Autumn Favorites- FFF

FFF fall leaves 2

Each Friday Susanne hosts Friday Fave Five, a chance to share blessings and favorite things from our weeks.

1. Fall Decorations

I may have mentioned how much I love Fall

happy fall yallI’m so. excited. to have my house over-flowing with oranges and yellows and reds!

Fall Flowers

2. Friends (and their kids)

We’ve been so blessed by the community the Lord has provided for us on the East Coast!  Wonderful friends I’ve hardly known a year who have kindly weathered with us some of the most challenging circumstances we’ve been through. I love the special times I get to have with my friends, as well as their kids!  I got to babysit multiple times this week and I treasure the moments with each child. And my friend, The Frugal Girl, has 3 daughters that come and spend the night pretty often with the Princess. We have such a blast together- we cook, knit, craft and laugh a lot. One of her daughters has painted me some beautiful water color paintings. She brought me this gorgeous one today:

S's Painting

3. Faithful Love

This year we celebrated nine years of marriage and he still writes me love notes on the mirror.  Today’s sweet words were courtesy of Shakespeare:

 All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

4. Fall Food

I love the way my house smells in Autumn!  Spices and baking.

On the menu today is mahi mahi in ginger curry sauce, butternut squash soup, brussel sprouts, and cooked cinnamon apples for dessert.  I came inside from picking the kids up from school and the house smelled a-maz-ing.  (Hubs had gotten home early and stayed back to manage the baking vegetables.)

Fall Food1

Lest you get a false impression- we do not eat like this every night. We may or may not have eaten cereal for dinner the last two nights because of ballet.

5. Finished Projects

I promised a peek at what’s on my knitting needles these days… I’m excited to say ‘not much’ because I’ve actually been finishing projects!  Whoo-hoo!  Binding off is a minor miracle for perfectionists. ; )

Presenting, the Sunshine Blanket:

Sunshine Blanket

Based on this blanket from The Purl Bee, I ripped out this particular blanket 4 or 5 times because I just. couldn’t. get. proportions. right. You’d think it would be easy since it’s straight garter stitch, but the yarn kept stretching as the blanket grew so I had to adapt accordingly. But now that it’s done, I’m so glad I re-knit it so many times- because it’s perfect (if I do say so myself)!  I’ll be snapping some better pictures with my friend and photographer over at B Claire and posting a pattern in October.

These are, of course, Pickles patterns. I heart Pickles.  The Chevron blanket is the same pattern my mum used for the Princess’ blanket and I just took it and standardized colors because I’m physically incapable of randomly knitted colors. The Enkel Vest is one of my all-time favorite Pickles patterns and I have knit it in nearly every size!

H's Chevron Blanket

H's Vest

These are all for my friend’s new baby girl!  I have a few minor details to finish on some presents for the big brothers (a star to crochet for the Dallas Cowboys scarf etc) and as soon as those are finished everything will be packed up and sent across the pond to England. I can’t wait to see pictures of sweet little H in her Enkel Vest!

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy all the pumpkins & apples & spices!

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Autumn, Anniversaries, and Book Piles

Happy First Day of Autumn!

I love this season so much, I got married on the first day of Fall nine years ago.

wedding day

My mother-in-love sent us the sweetest anniversary gift- matching Mr and Mrs mugs with “I found the one my heart loves” written on the inside.  I’ve definitely already used them and I love them!  Perfect for the ceramic year. 
IMG_2195

Of course, when Hubby unwrapped his, he exclaimed, “And Judas went out and hung himself! What kind of mug is this?”  I just love his quirky, hysterically funny sense of humor. It’s strange and sometimes dry, sometimes goofy… and it fits me perfectly. ❤

I have way too many piles of books around my house… and have passed the habit on to my son!  Every room in the house has at least one, sometimes more, pile of books that someone is actively reading at the moment.

What’s in my current reading pile:

IMG_2184

Deadly Companions: how microbes shaped our history – Hubby got me this for Mother’s Day (he totally gets me ❤ ).  I’m about half way through- it’s interesting. Certainly not the best journalistic take on bio-cultural systems and disease that I’ve read, but very interesting still. From this genre, I would be more likely to recommend The Great Influenza by John M Barry or The American Plague by Molly Caldwell Crosby.

Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home: Hope and Healing for Families Living with PTSD and TBI – Only a third of the way through this one.  It hits close to home and I need frequent breaks to process.  If you or someone close to you cares for a loved one with PTSD or TBI (or both), I highly recommend it.

On Intelligence: how a new understanding of the brain will lead to the creation of truly intelligent machines – Whoa, that’s insanely long sub-title.  This was a Christmas gift from my big brother, Dr P.  I’m about 2/3 of the way through this book and have found it very fascinating.  Hawkin’s premise is that the industry’s lack of success to develop true artificial intelligence is rooted primarily in its failure to define intelligence properly. He then lays out a theory of intelligence based on neuro feedback loops, etc.  It’s a bit techy at times, but definitely still accessible to the lay person (i.e. ME ).

To Repair the World – I haven’t actually started reading this one yet.  It’s next up.

Reimagining Global Health – Fantastic book.  As with all Paul Farmer books, I highly recommend it.  This particular book is geared toward people in the public health sector and reads more like a text or compilation of articles.  For a more all-around or non-technical look at healthy systems, disease and poverty, I’d recommend one of his other books, such as Infections and Inequalities or Pathologies of Power. Pulitzer Prize winning author, Tracy Kidder, also wrote a fascinating biography about Paul Farmer called Mountains Beyond Mountains.

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God – my bible study is reading this and I’m really enjoying it.  I love all Tim Keller books, though.

I’m also listening to Til We Have Faces by CS Lewis and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell on audio book.  I listen to Til We Have Faces while I paint or knit and Hubby & I listen to Outliers in the evenings after the kids are in bed.  I definitely have enjoyed and would recommend all of the Malcolm Gladwell books I’ve read thus far!

I need to work on finishing up some of these books so I can start the next ones! 🙂  I am really enjoying audio books right now because I can work on other things as I listen. Today I’ll be having a finishing party- weaving in all the ends for quite a few finished projects and hopefully finishing up Til We Have Faces.  Tomorrow I’ll give you a peek at what’s on my needles these days.

Friday Fave Fives: First of 2015

fff winter button

Every week a lovely group of bloggers gather to celebrate our ‘Faves’ of the week.  It’s an exercise in gratitude and seeing the blessings in our days.  Susanne at Living to Tell the Story graciously hosts each week.  In case you missed it, I really need reasons to find JOY in my life these days!

1. My sister and nephew came for Christmas.  We all ended up sick so we stayed in all week and it was actually just what we needed.  A week of downtime while the cousins played and the adults drank copious amounts of coffee & tea.

cousins christmas 2015

2. FaceTime and Skype.  Staying connected with our families made the distance feel not quite so dismal. Though we missed talking with my older brother and his family. Hopefully, soon.  🙂

3. Hubby is home for the whole week!  It’s been amazing. After working 80 hours a week with almost no leave for 3 years, we are LOVING this new job.  Plus, he’s got a ton of leave saved up that he needs to burn.  🙂

4.  A surprise visit from a childhood friend of Hubby’s who is a Marine now. We just love opening up our home, and it’s fun to carry on in my parents’ tradition of giving a place of rest to young Marines in need of space from barracks life. He’s a great guy and it was fun to connect after years of keeping up via Facebook.

5. Lots and lots of knitting.  I actually made my thumb split & bleed at one point from knitting so much to try to finish a project before Christmas (I failed, but I’m mailing it off tomorrow).

knitting gma blanket

This is the Cabled Cradle Spread from Pickles but on bigger needles, with bigger yarn, and knit much longer.  I’ll post more details once the recipient gets it.  🙂

Bonus: Figuring out how to use Giphy in my blog posts:

star trek new years giphy

Because who doesn’t need more Kirk and Spock in their lives??

Happy New Year!  May the Lord bless you and keep you in 2015.

Word of the Year 2015: JOY

Baby, it’s cold outside.

jan 1 weather

It’s cold and clear and I’m not feeling well (the endo is raising its vicious head these days and I think I’ve got the black lung)

black lung giphy

so while my husband played with the kids in the playroom, I curled up with some coffee by the fire.

coffee 2015

The Princess got me this mug for Christmas with her very own money. Melt my heart. ❤

 

As I snuggled up by the fire, I transferred all the pictures from my phone to my computer (2500 of them… yikes…). I was struck with the themes and emotions I felt watching them upload.

My word of the year for 2014 was Health.  As the photos flipped through, there were countless pictures of fitness.  Despite feeling ill today, I’ve made dramatic strides in my health this year and am proud of how far I’ve come.  25 pounds gone, more strength and better sleep.

transformation

So, yay.  I improved financial, physical, and spiritual health this year.  I have been loving the study my bible study is doing- it’s been a key source of spiritual health for me.

that i may know him

I’m so grateful for these ladies who have taken me in and loved me and encouraged me in my faith.  Time in the Word has been a source of strength to weather this year.

I was most struck, though, by my emotions as pictures from this summer and fall started popping up.  So many fun family outings captured as memories.  But instead of joy at seeing these great days, I felt sick in the pit of my stomach remembering how hard those times were. Oh, that was the day that this child screamed for 2 hours straight when we got home, or the day that child hit someone with a folding chair, etc etc.

See, these past 6 months have been tough.  We’re doing a lot better, but man was it hard. We’ve had such great support and I’m so grateful for that.  And we’ve got great insurance to help with the costs of all the various therapies my kids need. Most of all, I’m grateful I’ve got such an amazing husband walking this path with me. He’s truly been my rock this Fall.  Not to mention, he’s smokin’ hot. Bonus! 😉

autumn walk

This was actually a great day! Yay, happy memory! 🙂

 

There have been some really good times, too.  Times that bring hope to keep me going. Hope that we might some day have normal, regulated kids.

But it’s been a dark time for me.  Emotionally, I’ve failed to be healthy in 2014.

george michael sad giphy

And let’s be real here, there’s not a lot of understanding for parents with traumatized kids. Because unless you’ve walked the road, you don’t get it.  And I can’t expect you to.   You don’t realize why we can’t get a baby sitter so we can get a break (hello there, abandonment issues… let’s aggravate them by leaving the child at bed time- tots brill), or why we have to have crazy strict boundaries (or someone will get hurt, or save a container of pee in their room, or whatever).

I wonder, sometimes, if my neighbors think we have a medieval torture chamber in the basement because of all the crying and wailing that comes from our home.  But no, I just asked my kid to get a pair of socks so we could go to the park.  45 minutes of melt down screaming because I asked the child do something that removed them from being in the same room as me (this was during the 3 week long post-Halloween everything-is-scary minefield).

haloween giphy

Or the 20 minute howl fest, accompanied by frantic running back and forth along the hall, after the tiniest paper cut in the history of mankind.  Said child later declined a band aid for it.

eye roll giphy

It was a hoot, in retrospect. Not so much in the midst of it, wondering if the neighbors would call CPS or something over my poor, dear child’s paper cut.  But afterwards I laughed with great gusto sharing the story with my bible study friends (Who, incidentally, have never once told me it was normal or brushed the trauma under the table.  They’re kind of amazing like that.)

But there has also been success.  Little Warrior went to get a hair cut and did not cry at all!  2 years in the making- most of the credit goes to finding an awesome barber out here willing to patiently work through it every 4 weeks (we tip him well…).  And also thanks to a quick phone call to Bapa right before we went in– to “make him brave”.  🙂

haircut

He was so proud of himself.  🙂

 

The Princess has had a great attitude this year. I’ve been so proud of how much she’s grown in maturity and what a sweet heart she has.  She did this puzzle all by herself!!!  So, so proud!

the princess puzzle

She was pretty proud of herself, too. 🙂

 

So, please don’t think it was all bad this year.  We had good times to celebrate. Especially their adoption in April!  I love them each so dearly.  It’s just been hard to move so many times and be so far away from our families.  And I don’t share this to have a huge pity party- though I sure do throw an awesome pity party!- but to encourage others in the trenches.  Fostering and Adopting traumatized kids is HARD WORK.  We need open and loving channels to share about it and I want people to know what they are getting themselves into BEFORE they start the process.  Because in this amazing adoption movement we see happening, my biggest fear is the lack of honest education about the trials people will face as they enter the wonderful world of loving the the precious little ones who’ve been hurt by the world.

kids need love

 

Going in to the new year, I’m determined to pull out of this funk.  The kids are slowly regulating and that’s finally allowing me to come out of overdrive and start healing myself.

To that end, we’ve decided, after much prayer and thought, to put The Princess in school.  While it’s academically best to homeschool her, as a family system it’s too draining  on me and I really need the break it will provide.  I did the math, and with her in school and Little Warrior in preK I will have TWELVE hours a week ALL TO MYSELF.  As opposed to the 50 minutes a week I’d get to sit in my car by myself while waiting for Princess at ballet when Little Warrior was in preK.  Add in the hour they’d be in Sunday School each week and I’d usually get about 2 hours a week kid free (any true introvert knows that sitting in a sermon is great, and a blessing in spiritual development, but you’re not really alone).

12!  I might be doing a happy dance right now.

yoda happy dance giphy

As I move in to this next year, the thing I’m craving- the thing I need most- in the next year, is JOY.  So my word for 2015 is JOY.  True JOY comes only from our Father in heaven and I pray that I find that JOY and it spills out into my relationships with family and friends.  Because after the dark of this year, I could use the light found in real, gospel-centered, grace-sharing JOY.

joy pillow

I think the Lord was pressing the word JOY upon my heart long before I knew it, because I was obsessed with this Christmas pillow from the first time I saw it and I waited a month before giving in and purchasing it.  I plan on leaving it out all year as a reminder.  🙂

May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   ~Romans 15:13

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but REJOICING comes in the morning.   ~Psalm 30:5

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious JOY,  for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.   ~I Peter 1:8-9

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with JOY in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.   ~Psalm 16:11

My lips will shout for JOY when I sing praise to you— I whom you have delivered.    ~Psalm 71:23

Coming Together

It’s coming together.  Slowly.

We have nearly 1,000 sqft more space in our new house and, somehow, I can’t figure out where to put all our stuff??  Plus I still have tons of giveaway and Craigslist stuff.  Yikes, I need to purge more. C’mon FlyLady!

But at least I have one spot completely unpacked and mostly decorated (still need to find a cozy rug for the room).

While most of the house looks like this…

unpacking mess

Our book room looks cozy and inviting.

book room

Now if only I could get the gas fireplace to work.

I’ve got a little nook for my desk and it looks out on the trees behind our house.  It’ll be a flurry of Fall colors in a few weeks and I can’t wait.

The other side of the room has this cozy little knitting corner.

cozy corner

I’m working on a Pickles sweater for the Princess. Love me some Pickles patterns!

ZG Sweater

Instead of unpacking any more tonight, I’m sitting in my cozy corner, watching Gilmore Girls and knitting- imagining that the rest of my house is magically turning into the welcoming, organized oasis of the book room.  Mmmmm….

More Travels- FFF

So, there hasn’t been any blogging lately but there’s been a LOT of living!  There’s been moving, exercising, playing, fun, fitness, fireworks, beauty.

Monet Sunset

A Monet-worthy Sunset at the dock by our Pensacola home

We’ve moved.  Again.  We are situated in a bitty little apartment while we wait to move in to our new home!  Not sure what to think about living in the North yet, but I’m sure we’ll get used to it over time. So far, the best part of being in Maryland has been reunification with Trader Joe’s.  We’re just a little excited.

TJs

 

We were just falling completely in love with the South when we left.  Sure, it wasn’t SoCal (my heart will always be in California) but we made some wonderful friends and spent nearly every day swimming in the warm water of the Gulf.

beach days2

 

t&L beach

 

beach time1

 

beach days3

 

No, really.   We LIVED at the beach.

 

One of the highlights was when our Cousin and Mema & Bapa came for a visit!

cousin love4

 

Hubs and I started P90x3 and it’s been dutifully kicking our booties.  Love it.  We’ll be starting a new round once we move into our home and actually have an exercise space (yay!).  We’ve been managing to eat pretty well, even while traveling.  I’ll try to share our tips on that in a later post.  🙂

booty kicking CVX crop

 

There’s been knitting.  Lots of knitting.  I’m working on a special project for my baby nephew and am SO EXCITED about how it’s turning out.   Can’t wait to share it!

knitting hotel

Well, MOSTLY healthy food while traveling. 😉 My husband spoiled me with room service brownies a la mode. Yup, he’s a keeper. 🙂

 

Now we’re just getting used to life in the North East.  These 2 little adventurers are keeping us busy, but enjoying getting to see so much of the United States this year!  :o)

fourth of july 2014

(a little late, I know…)

 

So I guess my faves this week are:

Beach Time

Family Time

Travel Mercies

Flexible & Adventurous Children

Health & Fitness  🙂

To read more faves, head on over to Susanne’s at Living to Tell the Story!

Faves of the Best Coast

FFF tulips

Thanks, Susanne, for hosting us each with with your Friday Fave Fives!

Having been in Florida for a few weeks, I’m starting to notice the things I’ll miss most about living in SoCal.  So in honor of my home town, I’ll make my faves an homage to California, particularly San Diego.

1.  Freeways.   Oh man, do I miss these!  My love used to commute 60 miles each way- it was killer and took about an hour, sometimes more… sometimes less, depending on traffic.  Here he only commutes 10 miles each way… but it still takes nearly half an hour!  What?

2. Fresh Food.  I miss fresh produce.  There is one farmers’ market but it’s a good 40 minute drive from here (thanks to the fact that there are NO FREEWAYS) so we haven’t made it up there yet because it would cut into what precious ‘Daddy time’ we have.  In San Diego we had Sprouts and farmers’ markets which always provide us with fresh, organic, and affordable food.  And ya’ll know my obsession with Trader Joe’s.  Of course they have TJ’s on the East Coast too, but not where we are.

3, Restaurants.  We did try Whataburger.  It was delicious.  But I was so incredibly sick after.  There ARE tons of amazing seafood places here.  Unfortunately, salmon is about the only seafood I eat since shell fish make my throat swell up.  What I really miss are ethnic foods- Ethiopian, Indian, Thai, Mexican…  I’m salivating at the thought.  :o)  I look forward to visiting my favorite food haunts next time I’m in San Diego and Los Angeles! If you are visiting any time, you must try:

Rama– best Thai in San Diego and a great ambience! Their peanut sauce… oh my goodness!  I usually just get their satay and fresh rolls and Hubby always has the Gai Qua with a “Dirty Thai’ martini. Amazing.

La Carreta– best carne asada burrito.  Ever.  It’s in central Los Angeles so many folks are hesitant to venture through rougher neighborhoods to get there but it’s super safe and SO worth it.  I’m putting it on my SD faves even though it’s in LA because it it THAT. GOOD.  :o)

Lolita’s– best carne asada fries in San Diego.  Need I say more?

Ki’s Restaurant–  beautiful view right on the ocean at Cardiff-by-the-Sea and local, organic food. Super delicious and healthy.

Hodad’s– best burger, milk shake, fries AND onion rings.  Not often a place can win #1 ranking on all 4, but this place does.  Plus the vibe is awesome.

Here’s a bit of surf lingo controversy for you…  the conventional definition of a Hodad is someone who comes to the beach with a surfboard and hangs out but never actually surfs- considered a poser.

However, recently Urban Dictionary has come forward saying it stands simply for a greaser, not a poser.  People actually argue about this stuff.  Crazy, right?

4.  Weather.  There’s something to be said for 70 degrees and sunshine year round.  Without humidity.   Definitely miss this.  🙂

5.  Outings. San Diego has so many awesome places to visit.  Here are just a few of our favorites… there are so many more and I haven’t even gotten to our Los Angeles faves yet!

Balboa Park– different museums are free for residents on Tuesdays so we enjoyed visiting all of them many times.  The Natural History Museum and Reuben H Fleet Science Center are our favs.  Liam is so disappointed that he won’t be able to go to camp there this summer- it was the first year he’d be old enough.

nhm1

San Diego Zoo and Safari Park– we have annual passes and used to go weekly.  It’s really the best zoo I’ve been to and has great programs. ZoeGrace went to zoo camp one year and Liam still obsesses about the sky tram there.

EL zoo1

Mema Zoe at Zoo1

The Living Coast Discovery Center– my friends’ kids fundraised like crazy and literally kept this place open with their efforts.  An amazing place to go and it was also fun to watch 7 and 8 year olds so passionately engage in something they care about- and actually make a difference!

Hotel del Coronado– staying here for a weekend was a treat I’ll remember my whole life.

hotel del view1

Birch Aquarium– always a fun place to learn about the ocean and watch surfers.  It has some great hands on stuff for kids too.

Mission Trails– we hiked here.  A lot.

mission trails1

La Jolla– We love kayaking there and seeing the leopard sharks up close! Pain in the butt to park, though.

Julian– amazing pie.  You-pick apples, pears, etc.  Fun pumpkin patches. The annual Grape Stomp (took the kids last  year and they loved it).  All worth the drive up from San Diego.  And on the way, you can always stop off at the Camel Dairy. For reals.

And of course, the beaches!  So many to pick from!  We tend to go to Coronado’s Silver Strand Beach for its close proximity and easy parking, but if I’m willing to make the drive, we also love the Encinitas and Cadiff-by-the-Sea beaches too.  Really, though,  you can’t go wrong with SoCal Beaches.

socalbeach1

This commercial still comes up on our Hulu advertisements a lot and it makes us home sick every time…

Hope you all had a great week!  We’re headed West next week for the adoption, so the highlights of my week have been planning what special things from this list we’re going to fit in while we’re back.  :o)

A New Adventure- FFF March 14

FFF birds on a wire

It’s been a busy few weeks.

1.  TOGETHER.  We’re together again as a family.  In military terms, it wasn’t a very long separation but for us 2 and a half months felt like an eternity.  Doing the single mom thing is exhausting horrible draining hard, though not as hard as I had dreaded, but trying to keep all the active parts organized for our cross country move AND the adoption AND selling the California house AND homeschooling while trying to single parent just about sent me on a one way trip to the cliffs of insanity.

Grateful that our next long separation will hopefully be once we are settled in one place and can have a solid routine established.

Even though he’s a momma’s boy extraordinaire, my son struggled most with the separation and he is just so thrilled to be back with his Daddy.  When he is tired and snuggly, he twirls my hair as I hold him.  Since my Marine shaves his head, Liam just strokes his head and face constantly.  These two together… Melt my heart.

daddy time

2. FAMILY.  My parents spent a very full weekend helping me get ready and encouraging me.  I would have lost my mind without them, I think.  :o)   And my kiddos just love being with their Mema and Bapa.  It was nice to have some last minute time with them.

3. FRIENDS.  I have the most amazing friends. Really.  They babysat, had sleepovers, let me borrow toys for the kids while all theirs were packed up, cleaned, brought me food and coffee, did my laundry, invited us to stay at their houses while we lived out of boxes…. the list goes on and on and on.  So blessed.  I will miss each one tremendously.

4.  REUNITED.  Not only were we reunited with Daddy, we were reunited with our best friends!  The kids were so excited to see their besties and I am finally in the same time zone as my wonder twin.  :o)

5.  HOME.  We don’t have anything in our new home, but that hasn’t stopped the kids from finding the benefits of an empty house:

Rolling across the soft carpet…

pcola-rolling

..hunting spiders and bugs (both outside and inside… Oh, Florida…)…

pcola-bumblebee

…watching boats and dolphins in the lagoon…

Pcola-Sailboat

I adore the view from our back yard!

pcola-view

The first day and a half were grey and rainy but it’s been sunny today, the sun sparkling on the water like diamonds

…and playing in the yard.

pcola-wishes

When Liam first saw our back yard he stopped and exclaimed in awe, “Look, Mommy, a yard full of WISHES!”

Bonus:  I just received a call that our stuff will be delivered early next week!  We’d been told it could be up to 8 weeks, so I’m pretty thrilled not to be living out of a suitcase for more than 2 weeks!

pcola-bags

Especially since I definitely packed more yarn than shoes.

For more fave fives, visit Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story.

Fave Five Feb 14

FFF feb.

I didn’t get around to commenting on everyone’s blogs last week. Mea culpa.  It was one of ‘those weeks’.  The ones where I’m so thankful to Susanne for hosting this each Friday because I have to think about the blessings, not the trials.

1. Safe Travels.  Our trip up to my Mum’s took a little longer than usual due to heavy traffic on the 405 but the kiddos were good and we arrived safely in just over 5 hours.  Hooray for family time!

2. Shout House.  A night out with friends at the Shout House.  If you’ve never been to a piano bar before- definitely take the time.  It’s such fun, especially when they start dueling pianos.  They even did a tribute to military wives- a la Top Gun.

AND they sang the Marine Corps Hymn.  One happy woman.

3. Plane Tickets. We bought plane tickets to see our favorite person people in the whole world.  I’m. So. Excited. The kids can barely contain themselves.  :o)

4. Good Friends.  We had a rough time Sunday morning and were supposed to have a bunch of people over for curry after church (I make the world’s best curry… I might just share the recipe with ya’ll some day).  When I didn’t show up to church due to monumental traumatized-four-year-old behaviors, I got lots of messages asking if we were ok and and everyone quickly  changed plans to go out to a favorite local Mexican place instead.  (And no one judged when I ordered a mojito before noon…)

I love adoption.  I love my children.  I’m SO GRATEFUL for my children.  But sometimes…  the trauma just sucks the life out of me.  I know it’s harder for them to process the trauma than for me to deal with their behaviors from it, so mostly I just feel sad for my babies.  But sometimes… the acronyms  (PTSD, RAD, ADHD and on and on…) add up into a daunting list of letters with overwhelming, tangible effects on my daily life. But sometimes all the time (sometimes I just don’t pay attention)… God’s grace shines through all the junk wrought by sin and I find peace in the midst of the turmoil.

“The Lord gives his people strength.  The Lord blesses them with peace.” Psalm 29:11

5.  New Shows.  I have a lot of time to myself in the evenings as I declutter and pack so I like to put a show on Netflix to watch as I sort. I found two new BBC masterpiece mystery shows that I have enjoyed: Endeavour (How gorgeous is Shaun Evans? Hubby wasn’t too impressed with this show so perhaps it was more that I was enamored with Shaun Evan’s accent..?) and The Bletchley Circle.

Tid Bits

There’s a sick irony to having the whole house come down with the stomach flu the same morning you post about being healthy in the coming year.  While the kiddos snuggled on the couch with blankets and buckets, watching movies and sipping broth, I had the time to peruse blogs and take an assortment of Zimbio quizzes (I’m apparently Albus Dumbledore, Princess Belle, and should have lived during the 1950s, in case you were curious, and I knew you were…).

Here are some tid bits…

Let Your Husband Love You

Wives need to be reminded of this often, I think.  I need it daily.  The other night I was on FaceTime with my husband and he mentioned how beautiful I looked (Yea, he’s a keeper).  I stared at him dumbfounded and my hand went automatically to my unkempt hair.  I hadn’t showered all day, I’d been cleaning up vomit and bleaching counters, I was sick and weak and so I just stared at the screen like an idiot. Then I made some off-handed comment about how he must be joking and moved on.  But folks, he wasn’t. He was dead serious.  He’d been waiting all day to talk with us.  He misses me and loves me and no matter how tangled and greasy my hair, how worn and weary my face, he honestly thinks I’m beautiful.  It’s weird.  And awesome.  And wonderful.   So yes, I think I’ll let him love me. And I’ll be grateful that he does. Because he needs to love me. And I need him to love me.

The Disgrace of Infertility

A good read on the struggles of infertility.  I highly recommend it to those who know someone suffering through infertility.  While I haven’t really felt shame or disgrace over the burden of infertility, I can certainly identify with the helplessness and despair.

And check out this article on 5 Things Infertile Couples Want Friends, Families, and Churches to Know.  I definitely left church crying on the third Mother’s Day we faced without children because every mother was given a rose and I was left empty handed and empty hearted. It’s not that I didn’t want them to celebrate… I just desperately wanted to be part of it too and it was a tangible reminder that I wasn’t. To this day, even as a mother of two beautiful children, mother’s day leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Because I know countless families are still hurting. But I also love that this article points out that infertility isn’t a blank check for self pity.  Everyone struggles- we all need the joy of the Lord as our strength, whether we struggle with infertility, singleness, cancer, loss of a child, financial burdens… and the list of sorrow goes on and on because we live in a fallen world.  So let’s all spread around some love, kindness, and tact.  :o)

What Your Four Year Old Needs to Know

This is a great read, written by Alicia over at A Magical Childhood. It reminds us that focusing on developmental benchmarks created by educational and child development professionals can make parents arrogant or forlorn… or both. Instead of the long list of things a kid should ‘know’, like ABCs, counting to 20, etc, she reminds us our children need to be secure, loved, and encouraged to embrace creativity. Everything else will follow in due course, but a child needs to be loved and given freedom to explore the world from a safe vantage point in order to thrive.

She also links to another page with more suggestions on ways to direct play to focus on development, like listening skills and fine motor development over ABCs and numbers.

Building Blocks1

I needed this reminder very much this month!   When it comes time for my monthly meeting with our Educational Supervisor from the charter school, I start stressing about benchmarks and our lack of ‘progress’ (I can’t forget the look she had when she wrote “Math Lessons 1-10” for the 3rd month in a row on our lesson plan objectives- as if maybe I wasn’t actually teaching the lessons… but I tell you what, I taught subitizing up to 5 for weeks and weeeeeks. I almost lost my mind. But eventually, we got it and moved on.).  Each month, I call my mum freaking out- have we done enough? Will our ES think I’m spending all our time playing and I’m not teaching enough formal school?  And each month, my worries are in vain (so you don’t get the wrong idea, our ES is a really sweet lady, it’s just her job to keep us on track with all those pesky common core standards).  When, oh when, will I stop borrowing trouble?

We spend 95% of our day playing: dressing up, painting, using play dough, going to the park, playing with LeapPads, reading books, driving cars and trains, going on hikes, splashing in waves at the beach (ok, so we do an inordinate amount of beach time), doing crafts, building legos & blocks, baking, going to the zoo, and just being kids.

Hiking Mission Dam1

Hiking Mission Dam2

Fall Crafts1

I have a child who blows these milestones out of the water and one who may forever lag behind peers (and then again, maybe not… she’s making fast progress in catching up!).  That’s one of the main reasons I’m homeschooling- so my 4 year old can read his world atlas by himself and my 7 year old can have the freedom to learn read without a classroom of kids reminding her she can’t.  And so we play, and play… and play.

And you know what? Somewhere in all that playing, she got it! She’s reading and SO. EXCITED.  She carries a chapter book around everywhere- even at the mall yesterday- even if she can’t read it all yet.  And each afternoon we are home, we have tea and the munchkins sit and listen to me read aloud.  We just finished up A Little Princess last week.  And started Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone yesterday (she may not be able to read at age level yet, but she can find London on a globe in a heart beat).  On that note, I think I’ll go put the kettle on…