Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Truth Week

This week, we are having "Truth Week" in our house a.k.a. Behavior Boot Camp(this is what I call it, but we thought that might not be an encouraging way to address the issues going on around here.)

We are using the concept of wise people vs. foolish people vs. evil people found in chapter 7 of the book "Necessary Endings" by Henry Cloud.

The interactions in this house have been less than stellar over the last month.  I have been grieved by the way that the kids are treating each other as well as how they are responding to our correction and instruction.  I knew that heading into the summer, with lots of "together time" ahead, we would need some realigning of sorts in order to survive.  This birthed the idea in my mind of "Behavior Boot Camp."  Rick, being the grace-filled leader that he is, decided we should focus on rewarding rather than punishing.    That pretty much goes against every fiber of my justice/black and white being, but in my heart I know he is right.  We will accomplish so much more with grace than with shame and by focusing on the right behaviors rather than constantly giving all of our attention to the negative ones.  Don't get me wrong, negative behavior is still addressed, just not held over their heads as a constant reminder of their mistakes. After many heated discussions of our own, Rick has really helped me to see that I need to anticipate and expect them to make the bad choice.  They are selfish little beings and only through years of training and maturity will begin to change their decisions.

Here is the gist of the wise/foolish/evil concept:  (There are many Scripture verses that address this issue, especially in Proverbs.)
1.  A wise person listens to correction, considers it and makes changes accordingly.  He is teachable.
2.  A foolish person, when corrected, becomes defensive, acts like a victim, and tries to blame others.
3.  An evil person acts with the intent to do harm to others.

Each one of us acts in all of these ways at various times.  My goal is to make them aware of these reactions and hopefully guide them to choose wisely more often than not.

This is how it looks:
~I have compiled about 2 pages of Scripture verses that we are using this week.  They address wisdom, foolishness, evil, selfishness, love, the words that come out of our mouths, arguing, complaining, etc.
~On Saturday, we had a discussion at dinner.  We explained the concept of wish/foolish/evil actions and people.  We explained that throughout this week, we would be looking for actions that were wise and also that were loving and kind amongst them.  When those actions were genuine, they would be rewarded with money(yes, we are not afraid of bribery).  We want to reinforce the positive that we see going on in this house.

~Each morning, I have been gathering the kids together to discuss a different aspect of the wise/foolish/evil actions and people concept.  I am using Scripture and the information from the book to teach them.

~Every time I encounter a discipline issue, we talk about how they are acting(wise, foolish, evil) and try to course correct right away.  I am pulling out those Scriptures with the situations where they fit.  It is very time consuming, but I basically entered this week with the idea that most of my time would be devoted to training.

~The really fun part is being able to give out some dollars as rewards when I see one of the kids make a wise choice or choose to be kind and loving.

I feel like this week will set the tone for our whole summer.  I also believe I will be able to refer back to the lessons of this week for a long time.  I can't think of a better thing to instill in them at such a young age than the ideas of being wise in how they live, how they respond to the correction of others and how they treat those around them.

It has also been a really good exercise for me as well.  When I am holding 6 little people accountable to these standards, it really ups the ante on me.  I have 6 people to then hold me accountable for how I act and respond not only to them, but to others.  They are very observant and will call me out when they see that I am not practicing what I preach.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Constellation Dollars

As a celebration of the end of school and a reward for the kids' accomplishments this year, we took them out on Friday for a special treat.  When we got in the truck, I gave them a clue to figure out where we were going.  The clue:  Constellation Dollars.  Can you guess what that is?  It was so funny to hear their responses, "star money," "planet money," the planetarium, the museum.   Abby finally guessed it.  Of course, the right answer is:  Starbucks!  They were allowed to order any size drink of their choice.  Let me just say, that is a big deal in this fam.  We have NEVER given them the opportunity to order without restrictions. 

The place was pretty full when we got there.  We thought going at 1:30 in the afternoon would mean a pretty quiet place.  Not so.  The funny thing is, when we came in and sat down, the place cleared out pretty quick.  I guess six children doesn't really lend itself to the Starbuck's experience for most people.  I feel like Starbucks should give Rick and me some free stuff.  We are fostering 6 future customers for them!

We spent our time congratulating each of them for their accomplishments of the year.  Some even had goals that they set for themselves that they met:
Cody ordered a Grande Caramel Frap
 He completed his first year of middle school with flying colors.  His school really steps up the work in middle school.  He did his own work with very little input from us.  He completed the Science Fair.  He worked really hard to bring up one of his grades this last semester.  He also did his first school sport, wrestling.  Good job, Cody.
Lauren ordered a Venti Mocha Cookie Crumble Frap 
 Lauren really wanted to get all A's for the last 2 quarters of the year.  She reached her goal!  She also had many projects this year that she was able to complete on her own.  She was recognized for her encouraging spirit and devotion by her teacher.  Lauren, you rock!
Abby ordered a Venti Caramel Frap
 This girl is so tough.  She has endured headaches almost daily throughout the year and still managed to get all A's.  She was a huge help to her teacher and also often assisted her classmates when they were struggling to stay organized or grasp a specific concept.  Way to go, Abby!
Sam ordered a Venti Strawberry and Cream Frap
 This handsome fella set a goal to not go to the principal's office all year long.  He has had some visits each year of his school career for various infractions.  HE DID IT!  He was able to use self-control this year and stay out of the principal's office.  He also received a strong character grade for honesty, an area where he struggles.  I am not sure what his other grades are because he lost his report card.  Oh, well.  Sam, I am so proud of you and the effort you put into your character this year!
Isaiah chose a Naked Orange Juice
 This boy has captured the hearts of each of his teachers and classmates.  He can tell you the number of syllables in any phrase.  That is his trick that he likes to show off right now.  He also has worked really hard on learning what it means to submit to authority and conform to a group setting where he is not always the center of attention.  I have seen progress.  Isaiah, keep up the good work!
Laila chose an Izzy Clementine Soda
 Laila was in Mommy's school this year and the main subject was "naptime."  She has mastered that skill.  She is the best, most cheerful napper in the family.  She also perfected her skills in assisting mom in shopping.  You are too cute, for words, Laila.  What a bright ray of sunshine you are in my life!
My crew
 Our drinks
I think this might just become an out-of-school tradition!!  Of course, that Starbucks will never be the same!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Monkeys Are Out

I have 5 backpacks, 5 stacks of art work, 5 stacks of school supplies, 4 sets of school uniforms, 4 lunch boxes, and many other random items cluttering my house.  School is out.  The teachers let the monkeys out.  6 of them will be at my house this summer.  All. Day. Every. Day.

Isaiah got out of school a week ago.  The 4 bid kids got out on Thursday.  Isaiah and Laila and I showed up at school the last hour of their day in order to enjoy their end-of-school activities and help them say their goodbyes.  
Abby's class got to clean their desks and have some fun at the same time
Sam with his class picture
Signing cups to take home for the summer
Lauren's class made autograph books
Her teacher cried when she gave her the character award of Devotion.
Her teacher is moving away and there were many tears.
Isaiah and Laila got in on some of the treat action.
Isaiah is refusing to look at the camera, grumpy!
This was Isaiah's saint a of a teacher, Ms. Marilyn 
She loved him and also challenged his challenging behaviors.
 Ms. Ileana
Can you tell how much he worked his way into her heart?
I don't have any pictures of Cody.  He would have been appalled if I showed up at his school on the last day with a camera.  They got to have a picnic at the park and came back to school for a giant dodge ball competition and movie time.

I can't believe that next year, I will have a Preschooler, Kindergartener, 3rd grader, 4th grader, 6th grader, and 8th grader.  For now, I must tackle the piles of school stuff in my house and come up with our summer activities.  These monkeys get in too much trouble left to their own devices.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Big Stuff!

One month from tomorrow, this chick will be 4 years old.  That is big stuff in our house.  From a 9 month old little grumpy muffin to this vibrant young lady(this is the pose she came up with on her own). 
She is supposed to get her first friend party at 4, but after much stress over themes and whether or not her friends would be in town, she just broke down and said, "I just want to go swimming with my family!"  So, that is what we will do.  We are planning a day at Pirate's Cove for her bday.  Her little introverted self was just too overwhelmed with all that party planning.

When you turn 4 in the Clapp family, you get new responsibilities, new privileges, and you start earning allowance.   I gave Laila her first official responsibility today that she will take on as her own.  Don't get me wrong, she has done jobs before, but this one is all hers all the time.  May I introduce you to the "Toilet Paper Lady":
 Laila is now responsible to make sure each bathroom is fully stocked with toilet paper.  She was so cute walking around the house with her rolls of toilet paper today.  I think she is going to do a great job!

This chick has come a long way.  I caught her talking to strangers at Chick-fil-a today.  For some that might bring alarm to you, but let me say for the first 2 years, she would barely talk to anyone outside of our family.  For her to come out of her shell and actually speak without being prompted is a huge deal.

Over the weekend we got down the Big Girl Barbie bike for her.  She has been eyeing that thing for months waiting until she would be old enough to ride it.  She was so excited and just had to have her picture made.
How in the world did my baby grow up so fast???

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Grow, Already!

Saturday was planting day around here.  We all loaded up and headed to the store to get flowers, seeds, and garden soil and plants.  It was a very exciting trip.  We were quite the spectacle the whole time.  I have gotten used to being watched and laughed at.  Really, I have!
Sam, Lauren, and Abby did some flower planting in front of the house.  
Isaiah and Laila lost interest after about 1 minute. 
I lost interest before we started.  
 Next up, Abby's garden.  This girl is passionate about all things gardening.  She even has a summer job lined up to get some experience, earn a little cash, and help out an older friend of ours.
Abby's garden bed
 This girl has the motivation to garden.  
This summer we get to see if she has a green thumb!
 The plants waiting to be planted.
We, I mean they,  planted tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini, cilantro, and we are going to add squash this week.
 In process
 She loved every minute of it!
 I am hoping for some veggies, even just one of each, please.
Gardening is an expensive endeavor.  I am pretty sure that with the money we spent to set this whole thing up, I could have gotten a lot of our summer produce at the Farmer's Market.  Oh, well, it has to be about the experience and learning opportunity it provides at this point.  Investing in the future!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rockin' Out Roman Day

On Friday, Abby's class had Roman Day.  I have to say, I was really impressed with the costume that Abby came up with.  We only spent $1.00 to buy a silver ribbon to make a headband.  When I went to her class, she clearly had the best costume.  She rocked it out!  Way to go, Abby!
 They did many activities throughout the day.  They made a Roman Road snack layered with granola, candy bars, fig bars, malted milk balls, and oreos.  Since she is gluten free right now, she couldn't eat it.  She shared it with her brothers and sisters.  They also made a mosaic of Roman architecture.

I got to be there for the Roman coin archeological dig.  Someone donated 80 real ancient Roman coins to the school.  The kids were so excited to think about the fact that Julius Caesar and other Roman people they had learned about could have touched their coin.
They started by digging through sand to find their coin
 Next came the cleaning of the coin
 Abby's very own Roman coin.  
She even found a picture of it in one of the books!
 Abby and her teacher
The day ended with a Roman feast:  Bread, olives, figs, cheese, ham, grapes and juice.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mother's Day Discoveries

I have decided I have a love/hate relationship with  Mother's Day.  I love the idea of it.  I believe in celebrating this calling of motherhood that God has placed on my life.  I always approach it with expectations that I don't even realize are there.  I have been thinking about this ALOT this week.  I was so frustrated on Mother's Day, but as I look back, with a different perspective, I realize it wasn't a bad day.  My family did a lot of nice things for me, things that spoke my love languages.  

In talking to a friend this week, I think I figured out where my issues are.  First of all, my kids are young.  There is only so much they are going to do to make Mother's Day special on their own.  They are selfish little human beings that don't think through the ramifications of their actions.  On top of that, I entered Mother's Day wanting everything to be perfect, including my children.  I think, "Can't I just have this one day out of the year?"  If my kids fight, I go to this place mentally where I say, "I am such a failure.  They can't even treat each other well for one day.  Don't they love me enough to just give me a break?  Have I taught them NOTHING for the last 14 years of my life?"  Every disobedience, every item of clutter left around our house, every selfish act is seen by me as a personal attack on my calling as a mother.  REALLY?!?!  On no other day do I take these actions so personally.  Why do I have to place so much of my value on one day out of the year?  Does anyone else out there do this? 
The below picture was taken at our lunch.  This flower was given to me by the restaurant.  It was broken and wilted when they gave it to me.  That was pretty much how I felt at that moment.  
Looking back now at my day, I can say my view was really skewed.  I have made a decision.  I think we should change "Mother's Day" to "Mother's Day Out."  You see when I get a break, I can think more clearly.  When I get a break, I see my kids more realistically.  It sounds a bit ironic to say that I would like to spend Mother's Day away from my kids, but in actuality, I think that is what I need the most, at least in these years with young children.  It gives me a chance to relax, unwind, and even feel valued.  In those moments, I can look at my life as a mom with affection and sentimentality.  I can see my kids for who they are, little individuals with their own little personalities, strengths and weaknesses.  I do think this will change as they get older.  They will mature and grow and so will I.  For now, I have decided that "Mother's Day Out" is the way to go.  As moms, we should unite and spend a day celebrating our calling as moms, encouraging each other, doing something fun, and of course, eating some really yummy food!!  I went on my iphone for the week approaching Mother's Day next year and typed in a little note to myself every day of that week leading up to Mother's Day.  It says, "Do not have any expectations for Mother's Day.  Plan to get away in some way!"  Next year, I want to do this day better.  I want my heart to be more centered and loving.  I want to feel the true emotions that are really there, but get so messed up by my emotions of the day.  

I would like to share a few pics from my Mother's Day.  As I said, it was a good day full of sacrifices made by Rick and my kids.  
On Friday, Lauren's class hosted a Mother's Day Tea
This was the placemat Lauren made for me
It has the verse Philippians 1:15 on it, "I thank God every time I remember you."
My precious girl served me and made a beautiful card, wrote a beautiful poem for me and did words to describe me with the letters of my name. 
My favorite thing she said about me is that I love to dance!
Sunday morning at church
They even agreed to coordinating outfits.  That is love for sure!
Out to lunch at On the Border
I just love this picture
After lunch, I got to take nap!  After nap time(as you can tell by my appearance), they showered me with gifts.  I got chocolate, homemade cards, Lauren made me a necklace, and this chair to sit outside in the sun and read a book on sunny days.  
Notice in this picture, Sam is upset about something and Lauren decided it would be really funny to do her creepy kid face.  Yes, those are my children, and I love them!

I am thankful for my Mother's Day discoveries.  I am such a blessed woman.  I really want to become the kind of person that focus on the blessings of my life so much more than the frustrations!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Working on it

I am working on a post from Mother's Day.  Right now, I am waiting on some pics from Rick's phone (hint!  hint!)  I just couldn't wait to write a post so, here you go:

~Rick and I went to a wedding on Sat.  It was really beautiful.  The thing I loved the most about it was how worshipful it was.  There were 6 worship songs, and they made for such a great experience for the whole crowd.  We also saw lots of people that we haven't seen in a while.  That was fun, too!  I would love to have another wedding, to Rick of course.  I would do it so differently now.  Congratulations Josh and Hava!!  I can't think of a better way for you start your marriage!!

~On Saturday night, our whole family went to a "Team Huddle" at church.  This was a crazy, action-packed evening with food, prizes, and some fun to rally everyone together and hear the what God is doing and where He is leading for the future.  These kinds of things are really good for us as we try to connect and get involved.  I would say we are still in major transitional stage.  Each week is getting better and the kids are slowly finding their places and connections.

~Yesterday, was our last MOPs meeting for the school year.  I am sure some of you will be relieved to know that I got my eyebrows waxed at our spa day.  I feel so much better now.  You no longer have to worry about being attacked by my eyebrows if you get too close. I love MOPs and am going to miss it so much.  I see it as an opportunity to connect, get a break, and minister to young moms.  I am the old fogey of the group and the joke is that I will keep getting more kids just so I don't have to graduate out!!  Thanks, Melissa for a great MOPs year.

~We are so close to being done with school.  That both excites and frightens me all at the same time!!  I have to figure out how to manage 6 children all day every day for the whole summer.  That feels a bit overwhelming right now.  This is why I must have a plan!!

~I have injured my knee.  I have no idea what happened.  I cannot pinpoint an injury.  I just know that it is swollen and hurts a lot.  I am icing it, using it, and taking ibuprofen, but it is not getting better.  Yippee, old age is setting in full force!!

Friday, May 11, 2012

"Using What We Have" Update

In January, I wrote this post.  My goal:  Spending less money, using more of what we already have instead of buying new things, and decluttering.

I can proudly say that as of today, I feel like I have made quite a bit of progress towards this goal.

For the first 4 months of the year, I have not bought hair products(except one product for Isaiah when we were trying to create locs), lotions, soaps, or cleaning products.  This week I made my first purchase because we have literally depleted our reserves.

I have gone through, thrown away, and given away boxes and boxes of stuff that we have in our basement.  I have really tried to be willing to let go of things that I am not using.  I have been able to give away tons of kid's clothes, many household items, and quite a few toys.  I have found some really good causes that could use the stuff that is just sitting in a box in my house.  Really, why am I keeping all this stuff when someone else genuinely needs it and can benefit from it?

I am encouraging the kids to do the same.  If they can complete a project with things around the house, then we can save money and get rid of more stuff.  Abby is a master at finding uses for things that I just see as trash.  She is kind of a "Craft McGyver" of sorts.  We are currently working on her Roman Day costume.  I will share pictures next week when she has it all together.  I have only spent $1.07 on the whole thing

On a totally different note, we are preparing for summer around here.  The kids are creating "bucket lists" of fun activities and acts of kindness that we can do for the summer.  I will share those once they are complete.  We have registered for VBS.  We have a trip to KY planned with a mini beach vaca for Rick and me to celebrate my bday.  All 4 of us girls have summer bdays.  There is lots of bday planning going on around here!

Abby is planting a small garden this summer.  She and Rick built a garden bed last weekend.  We are waiting a couple more weeks to plant.  Today is the perfect example of why.  It is in the 40s and rainy.  Not good weather for a freshly planted garden.  I want to make sure we do everything possible to make this little venture successful for Abby.  She is so excited about it.

If you see me in the next couple of days, please don't be alarmed.  I do realize that my eyebrows are out of control and frightening.  If you get too close, they just might reach out and grab you!  When I was looking in the mirror today, I just kept telling myself, "4 more days, only 4 more days."  I am getting them ready for our spa day at MOPs on Tuesday, free eyebrow waxing.  Yippee!!  Lord help me if they run out of time before they do mine.

3 kids are at sleepovers tonight and only 3 are home.  We ordered pizza and had so much leftover.  As we were sitting at the table eating dinner with Sam, Isaiah and Laila, we realized that some day it will just be the 4 of us.  Wow!  That is so weird to even contemplate.  Unless, of course, we adopt those 14 children Isaiah is praying for!

Today was Rick's first Friday off with his new job.  His work schedule is now Sunday-Thursday.  I just wanted to smile all day.  It was so nice.  I have missed having him at home on Fridays.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Living Like An Orphan

Isaiah is going through a rough patch right now.  I shouldn't be surprised by it, but I always am.  This is how it is with kids, especially strong-willed ones.  They challenge you, for a period of time just to see if you will stand your ground.  Then, once you show them you really still are the boss, they settle into a season of better behavior.  
On the one hand, he is passionate.  He is a little comedian and charmer
 He loves to make people laugh and be the center of attention
 He is loving and affectionate and his smile could melt you into a puddle
He is a risk taker and survivor
 On the other hand, he can frustrate me to the point of wanting to run as fast as I can and scream at the top of my lungs.  He is a challenging kid.  His voice is so loud, it sounds like he has a megaphone attached to his mouth at all times.  To top it off, he talks ALL. DAY. LONG.   He doesn't take "no" for an answer, EVER.  Multiple times a day, we have a discussion about who the boss it.   He pushes the limit every minute of every day.   His philosophy is, "you just never know when mom might let her guard down, and I will get away with it.  He will even use that amazing smile and charm to manipulate to get what he wants, and so many people fall for it!!

All of this means that I cannot let up my guard.  I have to be consistent.  I give him a millimeter, he takes 10 miles.  It is so exhausting to have to be so tough with him all the time. It really limits the ability to be fun and spontaneous and "break the rules."  Doing that will set a chain reaction of behaviors that are just not worth it.  

I have noticed in the last 3 weeks that he has reverted back to many of the behaviors that he displayed when we first brought him home.  He has been living like he is an orphan.  He destroys things that others have that he doesn't have.  Because if he can't have it, they shouldn't either.  He disregards the rules of our household.  He talks about going to another family.

All the while, we continue to love him.  We prove to him that nothing he can ever do will change that love.  I think he is testing us sometimes just to see if we will still love him.  We are the 4th caregivers he has had in his life.  He has been with us the longest.  But that doesn't matter.  He still has to be shown over and over that we are his FOREVER family.

I share all of these things because I think it is important for those who have adopted to see that this is normal.  I also think those that have not adopted need to see that there are complex issues and struggles that adoptive families will ALWAYS face.  Seriously, he has been in our family for 3 years, yet he still doubts at times.  He still struggles with his story(what little of it he can understand at this point).  He still questions our love for him.  He still tries to function apart from the team.

I think there have been a few reasons these behaviors have creeped back in.  First, was this:
The 3 year celebration of their adoption
  We approach this event with excitement and joy, but he knows.  He knows that the fact that he was adopted means that something went wrong with his first family.  He knows that he was born in Swaziland.  He knows that his skin is a different color than ours.  He doesn't fully grasp it all, but he knows.  Even in the celebrating, there is grief over the brokenness of his past.

Also, the celebration of a friend's adoption has brought up questions in his heart.  Our philosophy is to be honest about his history, but to only answer the questions he is asking.  What I mean is, on the way to the adoption, he asked, "What was my first family like?"  My answer, "Isaiah, we don't really know. We never met them."  Then, he moved on to something else.  Now, I could have gone into a long discussion here with him, but I don't think he was ready for that.  He was satisfied with that answer and he will learn more as he gets older.

It breaks my heart that he chooses to live as an orphan when he is no longer an orphan.  God showed me recently that I do the same thing in my walk with him.  I question His love for me.  I doubt my place in His family.  I try to do things myself rather than relinquishing control to the one that loves me more than I could ever imagine.  I choose to do it my way instead of His.  All the while He loves me, He accepts me, He treats my as His daughter.

Our family would not be the same without these two!  
If you want to learn more about the issues and struggles that adopted children face, I would highly recommend the book, "Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew" by Sherrie Eldridge.  It is a great book that gives insight into this subject.

Oh, and Isaiah is convinced we need to adopt more children.  He has been saying over and over, "Mommy, I want more brothers and sisters.  I want us to adopt more children and feed them."  Recently, in the truck, he even spontaneously prayed a prayer that Jesus would give us more children to adopt.  I love his sweet heart.  He knows the difference that being in a family can make.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Living the Dream

Every time I hear that phrase, it just makes me laugh.

On our last Swazi trip, that became a phrase that we used a lot, sometimes sarcastically.  

Even though I am doing exactly what God has called me to do, being a stay-at-home mom, most days don't feel very dreamy.

That is how life is, though.  There are highlights and low points, but most days are just normal.  I really want to see God in the normal of my life.  I want to soak in His presence while I am "living the dream" that is my life.  Every mundane act can be an act of worship.  If only I could remember that in those moments!!  

~Right now, I am looking out my window at snow coming down.  You read that right.  It is May 7, and it is snowing.  It was in the mid-80s on Saturday.

~I have some really exciting options for my afternoon while Isaiah is at school and Laila takes her nap.
- I can clean my bathroom
- Exercise
- go through boxes in my basement
- bake something for the kids to have for breakfast this week
The temptation is to take advantage of this chilly snowy/rainy day and curl up under a blanket with a good book.

~Today is a big day, actually.  Rick began his new job today.  I am excited for him and the new opportunities for ministry for our family.  

~Abby's headaches have been "off the charts" over the last month.  We have done everything.  Today we begin trying gluten free to see if that makes a difference.  I have done gluten free with Cody.  It is not fun.  It is expensive, but I am so desperate to get some relief for this child.  She has some form of headache every day, but the last few weeks have been so intense.

~Laila's hair is complete!!  We have 8 weeks before we have to do it all again!  I will be 40 the next time I do her braids.

~The kids have 3 weeks of school left.  We are beginning our summer planning.  I challenged them this morning to come up with 2 lists for summer.  First, a list of fun things they would like to do.  Second, a list of acts of kindness we could do for others.  I will share more about both of these lists later.

~Can I just say how much I love Kohl's?  They really impressed me this weekend.  I bought Sam a pair of tennis shoes at the end of January that were pricey.  I decided it would be worth the investment to have them last longer than the cheaper shoes that he was going through quickly.  Well, last week, the shoes fell apart.  I was so frustrated.  I had my receipt so I thought it was worth a shot to take them back and see what would happen.  They gave me my money back!!  That is what I call customer service.  I will definitely be shopping there more in the future.

Living the dream, people.  Living the dream!  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tis the season...

...for field trips!!  

Honestly, I am not a big fan of field trips.  I think it stems back to my two years of teaching 2nd grade.  Field trips were not fun for me as a teacher.  They felt like way more work than the benefit.  I love the opportunity to interact with my children, but I often find that being in charge of other people's children makes the experience not so fun for both my child and me.  It works best for me when I know another mom going so we can lead our groups together.  

 I am willing to acknowledge that the field trips that our school chooses have purpose behind them and provide opportunities for my kids that we might not take advantage of otherwise.  My goal each year is to go on at least one field trip with each child.  Abby had one last week.  Lauren has one this week.  I have already been on field trips with them this year (Abby - "Charlotte's Web" play, Lauren - Cog Railway-my all time least favorite field trip) so I could check those off my list.  Sam's class is only doing one field trip this year.  Since Rick had never been on one with him, and I have done this one, Rick went(yay for me!).  This field trip was to the Littleton Museum.  Basically, it helps the kids see life in the 1800s.  It is all outdoors and they have actual Pioneer homes to walk through along with all the other buildings you would find on a homestead during those time periods.  It is amazing to see the difference between the 1860 home and the 1890 home.  There were some major advances in that 30 year period.  It is one of my favorite field trips.  
These two got to be alone for the day because there were so many parents going. 
Rick said he talked nonstop the whole time.  
 Doing some farming
 Don't you think this kid should do some acting?
 Sam's injury from a horrible peacock attack
 They had nice weather, and it turned out to be a great day for Sam and Rick.

Yesterday, Sam had India day.  I just didn't have it in me to come up with a costume for him since it wasn't required.  Remember it is "hair week" around here.  When I woke up, Sam was dressed like this:
Cody helped him put this costume together.  Sam was happy.  I was overjoyed.   So, there you have it!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Hair" We Go Again!

This is "hair week."  I am taking Laila's braids out.  She gets new braids on Friday.  Each afternoon, I give up her nap and "my time" to take out braids.  It will most likely take all week.  If you see her during the week, she will look like this:
 I am trying to keep her fashionable despite the fact that her hair will be in various stages of braided/unbraided.  Surprisingly, it all seems to fall on the same week.  Cody, Lauren, Abby, and I are all also needing hair cuts.  Speaking of hair, Sam is also trying out some new "hair".  He came to me like this on Saturday:
 It is amazing what you can do with a Sharpie and a piece of tape.  Funny boy.

If I am honest, this has been a rough week.  We are walking through the transition of Rick's new job and our new church with the kids, and it is challenging.  We have had lots of really good conversations and the opportunity to talk to them about some really major life lessons.  If they can grasp even in the slightest some of these concepts at such a young age, what a blessing it is going to be in their lives as they grow older.  Change is hard and affects each one of them in a different way.  It is truly a bittersweet time, but that is how most of life is, isn't it?  Happy and sad all mingled together and intertwined in such a way that you have conflicting emotions that can literally change by the minute.  I would so appreciate prayers for wisdom in how to walk through this transition with each one in the way that accomplishes the growth of character that God has for each of them.

Over the weekend, I was making truffles for an adoption party.  I use the "cake ball" (by the way, I hate that name so I call them truffles) recipe to put together about 250 truffles.  I grabbed a big chunk of chocolate cake to crumble up, and then I looked down and saw this:
I promise that I in no way tried to create this.  It just happened and once again, I am reminded of Swaziland, our friends, and all the children.  Who knows what God is up to.  We are making progress with the setting up of Beyond Survival.  Every week something new reminds us that we are on the right track, but it is such a slow process.  If nothing else, these little "Africas" I see everywhere are God's whispers to me that He is still at work and  remind me to pray for those who are on the front lines there every day.  We love all of you, friends, who are daily living out the calling to minister to the Swazi people.  You are not forgotten, and you are not alone.

Now, I must go unbraid some more hair and watch some really cool kids' shows!