"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Thursday, March 31, 2011

All Alone?

Ever wonder what it feels like to be a child alone, a child abandoned and living on the streets?
This is an excerpt from "Out of the Black Shadows (The amazing Transformation of Steven Lungu)" by Steven Lungu.

"After a visit to the dustbins and the market left-overs, I found a sack at the market, and at twilight headed for the bridge. I crept beneath it, lay down and rolled up in my sacking. But I hadn't counted on the wind rushing about, catching and clawing at me with bitter fingers. I lay and shivered, snuggling deeper in the sand. Finally I sat up, and dug a sort of hollow grave in the sand, scooping it out with chilled fingers. I lay down again in the hole, pulled the sack over me, and carefully swept the sand back over me. That acted as some sort of shelter, and I dozed fitfully, the huge African stars wheeling slowly above my head. I wondered fearfully how I would ever survive to grow up.

I rarely cried any more, but always had a constant deep fear in me. I did not want to live, but I did not know how to stop living, and I was frightened that one day I would not survive, and starve to death. With the constant hunger and fear and my cough, I always felt unwell.

I did not expect to live to grow up. I saw the future as one long lonely struggle on my own. I felt so alone and scared. I did not see how life could ever get any better. I found I could not plan - fear of thinking ahead panicked me. I could not concentrate on things. All my life was focused on mere survival. Even planning a few hours ahead would have panicked me."

The author is describing his life when he was about 10 years old. He later describes 13 as this,

"But at thirteen I was terrified that there was no one in the world to whom I could turn. Living rough makes some youngsters self-confident and street-wise. Not me. I constantly longed for security, for somewhere I would be able to relax and be safe. I ached to be loved by my family - the people who should have loved me but did not. This bothered me a lot - I had a great sense of loss."

By the amazing grace of God, Steven eventually was saved both spiritually and physically. He became in evangelist. His book is his testimony. It is magnificent, eye-opening, powerful, hopeful and challenging.

Summer is coming (right?!?), let me know if you need a great read for your vacation. I share!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Parents for a Year

One year ago today I woke up tired. Tired because instead of sleeping I spent the night praying, praying that we would pass court and officially be Joshua's parents.

I spent the morning waiting for the phone to ring, while checking my email every few minutes - just in case Liz emailed instead of calling.

Off and on I would nearly jump out of my skin when my phone did ring, only to see that the caller was a friend or relative wondering if we had heard anything.

Finally, shortly before I left work to pick up the kids from school, my phone did ring. The news was not good. No MOWA letter, we did not pass.

I went to pick up my really hopeful kids. They hopped into my SUV with tons of energy and excitement, but with one look at my face they became silent and sad.

We went to Cold Stone to drown our sorrows in really expensive ice cream. We tried to put on brave faces. We tried to be trusting and faithful. But there was deep sadness under that trust.

Something about it just felt so wrong. It did not feel like it could have been God's will for Joshua Gebeyehu to remain an orphan for even another day. I struggled for weeks with that feeling.

I learned a lot about surrender during the weeks between our first court date and when the call finally came on April 20th declaring us the legal parents of our son. I have never felt so hopeless. Hope deferred truly makes the heart sick. I will never forget the run when God asked me to worship Him in the midst of the most stressful, hopeless, helpless time in my life. God used that time to teach me, to mold me, to strengthen me. But was it His will for Joshua to be an orphan longer?

My answer came with Joshua's adoption decree. It was dated March 29, 2010. The very same date as our first court hearing.

How? Why? I have no idea. I will never know.

What I do know is that we became Joshua Gebeyehu Chad D's parents one year ago today!

I am not always correct in sensing what is and is not God's will, but on this I heard correctly. I would like to tell you that I am grateful for the lessons learned between March 29 and April 20 2010, but in truth thinking of that time still gives me a stomach ache! I am, however, grateful that God walked by me, that He held me up, that He surrounded me with love and grace. I also know that I have benefited from the lessons learned in those days. We learn the tough stuff through tough times. Because of those trying days, I am stronger, more faith-filled, more grateful, and better at listening to God's whispers than I was a year ago. So I guess for that I am thankful.

We rejoice today that we have been Joshua Gebeyehu's parent's for a year! When I reminded Chad about the "anniversary" he summed it up well. He said, "Just thing last year Joshua had no idea and today he ran to me when I came home from work with a BIG hug and an 'I lub ooo daddy!' WOW!"

Thank you Jesus for our son!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bubble, Bubble Bath

Rub-a-dub-dub two cuties covered in bubbles were found in my tub!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Project: "Packed with Prayers!"

About a week and a half ago I received an email that had me instantly in tears. I had been searching for some type of service project the kids at our church could help with that would serve kids in Ethiopia. When I opened an email with the subject line of "project" I had no idea that God was sending me a gift.

The email from my friend explained that there were 9 orphaned children that she was hoping to send gifts of love and encouragement to in June. Would our church be willing to fill backpacks with treasures and necessities for these kids? Then I read their location... Dale, Ethiopia. That is when the tears started. That is when God made this project a personal gift.

My Joshua was born in the woreda of Dale. A woreda in Ethiopia is something like a county in the US. The area of Ethiopia is 68,180 square miles. I would have been thrilled to serve anywhere in that area. Where God orchestrated that we serve is Dale, the birthplace of my boy. Dale has an area of 824 square miles. So these backpacks we are filling will be sent to children who live within 90 miles of our son's first home. (If you are confused by all the mile references, just trust Chad! Area is not my thing, but it is his!) To put the nearness in another form, the population of Ethiopia is 85 million. The population of Dale is 440,000. So the chance that we are having a direct impact on kids in Joshua's neighborhood of birth went from 1 in 85 million to 1 in less than half a million! (Even less than that is you figure adult vs. children in the population) So cool! So God!

This connection may or may not sound like a big deal to you, but to me it was and is HUGE! One of my heart's desires it to somehow connect with the area of our son's birth. I long to walk where he would have walked, to see the villages, to smell the air, to sample the food. I long to somehow, someway make it a better, safer, easier place to live. I long to dig a well, or clothe children, or help mothers start businesses, or... I have talked to God a lot about this desire. I have asked for His blessing and His leadership in this area. I have been trusting that if it is His will that we serve, He will connect the dots.

And then I get an email asking me to do a little project for 9 kids in Dale. God, you are so good!

So this morning I was able to ask the members of our church to help fill these backpacks. I had made 7 photo cards of each child. On the back of the cards were items that I hoped to have donated like a backpack, a poncho, toothbrush and toothpaste, underwear and socks, some fun stuff, a few school supplies, and a blanket. I asked that the church members return the items along with a photo of themselves. On the back of their photo I requested that they write a prayer or Bible verse meant to encourage or bless their chosen child. There were 63 cards in all.

All 63 cards were taken joyfully by the members of my church. The table was emptied in a flash. I had people asking what they could do, how they could participate??? God, you are so good!

I get so excited thinking about the people of my church looking at the photos of these kids and praying over them! I get goosebumps thinking about the kids receiving these gifts, reading the blessings, and seeing the faces of people half a world away that care about them and are praying for them. God, you are so good!

I am so excited to see what other plans God has for my church in Africa. This morning a VBS preview video was shown and my spirit whispered, next year your church should take VBS to Africa. Later this afternoon someone texted me that the same idea had been discussed in the kitchen during meal clean-up. How cool would that be?!? I have no idea how that could come together, but I do know that with God all things are possible. So we will wait on Him!

God, you are so good!

*** If you go to my church and did not get a card, I do have more ideas about how you could help! Let me know if you are interested.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Shhh! Don't tell!

Krissy and Jamison are away on a ski trip this weekend. They sent me these photos on my cellphone so that Joshua could see what they look like skiing/snowboarding. I am using these photos without permission, so they may disappear soon... (Help me out and leave a comment telling Krissy that you love to see her smiling face and maybe, just maybe the picture will stay!)
Krissy's picture has been removed at her request.
Krissy just texted that they had to close the slopes early because it was too foggy to ski safely! You can pray for the youth group leaders who now have a little extra (unplanned for) time with a bunch of tired and sore teenagers! They drive home tomorrow, so hopefully the fog lifts! I have been busy today getting some information ready for a project that I get to introduce tomorrow at my church. I am REALLY EXCITED about the project - God willing my church will be too! I will share all about it with you tomorrow.

Friday, March 25, 2011

He makes me laugh!

The way he processes crack me up...

  • This week we had YET ANOTHER snowstorm. Joshua responded, "Mommy, Joshua I hate it snow. Pleasie make it go away. Joshua I want camping!"
  • A few days later he told me, "Mommy put it snow in booster chair (time out!)! Snow naughty!"
  • This evening he met the mother of one of his favorite adults. His question for me, "When (our friend) was a tiny baby, did he drink that mommy's boob?" (Thankfully, it was whispered into my ear!) But the question behind the question surprised me. What he really wanted to know was if the mother he met had always been our friends mother OR if he, like Joshua, had a different mother when he was a tiny baby. He is so smart and such a thinker for one so young!
Happy Friday! If you do not have a three year old to crack you up, rent a funny movie this weekend. Laughter is highly underrated!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Our Leading Lady

Sierra's big show was this evening. I have to admit that I was a bit emotional about it all day. You see, this show began as a prayer for her. She really wanted this part. There are about 100 kids in her grade and she was very nervous about auditions. She asked me to pray with her that she would do her best, while also telling God that the desire of her heart was to have the lead. She was SOOO excited to receive it. She was also so humble and thankful that God had granted her the desire of her heart.

She then practiced her sweet heart out in order to be ready for tonight.

Here she is all dressed and ready to be "the stowaway!"
Posing with one of he best friends, Sydney.
Krissy was so amazing tonight. She did Sierra's hair and make-up. Then she went with Sierra to set up at 5:15 in order to make sure we got great seats. She saved us all seats until we got there at 6:30. (Krissy hates it when I snap her photo, she did allow this one of her and Joshua hand in hand.)
The show did not start until 7, so we brought along a few electronics to keep everyone occupied until the curtain rose.

It was a pirate show, the entire stage was covered by a pirate ship.
Sierra had A LOT of lines to memorize and several solos. She was amazing. She was poised, sang beautifully, remembered all her lines, and acted with enthusiasm.
Her classmates were equally wonderful. It was a very well done show. High School Musical does not have too much over this bunch!
We are proud of you Sierra. You did an incredible job tonight. I look forward to many more evenings watching you perform. May you always remember from whom your talent comes.


Insight 2: Simplify Your Life from Tapestry on Vimeo.

When I look back over our journey in these past months, my one regret is that I did not feel EMPOWERED to simplify. We did simplify, but I did not feel empowered during that time. I felt stressed. Stressed because so many wanted to know, hold, and enjoy Joshua - while we requested they wait.

Now that it is pretty much over, I am really proud of the hard decisions we made. I am proud and thankful that we worked so hard to parent in a new, different, fairly isolated way. Chad and I have no doubt that it was exactly what we all needed. My regret is that I could not trust myself. I regret that I felt so totally stressed by the disapproval of a few people. Those months of simplified family time were so beautiful. We all grew incredibly close and made so many wonderful memories. It is unfortunate that I did not fully embrace each moment. I did not sink in and savor them nearly as much as I should have. Instead I rushed. I questioned my instincts. I felt guilty.

So my advice to you? Don't rush. Don't feel guilty. Don't question... even if others do. Those first months together can not be redone. There is no rewind button. If you need to simplify, do it joyfully. Savor every moment. Trust your instincts. And if your decisions are not popular or understood, by all means let it go!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Snow Day

While the calendar may say it is spring... our weather had another idea! Way up north, we received 8+ inches of wet, heavy, drifting snow. While we are NOT happy to have more white stuff, the kids and I were thrilled to have a snow day! (Snow days do not happen often here. During the years Krissy has been in school they have only been dismissed because of snow one other times!)

So just what did we do with this unexpected day off?

We began the morning with "real" breakfast - pancakes, sausage, eggs, and juice.
School mornings the kids fend for themselves, so hot homemade pancakes were a hit!
Sierra and Joshua worked some puzzles, while mommy ran on the treadmill!!!
Daddy does snow removal so he worked from midnight to 3:15 this afternoon. He did get home just in time to share a nap with Joshua.
After nap Joshua talked Brenna into playing outside with him. She was unbelievable kind and patient.
He follows her everywhere and copies everything she does! She loves it... most of the time, anyway!
Joshua was not sure about sliding down. Brenna tried to reassure him that she would hold his hands and keep him safe, but he was not budging.
So she climbed up and gave him a ride down the slide! (Tonight when we said mah tah mah tah prayers, Joshua thanked God that "Joshua no stuck slide. Brenna help you Joshua down. Joshua I love it Brenna help you!)
She is such a joy!
I heard Brenna telling a friend recently that Joshua gets all the attention. I was a bit concerned that she was feeling left out, so I questioned her about it later. She explained that she meant SHE gives Joshua all her attention, she just loves him SOOOO much!
Jamison's idea of a perfect day off... all he needs is a blanket, a recliner, and a remote control.
This is a typical scene in our family room. The older four kids are trying to watch TV and Joshua is playing something noisy. This scenario drives us all crazy! Joshua just wants to play, a very appropriate desire. The older kids just want to hear their program, totally understandable. I just want everyone to get along, typical momma!
Jamison finally got off the chair and cleaned his room! He hates cleaning so I had to snap a picture of him racing around with the vacuum.
The cleaning energized him, so he was ready for a little one on one with Gubs.
My boys love to play ball. Joshua told me he is "really good basketball boy, just like his Jay!"

We had a very enjoyable snow day, but I am still more than ready for spring!

***Pray for Sierra tomorrow. She will be the leading lady in her 5th grade musical. She has many lines and several solos. She is getting more nervous by the minute! She even explained that we have to excuse her for talking so much, she just can not help it when she is nervous!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yafi's Family... a book to buy!

You all know I am a reader. I love books! Last week I ordered a stack, some for me and some for Joshua. This one came today.

It is a MUST BUY if you have an Ethiopian child. Joshua loved that it told a story similar to his. He loved the conversations that take place in the book. It is a book that he will continue to understand and enjoy more and more as he grows a bit older, but it was not too old for the moment either. It is a book that encourages conversation, memories, and connection.

I loved that it tells the story of another little boy who is trying to figure out what it is to have two families. I love that it tells of another little boy grieving. I love that it shows pictures of another family that looks like ours. I love it that it works to honor and connect Yafi's Ethiopian family AND his adoptive family. Neither is forgotten. I love the conversations that happened between my son and I as a result of this book.

To read more about it click here.

To purchase Yafi's family and many other wonderful Ethiopian resources, go to Amharic Kids.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Children of God video

For my friends that have not seen this one yet!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mommy Ministry

I have been heavily involved in children's ministry for the past 14 years. As an elementary education major turned stay-at-home mom, teach Bible truths to children at our church has been the perfect way to indulge in my love of teaching and my love of Jesus. Over the years I have served in a variety of positions, some paid, others not. I have read many books, reviewed much curriculum, attended a zillion meetings, taught bunches of lessons, traveled to a couple of conferences, and spent hours and hours in prayer on behalf of the kids of our congregation.

In the last two years of so, I have felt God shifting my focus away from ALL the kids of our church and onto MY kids. I have felt Him asking me how much I share about Him with them? How many lessons have I planned with My kids in mind? When was the last time we had devotions as a family?

As a children's ministry worker my kids had seen and heard me lead many lessons directed at them AND the rest of the kids at our church. They do know my heart. They had heard me pray and share my passion for Jesus. I have helped them learn Bible verses, brought them to program practices, and volunteered to chaperon for church lock-ins. Pretty good, right!

I thought so.

I recently read, "One Million Arrows" by Julie Ferwerda. One chapter kept me awake for two nights in a row as I processed all I had read. Did you know that:
  • 3 out of 4 Christian young people leave church for good by their second year of college
  • for the past 30 years youth ministry programs have exploded all across America, they are superb. Yet in the same 30 years, those superb programs have failed to produce a generation of young people who graduate ready to change the world from Christ.
  • The faith retention rate is not highest among those in youth groups; it is highest among those whose parents (especially fathers) disciple them.
  • Most Christian parents today rely on the superb programming of the church to provide ALL religious training for their children. They do not have a PLAN or GOALS for the spiritual growth of their kids. They leave that up to the "more qualified" staff at their church.
  • However, the responsibility for raising kids who will become believers who continually seek to deepen their relationship with Christ, impact others for Christ, and accept the Bible as truth falls on parents!

Psalm 78:4-8 (selected)

"We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation

about the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will tell of His power

and the mighty miracles He did.

He commanded our ancestors to teach (His decrees) to their children,

so the next generation might know them - even the children not

born yet- that they might in turn teach their children.

So each new generation can set its hope anew on God,

remembering His glorious miracles and obeying His commands.

Then they will not be like their ancestors - stubborn, rebellious,

unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God."

This verse and several others pierced my heart and mind. On one hand, I argued that I WAS teaching my children. On the other, I realized that what I was teaching MY kids was the curriculum that went with whatever program our church had selected. While I go to a church with a great children's ministry, and I think the curriculum we use is wonderful, it was not written for MY kids. I also was not delivering it to MY kids but to a group of their peers which they happened to be a part of.

The following verse convicted me to be more intentional about teaching MY kids.

"After that generation died, another generation grew up
who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty
things He had done for Israel."
Judges 2:10
I think sometimes we get so caught up in raising kids that we forget we are really raising the next generation of adults! With all my heart I want my children to become adults who make a difference in our world, who live and serve boldly in the name of Christ.

In her book, One Million Arrows, Julie Ferderwa talks about raising adults who will be arrows for Christ. They will be sharp, strong, and true. They will be ready to be shot into any mission field. They will be determined and courageous. They will be prepared to battle for Jesus in whatever capacity He needs.

I want to be that kind of parent. I want to be preparing my kids to be servants of the King. But how?

For me one of the starting points is to talk about faith matters clearly. For instance, Sierra is really struggling with friendships right now. She is angry and hurt about some things. In the past I would have talked to her about forgiving them because "it is the right thing to do." In my quest to be specific and to use every possible opportunity to share His truth with her, I showed her a specific verse about forgiveness. No big discussion or lecture, I just simply read her the verse so she would know what God expects, prayed with her, and we went on with our day.

Another starting point occurred tonight we gathered with four other families for an hour of family worship. We sang songs, did a simple Bible lesson, and prayed a blessing over each family member. It was nice. It was a beginning of sorts, a first date so to speak. I suspect as we practice it will become more comfortable, more personal, more holy, and less scripted. But it represents a change in my heart. Tonight, I shared community with my kids, instead of leaving them with a sitter so that I could learn. I had the great joy of hearing their voices singing to Jesus. I had the honor of having my daughter pray a blessing over me.

(By the way, I do know that I need to meet with adults to learn and be challenged as well. I am not saying leaving kids to grow and learn is bad!)

If you are a parent wishing to raise adults who will change the world for Christ, I highly recommend "One Million Arrows." It challenged me. It made me think. It inspired me to (hopefully) be more and do more. I think it is an excellent read for any parent, pastor, youth leader, or children's ministry worker.

If you are involved in church leadership, I would also recommend the book "Shift" by Brian Haynes. It discusses how to engage and empower and encourage parents to BE the spiritual leaders God designed them to be. It is not a parenting book, but a church strategy book. It is a good read if that is your mission.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength. These commands that I give you today
are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk
along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
Deuteronomy 6:5-7

I am working on being more focused in this command. To look into my kids' hearts, needs, and behaviors in order to plan talks that will challenge them and help them grow. I always want to take advantage of moments that just happen and answer questions as they come, but for me to take it to the next level means more intentionality!

Friday, March 18, 2011

No Fair!

In the last months, Joshua and I have had a recurring conversation that hurts his heart. He is struggling with the fact that he was never in my tummy.

When this fact first came up, his reaction was relief. It was much easier to trust me when he knew I was his "new" mommy.

He was only about 15 mo. old (according to the limited information we have) when he was forever separated from his Ethiopian mommy. Based on his NEED to be held, his desire to feel skin to skin contact, and his curiosity (to put it mildly) about nursing, I am positive that he has sensory memories of being held and snuggled and nursed by his Ethiopian mother. He does not have any concrete memories of her. In fact at the moment he is confuses the nannies that cared for him after he was relinquished with his Ethiopian mommy.

He does not have fond memories of the nannies. We are forever indebted to them for making sure he was safe, getting him nutrition, and encouraging his growth at a terribly difficult time in his life. I am sure they did the best they knew how to do, and I realize that even the very best child care center is NOT a place for a child to grow up feeling adored, unique, and special. That said, Joshua does not remember anything warm and fuzzy about his time in their care. The memories he is able to verbalize are scary or lonely ones.

So when talk of babies being born comes up, he is not a happy boy. He is a boy who is confused and grieving.

He desperately wants me to be able to change the story, to be able to tell him he was in my tummy. In fact, when given the chance, he crawls in and pretends it is true!

This is Joshua pretending to be a tiny baby in mommy's tummy. Krissy thought he was so crazy that she had to snap a picture. He did not feel crazy though, he was thrilled. He cuddled up under my big old sweatshirt and sucked his thumb until I was so hot I could not stand it!

But eventually, the pretending stops, and we have to talk about the truth. The truth is that Joshua had a very special mommy in Ethiopia. I am sure she loved him and hugged him and took the best care of him she could. I never want to dishonor her role in Joshua Gebeyehu's life.

I also never want to dishonor Joshua's grief and longing. So when he tells me, "No FAIR!!! Joshua want be in thissie mommy's tummy! No I like it Ethiopia mommies." I respond with lots of hugs and snuggles. I whisper that I would have been thrilled to have him in my tummy, but God had another plan. I remind him that the nannies were not his Ethiopian mommy. I tell him I am sorry he was sad and lonely. I am sorry that the nanny were not "nicey girls." Empathy, honesty, prayers, and hugs are the only gifts I have to give my baby.

These conversations creep up all the time. You can not hide from grief or from the truth, but I believe when they are faced and embraced healing occurs.

I love you sooooo much, Joshua Gebeyehu Chad D. I get sad too that you were not in my tummy. I get sad when I think of the pain and loneliness in your early life. I have my own wishes, too. I wish I could have met her. I wish I could have seen the way she looked at you and held you. I wish I could have told her how I treasure you... You are right, it is not fair. However, I am forever grateful that God connected your heart with mine. I am so thankful that HE chose us to be together. Thank you for trusting me with your pain. Thank you for letting me hold you and comfort you and pray for you. Jesus said, "Blessed are they that mourn for they will be comforted." You can trust in Him.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Coffee, Cats, and Kitchen Jam Sessions

It has been a busy week, one in which my brain has been busier than my schedule! I am working on sorting through a bunch of thoughts, conversations, and possibilities. In the meantime, I need to take just a moment to document, and thus remember, some oh-so-sweet moments that happened in the midst of it all.

Mornings are typically crazy! We have a system, and all goes pretty well, but it is BUSY! Too busy to dance... except for Wednesday. This Wednesday we were ready 7 minutes early! We celebrated by putting in a great CD and jamming out in the kitchen!

It made my whole day better!

Joshua and I took the day off today. We dropped the girls off at school and then took a little road trip to visit Auntie Teresa. Before we hit the highway, daddy treated us to Starbucks. Joshua was BEYOND thrilled. He loves coffee, so a decaf latte made his morning.

(Watching Joshua drink coffee is always bittersweet for me. It has been obvious since day one that he is an "experienced" coffee drinker. When I questioned Abebe about it, he confirmed that when children in the villages of Ethiopia are hungry they are commonly given coffee. He said the warmth and caffeine made them feel a bit better. While he did not recommend we continue this practice, coffee is a soothing treat for Joshua. He loves to sneak a sip from my cup! I figure a decaf latte is probably not much better or worse than a cup of hot cocoa, so he is allowed "coffee milk" from time to time. However, my heart always hurts for a little guy he once was as I see him smiling over the rim of his cup.)

Joshua was very excited to go to Auntie Teresa's house. We have spent a lot of time with her, but we have never been to her house. Brenna and Sierra have told him all about it though!

He was most excited to meet Auntie Teresa's cat. He had met her dogs, but the cat remained a mystery. He made me laugh out loud for half a day as he practiced the cat's name, Nickel. His first tries came out as "Nipple." You can imagine how hilarious it was to hear him brag that he was going to get to see "Auntie Teresa's Nipple." Yep, we got that corrected in short order!
So here he is sizing up the pretty kitty.

They became friends! His favorite part of the day was playing with Nickel.

A few other moments I want to remember:
  • Joshua went with his daddy and I to do some shopping. When we got into the vehicle Chad walked around to open my door for me. As Chad was walking around the SUV to his door Joshua asked,"Why daddy open the door for mommy?" I explained that really nice boys open doors for girls to be kind. When we got home, Joshua INSISTED on getting unbuckled and then crawling into the front seat and onto my lap. He wanted to make sure mommy knew he was a "nicey boy." He sat on my lap and proudly opened the door for me. (sniff, sniff)
  • I asked Joshua if mommy loves him this week. He responded, "Mommy, I love you Joshua SOOOOOO MUCH!"
  • One of his favorite new sayings is, "Mommy Give Me Your LIPS!" I am supposed to respond, "Joshua Give Me Your LIPS!" Then we kiss and giggle.
  • Joshua loves to have me (or anyone for that matter) watch his tricks. He yells, "Mommy, watchie this." If the trick works, I am supposed to clap. If not, he quickly says, "Not Yet. Watchie THIS!"
  • Joshua loves to tattle on everyone. His most common phrase is, "no really nice!" This morning Brenna told him he better wear green or he would be pinched. He came to me in tears because "no really nice pinch Joshua!" (We found some green and no one pinched Joshua!)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough aka Motivation

The kids enjoyed a long weekend. Although it was called spring break it was HOPEFULLY the last long weekend of winter.

Soooo what keeps the D clan occupied and smiling on a long weekend?

For Jamison it is all about late nights, sleeping in, and video games. His current favorite is NBA something or other. He will play for hours and hours.
Riley... don't you just wish to be a dog?
Chad loves to surf the net and watch TV. He is currently scoping out deals on camping and boating equipment. We are all very excited for camping season to begin. Today as we walked into Walmart on DRY! SNOW FREE! pavement, Joshua said, "Snow melting! Camping time! YEAH!!!!!"
Sierra and Krissy (but Krissy refuses photos) enjoy a trip to the mall. Sierra always buys a big jug of soda and cheetos. She also loves bath and body mini hand sanitizers?! And see those snazzy socks? So funky! So Sierra!
Yep, she chugs it straight from the jug. No worries about having to share then!
I love this shot, because this grin is SO Sierra!

While everyone else lounged, Brenna WORKED!

Without me asking, Brenna chose to sweep and mop the main level of our house.

She dusted everything.
She cleaned and organized the mud room.
She vacuumed the stairs.

So I asked what I could do to reward her?

Her response was... make cookie dough!
Her first crack at cracking eggs.
Running the mixer, all by herself!
Joshua woke up in time to stir in the chocolate chips.
YES... I did give her this whole container of dough to eat (not at one sitting though)!

She said it was worth all the work!
Joshua liked it too!

So what is the magic cookie dough that turns 7 year old girls into cleaning machines?

Here is our favorite Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie recipe.
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups butter flavor crisco
3 beaten eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup quick oatmeal
3 1/4 cups flour
1/2 package chocolate chips

Cream sugars, shortening, and eggs really well. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350* for about 10 minutes.

My family likes warm-from-the-oven cookies best. So, I bake one pan of cookies and freeze the rest of the dough. If you freeze dough in a container in teaspoon size balls, you can pull them out of the freezer and have hot and fresh cookies any time! If your kids like cookie dough as much as mine do, you may have to HIDE it in a sneaky spot in the freezer or it will disappear!

I hope these cookies get your housework done too! It was sure much more fun making cookies with Brenna than scrubbing the floor. I am so thankful for my little worker bee!

Monday, March 14, 2011

She Still Needs A MOMMY!

I read this earlier today and it will not leave me at bedtime, so I will pass it on.

The agency that did our homestudy is now supporting an orphanage in Haiti. One of the volunteers there blogs. She posted about the birthday party she attended for a teenage girl. This girl turned 15, just like my Krissy will shortly. But instead of being thrilled about turning 15, she was devastated.


Because she only has one year left... one year until she turns 16 and becomes too old for adoption. One year before her hope for parents are dashed once and for all.

You can read about her party at the link below. (I dare you! I understand wanting to skip this link, but I dare you to feel her pain and read her story.)

Somewhere Between Who I Was And Who You're Making Me: Mommy: "Tonight we celebrated a big birthday for one of the girls at a local orphanage. She turned 15 and while we sang to her, in the dim light of ..."

Haiti requires that adoptive parents are 35, have been married 10 years, and have two or less biological children in the home. (Some exceptions are made.) We do not qualify for this program, but perhaps you do. Perhaps you are the answer to this girl's prayers.

If she keeps you awake at night, pray for her at minimum. But maybe, just maybe you are called to do MORE than pray? For more information about adoption in Haiti, click here.

Father God, I pray Your blessing over this young girl. Please grant her her heart's desire... an earthly mom and dad. Grant her hope, grace, and peace as she waits.

Working in Workouts

For the better part of this winter, I chose not to exercise. For many people this would be a cop-out, for me it was a sacrifice. I love to work out. I feel more capable, more confident, more energetic, and more positive when I am exercising regularly. So deciding NOT to workout was difficult.

What made me decide this? Trying to schedule a work-out became so difficult and frustrating that I decided for a short time I needed to give it up. Our kids' activity schedule was crazy for a couple months, making evening workouts out of the question. My treadmill has been moved into the family room, making early morning workouts impossible. The kids fought like crazy when I tried to workout after school. Joshua still NEEDED mommy the moment he woke up in the morning. Chad needed some time with me after the younger kids were in bed. Trust me, I had examined all angles and I just needed to take a break.

In the past two weeks, I have begun to workout again. I feel like a part of me that was lost is found! It has been found, but still compromised. In order to exercise, I have to be up by about 5 AM. I can not run on the treadmill, which is my true love, as it is too noisy. I only have 30 to 45 minutes to complete my workout.

One thing I realized recently is that my kids have forgotten how to behave while I am on the treadmill or working out. I have never had a membership to a gym and the older kids were "trained" early on that while mom was on the treadmill, leave her alone. I am really, really good at being interrupted... EXCEPT while I am working out. Being interrupted mid-run makes me MAD. (Which is one of the reasons I decided to take a break! Joshua was not ready to be expected to leave mommy alone for 30 to 45 minutes. It was unfair and unrealistic to ask it of him. It made me crazy when he would interrupt me while I was running, so since I could not "play nice" I needed to take a break!)

So I have begun to "retrain" them. There was no school this morning, so I traded 35 minutes on the treadmill for a ride to the mall for the big sisters. I reminded them that while I am not proud of it, treadmill interruptions bring the worst out of me! They agreed to keep Joshua (and themselves) busy while I ran! They kept reminding Joshua that mommy is almost done, she can not talk when she is breathing so hard, just 10 more minutes... I kept my Ipod turned up and did my best to relax. In the end, I did have to get off the treadmill once or twice - but all in all it was one of the most relaxing runs I have had in months.

So... what is my point? Sometimes even good things have to be done in moderation (or put on hold) in order to maintain family balance. Many times we have to "train" or kids... give them specific instructions on what we expect of them... in order to do the things we love. Compromise is hard. I get bugged sometimes by "all I have given up" as a mom. But then I remember to look around and see that I have been given so much more than I have ever "given up." I am living proof that "the best of both worlds" means compromising like crazy!

Anybody have a favorite 30 to 45 minute workout video? It is time to build up my library.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Break?

Our kids are out of school today for "Spring break"

It is looking pretty springy, don't you think?

YUCK! We are really ready for grass and sunshine way up north!