Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sent encoulat tehfalligalli?

For a translation, and this week's adoption-related "Works for Me Wednesday," visit my homeschool blog where I've posted what's working for me in communicating with Minte.

It's about so much more than language.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Maybe We've Been Missing Something

"Oh, wait! Stop!!"

I think I startled him.

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!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Praying for Others

"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

Thursday, November 20, 2008

She's HOME!!

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!

To see some awesome video and follow Ella's story, visit Around the World and 2 Kids. To follow Garrett's journey to his baby sister Ellie, visit Wade Whereabouts.

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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Works for Me: Netflix

Minte's daily question: "Mommy? Eez e-mail box movie? Today?"

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!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday's Menu and Minte's (Food) Adjustment

"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!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"We're Not Prejudiced..."

..."but that won't equip your kid. You've got to see the world in color."

Here is an interesting interview about transracial adoption:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why Even Put Yourself Out There?

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."
~C.S. Lewis, The Four Lovers

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Works for Us: Labeling the House

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!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Power of a Praying (Adoptive) Parent

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!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday's Menu

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!)

To read more menus, or to share yours, visit Laura at

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!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wise Words

... as we go into Election Day.

As always, I appreciate his Biblical perspective.

There is an interesting critical response to Piper's video here .

Following that, Piper expounded further on his thoughts on Sarah Palin here with, "Why A Woman Should Not Run For Vice President, But Wise People May Still Vote For Her," where he closes with this statement: "In my view, defending abortion is far worse sin for a man than serving as Vice President is for a woman."

Above all, we should pray.

Monday's Menu

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!

Here's what we're cookin' up this week:

Monday: Orange-glazed Pork Chops, Skillet Lo Mein
Tuesday: Chicken Enchiladas, black beans, corn casserole
Wednesday: Mediterranean Spirals (my husband loves these!), steamed veggies, salad
Thursday: Crock Pot French Onion Soup (from my FIFI cookbook, but similar to this), salad
Friday: leftover buffet

For more menus, or to share yours, visit Laura at Have a great week!