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!" :)