Thursday, December 31, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

3 year old trivia games

Short answer question, topic 3 year old body functions: What body function is most accurately described by a 3 year old as "my pants are burping!"?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Welcome home!

Nothing says "welcome home!" like being baricaded from your house by 3 foot tall snow drifts. Aah, good to be home after a 5 day "extended vacation" at my folks. (ie snowed in by a blizzard)

Friday, December 25, 2009


Kenson's first Christmas home...what a blessing to experience a moment we've waited so long for.

He has been generally not sure of the whole Christmas deal. Giving and getting presents, Santa and reindeer, the Baby Jesus story. He's got bits and pieces but is still not sure how all of it works. He went with D a few weeks back to pick out a present for me. As soon as they picked me up from my shopping following their shopping, he promptly pointed to the sacks and told me 'There's candy canes in there for you, Mama!"

Those candy canes would come in to play later as we visited my mom and dad's/aunt and uncle's house. As we left for Christmas Eve, I went over the night's events with him. Going to church, eating supper at my aunt and uncle's house, and opening presents. To this, Kenson wanted to know what was in the presents to which I had to say, "I don't know. That's the fun part." At the church service he was thrilled to find a picture of Baby Jesus on the projector screen and kept talking about it loudly. Then when the minister mentioned Baby Jesus, Kenson quickly perked his head up from his toy cars and again loudly repeated the Baby Jesus words. At my aunt and uncle's we enjoyed supper and lots of new goodies including a toy ambulance (the hit gift so far) and a plethora of Little Debbie Christmas tree snacks for my hubby who happened to mention he liked them which means he now owns about 5 boxes of them. On Christmas morning, D and I reminded Kenson that Santa was maybe coming and that he should go check the living room. The stockings were stuffed with semi matching gifts for Kenson and Conleigh: monkey pj's, books, baby bottles, and my personal favorite-recorders. After that, breakfast and more presents from my folks and Uncle Jared. When hearing there were more presents, Kenson wanted to know if the packages contained candy canes, I suppose thinking of the package he wrapped for me.

We are now enjoying a blizzard complete with howling winds and snow. Our plans were to go to D's family this afternoon and tomorrow but I think we're staying put. I 80 is closed from Grand Island east and, while it doesn't affect us, there is a whole county in Nebraska that has every road closed. My father-in-law said the drifts in their driveway were shoulder high. And a couple places on the news were reporting 8 to 10 foot drifts in spots.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Christmas Story

One of my favorite Haitian missionary families does a "Christmas Extravaganza" every year. The video is a priceless look at the Christmas story. And the out takes are a riot. Be sure to check out their blog at .

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Still stuck like a duck in the muck

One duck stuck in the muck, for months and months now. (That's a children's book, in case you're wondering.) It's actually one child, stuck in the muck of government for way too many months but that doesn't wax poetic.

Conleigh's file hasn't moved anywhere. This month is month 15 in IB*SR. Just a quick recap for all who are interested...we were told originally we didn't qualify for presidential dispensation because that was only for families who had bio kids. So our file sat and sat and sat in IB*SR while our lawyer kept trying different things like giving the number assigned to our case for Kenson's adoption to prove we had been approved before or having us write a letter explaining that we weren't infertile but that we really wanted to adopt from Haiti. Then at some point in time that no one seems to be able to pinpoint, someone somewhere decided our file could be sent for Dispensation from the President. We were notified of this sometime at the end of October or so. With Dispensation taking anywhere from 2-8 months, we weren't really sure whether that was good or bad. (Another 8 months on top of the 13 we had already waited would mean 21 months in one office...for a couple who has previously been approved by that office!) So for the last month and a half, I've been trying to pinpoint when our file was sent, if there is any more information about Dispensation, etc.. Not because I really think I will probably gain any new information but just because I feel like I need to be a bit proactive and try to do some advocating for our file as best as I can. Well after not hearing anything but hearing through the grapevine that several stuck files from our orphanage had been released, I did hear from the director but she had no news other than, "I'm trying to get your file withdrawn from Dispensation as you meet all the requirements." I'm not sure what she means by "meet all the requirements because we are too young for the 1974 laws, but our file was in IB*SR way before the new director said she was going to start enforcing the old laws. So maybe that's what she means. And I certainly don't know what it would mean if they did withdraw our file from the stack waiting Dispensation. Would we be back to sitting on the desk at IB*SR, with a director who has already basically said that our file is not okay the way it is? Or is it worse to be sitting in the stack of documents awaiting Dispensation and have that take another 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, God only knows how many months? (And I am not kidding about the God only knows part because that's the truth.)

It is just generally depressing and frustrating and completely bewildering. I have had several people say to me, "Oh but just remember how long it felt with Kenson and how blessed you are now by him." That is true and he certainly is a blessing. (Tonight as I'm reading this newest bit of news from the orphanage director, I'm teary and sad so Kenson wants to know what's going on. So I told him I was missing Conleigh just like I missed him when he was in Haiti. Pretty soon, he comes in the kitchen with one square of toliet paper, hands it to me and says, "Mama, for your eyes.") But the people who say that don't realize how long this adoption could take. We are still at the beginning; we have a LONG way to go. I've been taking some solace in the fact we don't have to process things in Port because it seems like things that are processed in the different regions move much faster than things in Port. But still this is nuts. And just terribly sad for one little girl who has spent almost all of her 3 years of life in an orphanage. (And for this Mama who is tired of the whole mess.)

T is for tree (and tragedy)

Ever have one of those projects that didn't go as planned? Well, our tree experience this week would qualify as one of those projects. We did a bit with "t is for turkey" but did a little more this week with "t is for tree." To start, I had Kenson make a T on the floor and then took a digital picture so he could see the shape.

Then we cut out a tree from a book I have on practicing cutting and we taped it onto a toliet paper roll so it would stand up. (It's all going well so far.)Then I wanted to do something with some tree shaped pretzels that I had bought. I was thinking just chocolate dipped pretzels but at the last minute decided to make them extra special by doing a variation of a carmel dipped pretzel that I've made previously. The recipe I have has you make homemade carmel, dip pretzel rods in the carmel, and then roll the warm carmel end in chopped up chocolate, nuts, etc.. Why not make the carmel and then double dip the trees into chocolate almond bark? So I made the carmel and Kenson helped me dip the trees in the carmel. We set them on a baking rack to cool. I got the brilliant idea that perhaps doing some kind of fast cool might be a good idea, that maybe a cooler pretzel would do better when I went to dip them in the almond bark. So I stuck them in my deep freeze for an hour or so. Once I got them out of the freezer, I discovered they were really stuck to my pan. To thaw or not to thaw, that became the question. After making myself bleed with a metal spatula, I opted for thaw a bit. But of course, I broke quite a few in the process. Once in the chocolate almond bark, the pretzels that were left intact started falling apart. Apparently, because they were thinner than the pretzel rods, the carmel softened the pretzels and they started falling apart. Big clumpy chunks of pretzels. I thought I might be able to resurrect them by sprinkling Christmas sprinkles on. So I gave Kenson the shaker and hoped they would look like they were supposed to be globs of pretzelly, carmelly goodness. Um, 3 year olds and shakers full of sprinkles are a bad idea. Especially when the adult in the room is preoccuppied with dipping pretzels in chocolate.

Round sprinkles roll, especially when you try to sweep them up with a broom. Trust me, I know. I will be finding Christmas sprinkles at random places in my kitchen until Easter, that much I am sure of.

And, lest I keep you waiting...the finished product....looks just like a tree, don't you think?

Monday, December 14, 2009

How Many Kings?

I always send out my God and Me posts to my friends via email. That's actually how the whole God and Me thing started was as an "accountability, what's God doing in your life" type email inspired by the church we visited in Lima, Peru where daily faith conversations were a part of their community. Anyway, a family friend replied back to my email with a link to this video. It's a great song that captures the heart of Christmas and is good for reframing your perspective.

God and Me-Distraction

Distraction. I think that sums up the past few weeks for me. It is the advent season and generally I have been too distracted to really care. We've had something break about once a week now for the past 6 weeks or so. The transmission in D's truck. The suspension in my car. Our corn stove. A leaking water pipe under the street in front of our house which to make a long story short, may or may not be our responsibility. A non working furnace last Friday which is now working but needs someone to come look at it to see why it stopped. And a dead car battery in my car. Those have been financial distractions as well as things that have just been irritating. Of course, there is no news on Conleigh. I know some files from her orphanage that had been stuck saw some movement based on what someone else said online but no one has replied to tell us it was ours. So I'm assuming we're still in the same place we have been. We're going on 15 months in one place. That's a distraction. And ABC has been running night after night of classic Christmas movies which have been fun to watch with Kenson. But also distracting because they shift the Christmas focus from Jesus to Santa. I know that sounds silly but I have felt like we've been on Santa overload with little emphasis on the baby Jesus story. It seems like the times I've had to center my heart on the meaning of Christmas have just been when I'm at church. (Which is good because it means our church is helping people see the the true meaning of Christmas, but I wish my heart were living with the true meaning a bit more during the rest of the week.)

I want my heart to remember how Christmas is this wild story of a pursuing God who hatched a crazy plan to draw His children to Himself. How God Himself put on flesh and came to earth to be the One who crushes sin. How this arrival on earth is part of an amazing thread of events and people from the Old Testament who were promised that He would be coming. How a baby born to a virgin, laid in a manger, raised to be a carpenter, turned water to wine, healed sinners both physically and spiritually, and raised the dead. How that wooden manger became a wooden cross where He bore my sins (and everyone else's) so that we would come close to the God who created us. And how He refused to be defined by a humble birth and a dark cross but instead rose from the dead. How this resurrection is just a foreshadowing of a second coming where He will reign over all the earth and a new heaven and earth will ultimately be established. That's the Christmas story I need to hear. That's the story I want to have in my heart, not worries about money or impatience over problems or even the stories of a kindly but totally invented character named Santa Claus

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Digging out

Sometimes housework requires a shovel...

especially if you're three and your Mama told you to pick up the Candyland cards all by yourself.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Conleigh info

I got a handful of photos of Conleigh this week. No adoption news. GLA had 12 files come out of IBESR not too long ago, some that had been in for over a year. And HCH (Conleigh's orphanage) has 4 kids going home this week, plus some files advanced that had been stuck but no word on what files and if ours was one of them. (Do you suppose my "please, let it be us" whining makes God want to say "I can only hear kind calm, voices. Whiney voices hurt my ears."?)

Just for the record, because I'm sure you are all wondering, between the two adoptions since October of 2006. We're edging up on the 40 month mark. No one should be expecting that long. (And the scary thing is, I think we're going to do this again at some point. No plans yet, but at some point down the road.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Snow Day

Today and yesterday, I've spent some time thinking about the classic children's book, A Snowy Day. If you've never read it to your kids, you really must. Little guy heads out in his snowsuit on a snow day and has all sorts of great adventures. Written in a very simple but not boring way. I used to use it in first grade the first week back to school after Christmas break. It was a great way to start edging kids back into school without asking too much of them right away.

Seeing as we had no school today and about 12 inches of snow, today is our Snowy Day. I'm a little skeptical that we will have school tomorrow because we are supposed to get another 3 inches or so yet tonight and the winds are supposed to pick up.

Snow days mean cookies, right? I was going to have Kenson help me and then decided I'd just do them while he was napping. I was wanting to making something new so I opted for Almost Oreo Cookies with Peppermint Cream Frosting. I had seen recipes for homemade Oreos before but I've never made them. This once is super easy because it uses a cake mix. I didn't have the ingredients to make the frosting using gelatin or shortening, which was recommended in other recipes. And I didn't want a cream cheese frosting with a heavy cream cheese flavor. So I decided I'd make my own Peppermint Cream Frosting. (Beat together 2 T. butter and 2 oz. cream cheese. Add 2 T. half and half, cream, or milk. Add powdered sugar until desired consistency. Crush 2 candy canes into fine pieces/powder. Add to frosting. Add mint extract, if needed, to pump up the peppermint flavor.) Pretty yummy, I have to say.

Then D and Kenson and I went outside in the snow. D shoveled while Kenson and I played. Across the street from our house, we have a huge snow pile from city snowplows. The snow was too soft to really climb up it but Kenson slid down it a few times, made holes, yelled into the holes (he was checking to see if someone was in them) and filled the holes back in. We live next door to a lovely sledding hill so I'm hoping tomorrow we can go sledding.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lunchtime Conversations...Where is God?

Have I mentioned how much I love the kid God has blessed me with? He is so fun, especially now that his vocabulary is growing and he is able to really say what he means. He is so full of one liners which send D and I into giggles. I am seeing a very perceptive, contemplative, smart little boy burst forth. (Of course, I'm biased but it's true!)

Today at lunch, totally out of the blue, Kenson asked, "Where's God?" Um, I'm kind of amazed that has even crossed his mind. So we spent five minutes talking about God being everywhere, how He is in heaven and all around us and in our hearts. What a sweet time of sharing how God has been at work in Kenson's life from the moment Kenson was born, how God saw Kenson when he was in Haiti and how at the same time, God saw Mama and Papa. How God saw how baby Kenson needed a mama and a papa and how God told Mama and Papa to go get baby Kenson. How God still is in Haiti and how He sees Mama Juislene and the orphanage nannies and Conleigh. How God is always beside us to keep us safe and to help us when we're scared or have a problem. How God loves us so much He wants to be with us always and wants live in our hearts.

And after all of those touching thoughts, Kenson got a big smirk on his face and quickly said, "Brian [our friend's Papa) is here too!" And it quickly descended into a big silly story about Brian being in our house even though he really wasn't. Ah to be three!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More gift ideas

My friend, Kristi, just launched a new fundraiser for her family's adoption of their daughter, Janae who lives at the same orphanage Kenson was adopted from. I have fond memories of Janae cuddling up to me on one of our visits during lunchtime, gladly eating the anchovie bits (which I really didn't want since I'm not a fish fan) out of of my beans and rice. Their adoption has truly been a labor of love, emphasis on the labor part. They have been in process for over 3 years and 7 months. They committed to Janae when she was 11 months old; she is now almost 5. Their daughter is a true orphan, meaning she has deceased birth parents which, surprisingly, actually makes her more difficult to adopt because of US immigration laws. With no family member present to declare to the US government their desire for Janae to be adopted, the process becomes more complicated and time consuming. I have been inspired as I've watched their family lovingly pursue Janae even though their wait has been considerably longer than they ever imagined. From the outside looking in, I have never seen them waiver in their belief that Janae is a part of their family and will come home, despite the grueling wait.

Kristi is offering three Christian themed shirts which would make great gifts and would support their family's adoption.

In the random world, Kristi and her family actually used to be ministers at a church near my house. And they have actually visited my church. But we were unaware of each other and missed our opportunity to meet in person. She and her husband now minister in a different state but still have some ties to Nebraska so perhaps someday we'll meet.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Different Approach to Gift Giving

Anybody else dread Christmas junk? You know, obligatory gift giving that basically results in you swapping a gift with someone else who maybe really didn't want to get you a gift either but felt like they HAD to.

I'm really not a Grinch or a Scrooge. I do enjoy presents, especially thoughtful ones or those where I receive something I need or want but might not have the time or money to purhcase it for myself. Gifts are a love language, a way to show people that you value them and that you are intimately acquainted with their personalities, likes and dislikes.

But at some point, it all gets stuck in my craw. Mindless gifts from coworkers like lotions that irritate your ezcema and Christmas ornaments that will not become treasured possessions because you barely even know the giver. Gifts from students that make you smile but also make you fat, like banana bread and cookies. Gifts from friends or family that are nice and appreciated but also really unncessary because you already have 25 washclothes or 2 pairs of slippers or a box crammed full of stationary. I'd much rather have my family and friends take the time and plan a "date" with me than buy me something. (I'm really quite fabulous and just expect people to want to spend time with me...just kidding. I think you know what I mean though. I treasure time more than stuff.)

That said, I'm still giving gifts this year. But I hope my gifts are thoughtful and useful rather than just fluffy, because-I-have-to-get-you-something purchases. I do like giving gifts. It is fun to watch friends and family receive something special. At some point, I'd love to have a year where all my gifts had a greater purpose than just to make me or the reciepient happy. It does require a little forethought. And probably a bit of saving because I'm generally thrifty and often buy gifts throughout the year at rock bottom prices. If I looked for gifts with a purpose, I couldn't search clearance racks or snap up deals on free shipping. But I could know that the money I was spending was going farther than the circle of me, my friends, and my family.

Have I piqued your interest yet? Here's a set of websites that are full of ways to give a gift with purpose, a gift that is far reaching and really stretches your Christmas budget.

Water 4 Africa-jewelry, scarves, pin cushions, pillowcase dresses, and more, provides clean drinking water to people in Africa

Haitian Creations-purses made by Haitian women as a means of self sufficiency

Artists for Hope-jewelry, supports various groups including Real Hope for Haiti in Cazale, Haiti

A Flicker of Hope-candles, supports various projects both domestically and internationally

Samaritan's Purse, For His Glory (Kenson's orphanage) and Heifer International-use their gift catalogs to buy various necessities for people around the world including clean water, seeds, animals, and sewing supplies, then give these "donations" as gifts to friends and family

Don't forget local options where you could donate in honor of a friend. Local rescue missions, foster care groups, a family pursuing adoption, literacy programs, churches, Christian colleges, the possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Mom...

about 20 some odd days late. I cut it out and pieced it but my cousin, Alissa, finished it for me by hand quilting it. I tried multiple times to machine quilt it myself but couldn't get it stretched right. I don't know why. After three times of spending the evening with a seam ripper, I gave up. Anyway, it matches my mom's living room and has beautiful hand quilting that can't hold a candle to machine work.