that she is going to be Princess Belle for NEXT Halloween.  And she says it just like that as if to emphasize that she realizes THIS Halloween has past.  Planning ahead, that girl is!


Speaking of Little Girl, I posted yesterday about her scraping up her face, but you know what I wondered every single day for a whole week while I had to keep the scrape covered?  WHY don't they make band-aids in HER skin color? 


My oldest has been out of school sick this week.  And he's totally been regretting the fact that I've emailed with his teacher daily and picked up make-up work from his classroom each day when I pick up his younger siblings from school.  

Him:  "Mom, I'm not supposed to have to do work while I'm sick!"
Me:  "It's 4th grade, you will get too behind and never get caught up if you wait until you go back to school next week to get your assignments."

Here's his super-happy-to-be-doing-make-up-work-while-home-sick face:

"Yay!  It's division!  Who doesn't love estimating quotients?!!"

I really have enjoyed having him home!  But I'm thankful he's nearly well, so Little Girl and I are just going to have to miss him when he goes back to school on Monday.

Happy Friday, Friends!

Find more Friday Fragments.

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cared For

 Last week, our Little Girl got hurt at preschool.  She fell down outside as they were walking back in after seeing a firetruck that visited the school.  She scraped her face pretty badly on a cement curb.  The director of the school called me to let me know.  I have to say my heart started pounding like crazy when I saw the school number flash up on my caller id while my 4 year old was there, but she was thoughtful enough to begin the conversation with, "It's not an emergency . . ."  Then she told me about the fall and that it looked to be just "road rash" but that due to rules, the school couldn't put any medicine on it and the teachers thought I might like to come up and put some cream on it, which I did, along with a couple of fun band-aids that Little Girl was thrilled with.

At school pick-up many of the other parents were concerned and glad to hear that she was okay.

Later after Little Girl was home I was talking with a friend on the phone and her daughter goes to the same preschool but she's not in the same class as my daughter, and right off before I said anything, she asked me how Little Girl was because she'd heard from her daughter that she got hurt at school.  I had to laugh because my Little Girl does have a flair for drama, so you know, when she gets hurt of course everyone knows about it!

Having 4 young kids, I know they get hurt, accidents happen, under my watch and the school's.  And thankfully, Little Girl is fine!  But, what was striking to me about all this was how many people cared that she was hurt - both of her teachers, the director of the school, her family, her friends, her friends' parents, my friends.  But of course this is true.  

But it was not always true about our Little Girl.

She was an orphan in a third world country just over a year ago.  A country where as a doctor told my friend who has two children from Ethiopia, "Children just die here."  1 in 10 children before their 1st birthday and 1 in 6 before their 5th birthday.

So many children very much like our Little Girl are not cared for.

Nobody cares if they are hurt or sad or go to bed hungry or even if they die.

Or at least not caring enough to change their situation.

5 million orphans in Ethiopia.  And adoptions have slowed way down, meaning fewer children have hope of being cared for in the future.

I don't know about you.  But, for me, that is not okay.

Every child should be cared for, not just my children and your children, but all God's children!

Linking with Mercy Ink,  Wisdom Wednesday  and  Thankful Thursday.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A 5 Year Old's Idea of Voting

Both my boys were home sick today, so they got to tag along with me when I went to vote. 

I was glad they were able to see it, especially my 9 year old who has been very interested in the election this year.  Crazy to think he was 5 the last time we got to vote for president!

Thankfully my polling place was not at all crowded and I was able to show the boys some things and talk through the process a bit as I was voting.  As we walked out I asked them if voting was like they expected it would be.

My 5 year old immediately spoke up that it was not at all what he expected.

Me:  "What did you think it was going to be like, Buddy?"

Him:  "Well, I thought there'd be a big room with lots of chairs and people sitting in the chairs and a stage and someone standing on the stage asking the people to raise their hands if they wanted to vote for different people."

My 9 year old was all over explaining why that would not be a good system, but oh, I loved his little 5 year old perspective on voting!

Now, results are coming in. . .

I do think elections are important and consider it a privilege to vote and such a blessing to be an American for so many reasons, but no matter who is the human at the helm, I know the truth about who is really in charge.  God has been in control of this world since He created it and I'm thankful that He continues to be in control of all things!

I am pretty disgusted with the campaign process.  When I think about all the money and time and energy spent on it by so many candidates and their teams, I just KNOW there are better ways those resources could have been used to really change our world for the better!

And last, I'm challenged anew that the responsibility and ability to make this world a better place really lies with individuals, like me.

Want to know a way you can make this world better with just the regular shopping you already do?

Go to Jen Hatmaker's blog for all the details.  I got the privilege of meeting Jen in person this week and hearing her speak.  She was wonderful, just exactly what I expected after reading her blog and her book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess!  So funny, down-to-earth, real, and yet she can deliver a Bible message that makes you know Jesus more!

Americans are blessed.  Unbelievably blessed compared to many other parts of the world, let's step up and use our influence and wealth and education and time and buying power to change the world for the better!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Rules of Trick-or-Treating

Our 4 year old Little Girl adopted 10 months ago from Ethiopia was hugely excited about her first Halloween yesterday.  Her big brothers and sister got to wear their costumes to school, so of course she insisted on putting on her costume at 7:30am along with her siblings.  Then when we sent them off to school, she looked at me expectantly and said, "Okay.  Let's go trick-or-treating!"  

At 8am!  She really did not understand at all why trick-or-treating could only happen at night!  Can you imagine if we'd gone and trick-or-treated at 8am, the looks the neighbors would give us?

Just before it was finally time to go trick-or-treating we went over the rules.  You know, rules like:
  1. You must say thank you and it must be a loud thank you, if I don't hear you from where I'm standing at the street, it doesn't count!
  2. Stay together!
  3. No stepping off a curb into the street without Mommy or Daddy with you.
  4. No eating the candy until Mommy or Daddy have looked at it first!

Yeah, we felt a little smug about our parenting, having so well prepped our children.

I knew something was up about 5 houses in when the man giving out candy started laughing at something Little Girl had said, but I was off the porch and couldn't hear what she'd said to make him laugh.  Then a couple houses later I heard her say as she looked in a candy bowl that was handed to her to pick from,  "Ewwww!  No, chocolate is too messy!  I don't want that!"

We didn't think to have the rule about not giving a commentary about the candy people were handing out!  

Needless to say we had to stop right there and set the clear expectation that, "You do not complain about the kind of candy.  You take whatever candy they give you and you say, 'Thank you'.  And later at home you may be able to trade with your brothers or sister for different candy."


And everyone who had siblings growing up knows that the trading post Halloween trick-or-treating is the best part of the whole thing!   

That is only half of the candy the kids came home with, the boys emptied their buckets onto the table!


Some of our neighbors go all out for Halloween, as in they build a haunted house in their driveway with a large wood frame covered with plastic sheeting.  Little Girl was the only one of our kids brave enough to go in it!  It was hilarious, my 5 year old son looked at his 4 year old sister as she got in line and said, "Tell me how it is!"


Last, I have to admit to being the Halloween Scrooge this year.  Since we were giving out the organic, fair-trade chocolates, we only gave each trick-or-treater one piece!  In my defense, those Organic Milk Chocolates are not cheap and besides that stuff is good, I wanted some left-overs!  And I didn't have to actually feel stingy because my kids were all excited to pass out candy so they handled putting one into each child's bucket/bag.


Now that all the Halloween confusion/excitement is over, I really need someone to come explain the "Fall Back" time change to my children.  I'm fully expecting to be woken up by kids at 6am instead of the typical 7am beginning Sunday morning and extending for the foreseeable future.  Clearly whoever invented Daylight Savings Time did not have young children.  Clearly!

Happy Friday, Friends!

Find more Friday Fragments.

Mommy's Idea