Friday, June 21, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013



Exploring the old barn

Rocking with Grandma

My daughters photo bombing the wedding pics...but aren't they cute?!

Our two eldest were seated at NOT OUR TABLE...wahoo!  They had great fun with Grandma and Papa.

I'm told that there are rarely pictures of me on my blog...

Little Bee approves of the cupcake.  And of the one before that, and the one before that too.
Learning all the moves

Watching the pros

And then cutting loose on the dance floor.  

We had the great pleasure of road tripping to Michigan to celebrate the wedding of a cousin this past weekend.  The weather could not have been more perfect, time with family was precious and the whole thing was just lovely.  The reception was at the gorgeous Misty Farm, and we all had a wonderful time eating, dancing and enjoying the beautiful location.  Here are a few pictures of our weekend.  Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Yarn Along- Baby Birds and Kisses

This week I am still knitting away on my tiny baby bird family to go with the momma robin I finished last week.  I am new to the double-pointed needles- always been more of a knit-in-the-round kind of girl, so it is taking me forever.  I think it is so amazing how I start knitting away just following the pattern, not knowing if I am knitting the top, bottom, side...what is it exactly?  But if I just keep following the directions step by step, it slowly turns into something recognizable and beautiful.  There's a metaphor in there somewhere!

This week I found the most fabulous, inspiring book to read: Kisses from Katie.  It is the story of Katie Davis, a now 23-year old woman who moved to Uganda, started a huge ministry for children and families there, and has become the adoptive mommy to 13 girls.  She is won't be able to put the book down.  Definitely check it out.

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along this week!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Real Chore Chart

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox." Proverbs 14:4

This verse jumped out at me tonight.  Life is busy, messy, fast-paced, crazy.  Some days I am able to jump in with my kids and hit the balance between what absolutely must happen to keep my house running, and what we can do together as a family to bless each other and those around us.  But most days, I spend too much time dealing with the "stuff" of our lives...laundry, shopping, picking up, scheduling, driving.  I rationalize it all as important, but really, is it?  While we are not meant to live in squalor, I'm pretty sure God's master list does not include "perfect the art of vacuum lines" next to my name.  I don't think it even lists "teach children to complete chores" or "cook organic food."

No, I am pretty sure his list for me looks a lot like my kids' chore charts...a few basic tasks and then "whatever else Mommy asks you to a good listener."

Mommy's Chores:
Care for the hurting
Show love to lonely children
Bless your family
Build up others
Share what you have been given
Love your neighbors
Whatever else God asks you to a good listener

No laundry, no vacuuming, not even the toilets get a mention.  The problem is that sometimes I get so busy with my own to-do list that I forget to do my real chores.  I get so busy building my Lego rocket ship that making my bed never crosses my mind.  If I had a chore chart, I would not have many stickers.

Just like my children, I need to practice obedience.  I need to put aside my own will and remember what I am being asked to do FIRST.  Then, if I have time left over, I can rock the vacuum lines.

Linking Up:
Graced Simplicity
Just One Mommy
Reasons to Skip the Housework
Raising Memories
Saturday Show and Tell

Friday, June 14, 2013

If you do one thing as a parent, please tell your child NO from time to time.  And mean it.

As kids have been coming through our home, we have discovered that most of them have not heard NO very often.  This surprised me.  I had figured that children who were in crisis/neglected/poor would be very used to the word, but that is clearly not the case.  Perhaps the parents are working from a place of guilt and therefore give in to the child's every request.  Perhaps they don't know that saying NO is a good thing to do- they don't want the child to dislike them.  Perhaps the child has been shuttled around to so many people that nobody has been willing to "upset" the child and take on the fight.  Most of the kids we've had have been only children, so perhaps they are just not used to having to share or wait.  Or maybe the parents are just too beaten down by life to take on the fight.  Whatever the reason, it makes it tough for them and for us, because at this house, we have rules and consequences.

Now, my children are oh-so-far from being perfect, from accepting correction, from taking the word NO gracefully.  We get the tantrums, the pouting, the whole nine yards.  But at least my kids no that when we say NO, we mean it.

Yesterday our darling four year old guest and I had what shall henceforth be known as "The Epic Noodle Showdown."  Had I known that it would turn into a battle, I would not have chosen to fight it at that moment...but once the battle is set out, you have to fight it.  The line "we don't negotiate with terrorists" kept entering my head.  As much as I wanted to just let it go, I realized that this might be the first time someone had actually held her to something...and I felt it was important that I carry through.  Little Mam did NOT want to eat her buttered noodles (how dare I serve such outrageous food, right?!).  Sadly, her ability to join us at the beach hinged on this act.  She wanted to go to the beach, but was pretty darned sure I would not REALLY make her eat her lunch first.

Wrong.  In the end, she ate the noodles and joined us at the beach.  But first, a sampling of our negotiations:

"I hate noodles.  I only like pasta."
"I am too tired to eat them."
"They taste bad on a pink plate."
"They will make me throw up on your table and you'll have to clean them up."
"If I spit them on the floor, you can't make me eat them."
"They will make me die and you will be in jail."
"I don't like them cold.  Heat them back up."
"You made them wrong."
"Noodles are for stupid people."
<dumps plate on floor...I serve her up a new helping>
"They will make my tongue fall off."
"Only one tiny bite? I only eat tiny bites."
"You won't really make me stay home from the beach because you can't leave me here alone." (ah, she found the flaw in my argument)
"Only mean mommies make kids eat noodles with butter on them."
"Parmesan cheese makes me dead."
"I will never talk to you and your kids will hate you for making me be sad."

And on and on and on.  An hour of negotiation over three noodles.  THREE NOODLES.  Now I don't forcefeed kids food that they honestly dislike, but I have watched this little lady eat platefuls of spaghetti, so I was pretty sure I was not torturing her.  I have a picky eater, so this scenario is not new at my house, but even my kids were perplexed..."just eat the noodles and you can come with us to the beach.  Just eat them quick and drink some lemonade to wash them down!"

When she finally ate, I smiled at her, briefly told her good job and helped her hurry into the car to go to the beach.  I saw no need to give her a lot of attention for finally choking down three noodles.  It was over.  The funny part is- and this is so often the case- at the end of the battle, she hugged me, she was happy, she behaved wonderfully and she clearly liked me MORE than she had before the battle.

Kids need boundaries, structure, rules.  Deep down they want to know that someone will hold them to it.  They don't really want to run the show- that is a lot of stress for a kid.  I remember in college how much I hated essay assignments that were vague- I much preferred a professor who laid out exactly what she wanted.  I am happy to provide structure for the children who come through our home...they deserve to have someone give it to them.  But man, sometimes it is ugly!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Yarn Along- Baby Robins

We were fortunate enough to host not one, but TWO mama robins and their nests this year.  We all enjoyed the experience, but especially little Bee.  She still looks at where the nests were and asks about the "mamas? tweet?"  I thought my little lady needed a mama robin and some eggs and babies of her own that would not fly away, so I am starting this lovely Spring Robin, along with her nest, eggs and babies.

As for reading, I devoured Divergent, which I just learned was written by a local author.  That might explain why it is our community's summer book choice. Neato. I've also interlibrary loaned a few new nonfiction books on fostering and orphan care that were recommended...usually these trump the fiction as I am a bit of a nonfiction girl, but I couldn't put Divergent down.  I will say, if you liked Hunger Games, you will like this. When I finished Hunger Games, I found myself wishing I could read it again for the first time...  and now I sort of have.  There are a lot of similarities- strong female character, separated from her family in a dystopic world, learning to survive with a little help from a love interest.  You get the read.

Linking up with the Yarn Along once again.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Performance Evaluations

I was just thinking back to my teaching days, and the thrice-yearly evaluations.  The principal would come in to observe and then later meet with me to critique my performance.  She was well-known for her brutal honesty and high standards, but at least she believed in prefacing her criticisms with "positive praise statements."

These days the performance reviews are ongoing, the feedback is immediate, and my evaluators don't bother to preface it with niceties.  Rarely does an hour go by where I am not offered honest judgment, and the diaper aisle of Target is as acceptable a meeting space as a closed office.  Unlike my teaching days, the observations focus less on teaching strategies and classroom environment, and instead hone in on sandwich making techniques, the length of time from when the light turns green until I floor it, and my audacious choice to close the bathroom door.  This mommy gig requires a thick skin!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment}
 - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Goodbye Baby

Goodbye Baby Boy!  We are sending our little 5 month cutie back home tomorrow.  Wish we could have done a bit more for him- tweak his living situation a bit- but that is not in our job description.  While we had him, he learned to roll over, breathed in a ton of fresh air, got stronger and was loved on a whole bunch.  That is all we can do for now, so we send him home with fingers crossed and prayers for a happy life.  We'll miss his little dolphin giggles and cuddles, but we move onwards...

Yarn Along- Kitty Sweater DONE

 In Threes Baby Cardigan

I wonder what the record is for weeks months spent on one baby sweater.  I might be approaching it!  The good news is that the sweater turned out bigger than expected, which means it will fit my 20 month old...rather than a newborn as I had anticipated.  So that's kind of fun.  Finally finished it up.  I added kitty cat buttons that I had.  I can't decide if they are cute or creepy, but my Little Bee LOVES them and meows whenever she sees them, so they stay.

I am about a third of the way into a new book that I randomly grabbed off the "new fiction" shelf at the library.  It is called What You Wish For by Kerry Reichs.  It has the feel of a silly, fun, somewhat shallow thirty-something slice of life book...but the topic is intriguing.  It follows the story of five different characters, each of whom is going about building their family in a different way- none of them have a traditional nuclear family.  So far I am finding it very interesting...a good reminder that families come in all shapes and sizes and that there is no one way to build one.

I need some suggestions for some good fiction reads.  I will be perusing other Yarn Along posts in search of my next book!

Happy Knitting!

Linking up with the Yarn Along once again.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Museum Trick for Kids

We recently visited some museums in Springfield, IL with our three kids, and some friends of ours.   Here are a few tricks we used to help everyone enjoy the trip.

1) Visit the gift shop first.  Let the kids pick out a few postcards of things that are in the museum.  Then as you visit the museum, search for the things on the postcards, like a scavenger hunt.  This can turn "are we done yet?" into..."wait, we haven't found this one yet!"

2) If possible, take a stroller for as many kids as you can.  They will have SO much more fun if they get to ride when they are tired- and you will have so much more fun as well.  The Lincoln Museum had free strollers to use, so we took enough for all three kids (oddly, they would not let us use an Ergo carrier for the baby, or put kids on our shoulders...the docents there were serious, serious people!)  The strollers worked great, though.

3) Let the kids take pictures.  They enjoy it, and it is interesting to see what the world looks like from their (short) perspectives.

4) Find the kid's area, and feel free to come back to it several times.  Most museums have a section for kids.  We went there several times- once while some of the adults went to see a little film, and in between a few exhibits.  It was our "homebase."

5) Keep it short and keep them fed.  Enough said!