Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The joys of democracy

As I was cleaning my kitchen (finally), Chloe ran up to me and asked if policemen were allowed to be in charge of the president. "No," I told her, "the president is in charge of the policemen."

"Good!" She said, & ran off down the hall, shouting at Zachary, in a snotty voice, "I'm the president, so I'm the boss of you, and you have to do whatever I say!"

This just would not do. I followed her back to her room and informed all of the children that it's important for a president to treat her people well, otherwise they might vote her down --or worse: form a military coup to bring her out of power forcefully. This pleased the other children greatly, and as I walked back to the kitchen, they were debating what to do with their president.

A few minutes later, they were all marching around the kitchen chanting, "Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!" 3 year old Evelyn interrupted her chanting, turned to chloe and said maliciously, "We are the enemy! Vote! Vote! Vote!" And they marched out of the room.

Back in the playroom the political debates continued.
Gideon: "Well, I'll let you play the Wii!"
Chloe: "I'll let you play whenever you want!"
Gideon: "I'll give you candy!"
Chloe: "I'll give you candy too!"
Zachary and Evelyn cheer!
Then Zachary runs to me, "I'm the congress, and I'm making a law that Chloe can't be president anymore."
The chanting resumes: "Vote! Vote! Vote!"

As I think about it, this doesn't sound much different from how adults behave when it comes to politics. As I go back to my dishes, I congratulate myself on a successful moment of minimal-effort homeschooling. And then I'm jolted back to reality as I'm whacked in the head by a foam dart that one of my darlings just shot at me. (who's idea was it to buy those dart guns for christmas, anyway?)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Travel with Kids!!

One of my favorite memories from my childhood years is all of the car trips we used to go on. I loved discovering the world around me through the window of our family van, i loved playing games with my brother... i loved everything about it! This year, for Christmas, our family will be driving to Texas. That means three days in the car, with four children ages 4-8. Today I went out and bought lots of little gifts to give the kids at regular intervals through each day, to help the time pass. While trying to think of some other creative car trip ideas, I came acoss a great website! The creator of this site has so many super ideas, that I thought all of you out in blogland would appreciate hearing about it. With all of her suggestions, plus whatever else I can come up with on google, we're bound to have a great time in the car! --this just further supports my creativity motto: steal everyone else's tidbits, and you'll look like a creative genius!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Things That Make Me Smile #5

Last week, I came upon a local news site. While browsing their articles, I found this one, in which they discuss the how many of santa hats were worn at our local Christmas --oh, excuse me --- *Holiday* parade this year. I just LOVE that they considered this newsworthy. Also, not only do they count santa hats at Christmastime, but they also count dogs, horses, and drums, during some of our other many parades throughout the year. How fun is that??

I'm CELEBRATING because today, Chris & I finished the last of our 6 counseling sessions which were required for us to get through the homestudy for our adoption. Hooray!! We had a great meeting with our counselor today, and she gave us all sorts of wonderful advice in regards to raising teenagers. I'm now sufficiently freaked out. (next step in the adoption: finish take another class with the homestudy agency, and finish paperwork

SMILING because we had a lovely pre-Christmas celebration with the kids on Sunday. Because we go to Texas every year for Christmas, we always celebrate with Chris' family the weekend before we leave. But neither my family nor his family want to sit around & watch all our kids open their gifts from us. So we have an addional Christmas just for us & the little ones --which happened to be last night. They had lots of fun opening our gifts, and we even had some friends come by for a surprise visit, bearing many more gifts!

SMILING because we had a very fun ladies' brunch at my church. There were 10 tables, and each one was assigned a table leader who got to decorate her own table, all christmasy cute. I got to be one of the table leaders and had lots of fun decorating mine.

LAUGHING because i got to take part in a fun skit for the brunch. I'm reminded of why I feel I missed my calling as a melodrama actress.....maybe someday

THANKFUL that i'll be seeing my family for christmas again this year. I LOVE visiting family and friends every year

And, I'm EXCITED that we'll be driving, because I LOVE road trips!!!

I'm also HAPPY that i've finished 99% of my Christmas shopping! Yay me! Now on to the wrapping

And finally, i'm LOVING the holiday season. it's just so dang HAPPY!

Magnanimous Monday

In many parts of the world, the poverty conditions are so bad, that people are dying from lack of food or clean water. This is a hard reality to comprehend when we live in such an affluent place. This week, consider giving a gift to a family in Asia. This site offers many options for life-saving gifts ranging from $1 to $11,000.

For just $11 you could give chickens to a family in need. Their eggs would provide much needed nourishment, and as they reproduce, they can sell the chickens for additional income. That tiny bit of money can change the course of a families life!!

For $30 you can help supply a village with clean drinking water --one of those little things that we so easily take for granted. Or how about a blanket to keep someone warm through the winter for only $5??

What sort of guilty pleasure could you give up for a week or two (or a month or two!) that would give *life* to these people in Asia?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Childhood Magic

We've all felt it. The childish excitement. The wonder. The desperate hoping. We wake up in the morning, throw the covers off, pray a silent prayer, and run to the window. Is it there? Has it come? We peer outside to see the rooftops covered in white. The ground has been frosted with a sparkling blanket, and tiny little flakes flutter magically from the sky. They pile neatly along the edges of our window, and if we look very closely, we can see the detail of a tiny flake that has just landed. The dirty old world of yesterday has been transformed in to a stunning land of white. And then it hits us. It's happened! It's actually happened! The moment we've been waiting for has arrived! We run out of our rooms, shouting the joyful proclamation to anyone who can hear. "It's snowing! It's snowing!"

Beyond the constraints of time, this feeling of expectation and excitement has remained the same in children throughout our country - and perhaps even the world. And it's no different for my children today. As I tucked my little ones into bed on Sunday night, their final thoughts were full of anticipation for the next morning. Will the Glorious Change take place as they slumber? What magic will greet them when they awake? As soon as the clocks in their bedrooms change from 5:59 to 6:00 they know they can finally get out of bed. They run to their windows and look outside. It's here! It's come! Sweet elation! I hear the sound of my children running to my room, as I snuggle deeper beneath my warm blankets. And then I hear the rejoicing of my children. "Mommy! Daddy! It's raining!" I'm suddenly awakened to the stark contrast of my childhood versus my children's.


Friday, December 04, 2009

Beautiful Words

Today I read Ephesians 1-4. I don't see how anyone can read those chapters and not smile. It's so full of beautiful descriptive phrases! Take a minute to read through these slowly. Let their words settle into your heart and echo through your mind as you go about your day.

Established in love
Love that surpasses knowledge
Fullness of God
In accordance with his pleasure and will
To the praise of his glorious grace
Freely given
Riches of God's grace
Lavished on us
Mystery of his will
Good pleasure
Praise of his glory
Riches of his glorious inheritance
Great love for us
Rich in mercy
Incomparable riches of his grace
Expressed in his kindness
Gift of God
We are God's workmanship
He himself is our peace
Unsearchable riches of Christ
Rooted and established in love
Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine
Gifts to men

Funny Friday #3

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Things That Make Me Smile #4

I'm smiling *lots* this week, after a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

THANKFUL that I have great inlaws who I love & get along with well.

LOVED Thanksgiving dinner, even if there were 30+ people, 1/2 of whom i didn't know. :)

HAPPY that Thanksgiving wasn't at my house, so I didn't have to deal with the mess! (sorry, Linda.)

LOVED having Chris home this last weekend. With all of the work he's been doing lately, we haven't seen much of him. This weekend was a *great* re-connect.

LOVE that we got our christmas tree up on Sunday, and LOVE the way the house feels when it's decorated for Christmas.

THANKFUL that we were able to get some much needed clothes for the kids and me.

SMILING because even though my last good pair of jeans got a hole in them, at least I have clothes to wear.

LOVED watching the (first) Star Wars trilogy with the kids this weekend. It was so fun watching them discover the story for the first time. The boys LOVED all of the fighting scenes, but all of the kids want to know why people kept cutting of each other's hands and arms instead of just killing each other. :)

HAPPY that Chloe & Gideon just finished two of their workbooks in school.

THANKFUL for Alexander Graham Bell for inventing the telephone, because i don't know how I would survive without my regular chats with my mom

which reminds me that I'm THANKFUL for Bill Gates for inventing the internet, which will helps me get lots of my last minute Christmas shopping done, *and* allows me to keep up with friends around the world. AMAZING!

oh! and of course, i can't forget that I'm THANKFUL for all those Black Friday deals! We got a great new computer that works nicely (though i'm still getting used to the new Windows program). I'm THRILLED that i'll finally be able to burn CD's again --and that the computer came with at "free" printer, so now I can print things again! Yay for technology! :)

and speaking of Black Friday, i actually really ENJOYED my crack-of-dawn shopping (or should I say sitting in line?) experience. it was quite an adventure (maybe i'll post the story sometime), and since i just love people-watching, i had a blast observing the mayhem that is Black Friday. Also, i got to have some nice conversations with the people who stood in line with me for an hour and a half.

There's so much more that i could write about, because is was just a week full of smiles for me. But i'll leave it at that, because I wouldn't want to bore my faithful readers.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Gift-tastic Tuesday

Well, i'm a little late on my Magnanimous Monday, simply because I forgot. But i'm glad I did, because I found something WONDERFUL to post about today! I found a great blog/website called . Their focus is on getting away from the materialism of Christmas, & getting back to the spirit of the holiday. Among other things, they suggested these great ideas:

Purchase a Christmas wreath from This Site, and you will provide vitamins for a Guatemalan child for 1 year.


give a T-shirt as a gift: If you buy one of These Shirts, Aklesia will donate a school uniform or piece of apparel to a child in need.
or buy one of These Shirts, and $1 of your payment will go toward , which is dedicated to fighting child prostitution.

if T-shirts aren't your thing, consider buying jewelry from NightLight, who's procedes go to help those who have been sexually enslaved or exploited.

I think these are amazing ways to make your gifts count for more than just Christmas. Not only are they something nice for the receiver, but they help to change lives. I plan to order from these sites as much as I'm able for the holidays, and I hope you will do the same.

Know of any other places to buy gifts that have a double purpose? let me know!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Funny Friday #2

I just love readers digest, for the main reason that they have good jokes. :) Whenever I visit the chiropractor (which is more often than I would like), I like to read the funny snippets from the magazine. So, since many people will begin decorating for the holidays today, I thought I'd post this little blurb from Reader's Digest.

What Your Christmas Tree Says About You
White Lights You ask houseguests to remove their shoes
Mulitcolored lights you're an extrovert
Blinking lights you have attention deficit disorder.

Homemade ornaments You have lots of children
Strung popcorn you have too much time on your hands
Red balls only you wish you lived in a department store.

Yellow star on top you're traditional
Glowing Santa on top you shop at Kitsch'R'Us
Cutoff top You didn't measure the tree

Vague evergreen smell you bought a healthy tree
Strong evergreen smell you sprayed your tree with pine-sol
Just plain smelly there's a dead bird in your tree

-Rebecca Munsterer

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Things That Make Me Smile (AKA Thankful Thursday)

As much as I was enjoying my cheesey alliterations, I've decided to rename my Thankful Thursdays. Those of you who know me well would understand how I hate having to fit into a box (unless, I suppose, it's an oddly shaped, multi-colored box that's tied with lots of funky ribbons and finished with a lovely smelling flower tucked on top). So the Thankful Thursday thing was just too restrictive. What if I don't want to say THANKFUL every time? What if I want to say that I'm HAPPY about something...or that LOVE something? So. I'm taking Thankful Thursdays out of its squishy little square box, and i'm re-wrapping it into a purple, oval-shaped box, tied with orange and brown ribbons, and I'm adding a little pink fresia for an extra touch . :)

So.. today, I am

THANKFUL for warm fuzzy socks

HAPPY that we'll be buying a new computer on Friday. This one's been on its way out for awhile, but we've been keeping it on life support until windows came out w/a new version. hooray! Can't wait to have everything working beautifully again. :)

LOVE chocolate ice cream drumsticks. What is it about chocolate that's so comforting to women? And why isn't it as effective on men? Someone needs to do a study!

THANKFUL for the beautiful weather we've had this week. Mid 70's!

SMILING about the time I got to spend with friends at the beach. :)

THANKFUL for the time I got to spend with my friend, Shelley, making salsa & hanging out at the beach.

LOVING the africam video. I mentioned this awhile ago, on the blog, but i stopped watching it & eventually forgot about it. But a friend mentioned it on facebook, & i've started checking it out again. It's so fun to watch live video feed all the way from africa! So far we've seen lots of birds, several sunsets, some wildabeasts, boars, deer things, and a cheetah. Right now, as I'm writing, we're watching a bird weave a nest, piece by piece. it's amazing!

THANKFUL that our church finished a *major* part of their construction project & will be able to move on to other things. And I'm EXCITED to watch it grow more beautiful as external touches are added.

SMILING about the movie that I was reading about. It was rated PG-13 for "Mayhem". How random is that?

LOVING the new songs I bought for my ipod over the last week --esp. Guy Davis' "Grandma is Dancing" --which I think i'll have to buy for my mom.

AMAZED at how faithfully God has cared for me & provided everything I've needed. In awe of His goodness.

Thankful Thursday #3 Preface

well, this being THE biggest Thankful Thursday of the year, let me wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!! We will be spending the day with Chris's family. I always enjoy visiting with them, but am especially looking forward to it today, because we've seen each other so seldom this year.

and now on with the Thankful Thursday post...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Magnanimous Monday #5

Today, in honor of Thanksgiving, leave some Thanksgiving flowers on the doorstep of a neighbor, to brighten their day. :)

My kids carved out a pumpkin & planted a small flower in it. We gave it to an elderly neighbor with a Thanksgiving note.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Madnanimous Monday follow-up

Thought you might enjoy seeing what we left for our mailman this week. The kids all had tons of fun making pictures and notes. Evelyn's was great. she's started doing this new thing where she scribble writes. So she covered a sheet of paper in her "writing" & then she read it to me & i wrote it so that an adult could read it. I regret not taking a picture of it. But here are the pics I *did* take. interestingly, the mailman took the notes, but left the balloons.

Funny Friday

considering the title of my blog, not only is it important to smile, but it's important to laugh. And since i just can't help myself with these cheesy alliterations, i thought i'd post funny things on fridays. :), being the first Funny Friday of How to Smile, i'd like to share an amazingly hilarious blog with you. My sister-in-law, Jody, just introduced me to it today. I read his first real post, & i was laughing so hard by the first paragraph, that tears were streaming from my eyes, and i could hardly get through the rest. This man just has a perfect way with words. So without further ado, you must check out Life Between Naps and at very minimun read his post titled, "Raisin Ruby"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday #2

Today, I am THANKFUL for the holidays. What a wonderful lovely spirit is in the air, thinking about family & thanksgiving, & christmas.

I've been listening to Christmas music this week, to help get me in the mood for a Christmas party I'm helping with. The music inspired me to hunt for more, on itunes. I'm so THANKFUL that I found the song, "Sleigh Ride" by Barenaked Ladies. LOVE it!!

i'm also THANKFUL for my camera. Photography is such a release for me. I just love exploring life through my lens, & dicsovering beauty in a different way.

I'm THANKFUL for, & the laugh I often get from exploring their site.

I'm THANKFUL for my friend, Shelley, who left a giant boquet of lillies (my favorite flower) on my car this week. And i'm THANKFUL that my house has been filled with their amazing aroma all week long!

I'm also THANKFUL for my friend Melissa who took a chunk of time out of her day to give me & Chloe haircuts...I just love getting my hair done! Which make me THANKFUL for my hair! bcause hair is just FUN! :)

I'm THANKFUL that my car's leaky windshield was fixed & it was all taken care of under warranty. And i'm THANKFUL that the warranty covered a rental car for us, so I had transportation the whole time it was in the shop. And the tiny car I drove made me especially THANKFUL for our great big roomy car. AND, i'm THANKFUL for the mechanic who changed my car radio's favorite button to play the Spanish station, because it gave me a good laugh.

Which reminds me that I'm always THANKFUL for a good laugh.

I've also been thinking about all the little things that i don't even notice in my life. I'm so THANKFUL for fingers. I can't imagine what life would be like without them. Take the time today, to think of all the things you use your fingers for. And thank God for his amazing creation!

I'm THANKFUL that I get to spend so much time with my amazing children, because i homeschool -- which makes me THANKFUL for the freedom I have in this country to do that. And i'm THANKFUL for all the amazing books we get to read together. We just finished reading Robin Hood. What a great story!!!

Which also reminds me that i'm THANKFUL for youtube, because when none of the video stores carried Robin Hood for me to watch with the kids, we were able to watch it on youtube (even though it *was* in 10 parts) :)

And as I sit here & ramble to you, eating my chocloate chips & marshmallows, I'm THANKFUL for tastebuds which make eating so very interesting. And i'm THANKFUL for computers and the internet. However did we survive before the internet??

editted 8:01pm: i forgot to add that i'm THANKFUL that I decided declare a school holiday on Monday & organize the house. We super-cleaned the playroom and both the kids' bedrooms. They were sparkly and roomy & pretty for a whole afternoon!!

The Attitude of Gratitude

After my first Thankful Thursday post last week, I discovered a little thing going around facebook, where people were posting one thing each day that they're thankful for, until thanksgiving. What a great idea! Between the two projects, I've come to feel much more appreciation for the little things in life. So as I was pondering how thankful I am for the many things in my life, I went to church on Sunday, and you'll never guess what the pastor's sermon was about..... Thankfulness! haha! :) it was a really great sermon. I had planned to post a link to the podcast, but i guess they haven't uploaded it yet, so you're out of luck. shoulda been there! ;) One thing that interested me were the many studies that my pastor read that stated the health benefits of living a life of gratitude. amazing! Anyway, I've obviously been working on my own thankful heart already, but as a result of the sermon, I was inspired to do the same thing with my kids. So now, every day, before we start school, we each take a minute to write in our journals, about the things we're thankful for. I love it! and according to all those studies that were referenced, my kids should live more happy healthy lives as a result. :)

Because I couldn't post a link to the sermon, I went ahead & googled "thankfulness research," and found some interesting things... here are a few highlights:

*In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

*In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.

*Prosociality: People with a strong disposition toward gratitude have the capacity to be empathic and to take the perspective of others. They are rated as more generous and more helpful by people in their social networks (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002).

*Spirituality: Those who regularly attend religious services and engage in religious activities such as prayer reading religious material score are more likely to be grateful. Grateful people are more likely to acknowledge a belief in the interconnectedness of all life and a commitment to and responsibility to others (McCullough et. al., 2002). Gratitude does not require religious faith, but faith enhances the ability to be grateful.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Adoption FAQ

As most of you already know, Chris and I have recently decided to adopt a baby from South Korea. Many of you have questions about the process, so I thought i'd post a little FAQ here. I'll post a link to it on my sidebar, and continue to add to it, as more questions come up, and as I have time. If you have a question, feel free to ask! :)

When Did You Decide to Adopt?
May, 2009

What Made You Decide to Adopt?
There's not a really cut and dry answer to this one. Maybe someday, I'll write the *whole* story which goes all the way back to my high school days, but for now, I'll just say that it's an idea that Chris and I have toyed with for a few years, but never felt strong enough to act on it. But last May, after a series of events, I felt like God was speaking strongly to my heart, that he wanted us to adopt. So I told him that I didn't think Chris would go for that idea, and if he wanted us to do that, he would have to put it on Chris' heart as well. Well, God kept speaking to me about it, so the next day, I told Chris that I really felt like we should adopt a child. And chris said, "I've been thinking the same thing lately." !!! So we decided to move forward.

Why Did You Choose South Korea?
This, again, doesn't have a very practical answer, but a God one. Once we knew we were adopting, I started doing all the research I could. I looked into domestic and international. I explored the cost of different countries, as well as the time frame. We want to move through this process as quickly as possible, so that the new baby will be close in age with the other children. One thing I discovered through my research is that different countries have different regulations as to *who* can adopt from them. They may have regulations on anything from age, to amount of divorces, to marital status, to amount of children in the home. For example, Haiti will not allow you to have more than 2 children already, so that ruled them out for us. So as I was researching which countries are options, chris called me one day, and said, "I was praying about it, and I felt like God said we should adopt from Korea." So in addition to the other countries I was looking into, I began hunting down adoption agencies that worked with Korea. Well, it turns out that in all of my state, there's only one agency that we would be able to use. At this point, *I* was leaning more toward Ethiopia, but I went ahead and ordered some information from the Korean agency, just to appease Chris. ;) Again, chris called me from work one day, and said, "I was praying about it again, and really feel like God said, 'Seoul, South Korea.'" Well, I didn't think this made much sense at all. After all, it's a whole country, with all kinds of cities. How on earth could we say we want our baby to come from Seoul that would be like adopting from here, and saying, "my child must come from Austin, Texas." So I kind of blew him off, and didn't think much of it. A couple days later, we got the information packet from the adoption agency, and it said, "All of our children come from Seoul, South Korea." Well, that was enough confirmation for me. So I stopped looking in to our other options, and we began to pursue a Korean Adoption.

Do You Want a Boy or a Girl?
We would be happy with either one. But even if we wanted to choose, we wouldn't have the option. Most people who adopt want girls. Because the babies are offered to Koreans before they're offered to Americans, the girls get adopted more quickly, and that leaves mostly boys for the Americans. At one point, the agency that we're using (DSW) let people choose, but because so many people preferred girls, the boys weren't being adopted. So they changed the rules, and now, only certain people have a choice. Because we have 2 boys and 2 girls already, we don't get a choice, so we'll most likely be getting a boy.

How Long Until You Get Your Baby?
I'm guessing have about three more months of paperwork and interviews to go. After that point, we'll be put in the adoption pool at DSW. They don't go first come, first serve, so when they find a child that seems to suit us, they'll give us a call. The pool of adoptive parents is getting larger and larger with time, so i'm guessing we will have to wait for about 1 year before we hear from the agency. After we get a referral, it will take another 5 months or so, to process all of the paperwork, etc, to bring the baby home. So... we're thinking it's going to be about two years before we're able to have our baby.

Will Your Baby Come From an Orphanage?

Most Korean adoptions are pretty similar to American adoptions. A woman gets pregnant & is unable to care for the baby for whatever reason, so she give the baby to the adoption agency (Eastern Social Welfare Society --or Eastern for short). The baby is then place in the care of a foster family, which is usually an older couple who had already raised their children. They care for the baby as their own, until a suitable home is found for him/her.

How Old Will Your Baby Be?

When a baby is born, and placed with Eastern, they first try to find a Korean home for him/her. After 5 months, if they still haven't been able to find a Korean home, then the baby is offered to America. That's when DSW is able to call us with a referral. After that, another 5 months or so of paperwork makes the baby 10ish months before they're able to come home.

Will You Go to Korea?
Korea is one of the few countries that doesn't require you to stay there before you get your baby. If we want, we can go to our local airport & get the baby there. However, that means waiting even longer, until someone is available to fly to the US with the baby. For that reason alone, we would probably like to go to Korea ourselves, to get our baby. Also, because we'll raising a Korean child in a white family, we would like to be able to be able to get an understanding of their cultural heritage, so we can help teach them about it when they get older. The only thing that would keep us from going to Korea is the cost of the airline tickets. It's cheaper to fly one person here with the baby, than it would be to fly both of us there.

How Much Does it Cost?
too much!

Why Are You Using Two Agencies?
Every adoption requires a Homestudy. This is where a social worker comes into your home and asks you all sorts of questions about yourself and your life to try to determine if you're good people and should be allowed to adopt a child. They take all of the information you give them, and type it up into a nice little file that tells all about you, and this goes to the government and the orphanage (I think. --i'm a little confused about who actually gets the completed homestudy, so I could be wrong about that.) Anyway, DSW, the adoption agency that we're using will connect us to our child, and the agency in Korea. They would do our homestudy for us, but they're in another state, so we have to use a different agency, who is certified in our state, to do that. Therefore, we have two agencies: DSW, the adoption agency, and FCCA, the homestudy agency. This is a little annoying, because it means that we have to do most of the paperwork twice, because they both want almost the same thing --but it's just different enough to make us do it twice. Also, it means that we have to pay two agencies, which raises our price a bit.

What do the kids think?
The kids are *thrilled!* They've been asking us to adopt for a couple years now, ever since we heard there were some twin babies who were abandoned at the hospital. They love talking about what we're going to name the new baby, and they debate constantly, whether we should get a girl or a boy (we don't have a choice). They also pray for the baby & the adoption process daily. Evelyn for awhile, was telling everyone we met (friends, family, random people in the grocery store) that we're planning to adopt, and she would always add that she's going to give the new baby her car seat. so sweet! :)

So there you have it. What other questions do you have?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Magnanimous Monday #4

Leave a thank you note in your mailbox for the postman/woman (postperson? mail person? mailbeing?) For an extra special touch, stick a balloon in there, too. Better yet, write a note to your postal service person, and stick it in a balloon with confetti, so when they pop it, they'll have their own mini party. (be sure to label that the balloon is for them --and also, if you put the note in the balloon, you'll have to use a pump to blow it up, because if you do it yourself, all your hot air will condensate on the note & confetti, and that wouldn't be very magnanimous at all.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A New Name

As I reflect on my latest blog entries, I'm realizing that I've unintentionally taken this blog in a new direction.

When I first started blogging a few years ago, my main purpose was to have a pace to share some of my photos. But I quickly realized i had plenty to talk about in my life, so I shared whatever random things I thought friends and family would want to know about.

If you're a regular reader of the blog, you'll know that it died down a bit when I found facebook and realized that it was much easier to keep up with the people I care about, that way, rather than through the blog.

Then, as our family entered our new journey of adoption, it occured to me, that I'll be wanting to write more than just a little status update now and then. Hence, The Revivial Of The Blog.

Now, as I write, I find myself thinking less about the day-to-day, and more about the journey of my heart. So... I've decided to change the title of my blog to better reflect where my thoughts are leading. I'm happy to have you join me as I travel on this journey. Maybe we can learn a thing or two together. :)

Friday, November 13, 2009


When Zachy was a baby, and I was pregnant with Evelyn, and I was overwhelmed with motherhood, Chris & I decided it would be beneficial to hire someone to help with the housecleaning once a week. Through a friend of mine, we found an amazing woman to help, and she's been with us for five years now!

Through the years, we've had lots of time to talk, and while she doesn't speak any English, and I only speak preschool Spanish, I've enjoyed getting to know her, and have come to admire her deeply.

Living in Mexico, Ruth* grew up cleaning houses alongside of her mother, to help bring in the money. Because she had to work, she was unable attend school for any kind of education. She can't read or write, and has trouble with simple things like understanding a calendar, or telling me her age. But that's never stopped Ruth from dreaming.

As a young adult, she decided to leave her abusive husband, and come to America to try to start a new life. So she found her way across the border, with her five kids in tow --her youngest just a baby.

When I met her, Ruth had been in America for about 6 years. She was living happily with a new man, and her children were attending school - already better educated than she. Still not knowing any English, she often expressed her desire to learn. But when she told her husband of her aspirations, he informed her that she couldn't because she was too stupid. This was the beginning of their problems. Little by little she shared stories with me, of how he was mistreating her, and of the occasions that she had to call the police. She was torn, because she wanted to leave the unsafe environment of an alcoholic husband, but she didn't know how to drive, and relied on him for transportation to and from work. With the help of some friends, Ruth was able to leave her husband and support herself.

It didn't take long, before she told me that she was learning to drive! Some time after that, she asked me to get her some math books, because she wanted to learn math. A couple months ago, Ruth pulled up to my house with a "new" car that she had just purchased.

I'm amazed to watch this woman's life unfold, knowing where she's come from, and how far she's come. She works hard to provide for her children, and is happy to do so. Sometimes, I'll ask her about weekend plans, and she'll give me a list of the houses she has to clean. When I express sympathy for all the work she has to do, she always stops me. "No, Karina. Estoy muy contenta" I'm happy. She never complains. And when she leaves at the end of each day, I thank her for her work, but she's always quick to turn it around and thank me instead.

After living here for about 11 years, Ruth still can't speak English, and I'm amused because she gets exasperated with me whenever I fumble over my Spanish. But today she informed me that this month, she's going to start taking English classes. She told me in Spanish, "I wanted to drive, and I learned how to drive. I wanted a car, and I got a car. Now I'm going to learn English." And I'm sure she will!

And so you see why I had to take the time to write about this amazing woman, who chooses to overcome her obstacles, and make the best out of life, while I complain about the mountain of laundry in my garage.

*not her real name

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursdays

a friend of mine is starting a gratitude journal. It sounded like such a great idea that i was inspired to do the same. Because it's so hard to resist a good alliteration, i've decided to post mine on Thursdays. :)

To start the theme off, i'll post the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, by the persuasions:

I’m so glad that I’ve got knees
‘cause I can climb up and hang in the trees
I’m so glad that I’ve got hair
It would feel mighty funny with nothing up there
I’m so glad that I’ve got skin
‘cause that’s what keeps my insides in
I’m so glad that I’ve got a nose
Even though it looks like one of my toes
I’m so glad that I’ve got arms
Cause that’s what holds my hands on
I’m so glad that I’ve got feet
I can run and jump and skip down the street
I’m so glad that I’ve got teeth
‘cause there’s so many good things to eat
I’m so glad that I’ve got eyes
‘cause when I get sad I can always cry
I’m so glad that I’ve got a head
I can lay it on my pillow when I’m lyin’ in bed
I’m so glad that I’ve got a face
‘cause I am a member of the human race

So aside from all of those wonderful things, this week, i'm thankful for:

1. Chocolate! (need I say more?)
2. shopping carts (can you imagine trying to shop without them!?)
3. toilets (one visit to port-a-potty takes me back to the old days and makes me thankful for this little luxery)
4. tampons (sorry guys, but it's true!)
5. warranties (i just love not having to worry about how much i have to pay to have something fixed!)
6. health! (i'm so thankful that no one in my family has any serious medical conditions that we have to deal with)
7. books (I love getting lost in a good story)
8. freedom of worship (I never want to take for granted the fact that I can worship God without fear)
9. eyesight (to see the the smiles on my children's faces or a sunset...priceless)
10. my giant stove in my big kitchen in my beautiful home

Monday, November 09, 2009

Magnanimous Monday #3

In honor of Orphan Sunday which was yesterday, donate some money to help a child in need. It doesn't have to be a lot. It could be $1 or $1,000. But every penny can help.

some ideas for where to donate:
* a local church's children's ministry
* a local school
* a family who is adopting (if you don't know anyone, raises money to give to adoptive families)
* World Vision
* Make a wish foundation
* St. Jude
* Ronald McDonald House
* a local chidlren's hospital

these are the places that came to the top of my head. I'm sure there are plenty more.

for 10 extra MM points, sign up with World Vision to sponsor a child long-term. If you already sponsor a child, send them a letter!
For 100 extra MM points, dress up like a clown & visit the children's ward of a hospital

For 1,000 extra MM points, take some time to volunteer at an orphanage.

For 1,000,000 extra MM points seriously consider adopting an orphan!

For endless extra MM points, DO IT!

Let me know what *you* decide to do. :)

Monday, November 02, 2009

Magnanimous Monday #2

oops. i accidently forgot to be nice last monday, because i was sick. :)

So your assignment today, for Magnanimous Monday #2: give genuine heart-felt compliments to at least 5 people this week. One of them must be a stranger. Have fun! And let me know how it goes. :)

and for tomorrow: Tagnanimous Tuesday tag everyone you see who's wearing red. Don't forget say, "Tag, you're it!" :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Magnanimous Mondays

mag·nani·mous (mag nan′ə məs) adjective
noble in mind; high-souled; esp., generous in overlooking injury or insult; rising above pettiness or meanness; giving and kind; showing or suggesting nobility of feeling and generosity of mind

My friend Shelley, just started a blog with the focus of committing 3 random acts of kindness every week. I think this will be fun to follow, and i've decided to join her in her endeavor. I thought i'd write about it here, once a week. So, I picked mondays, because mondays are the days when people are the most gloomy, and in need of some extra kindness. I would love it if you would join me each week, in spreading a little extra kindness to the world around you. Let me know what *you* decide to do! :) If you don't want to think of your own ideas, you can follow my assignment each week.

This week: Your mission, should you chose to accept it: buy flowers and give them to a complete stranger.

I actually did this last week because i was too excited about the idea, & couldn't wait until Monday. :)

A couple days ago, when I went grocery shopping, I stopped at the floral section and picked out some pretty fall-looking flowers, and prayed that God would show me the perfect person to give them to. . As I checked out, I also donated a dollar to the store's current cause (thus earning an extra Magnanimous Monday point for me! ;) ) Because I had made this donation, they gave me a root beer float. As I was waiting for them to make it, I spied a lady sitting on a bench with her back to me. Being too shy to talk to a complete stranger myself, I sent Evelyn, my 3 1/2 year old, to give the flowers to her. My plan backfired, because, being a conscientious woman, she refused to take a bunch of flowers from a little girl who was unaccompanied by an adult. So Evelyn brought the woman to me, and I explained to her that we would like her to have the flowers, just because. She beamed & said how touched she was, because she had grandchildren. --I'm not really sure what that had to do with anything, but whatever the point, it made her happy. She left us with a smile on her face. Mission accomplished.

What's your Magnanimous Monday story?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Photo fund-raiser

Next weekend (October 9-10) I'm offering photo sessions as a fund-raiser for my church. Check out my photoblog for more information! :)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Orphan Sunday

Saw this video on another blog that I read. I loved it! Thought you might like it, too. Orphan Sunday is November 8,2009.

Orphan Sunday from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

An Announcement!

I've just started a photography blog, where i'll post my favorite pictures to share with the world. Also, I thought it would be fun to start a facebook page for my photographs as well. Check 'em out! let me know what you think. :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ed & Melissa

A couple months ago, I took Ed & Melissa's engagement photos. In October, I have the privilege of shooting their wedding!


Last July, for our Church picnic, Chloe signed up to bake a pie for the Apple pie contest. Considering that she can't bake on her own yet, that meant that *I* was signed up for the apple pie contest. The problem with this was that I had never baked an apple pie before. So, i set out on a quest to discover the best Apple Pie Recipe. But that's another story (although I *will* tell you that I --I mean chloe, won first place).
In addition to the apple pie contest, the church also held a salsa contest. Before I moved here, I never knew that people actually made their own salsa. But i've come to discover that making a good salsa is an area of great pride among many people in my community. Anyway, as I was hunting down apple pie recipes, it occurred to me that If I could make apple pie, maybe some day I could try entering a salsa contest! So I hunted for "the world's best salsa" recipe. Well, let me tell you... people have many more differing opinions about salsa than they do about apple pie. But I came upon an interesting recipe.
Apparently, there's a great restaurant in San Francisco, named Papalote, which is known for it's amazing salsa, and someone figured out how to mimic the recipe. So...I printed it up, and saved it for a rainy day, when I wasn't thinking about apples.
Last Saturday, when i was doing all of my lemon baking, I was re-inspired. As I was hunting down lemon recipes, I remembered my old salsa recipe that I was waiting to try. I looked it up again, and found an article that explained the writer's process of putting the salsa recipe together. The writer does such a great job of relaying her salsa adventure, that I would recommend you read her piece. Among other things, she mentioned that the owners of Papalote weren't about to share their secret family recipe, and that the last time someone offered to buy it, the price was $300,000!!! This must be some recipe!! So I made up my mind to make it as soon as I had time.
Because the recipe call for strange things that I had never heard of, like Pasillas, Pepitas, and Chiles de Arbol, I was sure I would have to go to a Mexican market to gather my ingredients. However, much to my surprise, my local Albertsons carried everything! I was so pleased that I promised the produce manager that I would share my salsa with him, after he found the Pepitas for me. That afternoon after picking up the kids from school, and putting away my groceries, and cleaning the kitchen and sweeping the floors, i cut up my chiles, and boiled my tomatoes, and roasted my pepitas, and made an amazing salsa! And as soon as it was done, can you guess my first stop? To Albertsons - to share this tastiness with Ed the produce guy.
Now I figure that if a recipe is worth $300,000, then some of you out there in cyberland may want to try it as well. So, without further ado, here is The Recipe. Once again, though, I strongly suggest that you read the article that goes with it, first, in order to get the feel for how special this salsa really is.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

When life hands you lemons...

So the other day, a friend came over & brought some lemons that my kids had asked him to bring. But it wasn't just a few lemons... it was a trash bag FULL!

So this morning, I thought I would use the first lemons to bake some of my Grandma Joanna's famous lemon bars. (As a side note, last Thursday would have been her 91st birthday). Well, that recipe only used up half of a lemon, I had a long way to go, if I was going to use the other 48 1/2 any time soon (for those of you mathematicians out there, who feel the need to point out that 50 minus 1/2 does not equal 48 1/2, Gideon ate one lemon, raw, and Chloe used another to make lemonade). SO...I went online to look up some good lemon recipes, and came across the perfect website! . This was exactly what I was looking for! As I was skimming the recipe for lemon pancakes, chloe came in, stating that she was hungry. This being a lazy Saturday, I thought it would be fun to make lemon pancakes for lunch. After all, the recipe looked pretty simple.

Lemon Pancakes recipe
½ cup of sour cream.
½ cup of freshly-squeezed lemon juice.
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter melted.
1 x egg.
1 cup of self-rising flour.
2 tablespoons of sugar.
1 tablespoon of lemon zest.
Powdered sugar to sprinkle on top.

Preparation Instructions:
1. Beat the sour cream, melted butter and egg in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and half the lemon zest. Stir in slowly to prevent curdling.
2. Add the flour and sugar and stir carefully.
3. Preheat a non-stick pan. When the pan is hot, pour silver-dollar-sized pancakes. Watch for small bubbles to form on the surface.
Cook for 3-4 minutes per side.
4. Garnish with sugar and lemon zest.

So... first things first... Sour Cream. Oops.... I didn't have any sour cream! Not to worry. I was sure there was some way to substitute sour cream. [Thank you, Jesus, for creating Google!] so i found a great site which gave me several options. I could use buttermilk [darn. I just dumped out a bunch of buttermilk, because i had no clue what i'd ever use it for].... or plain yogurt [don't have any of that, either]... or cream cheese --yes! i was sure i had cream cheese! So i went to my fridge, pulled out the carton, and opened it up, only to discover that *someone* *cough-CHLOE-cough* had used the last of it, and put it back in the fridge, EMPTY!!! .... so my last option was evaporated milk... I thought i remembered buying some on accident, several years ago, so I hunted through my cupboards. Sure enough! it was there! [Check the expiration... hmmm... expired last month... that's good enough!]. So i opened the can [hmmm there's some gook around the top --never mind that. it'll be fine], and dumped it in my measuring cup. Now all i had to do was add a Tablespoon of vinegar. but i was all out of that, too!! and then i remembered some apple cider vinegar that i had in a cupboard. [that should do fine --what's the difference, anyway??].

Good! finally, i had sour cream. So I juiced my lemons, and got chloe started on grating the "lemon zest." I got my melted butter & my egg, and dumped in all of my "sour cream." [Waaaiiiit a second... that recipe says *half* a cup of sour cream, and i just dumped in a WHOLE cup! No problem... we'll just double the whole recipe!] So... I add in some more butter, and go to get another egg. [hmm...i think i just used my last egg a second ago.] so i send the kids to look in our other fridge (the one in the garage, where i keep my extra 6 gallons of milk, and other misc. things like eggs). Chloe brought me the last carton [i hope that's not the one that's been sitting in there for months, that I keep forgetting to use --oh well... i should be fine...right?]. Now i've got the eggs & the butter, and the juice and the "sour cream"

Next: the self-rising flour. [well, i don't have any of that, either, but i'm sure i can make something work. how hard can it be?] Back to google to find this site! So... i mix my flour and my baking soda, and my salt. [Great! this is going to work out fine!] now... if you will recall, when I made my "sour cream," i used Vinegar. And my "self rising flour" used Baking soda. Does anyone remember what happens when you mix baking soda & vinegar? As I poured my flour mixture into my batter, everything started foaming up! Thankfully, I was using an extra large bowl, and no messy disaster ensued.

After all that drama of making a very simple recipe, I think the pancakes turned out just fine! :)

We topped the pancakes with powdered sugar, lemon zest and strawberries, and they were *delicious!!*

If you decide that you'd like to try this recipe (which I highly recommend), I suggest using the proper ingredients. Also, I think it's essential to garnish with the lemon zest. it really makes it perfect! :)

Now i'm off to clean my crazy messy kitchen!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A little Arabian trivia

after a wonderfully fun summer, we've gotten back into the homeschool routine. while I don't enjoy all of the extra work on my part, I'm really enjoying homeschooling, for the simple fact that *I* am learning so much!

this week, we've been studying the middle east, and muslims & arabs. Did you know that in the Dark Ages, after the Roman empire was defeated, the muslims conquered much of the known world? Well, that's not the interesting part. What's interesting, is all of the things that we've gotten from their brilliant minds.

For example, in England, at that time, they were still using sun-dials. So one of the kings invented this way to measure time by how long it took a candle to burn. But guess what the Arabs were doing? inventing pendulum clocks!

Also, the wool from sheep was a very expensive way to make clothing, so they figured out how to make fabric from cotton. Then they would stamp it with ink patterns, called... Calico!

AND...the shepherds would watch their sheep eat these cool little berry things, & then dance around with all kinds of energy. So they decided to take the beans from these plants, roast them, grind them, & use them to make drinks... and that's where we get... Coffee!

I'm so amazed to learn these interesting things about an empire and time that I knew nothing about... All thanks to home school.

...and one more thing: the next time you write a phone number or a math problem, you can thank the arabs that we don't use roman numerals anymore! :)

making a come-back

Hello bloggy world! It's been awhile! I've decided, in the midst of my life's chaos, to try to keep this little bloggity blog going. and now, for my very first post in forever....i can't think of a thing to say! haha! :) so... since a picture is worth a thousand words, i'll post some of my latest pictures. :)

these are a few of the maternity pictures that I took for a friend & her in the spring. :)

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Okay... i know it's been *forever* since my last post. I'm composing a very long post in my head, for the future, but of course, i never have time to do it. :) Facebook really is so much easier!! anyway.. a friend shared this video with me & i was amazed. thought you'd like to see it too!

Elephant Paints Amazing Self-portrait - The funniest home videos are here

note - the video imbed didn't work... i probably don't remember how to do it right. bt if you click above, on the link that says "elephant paints amazing self-portrait" it'll take you to the video. Watch it! it's amazing!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

checking in...

we had a lovely christmas holiday. My brother, Erik, and his family came into town to visit. It was fun to be with family again, although i was sorry to miss Josh & Heidi, & their families.

New Year's day, my mom called to tell me that my Grandma had died in her sleep. we were all glad that the suffering from her illness had ended, but sorry to say goodbye to such a special person. She was a woman deeply devoted to God, and full of compassion for others. I'm so greatful for the very rich heritage that i have.

In the following week, family from all over the country poured in. It was nice to see cousins and aunts and uncles who i haven't seen in years. I especially enjoyed talking to my grandma's brother & sisters. So fun to hear stories from the far-away past. I think i especailly apreciated it, because i know i won't hear any more of those stories from Grandma.

Heidi and Josh were among the family who came in. I was very excited to see them - especially Josh, who i hadn't seen since before Evelyn was born, i think... BUT me & Evy & Chloe were all stricken with a yucky stomach bug, so i didn't get to spend much time with them. My poor mom was throwing up the day of the funeral, so she wasn't able to attend. so sad!

Now, Family has all gone back to their homes, the Sickies have subsided - though i have a terrible lingering cough - and life is slowly going back to normal. I started school again on Monday. A very nice time with the kids. We read the entire 150 pages of Mr. Poppers Penguins in one sitting. the kids just kept begging for more. :)

anyway... its nice to start getting back into our routine... though i'm still recovering from the holidays -- i spent all day on Tuesday, doing laundry from the last 3 weeks. And i hope, someday, to get my nativities put away. :) Yesterday, i realized i have just a little over a week before my birthday. 32 years. ak! it never stops! the days just keep going & going!

so... that's my update. Joined facebook over the holidays. It's a lot of fun. WAY easier to update than my blog. So, if you'd like more frequent updates, come check me out on facebook. we can be friends. :)