Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Simple Truth- from my five-year-old

Today I was driving my two oldest daughters home from swimming lessons when I heard such simple words of truth, from my sweet daughter.

Our typical drive home involves a winding road next to a cliff with little to no railing. There is a small water fall on one side and beautiful shade from the tall trees. For the most part, I find it to be a refreshing view after passing through worn down houses and industrial buildings.

However, the cliff is intimidating and I usually ignore the fact that it is there, keeping my eyes on the road. Sometimes, I even cautiously hug the middle of the lane and slow my speed.

I really hate that cliff, but I would like to think that I never vocalize my fear. *guilty snicker* (hand over face)

Okay, maybe I have, once or twice when my husband was driving, and I sat in the passenger seat...very...close...to...the...edge.

You would think I would find a different way home but I am all about efficiency. :) Since we have therapies just past it, along with a quick shot to the highway, it has become a typical route.

While we have driven up and down the hill hundreds of times this last year, it has become the focus of conversation these last few weeks. Maybe it was because I was driving my husband's truck instead of our big suburban as we finish our two weeks of swimming lessons, which gave the girls a closer look out their windows in the backseat.

This afternoon, Laura, my seven-year-old daughter, looked out her window and started squealing about the possibility of driving down the cliff, "Oh no, what if we drove off of the cliff?" "What if our truck tumbled over and over?" I think she was trying to be over dramatic but still, I wanted to remind her that we would not drive off the cliff.

Before I could re-assure her, my five-year-old daughter, Mia, jumped in and said, "Just hang onto Jesus and you will be fine!"

I had no words. She said it better than I could have. Much better.

As expected, we made it up the hill just fine, as we do just about every day.

I couldn't get those words out of my head. "Just hang onto Jesus and you will be fine." She said it with such confidence and simplicity. There was no need to worry or fret.

How often do we stress over our own fears? The unknown? The trials we face in life? How often do we look for answers in so many places before we give our worry to God?

Even as I write this, I am very much aware that I have been spending weeks stressing over a handful of things, which have taken my focus and my energy.  I have been trying to find solutions on my own,  when I could simply hand it all over to Jesus.

What a gift that is.

Like my daughter, sitting in in the backseat, we often have little to no control which can cause anxiety to take up space in our hearts. We forget that we can simply hang on to Jesus, and trust that we will be fine. It is so hard to do and I am so thankful for the reminder.

My heart melts when I hear my kids reminding each other to seek God first and I feel convicted for not doing this with my own worries.

So, while I practice living those words, I would encourage you to also think about them as you get through your week. :)

"Just hang onto Jesus...and you will be fine."

Monday, July 14, 2014

School Work File Folders!!

I have been storing awards, important papers and art work in all of the wrong places; the top of the fridge, junk drawers, cupboards, and even in the garage.  

Today, after months of this project sitting half done, I finally finished all of the tubs for each of my kids. I wrote signs with their names on the outside of the box and each kid and color coordinated as best as I could! :) 

Two Pink, Purple, Blue and Green.
 I am always a little bummed when I can't find 5 different colors! :) 

I bought several boxes of assorted colors and pulled all the yellows together, blues together, etc...

I have been storing awards, important papers and art work in all of the wrong places; the top of the fridge, junk drawers, cupboards, and even in the garage.

Today, after months of this project sitting half done, I finally finished all of the tubs for each of my kids. I wrote signs with their names on the outside of the box and each kid and color coordinated as best as I could! :)

Now, each of my children have their own box to keep all of those precious pieces of paper, photos and drawings. I made tabs for each school year, including pre-school and added a file for church and misc. items.

I am now free of guilt about how I was storing all of those items, with no risk of damaging, or (deep breath) losing those wonderful pieces I love so much.


Wait for a holiday sale. 
With a handful of kids this project can be costly.  I bought these around Christmas time, with free shipping and they appeared on my doorstep. My favorite kind of shopping!

Think Outside The Box *pun intended :)
Use this box for more than school work. I ran out of folders but I intend to get a few more for each box. In addition for the school work, church projects and even a Misc. folder, I want to add one for sports (photos, awards, DVD's even fit great if you put them in a zip lock bag.

Start Now!
You will only get more behind. I have a daughter entering second grade in the fall, along with a kindergartener and the three other kids have been bringing home art work from preschool. No matter how long you have waited it is better to start now and organize from here on out. You can always go back and catch up when you have a quiet weekend at home.

Large Pieces:
I have a sweet friend who suggested getting a large portfolio to keep their large pieces of art work, science fair projects and anything else they worked so hard on. :)

Say No to Hoarding!
You do not have to keep every little piece of work. Yes, it is hard to physically place those papers in the garbage but I would suggest keeping samples of each subject from different times of the year. I am amazed at how Laura's hand writing improved or how her pictures changed as the year went on. I kept a few of those math homework packets she spent those late nights working on, and a few sheets of drills but mostly, I held onto the stories she wrote and pictures she drew. Papers with her imagination and memories she shared from the "weekend news" projects. :)

I hope this encourages you to keep those little treasures for your child.

I would love to hear ideas you have!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A New Look For Summer!

After almost 2 years of not changing my hair I was eager for change!

But summer vacation is here and with a last minute appointment, cause that is how I roll, I made my way to a wonderful salon with the intent of only getting a cut.  I left with a cut AND some highlights and feel very refreshed!

BEFORE: Wow, that was long! And all natural.
I  think I was 12 the last time I had my own hair color. :) 
Growing up I colored my hair every color and had a new hair style just about every month. With life stealing my attention I had let my hair grow out more than I realized.

AFTER: Over 8 1/2 inches cut off! And two shades of highlights. 
AFTER: Playing around with my new look! Loving my curls.
This is a darker picture but the highlights are awesome! 

BEFORE: Crazy how long it was from this picture taken a month before. 
I have to also admit that after I disaster hair cut a few years ago I was a little gun shy. I had gone in for a new look and somehow, even though I asked for long bangs down to my cheek bone, I ended up with bangs so short that they hardly laid flat. Through tears I yelled for her to stop cutting and had to go to another salon to help fix the mess. I had to cut more bangs further back to hide the short hair. Maybe I lost my nerve after that.

Absolutely loving my new hair!

Yay for curls! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Suttle Lake Vacation

We just enjoyed a wonderful vacation with my husband's family at Suttle Lake....which was maybe 10 miles from Sisters, Oregon.  The kids had a blast! 

The kids taking one last look off the front porch of our cabin, before we head home. 

Note to self: Always bring night lights on vacation. I always forget and end up buying some at the near by store. :) The new environment is always a little scary for the kids at night and we end up keeping a bright lamp on. 

Robert LOVED the geese that visited us during our trip. 

Our little visitors. :) 

Katie with her Uncle walking in the water.  
The breeze from the lake was very refreshing. Over our vacation we played in different areas and even drove to Scout Lake, that was our favorite place for the kids to play. 

Playing in the water. Katie had the biggest smile on her face. :) She worked so hard to show me her toes! :)

Horse Back Riding at Black Butte Ranch.
The kids each got to ride around the corral and enjoy the breathtaking view! 

While I very clearly saw the defense mechanisms the change in environment from our little Robert, I was very proud of how he powered through all of this fun and excitement. He absolutely LOVED riding the horse. I saw a smile from ear to ear the entire time he rode that horse. 

So, with two major horse lovers in our bunch of kids and the fact that all of them love to ride, I think we need to figure out a way for these kids to get some more horse time in their schedule. :) 

One of my favorite pictures! 

If you are going to ride a horse, this is the way to do it. I love this view!

The three girls enjoying a snack with an amazing view of the lake.
Got to love those dirty little feet. :)

We were able to stop by Angelina's Bakery in Sisters Oregon and enjoy some of their gluten-free treats! 

Katie really got into playing baseball with her dad. 
 We woke up to giggles in the morning, we played hard outside and my husband even treated me to a massage at the spa in the lodge. In fact, he offered to change most diapers and even kept the dishes washed. I feel very spoiled! 

Of course the coordinating outfits!

Overall we had a wonderful time. We stayed up late and slept in, and even attempted to make french toast and bacon in our little tiny kitchen. :) The scenery was amazing and the evening breeze was refreshing. 

We are all happy back at home, kids playing with their toys, everyone taking some down time after a busy four days. Our dogs are back home in their backyard and we are off to bed, a little earlier than we have been this last week. :) 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Sitting in the sun with Robert snuggling in my arms.
Oh it felt so good! 

I have been on cloud nine lately after realizing just how far my little Robert has come over the last year. Many of you may have read the article I recently wrote for the Fostering the Future campaign, if not, you can read it Here.

During our recent camping trip I was enjoying a good conversation with my mother-in-law, and she commented on how far Robert has come. It got me thinking...

Just six months ago....
His behavior now....

He hated reading books or sitting in my lap.
He will read two books in my lap and chimes in about the pictures.

He had huge tantrums and was unable to calm down.
I can see him taking breaths, trying really hard to calm his body. 

He mainly did independent play.
He plays pretend horses with Mia and monsters with Jabar. 

He screamed and threw his plate if he was asked to eat food he didn't like.
He will take a few bites when I ask him to, even if he doesn't like it. 

If he fell down and got hurt he would get mad if I tried to comfort him.
He will now run to me and let me kiss his boo-boo's.

He was uncomfortable sitting in my lap and his body felt stiff, he usually got down after only a few minutes.
He asks to cuddle with me and melts his body in my lap. He even lets me rub his back or play with his hair!

He cried every time my husband cooked something in the kitchen, unable to wait for food.
He sits at the table in his chair with such incredible patience as we get meals ready. 

I have also changed. 

I purposefully create more opportunities for Robert and I to have alone time.

I am able to show Robert grace when he is in an overwhelming situation and might react with strong feelings. I don't expect him to never have a meltdown.

I try to seek God to be my comfort and not push Robert to show affection in the way I might crave.

I pay attention more to Robert's cues and realize that he communicates more subtly than others, and that is just fine.

I am so proud of how hard Robert has worked to break away from some of his barriers and let his guard down. While the list above shows amazing improvement, I want to be clear that it is not about having a well-behaved child, it is about having successful communication and connection with a child.

In this last year of discovering who Robert is and how I can bond with him, he has taught me a thing or two.

I have been inspired by Robert's love for rocking chairs, while it may be a sensory seeking behavior or self-soothing behavior, it doesn't really matter to me. What I love is his ability to just be content with quiet. I have always been one to thrive on busy and and even crave a little chaos now and then but as time goes on I realize that I also, very much need quiet, I need to be still.

Before the school year was over, Robert and I would wait for the kids to get off the bus from pre-school. We waited on my front porch two mornings a week.

I have to admit, after I finished my Rocking Chairs, this was way more relaxing for both of us. :)

Because we are on the end of a very quiet street there was nothing to hear but the occasional airplane or birds chirping. We would rock and sit. Every now and then we would glance over at each other and smile. What an amazing moment to share with my little guy.

We could just be together.

And even though I sometimes wish Robert always wanted to snuggle in my lap and give me a million hugs per day, I have learned that Robert lets me into his world and connects to me while we simply sit together.

If you are a parent struggling with an angry child or adopted a child who is having a hard time bonding to you I encourage you to not give up. Think outside the box, seek professional help and support for both of you. It can take its toll. I was once so discouraged and felt lost when it came to helping Robert.

It is easy to put our own timeline on children and create expectations but I would remind you to give your child time and grace as you navigate your way around those barriers.

I urge you to find a way to simply be present with your child. It is easy to take them on dates, as we do with each of our kids, but we can quickly get distracted by the activity and surrounding fun.

It is hard for me to remember, but simply being present with my children is just as important.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fishing/Camping Trip

I  just had an amazing weekend at Trillium Lake. This was the first fishing trip for our kiddos and they loved every minute of it. I had to share some of our fun pics!

I had never been there and was so moved by the amazing view of Mt. Hood.

Our amazing view.
Walking down to the lake

This is my favorite shot.
My husband, father-in-law and a few of the kids were fishing.
I was able to stand on the dock and get this amazing photo! 

I even made it out onto the lake a few times! 

The kids saw some ducks coming right toward them. They got super close.

Here they are!
Our little campers with their lanterns, you know, during the day. :)
They kept saying "Who goes there?" A line from the Backyardagins. 

Getting all set up around the fire. 

The littles and I went on a hike while they big girls went fishing with their dad and Papa. 

We found more ducks. 

Our little Robert LOVED playing in the dirt. :) 

Jabar having a turn fishing!

Laura caught a fish! Her first one! She was the only lucky person out of our whole group who caught a fish and I was so proud of her. She even helped Papa gut it afterward. :) 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Freezer Jam!

It is that time of year! Jam season! 

For the last few years my sister-in-law and I have made strawberry freezer jam in large batches and every year we forget to write down how much we need so we can do the same size batch the next year!  

So, this year we vowed to actually keep detailed information and email it to ourselves, so I wouldn't have to worry about keeping track of where I put the precious information.  :) 

So, let me share with you our recipe info...and maybe if I lose my email I can refer back to this post! 


Recipe...makes 34 pints of jam  (for each of us to have 17 pints)

2 flats of berries
2 10lb bags of sugar
10 Sure.Jell packets (the yellow box)
*We followed the recipe in the Sure.Jell box for freezer jam.

My husband's grandma used to make this jam and I instantly fell in love. In fact, my kids reject store bought jam after living on this homemade treat. It is a sad day when we run out.

This year we completely pureed the jam, I am not big on chunks.

I used half pint jars. I don't enjoy large jars of jam, my hands get sticky in attempt to scrape the bottom of the jar. :( 

The freezer in my garage now holds strawberry jam for this next year. Although, I have to admit that with 7 of us in the house, I don't expect the jam to last as long as my larger batches in the past. This summer I am going to attempt different flavors...wish me luck! 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Hearing Evaluation

This picture brings tears to my eyes.... my little boy looks so grown up in this picture.

Maybe it is the super cute overalls he is wearing. 

Maybe it is the fact that he is sitting in this chair by himself instead of in my lap, for the first time, as we test his hearing in the booth we visit often. 

Maybe it is because I have seen him practice this "game" so many times and this was the first time he used this new technique to test his hearing.

Robert learned to put an object up to his ear and when he heard a sound he would put it down. I was so very proud of him on this day. 

There was a plug in his right ear so we could test his left ear with the BAHA. His results were the best we had seen to date. He is now hearing very close to a typical range in his left ear, with the help of his BAHA. 

I praise God for the team of people investing in my son's hearing. I am overwhelmed by the encouragement, support and action they take to help our family. 

In fact the team of professionals that work with Robert did all of the go between with the insurance company to get him his very own BAHA. We had a loaner for one year and after a handful of appeals the insurance paid for Robert to have his very own, top of the line BAHA. What a blessing! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Foster Parenting Quote

DIY Project: Rocking Chairs

I finally finished my rocking chairs right in time to kick off summer vacation! 

I found these on craigslist for $30 each, they are $150 brand new.  The ad said they were distressed. :) They were in bad condition. Paint was chipping off all over, it looked like the wood was rotting and there was even green moss on one of the arms.


AFTER: Still drying with cardboard underneath. I can't wait to put the pillows on them! 

BEFORE: My husband brought these home for me and I couldn't see how bad they were in the pictures from the ad. I have to admit I was nervous if I had just bought something I couldn't salvage. 

AFTER: But look at them now! So much better!

BEFORE: As I sanded them down I noticed that one chair was painted white underneath
 and the other was a dark green. 

AFTER: Now they are just a beautiful black!

Here are some pictures of the process. It took me a few weeks to get together. That first day of sanding I was in a hurry and didn't put them up on a table so all of the bending over trying to reach every angle I ruined my shoulder and neck. And of course then there is the busy life with kids and obligations so they sat on my front porch for a while half sanded down. :) Our neighbors were gracious not to comment on the eye sore I had in front of our house. 

Mostly sanded down

I used a grey primer coat. This took longer to apply than the final coats of black. 

I really enjoyed working on these in my peaceful backyard. My husband got all of the kids ready for bed while I listened to soft music and covered my arms in paint while trying to reach all of the different angles.  It had been way too long since I did a project like this and oh how I missed it.

I put them on the front porch before I went to bed that night so they could finish drying.

I hope you are inspired to find a project this summer for yourself!

I have wanted rocking chairs on my front porch since I dreamed of having my own house.

My sweet Robert and I like to sit and wait for the kids to get off the bus and I am looking forward to trying these out.

Now if I can find motivation to clean out my garage! :)