I hope you are having a great week so far. I have, though I still feel like I'm not getting much accomplished. But, that's okay! Minte loves the little countdown we have in the kitchen that says how many days until Christmas... but I have to admit my blood pressure goes up a little when he moves it each day. And now that it's in the single digits, I'm getting that twitch I usually get. But. I'm okay. It'll. [twitch] All get. [twitch] Done. [twitch] And if it. [twitch] Doesn't. [twitch] It won't. [twitch] Matter in the. [twitch] Grand scheme. [twitch] Of things. [twitch]
So, I mentioned Monday that I didn't have my Christmas cards done yet. Well, in the interest of KISS (Keeping It Simple Sister) I decided to abandon my vision of the Perfect Family Christmas Photo, pull some pictures we had already taken, create a quick photo card on Snapfish and have them sent to be picked up at our nearby Walgreens. Wall-ah. Love it. So, those are going out tomorrow, along with the family "Christmas Letter" that my daughter (who loves to write when it's not assigned) volunteered to write. Yey! Mistletoe week is working for me!
As I was going through the pile of cards we've received, making sure I had correct addresses, I came across so many that were SO cute! And, of course, my initial reaction was one of comparison... "Well, ours won't be nearly this cute." Blah-blah-blah. The usual ridiculous self-talk. And then I came to this one (right) and thought, "PLEASE. Do you have to show us how young, hip and whimsical you are and that you had a lovely beach vacation? Apparently accompanied by a professional photographer? Who ARE YOU?? And, most importantly, do I have your correct address?" If you will look a little closer at the photo you will see what I finally realized upon closer inspection... that it is the sample photograph that came in a picture frame I bought last week. In fact, if you've recently bought a picture frame at Hobby Lobby, you probably have a lovely picture of this couple as well. So, I had to chuckle at my ever-increasing ability to compare myself to others and feel overwhelmed... even to the point of being stressed out by the sample photo from a frame. :::sigh::: Oh, and if this is you in the picture, have a Merry Christmas! I'd send you a card, but I don't have your address.
And I just had to share this. Someone gave us these last week at Awana and I think they are so cute! The popcorn is a pepperminty gourmet popcorn. I might try these someday with this recipe of popcorn. Fun! Plus, it would give me the perfect excuse to drink some Starbucks Frappuccinos. Because, you know. Slamming coffee drinks always HELPS!!!! The HOLIDAY!!! STRESS!!!! LEVEL!!!!!
Remember the peanut butter and mustard sandwiches? Well, guess what else we've been missing? Mushed up avocado with sugar. That's the latest taste sensation around here, thanks to our Ethiopian chef. He was so excited recently when I brought home some avocados, and couldn't wait to scoop one into a cup, mash it up, and sprinkle some "sukar" in it. He was so cute as he eagerly held out the spoon exclaiming, "Mommy! Taste! It's yahmmy!" So, I did. And it kind of is.
Well, there it is. Some midweek randomness. And you'll never get these minutes back...
I thought of this WFMW yesterday morning when I was cutting up ham for an omelette. And by "cutting" I literally mean, cutting with scissors. As in, whip the sliced ham out of the package and start cutting it into strips like it's paper.
What works for me is having a drawer full o' scissors next to my stove in my kitchen. I would say "kitchen shears" but, as you can see from the photo, not all of them are classified as such. But, they are in this house! I simply keep them in the kitchen and use them as I would any other cooking utensil, and then toss them in the dishwasher as I do everything else. They have proven invaluable in cutting just about everything as I cook: cutting the fat off of chicken, cutting raw meat into strips for stir-fry, slicing strips of bacon into cubes for recipes, cutting the cheese (sorry kids, I just had to put that in there), dicing and destemming vegetables, trimming dough... you name it. Many times it's so much easier than using a knife, at least for me. I have a couple of dedicated "kitchen shears" but since those are more expensive, I've found that some good ole less-than-$2 cheapy scissors do the trick, and keeping several pair on hand ensures that there are always some clean and sharp enough. When they become dull I simply buy another pair (or two) at the dollar store or wherever I'm shopping. If these happen to be used for giftwrap or other projects, I just wash them in the sink or dishwasher so they're ready for cooking.
Works for me!
For other ideas, or to share something that works for you, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.
Minte's awesome best friend from the orphanage and his adorable little sister passed court yesterday and will be coming home SOON! They are SO precious. We were so blessed by our time with them a few months ago. In fact, I think the pictures are some that Bethany took. These kids are so fun!! You can meet them here.
I hopped online this morning to get caught up on some of my favorite blogs, and to post my always-fascinating menu, and came across some great stuff. It all started with this post at Laura's which was a follow-up to this post about not being "enough." Not getting "it all" done. Wow, that's a biggie for me. I am currently in a season of not getting it all done... of feeling like I'm not enough. I've even wondered if I'm somehow suffering a mild form of Post Adoption Depression. (But, that's another post! :) It was interesting that I happened upon those posts this morning after kissing my husband goodbye for work, then walking with my coffee past all piles which are waiting to be tackled... Gifts waiting to be wrapped reminded me of the beautiful gifts and wrapping techniques I've seen on blogs. The Christmas card pile reminds me we have yet to even take our picture, muchless mail them. The tub of decorations on the stairs reminded me that I haven't finished decorating the house. (So much for the Christmas Tour of Homes!) Yes, as I padded my way through the house on my way to the computer, I was mentally imagining how "together" everyone else must be compared to me and really doing a bang-up job of #17 on my list of Ways to Make Yourself Miserable.
Which made those posts I read all the more timely.
Laura's first post addresses being "intimidated" by reading certain blogs. I call this "blog intimidation." As I read through some of the comments and the excellent links she posted, I was reminded of something I wrote back in July of 2007 for Christian Women Online. As we begin the Monday of the last week before Christmas (gasp!) I thought it was worth a re-post. I know I needed it! So, here it is...
Sometimes Good Enough is Good Enough
Reading blogs can be so inspiring, can't it? It can also be thought-provoking, relaxing, entertaining, and even... intimidating. Yes, intimidating! It's easy to read blogs from so many different women, each expressing one or more of her gifts, and come away from it feeling like you're not doing enough. Your closets are not as clean as hers. Your weekly menu (if you even know what it is yet!) is not as creative as hers. Your scrapbook pages (okay, you don't scrapbook, but even if you did) don't look like hers. Just look at how many pounds she's lost! Oh, my goodness, she's read that many books this year? I've never read that many in my life! Oh, and she sings. Of course she does. And on and on it goes. Different blogs, different women, but it's so easy to make it into one Composite Super Woman to whom we just don't measure up! We do it in real life ("irl") too, don't we? (Sometimes I think we put the "irl" in "girlfriends!") I've fallen victim countless times to one of my biggest enemies- comparison. I think all women are prone to it at one time or another.
"You see, I made the decision some years ago that I would spend my housekeeping time more profitably if I concentrated on things I did well- cleaning, organizing, sewing, washing, mowing, shoveling, ironing, mending, and repairing. Cooking wasn't my strong suit, so I kept that at a minimum. My family has been great about it. It's not like we live on fast food. We eat well even though I don't make big efforts in that direction. Realizing that it's not one of my gifts, I released myself from the expectation of being a great cook. We just don't have time to do everything with excellence. The sooner we learn that, the sooner we can break free from the lie." "We all must make our individual decisions based on God's leading for each of us. Not only should we not attempt to do it all, but we should not feel a sense of guilt when we can't do what others expect of us. Sometimes we put those expectations on ourselves. The truth is, many of our friends would trade a skill they have for one of ours."(emphasis added)
We don't have to be good at it all. Sometimes good enough is good enough in certain areas. We can choose to focus on what we do best and release ourselves from unrealistic expectations. Let's lighten up on ourselves and be who God created and gifted us to be!
God, thank you for the ways in which you have gifted me. Forgive me for envying the gifts of others. If there are any areas in which you want to grow or increase my gifts, I invite you to do so, for Your glory. But, help me not to neglect the gifts I have and waste the moments available for me to use them by spending unnecessary time feeling guilty or inadequate. I can do all things through Christ... all the good works You prepared in advance for me to do, with the set of gifts You have so graciously given me. Thank You, Father. Amen.
We have some mistletoe hanging in the arch in our entryway (sometimes I like to call it the "foyer." It makes it seem so faincy.) I've decided to let it remind me of KISS. Yes, I know we've all heard it: "Keep It Simple Stupid." Only, I'm not stupid, and neither are you! Keeping it simple is one of the smartest things we can do! So, I've decided it stands for "Keep It Simple Sister." What is "simple?" To me, it means releasing myself from the expectation of doing some of those things that I'm not good at or simply don't have the inclination to do right now. To focus on what my gifts are, what energizes me, and do those things with excellence like the quote above says.
That's my new reminder for this week. For this Christmas season. For 2009. This could be Freak Out week. Or it could be KISS week. I can decide that right now, on this Monday morning.
Like my new look for the holidays? Bethany took some pictures of Minte decorating the tree in the boys' room, and I "beeg-loved" it so much I wanted to use it for a blog header this month. Now it feels more "Christmas-y!"
This week I have a quick, simple, WFMW (which may even fit into the "duh" category.) Everyone but me has probably always been doing this, but I just started a few years ago.
The advent of online shopping was very timely for me, because it was just around the time I became a stay-at-home mom of young children. I couldn't spend my days shopping because I was, well, with them. I didn't want to spend my evenings shopping because that was family time, there were other activities. And it is cold and dark. The weekends are outrageously crowded. SO... I began ordering gifts online. It was a great solution, except (1) the UPS man would always ring the doorbell during naptime and (2) there would be a chorus of "Mom, what'd we get? "What's in the box? What's that? Is it for Christmas? Who's it for? Look, this one says "LEGO on it! Well, let's see, it wasn't big enough to be the bike I asked for, so maybe it's a....."
You get my point. It was a ruckus everytime a delivery was made to our house.
SO, over the years as I online shop (still my major way of accomplishing Christmas shopping) I simply have everything delivered to my husband's office. (Of course, over the years he's gotten on every mailing list there is, and I'm sure American Girl Doll catalogs still arrive at his former workplace!) They are older now, but we are in the thick of homeschooling and it's not best for me to leave them for days on end while I shop. Another benefit, besides the sneakiness factor, is that there is always someone at the office to sign for it, so nothing has to sit outside on the porch or be redelivered/delayed. For now, ordering online and having them delivered to the office works for me!
And little do they know, when Dad pulls up into the driveway some days after work, he might as well be driving a sleigh...
For more great "works-for-me" ideas, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer. Have a wonderful Wednesday!
Well, it's the start of another week. It's hard to believe it's Monday again!
Last week my daughter and I began the week with a lovely stomach virus. I spent the whole week feeling "meh" so I didn't get time to blog and I spent most of the week feeling like I wasn't getting much done. I think I felt that way primarily because, well, I didn't get much done. But, we're both much better now and hoping for a great week ahead.
Over the course of last week, while I physically had to have more "down time," I spent some time praying for some dear friends and family. One night, in the space of an hour, we received two pieces of news. The first was from our friends in China who had lost their beloved dog. We love that dog, too! And I knew how important that sweet dog was to them, while living a world away from friends and family. So, I prayed. A few moments later, a family member called to let me know that they were experiencing a miscarriage. We have been so excited about this precious baby and so prayerful for this pregnancy, and this was devastating news. So, I prayed. Also in recent days, our refrigerator stopped working. So, I prayed. Praying about all of those things felt odd at first. Is it okay to pray for a lost dog, the loss of a child, and a misplaced refrigerator warranty all at the same time? I was reminded of something I read recently in Grace-Based Parenting:
"The Bible says, "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). It's amazing how inclusive the word all is. It doesn't say that we are to cast only our legitimate cares on Him."
His point in the chapter was that we need to treat our kids the way God treats us in this way. If it matters to them, it needs to matter to us. All of these things I was bringing to Him matter to me, His child, and to my friends and family who are his beloved children as well. Therefore, it mattered to Him. ALL of it. As I prayed over the course of the week, I was struck again by how He is concerned with what concerns me. The dog was returned. My family member is healing physically and is at peace spiritually. We are using our "old faithful" fridge in the garage while we locate our warranty for this one. No matter what happens, I can take it all to Him. I even found myself last week thanking Him for anxiety over certain issues, because it prompts me to pray for them. If I were completely calm or unmoved by circumstances, I wouldn't necessarily think to take it before the throne of grace and get a front row seat to watch Him work. It's all such a gift! Anyway, these are a few of my "musings" from recent days.
Yesterday we went with our fun in-laws and cousins to the Happiest Place On Earth (Bass Pro Shop, of course) and talked to Santa. Minte is used to calling him "Father Christmas," and according to him, in Ethiopia Father Christmas brings candy and tells everyone about Jesus. Isn't that cool? He's getting used to the fact that in America Father Christmas is Santa Claus (or "Santa Clock" as Minte says it) and brings you toys. He's liking that idea, in fact. So, yesterday he decided to ask Santa Clock for an RC monster truck. We had a great time with family, doing the activities at Bass Pro, then going out for pizza and then to see a wonderful light display at a house nearby where the homeowners have coordinated their lights to music, dress as Santa and Mrs. Claus and give out candy. So far Minte is really enjoying the Christmas season!
I have some other fun pictures of what we've been up to lately, but I want to save them for a separate post. So, today I decided to post some of what was on Minte's memory card in his camera. One fun thing we did when he came home was give him one of our unused digital cameras and let him take photos of his life. He snaps photos every day! You never know when the flash of a camera will greet you around here. As a result, it's been fun to see what he decides to capture on film! This morning I dumped his memory card into my computer and decided to share a bit of Minte's life through his eyes...
Uno. A favorite game of his. LOVES this game. We play it just about every day, multiple times per day. This is the one where it shoots out lots of cards at you. When he doesn't want it to shoot cards at him, he acts like he is zipping it shut ("zeepehr") and locking it with a key ("kulfoche")... then shuts his eyes and gingerly pushes the button. When the cards spew out he screams, "Ahhhh nahhh!" Very fun!
Mom and Kyle working on some schoolwork in the kitchen.
One of his favorite shows, "Zack and Cody." There were a bazillion photographs of the TV screen on his memory card! We DVR the shows, and when he wants to watch the older shows he calls it "Zack and Cody House ("how-oose") and the new ones ("Suite Life on Deck") he calls "Zack and Cody Boat." Through such educational programming he has learned such phrases as, "Awesome!" "Ahh, man!" "Dude, check this out!" and "Absolutely not." He also will now laugh his head off hysterically and then get really straight-faced and say, "No funny."
This would be a hawk in our back yard, eating something. That was fascinating for both boys for most of a morning. It was a pretty big hawk, and we figured out it was eating a bird. I was hoping it wasn't a rabbit or a squirrel, and that it would take the remains of the carcass with it when it was finished. Which it did, thankfully. That was icky-virus week and I wasn't in a place to make it into a science lesson.
There is a whole series of these pictures of all different expressions. The funniest thing to me about them is that it looks like a "mini-Kyle" is sitting on his head. Kyle was on a bar stool behind him videoing him taking all of these pictures of himself and hamming it up.
He beeg-loves anything to do with the dogs, and he takes many pictures of them. The dogs feel famous now. When I got to this one, I think I literally spewed coffee out of my nose. Yes, those would be Minte's sunglasses on Haley's backside. He thinks her tail looks like a long elephant nose.
Well, there you have it... a little bit of our life through Minte's eyes! There will be more to come, I'm sure!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ And now our menu for the week...
Several years ago I attended a leadership conference. Among the topics discussed was the topic of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. I was unprepared for how that information would impact me. I was a "child of the 80's," as well as a product of a conservative, evangelical church, so the mere mention of "that disease" made me not only think negatively about that particular virus, but also what I believed caused it.
I had no idea.
As I listened, my heart was softened. Horrified. Transformed.
So, I did the only thing I knew to do: I bought a book. It was a small, easy-to-read book entitled The Skeptic's Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis, by Dale Hanson Bourke. That book changed how I thought about this once "taboo" topic. Wow. Part of what drew me to that particular book was how I could relate to the author's words in her introduction:
"I am not an AIDS expert. Quite the opposite, in fact. I am an ordinary woman who had heard enough about AIDS to know it was a big problem, but not enough to worry about it. I had the good old American belief that if I really needed to know something about AIDS, I'd get an official notice in the mail or the newspapers would carry big headlines."
"...Like many people, I had become a skeptic about AIDS. The panic in the US in the early 1990's had given way to moderation and the understanding that people with AIDS were not a serious threat to me or my children. And besides, Magic Johnson was alive and well, wasn't he? Maybe it had just been a passing phase."
"But unlike most people, I had the opportunity to travel to Africa and Asia. There I was confronted with the irrefutable evidence that I- and many people like me- was missing something."
Yes, obviously I, too, had been missing something. And God, in His grace, was making sure that was no longer the case. So, I spent some days that summer- by the pool in my comfortable upper-middle-class suburb- reading that book and a couple of others that discussed this most uncomfortable topic. Finally, I felt more than just "sad" for those who are being effected by it. I felt like God was saying to me, "So? What are you going to do about it?"
To which, I replied, "What can I do? I have no medical experience, the mission trips I go on aren't primarily involved in this area. I don't have a lot of money to give. I'm just a stay-at-home, homeschooling, middle class suburban mom. What would You have me do, Lord?"
Little did I know that at that very moment, events were taking place across the world that would one day very much involve me. Me. A stay-at-home, homeschooling, middle class suburban mom. The faces of some of those children I'd seen in videos would one day become the precious face I saw just this morning at my breakfast table. It simply astounds me what God will do when we honestly say to Him, "What would You have me do?"
In the years between that summer and now, there have been (and continue to be) very real opportunities to pray and to give through organizations like Compassion International, World Vision, and the non-profit that my husband helped to start (email me if you'd like a link.) There is much to be done, and a way for all of us to be involved.
"AIDS is the leprosy of our time. Just as society shunned lepers 2,000 years ago, today we shun those with HIV/AIDS. We fear the disease and look down on those afflicted. The Church has remained silent for far too long on this issue. If we are going to call ourselves Christians, taking on the name of Christ, we must strive to be more like Him. Jesus didn't avoid lepers-- he embraced and healed them. In the same way, we must embrace and heal those with HIV/AIDS with compassionate hearts. We must educate everyone within reach, and seize the opportunity to be part of the solution." -- Dr. Wess Stafford, President, Compassion International
I truly believe that one day we as a church - the Body of Christ- will stand before the Lord and have to answer for our stewardship of the biggest public health problem the world has ever faced. I didn't want to stand before Him and simply reply that I cried once during a video and read a book by the pool.
Today is World AIDS Day. A day I once cared very little about, a topic to which I once gave only a passing nod. I am so glad I allowed God to break my heart that summer. As a result, I (and my family) will never be the same.
My 10 year old Ethiopian son jolted a bit, his hands poised holding the mustard over the sandwich he was making. The peanut butter sandwich he was making. (Or "sandoosh" as he pronounces it. Yes, I know what it sounds like.)
"Um, you're going to put mustard on a peanut butter sandwich?"
"Minte lahve mahstard."
"I don't think it's going to taste good with peanut butter, though."
"Check." (A new word he learned in math last week.)
So, he proceeded to squirt mustard over both peanut butter sandwiches he had carefully crafted for himself. I winced as he placed the top piece of bread over each, and watched with interest as he took his first bite. I wondered if he would make a face and say, "No... no Minte," his usual response to food that doesn't taste the way he thought it would.
Instead, his face broke into a big grin and he exclaimed, "S'goood! Minte lahves zees!"
As you can see, he "beeg-lahves" his new creation. And nothing beautifully blends the colors of autumn like peanut butter and mustard on wheat! Move over PB & J, and make room for PB & M!
Who knows? Maybe we've been missing something all of these years!
Here's what we'll be having for dinner this week:
Monday: Coca Cola Pork Chops, steamed veggies, rice Tuesday:Pumpkin Chili, cornbread Wednesday: leftovers Thursday:Happy Thanksgiving!!!! We'll be eating TWO big meals, one at each of our mothers' houses. Yummo! Friday:Turkey Divan Croissants
For more recipes, or to share your own, visit Laura at Org Junkie. I hope you have a wonderful, set-apart week of thankfulness and time with those you love!
"I could say, "God can make my hands clean if He wants to," or I could wash them myself. Chances are, God won't make my hands clean. That's a job He leaves up to me. His omnipotence is not impaired by His having ordained my participation, whether it be in the washing of hands with soap or the helping of a friend with prayer."
"One way of laying down our lives is by praying for somebody. In prayer I am saying, in effect, "my life for yours." My time, my energy, my thought, my concern, my concentration, my faith- here they are, for you. So it is that I participate in the work of Christ." --Elisabeth Elliot
What a joyous time we had last weekend! Ella Yanet (and our sweet friends-who-are-more-like-family, David and Amy) came home from Ethiopia!
Minte carefully made her a beautiful sign, which says, "Welcome Yanet, Love Mintesinot." We stood eagerly waiting for awhile until they finally walked through the terminal. What a wonderful reunion it was! (If you look in the background of this photo you will see the first baby to come home, Sarah (Meskerem, "Mesky," and her dad.) It was SOOO cool to have the first and second children home from the Buckner orphanage, waiting to welcome the third. Wow!
It was so precious to see them see each other. Minte positively beamed as she came through the door in her mother's arms. I loved how they looked at each other! The eyes of both children have seen many things in recent months... God is doing a mighty work in each of their (and ALL of our) lives. Simply amazing!
Could she BE more adorable????
Minte became fast friends with Ella's grandfather, "Pop." Pop came over to us while we were waiting and reached out to grasp Minte's arm. He began to weep as he said, "Minte, I've been praying for you, son," pulling him into an embrace. Minte smiled so big! I can't tell you how that blessed me! Believe me, when people tell Minte they've been praying for him, he knows what they are saying... and he knows what that means. After he and Ella got to see each other, he turned to Bethany and said, "Minte pray for Ella."
When I say they became "fast friends" I mean that literally! Pop let Minte drive his motorized chair all around the terminal. What fun! Pop is Minte's kind of guy! Pop, I know you're reading this. We love you!! Thanks for blessing our little boy (and all of us) with your words and presence that day. What a privilege it was for us to share in the moment when you welcomed your sweet baby girl home.
It is always great to meet other Ethiopians when we are "out and about." We met this man first, who saw Minte holding the Amharic sign. They conversed in Amharic for awhile... lots of smiles and laughing!
Another woman heard them talking came over to introduce herself and talk to him, too. They had a nice conversation as well. Both of them were so happy when they heard his name! I have been so blessed by how the Ethiopian community here has welcomed and embraced him, and how they take the time to introduce themselves.
The boys enjoyed spending time with Garrett, who is waiting to go bring home his little sister, Ellie. We're praying for a court date SOON!!
When it was time to leave, the boys all had a HUGE hug. I'm tellin' ya, we're all like family now!
Sarah, Minte, Ella and Ellie still have friends at the orphanage who are eagerly waiting for a family. (In fact, there are currently more children than there are families in the program.) They've seen Sarah's, Minte's and now Yanet's families come and get them, and they are wondering when it will be their turn... when their families will be coming. A year ago right now, we hadn't even started the process, and now we have our precious son with us. God is so good! To find out more about Buckner's Ethiopia program and the waiting children, contact them through their website here. Your family could be the forever family for one of those amazing children. In fact, I'm confident that someone reading this is.
And when you get home, we'll be waiting at the airport.
Translation: "Will there be a movie in the mail today?"
(Note: he doesn't get the difference in the words for mail and e-mail, so he just always puts the "e" in front of "mail." I just always have to figure out if it's a mail-related comment, which type of mail he's referring to. The other day he said he almost ran his bike into an e-mail box. I totally knew what he meant, LOL.)
We are about 8 weeks into our adjustment at home with our awesome 10-year-old son from Ethiopia, so I'm posting during November (National Adoption Month) about things that are currently "working for us" during his transition. So far I've written about establishing a routine and labeling the house. Today I'll share another thing that is definitely working for us: movies.
Before we traveled to bring him home, we joined Netflix. That was new for us, as we haven't really watched or rented many movies, but I thought it would be nice to have some on hand each week after we returned home with Minte. I had no idea. They have been a daily life-saver for us these past few weeks!
I'm sure there is research somewhere that will suggest that this is no way to properly bond with your child, or which would cite the effects of too much screen time or media, so by all means, don't necessarily go with my opinion on this. However, around here each afternoon after we have finished our schoolwork, had some time at the park or outside, and are ready for some "down time" before dinner, it has been fun to see what movie the mailman brought and have an afternoon movie time. We've watched a movie just about every day (or every other day). I have found it beneficial for many reasons, some of which are:
He spends all day, every day talking to us, trying to understand what we're saying, trying to assimilate new information. This is an exercise for us as well, trying to properly communicate, talk slowly, repeat ourselves, act out things in a charades-type way. SO, during the afternoon movie, none of us have to do that! It's relaxing.
We have some new "shared" experiences. We haven't experienced the past 10 years with him, but now we have experienced stories together, laughed at some of the same things, rooted for the heroes, been mad at the villains, etc.
It has fostered many conversations where he/we remember funny scenes and laugh about them again.
He has learned a few new phrases... I can't remember all of the ones he's asked about lately but recently he asked, "What eez zees: 'ab-so-lute-ly-not' ? What eez zees?" So I explained that it means "no way."
He is now well-versed in some of the movies that all of his friends and most of the culture around him have seen. The "High School Musical" movies (he "beeg-loves" these!), the Disney animated ones, Toy Story, etc. have been big favorites. He sees those characters all over the place and he now knows where they come from.
We've been able to discuss emotions. "This part made mommy sad (happy, scared, etc.) Was Minte sad (happy, scared, etc.)?
I don't want to risk over-psychologizing it, but watching movies (carefully chosen ones, of course) has been something we have enjoyed these past few weeks, and for those who might be considering adopting older children, I thought I would pass along something that has "worked for us."
To read more about our adoption journey, click on the link in my sidebar. For more tips, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer. Have a wonderful Wednesday!
"Give thanks to the LORD for He is good, His love endures forever." Psalm 136:1
Happy Monday! Time to get another week underway! I hope you had a refreshing weekend and are getting your week off to a great start. I have some fun pictures from our weekend, but I'm going to do it in a separate post, because chances are if you got here via Laura's site, you aren't here to get all caught up on our life, but to browse menus. :)
Since November is National Adoption Month however, I will share the food-related part of our newly-adopted son's adjustment process so far. About 8 weeks ago we returned from Ethiopia with our precious 10 year old son, Minte ("MIN-tay"). On my first MPM back, I mentioned that he was eating everything... and he was! Thankfully, within a week or so, he began to express definite preferences in his food. He has never refused to eat something, but he will let me know if it's... um, not his favorite. It began with, "Mommy, whaht eez zees?" (pointing to food) After hearing the answer, he would put up his "tsk-tsk" finger and say, "Zees? No.... No Minte." I have been fine with that from the very beginning, because I'm just glad he feels comfortable enough with me to tell me that. Plus, I know that liking the food where you are can be a huge part of feeling at ease there. So, over the past few weeks his favorite foods- doro (chicken) nuggets, hot dogs, and eggs- have become a staple for him. I don't serve them with every meal, but he knows they are *always* an option. I found the healthiest, organic chicken nuggets I could find, and the leanest, chemical-free turkey dogs and wheat buns, and organic eggs, and those are always on hand. No matter what's being served, breakfast, lunch or dinner, he knows he can have an egg, doro or a hot dog. I always ask, and several times he has chosen that. Last week, he chose chicken instead of enchiladas, and a hot dog instead of French Dip sandwiches. This precious boy has "new" thrust at him from every direction all day, every day. New words, new sights, new experiences, new feelings... so it is important to find things that are familiar to him... things that can be the same. Food is one way to do that. That said, he does happily try new things, primarily because I try to serve them with something I know he likes. A couple of weeks ago he really "big-loved" this Skillet Lo Mein recipe. So, this weekend when I made a new type of panini sandwich for him, I served it with that, so I knew there would be something he liked. He eats one food at a time (all of one thing, then on to the next) so I knew there would be something healthy on his plate he would eat. In this way, a few new foods have made the transition to familiar favorites. Oh, last night he and I were home alone together for dinner and I made his favorite food, something he ate at his home in Ethiopia- fried egg and fried pasta. Simply spaghetti and scrambled egg, all together in the skillet. He literally jumped up and down with excitement! That did this mom's heart good! I also baked some Snicker Doodles from scratch yesterday, and last night he said, "Mommy... zees cookie? Minte beeg-beeg loves. Tank you!" So sweet...
He also (as many newly-adopted kids will do) has gained some weight in the past two months. He has gone through all of the clothes we originally bought for him, is well into the next size, and quickly growing out of those! I am simply making sure he is active every day (mostly with his new favorite skill- riding his bike), or running around outside. Also, I buy the healthiest, lowest fat things I can buy. Not things with artificial sweeteners, but just low in fat. A couple of weeks ago at a party, he "discovered" Ruffles potato chips. LOVED them. In a "where-have-these-been-all-my-life kind of way. He exclaimed, "Mommy, zees! Minte beeg-loves zese!" (Well, don't we all?) So, I bought the low-fat, sea salted Ruffles and the first time I gave him some with his sandwich at lunch he clapped and hugged me. Oh my goodness! At this point I'm not going to limit his food, but I am simply offering healthier things when he does eat, and watching to see that he acknowledges when he feels "full," which he does. I say, "Good! When you feel full, time to stop eating."
It's been an interesting "food journey" these past eight weeks, but I love it! And I'm still learning!
Here's our dinner menu for this week:
Monday: Teriyaki chicken, rice, stir-fry Tuesday: Hay and Straw Wednesday:Mini Meatloaves, baked potatoes, lima beans (<--we'll see how these go over!) Thursday: Leftovers/ YOYO (you're on your own) Friday: Chicken Tortilla Soup (we didn't have this last week... This is my friend Mary's recipe, follow the link and scroll down. ALL her recipes are great, so you may want to print them off!)
For more menus, or to share yours, visit Laura at Org Junkie. Thanks so much for stopping by, and have a blessed and wonderful week!
After all, you could get hurt. It might cost you something. It might change the way things have always been. Why go through all that? Wouldn't it be easier to just leave things the way they are? Why get involved? You have enough to deal with as it is.
"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it careful round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable... The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers... of love is Hell."
Since November is Adoption month, and we are currently about 7 weeks into our adjustment at home with our new 10 year old son from Ethiopia, I've decided to post a few WFMW's about some things that are currently "working for us" in his transition. Two weeks ago I posted about how establishing a routine and having a visual representation of our week has really helped him. This week I'll share something else we've done that has seemed to be effective.
It's helpful for anyone trying to learn a new language to label their surroundings with words in that new language. It even fosters literacy in one's first language. When my other two were little, there were words everywhere! I just decided that literacy would be a higher priority than decor, and slapped labels all over the house. God designed our human brain to automatically try to decode text.
Before we left for Ethiopia I ordered the Talk Now- Learn Amharic software. We found that to be a very useful (and inexpensive) program for learning some basic vocabulary (and hearing pronunciation by a native speaker) before we traveled. One thing I loved about it was that it had printable picture dictionaries for each category of words (greetings, food, household, etc.) with a picture of the item, the English character, the phonetic pronunciation, and the Amharic Fidel characters. Very, very helpful. Before we left I printed out the picture dictionary pages and cut out each word and laminated them into cards. It has helped him (and us) because it's got the word for us to say in his language, as well as for him to read and learn in English. (You can click the photos to make them larger so you can see the print... sorry the glare of the flash made them hard to read.) Not only is this helping him learn the words for "spoon," "shirt," etc. it is helping him to know where those things are kept. I wanted him to know where to find a bowl in the kitchen, or where his socks are. This helped him to begin to feel "at home" even faster.
At a local teacher/office supply store, I also found pads of Post-it Notes that have English vocabulary words on them. I took some pads of those notes with me to Ethiopia and asked our orphanage director and translator to write on in Amharic. She was SO sweet to do this for us! I brought those home and laminated those as well, and they are all over the house. On lamps, inside the refrigerator, etc. The one that says "coat" is on the door of the coat closet, the one that says "towel" is taped under the hook where he is to hang his towel. These have been very, very helpful.
He is making great strides each week in learning English, but it is definitely step-by-step (sometimes very small steps) every day. I know from international travel that being surrounded by a language that is not your first language and letters that you can't make sense of can make your mind tired. I believe that seeing words in his language sprinkled throughout the house not only rests his mind, but teaches him where things are and begins to show him what the word looks like in English. "Signs" directing him to an item's location, with a picture and in words he can read, have helped him to feel more control. He not only hears spoken English throughout the day, his brain is storing them by seeing them as he looks around the house. I am far from being an expert on language acquisition or adoption, but this is one thing that is working for us!
For more tips, or to share something that works for you, visit Rocks In My Dryer. Have a wonderful Wednesday!
When my older two children were a preschooler and a toddler, I came across Stormie Omartian's book, The Power of a Praying Parent. Up until that point, I had been what I would consider a "praying mother," but after I read that book I became much more convinced of how vital a parent's prayers are for a child, and how intentional I needed to be about it. After I read the book, I took some post-it tabs and tabbed each prayer, 1-30. That way, I could pray through each area of each child's life one day per month. Over the course of a month, I could completely cover every area of my child's life in prayer. In a year's time, each and every part of their life would've been prayed for at least 12 times. What a vital part of my prayer life this book has become! I began to realize that I needed to "camp out" on certain areas for awhile... like, attracting godly friends and role models, desiring the things of God, or enjoying freedom from fear. Whatever issue they seem to be dealing with, there are scriptural prayers in this book that address it... and these prayers have served as a springboard for many heartfelt conversations between this mother's heart and my Heavenly Father as I "pour out my heart like water before the face of the Lord, lifting my hands toward Him for the life of my young children" (Lamentations 2:19). I have small photos of each of my children that I use as bookmarks in this book, not only to mark what I am praying for, but so that as I am praying I can look at their precious faces. When we began the adoption process, I began praying these prayers for a child whose face and name were known only to God, but the process of praying for him or her in this way made me feel instantly connected to the child who would one day be mine, and it made me active in his or her life during a time when I felt helpless to do anything but wait.
When we realized Minte was our child, his photo immediately went into this book, and I began to bathe his life in prayer as I had for my other two for so long. In fact, praying specifically and thoroughly for him in this way has helped to eliminate some of the fear I had in adopting an older child. God has reminded me that He is not constrained by time. He has been at work in Minte's heart and life since before he was born! He is able to appropriate His grace in Minte's life into the past as well as into the future, not merely during the slice of time in which I am praying. He will go back into Minte's past and "work all things together for good." (Romans 8:28)
I remember as I began praying about adopting an older child, the Lord impressed upon me the story of Samuel, and how Hannah had so little "hands on" time with him as a young boy after she took him to live with Eli at the temple, as she had promised the Lord. During those annual visits with little Samuel, how she must have wanted to just soak up his presence, and how she must've fervently prayed for her son all those months in between, while she was carefully sewing the new clothes she would take to him. I believe with all my heart that she did pray for him faithfully, as scripture indicates in 1 Samuel 1:27- "...for this child I prayed." And I have no doubt that she prayed for him the rest of her life. As a result, she had a child whose heart was guarded when he was not in her care, and even in what most would consider less than optimal care living with Eli's wicked sons. (I feel certain Eli would not have passed a "home study!") She had a child who was able to clearly discern the voice of God at a young age. She had a child who was able to grow up with a strong faith and example that would lead others, impacting generations to come. As adoptive parents, especially those of us who have adopted kids whose ages are in the double digits, we have had less "hands on" time with our kids than children who have been with us since birth. But that should spur us on to greater prayer, and greater trust in a God Who has been with them from the beginning and Who ordained that they would join our families exactly when they did. Through prayer, I have asked God to "multiply my mothering" in Minte's life, as I believe He did for Hannah in the life of Samuel.
It is never too late to start praying for our children! I've heard it said that the best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago...the second best time is now! Whether or not you have been active in praying for your kids up until now, you can start today. You can stop right now and pray, and go throughout the rest of this day knowing that you have invited God's presence and power into their lives. Adoptive parent or not, systematically and thoroughly praying for our children is one of our highest callings. Adopted or not, our children are only with us for a short time, but we can entrust them to the One Who has been and will always be with them, even when we can't be, and He loves them even more than we do!
HOW is it Monday again already? Seriously, how? Do you feel that way some weeks, too? Where does the time go? I remember when my kids were babies and toddlers someone once told me that during those years the days crawl by but the years fly by. Now that my kids are older, the days and the years seem to be flying!
Last week, I posted my menu on Monday morning, smoothed over my written plans for the week, began my day... and then my sweet 12 year old woke up saying he didn't feel so good. That quickly degenerated into... stomach virus. Oh, MAN. So, I went around for a couple of days with my holster of Lysol, bravely standing between the Evil Virus Germs and the rest of the family. Thankfully no one else caught it, but it did alter our menu plan just a bit! Not only because he was too sick to enjoy it, but because I didn't want to get in there and prepare food in between bouts of... helping him. We had planned to have some friends come over and tell about a recent mission trip to China on Tuesday night, complete with chicken enchiladas. Well, that didn't happen, so we're trying it again this week. (In my experience, nothing welcomes people home from an international trip like some good ole' Tex Mex!)
So, all of the above is to say, that if I could post my menu plan each week in pencil, I would. The truth about blogging and planning is that after you hit "send," you get up from the computer and life happens! But, it's SO good to have a plan! Once the sickness left our house, I simply had to reshuffle when I made what, not continue to think on my feet. It's really, really helpful.
Here's what we're planning this week... we'll see what happens!
Monday: Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches, sweet potato fries, salad Tuesday: Chicken Enchilada Fiesta, Take Two with our fun friends Wednesday: Pan Fried Tilapia, steamed vegetables, rice Thursday: Leftover Buffet Friday: Chicken Tortilla Soup (I LOVE making soup on Fridays, especially in the fall!)
Since we're on the subject of food... here we are last Thursday having lunch at a wonderful Ethiopian restaurant not far from us. I have not perfected any Ethiopian cooking skills yet, but it's just as well, because we love going out for it just so we can talk to other Ethiopians! When he's with us, he speaks as much English as he can in lots of nouns, verbs, incomplete sentences and sometimes word combinations only our family understands. But when we're with Ethiopians, he can chat, really talk, in his first language. I really think that's good for his mind, personally! He has gone through so many changes in recent weeks, that we try to take time every couple of weeks to find familiar food and someone with whom he can speak Amharic. This particular day, the restaurant owner was there and he got to meet him. I can't tell you how this man's face lit up when I told him Minte's full name. It made me glad, once again, that we kept his awesome name. His name means "What can he not do?" (Speaking of God, but also speaking of Minte... kind of a cool double-meaning in a way) His middle name (which was his father's first name) means "our world." What can He not do in our world? Wow! We sat in that wonderful restaurant, with the TV tuned to CNN discussing the change of power following the presidential election and I kept thinking... what can God not do in this world? He can do anything. He will do it. His will WILL be done. No matter what. No matter who's president. Then I glanced over at my new son who, as a black child, for the first time in history bears a resemblance to one of the most powerful men on the planet. And I thought of the opportunities he now has in his new life here. I thought, "What can he not do in his world, in his sphere of influence?" SO much is open to him now. That's what the restaurant owner said as well. He was so glad to meet Minte and commented, "Wow, he's one of the lucky ones." Of course, I replied, "Oh, we're the ones who are blessed." I have found in adoption that God has a way of blessing all involved. We all feel like the lucky ones.
Oh, I've got so many blog posts brimming in my head! I hope I have more time on the computer this week, but we'll see.
I hope you have a fantastic Monday and a wonderful week!
Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend, with whether with tricks and treats or harvest parties, this weekend was a fun one to celebrate! We started Friday morning celebrating Minte being officially declared a US citizen, then went to lunch at Chuck E Cheese... what better way to celebrate! Minte loved it! Friday night we had a wonderful time at a harvest party with some friends, and then on Saturday evening we went to Minte's first American wedding! It was a beautiful ceremony, more like a worship service really. I love experiencing all of these "firsts" with him. He loved getting a suit of dress clothes and enjoyed each part of the service. One of my favorite parts, which I hadn't seen before, was the "salt covenant." The bride and groom each poured some salt into a beautiful glass vase, and I love what it symbolized. (You can read more at the link...) It was truly beautiful. Congratulations, Sarah and Jimmy, and we hope you are having a fab-u-lous time in Hawaii!
I came home from that beautiful wedding with a renewed sense of love and gratitude for my wonderful marriage (a gift I don't take for granted!), my precious kids, and the privilege it is for me to be the one who gets to love and take care of them every day. I flashed back to our wedding day almost 18 years ago and wondered to myself what I would've thought if I could've seen a snapshot of my life now... what our children would look like, what our home and family would be like... I wonder what my reaction would've been? I know what my reaction is now: total awe and gratitude to a God who is moving and doing great things in our family. And, as moms we get a front row seat! Isn't that exciting? Even in the small things, daily. It's important to be there for those moments, and to have your "spiritual eyes" open to what is happening. Edith Schaeffer says, "The thing about real life is that important events don’t announce themselves. Trumpets don’t blow, drums don’t beat to let you know you are going to meet the most important person you’ve ever met, or read the most important thing you are ever going to read, or have the most important conversation you are ever going to have, or spend the most important week you are ever going to spend. Usually something that is going to change your whole life is a memory before you can stop and be impressed about it. You don’t usually have a chance to get excited about that sort of thing...ahead of time!"
There's no particular reason for this other picture, besides that I thought it was cute! The kids snapped this in the back seat while we were driving to the wedding. It's always fun to go through their memory cards in their cameras and see what they've been up to! Sometimes I look at my kids and I can hardly breathe... I just love them so much. (Other times I look at them and I can hardly see straight... but thankfully those times are fewer and farther between, LOL.)
Okay, now I want to share with you a wonderful tip I recently discovered. You probably already knew this (I'm always a little slow), but did you know you can substitute apple sauce for cooking oil in most recipes? I recently tried this in a cake and it turned out perfect! Over the weekend I did it with this whole wheat pancakes recipe, and they were awesome. It cuts down on some of the fat, and it's easy. You just substitute the same amount of apple sauce as the recipe calls for. Love it!
Several months ago, Luke and I sat in a dingy federal government office, in a part of the city that we have never been before, waiting to be fingerprinted. We were in line with many other people in who were in various stages if the immigration process. We waited alongside them, documents in hand. In that room on that day, there were many different nationalities represented. We were clearly in the minority, and for good reason- we were already US citizens. We were proving who we were and going through the process, although our citizenship in this country was already secure. You see, we were there on behalf of someone else. We were there for our child.
We were there taking steps to secure citizenship for our precious son waiting on another continent, who had yet to even hear about us. We left our comfortable suburb to go to a place where we would not have normally gone, where I (admittedly) felt a little out of place, where I had to allow myself to be fingerprinted, have my background checked and my documents scrutinized as if I were the one becoming a citizen. I did all of that willingly, and would do it again, motivated by my love for my child. I stood there on that day so that he will never have to. I remember thinking, "I'm doing this for you, Minte." Oh, how my heart swelled with love for him at the thought!
Today, Minte stood before a judge and was declared a citizen of the United States of America. He never had to stand in line at the immigration office... that was done for him. He never has to doubt his citizenship here... that has been secured for him. He will now have all the rights and privileges that belong to a US citizen, a standing that is sought-after by so many.
What a picture of the gospel! Jesus' citizenship, His rightful place, is in Heaven. His position and citizenship there is established, but mine wasn't. In fact, I had no place there, no way to even enter. He left His rightful position for a time and came here, where He was "out of place." He didn't have to, but He did it on my behalf, to secure my citizenship in Heaven, that where He is I may also be. He did this before I even knew Him, while I was yet a sinner. He went where I will never have to go, so that I can someday live in a place better than I could ever imagine. Because of Jesus, my eternal citizenship is secure.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." Eph. 1:3-6
"For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" Romans 8:15
I haven't done a "Works For Me Wednesday" in awhile, but now that we've been home from Ethiopia with our new son for a little over a month I've decided to post some WFMW's about what has been working for us so far during his transition.
If you are visiting my blog for the first time, welcome! In the way of background, I will share that he is 10 years old. For more background you can click on the "Our Adoption" link in my sidebar.
One of the things I took away from much of my reading on adopting older children was that it is valuable to establish a routine. It really helps the child feel secure to know what's coming, what to expect. In recent years during the school year I developed a schedule for our days, which really helped all of us stay on track and make the most of our days. We are not quite to the schedule stage (it takes me weeks to get over traveling and get back to normal) but keeping a routine is the next best thing! Adopted children have, understandably, been through many changes in their lives. Depending on the circumstances which led to them being in an orphanage/ foster home, some of those events have been devastating and have happened in rapid succession. Once they get used to one situation, everything changes again. Keeping things "the same" can be important, especially at first. Even when things can't be the same, knowing what to expect can help them feel "in control."
Since Minte has come to be with us, he has watched the same showevery morning when he wakes up. (DVR'd episodes of "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody"... Disney Channel is helpful because there are no commercials for "stuff." And he LOVES that show.) Then, he eats the same thing for breakfastevery morning. Eggs (either boiled or scrambled) and dabo (bread), either toasted or plain. Some mornings he asks for a waffle. During breakfast, he checks the weekly calendar that I have posted and we talk about what we are doing that day. Here is a picture of it a couple of weeks ago (you can click on it to make it bigger.) I color-code my kids for school, so when I circle an event in colors it indicates who it's for. This particular week, my husband had a business dinner, so I indicated that Daddy would be "out for dinner." It seemed to really effect him that Daddy wasn't coming home to eat with us, so it was good that he knew that ahead of time. When I can, I draw a little picture beside it so he can more easily understand what it means. I have had this weekly dry-erase board calendar by our back door for a couple of years, and I write our week on it for the kids to see. It has helped all of us to know what's coming each day. So, I continued this when Minte came home. The only thing I added was writing the word "today" on one of the magnets so he would know which day it is. I cannot tell you how helpful this has been for him. I had no idea this would be something he would love so much! He not only refers to it in the morning, he looks at it throughout each day... to remind himself of what's coming, to ask about something, to learn the days of the week, to talk about something fun we did yesterday that he doesn't remember the word for, etc. Yesterday he pointed to our current calendar which shows that we are going to a wedding on Saturday (I had drawn a bride and groom) and we discussed what a wedding is, who the family is, etc. Very helpful! Now he knows that it is coming and has seen it represented visually, so now he can ask questions and feel secure about it days before it occurs.
Another benefit has been that the things on the calendar that he has seen posted, which we have discussed, and for which we have prepared him, have actually happened. It said "karate class" and we went to karate class. It said "High School Musical 3" and we went to the movie. Not only are these positive experiences for him, he has seen that when I say we're going to do something, we do it, which builds trust.
I've learned that as an adoptive family, much of what we do looks routine and is nothing earth shattering (after all, many families write out their weekly calendars... so what's the big deal?) but for a child who's world has literally changed in recent years, and for a family who has been newly formed, these "little things" aren't so little.
To read more WFMW's and get some fabulous ideas from other bloggers, or to share something that works for you, visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer.