Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I'm Back and a Triathlon!

April has had me other places besides here on this blog, but I do hope to be back more.

There is no way to even begin catching up, so I'll just post something recent that I'd like to have saved here on the blog, otherwise known as the only scrapbook my children will ever have unless they create their own!

My girls completed a triathlon!

My 9 year old daughter did it last year and loved the experience and her 6 year old sister was eager to join the fun this year.

It was a 100 yard swim, 3 mile bike ride, and 1/2 mile run.

The event is huge, so the logistics are CRAZY and this year there was tons of mud so that made things more interesting, but no rain during the event so we were happy about that.

The outdoor pool constructed just for this kids triathlon (you can see the crowds of people in the background to get an idea of the size of the event):

Little Girl running into the transition area after her swim (parents are not allowed in transition so the kids must switch between activities all on their own).

 During her run:

And after finishing!

Big sister doing the bike portion of her race (love that huge smile on her face):

And again with the smile walking her bike back in to the transition area (all riders have to get off their bikes and walk them at a certain point):
Crossing the finish line (The time on the clock is not her time since there were staggered start times, that is the total time since the first racer began.  My girls both took around 33 minutes to complete the triathlon) :

So proud of my strong, brave girls!

P.S. Now that their sisters have done it, my boys thought the triathlon looked like so much fun that they want to do it next year!  I think chasing 4 kids around the triathlon course with my camera will definitely constitute an athletic feat for me!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Beautiful Spring Flowers + My 4 Children Does Not Equal Good Pictures

The azaleas in our front yard have been blooming beautifully for a few weeks and as usual I've attempted pictures of the kids in front of the flowers and failed.  It's like I'm in denial about the impossibility of this task.

Sure, I can get a decent picture of 1 kid + flowers:

2 kids + flowers:

Even 3 kids + flowers:

But not 4 kids + flowers!  Nope, not gonna happen!

And my favorite:

The 9 year old daughter fussing at the 7 year old brother for not cooperating for the pictures.  That is real life right there, folks!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

City Kid Goes to the Rodeo

I just love my 7 year old's look of utter (udder -- ha!  couldn't resist) confusion here.  "I have to do what to get the milk out?"

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hip-Hip Hooray

Many have asked me this year how Little Girl is doing in kindergarten.

And I have to admit that I, too, looked to the milestone of her starting kindergarten with some worry.  Worry that she'd be too far behind the other kids since she just began speaking English as a 3 year old.  Worry that some of her personality quirks learned from life in an orphanage would play out badly at school.  Worry that her hyperness and loudness would no longer be as precious as it was in preschool but become annoying and problematic.

BUT, as she tends to do, my little Ethiopian has BLOWN US AWAY with how well she's done in her kindergarten class!

One huge key to her success is the behavior chart system that our elementary school uses.  Each child begins each day on Green or "Ready to Go!" and they move up or down the chart according to their behavior.  Well, thankfully Little Girl is even MORE competitive than she is loud or active.  And she wants to be at the top of that chart (the "Hip-Hip Hooray" level) and can amazingly reign in her behavior to get there.  

This past week she even earned the "Hip-Hip Hooray" level every day of the week, and was the first child from her class to achieve that this whole school year!  Her class did a big cheer for her which she totally ate up and her teacher is making her an official "Star Student".

Here she is, proudly showing off her chart:

Rock on Little Girl; you are awesome and amazing!!!!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Into the Land of Glasses!

Whew, I didn't intend to take a 2 week break from the blog, it just sort of happened!  Life has been full and busy, with so many areas needing every bit of my attention that the blog had to take a backseat.

But, I'll try to catch you up on some happenings around here in the coming blog posts (however erratically they may be spaced).

A little over a month ago, our family journeyed somewhere none of the 6 of us have ever been before --- into the land of GLASSES!

My 7 year old son got reading glasses.  It only took about 4 months of picking him up from school with him complaining of having a headache nearly every day before I finally scheduled a visit to the eye doctor.  Seriously, Mom of the Year candidate here!

But, I really didn't think he had a vision problem, they do a quick screen at the pediatrician, the school nurse screens each kid every year, and he reads above his grade level.  It turns out he can see fine, but he does have a condition called esophoria where his eyes have a tendency to turn inwards when he is focusing on something close-up and all day long his eye muscles were having to compensate to focus correctly, causing eye strain and headaches.  Not everyone who has esophoria needs glasses but since my son was having the headaches the eye doctor recommended we try reading glasses which would ease the strain of focusing when reading or doing school work and see if it helped the headaches.  I'm so thankful the glasses did stop the headaches!  And I'm so proud of my little guy for remembering to wear the glasses and remembering to pack them in his backpack each morning for school since he uses them to read before bed, not to mention how brave he was to start wearing his glasses to school half-way through the school year when all the other kids would notice the change!  

He might outgrow the condition, but for now, just look how cute he is with glasses (but DON'T call him "cute" because he really doesn't like being called "cute")!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Who knew life was so much easier with just two kids?

About a month ago, my husband took our 2 boys on a father-son camping trip.  They had a blast and the girls and I had a fun girly weekend at homeI was amazed at how peaceful things were with just the girls, how easy it was, and how clean the house stayed for the 27 hours the boys were away!  And then they came home and the chaos and mess came back.

So, I joked (half seriously) that it's THE BOYS!!  All the chaos and mess that I struggle with every day.  It's all their fault!

Then, this past weekend, my husband took our 2 daughters on a dads and dolls camping trip to the same camp.  They had a fabulous time (check out the pics later of my brave girls on the ZIP LINE!).

BUT, guess what?

The boys and I had the best mother-son time!  We went bowling, ate pizza, slept in a bit on Saturday morning, made biscuits from scratch+eggs+sausage breakfast together, CLEANED up the kitchen together, played an ENTIRE Monopoly game, and then watched a movie.  It was delightful.  And I marveled at how peaceful things were with just the boys, how easy it was, and how clean the house stayed for the 27 hours my husband and the girls were away!  And then they came back and instantly it was mess and chaos.

Later that evening I told my husband how great a time I had with the boys and how I was all wrong that they were the source of all the mess and chaos.  Then I joked to my husband that if it wasn't the girls and it wasn't the boys then maybe it was HIM!  He was the source of the mess and chaos that I exert so much energy to contain in our household every day!

He countered with, "I don't think it's the boys or the girls.  It's HAVING FOUR KIDS!"

Ah yes.  THAT!

Here are pics from their camp adventures.  First the boys, then the girls.  I would be jealous of all the outdoor fun, except that both camping trips they slept in tents with temps in the 30s -- NO THANK YOU!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Daddy Daughter Dance

My husband took our girls to a Daddy Daughter Valentines Dance recently.

The girls were so excited about their dresses that I only heard a few complaints that they were "too scratchy!"

My two daughters have such different personalities, yet they are the best of friends.  They are both beautiful and shine in their own ways.  I can only imagine the great plans God has for them! 

I'll let you guess which girl wanted to dance all night at the party and which was not so into the dancing!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Expiration Date Police

An unanticipated perk of my kids getting older is that I now have expiration date police roaming my house.  I have no idea why it is such an obsession of my oldest two children in particular, but they love to catch expired things around our house and make a big deal about it.

The 11 year old recently discovered that ALL, yes all, the tubes of Neosporin in our household were expired

and by expired I mean 02/2009 kind of expired!

Who knew that stuff expired?

And why exactly did we have so many tubes anyway?

The husband and 2 oldest children were not satisfied until they had ridden their bikes to the Walgreens to secure 2 brand new, unexpired tubes of Neosporin.  Because Heaven-forbid that we'd be without for one more day when we've been using expired Neosporin for the past 6 years!

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Girly Weekend

A few weeks ago, my husband took our boys on a father-son overnight camping trip.  They had tons of fun and while they were away, my daughters and I had some awesome girl time.

First on the agenda was a tea party dinner that we ate on the good china, followed by a girly movie.  There was also some fingernail painting and I taught them how to make pom-poms out of yarn.

After we'd made several, we used some baker's twine threaded through a large needle and sewed right through the center of each pom-pom to make a garland.

The girls were super excited to hang the garland in in their room!

Checkout this website for great pom-pom making instructions.

We had so much fun that the girls were a little sad to see the boys come home!

Monday, February 9, 2015

When I'm Not Here

So, I've been a bit MIA from the blog lately.  Everything is fine, well, actually it's chaos, but that's normal around here.  The reason for the lack of blogging is that my volunteer job as a Child Advocate has been taking up a lot of my time.

On Friday I had to laugh at myself and snap this picture what with two computers set up and my case file spread over the floor (when children are in CPS care for 7 years, the case file tends to get kinda large).  I was typing an email on one computer and referencing a 120 page document on the other computer.  I was fielding phone calls from the CPS caseworker and leaving messages for the children's attorney.  It was a busy, but productive, day!

We go to court again this week and then I'm hoping things slow down a bit.  But honestly, the two children I'm fighting for are worth every minute of time, even when it feels like I don't have any more of it to give.  Working to get these two kids out of foster care and into a loving home is a great privilege and I'm humbled that God has allowed me a part.

P.S.  By the way, that loving home we're so close to for these kids?  Is not my home.  Just so nobody gets any crazy ideas! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

It's February 3rd, How Are Your New Year's Resolutions Going?

Making New Years resolutions seems rather cliche' and I've certainly heard the statistics about how just 8% of people actually achieve their New Year's goals.

But, still, I typically can't resist.  I mean it is a clean slate, a new year, a world of possibilities!  And per my personality, I usually bite off more than I can easily chew.  And what is the harm anyway?  Failure may mean I still accomplished more than if I'd never had the goal to begin with.

Last year I set the goal to workout for at least 30 minutes at least 3 times per week.  Overall I achieved that.  Not every week was perfect, but there were even some weeks where I hit 4 times a week, so on average, I'm calling it a win.

And the best part is that the regular, consistent workouts are now a part of my routine, versus previous years when I might work-out every day for 30 days and then not at all for weeks.

On the heals of my 2014 success, I do believe overconfidence in my ability to implement change took over.  For 2015 I actually made TWO resolutions!  

And that's in addition to maintaining last year's exercise goal and, you know, raising 4 humans, caring for a crazy, furry, four-legged creature, working magic to feed everyone 3 meals a day, and various volunteer jobs!

This may not last until March which is why I'd like to go on the record now saying, surprisingly, I'm actually ON TRACK with these 2 goals!

So what are they?

#1 I've undertaken the goal to read through the Bible in a year.

I'm doing an ESV chronological version.  I've never read through the Bible in a year before.  I'm in an in-depth Bible study where we read books of the Bible in entirety, looking at each verse, so I've always thought I didn't have time for more Bible reading.  But, I liked the idea of covering the whole book, of knowing that I know the whole thing cover to cover or at least have lain eyes on it at least once in my life!  Then I heard that it would just take 15 minutes each day to achieve the goal of reading through the Bible in a year.  And I thought, "Anyone can make time for 15 minutes!  Right?"  Well, it's not easy, but I am only a day behind and for me that is a HUGE win!

#2  I've challenged myself to read more books this year, not just the Bible.  24 Books, to be exact. 

I used to love reading and then I became a mom and just took less and less time for it and then when I'd read something besides the Bible it was usually a parenting or adoption-related book.  While those books are great, they are usually not high on the enjoyment scale.  Then I read a novel in just a few days during our summer vacation and I loved it and determined to try to make more time for leisure reading.  So, I've finished 2 books but I have to confess they are books I started before the new year.  But, still, I'm totally couting them!  And, I have no shortage of books to read as I've totally overindulged and bought myself tons of books that I really want to read!

After I'd made the goal to read through the Bible in a year, I was going through built-up mail and realized we had gotten a 2015 calendar from Samaritan's Purse and it had it's own version of a Bible reading plan for each day of the calendar.  I gave the calendar to my 9 year old daughter because she wanted a 2015 calendar for her room.  But, the coolest part is that she is following that reading plan and attempting to read through the Bible in a year, too!!  AND she totally holds me accountable asking me, "How many days behind are you?" or "I'm caught up, are you caught up, Mom?!"

How are you doing on your resolutions?  Did you make any?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

8 Minutes Well Spent

I like to listen to Bible teaching while I exercise. Often this is Matt Chandler or Francis Chan

Then last week I suddenly had the desire to hear a little Beth Moore. About 4 years ago I did a Beth Moore study live with some Bible study friends and hearing her speak in person was all kinds of awesome. I've also been in groups before who watched her videos, but not in a few years. So, just out of the blue I began to crave hearing Beth Moore. Strange, right? Well, I searched for a Beth Moore video on the internet and friends, I found a gem! 

Really, this made my whole day! And then a couple days later I sat my husband and kids down and had them watch it, too, and we all laughed! 

 This is so funny and delightful, trust me, watch it! Do it!

Monday, January 26, 2015

My 6 Year Old Has A Dream

I shared last week that my 6 year old daughter, who we adopted from an orphanage in Ethiopia at age 3, had been learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. at school.

Today she brought home some work she did last week.  It took my breath away.

Her dream "that all children in the orphanage would be adopted." is beautiful and heart-breaking coming from a child who remembers life in an orphanage!

I looked at that schoolwork with her dream at about 4:45pm today, then at 6pm I checked my email and I had an email from our adoption agency notifying all their Ethiopia adoptive families that they are closing down their Ethiopia adoption program due to too many roadblocks created by the Ethiopian government to stop international adoptions amid rhetoric by officials that Ethiopian children should stay in Ethiopia.

I want Ethiopian children to stay in Ethiopia, too, if at all possible, but not at the cost of growing up in an orphanage or worse, on the streets!

Praise God our little girl is home, but it makes me so sad for Ethiopian orphans left behind, children who could have had hope for a family and now will likely grow up without one.  Will you join me in praying for the orphans in Ethiopia?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Great Lotions to Keep Children's Skin Moisturized

I have one fair skinned child with pretty sensitive skin and a tendency towards eczema if I don't keep her well moisturized, especially in the winter months.  And then my Ethiopian daughter has dry skin that must be moisturized twice a day with a thick lotion or she gets very ashy.

I've found two lotions that I use on my kids that are great and do the trick to keep them moisturized.  They are a little on the pricey side, but I've found it's totally worth the investment because if I let their skin get dry it leads to needing the more expensive prescription steroid creams (which can also have side effects).  These lotions were recommended to me by a pediatric dermatologist a few years ago and they really work! 

Here they are:


*** Disclaimer: I am an Amazon.com affiliate and will receive a small portion of the sale should you purchase a product after using one of my links, but I only recommend products I truly use and love for my family.***

Monday, January 19, 2015

Joining Hands

In some ways, I am living that dream, every day in my own home.  It is a privilege I do not take lightly.

But, walking that out, is tricky at times.  As a mother to both white and black children, I want so much for their skin color not to matter, but then I see how sometimes it does.  And the most compassionate thing is not ignoring that reality or saying it isn't a thing, but empathizing with it.

Last week I got an email from my daughter's kindergarten teacher, one that went out to all the parents about what the kids would be learning that week.  When I saw they were "learning all about Martin Luther King," I sucked in my breath, my stomach kind of flopped, and my palms began to sweat.  Not at all because I didn't want them to learn about Martin Luther King, Jr., I've played the speeches for my kids at home, we read books about the civil rights movement, and talk freely about skin color.  My 3 older kids have all learned about MLK at this public school.  But, my older 3 kids are white and it feels different when they learn about the civil rights movement than when my youngest daughter, who is black, learns about the civil rights movement.

The difference is that when my white children hear the message of MLK, I believe (and hope) they hear that you should not judge anyone based on the color of their skin, but rather the content of their character.  But, when my black daughter hears the message of MLK, I fear that she will hear that there was a time not so long ago in our country when people with her skin color were seen as less than because of the color of their skin.  And they had to fight for the right to be treated like everyone else.  Which, of course, makes me worried that she will then begin to feel less than.

We've not focused so much (or at all) yet on slavery or other more hideous aspects of black history with our 6 year old daughter and although I know she will have to know some day, as her mom, my desire is to shelter her from that.

I met up today with a friend who is white and raising a black son, she had just seen the movie Selma, which I have not yet seen.  I shared with her my fears about what my daughter was picking up on from black history lessons and she nodded, sucked in her breath in a way I know so well, and confessed that she is glad her son doesn't fully understand it all right now.  It made me feel less crazy to see my feelings echoed in another mama who is living the dream.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. teaching seems to have been done very well for my kindergartener, focusing mostly on that he wanted children of all skin colors to work and play together in peace, rather than just focusing on black people as the marginalized group.

And today, my 6 year old daughter was reciting parts of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have A Dream speech to anyone who would listen!

So, we're going to keep walking this thing out, with compassion for people of all skin colors, praying for change, and doing whatever we can to be the change we'd like to see in the world.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Snippets of Our Real Life

This was the homework scene this afternoon around my kitchen table:

I have 2 things to say about that picture:

1.  Yes, my Christmas card display is still up, I took down all the other Christmas stuff, but I can never bear to take the cards down before February.  I love seeing all the faces of kids we've watched grow up!  So many sweet families each with their own story (several touched by adoption, like our family)!

2.  Yes, Madeline the dog is sitting on a chair at the table and everyone is carrying on as if that isn't strange, because sadly, it isn't!  Our dog regularly jumps up on a chair at the table.  I know the dog trainer we used when she was a puppy would now refuse to claim us as clients, but in our defense she does actually get "OFF" if you give her the command.  However I think we missed the class on getting her to stay off!  As a bonus, though, she's an excellent help with math homework

Here's another view after I moved the Triscuit box out of the way:

Speaking of Triscuits, did you ever think about the fact that they rhyme with "biscuits"?  Yeah, me neither until today!

I taught my 9 year old daughter to make homemade biscuits last weekend.  I think she's just about ready to graduate to baking without much help from me.  I can't wait for the day she makes me breakfast!

Half-Past Kissin' Time