Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

May your Christmas be peaceful, and surrounded by those you love!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Random Craziness At Our House


I'm considering having an IV port inserted in my arm so that I can take my coffee intravenously.  I feel like the last six months of "tired" are all catching up with me this week.

Someone is "making eggs"--by pounding on a plastic ball with a toy hammer. ( They say children imitate what they see--I don't think I've EVER made eggs with a hammer.)

No gifts are wrapped at my house yet.  I HATE wrapping presents.  Somebody want to come do it for me?

My son just asked me what 5 minus 8 is?  Really?????

Another child of mine informed me that yogurt does not count as breakfast.  Apparently we need to have something else for breakfast.

There is a twenty pound turkey brining in a bucket on the front porch.  Poor thing!

Where is the snow?  Have I mentioned that I would like to see some snow?

How do I keep an exuberant two year old from dropping his pants to show EVERYONE his "big boy undies?"

I'm ready for Christmas--really I am.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When I Couldn't Pray

I told you last week that we had a court date coming up for our foster children.

I also mentioned that this was a pretty pivotal hearing.

To be a little more specific it was a hearing to terminate birth mom's rights.

My way of handling stressful situations like that is outward calm with lots of inner turmoil. (and stomach ulcers )

Our social worker had warned us that termination hearing's are usually quite long 4-5 hours or more--so we were heavily fortified with prayer, and some "clench-jawed" determination.

What we weren't prepared for was the animosity from the birth family toward us.

I guess it makes sense--we have their children--hence we are the villains.

It doesn't make it easy to deal with though.

The hallway that we were waiting in prior to the hearing was filled with a lot of profanity, and angry comments--all directed at us.

I was stressed out enough that I couldn't even get my thoughts together to form a prayer in my mind.

I tried repeatedly, and finally gave up--hoping that

someone

somewhere

was praying for us.

As we were preparing to enter the court room I felt almost opressed--I wondered how I was going to survive 4-5 hours of this.

We found our seats, and an odd feeling of calm surrounded me.

I felt almost peaceful.

I felt protected.

Like SOMEONE had put their arms around me.

The feeling lasted through the entire trial.

Which, by the way, only lasted  45 MINUTES!!

Later when I told my friend about this she asked when the hearing had started.

I told her it was almost an hour later than scheduled.

She chuckled and said,

"I looked at the clock--thought you were an hour into it, and prayed you would feel God's presence."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Music of the Season




My favorite part of this time of year is the music.

Christmas carols always bring back frosty memories of caroling until I couldn't feel my feet, and waking up the next morning with a sore throat.

There is something very poignant about the message in Christmas music--especially during such a dark time of year.

The older I get though the more I realize that it's not just the music--it's the memories attached to them.

I can never hear Bing Crosby belting out "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" without thinking of my grandma's house on Christmas day.  She must have liked Bing a lot--she had quite a few of his records.

The Christmas songs I love best though are the ones that speak of Jesus' birth.

~~~~~~

"O Little Town of Bethlehem"

"Silent Night"

"O Beautiful Star of Bethlehem"

~~~~~~

Even if all the lyrics to these carols may not be entirely theologically correct they point us toward the real meaning of Christmas--Christ's birth.

Do you enjoy Christmas music?  What are some of your favorites?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What Today Holds

There is a court hearing this afternoon. 

This hearing is a "biggie"--don't know how else to say it. 

I'm a person who HATES conflict.

Stuff like this stresses me out!

The words to this song keep running through my head.


"Strong Enough"

You must
You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through

Well, forgive me
Forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be
everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not stong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
For the both of us

Well, maybe
Maybe that's the point
To reach the point of giving up

Cause when I'm finally
Finally at rock bottom
Well, that's when I start looking up
And reaching out

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not stong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

Cause I'm broken
Down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God
and you are strong
When I am weak

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

Oh, yeah

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not stong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
Strong enough
 
-Matthew West

Monday, December 12, 2011

Written In Blue

I'm really enjoying these Memorial Box Monday's

My Mother-In-Law gave me permission to share this story with you.

Several years ago she read in a daily devotional book that if you are doubting God's love you should ask Him to specifically show His love for you in a certain color. 

This idea stuck with her, and so she asked God to show her his love in the color BLUE.

The day proceeded without any special circumstances, and she did her housework.  Frequently she would wonder  "Had God heard her prayer?"

As the day was drawing to a close her heart felt heavy--she hadn't seen anything unusual in the color blue, and she felt sad.

About this time my father-in-law came to the door and urgently called her to come outside. 

They have a beautiful pond in their back yard, and he hurried her toward it.

.....And there beside the pond



was a whole mass of Japanese Irises.....



in the most vibrant shade of blue she had ever seen.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The First Snack of the Season


Party Mix is pretty much a "given" around our house at Christmas time.
1 (12.8oz.) box Rice Chex
1 (12.8 oz.) box Corn Chex
1 (15 oz.) bag mini twist pretzels
2 small cans mixed nuts.
Toss together in large stainless steel bowl.
Melt 2 sticks of butter in saucepan, and add.
2 T. dry celery
3 T. dry parsley
2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. red pepper
4 T. worcestershire sauce
Toss over the cereal mixture, and bake at 250 degrees for one hour stirring every 15 minutes.
Cool, and add about 1 quart Multi-grain Cheerios.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Help



As the holidays are approaching I'm digging through my recipe box.

I'm looking for one specific thing.

Recipes for holiday goodies and snacks................

that can be made simply.

As in--in between

diapers,

and potty training,

and homeschooling,

and laundry,

and dishes,

and dusting,

and sweeping,

and mopping,

and nose wiping,

and egg washing........................

you get the idea.

Then I had this brilliant thought.

I'll ask all my friends in bloggy world.

So---how about it?

I need simple snacky recipes--got any?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hearing HIS Voice


There have been moments in my life when God has spoken to me in a still small voice.

 There have been moments when he has shouted my name.

 But the moments I love best are when He speaks through circumstances that can not be explained away.

As I've mentioned before my husband is adopted. One of the things that is unique to adoption is that sometimes a child has their name changed when they move to their new home.  In my husbands case this was true--he actually got to choose his new name, but that's a whole other story.  Anyway, not many people know his birth name, but he told me what it was when we were dating.  I didn't think too much about it at the time--just stored it away in my memory.

When we pursued adoption for the first time we prayed that God would somehow let us know when "our" baby came along.  We would get calls about a particular baby, and we always prayed that same prayer.

Then one day we received a call about a little 9 month old boy.  My heart pounded as the social worker gave me details over the phone.  She told me about his background--the foster family he was with--what he looked like, and the name the foster family had given him.  Then she spoke some words that froze me in my tracks.  She said, "his birth name is............."  I must have gasped audibly for she asked what was wrong. 

"That was my husbands birth name" I said, and that's when I heard it.

"This one is YOURS!"

Monday, December 5, 2011

20 Days Till Christmas


I've been feeling a bit of a panic as Christmas is coming closer.

I have almost all my shopping done.

I have some Christmas decorations up around the house.

..................but there is no snow.

~~~~~~~~


I can't get in the mood for Christmas without snow.

Christmas caroling on green grass is just not right.

Going out in the dark night to the Christmas program at church with no white drifts covering the fields will feel strange.

Wrapping presents after the munchkins are tucked in bed won't be right if there isn't a soft white glow coming through the window from the yard light shining on a few snowbanks.

I don't even feel like baking Christmas cookies.

(I'm never moving to Florida!)

How about you--do you need snow for it to feel like Christmas?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Of All The Things I've Lost.......

........I miss my mind the most.

I've become so scatterbrained lately.

It seems like I'm always thinking about two things--what I'm actually doing, and what I should do next.

I fill out important paperwork, and then can't remember where I put it.

I accomplish some chore, and then lay in bed at night trying desperately to remember if I actually did it.

I start to tell my husband a funny story, and half-way through it I forget what I was talking about.

I notice that someone needs their diaper changed, and then forget to do it. (Thankfully everyone else it the house reminds me, or they might never get their diaper changed.)

I was feeling rather depressed about the state of my mind, and pondering what I could do about it, but I got distracted by a wayward toddler, and after caring for him I couldn't remember what I was depressed about.

I guess losing your mind has some good points after all.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sleeping?



There were people sleeping all over our house last night.(No pigs--I just liked the picture.)

Unfortunately, most of them were not in their own beds.

At least one of them was in MY bed. (scowl)

I got up this morning and it looked like we had a slumber party.

Children sacked out on the couch, and the futon and the floor.

When I asked them why--none of them could answer me.

Except to say they didn't sleep good.

Funny thing is--I didn't sleep that well either.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Quote


"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."              
  ~John F. Kennedy

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving always makes me feel rather nostalgic. ( Actually most holidays do, but currently Thanksgiving is on my mind.)

Here's a few of my favorite Thanksgiving memories.

Remembering the smell of turkey and stuffing that always permeated my grandma's house on Thanksgiving Day.

One year we had Thanksgiving at my Aunt and Uncle's house about 2 hours away from home.  In the afternoon it started snowing, and by the time we headed home it was almost blizzard conditions.  We crept along the highway and cars were sliding in the ditch all around us.

I remember waking up in the wee hours of the morning and hearing the oven door squeak as my mom put the turkey in the oven.  Somehow that sound made me feel cozy and safe.

We found out seven years ago on the day before Thanksgiving that we would be able to adopt our second son.  I cried my thanksgiving over and over that year. 

Now that I've had Thanksgiving dinner at my house a few times I realize how much work goes into a Thanksgiving dinner.  Makes me thankful when I'm invited somewhere else for Thanksgiving. :)

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving memories?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Adjusting

Someone asked in the comments how our adjustment to foster parenting has gone.  Since we've never done this before I really have nothing to compare it to, but I'll do my best.

Probably the hardest thing has been some sleep issues.  For the first seven weeks they were here the baby got up every three hours like a newborn.  That was pretty rough. 

I can catch myself over-analyzing our family.  I hear a little squabble and I panic over how my adopted children are not "accepting" the foster kids.  Then I realize ALL children squabble, and ALL families have a certain amount of spatting back and forth.  If they were sweet to each other all the time it wouldn't be real.

I've had to adjust to cooking more, or at least having less left-overs.  These little guys can EAT!  A 9x13 pan of food no longer makes two meals for us.

All-in-all though these children are just normal little people.  Granted they've been through a lot in their short little lives, but they and we have adjusted well. 

They came with no guarantees, and there are lots of unknowns in their future, but last time I checked no child is born with guarantees.

I think most parents would admit that parenting has thrown them a few curve balls, and foster parenting is no exception to this rule.

Basically none of us has the promise that tomorrow will be perfect, or that there are not unseen challenges waiting for us around the bend.

We do have the promise that we don't have to face any adjustments or challenges alone.

"Lo, I am with you always." Matthew 28:20

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Of Boys and Football



Football is the current game of choice in our house.


Only it's not your typical tackle football.


It's indoor football.


With a pillow pet for a football.


There is no age limit--I know this because the 15month old just waddled past me clutching the "football", and chuckling gleefully.

The two year old mostly just yells "hut, hut" at the top of his lungs, and when the ball is passed to him he flings it skyward in a random sort of way.

There is lots of crashing, and rolling on the floor.

A few cries of "that's not how you're supposed to play."

And a loud boyish boistrousness that surrounds the whole game.

The noise bothers me a little.

The crashing and rolling worries me some.

But I've decided to ignore it.

After all---boys will be boys.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Drowning In Clothes

Lately I've been a little overwhelmed with clothing.  Don't get me wrong--I'm thankful that we have clothes, but sometimes I think we have too many.

My 9 and 7 year old boys have approximately 10 "every day" shirts each.  However they only like about 3 or 4 of them.  (Who knew that boys were that particular about clothes.)  Anyway, they shuffle through their stacks of shirts and some fall on the floor and some get wadded up in the back of their dresser, and the result is a very crabby mommy--when she puts clean laundry away.

So..............yesterday I put my foot down.  I even told them I was putting my foot down.  They looked a little nervous, but till it was all said and done I think they like the new system.

I pulled all their clothes out of their cupboard/dresser.  I was washing their clothes yesterday--so I did this as I was folding the clean clothes.  I sorted through them and saved out six or seven pairs of pants, and the same number of shirts--making sure that it included their "favorites".

 Next I paired them together.  Instead of having a stack of shirts, and a stack of pants I now had one stack of outfits.  This wasn't hard to do because they mostly wear blue jeans, and so all their pants are interchangeable with all their shirts.  Now they can pull a pair of pants, and a shirt out of their cupboard with very little effort.

There were no extra pants, but the extra shirts I plan to pass on to another family, or give to Goodwill.  I've come to the conclusion that too many clothes do not make my life simpler.  I do laundry several times a week--so this should not be a problem.

I'm curious, how do other moms handle the clothing monster?  Am I being ridiculous to think my children only need 5 or 6 outfits each?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How Embarrassing


I usually do my grocery shopping in the evenings after my husband is home.  Each of the children take turns going along with me, and it's always a fun time of connecting with whoever goes along.

Last night after we finished an early supper I headed out into the rainy night with my second child in tow.  I hurried out the door making sure I had my list, my wallet, and the van keys.  I was feeling extra organized, and happy over all the things I had accomplished that day.

Once we arrived at the grocery store I breezed through my shopping while chatting with my son.  There were some good sales on items I needed and I quickly filled my cart. 

As I was hurrying up to the checkout counter I reached for my purse to ready my debit card for a quick swipe.  I scrabbled through my purse in dismay as I realized that I had left the debit card AT HOME. 

Thoroughly humiliated I explained my plight to the checkout clerk, and asked if I could set my cart aside and run home to retrieve the card.  I mumbled something about my foggy brain, and my son loudly agreed.  "She forgets everything!"  he announced grinning widely.

How embarrassing!!

I totally deserve this outspoken son of mine.  I was the child in my family who blabbed secrets to everyone, and talked when I should have remained silent. 

Being on the receiving end of a child's painful honesty stings a little though.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Quiet Time



One of the things that I long for as a mom--is quiet.

I mean silence.

Where there is no noise except the faucet dripping.

With six people living in our home it is very rarely quiet.

Sometimes I get so focused on moving from one activity to the next.

That I forget that we ALL need "down time."

We like each other better after we have all been still for a while each day.

My younger foster babies take naps.

My older boys look at books, or rest quietly.

I sometimes just sit and do nothing.

Or read blogs. :)

But we all function better with a little quiet each day.

How about your family? 

Do you need quiet time every day?

Monday, November 7, 2011

When In Doubt Shut Your Mouth



I love to talk.

Maybe I've mentioned that before.

However, there are times when it's better to be quiet.

Yes, this post actually has a connection to Friday's post.

The hearing went pretty much exactly as we expected.

Essentially nothing has changed for now.

There are a few little monkey wrenches that have been thrown into the case.

I could worry.........

But I've decided not to.

Back to the subject at hand........or mouth.

Right before the hearing--a member of my foster children's birth family talked to me.

Actually she asked me one question.

I could have blabbed all sorts of information at her.

Some of it useful--most of it not.

I chose instead to simply answer her question.

I have thought of a hundred different things I could have said, but I doubt they would have improved the situation.

The relationship between foster parents, and birth parents is strained at best.

I think keeping my mouth shut was the right thing to do.

Thank you so much for all your prayers!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Curve In The Pathway


Sometimes, as a foster parent, it can feel like you live from one court date to the next.

Let me explain.

Typically there is a hearing every three months.

Life can move on in between these hearings.

Babies learn to walk.

Toddlers cut new molars.

Just normal family stuff.

You can forget that everything could change in a moment.

But, in the back of your mind.

It's always there.

The curve in the pathway.

That next court date.

You live with the reality that things could get better for the children in your care.

Or much worse.

Tomorrow is our next court date.

Please pray!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Deer Hunter's Wife

Around this time of year my husband starts exhibiting some bizarre behavior. 


He peers out our back windows anxiously--scanning the woods in a paranoid sort of way.


He disappears for hours at a time to the sporting goods department of Wally World.


He spends a lot of time polishing his guns with horrid smelling chemicals.


He mutters about how many fat does he saw in the neighbors corn field on his way home from church.


He checks and double checks his ammunition like he is expecting a herd of deer to randomly bound through our yard.


He inquires repeatedly how much extra space is in our deep freeze.


I don't worry too much about it.  After all he has been doing this kind of thing for every year since I've known him.  It's all part of being married to a deer hunter. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November




N ot many leaves left on the trees.

O ctober and warm days are a distant memory.

V ery brisk wind.

E mpty branches waving their arms.

M any geese flying south.

B ringing thoughts of coming winter.

E ager deer hunters prowling the woods.

R ustling leaves scudding across lawns.

This is what November means to me.  What does November mean to you?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Motherhood

I Corinthians 13 for Mothers (by Jim Fowler)

If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place,
but have not love,
I am a housekeeper, not a homemaker.

If I have time for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements,
but have not love,
my children learn cleanliness, not godliness.

If I scream at my children for every infraction,
and fault them for every mess they make,
but have not love,
my children become people-pleasers, not obedient children.

Love leaves the dust in search of a child’s laugh.

Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window.

Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk.

Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys.

Love accepts the fact that I am the ever-present “mommy,”
the taxi-driver to every childhood event,
the counsellor when my children fail or are hurt.

Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, and runs with the child,
then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood.

Before I became a mother I took glory in my house of perfection.
Now I glory in God’s perfection of my child.

All the projections I had for my house and my children
have faded away into insignificance,
And what remain are the memories of my kids.

Now there abides in my home scratches on most of the furniture,
dishes with missing place settings,
and bedroom walls full of stickers, posters and markings,
But the greatest of all is the Love
that permeates my relationships with my children.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Few Good Reads

I read some extra good blog posts this week.  Thought I would share them with you.


Have you ever wondered if there was something you could do with all those old wooden pallets.  This post is FULL of ideas.  Some practical, and some just pretty--all of them inspiring!
http://newlifeonahomestead.com/2011/10/creative-uses-for-free-wooden-pallets/

If you have more than one child you are always looking for creative ideas for one-on-one time with them.  This post gives a simple/free/quick idea for special time with each child.
http://lifewithapersonalgod.blogspot.com/2011/10/one-on-oneand-then-again.html

I needed this reminder that as a mom I set the mood for my home.
http://stairstepboys.blogspot.com/2011/10/it-starts-with-me.html

A yummy recipe for left over mashed potatoes!
http://lotsofhelpers.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/mashed-potato-pancakes/

Did you read anything interesting this week?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What Kind of Mom Are You


I've been thinking lately--about how I parent. It's so easy for me to get busy, and focus constantly on the next load of laundry or the next pile of dishes.  I forget to take time to have fun.

Permit me a run down memory lane?

 When I was young my dad was a school teacher, and several times a year he had parent/teacher conferences.  This meant that he didn't get home until about 7 or 8 o'clock at night.

I LOVED parent/teacher conference nights--because my mom made them into something fun.  We would have a supper that included foods that were very untypical in our diet.  "Fun food" was what I called them--in reality it was just things like frozen dinners from the grocery store, or hot dogs. 

These were meals that my mom knew my dad was not fond of, and she purposely chose them for us because we thought they were "fun."  It made the whole evening seem like an adventure.

Now that I have a family of my own I do something similar.  My husband drives truck, and he often works long hours during the summer.  I often try to have my house-work done by about 5 o'clock and plan a "fun" evening with the children.  We have our own version of "fun" food and we play games.

Sometimes we get take out food, drive out to the lake, and eat supper while watching  the seagulls.  It makes the long evenings pass quickly, and before we know it daddy is home.

My children act like I've handed them the world when we do these simple things.  Which is my point--it really doesn't take much effort or money to be a fun mom.  A child's definition of fun mostly just involves doing something together.

What are some ways that you have fun with your children?

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm Just Sayin'

WARNING!!!
This post is not for the weak of heart.......or stomach.


I think as mothers we should help one another.  When we discover something that works with parenting we should pass it on. 

On the other hand when we fail or our plans fail--sometimes it's good to share that information too.

It helps other moms too see that we're human too, and sometimes it gives them a good chuckle.


Having said that..............

We have some trouble with constipation at our house--especially with the two youngest children.

I combat this with--what else--prune juice.

The two year old likes it ok, but the baby LOVES it.

This morning I fixed a bottle for the baby, and a sippy cup for the two year old.

Both of them had about an inch of prune juice and the rest was water.

The baby somehow inhaled his bottle, and when I wasn't looking got ahold of his brother's sippy cup.

May I just say-----------when a baby drinks two cups of watered down prune juice.

He will no longer have constipation.

The results were disastrous!!!!!!!!

I gave him a bath...........and there is quite a bit of extra laundry.

I'm just sayin'

Our Adoption Story Part 2



You really should read Part One of this story if you didn't already.

 I got off of the phone with disappointment in my heart because I was sure that we couldn't handle foster parenting. 

Foster parents are these really special people that are strong and can protect their hearts so that when a child has to leave they don't struggle..........right?

The odd thing was that when we started praying about it both my husband and I started feeling this overwhelming peace.

I kept thinking "What if that was my child that needed a safe place to live while I straightened my life out?"

I would want them to stay somewhere like our home.

With people that--although they aren't perfect--would love them and care for them like they are there to stay, and would cry and miss them when they leave.

Isn't that what family does?

So we took a huge leap of faith, and started filling out paperwork, and attending training classes.

Eight months later we received our foster license.

We assumed that we would have several months to adjust to the idea of being foster parents before we would have children placed with us.

Silly us!

Exactly two weeks later we had two little boys--almost one, and almost two years old placed in our home.

Four months, and one week later they are still here.

So, what is the rest of our adoption story?

Is there a part 3?

Why of course!!

But...........you'll have to wait for it.

Because--you see--I'm not really the one writing this story.

God is, and only He knows for sure what part 3 will be about.

I have a pretty good idea..........

but you will just have to wait and see.  : )



Monday, October 17, 2011

Our Adoption Story Part 1


If someone were to ask me to name one thing that I am passionate about--I would say "adoption!"

Adoption is woven through our family in several different ways.
~~~

First of all, we are adopted by God.


We were born with sinful natures, and that separated us from Him, and yet He reached out with loving arms and pulled us back, and redeemed us.
~~~

Secondly, my husband comes from a family of seven children who are ALL ADOPTED!!


His parents adopted before it was "popular"--before there were adoption support groups--back when a lot of Christian people thought adoption was "too risky."

God gave them a heart for the fatherless, and they have poured themselves into their family selflessly.

When I first met my husbands family I was amazed at how connected they were--if you made one mad at you--they were all mad at you--one of them loved you--they all loved you.

When my husband and I were dating we talked about adoption--how we thought we might do it someday.
~~~

That brings me to the third way that adoption is woven into our family.


After we were married several years we found out with the help of several doctors that we would be unable to have biological children.

There were a lot of emotions that went through our minds at that time, but I remember thinking "so we will adopt after all"  and feeling a measure of excitement about it.

Several years later, we adopted two little boys through a domestic infant adoption program.

We thought our family was perfect, but once in a while I would get the feeling that there was a missing piece.

About a year ago we decided we were ready to adopt again.

By now our youngest was almost six--so we thought it would be perfect to adopt a waiting sibling group.

We started the mound of paperwork, and almost immediately we began running into snags.

The age of children we were interested in was uncommon in a waiting sibling group.

I received a phone call from a case worker we knew from our previous adoptions.

She asked me if we had considered being foster parents.

Now, adoption seems pretty easy to me, but foster parenting seemed scary.

There are too many unknowns--too many risks--too little control on my part. 

So, I told her that we would pray about it, and hung up feeling rather sure what God's answer would be.

To be continued..........




Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Brings Me To My Knees


Just in case you wondered what's going on with foster parenting--

--two year old stinker is making me knock on heaven's gate and plead for patience. (maybe I should just pray for unconsciousness)

--one year old cutie learned how to walk, and pull ALL the books off of the bookshelves on the same day.

--allergies are awful around here in the ENTIRE family.

--court date coming up in a couple weeks--please pray!

--unannounced case worker visit sometime in the next week. (It's just what it sounds like, and it stresses me out.)

--as I write the baby is on the table pouring salt all over our home school books. :(

--I'm trying to decide which is more work changing diapers or potty training.

In case you aren't sure--I'm still loving being a foster mommy.  I haven't been bored for several months.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why Save All The Fun For Friday


I have this habit of planning all the "fun" in my week for either Friday, or the week-end.  Let me explain.

  On Friday we often do something special for lunch.  I often skip some of the more time consuming parts of our home-schooling like flash cards.  Sometimes we eat out as a family for supper, and I used to get groceries on Friday, or Saturday.  As a result everyone--including me--looked forward to Friday's.

In contrast we all dreaded Monday.  It's hard to get back in the "school mindset".  We are tired from the week-end, and the day stretches out in a grey haze that even coffee can't cut.

So today I wracked my brain to think of something to break this yucky Monday cycle. 

I decided why not do some fun things on Monday? Why save all the fun for Friday?

 I told the children that we would get lunch in town if they worked willingly. You should have seen the pencils fly. I even felt excited over the fact that I didn't have to think about lunch.

I've also started doing my grocery shopping on Monday. It's a rather nice way to start the week with a fridge full of food.

I guess some of the tradition behind doing all the shopping etc. on Friday has to do with Friday being the typical paycheck day.  However, my husband is self-employed and he gets "paid" most of the time on Tuesday.


What about you--what day of the week do you grocery shop or eat out or do extra "fun" things?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Monday To You


Toddler’s Creed

If I want it, it’s mine.

If I give it to you and change my
mind later, it’s mine.

If I can take it away from you,
it’s mine.

If I had it a little while ago,
it’s mine.

If it’s mine, it will never belong to
anyone else, no matter what.

If we are building something together,
all the pieces are mine.

If it looks just like mine,
it is mine.

~Author Unknown
 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day Five

The things I am going to write in this post apply to me, and you may not share the same feelings or convictions about possessions. 

When my possessions make me tired.

When my possessions get in the way of me helping others.

When my possessions and the care of them fills all my time.

When my possessions or stuff makes me feel crabby because it's never where it belongs etc....

Then I have TOO MUCH STUFF.

"Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,"  Hebrews 12:1b


My greatest desire is to serve the Lord and be ready to do what He asks.  I've noticed that possessions can hinder my ability to serve.  I guess you would say that is my underlying motivation for decluttering.

 You might ask why not just not accumulate the "stuff" in the first place.  We tend to accumulate from other sources besides ourselves.  Family and friends give us gifts or items they no longer need, and somehow the "stuff" just grows. 

Some of the things are possessions we have had for years, and simply outgrown our need or desire for them. 

I feel more ready to give of my time and energy when I do some decluttering.  This past week is just one of many such sessions.

Now I'd like to hear from you.  What is your motivation for getting rid of stuff or decluttering?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day Four

I think I'm starting to feel clutter fatigue. 

 Today I collected more craft books, a few toys, some pajamas that I never wear, and a few other assorted things.

I thought rather deeply about the reasons why I am decluttering.

It goes deeper than just wanting a tidy home.

And desiring less things in my life.

I think it has to do with a heart issue--for me at least.

I'll share more about that tomorrow on my last clutter collecting day.

My husband tried to put something in the back of our van today, and several things fell out.  He looked at me without a word and rolled his eyes. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day Three

My search for clutter took me to a difficult place today--the bookshelf.  I LOVE to read, and I LOVE books, and thus it is painful for me to get rid of books--even books that I don't like.  Isn't that silly?

  For some inexplicable reason I value books almost higher than any other possession in my home, and I can easily become overrun with the written word.

I mostly hit the children's bookshelf, but I also purged some of my books.  I tried to especially target the books that are an enjoyable light read, but have no real value.  Many of these books I buy second-hand, and so there is no great monetary value.

I also hit my medicine cabinets, and my laundry cupboard.  I found some wax for wood floors--our current home has only carpet and linoleum.

I found a can of air freshener--we can't use this because of allergies in our home.

I found some cradle cap conditioner--it was badly outdated, and currently no one has cradle cap.

I found some craft books for cross stitch--much as it pains me to admit it I don't have the patience for counted cross stitch.

Once again I easily met my goal for ten or more things.  The back of my van is filling up fast.

What did you declutter today?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day Two

Today's decluttering was a little more difficult.

  Mostly because a certain two year old was a little difficult, and I had trouble finding time to find clutter. 

 In spite of the distractions I still easily garnered over ten things from my home.

  The question that keeps coming to my mind is why do I keep some of these things? 

I added a poll to the top right hand corner of my blog just to make this week a little more interesting. 

 Please vote--it will make the drudgery of going thru stuff a little lighter.

I'll post more pictures of "stuff that won't be cluttlering my house anymore" tomorrow.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day One


The first day went well. My decluttering quest for ten items only took about ten minutes.

  Actually I have more than ten items in this somewhat harried looking pile.

 I probably won't itemize my pile every day, but since this is the first day--here goes.

I have.......

3 window blinds

1 shower curtain rod

2 CD holders

1 wall plaque in a language I can't read (don't ask)

1 plant hanger

2 over the shower organizers

4 books

1 stack of old paper dolls

and a partridge in a pear tree (not really)
 
Not bad for just a few minutes of work.  Surprisingly enough it was a painless process.  Almost all of these items came from the same closet--which is now much tidier. 

So, what did you get rid of today?
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A New Week A Fresh Challenge

I love this time of year, but one of the down sides to autumn is the neglect my house suffers during canning season.  When I am preoccupied with jar washing and peach peeling I tend to ignore the overall appearance of my closets and cupboards. 

So I am going to challenge myself this week, and anyone who wants to join me is welcome.

In one week I am going to get rid of/donate 50 items.  I will try to post pictures of some of the many things that will no longer be cluttering my home.

 I've warned my children that I am on a mission, and they are currently pondering what junk toys they are willing to part with.  As added incentive I have reminded them that they have birthdays and Christmas coming--so they need to make room for the new loot gifts they may receive.

To accomplish this goal I will need to have ten items per day to reach 50 by Friday.

Come along with me on this adventure to clutter-free living!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Inheritance

I recently inherited a cedar chest from my aunt.

 It's truly a very nice piece of furniture with a lot of practical uses.

This made me think of some other not so tangible things that I've inherited.

I grew up in a safe and happy family.

We always had plenty to eat, and I had more love lavished on me than you can imagine.

I was never left alone and no one ever hurt me or yelled unkind things at me.

This may seem rather simple, but for many children this isn't the case.

"Safe" is not a word that describes their homes.

Many of them aren't even safe before they are born.

Our inheritance or heritage of safe happy homes shouldn't be taken lightly.

I'm planning to take very good care of my "new" cedar chest.

I'll use it to store blankets, and sheets, and I won't leave it outside.

In the same way our inheritance should be used well too.

That's one of the reason's that we decided to become foster parents.

To give back a little--when we've been given SO MUCH.

I've been inspired by different ways that others give back.

Some go on short term mission trips.

Some give their entire lives on the mission field.

Some are powerful prayer warriors here at home.

Some are simply available--if you want help you only need call them.

How are you giving back?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What I Did Today



Sometimes at the end of the day I like to review what I've accomplished--thought maybe you'd like to review with me.

I made three meals.

I washed 3 loads of laundry one of which is still in the washer. :(

I homeschooled.

I re-rolled the toilet paper and removed little hands from the toilet you see above.

I had a case worker visit.

I read several chapters of "Where the Red Fern Grows" out loud.

I put all the diapers back in the trash can after the little person mentioned above pulled them all out.

I blogged a little.

So......what did you do today?

I can't believe that I just posted a picture of my toilet on my blog--sometimes I embarass even myself.
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Cheerful


Somehow, the sight of all these eggs on my counter makes me feel cheerful on this gray rainy Monday morning.

Oh, and if you have any good recipes using LOTS of eggs please share them!
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Too Many Balls In The Air



Lately--I feel like I can't keep up.

If I get the laundry done then the dishes fall behind.

If my house is tidy then I snap at my children.

If homeschooling goes well then we eat junk food instead of nutritious stuff.

If I remember to blog then I forget to feed and water my chickens. (No kidding I did this yesterday--poor chickens.)

My mom would say I have too many irons in the fire.

My hubby says I'm trying to do too much too perfectly.

I feel like I'm a juggler with a ton of balls in the air and I can't keep catching them.

Oh, and my eye is twitching uncontrollably--stress maybe?

I'm so glad that God doesn't love me based on what I get done or how well it gets done!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Staggering Statistics



"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself uspotted from the world."  James 1:27

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's Coming


I can feel it just around the corner.

I can see it in the mist over our neighbors pond in the morning.

There are a few trees with bright color in their branches.

 I can smell it in the dank odor of falling leaves.

The school buses roar by in the morning.

There is a chilly bite to my bare feet from the sidewalk.

I even saw a pumpkin on some one's porch.

Autumn is almost here, and I'm glad because it's my favorite time of year.

What signs of autumn have you observed?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back To School



As we launch into a fresh school year  I am reminded of some of the things that I had forgotten over the summer.

 We've been homeschooling a little over three years now, and by no means am I an expert, but I have figured out a few little strategies that work for us. 

Before I started homeschooling I talked to all the homeschooling moms that I knew.  I picked their brains and asked them questions, and followed them around looking for tips and pointers.  This is some of the wisdom I gleaned.

Mom should get an early start.  Even if your official school day doesn't start till ten o'clock it helps so much if you are up and dressed and have a handle on your day before you expect your children to start school.  Take it from someone who has tried to do school in her pajamas--it's not conducive to good learning.

Plan ahead for lunch.  Even if you just make sure there are ingredients for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on hand.  If you are distracted by trying to figure out what to feed your children as they are finishing up their last subject before lunch it doesn't make you a very helpful teacher.

Relax.  I know this seems silly, but sometimes I panic over my children not remembering something they learned yesterday.  Teaching is like building a brick wall you lay a brick, and spread some mortar, and then you lay another brick........you get the idea.

Don't compare yourselves to other homeschooling mom's.  What works for you might look totally different than what works for someone else.  I have a good friend who home schools in the afternoon, and although that would never work at my house she is very successful.  ( This also applies to curriculum by the way.)

Plan for some easier days.  You might do this by working extra a couple days a week, or just by including some days off on your calender.  It always amazes me how much more I feel like working after we have had a fun day.

Begin every day with prayer.  This year we have been taking turns praying before we start our school day.  I've been amazed at the things my boys pray about--asking God to help them remember their addition facts, and to help them concentrate.  Every day goes better if it's covered in prayer!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Memories of The Good Old Days

I scoop his wet little body out of the bathtub and he giggles as he glimpses his face in the mirror behind me.  I look over my shoulder and feel a little shock of surprise as I see my own face next to his.  Where did those lines come from on my forehead?  Next to his sweet little baby face I look old.  Well, not old exactly.......I look like my mom. 

I'm not sure why it surprises me--except that in my mind I'm still a teenager.  I have a slim figure, and my hair is thick and dark, not thin and salt and pepper.  To tell you the truth I enjoy that mental image of myself better than the one that I see in the mirror. 

I had an endless supply of energy, and no responsibility.  Life was simple and carefree with no major complications other than what I was going to do that weekend.  Sometimes I think it would be fun to go back to those days of simplicity.

But then I remember--it wasn't really simple back then either.  I wasn't as comfortable as I am now.  I stressed over little things, and I worried about what people thought of me.  I didn't slip into prayer as easily as one thought to the next.  I tried to be someone cool instead of who I really was. 

My grandma used to tell me.  "This is the best time of your life."  At the time I thought she meant when I was young, but looking back now I think she meant now--the present.  In other words enjoy where you are now.  Don't live in the past and don't worry about the future.  Live today in the most alive way possible, and appreciate the present.

 Even if there are a few wrinkles and gray hairs.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Random Thoughts on a Tuesday





Pondering some questions..........

Why do I feel so tired when I just got back from a three day vacation?

Why does the first day of homeschooling make me so nervous when I've been doing this for three years?

Why did my littlest one pick today to wake up at 5:00am?

OK, enough questions.

 More than once this past weekend I looked in my rear view mirror, and felt a measure of shock at how FULL our van looks.  I know those of you with 8 children are laughing at me, but there was a time when I didn't know if we would have ANY children.  Telling a restaurant hostess that there are six in our party sounds surreal to me.  The other thing that shocks me is how easily we have slipped into this roll as parents of four instead of two.

 I didn't know we were that adaptable. :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Homemade is Better

 
Today I'm canning tomato juice.  Last year I canned very little juice as we were living in a camper during the majority of the canning season. ( Long story that I'll tell some other time. )  Anyway, at the time I thought it would make little difference because tomato juice is fairly inexpensive in the store.  Little did I know how wrong I was.

We use tomato juice a number of different ways.  I use it to make homemade tomato soup, chili, spanish rice, and a number of different casseroles and we also enjoy drinking it chilled as a snack.  Sadly the tomato juice from the store tastes VERY different from the home canned variety.

I soon realized that my home version of tomato juice is really more like a V8 juice.  I put onions, green peppers, and some seasonings in my tomato juice.  The store variety has tomatoes, water, and salt listed as the ingredients.  Also it has a weird metallic taste to it that I can't identify, but do not enjoy.  We even tried the kind that comes in a plastic bottle, and it STILL tasted of metal.

Anyway, my conclusion is that the extra effort that it takes to can tomato juice is well worth it for our family. 

What do you can that can't be compared to "store bought?" 


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Monday, August 29, 2011

Foster Parenting Is.......





We are nine weeks into our fostering journey, and what a ride it's been!  Please understand that I would love to post more details, but I want to respect the privacy of our foster children and their birth family, and also maintain a certain amount of privacy for our family. 

Over the last nine weeks I've made some observations about fostering.  If you are a veteran foster parent and are reading this please bear with me as I'm still "wet behind the ears."

Foster parenting is..........

loving little ones like they are here to stay--while knowing they may leave.

having your heart in your throat when you recognize your social workers number on caller ID.

living in limbo while waiting for the next court date.

sleepless nights for you and little ones after a difficult change in their case.

trying to explain to a 2 year old something you can barely wrap your mind around.

giving up a lot of extra activities because what the foster babies need is security and sameness.

sometimes feeling like your life is completely out of control.

having very little privacy due to the steady stream of people in your home.

totally worth it because there are little souls involved!!!!!

If you know someone who is fostering please encourage them.  Tell them you are praying for them.  Offer to cook a meal for them or clean their house.  It may not be apparent to the outside observer how exhausting the job is emotionally, and physically.  To those of you who have done this for years I applaud you.  God bless you for your faithfulness in a hard, but rewarding task!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Romantic or Practical

I received two gifts for my anniversary.


 

One romantic..............

 
 
and one practical.

I liked both of them!!

What type of gifts do you enjoy receiving?

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fourteen Years Ago


I was 18 he was 22.

I was scared, I think he was too.

I had no clue what the future would hold.

How hard it would be, or how wonderful.

We first met at a church youth rally.  My husband and his brother arrived late for the first service, and he noticed me from the back of the church.  He whispered to his brother that he was going to marry that girl, and when my husband says he is going to do something it generally happens.  This was no exception. 

After the church service a group of youth went to Pizza Hut.  When we arrived I was the last one to be seated and guess who was sitting across from me.  We started talking, and something just clicked.  I felt like I had known him all my life. 

I can't believe it's been fourteen years!!  In some ways it seems like yesterday. 

Can't wait to spend another fourteen years together!

(The figurine is the cake topper from our wedding cake.)