Friday, September 30, 2011

Why You Need a Sister

Poor Kenson stubbed his big toe today on a nail head that was sticking out of a trim piece on the floor.  He complained to me about it but I of course told him to toughen up.  Five minutes later, he starts screaming bloody murder because the toe is bleeding.  (Of course, he's tracked blood all over the first floor, from the bathroom to the kitchen to the dining room, but that's another story.)  In between the sobbing and weeping, Conleigh decided she would help....with the words "I think you will die."  When I rebuffed this, she did amend her "Or be in a wheelchair fo evah."  Oh so helpful, so very helpful.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Check out my new Flicker photostream

As quite a few of the people who read this blog know, I occasionally channel my inner sewing goddess to make things for myself, my kids, and other people.  One of the niche items that I make for others are satin lined, fleece hats.  For curly haired folks, winter hats are nightmarish.  They breed frizziness like rabbits breed more rabbits.  And for people who have curly hair that has the texture I like to call "velcro", winter hats often mean lint that gets stuck in your hair as the interior of the hat deposits fuzzies into your hair.  So, knowing how many people have said they wished they could find a satin lined winter hat, I decided I could come up with something that would meet that need, at a reasonable price.  The thought was 1.  satin reduces the friction between the hair and the hat therefore reducing breakage of hair 2.  satin reduces friction between the hair and the hat therefore reducing the frizzies that can easily make a braided style that may have taken hours look messy  3.  satin has no fuzzies that remain in the hair after the hat is removed.  I've sold an assortment of hats through my Etsy store but have never really gotten around to creating a display of the hats I've made.  Until today when I decided the quickest and easiest way to make such a display was to put the photos on a Flicker photostream.  Since many of them are custom orders with a customer specifying colors or the overall effect of the hat, there are lots of different looks.  Go ahead and browse.  (See the photos below for a small sampling of the hats.)  And pass the info on if you know someone who is looking for such a hat.  Or head on over to my Etsy shop and contact me so you can order on for yourself or curly haired kiddo.




Monday, September 26, 2011

More Time as We than Not

Hard to believe that August marked the point where Kenson has spent more time with our family than not...

From coming home at 2 1/2 to being home for 2 1/2 years..It's a silent threshold, one that I have thought about at several different points over the last few years, wondering how life will be at that point, the point when "we" as a family, the "we" that includes a mama, a papa, and Kenson now extends further than the orphanage years.

Riding his bike this summer, a luxury that he probably never would have known in Haiti

From a trip to Hati in 2009---I love this kid!  His smile and eyes just make me happy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Poverty, prosperity, and possessions

For a thought provoking discussion on poverty, prosperity, possessions and where we as people who love Jesus fit:

Go here.    (Mark Driscoll)

Then go here.  (Sit a Spell blog)

And read through the comments.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Apparently, one pet is not enough for our household.  Kenson, in all of his 5 year old wisdom, has decided that we need one more.  Actually, it's more like he needs one more because the newest addition to the family is really just his and his alone.

And what might my little guy have decided upon?  

Why a rock, of course!  

Kenson picked him up at preschool and proudly introduced him to me in the van on the way home.  As he fished around in his pocket, the conversation started with "Mamma?  This is Rocco.  Rocco the rock.  He's my pet."

I knew there wasn't going to be much dissuading him from the whole pet rock idea so when he got home, I advised him that since Rocco was indeed a rock that he would need to stay outside with the other rocks.   Not wanting to lose him, Kenson decided that it would be best to give Rocco a spot of honor on the railing of the back deck., a single solitary hunk of rock sitting on the wood.  

Apparently, the trip from preschool to home wore Rocco out because later that afternoon I overheard Kenson shushing Conleigh as she headed outside to play.  "You have to be quiet," he said.  "Rocco's sleeping."

And sleep he did.  For maybe 4 whole days because I didn't really hear to much about Rocco.  Until yesterday.  Rocco must have opened his eyes because Kenson spent a good portion of the afternoon playing with Rocco.  Until Rocco went back to sleep.  Which I was aware of only because Kenson again started shushing the people who were going in and out of the backdoor, cautioning them that Rocco was asleep again.

I'm guessing Kenson was starting to get worried that someone might awaken the sleeping rock because he then asked to bring Rocco in.  I reminded him that rocks live outside so Rocco needed to stay outside.  But I thought I might stay one step ahead of the game by covering all my bases and letting Kenson know that yes, some rocks did indeed come inside but that those rocks had specific purposes which is why they got to come indoors.  So I casually said that there are some rocks that are allowed inside, like the rocks that go in an aquarium.  Alas!  All this did was provoke Kenson as he huffily replied, "Well yes, but Rocco can't go in an aquarium because he can't swim!"

No.  No son, he cannot.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that is one instance of swimming like a rock.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saltine Cracker Toffee

Empty cupboards + church potluck = dessert from saltine crackers aka Saltine Cracker Toffee

Sounds about like how life normally goes, doesn't it?  But rest assured, I didn't take something to church that was inedible or just weird.  I actually followed a recipe, which my husband would say is not something I normally do.  Here's the jist:  lay your saltines in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  (I did grease mine with PAM but you could use parchment paper.  Also, I used about 40 crackers.)  Mix together 1 cup butter and 1 cup brown sugar, then bring to a boil.  Continue boiling for 3 minutes.   Pour the carmel mixture out on top of your saltines and spread it out so that it coats all of the crackers.  Bake for 5-6 minutes at 400 degrees.  The mixture will bubble but there is where it does its final cooking so that it turns into toffee rather than a gooey carmel.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Let the chips sit for a few minutes until they are spreadable; then spread the chips evenly over the toffee layer.  Add chopped nuts if desired.  Cool and eat.

This is of course not my own invention.  I've actually seen it in church cookbooks but never tried it until last night when I was trying to figure out what to take.  Cue the empty cupboards and my desire for something easy.  I actually followed the recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything so head over there for pictures that will make you drool.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I cannot pass on that which is not my own

Somehow, my little preschool boy has turned into a more mature school aged boy overnight.  It's like a switch just flipped somewhere.  His sentences are fuller and more grown up sounding.  His actions are more like those I see of kindergarten boys when I teach, full of movement and life...and the constant desire to touch things.  And he has developed a sense of spunk and sass that is completely new for him.  

It's that last part that I am finding hardest to swallow.  Perhaps because it often comes at times when he is being redirected or when he is unhappy with a grown up.  Perhaps because I worry that my own impatience and harshly spoken words are taking root in his soul.  Taming the tongue is hard and taming it as a mom is probably one of the toughest things I've been called to do.  While I will never be perfect, I do want to be the mom who more often than not reflects a patient, gentle Heavenly Father who offers grace rather than judgement and calm rather than anger.  Teaching my kids about such a God is not as much about reading them the Bible as it is about living the Bible.  And today, already, before 8:30 a.m., I've been humbled by a boy, by my own understanding of my actions, and by the steady reminders of God through the words of others.

From Sally Clarkson's I Take Joy:  
The beginning point for our children is to build strong, firm, foundations–emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually–to build these soul foundations on the rock, so that they will be able to stand firm and strong.  Yet, Jesus was very clear.  We must obey His truths and teach them. His teachings are simple and clear.  

But herein lies  the tension–there is a necessary sacrifice of the mom’s life to build these ideals. They do not just happen from a ten to fifteen minute devotional a day. The principles must be a part of the moms life, part of her instruction to her children and then the air of the truth must be breathed in and out, morning, noon and night , so that the child’s very soul will be shaped on the truths, the principles of wisdom, godly choices, and convictions, all which take years and years to build. Building a foundation takes time, hard work and energy and patience.

So, a foundation must be planned out and carefully built. The soundness of all great structures rest on the foundation. And so we must build the foundation of our children’s souls on solid, firm, immoveable rock, truths that are timeless. We must be students of the words and the truths, we must ingest them deep in our own souls, as a teacher cannot pass on that which is not first hers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Let's Play Pretend

Right now, there is nothing my two would rather do than play pretend.  It is all they do, all day long.  Trying to get them to go outside and enjoy the last few days of summer is like pulling teeth.  They would much rather be inside playing pretend.  Really, playing pretend is one of the cheapest forms of entertainment that there is.  Most of the stuff in our pretend drawer is some cast off that would have just been thrown away, like an empty cereal box or a rusty ladle or a broken wrist watch.  We do have a few thrift store/clearance rack finds like some frilly Halloween costume skirts and a football jersey.  But I bet I've spent less than $10 on all of the make believe items we have.  From pretend food to random hats to aprons and jewelry, it's always fun to see what their little brains have come up with.
Who needs a real shopping cart?  Two chairs + a really long necklace + an apple basket work just fine.

Grandma 2, Kenson, and Conleigh playing "cooker food" also known as restaurant to the rest of us.
Conleigh is taking the orders.  I'm not quite sure what Kenson is doing.  The hat, although really a hard hat, is often all sorts of different things so I'm guessing he's not really a construction worker.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ABC Bible posters

A while back, I saw some handy dandy ABC posters.  They were unique in that each one featured a letter of the alphabet and a Bible verse.  (Score!  Two things we need to work on:  knowing God's word and the alphabet.)  And the graphics with each poster were simple yet cute.  The price tag was not so cute.  $30 for a set of posters that you had to print yourself.  So being the craft goddess that I am (wink, wink), I decided I could use my scrapbook program to do essentially the same thing.  (Plus I would get the benefit of deciding what Bible verses to use.  I used the bulk of the verses from the poster set simply because it required less work but there were a few verses that I wanted to include and some I thought I could come up with a better verse than the one that was used.)  I also decided that to conserve ink I would do a smaller version ie 4 to an 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper.

Here's the result:

They will fit perfectly on my kitchen cork board and I'm guessing the kids will love being chosen to go get the verse for the night and bring it in as we finish up supper.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What I've Been Reading

After the Airport - My friend, Cate, set this out on her blog this week.   It's a great adoption related read for so many reasons.  It is real life, full of what adoption can really be like.  Exhausting behaviors.  Angry kids.  Irrational fears.  Parents who wonder and question their every move.  Parents who feel guilty.  Parents who miss life the way it was.  Kids who miss life the way it was.  And yet, it doesn't come across as angry, cynical, or skeptical.  Often, when adoptive parents try to explain the realism of adoption, they are doing so after their dreams have come crashing down.  Really, their whole world has come crashing down as they've had a child abuse another or they spend every day in a stress filled place due to PSTD or RAD or some other acronym they hadn't bargained for.  So I get that they are still hurting and why that hurt fills their words when they share.  That said, I like this blogger's words a lot.  Real yet still for adoption...

I know what else you might be thinking: Are you trying to scare people away from adoption? Because this is pretty good propaganda for turning a blind eye to this mess. No I'm not. While adoption is clearly not the answer for the 170 million orphans on earth, it is one answer, and I'll go to the grave begging more people to open their homes and minds and hearts to abandoned children who are praying for a Mom and Dad and a God who might still see them. 

But Brandon and I decided some time ago to go at this honestly, with truthful words and actual experiences that might encourage the weary heart or battle some of the fluffy, damaging semi-truths about adopting. Because let me tell you something: If you are intrigued by the idea of adoption, with the crescendoing storyline and happy airport pictures and the sigh-inducing family portrait with the different skin colors and the feely-feel good parts of the narrative, please find another way to see God's kingdom come.

You cannot just be into adoption to adopt; you have to be into parenting.

And it is hard, hard, intentional, laborious work. Children who have been abused, abandoned, neglected, given away, given up, and left alone are shaken so deeply, so intrinsically, they absolutely require parents who are willing to wholly invest in their healing; through the screaming, the fits, the anger, the shame, the entitlement, the bed-wetting, the spitting, the rejection, the bone-chilling fear. Parents who are willing to become the safe place, the Forever these children hope for but are too terrified to believe in just yet. 

I also liked how she did not make her struggles bigger than anyone else's, that this was about being a community and doing life together, that we need to know people well enough to know their "after the airport moments", to know when their world is falling apart or at the very least, starting to show stress at the seams.  

So today, I'm writing for you who are somewhere "after the airport." The big moment is over and you are living in the aftermath when the collective grief or euphoria has passed. You lost a parent, a sibling, a friend, a child. The experience mobilized every single human being who loves you, and they rallied, gathered, carried you. And now it's three months later on a random Tuesday, and the sting has worn off for everyone else, and you are left in your sorrow.

I'm writing for those of you who had the oh-so-wanted baby after the cheers and showers and Facebook fervor, and now you're struggling with a depression so dark and deep, you are afraid to say it out loud. To you who moved across the country in obedience - you left your family, church, community, your jobs - and now the headline has passed and you are lonely and unanchored. For my friends who've brought their adopted children home and the media frenzy has died down, and you are holding a screaming toddler, a fragile kindergartener, an angry teen, trying to catch your breath and make it through the day without bawling while everyone else has gone back to their regularly scheduled programs...I'm with you today.

More importantly, God is with you today. He remains in the chaos long after it has lost its shine. When the delivered meals have stopped and the attention has waned, Jesus remains. He sticks with us long after it is convenient or interesting. If you feel alone today in your new normal, would you please receive this bit of beauty: this simple Scripture recited billions of times throughout the ages, perhaps without the poetry of David or precision of Paul, but with enough truth to sustain the weariest traveler:

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deut. 31:6). 

He will never leave.

Never forsake.


For my readers who love someone living "after the airport," the big moment - be it a blessed high or a devastating low - is never the completion. The grief and struggle, the work and effort, the healing and restoring comes later. Will you call your friend who lost her mom to cancer five months ago? Will you check in on your friends who adopted this spring? Email your neighbor who took a big risk and moved or changed jobs or quit to stay home. For the love of Moses, do you have a friend who stepped out and started a church last year? Bring him a lasagna and do not be alarmed if he sobs into his french bread. 

If you are living "after the airport," how I wish I could transplant my community into your life; friends who have loved us so completely and exhaustively, I could weep just thinking about it. Maybe one of the most brilliant ways God "never leaves us" and "never forsakes us" is through the love of each other. Maybe He knew that receiving love from people with skin on is the most excellent way, so He gave us an entire set of Scriptures founded upon community and sacrificial love for one another. I guess He realized that if we obeyed, if we became more like His Son, then no one would ever want for mercy when their chips were down. No one. Good plan.

Oh let us be a community who loves each other well. Because someone is always struggling through the "after the airport" phase, when the chords of human kindness become a lifeline of salvation. Let us watch for the struggling members of our tribe, faking it through sarcasm or self-deprecation or a cheerfully false report. May we refuse to let someone get swallowed up in isolation, drowning in grief or difficulties that seem too heavy to let anyone else carry. Let's live this big, beautiful Life together, rescuing each other from the brink and exposing the unending compassion of our Jesus who called us to this high level of community; past the romantic beginnings, through the messy and mundane middles, and all the way to the depths.

Yes, indeed.  Let us be that community.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Orphan Care Reads

What I've been reading... and what I think you should read too.  (Smile, wink!)

*this article  titled "The United States and UNICEF Wage War Against International Adoption"  (The headline is a bit sensationalist for me but in general it seemed that the author provided a simple explanation of the concerns people have regarding UNICEF and the Department of State's policies on orphan care.)    The major question that must be answered by UNICEF specifically is how they can incorporate their ideological stance of adoption as a last resort into a system that honors every child and values each child's need for a family.  As the author writes in the concluding thoughts, there is a need to address macro issues within orphan care and micro issues.  

"Ultimately, we all agree the world should work on the very real issues of global poverty, social injustice, and infectious diseases, which are largely contributing to the number of orphans worldwide.  If we don’t address these macro issues we will never reduce the numbers of orphans or their suffering.  But while we are doing that, we should also be promoting micro solutions."  (ie international adoption)  I suppose what appeals most to was to hear the author term it macro and micro.  We cannot simply focus on one end of the spectrum.  And it should not be one or the other.  It should not be that we invest so heavily in the micro issues (the individual needs of a child) that we ignore the macro issues like corruption, disease, and poverty.  Conversely, we cannot turn all of our attention to eliminating the need for adoption without considering how this will impact individual children who will be destined for a life in an orphanage or on the streets if international adoption is not an option."

I've also been keeping up with the thoughts from God's Littlest Angels, an orphanage which operates in Haiti.  Both Dixie, the director, and Tom, another staff member, have expressed the need for each child to matter, for us not to be so program or rule driven that we ignore the basic needs that each child has.  I especially liked what Tom wrote about tight ropes and safety nets.  Families who are struggling need both.  Each day, families struggle to survive.  They struggle to provide shelter for their kids, to feed their kids, to keep their kids healthy and safe.  We have an obligation to come alongside the families who are walking hat tight rope and do our best to hold their hands and steady their walk.  But the reality is, families are going to fall.  They are going to need a safety net that will protect their children from even more harm.  Adoption is one aspect of that safety net.  

Macro solutions, like initiatives by the World Food Program, work to keep families from walking the tight rope.  Micro solutions, like small NGO's,  try to keep families safe while on the tight rope.  Macro solutions, like adoption legislation, work to keep children from being harmed once the family falls off the tight rope.  Micro solutions seek to do what is best for each child, believing that every child matters and no child should be "sacrificed" for the greater good.

If you're interested, you can read more on this topic from the Carnegie Counsel here.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Grief in Real Life

It's a 4 year old remembering and wondering knowing that Grandpa's hair was too long and too messy due to weeks of staying in a hospital and then asking at the funeral, "Who combed Grandpa's hair?"  It's watching her connect the dots as she hears about a friend whose dog recently died and seeking answers to questions like "Is the dog in heaven?"  followed by "Whose dog will he be in heaven?  I mean, is he still Paul and Jeannette's dog?"  and "Do you think Paul and Jeanette will share and let Grandpa play with their dog?"  It's having the same little girl state so matter of factly during a lunchtime conversation about Grandpa that Jesus heals people and Jesus can raise people from the dead.  And then delicately dancing over her faith so as not to crush it with your response about not understanding why God didn't heal Grandpa and that you know God made people raise from the dead but that those kind of miracles don't happen often and are not going to happen with Grandpa.

It's a strange combination of the past, the present and the future.  Snapshots of the past flashing in your mind, mixed up with those surreal memories of hospitals and a casket.  A letting go of things you knew and loved, the rituals that were just a part of the way things were.  A new normal that greets you each day, a new normal that you're not sure you like.  An interruption, aggressive and in your face as my mom and brother talk through harvest and hay and machinery.  Yet it's passive and quiet like a tapping on your shoulder as you find yourself teary and full of deep sighs at random points throughout the day.  It's about a future that feels hacked to pieces, where there is no 50th anniversary and no family trips and no Grandpa at high school graduation.   A raw, uncertain future that is paired with the steadiness of God and family, a slightly unsure belief that this new future will be okay.