Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Christmas

We had a wonderful day celebrating together. I hope you did too!

This is a picture of the birthday cake C. made to celebrate Jesus' birth.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

nearly here!

Christmas is nearly here. I have been thinking about how much my children learn from the world. We don't have television, we haven't been to the mall, yet they still talk more about Santa than Jesus on His birthday. The older kids understand the true meaning but are still "wrapped up" in gifts. (get it?). But when I talk about Jesus' birth, the little boys just don't get it and start talking about their own birthdays. It reminds me of true human nature and our selfish behaviour. Sometimes looking at my kids is like holding a mirror up to my face. Do I truly understand and celebrate the real meaning of Christmas? Do the activities we participate in reflect His love to others? Do I expect less from others and give more?

Haggai 1:5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways."

So these few days leading up to Christmas I will be giving careful thought to my ways and hopefully my children will pick up some good things.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tis the season

Today we are cooking up a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and the rest of the fixings for a big Christmas dinner. We are celebrating together early so J. can be home to enjoy the good food and time with us while he is on his days off. He works many holidays so we are certainly used to that. He has been employed in this line of work for over 11 years. Usually we go visit family to stay busy if he is working. But this year, my parents are in HAWAII. I am so jealous. My sister is having her in-laws visit. My in-laws are all over 5 hours away, most over the mountain passes. So we are alone this year. We will be opening our gifts early on Christmas morning, before J. leaves for work at 9 am. Then I will be trying to find some fun activities to do with the kids. I hope their new gifts will keep them entertained for a while. I told them what I want for Christmas this year is for everyone to get along!

PS. Please think about the people who work in the service/emergency field this Christmas. They work hard in the cold nasty weather and most times are not much appreciated.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

randomness

K. with S. after his surgeries in 2008

  • S. is going to begin preschool on his birthday next month, right after winter break! And he is able to qualify for these services based primarily on his medical needs. He is really not delayed enough in other areas to qualify. Which is EXCELLENT news. He is such a little miracle.
  • We are fighting yet another cold with K. bringing it home first. She is still a thumb sucker, and I am afraid this nasty habit is introducing all sorts of fun winter germs to our house. Also, we are trying a restrictive diet on K. this week. She has a lot of food intolerance symptoms, and I have wondered if maybe she is gluten, dairy or egg sensitive. It is hard to cut out all these foods, but I hope soon we will have some sort of idea if there is one type of food she should avoid.
  • I have NOT been doing much Christmas shopping and am NOT sending cards or letters again this year. I am nearly finished shopping for the extended family, the kids are almost done (just need a few more stocking stuffers), and then something small for teachers and such. I'm thinking homemade muffins? What do you think?
  • The kids have their church play this Sunday. C. has a short solo and is a narrator. K. is one of the 2o or so angels, and L. is the stage manager. Should be good times.
  • We've had company the last few weeks, in the form of play dates. The idea of having another child over to add to the noise and chaos used to make me a little anxious. It still does, a bit. But I have decided to put that aside for my kids. They are really enjoying sharing their home and family with their friends. It has also blessed us too.
  • I am so excited for the date night our church is putting together on Saturday! The teens are babysitting kids while parents can go out and do some shopping, or whatever for several hours. I can't wait. Not sure yet how we will spend those few hours, but it will be great!
  • Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words regarding Mercy. We are still healing and struggling through the process. I kind of feel like I did when I experienced a miscarriage. Nobody really wants to talk about the issue, and the loss is great. I appreciate your continued prayers for our whole family and for Mercy.
  • Please be praying for my friend Melissa. She reached out to love and support me while I was in Uganda as she was there adopting another Mercy. She has spent her time in country encouraging other adoptive families, ministering to pregnant mothers, and shining a light for Him. She has been in Uganda since the end of August. For last few months she's been dealing with visa issues, a complicated mess. Her family at home misses her terribly. Pray for a miracle for Melissa and Mercy to come home soon.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ways to Celebrate


I was on facebook today when I saw my friends, Beth and Jeremy Howard in Uganda, posted some great links. I checked them out and was moved. to tears. I have a lot of emotions going on lately, but this just convicted me. I am already excited about the Advent Conspiracy site.
The whole idea is to worship fully, spend less, give more, love all. To spend quality time with those you love, help serve, and give to those in need.

  • We have been spending less this Christmas, that is for sure. Everyone is getting one gift from us, and kids are drawing names between siblings. Things are simple and easy.
  • We have enjoyed spending time together as a family this holiday season. We have enjoyed watching Christmas movies together, cooking and eating, playing games, singing, dancing, listening to Christmas music, reading, doing small crafts, and putting on little puppet shows.
  • We have given a bit to those in need (we could always do more). We put together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. We gave to a local food drive. We are doing an angel tree gift. J. helped with a shopping trip for local kids in need. We sponsor a child in Africa through Compassion.
  • I feel we are lacking on the worship end of things. Of course my children know the reason we celebrate Christmas. We have a nativity scene on our piano and we have a birthday cake for Jesus every year. We go to church, and the kids are in a play. But what about TRUE worship, TRUE sacrifice?

Check out these sites:

"It was dark, I do remember that. Bedtime. Smoothing back hair, kissing foreheads. One round moon hanging large outside the window, an ornament dangling off stars, decorating the night. I had gifts to wrap. So, pull up the blankets. Prayers. And then, when I’m at the door, one hand on the doorframe, resting in the light of the hallway, I turn to close the door a bit on the dark and he stops me with just one question:

“What does Jesus get for His birthday?”

The words hung… strung me up.

I say the words into the black. Um… A cake? Our love?

I can hear him turn again in the bed, roll over on the pillow. Restless…

“But Mom…. if we get wrapped presents for our birthdays, real sacrifices from people who love us — they gave up other things to give something to us — then why don’t we do that for Jesus’ birthday?”

I stand at the door looking into all that light cast down the hallway.

Why is the sky blue, why do we blink, how do clouds hold all that water, the children ask me a thousand questions and the world spins dizzy on a million questions I don’t know the answers to and I stand in the dark, the light right there, and I grope for the answer that could change the world…

“Why don’t we give up things so we can give to Jesus for His birthday?”

Is it always this way, that a little child will lead them?

He was four or five that year, I can’t remember. I just know that now he’s fifteen and I stepped out into the light and we’ve done all the Christmases since his way, giving away. It’s not at all wrong to do it differently, but just for us… all the Christmas gifts — gifts for the Christ Child."

Read the entire post please!

And this post:

http://www.christmaschange.com/wordpress/2010/12/03/ten-things-to-do-on-christmas-morning-when-all-the-gifts-are-for-him/

Ten Things to Do on Christmas Morning When all the Gifts are for Him

1. Birthday for Breakfast

Serve Birthday Cake for Breakfast — with ice cream and an arch of balloons and birthday hats and light the candles and sing of wondrous grace! He has come! And for us!

Our tradition is angel food cake for the birthday cake — made with freshly ground wheat — and I think of the wheat that fell to the ground, died for us and the harvest of the many.

2. Sup with Him — Feast Fit for a King

And we make breakfast a feast fit for a king. One of our best meals of the year is reserved for Christmas breakfast — recipes we serve only for Christmas Morning Breakfast —- Victorian French Toast with whip cream and fresh fruit and a cranberry raspberry slushy drink and Sausage bake and orange juice and pineapple and we decorate with floating candles and and a nativity scene center piece and our best linens.

He’s invited us to His table, adopted us, made us one of His own— and we have time to come, to say yes to His invitation!

3. Gifts for Him, the Birthday Child

After breakfast, we gather together to give gifts to the birthday babe, the King Come—- and these are all gifts to the least of these, because Jesus Himself said, when you give to the least of these, you give to me, so we pick out more gifts from His catalogues. We don’t open presents but we open a far deeper joy.

One family writes of their creative Christmas mornings of giving Christmas gifts only to Jesus:

On Christmas morning this year, we had our oldest dress up as a wise man, and he went around the house, finding tin foil stars and taking the gifts he found there to the baby Jesus that we had in the living room. It was great! We plan to five the same kinds of gifts to Jesus this year...

What a creative way for kids, the whole family, to celebrate Christmas morning– tinfoil stars that have notes of donation to the least of these, a boy dressed up as a wise man, really worshipping!

It sounds, yes, terrifying, to not exchange gifts on Christmas morning, it did to me —- but the utter and unadulterated joy we unwrapped in giving away to those Jesus says He’s with, the poor.And we discovered all that He is absolutely true to His word: it is always better to give than to receive. And when we give to them we are giving to Him, it leaves us filled and satisfied in the realest sense.

Satisfied that everything fits and nothing will be returned and no batteries are needed for we have done the one thing that is needful — touched the hem of God, murmured adoration and offered up gifts to Him.

4. Serve Him a Meal

A loaf of fresh bread to an elderly neighbor spending his first Christmas alone, a still-in-the-dark cup of coffee and an egg sandwich delivered downtown to a homeless person, ladling bowls in a soup kitchen at lunch time, delivering sticky buns and a hug to the family who buried a child this year, gifting all the neighborhood with cookies and a card rejoicing in Christ come —- serve Christ a meal this Christmas, bread of heaven come down for all the hungry.

5. Invite Him In

It may be a single relative in need of a welcoming hearth, a lonely person from your faith community, a widow from down the road, a grieving friend, a lonely stranger, but to invite someone in need to His party because Christ who came to a world that had no room in the inn now calls all to come and He calls us to His kind of hospitality.

We have done this and this is His party and this is who He wants to come — the one who feels as unwanted as He did when He came to us. So we open the door and say come and celebrate with those He came for…

6. Give Yourself Talent Show

We know a family who gives the only gift we ever can really give, the gift of ourselves, by offering a little Christmas Day Talent Show. He does a crazy little tap dance — and everyone laughs —- and she joins him —- and everyone howls. What can you give of yourself to offer to Jesus, your family, on Christmas morning?

7. Join all of Creation

We spend hours outdoors on Christmas day, joining all of Creation and the heavenly throng in giving Him praise. We walk through the bush and sing Christmas carols, we go sledding down the back hills, we play in the snow and we laugh. We’ve decorated trees outside with treats, strings of popcorn and cranberry, suet and peanut butter and, if the conditions are right, it’s the one day of the year that we pour maple syrup over snow and eat taffy — we taste and see that the Lord is good!

8. Tell the Story

Over the years, we’ve told the Christmas story on Christmas morning with cousins and kids getting dressed up and re-enacting it for us, with kids written-performed-directed puppet show, with blankets and spotlight and silhouettes. Old men have been Joseph and toddlers have been Mary and this is the story that we love to tell — to remember the gift who came.

9. Sing the Hallelujah Chorus

Sing it in the woods, on the streets, in a nursing home, a hospital hall, a prison lounge, around the piano with the family, for the next door neighbors, a shut in across town. We join the angels this day and we fill the world with the music of the Messiah here. Find a way, somewhere, to sing because isn’t this the day of all days, we need to sing?

10. Follow the Light

And come Christmas night, we follow the light and some years it’s outside in the woods, luminaries, candles in jars, lighting a path to a nativity scene and we sing worship in the deepening dark, and some windy years, its filling the house with candles and spending the last hours of Christmas day singing glory, glory, glory, glory to God in the Highest.

Great ideas and reminders of what we need to be doing this Christmas season. I love it. I think we will have having a family meeting tonight to brainstorm ideas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Update on M.


Some sad news...

Thank you so much for all your love and support you have shown us this last year. We have been trying for over a year now to adopt Mercy from Uganda. We feel like God has closed all the doors for the adoption of Mercy. We are sad, confused, frustrated and heartbroken. As time passes we are feeling His peace.

After many weeks in prayer about the events that took place before and while we were in country, we know now that bringing her home is not His plan for us or her. We want to continue to help Mercy in any way possible, but are still trying to find the best way to do it. We are thankful Mercy is in a good family situation already, with a "mom and dad" and 13 "siblings". She is loved and well cared for every day. The only thing missing is her medical needs, and I am sure God will provide a way to find help for her.

Our trips(s) to Uganda were not wasted. We were staying and serving in a Christian orphanage and got to know and love 14 wonderful children. We met some awesome people and missionary families and will forever be bonded to this beautiful country.

Please pray for us. Pray for Mercy and her caregivers too. This is so hard to go through.

joy


We are blessed by the finalization of the adoption of our son today! His name change is now official and I shouldn't have to spell his name during doctors appointments anymore. The last step in this whole process is still ahead of us, with the naturalization/immigration stuff. This will cost several thousand in fees, so we are going to have to wait a bit. But at least now this step is over. And the courts did not have any problems with the paperwork. Most of the originals were destroyed in the earthquake.

We went to court with our friends, and did a dual adoption together! It was nice to have some moral support, as the whole paperwork thing was a bit uncertain. We celebrated with some breakfast and went on with our busy day.

Of course, I feel like the enemy has tried to take the joy out of the day. E. had a big raging tantrum for about half the day. It was exhausting and put everyone over the edge. He has been nothing but defiant.

I could tell yesterday something was building. He was having a really hard time at church. Nothing I did make him happy, everything I did made him complain. His shirt had come untucked and was tugging at it. So I helped him tuck it in. He instantly pulled his entire shirt out from his waistband. Then I noticed his lips were chapped. I got out my new, peppermint lip balm, given to me by a friend. I applied it to his lips and said, "There, doesn't that taste nice!" And he scowled at me and said "I don't want that!". He used his coat and shirt sleeve to wipe at his lips throughout the whole worship service (which J. was leading). He wanted to sit when everyone was standing and stand when everyone was sitting. He yelled "I'm not singing" when there was a pause in the music. I was so relieved when they dismissed the kids to their children's church classes. I asked L. to take E. to his class. E. started to balk at that idea, so I took him instead. Halfway to the classroom, he started to pull on my hand. Then when I let go of his hand, he stopped walking. Then I grabbed his hand again and he refused to move his feet and picked them up, straight legged from the waist! He wouldn't go in the class room, and actually wanted to just sit and make me miss church. I allowed to have him have a little time out, but talked up how much fun the kids were having in class. They were practicing for the Christmas program next week. He was missing out. Then they started playing the soundtrack and getting out the jingle bells and he was ready to go in, running!

Today E. was fine this morning and during court. He was great playing with his friends. Then the drama started with I asked L to help put his shoes on when it was time to go. He was tearing them off his feet, curling his toes, and whining. L., being 13, has little patience so wasn't being very nice about it. But the day just got worse for E. We told him it was time for nap, since we all got up two hours before we are used to. He cried in his room. Then he started to scream. Then I got him up and had him lay down in my bed, to cuddle. I understood why he was having a hard time and wanted to give him some attention. He acted like I was going to kill him! Kicking, screaming, crying, on and on and on. The whole thing lasted about four hours. He never did nap, after all this time. I did a bit while he was in his room playing with blocks. I am burned out from dealing with him. Then the other kids... Fighting, arguing, talking back, name calling, sneaking things behind my back. Trying to kill the joy.

Praying I will find it again, and soon.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Food Dye

We are Feingold members. This is an association that helps educate families about food choices to help with behavior and health complications. We have been following this program (sometimes very closely, other times too relaxed) for about six years now. I really see a difference in my children's behavior when they eat foods with artificial colors and preservatives.

I got this email and wanted to share:
We are so excited!! We just had to share this with you right away, and we could not wait to include it in the December eNews.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), finally responding to the 2008 petition by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), has agreed to hold a hearing on food dyes in March. See the Federal Register announcement dated today.

This hearing is long overdue, but very welcome! Although Yellow 5, Red 40, and other commonly used food dyes have long been shown in numerous clinical studies to impair children’s behavior, the FDA has continued to dismiss the mounting evidence against the dyes.

According to Dr. Michael Jacobson, CSPI Executive Director, the continued use of synthetic food dyes is hardly worth the risk. "What’s the benefit?" he says. "Junk food that’s even more appealing to children than it already is? Why, when we’re medicating so many children for hyperactivity, would we let food manufacturers worsen some children’s problems? Behavioral problems aside, animal studies indicating that dyes pose a cancer risk provide another reason for banning those chemicals."

Fortunately, a few companies are adopting smarter policies even in the absence of government action. Starbucks does not permit dyes in any of its beverages or pastries, NECCO has switched to safer natural colorings for its famous Wafers, and Frito-Lay is testing dye-free snack foods.

Europe has moved much more quickly to protect children from artificial dyes. The British government has urged companies to stop using most dyes, and the European Union requires a warning notice on most dyed foods. See more. As a consequence, Kellogg, Kraft, McDonald’s, and other American companies that do business in Europe use safe, natural colorings over there — but harmful, synthetic petrochemicals over here.

We in the Feingold Association have been working with Dr. Jacobson on this issue, and we plan to be at the FDA’s March meeting. I will fill you in on details as I get them, so that perhaps many of you, too, can make yourselves heard (and maybe seen).

We can optimistically hope that this is finally the beginning of the end of synthetically dyed foods in the United States.

Best wishes,

Shula Edelkind, Feingold eNews Editor
Feingold Association of the United States

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Good Memory

FORGET each kindness that you do
As soon as you have done it;
Forget the praise that falls to you
The moment you have won it;
Forget the slander that you hear
Before you can repeat it;
Forget each slight, each spite, each sneer
Whenever you may meet it.

REMEMBER kindness that is done
To you whate'er its measure;
Remember praise by others won
And pass it on with pleasure.
Remember every promise made
And keep it to the letter;
Remember those who lend you aid
And be a grateful debtor.

REMEMBER all the happiness
That comes your way in living
Forget each worry and distress
Be hopeful and forgiving;
Remember good, remember truth,
Remember heaven's above you;
And you will find, through age and youth
That many hearts will love you,

By H. Skinner

Friday, November 26, 2010

The steel door?


When a woman we know (who has the gift of prophecy) was asked to pray for us regarding M, she recently shared that she constantly received a vision...

of a closed steel door.

Interesting, because that is exactly what we have been running into recently. We are challenged with some very hard decisions to make about what to do next. We need your prayers to cover us in the next few weeks as we try to follow God's will for our family and get some much needed answers.

When God Says “No” . . . Pray by Charles R. Swindoll

When nobody is around and when we're able to be absolutely honest with ourselves before God, we entertain certain dreams and hopes. We want very much by the end of our days to have _________________________ (fill in the blank). However, it may well be that we will die with that desire unfulfilled. Should that occur, it will be one of the hardest things in the world for us to face and accept. David heard the Lord's "no" and quietly accepted it without resentment. That's awfully hard to do. But we find in David's final recorded words a life-sized portrait of a man after God's own heart.

After four decades of service to Israel, King David, old and perhaps stooped by the years, looked for the last time into the faces of his trusted followers. Many of them represented distinct memories in the old man's mind. Those who would carry on his legacy surrounded him, waiting to receive his last words of wisdom and instruction. What would the seventy-year-old king say?

He began with the passion of his heart, pulling back the curtain to reveal his deepest desire—the dreams and plans for building a temple to the Lord (1 Chronicles 28:2). It was a dream that went unfulfilled in his lifetime. "God said to me," David told his people, "'You shall not build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood'" (28:3).

Dreams die hard. But in his parting words, David chose to focus on what God had allowed him to do—to reign as king over Israel, to establish his son Solomon over the kingdom, and to pass the dream on to him (28:4–8). Then, in a beautiful prayer, an extemporaneous expression of worship to the Lord God, David praised the greatness of God, thanking Him for His many blessings, and then interceded for the people of Israel and for their new king, Solomon. Take some extra time to read David's prayer slowly and thoughtfully. It's found in 1 Chronicles 29:10–19.

Rather than wallowing in self-pity or bitterness regarding his unfulfilled dream, David praised God with a grateful heart. Praise leaves humanity out of the picture and focuses fully on the exaltation of the living God. The magnifying glass of praise always looks up.

"Blessed are You, O LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone." (29:10–12)

As David thought of the lavish grace of God that had given the people one good thing after another, his praise then turned to thanksgiving. "Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name" (29:13). David acknowledged there was nothing special about his people. Their history was one of wandering and tent-dwelling; their lives were like shifting shadows. Yet, because of God's great goodness they were able to supply all that was needed to build God a temple (29:14–16).

David was surrounded by limitless riches, yet all that wealth never captured his heart. He fought other battles within but never greed. David was not held hostage by materialism. He said, in effect, "Lord, everything we have is Yours—all these beautiful elements we offer for your temple, the place where I live, the throne room—all of it is Yours, everything." To David, God owned it all. Perhaps it was this attitude that allowed the monarch to cope with God's "no" in his life—he was confident that God was in control and that God's plans were best. David held everything loosely.

Next, David prayed for others. He interceded for the people he had ruled for forty years, asking the Lord to remember their offerings for the temple and to draw their hearts toward Him (29:17–18). David also prayed for Solomon: "give to my son Solomon a perfect heart to keep Your commandments, Your testimonies and Your statutes, and to do them all, and to build the temple, for which I have made provision" (29:19).

This magnificent prayer contained David's last recorded words; shortly after, he died "full of days, riches and honor" (29:28). What a fitting way to end a life! His death is a fitting reminder that when a man of God dies, nothing of God dies.

Though some dreams remain unfulfilled, a man or woman of God can respond to His "no" with praise, thanksgiving, and intercession . . . because when a dream dies, nothing of God's purposes die.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Easy from scratch holiday drinks

Snow day! I decided to make some egg nog from scratch. It was surprising easy and so much more healthy than the store variety.

Here is the recipe:
Egg Nog:
In saucepan beat 2 1/2 cups milk, 1/3 cup sugar, ground nutmeg (to taste) and 6 eggs. Cook over med heat until thickened but DO NOT OVERCOOK OR BOIL. Add a splash of vanilla. Cool pan quickly in sink of cold water. I added a spash of half and half, but not necessary. Chill.

I also made hot cocoa. Way too many scary ingredients in the mixes from the store, and the expensive ones that contained high quality ingredients are essentially the same as in this recipe made from scratch:

Hot Cocoa:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder (Hersheys)
dash of salt
1/3 cup hot water
In saucepan, mix and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes. Add dash of vanilla.
Add 4 cups milk and heat on low. Do not boil. Serve hot.

E. school update

E. age 4.

E. age 7 months, Nov. 2007.

E. has been home now for over 20 months! Wow, has it been that long already? I can't believe it! This morning I finally got around to cleaning out his backpack for preschool. In it I found his progress report. He has been attending developmental preschool since late spring, after quite a process to get him in. He is loving it and I am so glad I fought for him! I wanted to share with you the nice things that Teacher Gayle wrote about my little guy. And while you are reading it, be amazed by how far this kid has come. At age 7 months, E. weighed 8 pounds. Found at a hospital, he was severely anemic, unable to suck, sit or hold up his head. He was malnourished and suffering from kwashiorkor (protein deficiency).

E. is doing a great job at preschool! He has learned to recognize his name in print and is working at tracing and writing the letters of his name. He is able to follow classroom routines and transition from one activity to another with less teacher support. E. seems to enjoy his time at school and he willingly gives his best effort. He is interested in what others are doing and with some modeling and adult support he joins in other's activities. He is able to stay at a table and work with a teacher for 15 minutes then move to another table to work on another task with a different teacher. He is improving his fine motor skills for coloring, and using scissors. We are learning about alphabet letters and sounds using a program called Zoo Phonics. We practice the letter names and listen for the sounds in words and print. E. enjoys sharing the object in his letter homework bag. It is a pleasure to have E. and his wonderful giggle in our classroom.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christmas gift giving

K. and E. looking in the Santa bag

This year we are following the growing trend in our family; less is more. Last year we did pretty well, I think I stuck with giving each child three smallish gifts. This year, my goal is to keep it to one gift each from J. and I. Yesterday we had the kids draw names between each other. They will each pick out and help buy a gift for one sibling. Then as a family we will be buying gifts for extended family and close friends. I will try to do some homemade crafts or baking for teachers, mail carriers and the like.

On Christmas morning we don't have stockings, we have a Santa bag. Santa fills the red sack with individually wrapped small gifts labeled for each person. But Santa does not take center stage here.

We are going to be focusing on the ONLY reason for Christmas. What we aren't spending on toys and stuff, we will be giving to others. We will be spending quality time with each other, making memories. Loving Christ. Worshiping the King.

I am still trying to figure out plans for celebrating Christmas eve and day. Unfortunately J. is working both. He works over 10 hour shifts. We will not be seeing him much these days. We have celebrated Christmas many times without him, but we always had family to visit and keep us busy. This year, family is not available. One side is across the state, the other have vacations and in-laws to celebrate with. So we are contemplating changing the date of Christmas to one that J. will be off work.


When I grow up

I have been thinking about going back to school. Maybe not right now, but when I have some free time!

I took an online career explorer quiz. Here are the results:
CRIMINAL JUSTICE
EDUCATION and CHILDCARE
CULINARY

Um, don't I already do all this now? I am constantly practicing conflict resolution, breaking up fights and doing detective work. I homeschool most of my kids, and am a full time childcare provider. I cook three times a day.

Who needs school?

14 little reasons

LYDIA

KAWA

MICHAEL

BRIAN

DOROTHY

VALENTINE

RICHARD

RACHAEL

GIFT

DAVID

JEREMY

MERCY

OPIO

MARIA

No, I did not come home with a daughter after a total of nine weeks in country. BUT I feel my trip to Africa was not a waste in any way. While the outcome was not as we hoped, there was a reason I was there. We are not sure what God had planned, but know that He loves me and has what is best for me!

I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people (including M. of course). I think the biggest blessing was to be able to form relationships, love and care for 14 very special children at HSH. J. and I miss them all!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

BIRDS!!!

I can now say I am officially a little scared of birds. Well, some birds. I had a huge stork dive toward my head, found a chicken on my bed while staying at the Howards, walked beneath trees full of weaver birds, was emotionally tormented by calls of birds that sounded like laughing hyenas, was pecked on the foot by a chicken during dinner, and woke to a rooster crow at 4:30 am most mornings.

Some of the birds in Uganda are BEAUTIFUL. I just wish we had a better camera to photograph them. The ugly ones were somehow easier to capture on film!
Marabou Stork or 'Undertaker Bird'
The Marabou Stork is a huge 1.5 metre tall bird with a 2.6 metre wing span. In fact, it is so large and heavy that its leg and toe bones are hollow to reduce weight during flight. It has a long, dangling throat sac which is not associated with the ingestion of food; instead it is air-filled and probably used for courtship or breathing. The naked 18-inch inflatable pink sac is particularly conspicuous during the breeding season. It connects directly to the left nostril and acts as a resonator allowing the bird to produce a guttural croaking. While usually silent, the Marabou Stork will also emit a sound caused by beak clacking if it feels threatened. The pink head and neck is naked of feathers, with the rest of the plumage being black and white, and commencing with a white ruff at the base of the neck. Males and females are very alike with the female being slightly smaller.

Black-headed Weavers at the nearby resort


This battle between two chickens took place at the compound of the orphanage!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

buggy



Haunted (but thankful!)



On one of my last days in Africa I was brought to the orphanage where M. spent a year. I was saddened. There was very little supervision of the older children, although they had a really nice yard and play area. It seemed the children who were disabled were not cared for. I was sad to think about M. being there for a year, suffering from epilepsy. So today I am thankful for the home and family she has. For the love she has received. Thank you so much HSH and especially S.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thankful day 10

So I missed a few days. Sorry about that. I have been busy and feeling not so thankful lately. I hate to admit that but it's true. There are many hard emotions that I am feeling. I don't really want to go into all that, so I have been busy. If I am not really busy I try to make myself busy!
  • S. had his developmental preschool evaluation today. There are some concerns in his cognitive/reasoning areas as well as his expressive communication. We will come back the first part of December to hear the results.
  • I have had to catch up on a lot of paperwork/school work/household things this last week.
  • I am most likely going to be starting a weight loss challenge with my sis in law. This may be interesting. More details later.
  • I am trying to get things in order to finalize S.'s adoption. He needs to get his name legally changed, it's about time! He's been with us for over two years now!
So, what am I thankful for today? I am thankful for candy corn! I am thankful that it is gone and that I had some kids around to help finish off the bag too!

Monday, November 8, 2010

lowering the risk

INCREASED RISK:
My S. has many neurological complications. He has had to undergo several surgeries at a young age, and has a VP shunt for hydrocephalus. Because of the shunt, he must be monitored closely and undergo yearly visits including imaging at the nearby children's hospital. Children with shunt-treated hydrocephalus are exposed to serious amounts of radiation when undergoing computerized tomography (CT) scanning. I know S. has had at least 4 CT scans in his life so far, he is 2. I found this article interesting and alarming:

The risk is especially high for children. Researchers say that children are 10 times as sensitive to the radiation as adults are, putting them at an even greater cancer risk.

"Children's tissues are more sensitive to radiation, and they live longer than adults do, which means the cancer has more time to develop," says Cynthia McCollough, a radiological physicist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "However, if you need a CT scan, parents shouldn't lose a minute of sleep over it."

The reason parents shouldn't be too concerned is that the individual risk of developing cancer is small.

"One in four Americans will develop cancer in their lifetime," explains McCollough. "That's 25 percent. Radiation from CT scans when you are a baby increases your risk of developing cancer to 25.1 percent."

Since last year, S. has been administered MRI's instead, which do not use radiation. But I AM concerned. Cancer freaks me out. I have had many members of my family suffer from cancer related illness or death. We have cared for a teen from Haiti who lost his leg above the knee from cancer. My mom recently had surgery because of cancer.

HOW WE ARE CHANGING:
I have become more and more cautious of our health in our home. We try to eat a lot of produce, healthy oils, whole grains and lean meats. We are concerned with environmental toxins like PCBs, VOCs, pesticides, and the like. This article has many good ideas. (I wasn't aware that avoiding sugar can help prevent cancer. I did know eating a lot of sugar can cause other health problems.)

1 Eat more vegetables
Vegetables aren’t just delicious and filled with vitamins and nutrients; they also contain a lot of fiber, antioxidants, and beta-carotene. All of these help reduce your risk. Eating vegetables makes your body more alkaline, which is also good for preventing any illness.
For more on why eating a more plant based diet is better for you and the environment, please read another great resource at GoVeg.

2 Go organic
Organic food not only tastes better, it doesn’t have all those pesticides, antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones that can make you very sick. A lot of people say to me organic costs more. One trick is to go to your local farmer’s market right before closing. The vendors are practically giving their products away. Plus, eating organic is much cheaper than getting sick, missing work, and having medical expenses.

3 Sweat more
Sweating releases toxins through the skin. Fewer toxins in your body, the lower your risk of getting sick. Go for a hike, take a power yoga class, or sit in a sauna on a regular basis.

4 Do a liver cleanse on a regular basis
If you’ve been getting my newsletters for a while, you know I’m a fan of doing a SAFE cleanse at least once a year. Along with sweating, a liver cleanse will flush out the bad stuff that’s stuck in your liver.

5 Taking care of your mental health
Stress can weaken your immune system. Thus, making you more susceptible to getting sick. So whether it’s meditating, therapy, a spiritual practice, exercise, or all of the above, please take care of you!

6 Avoid sugar, including sugar substitutes, and dairy
Sugar feeds cancer. Eat some fruit instead. And dairy is mucous forming, since it’s mucous too. Try milk alternatives, such as hemp, almond, or rice. You can get really creative and make your own.

7 Deep breathing
Cancer cells won’t thrive in a highly oxygenated body. So take out that yoga mat and breathe.

8 Don’t store or cook your food in plastic.
Highly heated plastics release dioxin (carcinogens) into your food and ultimately into the cells of the body. In fact, avoid using plastic altogether.


AVOIDING PLASTICS:

More recently I have become careful about the use of plastics. I have become a plastic tossing fool the last few days. I am not throwing them out, since who knows how long this phase will last? I hope it will be a life long, healthy living choice. But I will keep my Tupperware and Rubbermaid in storage for a bit to be sure I really don't want to keep them. Or maybe find another non food storage use for them? I am trying to not bring any more plastic into the home. That is my intention.


GIFT GIVING:

Then I think about Christmas. And toys and gifts loaded with plastic. Read this article if you are buying toys for children this Christmas. Or avoid toys all together and give something different.

Some great ideas:

memberships

classes

trips or mini vacations

books

gift cards or certificates