Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Running with My Daughter

The third week of the school year, I attended parent night and sat in my 4th grade daughter's desk as her teacher shared about what to expect for the year.  Glancing at her desktop I saw the large nameplate that each child had made for themselves, in the middle was the child's name and in each corner was some piece of information about the child.  The top right corner had the child's goal for the year.  I smiled when I read my daughter's goal.  It didn't surprise me because it's something she's talked about before, but still, the fact that this was what she listed struck me that it was more important to her than I realized.  Her goal:  Run 3 miles.

My daughter and I have been running together off and on for the past year or so and the place where we run has a 3 mile track.  When I run by myself I do the entire 3 mile loop, and with my daughter we just run part of it, but I'd told her that someday she'll be able to run the entire 3 miles.

Sitting in her desk that evening and seeing her goal there in writing on the desktop she stares at each day convinced me I needed to be more intentional about helping my daughter achieve her goal.

So, we've been running together every weekend, a little longer each time.  And at this rate, she is on track to achieve her 3 mile goal before Christmas!

I'm so proud of my girl!  She did 18 minutes without stopping this past Sunday and she runs at a good pace!  I don't have to slow down to run with her, she can keep up with the rate I'd normally run by myself!

Then we sprint the last little bit of the run and she leaves me in the dust every time!  My view as she races past me (grainy iPhone pictures while running):

I'm fully aware that these runs with my 9 year old daughter are the good stuff of life.  And getting to tackle this goal with my girl, high-fiving her along the way?  Well, I get choked up thinking about the privilege of it!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I Took Four Kids to the Dentist, Kinda Thinking I Deserved A Goody Bag!

The kids had early dismissal from school yesterday, so I took all 4 of them to the dentist for check-ups and cleanings.  No cavities -- hooray!!  Just another baby tooth of Little Girl's with a deadline, one month for her to wiggle it out or we need to come in and let the dentist pull it.  She has had this drama with nearly all her teeth, the adult tooth grows in with the baby tooth still there!

It is getting easier the taking of 4 kids to the dentist by myself, but I have to say it still exhausts me.  Really, I've said before, but there are times when having 4 kids does not feel like a lot and then there are times when it feels like a bunch.  Taking them all to the dentist is one of the "it's a whole lot!"  times.

It starts as soon as I walk in the door and walk up to the receptionist.  She asks me how many kids I need forms for (because you know even though we've seen this dentist for 9 years there are always still forms!), and I say, "Four."  She sucks in her breath and says, "Whoa."  And I reply, "Yeah, I know.  That's pretty much a thought I have every day."

She takes pity on me and allows me to combine the 4 children onto one form for 2 of the forms, but the healthy inventory I must fill out one for each child.  I think I manage to get the right birthday on the right child's form and list their allergies and who has had their adenoids removed and who has not.

From there it is pretty much assembly-line, three-fourths of the kids through x-rays, all 4 through teeth-cleaning, and all 4 then cycle one by one through the dentist's chair where he checks them and discusses with me what's going on with their teeth.

One thing I have learned to expect when taking 4 kids to the doctor or dentist, there are never enough chairs for everyone.  Doctor exam rooms typically have 2, maybe 3 chairs and there are 5 of us.  The dentist has more chairs but there are other patients and parents there, too.  It was less awkward when the kids were smaller, but for now we can still send Little Girl to sit on the floor in the toy area and the 7 year old can sit on my lap if he has to.

Still way better combining them all into one afternon than taking them to the dentist two at a time and having to visit the pediatric dentist 4 times a year instead of just twice!


I cleaned out the kid bathroom cabinet that has pretty much every product ever made for Little Girl's hair.  My 11 year old walked in when I had pulled a bunch of the bottles out on the counter so I could organize the cabinet and he thought it was hilarious how much stuff I had and had to run get the camera to take a picture. I can admit that buying conditioner, various curling puddings and gels is one way I compensate for being a white mama to my black daughter.  The sad thing is that picture really only captures about a fourth of what I have as I'd already started putting things back in the cabinet when he walked in!


We've had some amazing cooler temperatures the past few days.  My girls enjoyed some bike riding:


Here's a photo of the elaborate game my 2nd grader came up with to help learn his spelling words.  It is amazingly complicated, really, and convinced me what the kid lacks in natural spelling ability he more than makes up for with creativity.  His test is tomorrow and he still has trouble spelling "difference" and "Tuesday", but in the long run of life, there's always spell-checker, right?


Happy Friday and Happy Fall!

Half-Past Kissin' Time

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Giving My Children Omega 3 Fish Oil

Let me start off by saying I am not a medical doctor.  I am just a mom of 4 kids.  I happen to hold a degree in biomedical science so I think I drive my kids' doctors a little nuts with my extra-detailed questions and independent research I do regarding a medical issue one of my children may be having.  But, please do not take what I am about to say as a prescription for your particular child, only you and your child's doctor should decide what is best for your child, I am just sharing what works for us and what makes sense to me as a scientist and a mom.

I give my 4 children ranging in ages from 11 years old to 5 years old, omega 3 fish oil pills.  The reasons for this are varied.

It started a few years back when I began suffering with multiple basal cell skin cancers.  I asked my dermatologist if there was anything I could do to help or if my fate just rested on too much sun exposure as a teenager and I was doomed to having skin cancers cut off for the rest of my life.  She told me I needed to boost my immune system to be able to fight off these cancers and taking daily fish oil pills is one of things she recommended.  Then she told me she even gives her children fish oil pills, just a children's version, because it is so good to help kids ward off colds.

I had also read about fish oil during our adoption training in the book The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family.  It highlights research that suggests omega-3 supplements can reduce symptoms of anxiety, impulsivity, inattention, cognitive problems, and learning problems in children. And that kids on the supplements in the studies were less emotionally volatile.  I figured we needed all the help we could get with those issues and started our little girl adopted from Ethiopia on fish oil supplements as soon as we got her home.

It has been 3 years now that I have been taking fish oil pills (an adult version) and my children have been taking fish oil.  I truly believe it has helped my allergies.  I have to take Zyrtec a whole lot less than I used to.  Also, my older daughter used to have to use her inhaler pretty frequently for wheezing but since starting on fish oil, she nearly never needs her inhaler.  When I discussed my theory with the allergist, he said there have been some studies indicating that fish oil may be beneficial for allergies, but nothing has been definitively proven.  He did encourage me to continue the supplements, though!

I also feel like fish oil supplements can help with ADD symptoms and would certainly rather my kids be on a supplement like omega 3 rather than ADD medications!

Beware because not all Fish Oil pills are created equal.  There is a wide range of DHA and EPA that are actually present in the supplement, so read your labels carefully!

This is the supplement I give my kids: 

 The DHA content is 100mg which is so much better than most of the rest of the kid omega-3s.  Also, I've tried some that have a taste my kids complain about, but they really like these.  They are easily chewed up so no drama if you have kids that can't swallow pills.  And, there is no fishy odor!

Anyone else tried giving your kids omega 3 fish oil supplements?  What kind do you use?  Have you noticed results?
***Disclaimer: I am an Amzaon.com affiliate and will earn a small portion of the sale if you use a link within my blog to purchase a product, however I only recommend things we truly use in my home and would recommend to friends!***

Monday, September 22, 2014

One Hard-Working Dog

One day last week my husband had jury duty and needed to be downtown at 8am.  In order to have time to drive downtown, park, and make it in to the jury assembly, he needed to leave our house considerably before 8am, thus leaving me to handle the bulk of the craziness that is getting our 4 kids up and ready for school, 4 lunches made, and 4 kids dropped off to 2 different schools.

I got up extra early and did all kinds of work and logistics handling.  After I'd gotten all the kids successfully to school, I did the dishes, and last minute preparations for the 9am leadership meeting I had for the Bible study I teach.  But, before I left the house, I walked back through my bedroom to grab something I needed for the day, and what did I find, but this sight:

Somehow all the hard work I'd done that morning made the non-hard-working dog feel all the more wrong!

She gets to go back to bed?  And on MY bed, no less?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Maybe the Folder Fairy can teach you to spell "elephant"/pack a lunch my 7 year old will eat/speak German

Because my 5 year old has the same teacher for kindergarten that my older 3 children had, my other 3 children think they are the expert on all things related to this particular kindergarten class.  But sometimes things change from year to year, the teacher does something new.  I tell them these things but they are still firm that they know it all.  On Tuesday, Little Girl came home talking about how the "Folder Fairy" was going to visit some time at school and check to see if they had a neat folder.  Well, my 9 year old was adamant that there was no "Folder Fairy" in kindergarten and no matter how much her little sister tried to convince her, the 9 year old just believed her little sister was the one who was wrong.

Well, on Wednesday this came home in Little Girl's folder:


I've spent all week helping my 2nd grader with his spelling words, spelling words that literally are a challenge for even my husband and me!  I have a trick for Wednesday, you know say it like Wed-nes-day and then it's obvious how to spell it, but elephant?  I have no idea how to help him remember how to spell elephant!  On the pretest he spelled it, "elfint".  Do you see how far we have to come from Monday to Friday?  Really, with 20 words to deal with on his list, I've written off "elephant", he'll just miss that one, and we're focusing our energies on other words like "calendar", "lettuce" and "celery".  Honestly, 2nd grade is not what it used to be!


My 7 year old let me know as we walked out of school one day this week that he likes bagel with cream cheese for lunch only on weekends and in the summer but not packed in his school lunch like I had done that day. 

It's one of those comments that can really irritate you as a parent considering the effort you put into the homemade, hand-packed lunch at 7am.  But, I've been trying a tactic lately with my kids and it's really helping.  I repeat back to them whatever they just said to me that sounded unreasonable.  "So, let me get this straight, you like bagel and cream cheese for lunch on the weekends and in the summertime, but not on school days?"

And really just the repeating of the crazy thing they've just told me typically allows me to find the amusing quality in it all and refrain from an irritated reply like, "Fine, then pack your own lunch!"

I told him that I worried his list of things he does like packed for lunch is getting too small.  He assured me there were lots of things he liked for lunch, but only proceeded to think of 3 -- cheese quesadillas, pizza, and peanut butter and crackers.  Considering the prep. involved in the pizza and quesadilla options, those are only happening once, maybe twice a week, so the kid is going to be eating a lot of peanut butter crackers!


My 6th grader is taking German right now and he keeps talking to me in German and I have no idea what he is saying!  Actually it is amazing how much German he's learned in just 4 weeks now!  But, I'm quick to let Mr. Middle School know he is not beyond bringing in my recycling bins:

Happy Friday, Friends!

Half-Past Kissin' Time

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How To Have Your Tween Son Do His Own Laundry

A few months back I had my 11 year old son start doing his own wash, and I thought I'd come back and share how it's going.  But first a few quick steps regarding how to get your tween child to do their own wash:

Step 1:  Show them how to do wash.  Let them help you do several loads.  Discuss things like water temperature, amount of detergent, dryer temperature, etc.

Step 2:  Buy them their own hamper to use to keep their clothes separate.

Step 3:  Let them know that they are ready to do their own wash and that it is time for them to take on that responsibility.

Step 4:  Stop doing their wash.  

And a few tips I've learned along the way:

1. This really is the most awesome chore to turn over to your preteen/tween child because it is truly something that lightens your load as a mom and there is a built-in consequence that you don't have to enforce!  If they don't do their wash, they don't have clean clothes to wear.  Parenting doesn't get any easier that, folks!

2. For #1 to work well, your child should have a week's worth of clothes, no less, and not too much more.  For example, the khaki shorts my son wears to middle school he has exactly 5 pairs.  The dwindling supply is a good reminder to him that it's time to do wash soon.

3.   Whichever day your kid picks to do his wash, just count on the washer/dryer being occupied for most of the day because preteens are not exactly speedy about the turn-over between washer and dryer, etc.

4.  The dryer will buzz loudly and then go back into its wrinkle-shield setting for a few minutes before buzzing again.  You will try to ignore the annoying buzzer and glance over at your child but remain quiet because you are trying not to nag and he needs to own this chore.  This process will repeat no less than 6 times before you finally comment to your middle schooler that his clothes are done in the dryer to which he'll respond, "Really?  I didn't hear it go off!"

5. Once your son starts doing his own wash, do not go into his closet any more.  Trust me on this one.  You don't want to see what's in there!  Okay, I'm kidding a little, here, but really just expect to find things that are not the way you'd do them, like this pile of dirty clothes on the floor of the closet rather than in the hamper:

And where is the hamper anyway?

Of course, it's over there by the dresser instead of in the closet where it belongs to actually, you know, collect the dirty clothes!

And if you are a person, like me, who hangs the shirts all facing the same direction in the closet?  LET IT GO!  That is a crazy standard to hold an 11 year old boy to.  If he has clean clothes that he washed by himself, the whole thing has been a success!

I know, it makes me itch a little, too, the shirts facing opposite directions, which is why it's better to just not go in there!!

All in all, my son really is doing great with this chore.  He has not completely run out of clean clothes yet, he seems to understand the need to hang things quickly before they get wrinkled, and he gets bonus points for even bringing home his school gym clothes every Friday and washing them with his other clothes over the weekend!

Monday, September 15, 2014


We took a break for a little while as summer ended and the school year began, but we are back at it, listing our blessings, writing them down to help us remember to be thankful.  

Saturday brought a tremendous gift of cooler weather, a much-needed break from months of days so hot you were uncomfortable with just a few minutes outside!

We headed to the zoo, a family favorite spot, and were delighted with a grizzly bear wading in the water, some new clouded leopards to admire, and giraffe antics as three of them tried to lick out of the same hanging bucket, among other delights!

I even caught this precious view of my 7 year old and my 5 year old walking with their arms around each other inside one exhibit:

We wrapped up the day with dinner out, the gifts of no cooking or dishes!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Parenting Post-September 11th

It seems really odd to me that my children will never really understand September 11th.

That infamous, tragic September 11th was 13 years ago, my children were not alive yet. I know this logically, but conceptually it's just hard to imagine people who don't know what that day was like because they didn't live it. People who can learn about the facts but it will be without the memories of their own personal horror and fear and sorrow and experience that day.

I think of what I, now as a parent, want my children to know about September 11th, but more deeply I think of how I want to parent my children knowing their generation may have their own September 11th.

Would my children as young men and women have the courage to run up the stairs of those burning buildings?

What if my daughters as grown women, married with 2 children and a 3rd on the way were suddenly widowed?

What if my children came face to face with an evil so strong it threatened many, many lives?

How would they respond?

What would be their strength? their peace? their comfort? their hope?

And am I doing enough today to teach them about the only God who will never leave them, who loves them with an everlasting love, who can slay giants, who can save and redeem their lives so that they're ready if and when their world is rocked to the core one beautiful, sunny day.

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." Zeph. 3:17

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What Two And A Half Years of a Family Can Do

As I've gone to FOUR different back-to-school nights this past week, I've had the pleasure of running into many friends and the number one question from everyone is how my youngest is doing in kindergarten!

I laugh because everyone knows my Little Girl because she has such a big personality and a gift of connecting with people, so her fan club wants to know how she's doing with this big new milestone.  I also laugh because I think many of us (me being at the top of the list) wondered how kindergarten would go for my spunky, loud, outgoing, active Little Girl!

But, truly, kindergarten is going GREAT for Little Girl.  Her teacher just told me so again today!  Really, I think I'm a little more surprised than I should be as I question the teacher about her behavior during the school day, but this teacher I know well (she taught my 3 older kids kindergarten, too) and she really, truly thinks Little Girl is doing great at school!

Hallelujah!  I am praying it continues because I have certainly sweated out this milestone since we brought Little Girl home from Ethiopia two and a half years ago.

I think so many of my friends asking about my Little Girl and kindergarten is also a testament to her story.  These are friends that watched it all unfold from us waiting to bring Little Girl home to those crazy early days of me arriving at elementary school pick-up for my older kids with this 3 year old from Ethiopia who didn't speak English and thought it was hilarious to run away from me every chance she got!

Our kindergarten teacher said today how amazing she thinks Little Girl is knowing her now while also knowing her background.

And I have to agree, she is amazing.  But, God is the really amazing one!  His power to  transformation a life is so evident when I look at my little girl

This is her from December 2010 as a 3 year old in an orphanage in Ethiopia.  Malnourished, suffering from various skin conditions like ringworm, an orphan with no family:

And this is her two and a half years later at age 5 and a half in America, the picture of health, with a loving forever family:

God placed her in our family and He has helped her to thrive!

Monday, September 8, 2014

My 4th Time to Attend Kindergarten Parent's Night

Tonight I attended the kindergarten parents open house for my 4th child.

It is the night when parents go up to the school without the kids and sit in their child's extremely tiny desk and listen to the teacher talk about what to expect from the year.

I love our kindergarten teacher, my 3 older kids all had this same teacher!

My husband, of course, felt we did not need to go to the kindergarten open house night.  "We have done kindergarten 3 times before!!" he insisted.  But, I countered with that each year there are some changes and we needed to hear the deal for this year.

I was so glad I went, there was a little letter from each child to their parents and then a blank one where the parents were to write back to their kids, I don't want to imagine my little girl arriving at school tomorrow and not having a note from her parent!

But, as I sat there in kindergarten open house for the 4th time, I felt old.

There were parents with their 1st child in kindergarten who were shiny and eager and full of questions!  Three of them had signed up as room parents (even a mom and dad pair which I've never seen in 6 years of having a child in elementary school) and they want to have a class family bowling night so we can all get to know one another.  They were so precious and enthusiastic that I immediately felt guilty for going into the night with the sole goal of not signing my name next to anything!  So, I came home and emailed one of them to sign up for a volunteer role they needed help with.  Never mind the fact that I've already taken a recurring role in my 4th grader's class and also in my 2nd grader's class!  Just somebody keep me from clicking "reply" on that middle school request for volunteers!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Evening I Went Back to Middle School

Here's the schedule my husband and I got to run through tonight at our son's middle school open house.  (The kids only go to all 8 classes on Fridays and the other days just half the classes, either odd or even periods, which is why our schedules didn't have us go to the periods in numerical order.):

We got 5 minutes in between classes just like our son gets, only he has to go to his locker and we didn't have to do that step.  Then we were in each of his 8 classes for a total of 7 minutes!  SEVEN minutes!  Can you imagine?  We at least got to put a face with a name for each of his teachers, but the 7 minutes was a complete blur of them fast-talking through their goals/policies/procedures/upcoming projects before that obnoxious bell ringing cut in and sent all of us parents scampering on our way again!

I'm proud to say my husband and I were not late to any of our child's classes but if you tested me on any of the information covered in that hour and a half of open house, 7 minutes with 8 different teachers, I'm sure I'd perform pretty poorly.  Just thankful they didn't make us change into gym clothes for P.E.!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reading Together As A Family

For several weeks we've been reading a book together as a family.

A chapter after dinner on nights we could spare the time.

All 6 of us lingering longer around the table, one of us reading aloud, the others listening.

And then the conversations over what we had read.

It was a beautiful thing.

And something I'm now eager to do again and again.

The book we read was Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games.  It is the true story of a Sudanese child refuge and his journey to becoming an American Olympic runner.

Our family has a soft spot for Africa, so this book was especially up our alley, but I believe every family would be touched and inspired and changed by this book.  It's a true story that will leave you in awe of what God can do.

We had so many great conversations about perseverance, about our blessings, about life in America and the realities of life many other places, about success and achievement, and about God taking something terrible and turning it into something amazing.

I'm not sure what we'll read next, but reading together as a whole family is a habit I'd like to keep!

***I am an Amazon affiliate but I truly read this book with my family and loved it and that is the only reason I'm linking to it.***