Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In Order To Love You More

You know that saying that says, "absence makes the heart grow fonder"?

Well, I can totally relate to it.

As much as I love my kids, I just need to get away sometimes.

It's been one of those kinds of days weeks months.

The kind where so much happens that you feel like you can barely keep your head above water to catch your breathe.

I mean, living overseas for a few months, adopting a child and transitioning your growing family, and then immediately adding another little one can tend to make one feel a little overwhelmed.

I'm not complaining AT ALL!  In fact, I marvel at the things the Lord has brought us through and blessed us with over the past several months, but that doesn't negate the fact that a lot has happened.

I came to a breaking point this week, though, and tonight couldn't have come at a better time.

What happened tonight?

Well, I met one of my best friends for coffee and we talked.

Talked about nothing...talked about everything...

It was so nice to get away, refocus and breathe.

I came home so refreshed and encouraged.  I came home ready to tackle another day with a renewed outlook and motivation.  I came home ready to be a mom again.

Sometimes I just need to get away in order to love them even more!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Learning How To Say Well Done

As a parent, I have never wanted my children to need my constant accolades to feel good about themselves.  I have intentionally encouraged them to complete a task and then ask me to come look at it instead of calling me over for every crossed "t" or dotted "i".  I feel like I am doing them an injustice by telling them "good job" at every turn, instead of saving that praise for the special tasks they have been working hard on (even when they haven't yet accomplished it perfectly yet) or for a job that gets completed well (or for a happy heart in a tough circumstance for that matter).

Maybe part of this stems from my irritation at giving praise and acknowledgement for something when it is required or asked of me, causing false praise.  This reaction causes me to build a prideful wall up around my heart instead of leaning on my natural tendency to encouragement.  I then tend to go to the other extreme and ignore or not say anything at all.  None of which is healthy or something that I'm proud of...


Well, just because I say I don't want children that _________________, doesn't mean that I will never have a child that does exactly that.

Can I get an AMEN?!

Here is what I mean...

Alethia was a favorite in the orphanage.

I know, it's weird to think of favorites or one-on-one attention in an orphanage.

But she got attention, and LOTS of it.

That isn't a bad all!

But it makes things complicated for us.

See, she got LOTS of attention, but not really lots of love.

The kind of desired mommy and daddy love that children are born with.

So, here is why it's complicated.  She continues to crave that attention, which she thinks she has to get by crying (very loudly I might add) and carrying on, even when there is nothing wrong, but in addition wants our constant acknowledgement and approval for EVERYTHING.

I have been feeling completely drained as I answer her constant "Mommy, yook at dat!" or "Mommy, I eating!" or "Mommy, um, daddy at Journey" (may I remind you that I have 3 other children who speak that "mommy" word in addition to Alethia...that's A LOT of "mommy's").

The inquisitive questions I don't mind because I know she is curious and everything is new to her here in America.  I know that her questions are how she is learning her English as well.  But it's the constant telling me exactly what she is doing every minute-and-a-half or the constant calling out, "Mommy", just so I'll look in her direction.  She wants me to see and notice everything.

I know she is not like my other children who have grown up with a loving mom and dad who have worked hard to keep their love tank filled up to overflowing.  I know it will take some time, maybe even a LONG time, to patch the leak in Alethia's love tank in order to keep the love contained inside.  I know that this is just part of the transition and part of the process, but man is it hard!

I pray that God will give me the love to pour into her tank and the patience to keep filling it up, no matter how constant it may be or how drained I may feel.  This is just another example of how parenting is such a reflection of the love that Christ shows us, his sinful, needy children.

Parenting is so humbling, isn't it?

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Rainy Day...Squared

Tomorrow my little girl turns 7! (But we're not gonna talk about it 'cause it's not tomorrow yet and my little girl is still 6 for one more day...)

But today is family day and daddy doesn't have to work.

But it's raining outside and we want to play.

And tomorrow daddy has to work.

So, today we headed over to Chuck-E-Cheese's (Go ahead and cringe:)  It's a sacrifice of love!), to celebrate Areyna's entry into our world and to get some much-needed energy out.

It was Alethia's first go at such a place.  Areyna and Zeke showed her the ropes and it sure didn't take long for her to catch on to what this place was all about.  She spent every single one of her tokens on a little riding train and loved every minute of it:)

Cai...well, I bet you'll NEVER guess what he spent all of his tokens on, ha!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The View From Here - Field Of Dreams

Overcast skies, gusty winds and an open field are the perfect recipe for make-believe!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Time To Give!

If you've been following us any time over the past 4 months or so you have heard us asking for you to join us in prayer for Sara and Andy Ribbens.  They have spent nearly 12 months in Uganda fighting to bring their entire family home.

Well, wouldn't you know the Lord heard the plea and answered "yes" to this sweet family and their hearts desire, because they are going to be landing on American soil on Saturday!  I am just as excited to hear this news as I was to hear our own news of this wonderful day!

As you can imagine, they have accumulated some pretty steep expenses with all the delays and changes and I am asking you to step up with us and help this family.

Please go to their blog, read what expenses they have and why (because I know you'd like to know where your money is going) and click the PayPal DONATE button on their sidebar.

Let's be a blessing to this family who has obeyed this call and shown us so much strength and faith, no matter what their circumstances have been...

***UPDATE-In only 6 hours the Lord provided exactly what this family needed to break even!!!  Our God is so faithful, especially when He sees us being faithful!  Thank you for your sacrificial giving:)***

Life With Little Jude

Jude is two weeks old today.

It's already been two weeks!

This time around I am noticing, and cherishing, everything.  Every new little chub roll and cute squeak.

I don't really think I took any of my kid's milestones and special uniquenesses for granted while they were so tiny, but I have had this realization that Jude is our last little one.  That and the fact that we've seen first-hand how quickly they do grow up and how little time we have to guide them.

We are soaking it all in.

It helps that he is, by far, the easiest baby we have ever had:)

He eats like a champ, usually within 30-40 minutes he is done eating, burping, poopin' and being changed.

He sleeps like a champ during the day!  At one point Cai was playing drums, Zeke was on a majorly out-of-tune acoustic guitar and singing (loudly), and Alethia was on keys.  All within a 10 foot radius of the little guy zonked out in the swing.  He didn't even flinch!  The kids cuddle and climb all over him, smothering their sweet baby brother with love and attention who is passed out in his milk coma, totally unaware of the love being lavished upon him:)

He sleeps well at night.  I usually feed him between 10 and 11pm and he'll usually go until almost 5am!  It's incredible!!!!

He hardly spits up, unless he's gotten greedy and eaten too much milk:)

Since we've been home with him I've felt for the first time like our family is complete.  I mean really complete!  I feel as though we are all here.  There is no empty space, literally, ha!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Few New Rules

We have got to stay organized if we are going to survive as a family of 7 who continue to love and encourage each other.

That is why I have put a few new rules in place to eliminate some of the major melt-down triggers for me the kids.

1 - Getting Dressed - When we wake up in the morning, we will get dressed BEFORE we eat breakfast.  This will eliminate the stress of getting 5 children ready to head out somewhere, because we'll already be ready.  It will eliminate the "crap-I'm-running-out-of-time-and-you-have-GOT-to-cooperate-so-we-can-get-out-the-door" dilemma.  It also takes away the clothes battle with Cai every day, as he insists on wearing his car jammies all day, every day, because he knows we are getting real clothes on as soon as he wakes up.

2 - Chores - we don't call them chores, per say, but a way to show "love deeply" and to "honor others more than yourself" like they have been learning about in Bible from Romans 12:10.  We've talked about how we all have to work together as a family.  Zeke's special job is to set the table for meals.  Areyna is in charge of cleaning the kitchen floors after dinner each night.  Can you tell that I need the most help in the kitchen;)

3 - Laundry - My mom knows first-hand how much laundry we can accumulate in the span of 24 hours as a family of 7!  The 3 older kids can now fold and put their own laundry away.  Cai...not so much, ha!

4 - Kitchen - Each child is in charge of putting their own dishes away after meals.  It's amazing how the youngest ones are the most consistent with this one.

5 - Transitions - Both of my older boys are not so good with transitions of any kind...therefore, the timer has become out BEST FRIEND!  We use the timer for computer time.  We use the timer to signify time for school.  We use the timer for cleanup time around the house.  We use the timer for bed time.  You name it, we use it!  The timer has made a world of difference with the transition melt-downs.

So, those are just a few of the key changes that we are working on consistently these days to help keep our home orderly as well as a place to feel safe and secure.

Oh, and we have a lovely futon sitting in the middle of our living room if anyone wants to take it off of our hands, because we  got the girls a set of bunk beds!  The nighttime battle, including biting, kicking, crying and pushing will NO LONGER inhabit the girls room, woohoo!  Plus, their bedroom looks oober cute now and Alethia is so proud to tell me (EVERY day) "Mommy! I no kick Rainy out of bed last night!!!"  It's a win-win situation for all:)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


As you can imagine the questions that have come out of having this new little bundle have been across the board since we got home.

I wanted to record a few just because they are so stinkin' cute/funny/please-go-ask-your-daddy-embarrassing, that I don't want to forget them, ha!

Areyna has asked me several times where the baby comes out, but it is in front of tiny ears and out of pure uncertainty as to how to answer have asked her to remember to ask when she is alone with me.  Well, she decided to ask Nonnie at the dinner table while we were at the hospital instead, who gave a rather crafty reply, although I'm not quite sure the kids bought it:)

Zeke, while watching me feed Jude: "WHAT is he doing?!"

Areyna: "How dark was it in your tummy?"
Me: "Very dark.  There isn't any light in there."
Areyna: "Well, why not?"
Me: "It's not like you can turn a little light on in there."
Areyna was satisfied with that one.

Cai: "I want the baby's milk."
Me: "Um...nope!"

Areyna: "When will Jude be big enough for me to feed him?" (from a bottle I presume:)

Alethia: "Baby tummy?"
Me: "Not any more!  G-daddy is holding the baby that was in mommy's tummy.  Now he is YOUR baby too!"

Cai: "Baby cute!"
Cai just keeps bringing toys and "bubbies" to stuff in his face:)

Areyna: "When will Jude stop eating I want to hold him!!!"

It's been a time of learning for all.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hooray Meals

Who needs a McDonald's Happy Meal when Nonnie brings her own "Hooray Meal" to the house?!

With as many kids as we have who can afford Happy Meals these days?  Well, you don't have to worry about breaking the bank with Nonnie's patented "Hooray Meal".

Each Meal Includes:
1 Gift Bag - Gender Appropriate
1 Baggie of Tyson Chicken Nuggets (amount may vary depending on the child's appetite)
1 Baggie of French Fries (cooked, from the freezer)
1 Baggie of Fresh Fruit (amount and type may vary depending on the stockpile in the refrigerator)
1 Baggie with a fun toy in it (thought out in love for each child, of course;)

These "Hooray Meals" have been all the craze in the house as Nonnie has brought enough supplies for 4 of them during her stay!  The BONUS toy at the end of the 4th Hooray Meal is the gift bag to stuff full of whatever your little heart desires.

Thanks, Nonnie, for the fun memories you have made with our kids over the past week and a half:)  We're sure going to miss you!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Date(s) Day

My mom gifted us with an afternoon lunch date the day before Valentines to get out, just the two of us, just to enjoy each others company.  I wouldn't want to spend an afternoon with anyone more than my best friend:)

But even after our date together we still had plenty of little Valentine's needing to spend some special time with us.  We ended up having a day full of dates yesterday.

Josh decided to take his girls out for an afternoon at the salon.  He told me that Alethia absolutely LOVED her first manicure...if you couldn't already tell from the pictures:)  Then they finished off the afternoon with some ice cream.

Then I decided that while the 2 littlest(s) were sleeping, that Zeke and I would sneak out for our own little date.  We took a stroll through the library as he helped pick out books for each of his siblings.  He is a giver and this was a perfect way to show his brothers and sisters love, by picking out books that he thought each one of them would love.  Then we headed over to Sweet Cici's and indulged in some awesome ice cream.
Yes I am very well aware that the weather was beautiful outside yesterday and that my little stud looked like he was ready for a blizzard, but that's how he rolls:)

And what better way to end the evening that a family sized fort!  By the way, my mom came across the most brilliant idea!  Fitted bed sheets are fabulous for fort building.  They fit perfectly across the tops of chairs and tables...brilliant I tell you!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's All About The Choice From Your Heart

I LOVE Valentine's Day!

I love making it fun for the kids.

I love sneaking special little notes around the house for Josh.  And I can always tell when he's come across one of them when I hear a little giggle.  Yes, giggle:)
I love thinking about all the little things that make me love each individual in my family.

I love taking a special day out of the year just for expressing that love for those closest to me whom God has placed in my life.

But, last night as I was cutting hearts and decorating for our fun day it continued to get interrupted by two girls fighting over covers and bed space and boys crying for another sip of water and just "one more kiss from Baby Jude". 
When it was time to start thinking of all the cute little things that I loved about each one of those kids who occupy those not-so-quiet rooms in our house, it quite honestly felt a little forced at first.  I knew that it was just a feeling and that it would pass and I decided to continue.  It didn't take long for my heart to soften, thinking of the way Zeke likes to give gifts to everyone, no matter what day it is, or the way Areyna helps so much with all her brothers and sister.  Then there is Alethia and that contagious smile of hers, and the way that Cai can look so darn cute as he carries out a disobedient act, making it almost impossible to discipline him.  And I can't forget sweet little Jude and his snuggles and smell and little fohawk:)

Then there is the man who is my best friend who I get to live life with.  I could go on and on about the things that I love about that man!

This morning as the kids came out of their rooms giggling with delight at the paper trail of hearts on the floor...

And the name places on the table...

And paper heart chandelier,

I was reminded of how sometimes it can seem hard to love those around us.  At times it may be burdensome, even forced, but love isn't something that always comes naturally, especially when there is any certain amount of whining or fighting with the other involved party:)  But love is a choice.  We can choose to give up when it gets hard to love that hard-to-love other person, or make that choice to work at it...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Welcome To The World

Jude Warren Via
Born: February 9, 2012
7lb. 4oz

Welcome to the family sweet boy!
We love you already...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pretty Sure

I'm pretty sure I totally just fought through contractions to shave my legs in the shower this morning.

I'm pretty sure I just sacrificed 99% of my air supply, through contractions, to give a fresh coat of polish to my toenails.  (A girl has GOT to look good when she is going into labor;)

I'm pretty sure that Josh and I have been talking like this trip to the hospital is a quick little getaway from the chaos of the already 4 excited children in our house, ha!

I'm pretty sure I am more than excited to see if I will be coming face-to-face with a little Jude or a little Talitha.

I'm pretty sure that I am more than ready to be done being pregnant for the rest of my life.

I'm pretty sure that Areyna was born 5 days late, Zeke was due on his due date, Cai was only 1 day late and that #4 (born to me) is coming on his/her due date...

Because I'm pretty sure that our baby is coming TODAY!

Oh Happy Day, it's Thursday:)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Yes, I AM A SuperMOM!

And you are too!

So often we look at our mommy friends and see all the things that they are capable of.  We look at how many kids they have.  We see all the things they can accomplish in one day.  We see their constant positive outlook on life.  We see all that they are involved in.

And then we feel totally overwhelmed when we look at our own lives, like we don't even compare.

We don't have nearly as many creative ideas as they do, much less the follow-through to accomplish any of them.  We can't find a single minute in the day to get that shower we've been meaning to take all day, much less the extra time it takes to apply make-up.  Our to-do list continues to grow, instead of diminish, as the day progresses, as we can barely find the energy to even get lunch on the table.

Depression can very easily begin to creep in if one isn't careful...

That is sometimes how I can view myself in light of others.

But then I remember that I am one of those supermoms too!  It comes from confidence in who God has made ME, excelling in the gifts that God has given ME and refusing to give into the comparison game which ravages so many of our female (and male) minds!

So, close that laptop, quit comparing what God has given you with what He has entrusted to someone else, open that Bible that has been collecting dust beside your bed and ask the Lord to search and know your heart and then ask Him to show you the SuperMOM who He has already created inside of you.

"...for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."
Matthew 6:8

The View From Here: Tangled

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

This And That

I had to run out to the store yesterday (I know, BIG shocker, ha!) and after ringing up I stepped out from behind the counter and the lady that had just loaded up the 3 bags looked totally caught off guard when she saw the belly that preceded me as she said, "We'll be more than happy to help wheel you out to your car...I mean, help you wheel your groceries out to your car for you...gosh, I'm SO sorry!"  I just laughed and told her I knew exactly what she meant, knowing that either way you look at it would have been a nice gesture, ha!

As you know, the baby "room" has been moved into our closet, which means that the nursing chair is in our bedroom.  We have the perfect set-up.  I saw an awesome idea, from an awesome friend, and decided to go for it.  I think it was an idea from Pinterest.  Super easy and costs less than $2!  I told Josh how the normal light wood on tray tables makes me think of being sick, as I normally only use them for a sleeve of Saltines and A glass of GingerAle when I am sick, so I needed something to spice it up a little bit.  I bought a can of spray paint and voila!

Zeke is into the question asking stage.  But not just asking questions.  He asks the same question over and over.  And over.  And over.  I'm trying to work on a creative way of conquering this little "habit" that totally makes me want to pull my hair out.  I think I've got a good one for the following scenario.

I hardly ever just buy candy to have around the house.  Mostly because I will eat it all before anybody else in the family can get their hands on it, but also, it makes my kids turn into monsters...literally.  They will whine and beg and ask for it non-stop until it is gone.  Now, I am well aware that grandma's are supposed to come with goodies for the kids, especially around Valentine's day (and other holidays), (So, thank you Meme for the thoughtful gifts for the kids that they LOVE!!!!), I just have to get creative as to how to handle the monsters when they come out:)

So, I came up with a new rule which states: "Yes, you may have one piece of candy today!" I then have them repeat how many pieces they may have that day, just to make sure we are on the same page.  Then, I go on with the rest of the rule.  "Now, if you continue to ask or beg me for 'just one more piece' of candy I will throw a piece away."  Yup, I'm a mean mama, ha!  I will now throw away a piece of candy for every additional time candy is brought up.  Oh how freeing it is!

So go ahead and bring on the candy monsters!  I know how to beat 'em now:)

My parents just arrived this afternoon, after a call of desperation yesterday.  They came bringing much needed energy for our kids, assurance that our kids will have someone here if this baby decides to make some progress in the middle of the night, and the traditional post-pardum yummy treats.  Ahhh, I can breathe a sigh of relief now...which may actually help bring this little baby into the world!  And if you have an opinion as to whether it is a boy or girl, which I KNOW you do, don't forget to go HERE and vote!  (I promise you'll feel better after you get it out of your system, ha!)  It's been fun to see what ya'll think:)

Speaking of...
...this is what is left of what I can see from standing up, almost straight.  I have to bend just a tad to see the tips of my toes:)

I hope you all are having a fabulous Tuesday, because I was having a fabulous Thursday...until I was made aware that this is in fact not Thursday, but Tuesday, in which case I am now having a fabulous Tuesday.  Thank goodness for homeschool and teaching the days of the week (and children who like to tell you when you are wrong:)!

Monday, February 6, 2012

For Lack Of Something Real To Blog About...

Let's see what YOU think?

Who Are We About To Meet?
Jude Warren - It's A Boy!
Talitha Hope - It's A Girl!
 free polls 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fun Facts For Friday

1 - We got our first piece of mail at our home for our homeschool this week.  It just kind of made me smile as I opened up the invitation for the NC seminar.  I think I kinda like homeschooling:)

2 - Alethia turned down eggs for another bowl of sugary American cereal this morning.  This is a first ya'll, seeing as she would normally eat a dozen eggs on any given morning all by herself.  Now, she did change her mind after she smelled the yummy scrambled eggs and saw her brother devouring a plate full, but that is a first for sure, ha!

3 - I went to Starbucks on the way home from my very disappointing OB appointment yesterday and used a gift card to pay for my purchase.  An old man behind me looked in my wallet and called me out in front of the whole store saying "You got enough credit cards?!"  I was totally shocked.  First of all that he had the audacity to look in my wallet, and second that he would have the audacity to call me out about something that was NOT even accurate!  I have 1 debit card, the ministry has 1 debit card, and we own 1 credit card to pay for online purchases for personal and ministry use.  The rest of the cards are gift cards (thanks to Christmas), a million insurance cards for our growing family and grocery store savings cards.  We make it a point to be very intentional with our money and by golly I wanted to tell him all about our whole budget strategy and put him in his place.  So I turned to him and told him I had "one credit card" thank you very much, and that the others were "money savings cards".  I could feel the steam coming out of my ears and took my own cue to leave him behind.  I sure told him, ha!

4 - I have learned the art of falling asleep anywhere.  Just this week alone I have fallen asleep on the couch watching the kids play on the swing set outside, resting my head on the table outside of Areyna's piano lesson and waiting for the Dr. to come in for my check-up:)  I guess my body is just gearing up!

5 - I can't say enough about how much we have loved this "winter" weather!  We've been outside the majority of the days.  Areyna still gets sad every time I change the monthly calendar in the school room saying, "But mom, it hasn't snowed yet!!!!"  Maybe we'll get a few flurries before the 6 additional weeks of winter come to a close:)
BONUS FACT:  My friend's daughter saw a superstar this week and thought of me, knowing how much of a weather buff I am!  She got Elizabeth Gardner's autograph for ME!  She is a meteorologist at WRAL.  Now if only I could meet Greg Fishel one day and get HIS autograph...but then again, Josh has already become leery of my infatuation with Sir Greg.  I'll just keep dreaming;)

Happy Friday ya'll!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What To Expect When You're Expecting...#5 - 39 Weeks

I'm 39 weeks today.
I went to another appointment today...I know, two in a row, ha!
But still, the gods of active labor and progress were NOT impressed:)
Still NO progress...sigh...
What's another week, eh?

Happy Groundhog day.  
I'll def. take 6 more weeks of THIS kind of "winter"!