Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kindness Challenge

Today is the last day of the month. The Kindness Challenge was way easier than the spending fast. With 6 little people in my life, there have been plenty of opportunities for me to show kindness. I haven't shared every opportunity on this blog that I have taken, but most days I have done multiple things to show kindness. I have seen myself be more aware of how I bless my kids. I am trying to bless them more often when I can. I am thankful for that new awareness and hope to continue in that mindset.

The kids and I have been working on their verses. The oldest 3 accomplished the goal of learning the 1Cor. 13 love verses. I am so proud of them. The younger ones would have done much better if I had taken more time to work with them. That is my fault.

What is happening in March? I have thrown around many ideas in my mind of a challenge or fast for March. It has been hard to settle on one. I have so many things that I could do better. Good thing I have so many months left in this year to work on these areas of my life!

For March, I have decided to commit to reading my Bible EVERY DAY. Now, I realize this is something that I should be doing already. To be completely honest it falls by the wayside in my life way more than it should. You see, not a day goes by that I don't check my email or spend time looking at blogs. Many days can go by without opening my Bible. I am ashamed to admit it, but it is the truth. I want that to change. I am going to be reading in Psalms to start. If I finish that book, I will let you know what book I move to next. My first priority each afternoon during nap time is reading my Bible, not working on the computer.

God is doing something in my heart. I don't know what it is, but it feels life changing. I really desire at this time to lean into that and pursue Him with everything in me in order to truly discern what He is doing. Committing to this time in His Word is one way that I am seeking Him as He speaks to me. I cannot wait to see how He reveals Himself to me, and hope that I have exciting things to share throughout the month.

Can anyone out there relate to what I am saying? Would anyone like to join me in reading the Psalms this month? I would love to read it with others. Imagine how God could speak to all of us and use this in our lives!!

So, if you dare, join me. Let's see what God reveals to us. Let's see how He uses His Word to change our lives!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Birthday Tradition

I started a tradition 5 years ago. It provides one of the most treasured keepsakes for Rick and me. It is a sketchbook that I use for each of Rick's Birthdays and for Fathers' Day each year.

We started by decorating the title page with stickers the first year that we did it(2005). Each bday the kids draw a picture or write something to their dad. The things I love about this is that is shows the progression as they get older, it gives a glimpse into who they were at that age, and it gives us a way to keep those memories. It is so hard to keep up with cards from 6 kids from every bday and Fathers' Day.

The Title Page
This was Lauren's first entry at age 4
This is Lauren's entry now at age 9
On Fathers' Day, we always start by doing a page that says, "I Love Daddy Because" and each child gives me reasons that I write for them or they write it if they are able.
A Sample of our Fathers' Day Entry
I cannot take credit for this idea. Honestly, I can't remember where it came from. I think I read it somewhere and decided to do it. I just had to share it with you because it is one of my favorites.

For the longest time, I wanted one of these books for myself. Last year, I received one from the kids. Now, I have my own "special book." When the kids get older, no matter where they are, I hope to mail the book back and forth before each bday and Fathers' Day in order to maintain this tradition.

Birthday Highlights

We normally have a big breakfast on Saturday mornings cooked mostly by Rick. Since his bday fell on a Sat., we decided to keep our big breakfast, but have some friends over to enjoy it with us. He made the bacon, Lauren made the scrambled eggs, I made sausage balls, garlic cheese grits, a breakfast danish, and coffee. We also had juice, fruit, and a sweet roll dish. We had quite the feast and with adults and kids, there were 24 people here!!
Rick and the guys
The "Adult" Table
We went out to dinner as a family at PF Changs. I took pictures, but including one would mean that I would have to include 6 in order to get pictures of everyone. It was fun. We don't go out to eat a ton. It was especially nice that we had gift cards that covered the WHOLE meal!!

After dinner, we came home for gifts and dessert. Each child got Rick a gift. Cody made his dad two papers with writing on them. On one he took Rick's name and wrote a description of him with each letter. Then, he took words that describe Rick and found Bible verses to go with them. It was such a special gift that I know Rick will always cherish. Lauren got Rick rolos. Abby got him a head massager. Sam gave him his special "boomerang rock." Isaiah gave him Almong Joys. Laila gave him chocolate covered marshmallows. They all loved having a special gift to give him.
Back home for gifts and cake
Yes, Rick is 39! Blowing out the candles.
I love to cook, but I don't really like cake much so I don't make cake that often. When I do, I use a mix. Well, I broke out of the habit today by making a cake and frosting completely from scratch. I was nervous. I got the recipe from Tosha after trying the cake at her house. It was an Italian Cake with a cream cheese frosting and caramel drizzled over the top. I knew when I tasted it that Rick would like it. It turned out really good.
Rick with the cake
Laila resting on Daddy while eating cake. My favorite picture of the day.
Happy Birthday, Ricky. You have now begun your 40th year of life!!

Happy Birthday, Rick

I love this man. He is an amazing friend, husband, and father to our family and pastor, leader, boss, and friend to others.

He loves his Jeep
He also loves the Dallas Cowboys
He makes breakfast for the fam every Sat. morning
Today, we are celebrating him. I won't share all of the details until I have pictures to share.

I love you more today than ever. I am so thankful to have you in my life.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rick is home,...

and we are happy.

We are spending these next 3 days recovering from the toll that the last 11 days has taken on all of us.

We did it!

Now I am feeling the effects of it all.

That is kind of how I roll.

I tough it out and do what it takes to make it through.

When it is all over, I crash and become a mess.

My husband is really good at cleaning up the mess that I am.

I am thankful that he gets me, he knows ALL of me, and he still loves me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two By Two

That is what bedtime is like tonight.

Remember that wall I mentioned earlier?

Well, at this point, my whole body is plastered up against it.

I actually feel like I have been hit by a truck, or maybe it is 6 little trucks that have run over me.

My announcement tonight was early bedtime for everyone: 7:30.

If anyone decided to be difficult or have issues with obedience before that time, I would start moving their bedtime back 30 minutes for each offense.

Lauren and Abby decided they could not get along. At 7:00 they went to bed. 2 down, 4 to go.

Since Isaiah and Laila can't tell time, they were next.

4 down, 2 to go.

I just sent Cody and Sam up to brush teeth and get in bed. Seconds later, Sam comes running downstairs crying, "Cody just pushed me into the tub, and I am soaking wet."

Really? Do we have to end the night this way? So, the last two are headed to bed at 7:30, but Cody doesn't get his book to read tonight.

Mean mommy. Tired mommy. Done mommy. 6 down, 0 to go. I dare them to get out of bed!!

Bubble bath, here I come. My husband is coming home tomorrow, and it has been over 1o days since I shaved my legs. I better go do that.

Too bad Biggest Loser isn't on tonight. I would watch it and eat ice cream!!

Ricky, Come Home!!

We have hit a wall.

There was a lot of grumpiness in our house this morning.

The kids went to bed later than usual.

I woke up in the night convinced that Laila was screaming. When I checked, she was sound asleep.

That left me up for a while because once I wake up, I can't get back to sleep!

Laila has been really fussy this afternoon.

Isaiah didn't even fight taking a nap.

I may lay down for a bit myself.

Rick is flying over the ocean right now.

I am counting down the hours until he returns.

We should have him home tomorrow afternoon.

Tonight, we are having early bedtimes.

Tomorrow, we begin counting down the minutes to his return.

We survived, but I don't want to do it again for a LONG TIME!! Oh, wait, we get to do this again in July. At least it won't be snowy and cold then.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Snow Bunny

My little Snow Bunny
Laila sporting her hair puffs, puffy vest, cool jeans, and rockin' boots
Really, I don't think she could be any cuter.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Survival Part 3

I was starting to get worried since I am out of cookie dough and French Silk Pie Blizzards.

Never fear, I found marshmallow creme in my pantry.

That should get me through tonight. :)


Things were quiet around the house today. Although I love quiet, it usually means trouble if Isaiah is awake. So, I went on the hunt bracing myself for what I might find.

This is what I found:
He was in Lauren's and Abby's room on Lauren's bed playing her Nintendo DS. Lauren had set him up without telling me. The funny part is that when Lauren looked at the game, she said, "Wow, he is good. How did he get that far by himself." Evidently, he is pretty good with the Cars game.

Laila's Hair

Laila's hair is an issue for me. I so desperately want to take good care of it, but I obviously have no experience with African hair. I have learned a lot over the last year, but it is a daily issue to deal with. One thing I didn't know until recently is about shedding. She loses hair just like I do, but instead of falling out like mine does, hers gets trapped. So, every week I have to take about 30 minutes to saturate it with detangler and get out all the old hair and other wonderful things that get trapped in there. She hates it and cries the whole time even with a sucker. Today was our time to do that again.
Here I am am detangling. She has a sucker and TV show, but she still cries a lot
More detangling
My girls have been wanting to do puffs on her, but I just haven't felt like her hair is long enough to make a substantial enough puff. Today, I gave in. So here you have my first work of art with Laila's hair other than the occasional headband that I will put on her. Most of the time we just go natural with a fro.
She looks so sad. I wish it wasn't so painful.
What do you think? I can't tell if it looks good or not. I need some opinions. I am looking forward to when she gets older to doing some braids for her.

Sunday Afternoon Baking

Many of you have asked me how I do it all with 6 kids. Well, first of all, let me tell you, I don't do it all. I have created a few systems that work for us that allow me to do some things. One of those is my Sunday afternoon baking. I have found that if I am able to spend a couple of hours on Sunday afternoons doing some baking, I can make my mornings easier for the rest of the week.

Basically, I choose a breakfast item like muffins, bread, coffee cake, or egg casserole. I prepare a double batch on Sunday afternoon(if I do a bread item, I make a regular version and a gluten free version because Cody has Celiac Disease). By doing this I make my week much easier. We don't have to figure out each morning what to have for breakfast. The kids can have what I have made, a fruit, and some milk and they are good to go. They can also get their own breakfast which frees me up to get myself and Isaiah and Laila ready. Here is my baking for this week:
Cody's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
Regular Chocolate Chip Muffins
Speaking of chocolate chip muffins, does anyone have a good recipe for them? I found this one online and after making them and trying one, don't really care for them. I would love a really good one. Now, I am not telling the kids that I didn't like them. I didn't do all of that work for nothing!!

Sugar Count

Rick has been gone 8 days now.

In that time, I have consumed a roll of cookie dough, 2 Large French Silk Pie Blizzards, 15 rolos, 2 lemonade suckers, 2 Lolly suckers, several Girl Scout Cookies, and an undetermined amount of truffles.

That is just what I can remember. Who knows what else I have eaten!!

Rick, you have to come home soon!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 7 - Rick in Africa

I am eating a pink lemonade sucker as I type this. Yes, the sugar extravaganza continues. If sugar really is "white death" like some of my friends call it, then I may not live until Rick returns from Africa at the rate I am going. And yes, I will have some French Silk Pie Blizzard again tonight once I put the kids to bed. :)

If I haven't mentioned it, this is the longest I have had the 6 kids by myself. It also doesn't help that Rick was gone to Dallas a week before he left for Africa, so I am running on empty at this point.

I am learning some things about myself as a person and a mom.
1. Taking care of 6 kids is exhausting. At about 4:00 each day, I hit a huge wall. I have even been going to bed before 10:00 the last few nights, and I still wake up screaming, "NOOOO" every morning when the alarm goes off. This is not a new revelation to me, it just feels so much more magnified since Rick is gone. There are no breaks. I constantly have someone talking to me and asking me for things. I just need 5 minutes of quiet, or I might just go crazy!!!

2. I have figured out why I don't like to eat with my kids. I can't get one bite in my mouth before someone needs something. I have never been the kind of mom that sits down to eat lunch with her kids. I am the kind that feeds them, and when they are done, I eat by myself.

3. Keeping busy is good for me while Rick is gone. By day 7, though, I feel a bit weary and just want to relax. I need to find a good balance between staying busy to pass the time and overdoing it to the point of exhaustion.

4. I have trouble reading while Rick is gone. I know this one sounds silly, but I find myself spending lots of time on the computer or watching TV while he is gone. Both of those things are relaxing to me. Even though I enjoy reading, it feels like too much work when he is gone.

5. My kids don't realize that I have feelings, too. I finally had a discussion with a couple of the older kids today. I shared with them how their words of disrespect hurt me. I even told them that their words have made me cry at times this week. They had no idea. I appreciated that they listened and seemed to care that they hurt me.

I am currently counting down the minutes until I can put the kids to bed, and it is only 4:45. I have most of the night planned so it should go smoothly. We went to a bday party earlier today. It was really crazy with lots of people . While there, Isaiah peed his pants(something he hasn't done in 3 weeks), hit children 2 times, and bit someone. It was lovely. The party ran over into nap time which did not help. This little boy is sooooo strong willed. Some days I just don't know if I have it in me to be all that he needs from me. He literally tests EVERY boundary I give him, even simple things that he would enjoy. He wants to do everything his way. I know I am tired and that makes everything harder, but I want to have a good day with him where I don' t have to deal with discipline all day long. I love blessing and doing special things for my kids, but it feels like he sabotages every good thing I do for him.

Okay, enough ranting. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can....

Friday, February 19, 2010

Survival Part 2

I have now transitioned from cookie dough to Dairy Queen French Silk Pie Blizzards to get me through this week.

I just thought you might want an update on how all of that is going.

If I gain weight this week, none of us should be surprised.

Please don't tell me if I look bigger, just have pity on me.

Brain Dead

I feel brain dead right now after my morning. It was bad, I mean really bad. Since Isaiah's and Laila's adoptions have been finalized, I needed to get Social Security numbers for them so that we can claim them on our taxes. I went on the website to see what kind of paperwork I would need, and I made several phone calls to try to get some answers. Unfortunately, the phone was never answered after being on hold many times, and the website was unclear. I decided the only way to do this was to just go to the office with every piece of paperwork that seemed important and wait it out. I did not want to send original documents in the mail and also risk not sending all that was needed. I also had to take Laila and Isaiah with me because it seemed as thought they might need to be present since the numbers were for them.

I prepared, I thought through this, and I worked very hard to make this as smooth as possible. The office opened at 9:00 AM. I got there at 9:05. The place was full. When I got my number, I was A18. I looked up and saw that they were on A2. The other problem was that there were "B" numbers as well so every time a number was called, it wasn't always an "A." I took a deep breath and sat down, prepared for the worst.

I was already pretty sure of this, but after today I am convinced that Isaiah is the loudest child in the world. He also has to be the most repetitive. I wish I had someone counting how many times I asked him to use his "quiet voice," and how many times he repeated the same things over and over. Good thing I was equipped. I rationed out every bit of my arsenal slowly. We started with books. Then, we progressed to cars. The next step was taking off our jackets and playing games like "Pat-a-Cake" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider." I waited as long as possible before I broke out the crayons. After going through naming all of the colors and tracing our hands, I began to draw shapes and pictures for Isaiah to identify. I feel like I basically did a morning of preschool with him although much harder.

Finally, our number was coming up next. Isaiah said he had to go potty. I was absolutely not going to miss my number being called. I told him he would have to hold it. 3o minutes later they actually called it. Seriously, can we not have a fast pass for people with children? I even went over to one of the security people at one point and asked if I could take pictures. I wanted this day permanently recorded. I was thinking of all of you out there reading this blog. Wouldn't you like to have seen the struggle?

Once they called us over, the fun had just begun. Now, I had to contain them at a counter while I was also answering questions and finding paperwork. They were restless, and so was I. Isaiah was getting louder, Laila was getting fussier. There were signs everywhere that said, "NO FOOD OR DRINK." Are you kidding me? Finally, after asking Isaiah to put his hands on the counter at least 30 times in order to keep an eye on where he was, I sat them down under the counter, gave them their sippy cups and fruit snacks. I dared anyone to tell me they couldn't eat them. That kept them busy for another 5 minutes. Once that was over, I pulled out the play phones. Isaiah kept telling me to be quiet because he was trying to talk on the phone. Then he decided he wanted Laila's phone more than his. So, a fight began.

I can't even express how much frustration I was feeling inside. It reminded me of all of the waiting we had to do with them in Africa in various offices for paperwork to be completed. The difference was that here I was doing it alone. I am already a semi-mess most of the time that Rick is gone, but this sent me into full blown messiness.

Finally, we were done. I had everything I needed to complete the process. I was told the cards should come in about 2 weeks. Before I left, I asked the lady at the desk, "By the way, just out of curiosity, did I need to bring them with me?" Her answer was, "No, only children 12 and older." Oh my goodness I could have gone postal at the point. At least I do not have to go back to that evil place again for a long time. I picked up all of our things and gathered Isaiah and Laila. When we got into the car, I looked at the time. The whole process took 1 hour and 42 minutes. I was exhausted. I felt like I needed bring Isaiah and Laila home and fumigate them. They had been all over the floor in that place. I could just feel germs landing on me.

As I was driving away, I got a call. I couldn't get to my phone. When I went to listen to the voicemail, it was Rick. Oh, no. I haven't spoken to him since Tuesday and have no way of contacting him myself. Thankfully, his message said he would call back in a few minutes. We got to talk. It was quick, but just what I needed to settle me down.

Then, I proceeded to Dairy Queen to get a blizzard.

Friends to the Rescue

Yesterday, I woke up really emotional. Not really sure why. I am assuming it is that spiritual battle thing I spoke about. Anyway, some great friends really ministered to the kids and me yesterday. I am kicking myself right now as I type this wishing I had taken some pictures of yesterdays events. I felt so blessed and pampered, the thought didn't even cross my mind.

It started in the morning. Sam had a medical appt. Heidi not only kept Isaiah and Laila for me during that appt, but also fixed Sam, Isaiah, Laila, and me lunch at her house afterwards. Now, let me just say, her hubby is out of town, too. She has enough on her plate already, but she chose to bless us. It was so nice to bring the kids home and put the little ones straight down for their nap with no lunch to make or clean up. Thank you, Heidi!!

Last night, Melissa and Amber came over and invaded(in a really good way) my kitchen. They walked through the door loaded with groceries. Then, they proceeded to prepare a "breakfast for dinner" feast for our family. I am not joking when I say, "feast." Let me just tell you all that they prepared for us. We had chocolate chip pancakes(regular and gluten free)with whipped cream and syrup, eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, fruit, hash browns, orange juice, and milk. Seriously, we never have that much variety at a meal. In addition, they cleaned everything up and washed all the dishes.

The kids entertained us with their dance moves which brought much laughter. After the kids were in bed, we just talked until they went home. What a treat!!

I can't even tell you how much of a blessing it was, not only to me, but it really impacted my kids. They felt very special. I love to be able to share with them how their community cares. They are seeing and experiencing real life examples of God's love being shared through His people. It seems fitting since we are focusing on kindness around her this month. Thank you Melissa and Amber for taking such good care of us while Rick is away!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 4 - Spiritual Battles

Being in ministry is hard. Just because Rick is the one who has the job does not mean that we aren't in this thing together. I don't get a paycheck for it or a fancy title, but I walk alongside Him in this calling that God has placed on both of our lives. In fact, in the cases of Africa and our adoption, God put those things on my heart first. This "job" that he has takes a toll on our family in so many ways. It can exhilarating and draining all at the same time. There is a burden that we carry as we minister to hurting people and try to defend the cause of the orphans and widows.

Whenever he travels for work, our family faces spiritual attack. It comes in many forms. Sometimes it is mechanical things that happen to our house or vehicle. Sometimes it is our health. Sometimes it is the children's behaviors. Sometimes it is an actual spiritual battle within me, one of the kids, or in Rick.

This week, so far, it is the latter two. My children have been really disobedient. Yesterday was one of Isaiah's hardest in a while. Today, it is the bigger kids doing things that we have discussed hundreds of times. We had a "come to Jesus meeting" in the truck this morning. Basically, I laid down the law, "You make wise choices, or the consequences will come." The consequences that I have chosen are severe. I am tired and weary and cannot be battling constantly over things that we have made very clear are unacceptable. They are fighting with each other, name calling, and wrestling and throwing things on the main level of our house. You get the picture.

Then there is the spiritual battle that goes on in my head. Satan knows my struggles and weaknesses, and let me tell you, he is working overtime to attack me in those areas. I feel like God wants to do something big in me and our family this year. I have no idea what that is, but obviously, that is the last thing that Satan wants. He speaks lies to me that I listen to when I am weak and vulnerable. He takes everything good about me and tears it down until I feel nothing but defeat. I can recognize this today, which is good. That helps me to fight back. I want to win this battle, but I am weary. I am beaten down by my kids' behavior, by the work of caring for them alone, by my lack of sleep, and by the sheer fact that my best friend and soulmate is on the other side of the world out of my reach.

So, there you have it. When I started this blog, I told you that I wanted it to be real. I don't want to just share about the rainbows and smiley faces of my life, but also the struggles. Today I am struggling. Tomorrow is a new day, and I pray it will be a better one.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 3 - Rick in Africa

- We got to video ichat with Rick for the second time today. I feel so much more comfortable being able to communicate with him in this way. It is comforting for the kids to. We started our day talking to him before heading off to school.

- Isaiah was very disobedient today. We are talking biting a kid in class at MOPS, banging his head on my chest in anger when I was holding him, throwing a rock when he was told to not even touch them, doing the opposite of what I have said most of the day. Bedtime is approaching, and I couldn't be happier.

- MOPs was good. I always enjoy being with other moms, having a yummy breakfast, and getting a "break"(not so much today) from the kids for a couple of hours.

- I have realized that when Rick is out of town, I like to consume huge amounts of sugar (kind of like my friend, Jody. You can click here to read her blog post today.) Yesterday it was truffles and cookie dough. Today, I took Cody to Party City to buy something, and I left with Lolly Suckers, Jolly Rancher Pink Lemonade Suckers(and I don't even usually like sugary things. I usually go for the chocolate, but never fear, I got that, too.), rolos, and a variety pack of Valentine chocolate that included Twix, Snickers, and M&M's.

- My friend, Melissa, came over today. She helped me clean out my girls' room. It was bad. The really bad thing is that we just did this in Dec. Not only was the work so much quicker and more fun, but I didn't get nearly as mad at my girls as I was doing it with her to converse with.

- I am currently counting down the minutes until bedtime. I feel unusually tired tonight. I just don't sleep as well when Rick is gone. How many more days do I have of this?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Family Valentine's Dinner

I have said it before, and I will say it again. We LOVE our pajamas. So, we had our candlelight dinner this year with most of us in our pajamas. If we are at home, why shouldn't we be comfortable?
The kids decorated the table this year. I thought they did a really good job. In fact, I am keeping it that way for a few days because I have some ladies coming over for dinner this week. We had our dinner on Saturday night since Rick was leaving on Sunday.

The Fam - Sam is there, but he decided not to look at the camera
Our Valentine's meal consists of the following:
Stuffed Shells
Love Potion
Truffles - chocolate and strawberry
Cards and money from Papa and Grammy
Abby enjoying her love potion
Cody in one of his poses
We end the night with a little competition. A chopstick sweetheart relay. Cody was the winner this year. Isaiah was sooo excited to get 2 of the hearts out with the chopsticks!!
My Kindness Challenge continues. Here are a few of the things I have done for the kids this week:
- Let Cody go to a sleepover(that was actually an act of kindness for both him and me!)
- Bought some Thin Mints for the kids. (These are Lauren's favorite Girl Scout Cookies)
- Let Isaiah watch "Little Einsteins," his favorite show.
- Helped the boys and girls with their laundry.
- Let them do a craft project.(I am not crafty and don't really like the mess that craft projects make)
- Got Abby a new dress and Cody some new jeans.


I have decided if I am going to make it through this time while Rick is gone, I am going to have to pull out the big guns.

So, today, I went to the store and bought myself some cookie dough.

I won't be making cookies for the kids.

No, this cookie dough is for me, and I won't be cooking it either.

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.(Traci and Elaine, you know what I am talking about. Now, if only both of you were here to enjoy it with me.)

There is nothing like good friends, a little cookie dough and a really good chick flick to make the world seem right.

Class Valentine's Day Parties - Healthy vs. Yummy

Sam had a party on Thursday, but I don't have pictures of it because I could not attend. Cody missed his party because of the court date. So, this year, it is just the girls' pictures that I have to share. I took the girls back to school after our court date so they wouldn't have to miss their parties. They wanted Laila to come to. They loved having her with them. She enjoyed herself, too. She got lots of attention and some treats, too.
Abby playing Valentine Bingo
Now, I am not the healthiest person in the world, but I am also not the least healthy either. I think I have a balance between the two. There was a huge contrast between Lauren's and Abby's parties. I will show you what I mean.
Abby's food was string cheese, clementines, and milk
Lauren's food was make-your-own ice cream sundaes
I guess I am just thinking that for a party you could have something sweet. I felt bad for Abby. She didn't seem to mind, though.
Laila's cheesy grin
Laila enjoying popcorn in Lauren's class with her first Valentine from Lauren

Let the Games Begin Part 2

I just ichatted with Rick. I love technology. I love that not only can I talk to him, but I can see him, and he can see us. He arrived safely in Joburg and will spend two nights there before heading to Swaziland.

So, as I shared before when he was in Dallas, weird things happen around here when he is gone. Today was the beginning of that. I was going to take the kids and meet a friend at Whit's End. Well, her kids got sick, but we decided to go anyway. I got everyone ready, out the door and loaded into the truck, and then, "click." The truck would not start. Evidently someone in our house left the door open all night. Now, we are stuck.

Thankfully, Laura F. is bringing Cody home from a sleepover and is going to jump it for me. So much for our plans to do something fun this morning. I am thankful it was nothing major and that I have friends that can help me out in a situation like this. Thanks, Laura.

More adventures to come...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kids are Hard Work

On Sundays, Cody goes to his class during one service and volunteers in the junior leadership program at church for the second service. Each week he serves in a classroom helping with younger children. He enjoys, and he is really good at it.

Today, I took the kids to first service. He had the opportunity to stay for second service and serve, so he did.

When he came home, he sounded down. I asked how it went. He said fine. Then I said, "Are you okay?"

His response was, "I am tired."

I asked, "Are you glad you stayed?"

His response, "Yes, kids just wear me out." (Yes, sir they do. I had to smile. It was a moment where he had a small glimpse into my world. I think that is good for him.)

1st Valentine's Day

Today is a day of firsts for Valentine's Day in our family

- It is the first Valentine's Day since we have been married that Rick and I will spend apart. He is on his way to Swaziland today. I am jealous of him, excited for him, and a little nervous about having him gone for the next 10 days. With recent events surrounding us, I am also praying fervently for his safe return.

I believe in what he is doing. I don't really like it when he travels, but it is different to me when he goes to Swaziland. I love that country, and I love those people. They are my friends. God has crossed my path with them in ways that will affect the rest of my life. I pray God uses Rick greatly, blesses him beyond measure, encourages his heart, and reveals even more details of His calling for our family.

My days are filling up, and that is a good thing for me. If I stay busy, the time goes faster. I push myself each day to get to nap time and bedtime. I just have to be careful not to plan too much. I don't sleep well when Rick is gone. I am naturally a night person anyway. I am way more productive at night. If I could make my own schedule it would be to go to bed around midnight or 1:00 AM each night and wake up at 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning. Since that is not my life, I have to be careful, or I will fizzle out before he returns. When I am tired, I am grumpy. This leads to conflict with the kids.

- This is Isaiah and Laila's first Valentine's Day with us. We had our family Valentine's Party last night. It was fun. I will do a post with pictures soon. Isaiah is in awe of the traditions that we do. They are all new to him and he just soaks up every last bit of them. It is fun to introduce him to these things in our family. I hope he grows up with a sense of love and family as he experiences these traditions that we celebrate.

So, we forge ahead through this week and next. I can't wait to share stories and pictures of Rick's trip.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Court Date - It Is Official!!!

On Friday, February 12, we went to court to validate Isaiah's and Laila's adoption. It was the official end of this process that has consumed the last year and half of our lives. It felt good to bring closure to the process. Now, as a family, we move forward.

When I went in to wake up Isaiah and Laila, I said, "Today is a special day!" Isaiah's excited response was, "Is it my birthday?" I said, "No, it is your court date." He ran out of the room proclaiming, "Today I am going courting." His cuteness never ceases to amaze me.

Sam and Isaiah wanted to dress alike. Aren't they handsome?
In the court room
We really loved the judge that led the proceedings. He was very friendly and open to us having our guests there. We were able to do pictures and video. He explained how these hearings were his favorite because they were the only positive court experience he gets to participate in. He saves them for the end of the week so that he can have something to look forward to.

I really underestimated how meaningful this day would be to me. All along it has just seemed like a formality that we must go through in order to complete the process. When we were actually there, it felt very different.

When we were in Africa, we did not get to go to court. Only our lawyer went to represent us. So we did not have that experience. There was something special about taking an oath and declaring Isaiah and Laila as our children. It was a commitment that we made before the court, our friends, our family, and God. Yes, we had already done that in our hearts and our actions, but this was a legal proceeding proclaiming it. That felt very significant to me!!

Rick and Isaiah on the witness stand
Laila and me on the witness stand
Our family with the judge
Our audience for the proceedings
(Thanks to each of you for being part of this special day)
They are OFFICIALLY ours forever!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


This little guy is so full of life. He has an amazing smile, and he knows how to use it. He exhilarates me and exhausts me all at the same time. Every time we go out in public he steals the hearts of complete strangers. He needs to talk to everyone he sees. He is convinced that everything about his life is important to everyone. Yesterday, I had him at Chick-fil-a. Before we left, he felt the need to tell everyone on the playground that he was leaving to get his picture made. It was info that they could not live their day without.

He tests every boundary I give him. He is as stubborn as all get out. He is persistent. He is strong willed. He is a leader. He is passionate. He is adorable. He is funny. He is loving. He has the funniest little pout. He talks ALL DAY LONG. He is inquisitive. He is a ball of energy.
God has a plan for this little guy. I have NO DOUBT about that. We have been fighting a battle in the spiritual realm for him for the last year, and I don't expect that to end any time soon.
I love him. I can't imagine my life without him. I am so thankful that God chose me.

This boy has mischief in his eyes!!
I see this look multiple times a day.
He loves to laugh. When he is happy about something
he says, "Yippee, Yippee, Yippee."
3 years old already!
He is so handsome!
Sweet chubby cheeks

This is his scared/pouty look. Funny, isn't it?
Isaiah, you have changed my life. I am one proud mama to have you.