Thursday, December 31, 2009

Every Child's First Food Experiment

This one's for you, Gpa Hodel!
We have another black olive lover on our hands! :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Part 4: Shoes! Shoes! Everywhere!

Our Sunday School classes recently completed a shoe drive (

Following in his daddy's footsteps as a 'shoe lover' Xander has been enthralled with all the shoeboxes & shoes floating around our house the past week. Last night we spent some time getting the shoes ready for shipment and, being the helper that he is, Xander was right in the middle of the action.

Blake told Xander that he was going to sleep in the box with the shoes...what a compliant little guy, huh?

Part 3: Kitchen Helper

Xander LOVES to cook. More accurately...he loves to play in the sink, dump over the garbage can, remind me he's not supposed to touch the hot get the idea. I should learn to start dinner preparations early so I have 1/4 of the time to cook & 3/4 of the time for clean-up!

Xander has confused the phrases, "Excuse me" and "I'm sorry" so when he sees me in the kitchen, he instantly heads for Blake's chair at the table and pushes it across the floor muttering, "I sowwry! I sowwry!" as he positions the chair right where he wants to be. Which is, of course, in the exact spot where I am standing. I am beginning to understand the term 'anklebiters' in reference to children.
Just recently, I have allowed Xander the childhood priviledge of licking the beaters from the mixer. He loves, loves, loves this! Here's a few shots of him 'helping' with clean-up! :)

Part 2: Shoveling Snow

Last Friday night we walked into town for dinner & it began snowing. The boys shoveled the driveway when we returned home and Xander helped his daddy.

Actually, he kind of ran away from the snow shovel because he was scared of the scrapping sound. And then, the moment he actually touched snow, started crying because it was, in Xander language, too hot ( mean cold, Xander).
By the way, I would welcome any mom-advice on how to keep mittens/gloves on a toddler. Is there a kind/brand of glove you've found to be good? The rigged up shoelace with mittens safety-pinned on is simply not cutting it :)

Helping: Part 1 of a 4-Part Series...

We've got a little 'helper' on our hands. I use this term loosely as most of your experienced moms know that 'helping' can probably be more fittingly described as 'interfering' but bless their little hearts for wanting to be right smack-dab in the middle of the action, right!?!

First Xander tackled a little BABYSITTING. Wisely, he started this venture with family, specifically his little cousin, Isaak.

While off to a bit of a rocky start...
...things got better once the little babysitter started actually paying attention to the little boy in his lap!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

One Year Ago Today...

...we meet our son for the first time.
He was sitting in a green-painted crib with a puzzled look on his face as we approached. I remember leaning over the crib railing to whisper, "Hey there, handsome" before the tears began as our Ethiopian social worker placed him in my arms.
What memories! What emotions! What joy!
NOTE: Xander currently despises getting his picture taken so the only way I can get him to briefly look at the camera is to say, "Show me your teeth." :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sweet Friendship...

Xander is currently 'sleeping off' his weekend after spending it with this amazing little boy...

We began a friendship withYikealo and his parents (David and Larisa) when the adoption journey to our Ethiopian sons overlapped. Since the boys have come home, there's been a tugging on my heart for them to meet face-to-face. That happened this weekend and we had a wonderfully blessed time of fun, sharing & laughter together.

Playing at a downtown park.

Dads & sons by the lake.
BOTH these little boys have capture a special place in my heart which is overflowing with praise God for the precious gift of our sons.
Come back anytime, M-family!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

1-Year Anniversary: Remembering...

It was one year ago today that I was sitting in the dentist's chair for over an hour. Why is that momentous? you might ask a bit puzzled. Well...b/c it was on that very same day as I was leaving the dentist's office that I checked my voicemail and heard these words (from my husband), "Congratulations, mommy! We passed!"

Yep! 1-year ago today, our case passed thru the Ethiopian court system and we became the parents of an amazing little boy. As he splashed in the bathtub this morning & smeared yogurt across his face, as he played with his tractors and "helped" me fold the laundry...I have found myself startled that less than 1-year ago our house was so quiet (and cleaner, more organized, less chaotic...). Okay, I digress.
This little boy, OUR little boy has brought such joy to our lives. SO much joy that I'm struggling to put my heart into words. This is my best attempt: "I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name..."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

We've Come A Long Way!

Xander can be a bit of a 'scaredy cat' -- one of the reasons we plan to skip Halloween this year since he freaked during LibraryHour when approached by a pint-sized fireman. I kept reassuring him that no one was going to hurt him...not Curious George, or the fairy with the pink glittery wings, or the elf with the funny pointed hat... but he was not buying it.

Although he was mostly okay with the vacuum, previously whenever I picked up the dustbuster he would either (a) quickly exit the room or (b) cling to my leg with a death-like grip and spin around excessively to keep his eye on 'that' thing.

Not any more. Now (as this poor/blurry picture shows), he's into helping. And, who would pass up help from a little person who fits so perfectly beneath the table...that's where most of the crumbs go anyways, right?

Papa (Grandpa), Tractor and Mower Go!

This is where I spent last Monday thru Wednesday, driving the tractor & auger wagon for my dad as we harvested beans before the rain started AGAIN.
FUNNY NOTE: When my dad looked from the cab of his combine & saw only my red shirt lying in the field (while taking this picture) he was worried that his 'city-fied daughter' might have fallen out of the tractor :)

Xander has spent this week 'reminding me' about papa, the tractors (which sound like 'brrruuummm') and the fact that he misses sitting with grandma on the mower ("momma. mower. go! go!")

A Little of This. A Little of That.

We hosted a CookOut with some 'downstate' friends a couple of weekends ago. I accidently deleted most of the pictures (oh, HOW frustrating) but this one of my sis (Brenda) holding a bundled Xander and her son, Isaak, during the hayrack ride survived. What fun!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Parenting with COURAGE...

I attended a MOPS meeting this morning and found the speaker, Mike Murphy, a family pastor at a local church to be both encouraging & challenging.
His topic was entitled, "Raising Right Side Up Kids in an Upside Down World" and the parenting trait that kept coming to the surface throughout his presentation, at least for me, was: COURAGE.
I recall having the following Mark Twain quote posted on my door in college, "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear...not the absence of fear." The quotation challenged me to step outside of what was comfortable/familiar/safe in order to walk down the path God had called me to.
Mr. Murphy quoted words by Amelia Earhart, "Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace" and continued by describing that parenting required:

(1) the COURAGE to be rejected by others. "Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

(2) the COURAGE to quit rescuing your kids from the consequences of their actions. "It is easy to dodge our responsibilities but, we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities." -- Josiah Charles Stamp

(3) the COURAGE to not be your child's best friend but be their best parent.

(4) the COURAGE to allow your child to feel pain & disappointment. "Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds." -- Orison Swett Marden

(5) the COURAGE to be out of step with culture in order to be in-step with God. "Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'" -- Mary Anne Radmacher

To all the readers of this blog parenting children & those that will do so someday, I wish you God's grace to parent each of your children with COURAGE.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Muddy Adventure!

Xander is sleeping off a hectic weekend so I thought I would post a few pictures from our Friday adventure at Apple Holler orchard. It was a cold & drizzly day (wow, that sounds like the first line of a mystery novel...) but we bundled up the kids and picked a 1/2 bushel of apples with grandpa & grandma and the (S) family.

Oh...there's a good one WAY up there. No worries...grandpa will help reach it.
I think his older cousin is explaining to Xander the proper way to eat a freshly-picked apple :)
Jared nabbed this apple with his mommy's help. What a team! Here's Jonah is 'cleaning' off his boots in a muddy puddle. All boy! So fun!
We just might have tasted as many apples as we brought home. Yummy! Yummy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


On this dreary, windy, rainy day...I thought this might make you chuckle.

The phone rings this afternoon, during naptime, nonetheless. I answer to hear my husband's voice saying, "Three words. Fresh. Apple. Cookies."

To which I replied in my best rendition of my oh-I-love-you-honey-and-LIVE-to-meet-your-every-want-and-desire voice (does such a voice actually exist?!?). "Three words. I. Was. Sleeping."
Cookies are in the oven. :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Yummy Applesauce...

Xander and Blake made some applesauce today. It was great fun seeing them 'working' in the kitchen together. Here are a couple of shots from the day. NOTE: Sorry for the grainy photographs; my photo filter is doing some strange things tonight. It's not your computer :)

Look, Mom! Dad let me stand on this chair and PLAY in the water
(errr...I mean, WASH the apples).
Yummy! Yummy! 12-quarts of apple goodness.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Falling Down...Getting Up

I was listening to a radio program while in the car last night and the speaker's following definition caught my attention. Spiritual Growth = the process of a Christian falling down & getting up...all the way to heaven.

I seem to be a high acheiver when it comes to the "falling down" part. And sometimes (okay, OFTEN) that leads to discouragement and/or negative self-talk. You might be familiar with the a few of these self-condeming phrases? Loser! If only others knew the REAL (insert: lazy, emotional, clumsy) you! You call yourself a Christian? You're overwhelmed with ONE child when others are caring for 3/4/5 kids; how pathetic!

The definition reminded me that growing towards who I really want to be starts with a really, really simple step: getting up! I might not be able to instantly transform my life & eliminate my current struggles/shortcomings but...I can choose to take the first step. I can refuse to let Satan distract me with discouragement. I can refuse to let my thoughts rule my actions/self-worth. I can refuse to stay down.

Today, I choose to get up! Every time I fall. All day long.
All the way to heaven!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

An Apple-Picking Adventure...

In celebration of the first day of fall we went apple-picking at a small orchard in my hometown. Here are a couple pictures of Xander after he was convinced the apples ON the tree were much more desireable than the bug-infested ones BENEATH.
Oh...this is a good one. I just KNOW it...
I don't want to drop it on the ground (with all those other BAD apples)...
Silly branch...out of my way. I'm busy finding good apples.
Whew...that was hard work! Definitely need a ride back in this wheelbarrow here...and perhaps a bright yellow apple to snack on.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Child's Curiousity: Listening In

A Sunday School teacher shared with me a conversation from her classroom this morning which made me chuckle. It went something like this:

Child (out of the blue, totally unrelated to the story being read) asks: "I was wondering about Xander...that boy with Blake & Christine all the time."

Teacher: "Yes? What about Xander?"

Child: "When he grows up, will he grow up white?"

Boy or Girl?

I was chatting with a friend today who explained, after her daughter was mistaken for a boy recently, she's routinely included a bright & girly hairbow to Zoie's attire. I shared that Xander, even though dressed in very gender-specific clothing, has on more than one occassion been referred to as '...oh, such a beautiful girl...' MUCH to his father's utter dismay.

This conversation reminded me of a picture I took the other day as our rough-and-tumble boy was exploring the drawer with my hair accessories. While I think, in general, our little guy is ALL BOY, this pictures could possibly plant a small seed of doubt in one's mind (not so visible in the picture is a headband & hairclip but he would not stand still long enough to get a good picture of the 'girly-evidence).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Goin' For A Spin...

After careful placement...(right there...steady...steady)...
...Xander takes his sippy cup for a spin!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kohl Children's Museum...

Now...before you flee from this post b/c of the word 'museum' in the title...wait! This place is NOT your typical museum. It is completely interactive and fun, fun, FUN! If you are ever in the Glenview (IL) area, I would highly recommend stopping by. Check out their website here.
Earlier this week, Alexander and I met up with Grandma and cousins: Emily, Elijah and Moriah to spend the afternoon exploring the exhibits. Here are some pictures of our time together.
A 'group shot' outside by the very unique jungle-gym equipment.
Driving around town. This room even had a carwash (sans water) but really cool.

Moriah checking things out and deciding what to do NEXT.
Elijah LOVED this excavator (this IS an excavator, right Jonah?)
The doctor is in; how may I help you? :)
A petite 3-year old with NO FEAR. All the way to the top!
Xander and Mr. Turtle.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Child's Perspective

I was reading a book for a few minutes this afternoon ("Any Minute" by Joyce Meyer and Deborah Bedford) and came across some words that spoke powerfully to me.

In the story, a mother & her son were rushing down a busy city street. The mother was attempting to soothe her guilt-ridden conscience by spending time with her son. In all reality, she was simply dragging him thru her own daily schedule. Let's pick the dialogue up here...

"The Chicago Board of Trade clock gawked down from the end of the street. As he watched, the clock's minute hand jerked from Roman numeral III to Roman numeral IV.

"Mom. Did you see that? Another minute just went by."

She'd been gulping her coffee in great mouthfuls, hardly stopping to swallow as they'd hurried along. Upon hearing his words, she picked up her pace.

"No, Mom," he said. "I didn't mean we were supposed to hurry up and catch it. I mean, we missed it."
So often I need to remind myself to let go of my in-order-to-be-purposeful-I-must-be-running-helter-skelter mindset & simply spend time with my son. Though I love him to pieces, this does NOT come naturally to me...but I am trying.
This week we've spent extra time outside. Every morning we have rocked & read books, a whole PILE of books. Our usual 2-minute walk into the YMCA (me walking while carrying Xander) has turned into a 10+ minute adventure filled with curb-jumping & investigating rocks along the way. We're wrestled more. Cuddled more. Giggled more.
Oh...I pray that I can continue to align my priorities so that I do not miss a minute of the joy of being a mom.