Showing newest 13 of 16 posts from July 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 13 of 16 posts from July 2010. Show older posts

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Christmas Shopping?

I know it's July, but I have been thinking about Christmas already.  I know I am not alone, last week a commenter mentioned that she had her Christmas list done, and we attended a Christmas in July family picnic last weekend.  Over the last few years we have made an effort to simplify our Christmas.  I am more motivated than ever to keep things simple and strive to keep the clutter to a minimum.

I enjoy giving gifts that are useful and don't create extra clutter for the receiver.  A couple of Christmas ago I gave "Cookies in a Jar", homemade bath salts, hot chocolate mix and homemade granola.  I liked the idea of cookies in a jar, although I didn't have good luck keeping the layers of ingredients neat looking and the recipe that I used didn't result with cookies that were too spectacular.  Much room for improvement in that gift!

Last year due to Sarah's surgery and our two trips to the caribbean, which resulted in two new children joining our family two weeks before Christmas, I didn't have the time or the energy to do anything crafty.  (I was doing good if my kids were fed and had reasonably clean clothes to wear!).   I am hoping to do another crafty Christmas this year.

Here are some ideas I have found:

Handmade Holiday Master List

34 Great Gifts You Can Make Yourself

A Homemade Christmas - lots and lots of links to other blogs

As I was putting this post together, I realized I am not the only one blogging Christmas!  Look here and here, too.

What are your favorite simple Christmas ideas?

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Sneak Peek...

at our Celebrating Adoption photo session with Melanie Reyes.  We had a great experience and she was very patient and engaging with the children, even when Jonah would have preferred to only do "silly" pictures and Leah was being...well, Leah!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Here is a photo of me in my new apron, and Jonah too.  If you can't tell from the photo, it has little strawberries on it and it is the "Chloe" style.  I love it.  I think it would make a great gift, just perfect for a wedding shower or birthday.  I do believe this particular site offers matching towels.

Peeking out behind me is this:

can you tell we liked it?

Thanks to Patty at A Reason for Chocolate for a great blueberry recipe!

Wrapping up the Week - 7/24

Bob and Jonah working on the Owl Pellet project again.

Summer Reading→ Didn't get to too much reading this week, I have been spending more time on the computer planning.  I did finish reading through You Can Successfully Teach Your Child.  Very helpful and informative.

Summer Projects→ Today the weather forecast is much the same as yesterday, intermittent thunderstorms throughout the day.  A good day to get caught up from a busy week.  I am still attempting to plan our fall schedule and see how all of my eclectic ideas are going to come together.  Hoping to get the laminator out and spruce up some of our workbook numbers, and still would like to do some rearranging with our learning room.  A bird unit is in the works - this was my inspiration.

Summer Outings→ Jonah and Sarah finished their radKIDS safety week.  Last night in between big thunderstorms, we were able to get our Celebrating Adoption pics taken.  It was humid and hot but I hope they turned out well.  I am excited to potentially have our Christmas cards done!

Also, I just got the cutest apron ever here.  If you have never thought of yourself as an apron wearer, I encourage you to take a gander :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Father's Perspective on Adoption

Written by my husband...

Although adoption is a wonderful gift for an entire family, I think the perspectives taken by a husband and a wife can differ dramatically.  As we all know, women and men differ in how they provide for their families.  Women tend to provide more of the basic emotional needs for the family.  Men on the other hand, tend to provide for the more basic physical needs for the family.  What we go out and kill, they turn it into a delicious seven course meal.  Although these traits complement one another in creating a well balanced, functioning family, the God given characteristics of a male can often times hinder the adoption process.
We as men want to protect our family at all costs.  The thought of bringing something “foreign” (pun definitely intended) into our territory is threatening to us, but that seems to be our first, natural response.  Just like in the wild, where the dominate male will protect his turf against predators or other male aggressors, we have the same built in defenses.    
Another way we protect our families is by being more concerned with planning for the future than “living in the moment”.  Our decisions are normally made from a more calculated approach rather than an emotional one.  To think of the future and have another person depending on you can be a bit overwhelming.  Another mouth to feed, college tuition, and weddings are just a few of the biggies.  We like to have things in control, planned for, and taken care of for the well being of the family.
It is also harder for us to become emotionally attached.  I think a major road block for most men is wondering if they could possibly love “someone else’s” child.  I have no doubt that women have the same concerns but the “Mother Gene” seems to take over and their natural instincts of nurturing, rearing and care giving kick in a lot sooner and easier than ours.
So now the Million Dollar Question:  How do we overcome these built in defense mechanisms?  The Answer: We can’t, but all things are possible with God.  When facing the possibility of adoption, men need to bring all their fears and concerns before the Lord.  We need to pray with an open heart and mind and let the Lord work within us.  If it is God’s will for adoption, he will break down all barriers in the way.  I have also found that fasting is a great addition to prayer.  The Lord seems to reward our efforts with quick, clear answers when we fast in conjunction with prayer.
Another helpful tool is asking for the intercession of St. Joseph.  He is the ultimate adoptive father, a true role model for us.  I am certain he had the same concerns as we did.  From when he found out Mary was pregnant, to their flight into Egypt to the three days when Jesus was lost in the temple.  He knows, more than anyone else, the struggles that an adoptive father goes thru.  Is there a better friend to have praying for us before the Throne in Heaven?  I am constantly asking St. Joseph to pray for me and just like his adopted Son, he is always reliable.
We also need to remember husbands and wives need to work and pray together.  I truly believe that when the thought of adoption comes to us it is the work of the Holy Spirit stirring within us.  All children are a blessing from God and we know from scripture that caring for orphans is something that is pleasing to Him.  That being said, the Lord still works in mysterious ways.  By praying TOGETHER, He will place in both hearts his will for that particular situation.  This may even lead to the lessening of a woman’s desire to adopt.  Either way, put everything before Him, tell Him your desires and fears, Trust in Him and he promises to be faithful.
The bottom line is that there are more things alike between adoptive and biological fathering than things that differ.  Being a father, albeit demanding, is also the most rewarding experience in life.  It teaches humility, patience and brings an indescribable amount of joy.  Whether it’s kissing your daughter good night on the forehead, playing catch with your son or eating popcorn while watching Toy Story for the 27th time, it can’t be beat.  It helps teach us the love the Father has for each one of us and gives us a little glimpse of Heaven.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Simplify Your Life

by Woodeene Koenig-Bricker
In this 30 minute read, the author sheds light on ways to lead a more simplified life.  I will admit it did take me longer than 30 minutes to read this pocket-sized treasure because I kept highlighting and re-reading.  There were many snippets of good information in this book.  I also appreciated the many quotes interspersed throughout the book to further address simplifying.
One of the very first things I highlighted was this, “A life in which we can have the time to appreciate what we have, enjoys our friends and family, create, celebrate and “be” instead of always having to “do”.  A life that is focused on activities that nurture the soul and enrich the spirit instead of destroying them.”  From a mom’s perspective this is very appealing.  It gets right to the core of what it means to make our homes a haven from the crazy world around us.  So what does this really look like and how do we do it?
The author starts out by asking the question “what does a simplified life look like to you?”  She ask the reader to visualize what a simplified day looks like in the home.    Simplification is different for every family, no two people will answer this question the same.  This could be an interesting topic of discussion between you and your spouse.
The next suggestion is to cut down on clutter.  It’s the standard in any book you might read on simplification, but it really is true.  None of us can perform at our optimum if everywhere we look is a pile of stuff that needs to be dealt with.  She makes a wonderful point that organizing tools are great, but if you buy a cute basket to put something in, you still have to deal with the contents of the basket!
Another way we can simplify life is to simplify spiritual practices.  At first that might sound counter intuative, but we are all not called to the same devotions and the same schedules.  Spend some time praying about which practices bear the most fruit in your home and cut out the rest.  For our family praying one decade of the rosary and briefly discussing the mysteries of the day is about all these wiggly bodies can handle.  As the children grow older that will probably change - but maybe not!  
The author touches on many more creative ways to simplify and how to make that happen in your life.  I found this book to be helpful in taking stock of our day and finding small ways that we can continue to simplify.   This book is different from many others because the author focuses more on the mental and spiritual component of simplification and not necessarily supplying the reader with a big list of do's and don'ts.  

 “He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough” - Lao Tzu

You can purchase this book here, and find more great catholic books here!

Monday, July 19, 2010

What's Cookin'

On the menu for tonight are some pork loin baby back ribs from Trader Joe's.  I am going to use this recipe for my crock pot.  We meant to do them on the grill this past weekend, but we managed to get out for a date on Saturday night (!) and yesterday we didn't get home in time.  I am not crazy about using the grill when I am here without Bob, so I am trying them this way.  Normally Tuesday night is my crock pot day, but Bob will be working through dinner tomorrow night so I think we are going to stick with something easy like frozen pizzas!

We are going to have some fresh sweet corn too.  This time of the year is great, we passed a bunch of farm stands yesterday and picked up corn, tomatoes, peaches and honey.  I am also going to make some sort of blueberry dessert to round out our dinner.  Patty at Reasons for Chocolate has promised to post a delicious blueberry dessert sometime this week, I am looking forward to it!!

What's cookin' at your house this week?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wrapping up the Week-7/17

Summer Reading→ Bob is reading The Screwtape Letters, I am hoping to read it after he is done.  I can't believe we haven't read this before!  I am working on Wild Fire and You Can Successfully Teach Your Child.  Wild Fire was not on my original summer reading list, but after the Russian spy story broke, I heard there was a book written a few years ago with almost the same story line.  I love reading anything that incorporates Russia, so I put this on my amazon wish list.  As it turns out, my mom happened to own a copy of Wild Fire, so long story short, that's how I started reading it.

Summer Projects→ I had a few minutes this morning to mop my kitchen/entrance floors.  It has been a long while since I have had time to do more than a swiffer sweep.  Glad to have that project done.  As far as the rest of my summer project list, I haven't made too much progress.

I have started to plan our fall schedule.  It's a bit overwhelming to be planning for six, but I think I am coming along with a schedule.  I am normally a paper/pencil type planner, but using iCal has been a huge time saver so far.  So much easier to make changes and see exactly what I have scheduled.  I am thrilled to have so much time at home this year.  I still have to schedule speech and O.T. for Leah, but other than that we are home.

As much as I prefer a routine to a schedule, this year I need a schedule.  And as much as I prefer to give lots of leeway to let the kids do their own thing and pursue their own projects, I really feel the need for some structure so no one gets lost in the shuffle.  I am looking into a couple of "Letter of the Week" type schedules like this and this for the younger crew.  I also still have preschool/kindergarten plans from CHC, so we have many fun choices.  We will continue with FIAR as well as some other unit studies.  Now the million dollar question is how to pull everything together.

Summer Outings→ Jacob just finished up a week of radKIDS safety class.  This is his third summer participating, we love this program.  Jonah and Sarah have a turn next week, this will be their second summer.  I highly recommend finding a program in your area!

Summer Happenings→

I am honored to receive another blog award from a fellow adoptive mom.  If you haven't yet visited Gardenia at My Little Flower, please stop by and see her.  She is always doing cute crafts with her daughter!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blog Award

Hey, I got an award!  Patty at  Reasons for Chocolate was sweet enough to pass this along to me.  She is another catholic mom with a beautiul family.  She grew up in a big family and has some funny stories to share!

Now we are supposed to share why we started blogging.  I originally started our blog as a way to chronicle our homeschool journey.  Our blog was private and only my sister and my mom were my readers, not even my husband!  After we came home with our last two children, I had the opportunity to help advocate for other children who were waiting for families in St Vincent and the Grenadines.  At that  point I decided that maybe our blog could become, in a very small way, an adoption tool for others.  So I made our blog public and started blogging on a more regular basis.  Also, I think there are still many misconceptions about adoption and I am hoping that when people see that we are a real, normal (well, you know what I mean!), family, that those misconceptions might go away.  I think my mom and my sister are still my most faithful readers and yup, my husband still doesn't!

Five word that describe our blog....Family, Faith, Adoption, Education and Slightly Quirky, 

Now to pass along the award...this is a tough choice, but I think I am passing it along to Grace in my Heart....she is a young, adoptive mom.  I remember those days after Jacob joined our family, I could hardly believe that we finally had a child!  I also remember wondering what God had in store for our family and if we would have more children.  After praying for so long for the opportunity to just parent one child, could we be so bold as to pray for another?  Go check her out, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What Are You Lookin' At?

You would think by now we wouldn’t notice the stares.  We are used to the double takes, sometimes subtle, other times not so much, but we still do notice them.  Whomever said children are color-blind, must have never met a child.  Believe me, they notice and question why a white woman is holding a black child, why an asian girl is looking at a white man saying “Dad, can I have mac-n-cheese for lunch?”.  It doesn’t take but a second for them to notice something is a little different and their brains start processing.  While their brains process, their eyes stare! and often so do their parents.
I forget how we look when we are out together.  The other day someone asked us if we were a daycare and when we replied that they were all ours, the man then proceeded to tell Bob how lucky he was to have such a beautiful family.   The gentleman had two daughters and always wanted more children, especially a boy, and Bob was lucky to have three.
Another time during our vacation last week, a lady asked us if we were a family...and then remarked that we have the family her daughter dreams about having.
At lunch, also while on vacation, a man who was seated next to us with his family made a comment to Bob as they walked out “you have very well behaved children, you should be very proud”.  Our children weren’t particularly well behaved at either of those times.  What people didn’t see were the kicks under the table between siblings, the whining about menu choices, and the asking to go potty for the 6,000th time that day.
I am not going to complain though, I would much prefer these comments to this one or “boy, you have your hands full!”  We need these reminders, even from strangers, that life is a marathon not a sprint.  The daily grind of life can make us weary (very weary!) but at the end of this marathon we can hope to hear “well done my good and faithful servant” Mt 25:23.
I think these small, kind, comments are little reminders from God, little encouraging love notes if you will.  Delivered by unexpected angels who have probably spent a good few minutes staring at us!  

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wrapping up Vacation

Our vacation week was loads of fun with a wee bit of relaxation tossed in.  We planned to spend the entire week at home, but mid way through the week we decided to head north for a few days.  We did get a few things done before we left, like our passport project.  I also had an entire day at home by myself.  Did I mention that my husband is the best?  I would like to say I completed many things, but I didn't.  I sat on the porch most of the day finishing up Anna Karenina.  It was heavenly.  

I snapped a shot of our garden progress. So far so good.  Next year I hope to add another square foot box.

At the last minute, Bob found this place on-line.  We booked a two night stay, loaded everyone and just about everything, in the car.

Thursday morning we woke up to rain.  Not exactly what we had in mind when we planned for a day on the lake.  So, we went to plan B and decided to head further west to Lake Michigan.  We ended up in Ludington for most of the day.  Fortunately, by the time we arrived there it was warm, sunny and the rain had moved out for the day.

We headed back to the cottage for dinner and a marshmallow roast.

Enjoying their first ever S'mores

On Friday we started home and made a stop in Saugatuck.  Bob saw a sign for Dune Buggy rides and thought it would be a good idea for our family to try that adventure.  Did I mention we have six young children??  He was right, it ended up being the most enjoyable thing we did all week.  It really was loads of fun.  I sat next to Jonah and he was a bit nervous, until the dune buggy took off and then with arms raised roller coaster style he yelled "this is the life!".   Levi was wearing a baseball hat and was sitting on my lap during the ride.  At one point his hat blew off.  The girls were sitting next to me screaming "his hat blew off, his hat is gone!' over, and over.  Really, I didn't care about the hat, I thought Levi might fly out!

We made a blueberry run for our very last stop.  The last few years we have picked our own, but this summer we thought it would be more prudent to just purchase.  Now I am freezing blueberries and looking for blueberry recipes.

It was nice to have Bob home for a full week and have lots of family time.  During our car trips I had a chance to read The Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society, Kimchi & Calamari, as well as Dressing with Dignity.

Jonah chose to spend his car time doing other things,

this is what happens when you sit next to a brother who has too much time on his hands....

you get pencils shoved in your hair while trying to catch some shut eye.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Levi

Levi turns 3!  His first birthday as a part of our family...

We celebrated today with a 14 mile bike ride, lunch at a bar, and finally cupcakes!  What 3-year-old wouldn't love that??!!

Poor guy isn't sure what to think...

Something tells me by the time he turns 4 he will have this whole birthday thing figured out!

Leah - 4 Years Home

Happy Family Day Leah!

From your first smiles in Korea and at home, you captured our hearts.

Even though we joke you need your own personal nanny (and you do!), you bring such a joy to our home.  It is a honor and a blessing to be your parents!

Dad & Leah in Korea - 2006

Mom & Leah - 2006

Cutest smile ever - 2006

Still cutest smile ever - 2010


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