Monday, November 10, 2014

Entryway Closet Makeover!!!

I am so excited about this make over I can hardly stand it! 
I have been day dreaming about a solution to our closet mess for quite a while now. 

Not everyone has a garage or a large mud room. So many of us have these little hallway closets that we barely fit in.  We have lived in three houses with all five of our kids and I have tried several ideas. We have had a big shoe bin outside the closet, in the entry way. We have had individual baskets for each of us on the bottom of the shoe closet. All of which resulted in big piles of shoes messed up on the floor. 

The kids would dig through their shoe baskets and it would end up mixed up, messed up and spread all around our entry way. Every day we did this...then I would throw everything back in just so I could barely close the door. Oh and the next pair of shoes I needed, they were of course, on the bottom of the pile. :) 

Here is the BEFORE picture. I am sorry to say I should have taken a better picture. I was so excited to get started on my project and I wish you could have seen it at its worst.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Adoption Celebration & Circus Party!

What a weekend it has been! On Friday we had our adoption finalization hearing. What a fun day! We celebrated with family and had cupcakes and apple cider and took a ton of pictures. We took a wonderful family photo with the judge. 

I have spent the last four and half years going in that court room and spent most of those years imagining our adoption ceremony in there. But when I walked in and set up with the kids in the front, sitting at the table, all I could think about was the fact that their birth parents sat in those very same chairs years ago when I sat in the back. I recounted a handful of hard court hearings and all of the waiting and ups and downs in the case. At times, I doubted we would ever get to this day. 



It worked out that my husband was off that day, as were the kids. So we woke up and everyone crawled into our bed and we took our time starting the day. We sang "Happy Adoption Day to you!"

As we made our way downstairs I began picking outfits to wear and getting everything together. 



Along with the pictures and cupcakes to celebrate I brought to the court house, two books. One for each child being adopted. We did this with my other son a few years ago at his adoption. We bought children's books on adoption and asked everyone to sign the inside cover and blank pages. It was such a treat to have the judge and counsel and everyone who had spent the last few years working with these kids, sign their books. :) We brought them to the party the next day and put them on our welcome table for everyone to sign as well.

Monday, October 13, 2014

What a difference a year makes!

After church yesterday, we went to the pumpkin patch with the kids. We had perfect weather. The fresh air felt so good, a little crisp, but not too cold. 

I was looking forward to this day for a while now but inside I was a little anxious about how it would go. Last year we had such a short and hard visit to this same place. Our youngest little guy was right in the thick of pushing me away and social outings were especially hard for him. 

What a difference a year can make. Last year at this time I was scared, exhausted, and I spent a lot of time trying to predict the future. I worried about every parenting decision I made, for fear that I was only adding to the problem and not fixing it. Attachment, or lack of it, had creeped into my home when I was unaware and unprepared. 


But on this day, we took our time visiting the "farm" and saw the chickens and horses and ponds covered in lily pads.  We were not rushed. We had no agenda. Robert would run up the hill and reach for my hand. The kids climbed on bales of hay, and I even found them laying down, relaxing, on the green grass.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Exciting Adoption News!





We FINALLY have a date set for next month to finalize our adoption for Katie and Robert!!! 

What?! I know...it is crazy exciting. 

I can't wait to make it official and have a big party to celebrate this long, brought-me-to-my-knees,  wonderful journey. They have been my kids for so long but to have it be finalized is such a wonderful thing to jump up and down about! 

As a gift to myself, or from my husband, how ever you want to see it :), I ordered this set as part of our celebration. I LOVE Willow Tree. My mother-in-law started buying me Willow Tree Christmas ornaments every year when I first got married. It has been a fun traditional gift that I just love!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Catering for a Labor Day Campout

Earlier this year I was asked to cook for a campout at the church I grew up in. My parents still attend and this year they were organizing the annual church campout. 

It was an out reach to the community and while it rained most of the weekend, we had a wonderful time. 

Here are some pictures of my food adventures!


I put together these buckets to help people know where to line up for food. I made signs to change out for every meal. The signs had scripture, quotes, thoughts, all about prayer. Unfortunately, it rained after the first breakfast and well, I didn't laminate my signs. :) I was able to use them though for the last meal after church on Sunday, once the sun shined through. :)

These five gallon buckets were easy to put together. Thankfully my dad provided the buckets and filled them with dirt he had on at his house. I got fabric and tied it around them. The signs were stapled into the sticks. The ground was too hard to put the signs into anyway and we were able to move the buckets around as we needed. :)

Ultimately, if the lines were long, I wanted to provide something for them to read and ponder while they waited.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A little encouragement...video style.

This morning I took my little Mia off to her second day (because of the staggered start) of kindergarten.

Today was the first day that she got out of my car in the pick up line and held her sisters hand and walked in the building as I waved good-bye. My heart ached. I was so thankful that Laura would walk in with her. :) I knew she would be fine and I could see them go inside as I drove away but then I remembered that a few years ago I let Laura walk in- by herself! I thought it would be easier...and maybe for Mia, but for me. :(

I came home and tried to keep busy, and with my three little ones, it wasn't hard to do.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Beach Family Reunion 2014


A picture I happened to get of some random kids playing down the beach.
I love how it turned out. 

Every year we go to the beach for a reunion with my husbands extended family. It was the perfect end to our summer break.

Traveling this year was different in many ways for us as a family. I didn't need to pack the big items like, the playpen, high chairs, baby gate or even sippy cups. Although, diapers and wipes were still on the list.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back To School: Closet Organization

We have been in our new house for over a year now and I finally have order in the closets!

With school just two weeks away, and my husband going back to work next week, I have been on this cleaning rampage all over the house. (So watch for more pictures to come!)

We don't have dressers for the kids, I am not a big fan anyway. I have always wanted to utilize the space at the bottom of the closet for more storage/clothes. Since I hang their shirts (and dresses for the girls) it makes sense to me to have the bottoms, well, at the bottom.

I bought five of these cube storage units for each of the kids and with free shipping they arrived at my door step. Fast forward a few weeks later when I had time and energy got tired of tripping over the boxes and wa-la!



I have two boys who share a room. They each have their own 6-cube storage unit for their clothes. They had enough width in their closet for me to lay them on their side.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

2014 Cascade Awards Ceremony


A few months ago I was chosen to be one of three finalists, in the unpublished memoir category, for my book, What Led Me To You.

Last night I attended the banquet for the 2014 Cascade Writing Contest hosted at the Oregon Christian Writers conference.

Even though, I did not receive the award for my category, I really enjoyed getting to get to this point.  I met some amazing people and had a wonderful night out with my husband.

Here are some of the fun pictures!



Waiting for the event to start. :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thomas The Train Birthday Party!

All aboard!

Robert LOVES trains.

Our little boy was turning three-years-old so we celebrated his birthday at a train park.

I had so much fun putting this together!

BAGGAGE CLAIM:
Each of the kids got a bandanna, a hat, and a train whistle to take home.
"Chew-Chew"
We had lots of finger foods in train cars that went all the way around the table. 

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.

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! :)

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.

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.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Attachment

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...

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

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.  :) 

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.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Foster Parenting Quote


You can read the rest of the article HERE.

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.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!


Publication: An Anchor

I am honored to share that I was asked to write a blog post for the Fostering the Future 2014 campaign through the Children's Rights organization. You can find out more about their mission here... http://www.childrensrights.org.

You can find the article here... http://fosteringthefuture.com as well as posted below.


10 MAY 2014 / POSTED BY CR

By Carrie Dahlin
carrie new largeMy son Robert went through a lot of instability in his first year. My husband and I first met him when we brought him home from the hospital at just 2 days old. The plan was for Robert and his sister Katie, whom we were already fostering, to stay with us for a short time and to then be adopted by a relative. But after the kids left our care, there were some bumps in the road, and they ended up in separate foster homes.
When we let Robert and Katie go, we thought it would be best for both of them. We never intended for them to be shuffled through different homes. But the reality is that kids in foster care get moved often, and for many different reasons. There are good homes and not-so-good homes. Life happens, illness takes over, good intentions become regretted decisions, and these all have a huge impact on the child.
Robert’s new situation was heartbreaking. He wasn’t being cared for properly in his foster home — he was often left in his playpen or high chair and not bathed on a regular basis. The family was busy with jobs and obligations and Robert seemed like a side note, a paycheck placement.
My husband and I had never stopped loving Robert or his sister. When we learned that they were available for adoption, we began the process to make them part of our family.
We were incredibly thankful when Robert, then 1, and Katie, then 3, moved back into our home, joining our two biological daughters, Laura and Mia and our son Jabar, also once our foster child. But it wasn’t an easy transition. Robert now had attachment struggles — he hated to be touched, held, kissed or hugged, and would often refuse a meal simply because I asked that he take a bite.
From his experiences, Robert’s view of a mother was one that left him disappointed and angry. He needed to learn that I was not going to abandon him and this would take time.
I decided to focus my attention on providing for Robert’s basic needs. I changed his diapers, gave him food and simply offered my presence. After a while, and a handful of attachment therapy sessions, the boy who once screamed every time I touched him started to lean against me as I sat on the couch. Before long, Robert was holding my hand as we walked to the bus stop instead of cautiously walking a few feet away. I will never forget the morning I went to wake him up and as he stood in his crib, heard him eagerly say, “I love you.”
As foster parents, we are asked to not only care for the basic needs of a child, but also sit alongside them as they digest the hurt and damage they have undeservingly experienced. We need to remember that these kids — even the littlest ones — who come into our care are hurting and struggling to digest the interruptions in their lives.
The reality is, whether the abuse and neglect come from birth families or fellow foster families, the impact on the children will have lasting effects. I believe we need more loving families who are willing to become foster parents to raise the standard in which we place these precious children. And I want to encourage future foster parents to seek support for themselves, in order be an anchor for the children they welcome into their homes, their hearts. It is our job to show kids a new kind of love, a love that is strong when they can’t be.
This Mother’s Day I will enjoy my breakfast in bed with a smile. Not because life is easy, but because I am surrounded by my five beautiful kids, as they try to make their way under the covers and steal a bite of my waffles. Mother’s Day is more than a day off from chores around the house or being pampered with flowers. It is a day to be thankful for our children, because without them, there would be nothing to celebrate.
It is my prayer to spend the rest of my life showing Robert, and each of my kids, the kind of love they deserve from a mother. I hope to show them that we are more than our beginnings.
Published on May 10, 2014 as part of Children’s Rights’ “Fostering the Future” campaign.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spiderman Birthday Party!

My son Jabar turned 4 years old! He LOVES spiderman everything. Although I have to admit he has never actually seen the cartoon. Here are some pictures!

Jabar has been talking about his spiderman birthday for months! And it was finally here!

This city scene was super easy to make. I got a 3-fold board from the craft store, already black, and shaped it into my city and then used my craft square punch to make the yellow windows.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring Break Fun!


We had an incredible day yesterday. Not only did we celebrate a birthday in our family but it was also the 4 year anniversary of our very first foster kid placement and the 3 year anniversary of finding out that our son James could join our family!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Little Mermaid Birthday Party

Laura and Katie have birthdays just a week a part. So we celebrated them turning 7 and 4 years old with a Little Mermaid themed party! It was a lot of fun to put together. Enjoy the photos!

I made this banner with simple cardstock paper, which happened to be on sale - bonus!
I printed large letters and cut them out. I quickly realized the black wouldn't show up well against the dark blue but by leaving a white trim as I cut them out it helped the letters pop off the dark color. I simply taped the back of them to ribbon. (make sure they are in the right direction for when you flip them that they will read the correct way. Sadly I didn't realize this until I was done and had to start over. :) 
Sea Water

 Forks "Dinglehoppers"

Cheese triangles "Shark Teeth"

Ruffle Chips "Waves"

Carrot Sticks "Crab Legs"

"Ocean Floor" Humus. Another good name could be, "Sandy Beach" Humus.

Sea Cucumbers

"Drift Wood" Gluten-Free Pretzel Sticks

Here are the ariel cakes I made. I used Pamela's Chocolate cake mix, aka- the best GF cake I have ever had. My original plan was to do cupcakes but for some reason I couldn't find my cupcake pan anywhere! Thankfully I had food coloring and enough frosting to pull this together. I had also found the cake toppers at the Dollar Tree when I was shopping for last minute party supplies. I couldn't believe they had Ariel! I am really happy with how these turned out. I of course always recommend practicing on a plate before designing on the cake. :)

Here is an "ariel" view of the cake. :)

I had two cakes, one for each birthday girl. :) 

These wall back drops just happened to fit my dining room windows! The sun helped them glow a bit. 

Ready for opening gifts. 

The pinata was a big hit. I was so glad the sun was shining so we could go outside.  Our kids LOVE pinatas and ask for them every birthday. We hardly do them so they were super excited! 


This was the pinata filling! I had one for each guest. It was super easy and the snack bag fit in the pinata hole. I had bubbles, a tattoo and a few treats. No mess. No fighting and hurt feelings over who got what. I would totally do this again! 


"Pin the seashell" Game. This was a lot of fun. The game only had 8 stickers so I traced one on paper and made enough for everyone to have their own. 

My little Mia got it right on the spot! :) We had all the kids sit on the stairs behind this photo which allowed them each to see the game and kept them in one spot while they waited for their turn. 

Activity: Paint your own treasure chest! I got these little plates from the dollar tree and wrote their names on them in sharpie so they could also let them dry. We did this activity first so they could dry while we finished the party. I put a piece of wax paper in the crease so the paint wouldn't seal them shut. Although I think the kids removed most of them. 

Aprons, I love these aprons, we now have a good amount of them. :) They are great for when we do art projects or bake or any other messy activity. Each guest got a plate with some paint already on it and a little dish of water. It kept all the kids together at the table instead of running around the house. :)

These were foam stickers I happened to find to add to the treasure chest. 

Overall it was a super fun party! Great weather and happy kids!

Monday, February 24, 2014

"Hallelujah" Even in the weary moments.

I hope you are all doing well!

Our house has been burdened with the stomach bug. :( So far only three of the seven of us have had it but it has lasted over a week. We have spent our days doing a lot of laundry for our littles who can't make it to the bathroom in time. We have been living on rice, bananas, toast and gatorade.

This morning I was not prepared to run out the door to take my two oldest girls to school but somehow we made it. This afternoon I have an important meeting to attend with my youngest daughter and my husband will be teaching until late tonight. I am reminded that life still happens with sick kids.

In the midst of the chaos, I took a few minutes and watched this video, while trying to just breathe. I hope you enjoy. God is good. I pray I can give Him glory as I get through this day.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

DIY Laundry Soap Recipe:

Here are all the ingredients. Pretty simple. All of them were on the laundry isle except the Baking Soda was on the baking isle. 


There are tons of recipes on pinterest and I found one I like. Here it is and how it all comes together.

With five kids we do a ton of laundry. I started this a year ago and love it. We save so much money. I bought these at my local Winco, even the a five gallon bucket.

The ingredients cost a total of $24.91 It lasts our family a little bit more than 7 months. Who doesn't love that! Even if it was a conservative six months that is still less than $50. per year! HUGE savings.

This recipe fills my five gallon bucket 2/3 of the way full. I only use about 2-3 tbs at a time. In fact I use the scoop that comes with the oxi clean and only scoop it half full....I pour it in first so it mixes with the water and then dump in my clothes.



I got smart and finally wrote the recipe on the gallon bucket  so I won't lose it. Since I am only making this about every 6 months or so I don't want to have to search for it.

I also write on the bucket the date I make a new batch. It helps me keep an eye on how long it lasts for our family!
I grate the bars on the smaller side of the cheese grater. In fact this brand is yellow, some are pink, and it looks like grated cheese. So make sure to do this at nap time and keep it away from the kids.  

I put all four bars in a big bowl so once I start dumping I can add it in as I go. 
Here it is all mixed up. I dump a little at a time from each box and some of the grated soap and stir with a wooden spoon I keep just for this process.

I would suggest doing this outside...as you pour the dust comes up and it is less mess outside. 
Here is the cute little jar I got to keep on top of my dryer. The five gallon bucket is too big and I keep it up high on a shelf in my laundry room, away from the kids.