Thursday, January 30, 2014


It always sounds innocent enough.  A simple little yearning for something that you think might make you happier.  But left to its own devices, that yearning sets you up for disappointment as it cycles and filters and ferments in your mind.  It finally grows into discontent, where you find yourself throwing a pity party over what you don't have.

We all have our secret longings that if left unchecked become the peas under our mattresses, creating bruises in our hearts and calling us out not as pleasant princesses but as someone whose inner diva is unfulfilled.

A family with more widely spaced children?  Ah, that would be nice.  It would certainly help tune out some of the noise and I'm sure those older kids in that more widely spaced family are way more responsible than mine.

A vacation to Disney?  I know my kids would love it but I'm not sure I can justify that expensive of a trip, especially if we want to do another adoption.  Sometimes adoption feels weighty and burdensome.  I just can't help but feel a bit jealous of that family who is getting to make the trip.

A rustless, dentless, lower mileage van?  I know mine is perfectly fine but I sometimes get tired of being thrifty out of necessity.  And if we added another child, where would they sit?  How do all these other families afford the more expensive vehicles that they drive?

I recently heard someone say a simple but profound statement.

"God is my satisfaction."

I may still be dealing with post pregnancy hormones but those words seriously pricked my heart and brought a few small tears to my eyes.  I loved the phrasing.  Maybe because it changes the more common wording of "God satisfies" and eliminates the idea of God doing something for me, which I can quickly corrupt into an all-about-me-yes-I-love-how-God-does-things-for-me type endeavor.  Or perhaps it's because it extends the idea being satisfied by tying it to God's character, making it a part of Who He is.  Satisfaction becomes a noun, not something I am longing for and trying to achieve.  As a noun, satisfaction is already accomplished.  No working hard to deny my desires and telling myself how silly I am to seek fulfillment apart from God.  No trying to push down those feelings of envy or discontent and then feeling less than because they have popped back up.  It's simply saying "God is my satisfaction and I can choose Him at every moment. I do not need to try harder, work harder, do better."

Yes, God is my satisfaction.  A satisfaction without an end or a beginning.  A satisfaction that has already been realized not one that has yet to come to fruition.  God is my satisfaction.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Zeke has a new shark hat.
Someday he will learn to smile without looking like he is in pain.

Conleigh got her ears pierced.  It was one of her wishes for her birthday which is coming up.

And the baby has now eaten pumpkin, carrots, and peas.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

The grandmas may be the only ones who care way of a broken deep freeze, Kai is now a pumpkin eater.

I was pondering what veggie to start him on but then our deep freeze stopped working so thawing bags of frozen pumpkin made the choice rather easy.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Funnies a la Zeke

*Perhaps we shouldn't laugh at this but it cracked both D and I up.  Last week, Zeke was playing "guess which hand" with Conleigh.  As in "I'll hide an object in my hand and you guess which hand it's in."  He was the hider not the guesser.  Needless to say, Conleigh guessed right every time.

*After having a bloody nose, I reminded him not to pick his nose since this could cause it to bleed again.  He told me he didn't do that but when I looked his finger, I could see it was a bit bloody so I asked him if that's how the bloody nose started, if he had been picking his nose.  Again, he told me no but then he quickly added, "I just had a booger."  Um, yep, buddy, that's called picking your nose.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Baby Milestones

Weighed in on Monday at 15 pounds 1 ounce. That's almost to double his birth weight of 7 pounds 14 ounces.

Was 25.5 inches long.

Has started talking a lot.  From shrieks to giggles to cooing.  Usually wakes up talking.  (He apparently is his mother's child.)

Has found his toes.  Can't quite get them up to his mouth yet.

Got my toys and my monkey-life is good

Lists to one side when on his back but can't roll over yet.  He'd much rather work on learning to sit up because when you can sit up, you can see a lot more.

Can grasp objects and manipulate them to get them into his mouth.  Can hold his bottle on his own for short times.
Favorite toys include Sophia the Giraffe and any of the hanging toys that hang on the car seat or on his play mat.

Started a bit of cereal on Tuesday.  Ate most of it and didn't spit it out.  We'll call that success.

Hanging out in the high chair, little bit of schmutz on my face

Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Wow! You're a Big Family" Controlling the Chaos Tidbit #5-Independent Breakfast

With the new baby, it is kind of hard to say what the morning looks like.  D is obviously busy getting himself ready.  I might still be in bed because the baby was up often or I might be needing to feed the baby.  To be honest, my kids kind of need to fend for themselves in the mornings.  In fact, in our first days at home as a family of 6, when I was feeling more than a little overwhelmed about managing all of it, this was probably one of the first things I decided to conquer.  I knew that in order to feel better about things I needed to have a plan for how we would get everyone ready for school and eat breakfast, even if I couldn't attend to everyone.  Our normal routine involved Mom getting up and monitoring the kids while they got ready and did chores and then Mom helping the kids select their breakfasts from the cupboard.  Those things were not going to happen with an itty bitty baby.  I also realized I was going to have to be okay with my kids eating a bit more processed food or prepackaged convenience items.  Here's how my kids are responsible for their own breakfasts, with minimal spilling and arguing:

1.   Each weekday has a specific breakfast menu.  All are things my kids can make themselves and prepare with not too much mess.  They are always located in places that my kids can access.  The big kids do have to help Zeke but that's doable.  Monday is toast or a peanut butter sandwich.  Tuesday and Thursdays, D has to be at school early for enrichment art so they are yogurt days.   (Yogurt is a fast eat.)  I did have Tuesdays as a trailmix day but my kids were either not taking that option or were picking out the good stuff and leaving the nuts.  Wednesday is cereal.  Friday is special treat day.  (That could mean a processed item like granola bars or PopTarts or it could mean something I've made like muffins, quick bread, or coffee cake.)  Not only can my kids be independent but it also has sped up our breakfast time since the kids don't stand at the pantry and hem haw about what to have.
2.  We always have a fruit bowl with kid sized fruit on the counter.  If someone doesn't want the breakfast option for the day, they can instead choose something from the fruit bowl .  This is usually whatever is on sale seasonally.  I try to make sure it's a smaller fruit and easy to eat.  (Not a huge pear or a huge apple.)  Bananas, clementines, and small apples are almost always in the bowl.  I've also bought the pre packaged boxes of dried cranberries and raisins.  I've also considered taking a note from my friend, Heather's, playbook and making string cheese an option but it always feels expensive to buy since if we have it my kids eat it like crazy.  The fruit bowl option also works well for the days when someone has been poky and did not have time to eat breakfast.  It's easy to grab something from the bowl and head out the door.
3.  I initially started our new breakfast routine by pre pouring milk for my kids the night before.  (My big kids can pour milk themselves but if it's a full gallon, then it gets a little tricky plus having it pre poured just sped the breakfast process up.)  I assigned each kid a specific color cup, one that had a lid and could be stored in the fridge overnight.  Then in the morning, they had a glass of milk all ready to go.  I've kind of let this lapse because D was getting out to breakfast and able to help with drinks plus I was forgetting to do it at night.  (And my big kids get two milks at school each day so I don't feel too bad about them not having a milk at breakfast too.)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Wow! You're a Big Family" Controlling the Chaos Tidbit #4-The Laundry

I'm sure you've seen all the cute signs to adorn your laundry room.

"Laundry today or naked tomorrow."

"Sort today.  Wash tomorrow.  Fold eventually.  Iron ha ha."

"I'd throw in the towel but that would only mean more laundry for me.

While laundry is never done around here, it is usually pretty well managed.  Part of that is due to our laundry room which I specifically planned in order to create an efficient laundry system.  It is not a gigantic space with two dryers or a massive center island; it's just a small space that I tried to make the most of.  The laundry room has two carts for lights and darks and a basket for towels.   It also has a sorting station where I separate out the clean clothes into baskets labeled with each person's name.  Those two things make getting the laundry washed, folded, and put away much more manageable and help keep the dining room table or kitchen counters free of laundry.

Every day, one of the kids brings the dirty laundry into the laundry room and sorts it.  Our bedrooms are all centrally located so we only have one hamper for dirty clothes which makes that task a little easier.   Every day, I wash and fold one load of laundry.  That means there is almost always a load of dry clothes in the dryer waiting to be folded and a load of wet clothes the washer ready to be switched over.  I'm okay with the clothes in the dryer because most of our clothes don't require ironing, even if they sit in the dryer.  When I fold the dry clothes, I fold them and put them into the basket of whomever owns that piece of laundry.  I do not fold or match socks.  The socks just get tossed into the basket and the owner is responsible for taking care of the socks.  Conleigh likes to match hers up and then asks me to fold them for her because she hasn't quite gotten the hang of folding them.  Kenson just throws all his in a drawer unmatched so he rarely wears matching socks.  The last piece of the laundry puzzle happens at the end of the day, while I'm making supper.  The kids are allowed to watch a tv show while I am making supper but before they can watch tv, they have to empty out their bookbags and put away their clean laundry.  Usually, there are 5-10 pieces of clean laundry for them to put away.  Zeke needs help with that so either I do it for him or he and we work on it together at another time.  Believe it or not, usually the people with the most uncontrolled laundry (ie not in the dresser drawers) are the grown ups.  Nobody requires us to put away our laundry before we can watch tv so I'm sure you can guess how that ends up.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Building snowmen-they started with some squirt bottles of colored water and ended up building snowmen

One of my favorite moments while watching them play-The huge flakes were so easy to see.
Kenson explaimed "Mom, snowflakes are so tiny!"

Eating snow-At least he's standing up.  Often he's laying on his stomach licking the ground.

And more eating snow

Friday, January 3, 2014

Gingerbread Cookies

When I was little, my mom had this amazing Betty Crocker cookie cookbook.  I remembering pouring over the photos of all sorts of treats-raspberry linzer squares dusted with powdered sugar, pastel iced melt away cookies, and amazing gingerbread men.   I have always been determined to attempt gingerbread men with my kids but sometimes gingerbread can be a bit daunting.  I've seen some recipes that contained a lot of ingredients and I'm always a little unsure of if I will get super soft cookies or thin, crunchy ones.

A week or so before Christmas, I saw this recipe posted on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try.  It seemed easy enough plus I liked the visual of not having to pipe the frosting onto the gingerbread men; she simply dunked them in white and brown chocolate.  So the kids and I set to work.

The dough was easy to make and easy to work with.  Thumbs up for the gingerbread men!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Deuling Pianos

Ever been to a piano bar with dueling pianos?  Can't say that I have but I love the idea.  Especially the idea if it's based in the roots of dueling pianos, which is old fashioned rag where two pianists try to play faster and better, each trying to outdo or one up the other.

Dueling pianos is a musical marvel, a chance for an audience to hear fingers dance and create a frenzy of jazz.  Not so with race relations.  In our modern world, with a 24 hour news cycle, what should be a stage for meaningful conversations on race instead turns into a malay of trying to prove who is right and who is wrong much like a set of dueling pianos set on proving their "rightness."

Aisha Harris sparked off a crazy firestorm in the media by writing "Santa Should Not Be a White Man Anymore."  Fox's Meghan Kelly quickly replied that he was indeed white, just like Jesus.  Paula Deen lost her cooking empire based on her comments on race.  And Phil Robertson, while originally criticized for his stance and crass criticism of homesexuality, also made the headlines for his comments on being black in Louisiana in the 50's and 60's.

It seems as if there are two issues preventing American from having the kind of dialogue that would actually be beneficial and both are about the inability or unwillingness to consider the perspective of someone else.  For many caucasians, the term "racist" carries heavy connotations.   In a lot of ways, being called a racist means being lumped into a category with other vile offenders.  Child molesters.  Wife beaters.  Racist.  So when a person of color asserts that the reason Santa is traditionally white is because of racism, most white people recoil and bristle because they feel like they have just been called a racist.  For most white people, racism is about calling names, physically harming someone, or discriminating against someone by refusing to hire them, rent to them, etc..   That is not who most white people are or who they want to be associated with.  Harris renames white privelege as "white by default" and for many white people, the idea that the world is set up in a way that encourages life to be "white by default" is a bit foreign and certainly not teh racism they understand.

While overt racism is always wrong, white people often find themselves stuck in a murky no man's land, where they are darned if they do and darned if they don't.  Step up the plate and say that you love all kids regardless of color by daring to adopt transracially and face the fire of the critics who say you can't possible raise a black child.  Recently an MSNBC host used Mitt Romney's black grandson as political fodder on her show.  I personally thought her comments were in poor taste, not because the baby was black, but because he is a baby being drawn into political grudgematch.  That said, many felt that her comments were an affront to transracial adoption.  Others saw her comments as an opportunity to talk about transracial adoption.  In Kieran Romney and the Paradox of Transracial Adoption, white parents are urged to consider how their whiteness might get in the way of their black child's identity and their child's ability to understand what it means to be black in America.  While the author is not against transracial adoption, can you imagine the outrage if a white person dared to ask if white parents really are capable of raising a black child?  That person must surely be maintaining the old tradition of keeping whites with whites and blacks with blacks.   Slap-there goes the racist label being applied yet again.  

In the same vein, whites find themselves unsure of where they should stand on controversial issues like immigration reform, stop and frisk, or the causes of poverty in inner city America.  If one asserts that these issues are about something other than racism or skin color, then you are simply out to oppress a minority group.  Even identifying someone by race, becomes a big question mark for whites.  Is it racist to describe someone by their skin color when, dependent upon the situation, that might actually be the most discernable feature of that person?  And let's not even get into the conversation of what you should call someone who has brown skin.  Calling all Hispanics "Mexican" is wrong.  Using the n words is wrong.  (Even though plenty of black people seem to use it when with their peers or in music.)  But should you call a black person "black", "a person of color", or "African American?" 

I am not saying this in a "pity the white man" voice; what I am saying is that the current racial climate leaves peach skinned people longing for some solid footing.  What would be helpful is for black people to understand that there are a lot of white people who are trying but who fear the backlash of doing or saying something wrong.  What would be helpful is for white people to be given grace rather than instantly accused.  What would be helpful is for there to be real, grown up conversations where we all don't have to agree and where labeling (and name calling) is discouraged.  What would be helpful is for black people to not expect all whites to have a uniform and clear view of what constitutes racism when black culture struggles to define the very same thing.

Likewise, most white people have had the privelege of being white.  They can go into a big name box store and find shampoo and conditioner for their hair type.  (Just an FYI, when I first adopted our kids, there was a section of about 5 products available at the big stores in Lincoln.  No wait.  Actually, the products were only available at one big box store, Walmart.  And this was in Lincoln.  A town of 200, 000 people with a decent black population.  This has now improved and Target and Walgreens carry a pretty decent selection.)  White people have band aids that match their skin type.   White people can easily find dolls that represent their children.  (Try finding a black baby doll that is a boy at a Target, Walmart, or Toys R Us.  You might find a black baby girl.  You will for sure find a variety of caucasian dolls, primarily girls but certainly a few boys too.  But a black baby boy?  Good luck.)  As Harris points out, the Macy's Day Parade features a white Santa.   (Perhaps because Santa has historically been white because of his origins as St. Nicolas?  But that's another discussion.)  

On television and in books, the last 30 years has seen a huge shift in what is available featuring black characters.  But even 20 years ago, Little Black Sambo was still a Little Golden book and the majority of television shows and books featured white families sans the Cosby's.  In fact, the majority of roles for blacks on television were stereotypes.  I just saw an interview with Malcolm Jamal Warner who played Theo Huxtable on The Cosby Show where he described his audition for the part. Essentially, he went in as a 13 year old who tried to act "black."  As in the "black" that was being portrayed on tv.  Bill Cosby pulled him aside and asked him if he would talk to his own father like that to which Warner replied, "No."  Warner re read the part then, not as a black teen trying to be "black" but as a black teen trying to be a teen and got the part perhaps because he was able to take Cosby's redirection.

Most white people will never question if the reason they were not hired was because of their skin color.  (Or question if it was the reason they were hired because of affirmative action.)  Most white people have never walked into a room where they were the only person of their skin color.  Most white people have been stared out but wondered if they had toilet paper on their shoe rather than wondered if it was because they were the wrong color in the wrong place.  Most white people have not moved and worried that their new neighbors may snub them because of their race.  But most whites can appreciate how those things feel because even if they haven't experienced them in connection with their skin tone, they have been passed over, felt socially awkward, or had neighbors who were hard to get along with it.  

And that is the rub:  white people have to start accepting that the black experience is not the same as the white experience. (And that there is not a singular black experience.)   A black person's perception of an experience belongs to them, and in their mind is reality.  (Just like anyone's experiences of rejection, hurt feelings, or mean people are his own and what forms his reality.)  You don't have to agree with their perception.  It is not about agreeing.  It is about sympathizing with someone, about recognizing that they were hurt or disappointed or angry and responding with a nurturing loving heart rather than a dismissive one.

So let's step away from the piano and quit banging on the keyboard.  All we seem to be creating is noise.  Could we instead focus on loving and understanding, on being the change we want to see and avoiding the clanging and dischord?  No matter how wise we might be or how right, "If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."  (1 Corinthians 13:1)

Bath Time