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Thursday, December 31, 2009


Why is it that some kids ask questions they already know the answer to?

"Is there more tri-tip?" (Hmmm...well, the fact that I JUST TOLD YOU THERE'S MORE may give you an inkling...)
"Is it New Year's Eve?" (Oh, I you think that when I tell you over and over that it's New Year's Eve, the last day of 2009, I mean that metaphorically?)
"Is it cloudy?" (No, that's just a monstrous section of grey cotton candy above our heads.)
"Is G a baby?" (A baby?! What?! No! She's practically a grown up.)
"Is my birthday in January?" (Why? Why would you ask me that when less than an hour ago, you told me that your birthday is January 5th????)
"What is the square root of 8.4352?" (I dunno. Get me a calculator.)

I kid you not. I have been asked every one of those questions today, and each time a kid asked one, he already knew the answer! (Except for that last one...)

But seriously, am I alone here?? There must be other children who vie for their parents' attention by asking questions that have already been answered. Right?

By the way, I love my kids.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Code Word

So before Christmas I told you about a new and exciting code word in our home. It originated because my sister and her kids were over, and we realized that every rule we have in our house went out the window as soon as other kids stepped through our door. We don't expect other kids to come into our house and follow these rules, but we do expect our kids to maintain at least some standard of civility when people come over.

The problem arises when we are trying to hold an adult conversation, and we constantly have to stop to discipline our kids. And then, when we do try to discipline them, they start pleading their cases and insisting that they didn't do anything wrong, they weren't at fault, they are perfect little angels. The last thing we want to do when we're talking to people is have to keep interrupting our conversations to deal with whatever it is the kids are doing.

So Superman, being the brilliant man that he is, came up with the idea of a code word. A word that we could use at any time. At home, in the car, at the store, at a carnival, or at a funeral. Something that would stop our kids in their tracks.

That word, for us, is silence.

The day we decided to institute it, we had the kids practice over and over. And over. We planned scenarios. The phone rang, and we would say "silence." The rule is that when we are home and we say that word, the kids go to their rooms, no questions asked, no complaining, and close their doors. They are not allowed to ask questions. They are not allowed to plead their case. We have let them know they can ask questions after they come out of their rooms. We pretended someone was knocking at the door, and we said, "silence." We told the kids to start running around like crazy people and we said, "silence." Superman even got in the car and told the kids, "silence."

Now, the rule in the car is that when they hear the word, they close their eyes, put their hands in their laps and wait for us to tell them it's ok to open their eyes again.

We tried it at my in-laws. We assigned each of the kids a "spot" in the house, and when we said the word, they all ran to their spots.

We tried it at the mall. When we said the word, they all stood right by us, hands together, lips sealed.

Now, to be fair, in the beginning they found it fun. They were rewarded with an M&M for doing it right. But after the rewards stopped, for some reason they weren't as excited.

However, the word is magic. It doesn't work for long periods of time in the car or out of the house, but it does reign them in long enough that it's like resetting them.

At home it's awesome. They all go to their rooms, and so far, they've done great. They're not allowed to ask us if they can come out. They can go to the bathroom, quietly, and then go back.

So, now I just need my sister to come over with her kids so I can test it out fo' real. It will be the ultimate accomplishment if they all go to their rooms when told when their cousins are here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Birthday Party for Jesus

I know I said earlier that I probably wouldn't be on until after Christmas, but I have a few quiet moments right now, and I wanted to share our birthday party for Jesus. It was wonderful.

I made a chocolate cake. Already a good start to a party.

We lit a candle. One, for His first important, the first of many important days of our Savior.

We left a chair empty at the head of the table for Him.

We sang happy birthday.

We each prayed and thanked Jesus for something He has given us. Here's what the kids said:

N: Jesus, thank you Jesus. Jesus, thank you Jesus. Amen.

M-Dog: Dear God, thank you for my spark scooter. {Insert commentary: M hasn't received a spark scooter. It's just what he asked Santa for. So we stopped and explained to the kids the types of things they might be thankful for--family, friends, church, adoption, etc.} His revised prayer: Dear God, thank you for something, Amen.

J-Man: Dear Lord, thank you for our house. In Jesus' name, amen.

Mr. C: Dear Lord, thank you for my DS (as in Nintendo DS). In Jesus' name, amen.

Hmmm...not quite as deep and meaningful as I expected.

No worries. We enjoyed our cake. We shared a moment. And I, as a mommy, enjoyed a memory with my kids, even if they won't remember it.

So, friends, who is at the head of your table?

Days 22, 23, 24 & 25 of the Advent Angel...and Merry Christmas!

Don't think I'll be updating here 'till after Christmas, so figured I would just pop on and let you know how our Advent Angel will round out this month.

Day 22: No one got anything. The kids were out of control crazy when my sister and her kids came over (don't worry, Soni, it wasn't your kids), and all the rules went out the window. Why is it that the instant another child steps foot in this house, our kids morph into some crazy freakish children that jump on the couch and run down the halls and scream at the top of their lungs?? Oh wait, maybe that just happens all the time. Anyhoo, the kids got a sad note from the Angel letting them know she was disappointed in their behavior.

Which leads me to another post I will write about after Christmas--we've developed a new "code word" for our's wonderful, and I can't wait to share it with you.

Day 23: Tonight we'll have a birthday party for Jesus. I'll be posting pics after Christmas. There will be cake and presents (in the form of thankful words) and an empty chair just for Him.

Day 24 (tomorrow): The Advent Angel will leave each child a note telling them something special that she has observed about them over the last 24 days...and maybe include a piece of candy. =)

Day 25 (Christmas): All the kids will leave thank-you notes and cookies for the Angel and in the morning, their notes will be gone! Miraculous.

So, friends, Merry Christmas! May you be richly blessed over these next few days with family, friends, food, and the joy of our Savior filling your hearts! I'll see you in a few days...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Days 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21 of the Advent Angel

Wow, guess I got a bit behind. =)

Day 17: A piece of chocolate. It can't get much more exciting than that.
Day 18: Looking at Christmas lights in our little town and handing out our annual award! I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but I'm too lazy to go check. So...every year I print out an "award" and the kids and I go around to see the lights in our neighborhood. They pick their favorite. This year I was going to do a plaque, but ended up not liking my options, so just stuck with what I know. I also threw in a little somethin' for the winner.

Day 19: Chocolate covered rice crispy treats (courtesy of my friend Amber)

Day 20: Camp out by the Christmas tree (which really ended up being a camp out in the family room since there wasn't enough room by the actual tree)

Day 21: A trip to Chuck-E-Cheese! It was great. We got there right when it opened and had the place to ourselves for almost an hour. Superman and I enjoyed some time out without having to watch the kids too closely.

Can't believe it's only 3.5 days until Christmas! My printer cartridge just ran out, and I have to brave the crowds to go get a new one. Ugh. I was so proud of myself for being done shopping and not having to go out in the madness.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Gotcha Day to my Sweet G...

One year ago today, G came to us...6 weeks old; tiny, sweet, adorable.

She fills our lives with more joy than we thought possible.

She giggles and laughs and runs around with her brothers and sisters.

She has spunk and grit and tenderness all in one.

Sweet little grateful we are for you!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Days 15 & 16 of the Advent Angel

Today is M's preschool Christmas party. He's pretty stoked about it. His teacher is one of those people born to teach little ones, and he absolutely loves her. I thought this gift idea was cute and affordable:

The Advent Angel treated us to frozen yogurt at NuYo last night. For those who haven't heard about it, it's an incredible frozen yogurt joint where you can pick your own toppings. What's so great about it is that they have fresh fruit instead of that goopy defrosted-frozen junk. Oh, it was soooo yummy. There was sugar in my vanilla yogurt, I topped it with fresh berries, and it was well worth a brief trip off my no-sugar wagon!

Don't you just wanna scoop that up and eat it?!?!

I had J-Man's parent conference yesterday, but that post will require some thought and time, so I'll post that later. Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 14 of the Advent Angel

We were going to take cookies to the firemen yesterday, but decided that they may be more likely to eat a sealed box of See's chocolates than home-baked goods from a stranger. =)

I was so surprised and happy with how wonderfully welcoming they were to us! The nice fireman let the kids go in his truck and explore, and gave them all fire hats and stickers. The kids had a blast, and I think we probably got more out of it than the firemen did!

Fun stuff.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Three More Days of Advent and Other Tidbits

Day 12: Candy canes!
Day 13: The Pirates of the Caribbean Movie (which we scored at a White Elephant exchange--gotta love free!)
Day 14: Taking cookies to the Fire Station.

On Friday the kids made a thank-you card for our local police station and we delivered the cookies. This deputy was kind enough to pose for a picture with the kids. They initially stood a few feet away from her when I asked them to get in the photo with her, but they eventually warmed up. =)

We looked at a house nearby this weekend. We're not actively searching for a place to move, but it has always been our desire to have some land where we could raise some livestock. We love our current home and love our neighborhood, so are content either way. But there is something about being in the country...

At any rate, the house we looked at is probably one of the ugliest (and I don't usually like to use that word) houses we've seen. BUT, it has so much potential. It's 700 square feet larger than our current house, but more importantly, is on an acre of land--with a huge pond! The house is in dire need of much aesthetic work, and who knows how much structural work. But oh, how I would love to have some piggies and goats.

At this point, we're just waiting for a door to open. There would need to be a lot of financial ducks in a row before it could happen, so we'll just see. The thing that appeals to me the most is that I could actually add the leaf to our dining room table and we could have room for ALL of us to sit together. Right now, I'm not sure where we'll put G when she's ready to be out of her high chair...maybe we could just set her in the middle of the table? =)

While I lay in bed the other night dreaming of what I could do with that place, I realized that we are not finalized with G yet. And being that there is a pond on the property, I didn't know how we could get our homestudy amended and approved without having some sort of fence around the pond? But then, the pond is just too big to fence in. Sigh. I can't WAIT until G is ours and we no longer have to worry about what paperwork we'll need to fill out or what hoops we'll have to jump through when we make decisions for our family.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh, Hot Cocoa, You Are Divine.

So some of you may remember my life change from back in October. It involved refined sugar, and you can read about it here.

I've pretty much stuck by my plan, which was originally just for 30 days, but became a life-long commitment. I've enjoyed two or three sweet concoctions since giving up refined sugar, but in general, I stay away from the stuff. I think chemical sugar-free substitutes are just as bad, if not worse for me than regular refined sugar, so I try to use natural alternatives when possible.

The last few days I've been craving hot cocoa. Superman ordered one from Starbucks last night, and I took a teensy weensy sip of it, and it got my wheels turning. I felt challenged, no CALLED to concoct a hot cocoa that I could enjoy without falling off my "no refined sugar" wagon.

So, before I started creating recipes myself, I figured I'd look online, and I came across this. And boy, oh boy, is it divine. As I sit here, I sip my chocolate-y hot cocoa while the rain drizzles outside. It is a true December afternoon. And if you want to pick up some Agave nectar, you can get it at Costco now!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ear Tubes and the past 4 days of Advent

Mr. C has had a lot of ear problems the last few years. He had never actually had an ear infection until about 2 weeks ago, but he would get earaches, followed by months of not being able to hear. So, yesterday, he had tubes put in to help the fluid drain. He was pretty cranky coming out of anesthesia, but after a few hours, he was back to his normal self, tormenting his siblings.

Here he is before:

...And after. He told me he wasn't going to let the medicine make him sleep. Guess he lost that battle.

The Advent Angel has been enjoying herself around here.

Day 8: Chocolate bars!
Day 9: A special treat (homemade chocolate-peanut butter cups) after dinner.
Day 10: Looked at Christmas lights in a town nearby.
Day 11: Taking cookies to the police station!

We watched the movie "Blindside" the other night. Wowee, I loved it. It was such a "feel good" film. It just made me all tingly inside. I thought about our kids, and where they would be right now if we didn't have them. They could likely be in foster care, bouncing around from home to home...wishing for a forever family to scoop them up and rescue them. I thought about how fortunate we are to have them in our lives, and what a sheer joy this Christmas season has been with them so far. I am richly blessed by their placement in our lives. I wonder which one of them is going to grow up to be a professional football player? =)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Advent Angel Exposed!

Ok, so I have to explain that the Advent Angel isn't real. She is me. I am her. We are one and the same. Ok, now peel yourself off the floor (from the shock) and listen here...This year, I told the boys (since they both are in school) that the Advent Angel only comes to our house (which is true, since, after all, it is me) so that they wouldn't go blabbing about it at school and get made fun of.

Anyhoo, Mr. C came home yesterday and said his friends were insisting there is no such thing as the Advent Angel. He assured them that yes, she is REAL, but she only comes to our house. For some odd reason, the kids didn't believe him.

When he came home, he told me this, and I felt bad. I mean, it just seemed that there was a difference here between an innocent little tale and a flat-out lie.

So, I waited for Superman to get home and discussed it with him. We decided it would be best to tell Mr. C the truth.

We sat him down and here's what I said:

"Ok, so Mr. C (except I used his real name), we have to tell you something. It's important and you might not be happy with me, but I still have to tell you. It's also important that you don't tell your brothers and sisters since it's not their time to know yet. Do you think you can do that?"

Of course, he said yes, since he figured he was on the brink of some major secret that could only be compared with the likes of insanely important military secrets.

"Ok. When you and J-Man were 2, I came up with the idea of the Advent Angel. She's not real. It's me. I wanted to tell you so that your friends don't make fun of you for believing in something that's not real. I feel really bad, because it was like I lied to you, but that's not what I meant for it to be. It's been fun pretending the Advent Angel comes to our house, right? (he nods) So, I'd like to keep doing it for the other, what do you think? (he shrugs) Are you ok? (he nods) Are you mad at me? (he shakes his head) I'm so sorry, bud. I feel really bad. Are you sure you're ok?" And...enter a mommy who feels incredibly guilty and wonders if it will be this bad when I expose the truth about Santa. I couldn't fall asleep last night because I felt so bad about creating this big lie and wondering if I should just expose Santa now.

But, after talking to Superman, we decided to wait until Christmas is out of our minds (like maybe in June) and explain who Santa really is.

I did offer to let Mr. C help me with the notes I write and deciding where to hide goodies. He seems to be content with that. I know it's only a matter of time (days? hours?) until he lets the cat out of the bag, but that's ok. It'll probably be a relief when that happens.

Ok, so how do you all feel about Santa? Should I be honest with all of our kids when I tell Mr. C? Should I just give up that sweet tradition of the Advent Angel and move on to do it without her? Or should I keep that fun excitement as long as I can?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Days 5, 6 & 7 of the Advent Angel...and SNOW!

On the morning of Day 5, the Angel left the classic movie "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." Day 6 was a different kind of gift...

Saturday our kids were, well...out of sorts. There was arguing and bickering, whining and disobeying. The Advent Angel sure as heck didn't think they deserved anything on Sunday morning. So, when the kids opened up the little box on Sunday, they were a bit suprised:

I know, we're mean parents. But these kids seriously didn't deserve anything that morning. I think they were shocked that the Angel would actually not leave anything. Sunday they were sure acting a lot better!

And this morning, this beautiful Monday morning, the Lord blessed us with snow! Here in our little northern California town, where snow is just something we see when we go to the mountains, it was a beautiful sight to see.

And we've been informed by the Advent Angel that tonight we will be delighting in hot cocoa and playing a family game *in the dark*!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Days 3 & 4 of the Advent Angel

Day 3 the Advent Angel surprised the kids with a gingerbread house to make as a family. Notice how beautiful the completed house is on the box...

Squeezing the icing to soften it...

Mmmm....candy. It was hard for me not to munch on it. I lived vicariously through the kids.

Almost done with the house!

The completed house. Now tell me that doesn't look just as good as the pic on the box??

Whoops. This morning I came out and found our house 1/2 roofless. I guess this is why the box says to wait 2-3 hours before you decorate the house. Oh, well. The deal was if it fell apart, the kids get to eat it. Guess they'll all be on a sugar high tonight!

This morning the Angel left $1 for each kid. Lucky ducks!

I think the Angel is gonna leave something the kids are *really* gonna love tomorrow (but mommy and daddy...not so much)!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How does a marriage survive?

A blogging friend suggested I write about how to keep a marriage alive in the midst of raising many small children. What a *great* topic!

Of course, this really doesn't apply to me, since Superman and I are naturally in sync, never in disagreement, and our kids never require more of us than we can easily handle. We have never desperately needed a break. We have never felt guilty about making some poor souls (namely, Superman's parents) have to watch a slough of kids so we could have some time to gaze lovingly into each other's eyes. We have never complained about the continuous flow of paperwork, social worker visits, or unending requirements we have to complete in order to be parents. Nope.

Of course, in all actuality, maintaining a healthy marriage is something that we have to continually work at . I must be completely honest, though, and admit that we have been blessed with a rock solid marriage. We disagree little, and argue rarely. In fact, I can't remember the last time we actually had an argument. But, that being said, it is still extraordinarily difficult at times to maintain my role as wife and not just mom . I think it comes naturally to most moms to put the needs of the kids first--they are, after all, clinging desperately to our legs, snot running down their faces, and crying for attention. And although our dear husbands may not be quite so obvious, they do still cry for attention.

So, here's the top 5 tidbits I've learned so far over our 11 years of marriage:

1. God comes first. Then Superman. Then our kids. Any time I've tried to move the priorities around a bit, the consequences are evident in my life.

2. Superman has only a few needs: food, love (physical and emotional) and encouragement. He needs to know that I think he's #1 and that I'm behind him no matter what.

3. I have to sacrifice. There are many times I don't want to do things, and I still have to do them. Now, just because I know this doesn't mean I always DO this. But, hey, at least I acknowledge it.

4. Superman is our family's leader. I submit to him. Ok, now before you all go getting your panties in a bunch, I'm not a doormat. I don't blindly agree with everything Superman says and just mutter to myself about how I resent him. I always let him know my opinion, but ultimately, I let him choose which path to take. I mean, in the end, he has to answer for his decisions, and as long as he knows where I stand, I'm good. It does help that I fully trust him--it would be a lot harder to follow this "rule" if I didn't agree with where he was headed.

5. Date nights are important. This is one area where I really struggle. I would love to claim a date night every week with Superman. That would be superb. But it's just not possible. I feel guilty any time someone has to watch all our kids, and I usually hate to ask unless we have some pre-arranged function to attend. I would love to hire a babysitter, but the day I trust some teenager alone with our kids is the day, well, you know.

There are many more nuggets I've learned, but I don't want this post to get so long that no one wants to read it.

Maybe I'll continue this another, for those of you out there with small kids, big kids, or even no kids, how do you keep your marriage or relationship a priority?

P.S. I must say it has been tempting at times to utilize respite care. Even though we do have the luxury of having family around, I don't ever want to burden them so much with our kids that they resent having to watch them, you know? We've never actually crossed that threshold, though. Have you? If so, how was your experience?

Day 2 of the Advent Angel

Easy for the Angel and yummy for the kids!

I'm excited for Day 3!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 1 of the Advent Angel

Day one opened with a note from the Advent Angel (sorry for the wrinkles--little hands work quickly!)

I wanted to rent a Christmas movie, but Redbox was all out--so Casper's Scare School it was.

The kids got COKE! Boy, were they excited. Little did they know it was caffeine-free Coke. Oh, well; I think the placebo worked just as well...they were jumping on the couch later.

M looks like he was crying, but he was actually happy. I took like 10 different shots of him, and his eyes were closed or nearly-closed in all of them, so this is the best we got:

It was a wonderful night. Fun family time, and popcorn everywhere! G was more interested in dumping her popcorn out instead of eating it. Thank goodness for the vacuum. =)

Monday, November 30, 2009

To Save A Life Movie

I'm so excited about this!

Superman's childhood friend and her husband wrote and produced this movie that is coming out in theaters in January! I'm so excited for them, and love the message the movie brings.

Check it out!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!!

I know it's only Thanksgiving, but as I've gotten older (not OLD...oldER), I've realized how fast time flies. And Christmas time is my favorite time of year, so I want to enjoy it! Please don't rush it! I need to enjoy it more! So, we put up our tree on Superman studded our house with adorable white lights...ah, I can smell the Christmas-ness in the air...

My dear friend Amber, who has an incredible blog posted this wonderful idea of Hot Chocolate on a Stick. She was kind enough to give us a sampling, and a few nights ago, our kiddos tried it out. N decided that eating the chocolate straight off the stick was the best way to kinda gal!

Every year from Dec. 1st - 24th, the "Advent Angel" comes to our house. It's a little tradition I started when our boys were 2. Every night the "angel" leaves a note in the box that gives a clue of where to go...i.e., "Go to where your daddy poops." When they get to the location, there is a little trinket waiting for them. I usually hit up Wishing Well and buy a bunch of those 5-or-10-cent things and stash them away. They work really well. But this year, I think I'm going to avoid the cheap trinkets and do something a bit different...each day, the angel will tell the kids what activity we'll be doing that a Christmas movie together, read a Christmas story together, play a game in the dark, do kind things for other people, etc. On the 25th (Christmas), the kids leave something for the Advent Angel; thank-you notes, drawings, cookies, etc. It has become a much-looked-forward-to event in our home.

I just love having the Christmas tree up. There's something about having all the lights off in the house, and the tree lit...

Here's N admiring the ornaments...

She and G looked at the tree for a good 1/2 hour after it was put up.

Every year after Christmas, I wait until all the Christmas stuff is 75% off at Target. Then I stock up for the following year! Such fun. Last year I bought these mini-trees and mini-ornaments for less than $10 for 6 trees and 4 boxes of ornaments. The kids had a blast each decorating their own trees, and it kept them occupied for, oh, at least 30 minutes...which is like an eternity around here.

So many fun Christmas traditions...we also do the 12 days of Christmas and do an act of service for someone...make cookies for the police station and fire station, rake someone's leaves, etc. Oh, and one of my personal favorites, we give out an award each year to the family that has the best decorations (in our opinions). We usually bake cookies and make a poster, but this year I may go official and get a REAL plaque made! I'm stoked about that one. I'm sure I'll be posting more. What are some of yours?

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