Sunday, August 31, 2014

Princess Leia?

She wanted to be "Princess Leia in a Tinkerbell Dress." This was the best I could do. She was not impressed and wanted what Daddy called her "Miley Cyrus" buns out immediately. 

Free apples and bananas

Yesterday I went into a grocery store that I will leave unnamed
to protect the parties involved.

I only had to get a few things: some dog food, a birthday present for Hannah, and some fruit.

When I got to the cash register, the attendant scanned all my items until she got to my bananas and apples -- two things that need to be weighed.

Without missing a beat, she just skipped weighing the items, put them in a bag, and handed me the bag.

I obviously looked confused because she said, "I've been telling them for two weeks that my scale is broken and they won't fix it. They want me to go to another register and weigh the items. I'm not doing that."

I now had the bag in my hand, and I turned around, wondering if she meant she wanted me to weigh them at the next register. She quickly brushed that thought off. "Just put them in your cart," she said. "I'm not weighing stuff until they get me a new scale."

I was dumbfounded. I had no idea what to do. Is it my fault if the person who works at a store gives you something for free? And how could I correct this without getting her in trouble?

In the end, I still wasn't positive that she hadn't made me pay for them until I got into the car and checked my receipt.

Nope. Not on there.

(Is it bad that I kicked myself for buying the prepackaged grapes instead of the ones that have you pay by weight?)

Just when you think life is playing the same way every day, something new happens worth writing a blog post about.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Our day (in video)

Sometime around 5am, our day begins. If Hannah is awake before I am, I usually spend the first fifteen minutes "preparing the house" for her curiosity. I need to make sure the bathroom door is shut for instance (because she has already thrown more things in the toilet than all my other kiddos combined). I also need to make sure the gate to the stairs is secured because, as you will see in this video, if it is not, she'll find the weakness and capitalize on it asap.

Within about an hour, Sidge and Abigail are usually awake. And they want to eat. When you are trying to teach them to make their own breakfast ... what do you expect?

As breakfast comes to a close, everyone is a little less bleary-eyed. Why not start the morning with some dance moves? You'll notice that big brother Isaac has now woke up and joined the party. He is always the last one awake. And he is also the last one wanting to do any dance moves at any time of day:

By the time breakfast is over, Hannah is usually wearing clothes for the day and will have her hair pulled back so that she can see. Chances are, she'll be running from room to room finding new things to get into it. And chances are, she'll be holding her new favorite stuffed animal: Curious George. This is sweet to me as George was my favorite toy growing up, but my other three kids have expressed little interest in the stuffed animal (although the boys did like the movie):

And most likely, at some point in the day, one of the children will find themselves facing a crisis. Like getting a stroller stuck in your shirt. That's serious stuff!

And if your stroller isn't stuck, if you are Hannah, you have certainly found a way to get yourself stuck on something by the time dinner rolls around:

Military is a small place

The military is a small place. The recent crash of an F-15 was no different. Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr. was my friend Angelica's Squadron Commander in Japan for two years. Please pray for his wife and two daughters as they grieve the life of their hero. 

The following article was taken from this link. 
The pilot killed in the crash of an F-15 jet this week in the remote Virginia mountains was a decorated combat veteran with 17 years of experience flying the planes, military officials in Massachusetts said Friday.
The pilot, Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr., joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February and had been serving with the 104th Fighter Wing as the inspector general and an F-15 instructor pilot.
Col. James Keefe, commander of the Westfield-based fighter wing, said the death was announced "with a sense of profound sadness."
Fontenot was flying the single-seat plane to New Orleans for a radar system upgrade when he crashed Wednesday morning in western Virginia. Officials say he reported an in-flight emergency before losing radio contact. The investigation into the cause of the crash is expected to take several weeks.
Fontenot, 41, of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, was a 1996 Air Force Academy graduate. His active-duty career included deployments to the Middle East, and he earned honors including the Meritorious Service Medal. He had also served as a squadron commander in several locations and had assignments in Washington, D.C., Japan, Idaho, Florida and Alaska.
In Virginia, more than 100 local, state and federal officials as well as volunteers were involved in the search for the pilot before officials announced Thursday night they had found evidence he did not survive. Brig. Gen. Robert Brooks, Commander of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, said at a news conference in Deerfield, Virginia, that rescuers found evidence at the crash site that the pilot did not eject.
Brooks would not comment on whether the pilot's remains had been found, saying only, "We bring every airman home."
The jet crash shook residents but caused no injuries on the ground. Investigators said the jet hit the ground at high speed, leaving a deep crater and a large debris field in a heavily wooded area adjacent to a mountain in the George Washington National Forest.
There were no munitions aboard at the time of the crash, Keefe said. The plane was flying at about 30,000 to 40,000 feet when the pilot reported the emergency, he said.
F-15s are maneuverable tactical fighters that can reach speeds as high as 1,875 mph, according to the Air Force website. The F-15C Eagle entered the Air Force inventory in 1979 and costs nearly $30 million, the website says. The Air Force has nearly 250 F-15s.
Several F-15s have crashed over the past few years in various states. In at least one, the pilot ejected safely. Causes included failure of a support structure for the jet and pilot error.


Thanks to my friend Rebekah who shared this video. This was my home for two years. So unbelievable that I actually lived on this beautiful island! This is Porto Martins on Terceira Island. I will never forget these beautiful years.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Tamron Hall on Jennifer Aniston: We don't need to have kids to care

I saw this article on Today and definitely wanted to take the opportunity to reference it. I have been very outspoken in the past that I feel our society alienates women who don't fit into the "normal" mold. If you are single too long or don't have kids quick enough, you are somehow seen as "not a woman." 

Obviously this really hit home for me because of the fact that I was married for ten years before I had children. I definitely felt myself being left out.

Jennifer Aniston told Carson: “I don’t have this checklist of things that have to be done and if I’ve not checked them, then I’ve failed some part of my feminism or my being a woman or my worth or value as a woman because I haven’t birthed a child."

And Tamron Hall echoed her feelings. "But it is alienating sometimes, as a single person that people assume something’s wrong or that you don’t like kids, or don’t want kids. Or more importantly, that you’re not a woman or a sensitive human being."

Take the time to read this piece. But even more importantly, take the time to remember that those single women in our lives or those married women without kids are still people -- and there feelings, values, and self-worth are no different than anyone else's.

Last Dog

If I EVER stop to think about getting another indoor dog again, I will return to this blog post to remind myself why I have promised that Scrubs will be out LAST indoor dog!

Don't get me wrong folks. I love Scrubs. And I have loved having him as my dog. But JB and I have just decided that from now on, we are going to keep the pets outside of the house.

At least that is our plan. I'm sure there's a kid who has the power to talk us out of that.

Anyways ...

This morning I woke up and came downstairs. Like I do every morning. Since there is always a kid up by 5:30am, my body has started waking me up nearly every morning at 5am. I used to fight it, but I have recently come to embrace it. Getting up 30 minutes before the kiddos is really nice to give me a little time with the Lord, my email, myself, and ...

dog vomit.

Not one pile of dog vomit but PILE after PILE of dog vomit.


I turned on all the lights and walked the rest of the kitchen and foyer and living room to see if I could find anymore. I could not. So I spent the next half hour tackling the seven piles I found.

Yes they were on the off-white rug we have prohibited our children from eating or drinking on to keep our landlord's carpet nice.

Just as I finished the last pile of vomit -- scooping and blotting and scrubbing and spraying and wetting and repeating -- Scrubs started scratching at the sliding glass door to go outside. I walked over to let him out and stepped right smack onto ANOTHER pile of dog vomit that had been hidden by the pattern rug.

Really fuming by this point, I bent over to begin scrubbing it and put my hand in another pile.


I really can't make this stuff up.

NINE PILES OF DOG VOMIT before 5:30am is more than any mom should have to wake up to.

Friday Funnies

Hannah is about to turn one. So I thought I would try to bring out the little sippy cup tops that I put on her bottle. She hates it as you will see in the video below -- absolutely hates when I try to bring out anything other than her bottle. I've been using sippy cups for awhile, and she is okay with them during "fun time." But when she is ready to drink, how dare I try to trick her?

Another Funny that occurred just today. Abigail wanted to read me a book about tadpoles. One of the lines says "Something slithery jiggled in its jelly-gray sack." Abigail was just trying to read the book from memory so she read the line using peanut butter instead of jelly. It took me awhile to figure out why she'd be talking about peanut butter in a tadpole book until I spotted the word jelly and figured out how she had gotten confused!

Learn with Homer

Of all the learning "stuff" I do with my kiddos, our absolute FAVORITE is the "Learn with Homer" iPAD App. The boys do one lesson on this five days a week. Abigail is just getting into it.

They are currently offering a FREE 30 days. (It is normally $8 a month.) If you have a child between 3 and 6, I would STRONGLY recommend you try this free month. It is THAT good. My kiddos absolutely love it and are constantly repeating something they learned. I am not exaggerating to say that at least three times a week, one of the kids tells me a fact I did not know and then follows it up with, "I learned that on Homer." The music and the poems they do are brilliantly done. I myself love listening to them.

This program is WAY better than ABC Mouse which is another app. we have in our home that I really like. I have not seen anything better, and it well worth the $8 a month.You can also consider buying it for a few months and then letting it lapse and picking it up again. I have done that many times.

You can get the free month by clicking here. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

King David Review

In the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure of reviewing a series of books by Nancy I. Sanders. I am simply IN LOVE with this series.

I reviewed Get to Know Jesus a few weeks back. You can read my review here.  

I was then asked to review the Get to Know Paul book by the same author. You can read my review of that book here.  I also did the Get to Know Mary book, and you can read that review by clicking here. 

I think this series of books is absolutely perfect for my 5 and 6 year old boys. I even think my 3 year old daughter will be able to glean some knowledge and enjoy reading it with me. While the boys cannot read this on their own yet, I believe that each of these books will be a great book for us to read through together and really discuss and learn.

David led an adventurous life -- from shepherd to warrior to the king of Israel. But he was also a man of God. "For many years, critics said the story of David in the Bible was a myth or fairy tale. They said David was just a story that was fun to read. They said David was not a real person. Nothing had been found in history to prove he actually lived. But that all changed in in 1993. Scientists called archaeologists dug up an artifact form long ago. It was a stone table with writing on it proving David was a real person."

The book and pages are sturdy and colorful. It is well organized with great color photos. There are 4-color maps, Scripture references and fun facts, a Word Bank, and much more. This is sure to become a favorite for young readers and for first book reports!

BookLook Bloggers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest and truthful review.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Free Subscription to Family Fun Magazine

Click here to get your free year subscription. (Truly no strings attached. I just did it!)

Back to himself

I keep having many people ask me how Sidge is doing since our move and the initial difficulties he had. (I wrote about his struggles in this post.

Let me begin by saying that our Elijah "Sidge" is completely back to himself. We really see none of the behaviors that plagued him so terribly during the two months that followed our move to the States. We are so incredibly blessed by this. THANK YOU to all of you who prayed for him and encouraged me with similar stories or experiences. I am especially blessed to have a husband who is a physician and a very wise man. He was so wise in helping me, as a mom, learn how to deal with what Sidge was going through.

We still aren't sure if what we witnessed in Sidge was depression or just a breakdown of sorts. We probably won't ever know. But what I do know is that if you think kids don't feel stress ... you are dead wrong. It was as if the moment we got on the plane and headed back to America, the Sidge we knew disappeared. There is no way that the behavior he exhibited was not related to the situation we were encountering. 

My friend Stebbins witnessed it when we stopped to stay with her for a few days before continuing on to Tennessee. She took Sidge out one-on-one a bit to try and give us a break from trying to comfort and listen to him and was equally shocked by how deep these emotions in him were. He was plagued by questions and concerns that so permeated every facet of his thinking that he literally couldn't go more than a few minutes without needing to talk about what was troubling him. Literally, I looked into his eyes and didn't see him there. Sidge was vacant and missing. 

JB was so wise. He helped guide everything we did with Sidge during this time. He told me that if we could follow his list of guidelines, we would have Sidge better within two weeks and back to himself within two months and that is nearly completely what happened.

But I wanted to outline a few things that we specifically did in the case that any other parent might find themselves trying to walk alongside a child battling intense stress. 
  1. We shrunk his world: We purposefully kept Sidge home. We limited any visitors. We avoided anything else that might cause him stress. This was not easy. This required disciplining ourselves to benefit Sidge, but it was incredibly helpful. When we did start to broaden his world, we took baby steps and only bit off small bites at a time. We didn't have visitors -- even close ones -- and avoided any changes. I cancelled a trip to Chicago for my grandparents anniversary. We made hard choices that were the best choices. 
  2. We listened: As hard as it was to hear Sidge say these troubling things about what he was thinking and feeling, it was imperative that we listened to him. He wanted to talk nearly non-stop about his fears and concerns. These did not have to directly with moving so some parents might not have realized the association. He simply had concerns about death, being arrested, being hurt or lost -- things like that. With three other kids needing my attention, it was sometimes hard to listen to him over and over again, but he really needed that.
  3. We minimized our concern: Around Sidge we used phrases like, "Oh that's just a silly thought." "I think things like that too." "Yeah, that's a totally normal feeling to have." Anything that could help confirm that he was normal and feeling normal things was vital to him.
  4. We emphasized health: We really worked to get him good nutrition and rest.
  5. We encouraged comfort: We tried to do things that he enjoyed -- books, games, movies that brought him happiness and felt comfortable. 
  6. We avoided anything dark: We totally stepped away from any movie, book, story that could cause him any stress. If it was slightly "dark", we didn't let him see it or hear it.
  7. We encouraged happy: We found a musical playlist that brought him joy and tried to talk about upbeat and happy things.
  8. We prayed: A LOT.
I hope that no parent has to watch their young child plagued by intense stress. But if you do, I pray that you find encouragement through our story. I feel like we have a pretty ordinary family. We are happy and upbeat and not high stress with no major drama. And yet we still watched our little boy truly impacted by a major life change. 

Our kids feel stress. They feel the big changes. Take the time to truly pray for them and stand alongside them especially in times of change. They need us!

A day with Shea

Yesterday, Mom and I and the kids drove up to Kentucky to spend a few hours with my old friend Shea. Shea and I were in college together and played basketball for WKU together. She went on to play overseas and in the WNBA. (She was way better than me!) She now has a farm with her husband and two sons. 

What a fabulous day we had! We swam in the creek, in their pond, rode the 4-wheeler and the Rhino, had hot dogs, fed the horses and fishes, and even stopped at Jackson's Orchard for some fun play time. 

There are friends you make that you just know will be your friend forever. Shea is one of those friends. So wonderful to hang out with her. 

Here are a few quick photos Mom managed to get on Shea's phone:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Homeschool Carnival

The town we are living in has a MASSIVE homeschooling community. Seriously, I don't know how else to describe it. There are so many activities and offerings, I feel like I could spend my entire week doing activities and not doing homeschooling at all! (So I've been very selective about what we take on.)

But today was a homeschool carnival for a local homeschooling "club." It started with a Facebook page I joined -- over 600 mothers and fathers are on this page alone just in our bedroom community! They hosted this carnival to kick the year off, and I decided to attend with all four kiddos. 

We had a FABULOUS time. I continue to be BLOWN AWAY by the kindness of this community, the behavior of the children, and the kindness of EVERYONE. We paid $5 to attend, and the kids played a ton of games, earned tickets, and then were able to pick prizes. There was face painting, a lego-building station, a Home Depot building area (where the boys each made a tool box), and even a place to play instruments with a music teacher. 

I'm really at peace with not meeting a lot of people. Chances are, we will only be in this area for one year, and I'm therefore being very cautious with how much I dive in. But the truth is, I'm meeting lots of people and seeing the same faces at all these events. I've also met a very sweet gal named Julie that has three kids very close in age to my oldest three. We have been pairing up frequently at events and really enjoying our common love for Christ and our children.

I am also really enjoying this whole take-a-picture-with-my-camera thing. Every time I think "Oh, I'd like a picture of that," I realize, "Oh! I have a camera on my phone!" Pretty amazing. (The GPS thing is equally amazing. How have I lived without that?) Here are a few phone pics I managed to snag:

Isaac loved all the games ...

... and loved collecting all the tickets. Thank goodness I wore pants with three pockets to help keep them all separated.

Abigail wanted to get her face painted and picked a tiger. I have to admit, she might be one of the cutest little tigers I've ever seen.

And what a fierce Batman!

Mom attempting to help the boys build a toolbox with the Home Depot guys. (Thank goodness Abigail was content to watch. Don't think I had it in me to try to do three.)

First Shiner

Two days ago, Hannah was standing next to the couch, fell, and clocked her head on the coffee table. There was instantly a big black bump emerging. I tried to capture it with a photo, but since she moves so much, and light effects how you see a shiner, it didn't work so well:

But I did manage to get a video ... Hannah emerges at the end, and you can really see her first black eye  in the video:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Family is ... adoption

If this video doesn't inspire you to DO something about the children in the world without a home, I'm not sure what would.

Click here to see how LOVE is really all you need to make a family.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Friday Funnies (a day late)

The boys continue to save their nickels to buy things. Isaac is constantly finding an expensive lego set he wants to buy and asking me how much it is. When I tell him it is seventy dollars (or 1,400 nickels) he starts getting frustrated by how much that costs.
Isaac: "We'll never save that many nickels."
Me: "That's because as soon as you save some, you spend them."
Isaac: "Yeah but I need to save a lot. How can I make that many?"
Me: "I have a chart on the wall with all the chores and things you can do to save nickels."
Isaac: "I know but we have toys to play with and our toys distract us."

In the van, we were playing the "Guess that animal game."
Me: "What is tall and pink?"
Abigail: "A flamingo?"
Me: "Yes!"
Abigail: "It is pink like your shirt."
Me: "That's right! My shirt is pink too."
Abigail: "And like my shoes."
Me: "Oh. Are your shoes pink?"
Abigail: "No."

Tante (Aunt) Jan visits

My Tante Jan (my mom's sister) is on the way to visit her son Eddie and his family. I was so honored that she would stop in to visit us for two days. I looked back to figure out the last time we saw them. It was in May of 2010 -- just a few short months before we left for Turkey! The only other time that they had met our children was in August of 2008 when I took Isaac on a visit to the Chicago area so that my family could have a baby shower for me. (I ended up being pregnant with Sidge at the same time for this Isaac baby shower!)

JB had to work nights both days she was here. And Grama was over at Ray & Gabbi's house. So .... I had Tante Jan to spend the whole day with. We went to the homeschoolers hour at the Christian gymnastics studio down the street with all the kiddos. Then we went to the pool, and finished up with Tante Jan treating us all to a make-your-own-frozen-yogurt at a local place I had been wanting to try.

Taking over the nightly reading (Scrubs thought this part was embarrassing).

I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying getting to hug ... in person ... all these people that I haven't seen since we left for Turkey. It feels so wonderful to feel like I live by those I love again!

Hannah into everything

Hannah takes the gold when it comes to getting into everything. I thought this video did a good job just capturing her little "I need to find something to do" personality. She's a ton of fun and as long as we give her the run of the house, pretty happy all the time! Block her off from somewhere she wants to go, and prepare for great whaling and gnashing of teeth.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Nashville Zoo Homeschool Days

Once a month, The Nashville Zoo hosts homeschoolers at the zoo. They have a one hour class for different age categories. Abigail is too young, but I signed up the boys for a 5 and 6 year old class that they went and took yesterday. Because we are zoo members, it is only $6 for a one hour class on a different animal topic. Yesterday they got to meet and discuss a skunk and a sand boa and an ostrich

The zoo gives us pre-activity worksheets and things to discuss and then follows that up with materials we can use after their class.

As usual, my boys, especially Sidge, was nervous about a new activity. But because they have each other, they can usually get over the initial discomfort. Even more impressive was that both boys loved the class and asked if they can do the one next month too.

Grama, JB, me and the girls all went to the zoo and spent the morning. We dropped the boys off for their class and did some of Abigail's favorites while they were in the class: the flamingoes and kangaroos. 

I have to tell you that one of my absolute FAVORITE parts about homeschooling is the fact that we can do all these fun things while other kids are in school. Nothing is crowded. And because JB works different days, we can go as a family in the middle of the week, to nearly anywhere for an educational opportunity. Just love that!

I also LOVE how popular homeschooling is becoming. Supposedly, the city we live in, has a very high proportion of homeschoolers. Honestly, the activities are so numerous, I have to just stop listening to suggestions. There are so many things offered that you could honestly do two things a day every day of the week and still not participate in everything.

One woman actually hosts an art day at the park. You meet there, make a donation, and she provides all the materials to make that day's craft. Another woman, a certified P.E. teacher, meets at a gym once a week and offers a P.E. class. In the beginning of September, we are going to try a music class taught by a church worship director just for homeschool kids.

Even better is that all of these things are designed for the family. They are used to little siblings being in tow and those siblings are welcome at any event. The music class teacher told me that Abigail and Hannah can totally be present -- as long as they are not a distraction.

Really enjoying spending days with my kids doing these fun things!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Egg Subsitutions

What an outstanding chart! How helpful for those of who love someone who has an egg allergy. In our case, it's our Isaac -- who currently hasn't outgrown the allergy (yet?)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Abigail the Colorer

Abigail's love for puzzles has been replaced by coloring. The kid is obsessed. It comes in very handy when we are trying to do schoolwork with the boys because she will sit down and color just like she is doing schoolwork. I love this new coloring book we got her. She puts a sticker int he square and then tries to color the snake to look exactly like the sticker.

Adoption: The waiting will nearly kill you

I recently stumbled upon a blog author. She is writing a series entitled 30 Things I Know About Adoption.  While all of her pieces are good, the one that really got me was entitled The Waiting Will Nearly Kill You. 

Can I get an amen from every single woman (and man) out there who has ever adopted? 

Listen, I don't mean any disrespect here, but the waiting that is required for an adopting family cannot be compared. Not even waiting during the infertility journey can compare to the waiting that is required in adoption. And to compare it to a pregnancy wait is really not even close to true. With a pregnancy you know the due date. And it isn't more than ten months. With adoption it can be years. YEARS!

The author writes about this in her blog post. She explains that with adoption you wait for:
  • a spouse to get on board with the idea
  • the agency to approve you (after you fill out mounds and mounds of paperwork)
  • a birth mother to select you or the agency to match you with a child.
All of that can take months but even more likely, years. 

And after that, it is time for more waiting.

  • You get the call and then you wait. 
  • You wait for delivery of the baby. 
  • Then you wait for your first court hearing. 
But it is so important to remember that you are not waiting alone.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (the message)

Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?
God doesn't come and go. God lasts. 
He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired, 
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime sumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
The spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired,
they walk and don't lag behind.

To those of you who are still waiting, I want to encourage you with a song that has ministered to me many times during our infertility and adoption journey. It is entitled "Blessings" by Laura Story.

Here are the lyrics:

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ALS Ice Challenge

I was nominated by Kelly Dubois and Josh Dubois and Joan Van Wyck and Steve DeFrancesco. I am in turn nominating AD HUISMAN and DANIELLE KITSTEINER and JOSH HUISMAN. I am also making a point to donate money toward a cure for ALS, a disease that took the life of Isaac's great Uncle Ken Vanderweert.

Despite the incredibly warm day, this was incredibly cold!

Monday, August 18, 2014


Somehow I inherited this game from my childhood days. My brother is still bummed about it as it was a favorite of our's as children. When we left for Turkey, I put it into our storage shipment. JB and I certainly didn't have time with two small boys to set up and play this game.

It arrived in our storage shipment, and one of the boys spotted it and asked to play. It has always been one of my favorite games (comparable to Monopoly.) So I brought it out. Not only do they love it, but they get it, and while they need some help with the money, it is the only game they ask to play lately. 

I decided to look it up on Amazon to see how much it costs to buy. They don't sell it anymore. To buy one of these, you'd have to shell out over $400. Seriously!?

So to decide: Do I keep mine or sell mine. :) Well, we keep it for now. It's a great family time!

101 Words of Affirmation Every Child Wants to Hear

I recently morphed this blog into a two-sided word document that I laminated and hung on the refrigerator. If you'd like a copy of it, please let me know by leaving your email address in the comments. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What We're Up To

Abigail Grace has been obsessed with coloring and obsessed with flamingos. And so, what better thing for her to color than flamingos that I print off of the computer? I don't like to say my kid is gifted, but I will say that at three, she colors better than her brothers. The girl loves to color -- mostly with markers. She also enjoys playing with Hannah any chance she gets (she is obsessed with her too) and playing with her brothers. (Although she has discovered that she has the power to push their buttons and has been doing that quite fervently recently.)

Showing off her picture for JB. While he is at work I like to send him pics of what the kids are doing that day. 

Hannah is into EVERY... THING! Here she is discovering that the stack of puzzles would be a good toy to get into. I didn't catch her until she had opened a fifth box and combined all the pieces. Had to find a closet for those. She is at that age that every day I am figuring out a new place for things or a new way to keep her out of somewhere else. She is getting ready to turn one and walking and nearly running everywhere.

The boys got summer hair cuts, and I think they look mighty handsome! They are busy obsessing about legos and doing their homeschool. They are truly the very best of friends and fight very little. They just love doing everything together, and I love seeing their brotherhood develop!

Hannah and the Polish Chicken

This is a polish chicken:

This is Hannah when she wakes up in the morning:

Any questions?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Funnies

I saw some cows on the side of the road. As we got closer to them, I said, "Here they come."
And Abigail replied, "They are not coming." Okay, technically she is right. I should have said "Here they are."


Sidge: "How can our sun be in the center of the solar system if our solar system never ends?"
Me: "Let's go ask Dad."


Sidge: "Why do you think they call it Hooked on Phonics? Do you think there is one guy who made it named Hook and another named Don and another named Phonics."


We walked into the boys room last night. Sidge was laying on top of Isaac but sideways. When JB asked what they were doing, Isaac replied, "We are a plus sign."


Sidge: "Why don't we have wings?"
Me: "Well, God didn't give us wings?"
Sidge: "But why not? If we had wings, we could fly?"
Me: "Do you want to fly?"
Sidge: "Maybe."
Me: "Well, you could hang glide."
Sidge: "What's that?"
Me: "I'll have to show you pictures sometime. You can hold something and sort of fly."
Sidge: "How can I do that?"
Me: "Well, you rent it from someone."
Sidge: "How do I do that?"
Me: "You pay them money and then they let you borrow their glider."
Sidge: "And then they give you your money back after you fly?"
Me: "No. It's like an amusement park ride. You ride and pay money to ride and they keep your money."
Sidge: "What is an amusement park ride?"
Me: "Like the ride at the fair we did the other day."
Sidge: "Oh. Well when can I do that gliding thing sometime?"
Me: "When you turn 18."
Sidge: "Why 18?"
Me: "Well 18 is considered a grown-up. I think you have to be a grown-up to hang glide."
Sidge: "Why is 18 a grown up?"
Me: "Well, I guess because you can vote."
Sidge: "What is vote?"
Me: "Well, you vote for something. Like the President."
Sidge: "How do you vote?"
Me: "You go somewhere and write down who you vote for and the person who gets the most votes wins."
Sidge: "But how do you know who wins?"
Me: "They count the votes. We can do a sample one in the van while we are driving right now."
Sidge: "Okay, let's do it."
Me: "Okay. Do you like bananas or oranges better. Everyone vote. Who likes bananas?"
Abigail: "I."
Sidge: "Me."
Me: "Okay. And I vote for bananas. So that is three. Now who likes oranges? Isaac? Which do you vote for?"
Isaac: "I like apples."
Me: "Yeah but you gotta pick one of my choices."
Isaac: "Okay. Bananas."
Me: "Okay then bananas win 4 to 0."
Sidge: "Let's do another."
Me: "Okay. Would you rather go to Disney World or the Dentist?"
Everyone: "Disney World!!!!"
Me: "Okay. Then that wins 4 to 0."
Sidge: "But I don't want to go the dentist."
Me: "I know. You aren't."
Sidge: "But when will I have to?"
Me: "I have no idea. That was just pretend though. It wasn't for real."
Sidge: "I know but if I go will they put those things in my mouth (x-ray cards) or not?"
Me: "I don't know Sidge. I have no immediate plans to take you to the dentist."
Sidge: "Okay. Can we vote again? But I don't want to go to the dentist."
[Mom requests a five minute break]

3 Ways to Say Yes to Rest

I have written previously about our conscious decision, upon returning to the USA, to live the slow life. We spent four years overseas on two tiny military bases without much to do. There wasn't a commute. There weren't many things vying for our time. And so, our only real choice was to live slow.

Upon returning to America, we wanted too avoid slipping into the pace that it seems most people today are living. But how could we do that? The post I linked to above details the guidelines our family was going to try to adopt to keep that going.

A big way that we hope to avoid the normal hustle and bustle of life here is to move to the country! You can read about our dream to do that by clicking here.  I am so excited to announce that we are now basically, completely, ready to buy our land. We are headed to check out a few properties that really excite us next month as a family. The city we have chosen is about four hours from where we are now and our goal is to be there next summer!

I read a fantastic article online today entitled "3 Ways to Say Yes to Rest."  The author offered three broad tips for embracing the slower life. She writes that you should try to:

1. DIVERT DAILY: Spend at least 15 minutes each day to, as Sir John Lubbock wrote, "Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water or watching the clouds float across the sky is hardly a waste of time." It seems impossible, but truly is 15 minutes of nothing time a day not possible? If it is, that would be a major indicator of too fast in my opinion.

2. WITHDRAW WEEKLY: Take time each week to pull away from your busy life.

3. ABANDON ANNUALLY: Go on vacation once a year! And I want to add that I think this vacation should be RELAXING not a demanding check-things-off-your-list trip.

But I want to spend some time specifically talking about #2. One of the biggest things JB and I decided to do when we moved back to the States was to take an actual day of rest. It is actually a Commandment to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy. When JB and I really sat down to think about it, the other nine Commandments were things we were always trying to do. But keep the Sabbath day holy? We'd never really tried to do that at all.

A big reason we chose to do this is because JB is working shift work. He doesn't have the same days off each week, and I was really starting to feel, during the first few weeks here, that each day was exactly the same for me. I didn't feel any different on a Saturday or a Sunday than I did on a Monday or Friday, and I don't think that is how we are designed as people.

We try to make Sunday our Sabbath each week. But if JB has to work that day, we will consider picking another day to unplug as a family. If he has to work, then we'll spend some time doing a family Bible study on the day we choose to replace the church service he missed. (We have actually chosen a church VERY close to our house that I feel like I can take the kids to by myself!)

So we decided to try to take one full day "off" as a family. For us, we decided this would mean no electronics or activities. We've done about a month worth of Sundays now, and I must tell you I LOVE IT! It feels so good to basically unplug from the world for 24 hours. We attempt to not drive anywhere or go anywhere or put anything on our calendar. We instead spend time reading and playing games as a family. Maybe we go to the pool or on a bike ride.

I got some weird comments and some funny looks from people (and I still do) when I tell them about our Sabbath day goal. They honestly think that we are (a) a little weird and overboard or (b) legalistic or (c) a combination of both.

The truth is, I hope you will see that we are not either. But I want to respond to each of those thoughts.

(a) I have decided that I really don't care if people think we are a little weird or overboard or fuddy duddies or whatever you want to call us. If I am not stressed and rested, then weird is worth it. I don't think we are weird, but if other people do, I'm okay with that.

(b) We are not creating rules that we have to follow. If someone invites us over to their house for a birthday party on a Sunday, and we think it will be a fun and relaxing family activity, we'll do it. If someone is coming to visit us and wants to spend Sunday at the zoo, we might do it. If JB needs to check his email and deal with something, then he will. None of our rules are actually rules -- they are simply guidelines that we hope we can implement to keep our pace slow.

(c) Read a and b above!

I keep reading Facebook posts and blog entries from people who are just so burned out. Heck, I wrote a post detailing how I feel there aren't enough hours in the day earlier this week. If I am feeling that way with NOTHING on our calendar, how are you other ladies doing it with a jam-packed calendar?

I really want to encourage all of you to try to at least do #1 on this list this week. And then, maybe work your way into #2 as well. Even if it is just a few hours a day once a week, try to unplug from the pace that we all cannot possibly keep.