Friday, December 19, 2014

The REAL Deal of Christmas...

So I have been working really hard to teach my kids the real meaning of Christmas. I saw this  making Christmas special post by John Piper.. Which really inspired me to outdo Santa and focus on the giving and receiving of gifts at Christmas! 




But alas real life intervened and this week found me dealing with several large unbloggable things. I found myself saying quite frequently "Let's just skip that. I am to tired today". 


Today was especially bad. I had two kiddoes with me at the Children's hospital for the majority of the day for some pretty major appointments. I came home, weary and extremely bogged down with details. 


The kids wanted to watch a Christmas movie or go look at Christmas lights, all I could think was "how many minutes until bedtime". 


Finally it was bedtime. The boys headed upstairs, Nesiah in her bed while the girls took Lady out for her nightly walk. 


They came back inside very quickly  with a big packaged addressed to our family! 


I allowed the boys to come back downstairs to help us open this package. Oh, the joys they found in this box full of goodies!

The most amazing thing, this box of goodies was sent to us by a cousin of my dads. Someone I only ever met once. Someone who lives far away from us.

We had just had a discussion with our advent celebration about the importance of listening to God's prompting in giving of gifts. We were discussing giving gifts to those we don't know. The kids were having a hard time with that one..
When this box arrived from someone who is a stranger to them, someone who listened to the prompting from God, on a day when their momma was to tired to do something extra special.. Sometimes the lesson is in the receiving not the giving... 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hanging Out With My Big Kids

I love hanging out with my big kids. They are growing into quite the fun bunch. They are old enough to have fun conversations and actually hang out with.
Last evening we decided to go out for pizza before attending Saturday night church. My foster momma friend babysat the little ones for us. So we were able to enjoy a nice quiet dinner. 

This is an older picture.. I forgot to grab my camera..
By the time I had the  melting down child, the anxious child and the total care child out the door in the cold rain, I was just happy to have everyone clean and dressed!

We dropped the kids off and took time to meet our friend's newest, little, foster kiddoe, before heading out for pizza... My kids love to eat so eating out is always a huge treat! Especially anything that is not fast food!

We enjoyed pizza at the little pizza shop then headed over to church.  We love the Saturday night option at this church.  It is one way that I can get out, get fed and get recharged.

I love conversations with my kids at times like this. Several of us have ADHD, so conversations can be hard to follow..

This was my favorite conversation..

D: we had fun in small groups at church, they divided the boys and girls.

L: yea we also played this fun game.

E: I liked the video we watched  on the importance of spending time in the Word.

F: When we open the bathroom door, the lady will run out and jump on us and crawl over us and scratch us, because she is so excited to see us.

Me: whaa.. whaaa... what? ( visions of ladies leaping out the bathroom door)

E: yes she will be so excited to see us.

L: I feel bad she had to stay in the bathroom while we went to church.

Apparently the conversation had switched from church to Lady the dog.


The funny thing is, no one is phased by our conversations. They are all entangled and twisted... they come up with  the most interesting conclusions to things. Sometimes I think it's my fault, because my brain works that way, other times I blame their ADHD.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Traditions

For many years, I wished to hibernate through Christmas. The holidays really bring out the heartache and loss. But as my kids get older, they get soo excited about Christmas traditions, my house is filled with joy and peace.

We don't get invited to Christmas parties, we don't do Christmas pageants or school plays. Therefore, we have lots of time for fun memory making moments. together. at home. The first years with my kids, I focused on making memories and keeping Christmas low key. That has really paid off and each year we add new fun activities.

Due to allergies we can not have a real tree. This was a hard tradition to give up. Plus I was having a hard time shelling out the money for a nice fake tree. But God totally blessed us!! We found a tree on an online yardsale. Brand new, BEAUTIFUL, prelit, 6.5 ft tree for $20!! Yes, TWENTY DOLLARS!! I am still in awe of this miracle. I had not planned to buy big tree this year and certain children of mine reacted very negatively to my decision. But when this very amazing deal came up, I decided to overlook their attitude and buy the tree. It took me a little while to have a good attitude about the whole situation. But now I am so thankful I purchased it!


We had planned to do Jesse Tree   but with getting the large tree and my printer not working to print out the ornaments I decided to skip that.

We are doing Focus on the Family's Advent instead. I bought the advent candles and we are reading the scriptures listed on the website. This is turning into a really neat experience. Plus we listened to Tony Evans for church this morning. Good, Good message! Can I just say, my children are loving all this?!?

We do some of the secular things like listening to Christmas music 24/7 for weeks before Christmas on the local Christmas station. They love the little Christmas medleys.

We are also doing a gift exchange this year. We had originally planned a weekend getaway/family vacation instead of gifts. But honestly with all the health challenges we have I was afraid we would end up ruining Christmas so I decided to do gifts. Every other year I bought one big gift for all the kids. One year it was a pregnant mini horse, one year a trampoline, one year a ping pong table, one year a huge lego set, and I was just out of options this year. So we decided to change things up. I had the kids do a secret santa exchange. They each get to make a list, then we exchange names and each kid buys their sibling a gift. We did all our shopping online and with some careful bargain shopping and lots of prayer I have found some INCREDIBLY unbelievable deals. So we had the fun of looking online, dreaming and wishing together. Then individually shopping with me. Next week the packages should start arriving. So then we have package delivery and the wrapping fun! Do you think the kids will actually be able to keep it a secret until Christmas?!

We currently have the tree up and each night the kids turn off all the other lights. It feels magical. the kids are learning to knit and do needlepoint. We sit in our cozy little house, by our tree with Christmas music in the background working on our projects....

It's not all perfect but it is such a wonderful way to connect and bond as a family. In the words of Karen Purvis, I am making deposits so that withdrawals will be less painful!




Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving..

Thanksgiving.. Holidays are complicated. Holidays are hard when your loved ones are gone.
Holidays are fun and exciting when you are a kid. Holidays are delightful and filled with magic when you are loved and secure.


My kitchen helper's on Monday.

This year we decided to do thanksgiving lunch at home. The kids really enjoy helping me cook, so it did not feel overwhelming. We love turkey and I cook turkey frequently through out the year.

Crockpot mashed potatoes
However, because I know how my life goes, we started cooking on Monday. Lee and David mucked out the barn then came in and begged to make pumpkin custard. I believe in teaching my children all kinds of life skills and Lee makes a better pumpkin custard then I ever will...
I made mashed potatoes (which I froze in a crockpot) and Elizabeth made oreo pudding for dessert!

I was really glad we had worked ahead because Tuesday and Wednesday passed quickly and I did not have time to do more cooking!! 


Thanksgiving morning from my back deck!

Wednesday brought us a beautiful snow day.. absolutely beautiful!

So back to Thanksgiving.. we had originally invited my family for the holiday but no one was able to make it. We can not do the 6 hour drive to family due to health/allergy issues and my absolute paranoia of driving in over the mountains in the snow in a 15 passenger van loaded with precious cargo.
We then made plan B. Take a trip to the beach for the weekend. We had made preliminary plans and started working out details but things just did not come together. So the kids and I decided to do our own formal Thanksgiving dinner! 


 
We pulled out my wedding china. We set the table all nice and fancy like.. 


We may have forgotten to get dressed, something I realized when I went to take the pictures as we sat down for lunch.. this picture is #reallife 

My 10 yr old's lunch plate!
The kids had been out sledding for the majority of the morning, while I prepped food. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn, and salad for the first course..
I cheated and bought stuffing in a box and gravy in a jar. #reallife

Dessert.. oreo pudding and pumpkin custard!
This is the second holiday we have done at home where I prepared the food. The kids and I are really liking this tradition. It feels good. I want this for years and years and years to come..

This is what you eat for lunch when you are on a limited diet.. holidays are hard.

Everyone pitched in to help with clean up..
My first thought after lunch was  "why, oh why, did I think using china was a good idea?!?!?" 

But when everyone works together the work is fine and is done quickly.

We spend the afternoon coating chocolates. This was a first and the kids loved it. We made chocolate covered chips, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered ritz crackers and chocolate covered sour patch kids!! That was def a a highlight in our day! 


We were invited to the in laws for the evening. We left our house around 4 pm and headed to Grandma's house. The boys watched football with the "men" while the girls begged to learn how to play settlers. 

Yes, Lady gets to go to Grandma's house too.. 

This rowdy bunch of boys had a lot of fun wrestling!


This was one of our best Thanksgivings ever. I love hanging out with my kids, they are old enough to actually have real conversations with, to really hang out, to do things together.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Winter, Snow Days..

I am loving this winter.. Snow came early. It's cold outside and cozy in my house! 

The kids love to wrestle. The two middle ones tend to work together to pin down Lee. However, he finally figured out how to get them both down! He was quite proud of himself! 

Lady and Nesiah are becoming friends...They hang out while the other kids are outside or tearing around.. 

Warm vanilla milk is a must for cold, snowy winter evenings.

It's a white Thanksgiving! 

They played for hours and hours in the snow.


My snow princess!
We are blessed to live a hillside were the kids can sled any time they want. They spend hours and hours outside, sledding, building snowmen and having snowball fights.

The animals are waiting for the kid to bring them hay and grain! 





Friday, November 28, 2014

Birthday Girl

 My beautiful little girl turned 9 this month.  


We had a fun breakfast at Friendly's the day before her birthday. FAyth's little friend S, her momma and big sister joined us for breakfast. 


Life has been really crazy so this momma did not get the cake made! Sigh. So we made a yummy waffle with icing and candles. 

On her actual birthday we had a special breakfast, gifts and movies for fun.

I am thankful to be a momma to Fayth. She is a beautiful girl who has overcome so much and come so far. She has really grown up in the last year and is blossoming into quite the young lady!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

When God Answers Prayers and Hunting Cabins...

We live in a neighborhood where most of our neighbors are pretty conservative. We are not the only trans-racial, adoptive or single parent family. However, the majority of the kids in our neighborhood have good daddies. Daddies that are involved in their kids lives.




My boys have really struggled with watching the neighbor boys go hunting with their dads. (the majority go hunting in the woods surrounding us) They have begged and begged me to take them hunting...

I am a tomboy. There are a lot of things I will do. But hunting is not something I am willing to do.

My late husband was an obsessive hunter. From Oct to Dec, nothing was more important then hunting. We had a hunting cabin. He shot 4-5 deer every year. He hunted locally and at the mountains.

My boys have pictures of him with his deer in their room. They wished over and over that God would have healed him from cancer so that he would take them hunting. (he died before I adopted them) My heart ached for them. But sometimes a momma can only pray...

Several weeks ago, one of our friend/neighbor/landlords called to see if my boys could go to the hunting cabin with them.  (they did not know that my boys were begging me to go hunting, altho they did know that my boys are little wannabe hunters)

These friends have 2 boys, one who is a good friend of my sons....My boys were over the moon with delight and excitement!They almost couldn't bear to wait 2 weeks!! They were going to "hunting"!! They got together with their friend and made lists of all the "supplies" they needed.



From a single mom viewpoint: my boys  need good male role models. They need to see what real men do. For a variety of reasons, some role models we had in the past were no longer present. This opportunity to go away for the weekend with 2 families (very involved fathers) was such a gift from God.  The gift that these men gave my boys will make a lifetime of difference. 




My camera broke so I have very few photos...
But they packed up their clothes, sleeping bags, bb guns, hatchets and camo clothing! They were THRILLED to be able to ride up in a big truck with the men. They had a fun weekend full of all kinds of fun adventures and came home last night, exhausted, cold, filthy and absolutely full of joy! 


Meanwhile us girls stayed home and attempted a girl's weekend.. which involved taking 4 kids to the 3rd specialist appointment for the week, a stop at the grocery store for junk food (So mom doesn't need to cook), lots of princess movies and Saturday night church.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lady

I am a firm believer in animals are a great teaching tool for kids. Feeding, walking, grooming and loving a dog are all excellent ways to teach responsibility for another living creature.

My boys have lots of animals outside and they do GREAT at taking care of them. They are responsible beyond their years. 


Elizabeth has in the past had cats and she bottle fed Ben, our steer. She is very responsible and loves animals.


But Fayth.. this is a first for her. She is finally at the place where she is ready to care for a living creature. She is doing very well so far, cuddling her, grooming, making sure Lady is fed. The girls take turns having her sleep with them. They love to take her with us in the car. She even has her own carseat.

My girls walk this dog in the cold and the rain. They go to great lengths to make sure she doesn't have accidents in the house... They are learning to sacrifice their own comforts for someone/something else's.
They do this all without complaining. Mostly because their brothers would be more then happy to take over the care of lady.  

My goal is to teach my kids to love and treasure life. To be responsible for something/one other then themselves.

 They were hiding from the dog catchers aka big brothers. 


The dog story.. now we know all things we own have a story. I had been searching for a specific dog for quite some time. I wanted a dog that was fully trained, gentle, kid friendly and easy to care for. Something clean and tiny. I needed for the dog to be hypo allergenic and really good with all kinds of kids and choas.
I also have a very limited budget.



So for the last 6 months or more I have been reading online, researching what would work with our needs AND wants. We decided on a bichon frise. They are hypoallergenic if groomed and cared for properly. They are GREAT with kids and need lots of love.

We searched the local puppy advertisements but finding a full grown dog, fully trained for an affordable price is nearly impossible.

A couple months ago we noticed "lilly" on the local website. I just wasn't sure. She was not that cute and I assumed she had been a puppymill momma.

Finally several weeks ago, I realized that Fayth had made great progress in her school work and her willingness to be a helpful, respectful member of our family. IT was time for a big reward.

The kids and I sat down AGAIN and scoured the puppy websites. We decided to call about "lilly" late on a Saturday evening. She was owned by an amish guy that lived 2 hours away. Her price tag was higher then what I wanted.
We prayed as we waited to hear back from the owner. We called the landlord for permission to have a house dog. We scoured amazon for the perfect collar and leash.

Monday afternoon I spoke to Mr. L who owned "lilly". He was selling her because she was a family pet, but due to family circumstances he needed to sell her. Yes, she was great with kids, even toddlers. She was sweet, well trained and quiet. Plus he was willing to drop his price by almost 40%!! This was so perfect. The only glitch, I was not looking forward to that far of a drive just to buy a dog.

But when we discussed, he mentioned that they were traveling later that week and would be in my area. PERFECT!

When we finally met "Lilly" at the amish farm, we were delighted. She had an awful, hacked up haircut, but she was still adorable, so ladylike and sweet. Plus the "grandma" who was babysitting the kids and dog that day, almost cried when she had to let go of this dog. She had been in the family for 7 years. The kids promised to write her letters with an update on "Lilly" once she was settled in.

We brought "Lilly" home and the kids were over the moon with happiness. They all love her dearly already and she them. She thinks she needs to go with us, whenever we go anywhere.

I have been pleased to see the girls take responsibility. They take turns, each having certain responsibilities each day.  I do very little other then checking in to make sure she is fed and cared for properly.

Yes, God even cares about dogs, especially for his little girls..







Sunday, November 2, 2014

David's Race and Other Random Moments.

My David has a natural God given talent when it comes to running. I have never seen another person run so effortlessly. 
This particular race is challenging for him. He was one of the top 5 at the Elementary Run so he got to compete in the Regionals.

Burst of determination at the end. Sadly this kiddoe learned a hard lesson. If we do not practice we will not be able to do our absolute best. 

Miss A was home for a visit. We love hanging out with her. 




Life has been busy lately.. sick kids, adjusting to babysitting and other life things. Posting here has been on the bottom of my to do list.. Sorry.. :)