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Are we doing Martin Luther King Jr. Day correctly?

IMG_6848[1] IMG_6847[1]Today was a beautiful day.  The girls started with their journaling. I found this great printable from Thirty days, and I love what the girls wrote. Sadly the long adoption process is always on the docket here at our house… and it ended up on both girls dreams for our family. I think my favorite is that my 8 year old said her dream for the world was for women to have the same rights as men around the world. We often talk about the fact that women can do all the same things men can do and that in America that is mostly true, but it is not so around the world. She is realizing that there are those disenfranchised that are just like her, but in  different countries, and she has trouble wrapping her head around it.

The girls have read lots of books about Martin Luther King Jr. We own Martin’s Big Words and have read so many other books like it. I can’t get enough of reading about how love will conquer hate. I can’t help feeling that all of his quotes sound like they have come straight from the Bible. I can’t help but marvel at this peace, passion, and love in the midst of such a time and place filled with such anger and hate.  But I’m white and half a decade after the beginning of civil rights movement, can I really even understand the amazingness of this choice of love in the face of overwhelming ignorance and hate? I want to.  I think of how hot I get just hearing a random comment from a little kid saying well “She’s just a girl she can’t do it.” How would I feel to hear people constantly telling me that I have to sit in the back, use that bathroom, saying I couldn’t be what I wanted to be? How would I feel towards them? How could I love them? Jesus talked about turning our cheek, loving our enemies… but I think it’s often hard to feel connected to that… Jesus you were the son of God, that gives you a bit of an advantage in this… But Martin Luther King Jr. he was just a man. Don’t get me wrong I’m not elevating him to higher than Jesus but he was a true example of someone who followed Jesus’s example.  A man who stood in the face of ugly hate and chose love, chose peace, chose the better way. And even though my kids get that he was a true man of love and peace, they don’t really understand the world he had to live in. They get that they serve others on his birthday to celebrate his dedication to the betterment of other, his dedication to loving others, his dedication to service. They don’t see the other side though, they don’t realize what sacrifices he made to be able to serve others. They don’t get that he was surrounded by people yelling and hating on him, that he had to ask others to choose this tough way of peace and that many suffered because of it. Am I not doing Mr. King justice by keeping this side?  Today at the library we read Busing Brewster.  It was a random pick up by me. I was drawn to the illustrations. It was a tough book… My 6 year old made it half way through and then got upset and stopped listening. My 8-year-old wanted to finish but wouldn’t read the history part on the back. The story was about the forced busing to help end segregated schooling in the 1970s.  WHAT the 1970s???  I was born  in the 70s… okay granted the very end… but I had no idea that there was still segregated schools in the 70s that people would attack verbally and sometimes physically kids coming into schools. How could I be so ignorant? How can this horrible thing that happened to kids over and over again have happened in my lifetime in the United States? And it also made me realize my kids aren’t necessarily ready for all the details of this time. And I am thankful to those who write books and movies for children about this time to ease them into the full understanding.

I love what Denene Millner said in her MyBrownBaby article: Beyond MLK Day: Teaching Kids Why Martin Matters  saying that our kids generation see Dr. King as a past, often not realizing that Dr. King’s words aren’t that far in the past. We are in a very different time then Dr. King lived, but I hope that my grandkids will live in a very different time than my kids live now.

Today our church had a day of service at a nursing home. We played bingo, we laughed, my kids made friends, my kids loved every minute of it. They definitely didn’t feel like they did any service, but they connected with people. We connected with people who don’t often get that opportunity, we connected with people who are in some part disenfranchised. I don’t know if I’m doing right by the amazing Dr. King, I don’t even know exactly how I can, but I know that today was a beautiful day. We felt love, shared love, and remembered a past that wasn’t always full of that love. My prayer is that they will continue to remember this man in a way that they will continue to be change in the world.

What I learned this month… what I do is art

I love art. I might (in my own mind) consider myself a real artist, but I’ve never been paid so I’m thinking I’m just someone who enjoys painting, drawing, sewing, photography, building, and well any kind of creating. So it is easy for me to feel like that is my art, that is the art I do. And well that is it, the rest of my life is my life. My cooking (really less than par), my cleaning (even worse than the cooking), and my parenting and wifing (if that’s a word) and even my engineering are all really just my activities, how I’m spending my time. Then I started reading A Million Little Ways – uncover the art you were made to live by Emily Freeman. On a very high level it talks about that we are art (made and created by God) and we make art (not just my narrow definition of it.) Now usually I stay clear of such heady, deep books like that. I’m in a stage where I like to read practical books like The Connected Child and other adoption books. However, I am often taken by Emily on the Simple Mom podcast and subscribe to her blog and thought I should try it out. I was wrong about it not being practical. I’m not really sure how she does it, but she is really helping me uncover my art. She is showing me that “There are many ways, a million little ways, that Christ is formed in me and spills out of me into the world.” (p.29).

This is hard for an engineer like me. Even though I think of myself as creative and out of the box, I also put things into categories all the time. This is my work time, this is my play time, this is my time to be with my kids… etc. But I’m realizing that if I stop that, if I am fully present in what I’m doing if I pursue the things that God gave me passion about and pursue them in His ways, I’m creating art. So here is my art..
homeschoolI am a homeschooling mom now. I wasn’t before and I won’t be after this year. You see we are adopting and my two daughters go to an amazing, small, loving Christian school. It’s probably not expensive in the realm of private schools, but it is still a good percentage of our income. My husband and I chose together that I would homeschool the girls this year to save that money instead of starting a job. It is a pretty big change from staying home with a preschooler and one kid in school full-time, it takes away a lot of my free time, it often makes our house a disaster place, and it almost always leaves me pretty tired and a lot less patient by 3:30 pm. But lately I’ve been letting it be my passion. I love crafts and activities and fun. I love my daughters. I love reading with them. I love being outside with them. I love all of these things. These things bring me joy so I’ve decided to focus on them through out our day. We don’t worry about crossing every T and dotting every I, but we sometimes read for two hours in their bed before they’ve even changed, we frequent the park, we’ve cooked so many things (they’ve cooked so many things on their own, our watercolor paints now stay in our diningroom permanently… and so do our smiles. Somehow all the spelling gets learned, and we make sure we do the minimum… but don’t get me wrong they (we) are learning so much more. We learned about a whole bunch of presidents, had fun learning capitals, learned to embroider, charted our families favorite types of oatmeal cookies, made our Halloween costumes, are known by name at the library and get to do a quiet time together everyday. The laundry no longer gets put a way… I literally clean the clothes and put them on the guest bed and we pick out what we need.  I cook the same 5 things over and over, and well even though I try to keep the kitchen clean, the other rooms are proving entropy (tending toward disorder without the addition of outside energy)  to be true.  But that isn’t my art. The bond that I’m growing with my two girls is my art. Learning Amharic together as we prepare for their brother is our art, tickles and laughs are my art, letting them be more responsible is my art, and teaching them how to be a mom is my art. Even though my mom and I are growing closer as I become an adult, I lived with my dad as a child, I often grew up wondering if I’d even be able to be a good mom, there was pain and hurt there…  but it’s healing now. Jesus shows us that He fills us up and He comes out of us in a million little ways (in art)… even ways we didn’t ever think we’d be able to do, even ones we were never prepared for. Emily says – What if I look inside and I’m a hot mess? Then states… you are. I am a hot mess, but I’m a hot mess who is learning that Jesus is helping me find my passion and making art that is affecting the world even if it’s just starting with those in my home.

Things I’ve learned in July

Until I started doing this post month after month, I didn’t realize I was learning so much all the time. Here’s what’s been going on this month.

1. I learned the Russian Peasant Multiplication trick – How was I a middle school Math teacher and never learned this trick! It works for all the 6, 7, 8 ,9 and 10 times tables. Seriously this is amazing. You write 10-6 on your fingers on both hands and then… well it’s easy to do once you learn but it’s hard to explain, well hard for me… but check out the links below… it is seriously mind-blowing. Okay, I know you’re thinking really – how cool can it be… but if you are even slightly geeky you’ll love it… and if you are a full-blown geek like me you’ll be so annoyed you didn’t already know it and then spend the next 20 minutes figuring out why it works.

2. I learned that young people are passionate. When I taught middle school math, there was a boy in my math class. He was tall and quiet. I was focused on teaching them all to love math, to know that they had the ability to do it they just had to believe. I never thought about what would he grow up to be. What would he be passionate about, how would he live his life. When they are in middle school you are just hoping to get them past the hormones enough to learn some things. I was running last week and there he was tall, full beard but still those same young, kind eyes. It was my student, now 23. We got to talking and what he said blew me away. He was leaving the next day to walk across the country. Walk, really? Why? You see Jay had heard an amazing testimony about a woman who had escaped from the sex trafficking. He became passionate about getting the word out, he began learning about the 27 million around the world in 161 countries that are in bondage. So Jay and his friend Shannon decided to go big. They want to raise awareness about the very real issue that is in our country. So I’m here to support check out – . , and . Never underestimate young people!student
3. I learned that the key to keeping your house clean is getting rid of stuff. Tsh from the Simple Mom has been saying it forever but the thrifty mom in me is always too afraid to part with stuff because I don’t want to rebuy it if we need it later. However,  I’ve come to terms with we won’t need it later. I keep wanting to save toys for our son for when he comes home, but I was reading that too many toys and flashy things cane be overstimulating… so why do I hold on to it. I went on a rampage and got rid of boxes and boxes of stuff.  Guess what? It really is easier to keep it clean when everything has a place and isn’t crammed in somewhere! In our defense the first two pictures were after we had lots of kids over to play, but then while the kids were gone I filled up about 3 boxes and two bags to give to charity.getridofstuff

4. I learned that when restaurants are opening they have a “soft” opening before their grand opening. Really it is a chance for the kitchen and staff to get out all the bugs before the real deal grand opening… what does that mean for me and you? Free food. Yup a Red Robin opened up in our neighborhood and my friend sent me to their website and lo and behold a place to make a reservation to eat there – FOR FREE! We just paid the tip – it was fabulous. The next day was free Chick-fil-A day where you get free food for dressing up like a cow.freefood5. I learned that you don’t have to pay a lot for a lot of fun- just do some research.learnedfreethingsIn order from left to right and then down…
I found a neighboring borough does a 7 week tennis camp from 9-12 Monday through Thursday for $125. That is a 105 hours at about $1.20 an hour. If you have more than one kid it’s $165 per family. It’s crazy cheap, amazingly fun and my daughter gets a great workout. It definitely pays to be open to any kind of camp and sometimes you find a diamond in the rough.
VBS – Vacation Bible School is really free camp for kids. I always help at our church’s VBS and I’m usually exhausted by then end so I send my kids to a friend’s VBS and it is awesome. The kids meet new friends and I get a bit of free time to catch up on some homeschooling preparation.
Local parks – This is an amazing water spray park near us. It’s a township park that is completely free. It was about a 30 minute drive – totally worth it!
Memberships – Even though it is crowded in the summer we take complete advantage of all of our membership to a local children’s museum and try to visit all the closest ones that are reciprocal.
State Parks – This is a state park about 1 hour from us, it has a huge lake that actually has fun little waves, a beach and there are even fish that swim by you. There is no cost to get in to the park. If you pack a lunch you are good for the day.
Community Garden – We joined our local community garden (for free) and we’ve been going 2 or 3 times a week tending to it and eating the fruit of our labor. It’s really a wonderful experience.
We haven’t gone yet this summer but we love our kid’s bowl free passes.

6. I learned that sometimes the simplest are the best. My younger daughter and I found these cute peanut butter oatmeal natural do treats for our sweet dog who turned 10 on July 4th. We mixed and rolled out and cut out little treats and put them in a cute container and gave her some. At the same time I finished the peanut butter container and for the first time in the 9 years we’ve had her decided to give her the container. She licked it for over an hour and since it was a big jar she could pretty much get her whole face in there. It was pretty much a free kong toy. She licked it clean which made it really easy to recycle (I really dislike cleaning out jars to recycle!). It was a win win win… and it turns out she liked it way better then the treats we made her.dogtreats7. Lastly, I finally learned how to take those cool sparkler pictures –
Must be in manual mode, Choose shutter speed make it very slow, and hold the camera super duper still!!!  Note to self and others. The person with the sparkler must write their name backwards!

Things I learned in May

Below are 7 things that I’ve learned about myself this month. I read Chatting at the Sky’s list which was funny and interesting. I’m a horrible writer so I went with something that probably isn’t as cute and funny but at least if no one reads it; it will still help me grow.

  1.  If I don’t set aside specific time to do something it will never get done. This blog is a prime example. My last post was April 30th, but I’ve done some super cool things since then but never set aside time to write about them. I could play with my kids all day, but it does them good to play on their own too. So I’m going to set apart some time for things I’d like to accomplish.
  2. I need to stop procrastinating. My younger daughter cut her hair to have it donated to make wigs for cancer patients – it’s all wrapped up and ready to be sent, but still next to my desk. It is a little eerie having an envelope of human hair in your room, but that doesn’t even seem to motivate me. Luckily it doesn’t go bad so it’s still useable. Sadly, it’s been so long that her hair has almost grown back again. And for about two months there I was sure I had sent it because I couldn’t find the envelope, but that is more because of my messy room. The whole procrastination thing goes with my ENFPness ( My two favorite descriptions of ENFPS that both fit me to a t – Description 1  and Description 2 – definitely read them if you were an ENFP on the Meyers Briggs Personality Test), ENFPs are passionate and gung ho for the first 80% of things and then have trouble finishing up. It is one of my biggest downfalls.
  3. I take joy in creating things. I love it. I love working on crafts, sewing, painting, photography, woodworking. I need to realize that creating needs to be apart of what I do in someway. I was created to be a creator. Below are some useful and not useful things I made this month. My daughter and I made baked marble earrings for her teacher, I made shrinky dink rings from left overs with my youngest, I made a felt mortar board hat for my youngest graduating preschool, learnedinmayand I made a couple of onesies for my friend having a new baby. I’m starting to realize about myself that I really enjoy the process of creating, I love learning how to do new things, I love beauty and I really enjoy giving people things that is a personalized fit for them. But I also realized I don’t have an endless supply of free time. I need to find a balance.
  4. Ironically enough I’m task oriented. Okay I know you are thinking, that is completely contradicting my inability to finish things… but well that is my problem. Luckily I found out that I’m too much of a people pleaser that if something has a deadline that will be checked by another person then those things I can get done. That is the reason why signing up and running races helps me to continue strong with running. I ran the Philadelphia Broad Street run in May with two friends and I had a personal best because I knew I wasn’t going to be running any more races for the year (trying to save money for adoption makes it hard to justify paying someone money to let me run ). So my goal is to make sure that I’m accountable for big things to get done.
    broadstreetmedalI have an amazing friend who is working on coaching… pretty much she helps people keep on track and reach their goals. She has helped so much and now I just need to stay on track and finish what I start.
  5. I am addicted to sugar… and you probably are too. I’ve been hearing things for a year about how sugar can act like a drug in your body and how it triggers different physiological responses and over eating can be one of them. My husband and I are trying to move towards more whole, less processed food, less gluten, less dairy (oh my how I love dairy) and less sugar filled diets. There is a lot of research about the lifelong food problems associated with children that grow up with malnutrition. We are hoping to lead  much healthier eating lifestyles so that we can help our son have one as well when he comes to us from Ethiopia.
  6. Making homemade gifts often costs more money then just getting a store bought one, so maybe not try and make everyone a gift. Truthfully, if you just counted the cost of the material you used to make just the gift it is usually cheaper than buying one, but I always buy extra just in case, and sometimes I need a new product to make it, or sometimes I screw it up and have to start over again. Granted, because of all the gifts I’ve made in the past I often have a lot of what I need. However, I need to start thinking about the gift receiver – Do they really want me to make them something? Is this really better than something I could buy for them? I’m not super sure every gift I make can answer yes to these questions and I need to not make something if that is the case. Here are some things I’ve made for gifts recently.
  7. It takes a village. So this is a huge one and probably deserves it’s own post… but I’m often so overwhelmed with thanks for all of the people who made this happen that I’d start crying while typing and I’m not very good at writing in the first place. So here’s the short version. I’m in a woman’s group that read Jen Hatmaker’s book 7 that discusses simplifying and doing without in this world of excess. We also focused on how doing with less can actually create time, money or space for others to have more. So we decided to have a garage sale at the end of our study as a culmination of all we learned and we would donate the proceeds to an orphanage in Haiti through Help One Now which is the organization that Jen Hatmaker supports and that Sarah an amazing women in our group worked with in Haiti. So just a couple of months before the garage sale the women in my group got together and surprised me that half of the proceeds are going to our adoption! WHAT!!! We were so excited… you can read a bit of my ridiculous struggle here. So of course I’m over whelmed by their love and generosity.. but then it gets better… they all spend hours and hours putting this thing together. Dozens of people donated items over months!!! Then our group and friends spent the whole week before organizing it and advertising for it, then this church (which isn’t my church by the way, but is an awesome church that loves the Lord so much and always… ALWAYS puts their resources and gifts in the hands of those who need it without anything in return (ie. community outreach, NA meetings, voting, Alternative gift market, kids stuff sales to raise money for the Laurel House and so much more – check it out Valley View Church if you are looking for a church!!), then more people came and spent the whole day selling, cooking (check out Extraordinary Edibles donating the most amazing crepes), then Carla going all out and creating a silent auction practically on her own, then all my friends taking on lots of responsibility for what seems like a really long time… all to help (some baked, some made cool shirts that said GS4O, some got friends to donate and some moved stuff) in the best way they could. They helped our family specifically, but they also helped kids in Haiti, and they helped our community become more aware of the cause of the orphan locally and globally! Here is Sarah’s post about the event, and read on to hear about her trip to Haiti.
    gs40Many photo credits go to Joe Roberts Photography. You can see lots of the photos from the garage sale here on Valley View’s Facebook page even if you don’t have Facebook.

I’m already learning more for this month… hopefully I’ll post it before August.

In praise of the working Mom and in defense of the stay-at-home Mom

I’ve had a job since I was 16. I’ve been a candy girl at a movie theater, a waitress on a boat, a balloon deliverer, a research engineer and a teacher. I worked for just under 10 years and I remember how hard it was to make the transition to being a stay-at-home mom. Staying at home doesn’t give you the  positive feed back you get at work, it can be emotionally and physically draining without being intellectually stimulating and with little sleep in the beginning it is often hard to differentiate day from night. But I’ve grown to love it so much in these past 8 years that it is hard to picture a different way of life. A month ago I was presented with an opportunity to work full-time. It took a little shuffling since my youngest is in prek only 3 half days (7.5 hours a week), but we figured it out with a friend babysitting, my husband going in later and her coming to the school I was working at two full days.  I thought this was an amazing opportunity to make money to help fund our adoption. It was working with kids and not really having any responsibilities to bring home. I prayed, my husband prayed, we were set.

I was super excited the first day. I got up early, ran, showered, put on nice clothes and make-up (usually something I only do 4-5 times a year). I was a kindergarten aide. The teacher was amazing and the kids were adorable. I gave it my all. Literally I tried to meet the needs of all the kids I could, I tried to be proactive helping the teacher and to be friendly and chatty with the staff I had never met before. Not to be too proud, but I think I did a good job.

It was time to go home. My youngest was okay with her first day of full day school ever, and my oldest enjoyed having us both at school. But after taking them to gymnastics and then home to make dinner I crashed. My husband did the dishes and put the girls to bed – I was already asleep… it was 7:30PM. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning realizing just can’t do it. My family lives in a stay-at-home world where I take care of lots of things… not just food shopping, dishes, and laundry, but gifts for the family, special traditions, crafts for the kids, after school activities, volunteering for the church, adoption paper work, all of the doctor’s appointments, girl scout coleading, birthday party planning, kilt making for international night, science explorer teaching, and tutoring. I couldn’t do it. The next day I let them know and stayed on for a month while they found someone else. In that time it definitely got easier, we ate out a lot, I didn’t play outside with them as much, but all of our needs were met. My hubby did so much more and received so much less attention from me, but we were all in it together. Failing isn’t something I’m use to doing, and I wasn’t going to let this one pass me by without learning from it.

What I’ve learned:
I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to stay at home. I have time to go to Bible Study, see my friends, live in community with other women, I can learn new things to help our family like how to make stuff from scratch and homemade presents for our family and friends, in this time I’ve learned how to create websites, use computer photo editing, and become an amateur photographer, and run a marathon. I am available to help my friends out with watching their kids and even to get to do this blog. But my favorite part is that I get to spend so much time with my family. I’m here for my kids all the time, I get done a lot of the day-to-day stuff when they are at school so I can be fully charged and available when they are home. My husband has a pretty demanding job, but since I have time at home to get things done it isn’t stressful when he comes home. I can have a great quiet time with God everyday because I have the time. I am so thankful. I’ve had these things for so long that I don’t think I truly appreciated them. The first day without work my daughter and I played Polly pockets, Barbie, went to the park and made muffins… just before lunch. I feel truly blessed to have this time, and I know that it won’t last forever, but now as cliché as it sounds… each day of it feels like a gift.

Please know that I don’t mean that if you work outside the home that it means you don’t do these things. In that time of working I met women who taught and had young children, they were super productive at work getting all their planning done while they were at school so that they were fully present with their kids at home. For that month I got a glimpse of how incredibly hard it must be to get things done like grocery shopping and changing over clothes from one season to the next, and cleaning and cooking and everything else that is on their plate. Then as I went to bed early every night I realized that moms who work full-time give up their free time – all of it or at least most of it. No matter what lunches need to get made, laundry needs to get done, homework needs help, husbands need attention, activities need to be planned. But the long distance run to clear your head, or the guilty pleasure of watching a TV show that you know isn’t really beneficial, or the extra hour of reading a good book, or a coffee with a good friend that turns into an afternoon with that friend laughing… those don’t  always have to get done and I’m starting to realize that as a stay-at-home mom I get to indulge in these things. I think sometimes stay-at-home moms think that there is no way that working moms can’t do it all… but I’ve realize they do but they make wise choices about where to spend their time and they sacrifice a whole lot of their alone time to get it all done.

We are all different and all have a unique set of circumstances that dictate how we are making it day-to-day… maybe we have help from a parent, or maybe we have flexible hours, or maybe we have to stay at home for little ones or to home school, or to keep it all running smoothly, but what I’ve learned most is that we all are just trying to do the best we can with the circumstances that we have. It’s taken awhile, but I’m finally giving myself grace in my failure of not  being able to work in knowing that right now this is what’s working best for our family. I hope and pray that you are able to give yourself grace too. God didn’t create Mom guilt… that’s from somewhere else. We feel guilty for staying at home, should we be working and contributing more monetarily? We feel guilty for working, should we be at home more? Neither question is beneficial. If only you could see all that you do through the eyes of another on the other side of the fence you’d see that all that you do is amazing.

Then I found this amazing video about the job of a mom – working or staying at home that shows the importance of our job. Thanks Lisa-Jo Baker.

When I am weak – Since God is always faithful why am I always surprised?

My friend and I are going to read a book together and do a study on it, she’s come up with lots of good options… now I have to pick which one. I stink at decisions – I’m always afraid I’ll make the wrong one. But then I heard about this book Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman. This was the description:

Many of us believe that we are saved by grace–but for too many, that’s the last time grace defines our life. Instead of clinging to grace, we strive for good and believe that the Christian life means hard work and a sweet disposition. As good girls, we focus on the things we can handle, our disciplined lives, and our unshakable good moods. When we fail to measure up to our own impossible standards, we hide behind our good girl masks, determined to keep our weakness a secret.

Picture-241So I think that might be what we have to go with because well that sums up my week, my weak week. Where to start. hmm. So we are at one of those points where we are totally confident in the decision to adopt. We have no doubt that it is God’s plan for our family. We also wanted to make sure that we did it debt free. We are so thankful for our financial situation and if we need to tighten up here and there well then that is just what we need to do. We had lived with my inlaws for a little over a year and saved a good nest egg for the adoption – we were intentional about it when we were buying our house not to touch it. But we still have a lot left to pay from this point on in the adoption and my flesh was begining to come in. What can I do to make some money, I should homeschool again to save money, or maybe I should get a full time job, or I can start selling the things I’ve been making. I knew from the moment we decided to do the adoption that we’d have a big yard sale, I read so many blog posts of families and friends donating their unneeded items and families raising 1000s of dollars – sweet I’m in and we started putting stuff in our garage.
Fast forward to September. I joined a women’s group where we started to read Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An experimental mutiny on excess. I love the book, it’s everything my husband and I have been trying to do in our lives and it doesn’t hurt that she was in the process of adopting from Ethiopia like we are. At the first meeting an amazing friend, Sarah, was completely touched by the book. With a passion as beautiful as she is, Sarah began a journey to go on a missions trip to Haiti as well as organize our group to have one huge Garage Sale 4 Orphans through Help One NowGS40_7_SquareButton_redWe were all psyched, what a beautiful culmination of all that we are trying to institute in our lives… giving up excess so others can have a chance. But then there was a little part of me that got worried.  If I gave all that I was saving to this garage sale there wouldn’t be anything left for me to sell, how would we raise money? What about our orphan? Oh how a part of me that I’m not psyched about came out… a jealous, self-interest looking, not God-trusting part came out. So much of the situation made me think of Ananias and Sapphira from Acts. In Acts 2 there is this beautiful picture of a community that shared all things in common. A community dedicated to the cause of eachother and those who are the least in need. Then here is a couple that comes along and holds some of the money they got from the sale of their house back for themselves.  They  don’t trust the community to look after their needs, really it comes down to the fact that they  didn’t trust God. The story doesn’t end well.
Fast Forward again to this week. On Monday I find out that a tooth that got hit by a lacrosse ball when I was 16 is now dead and the root canal on it has broken and I need an implant or my tooth might fall out. This is expensive. Wait what? Now? Really? Then Wednesday night we found out that we were a little mistaken in what our next adoption payment should be. We thought it was half the price it really was. We can do it, just don’t pay this, wait on that, take some out of the savings for other stuff – don’t get an implant until the end of the year. But I began to worry. Thursday is the meeting for my women’s group, maybe I can ask them if I can sell my stuff separately at the sale. It’s hard to get super excited about all the planning for the garage sale because of my fears and worries – if I give all to this, if I ask all my friends to donate stuff to this event, will they want to donate to our garage sale for our adoption. Well then God says tsk tsk Kelly. At the end Sarah and Megan (our group leader) say that they had decided (in September) that half of the proceeds will go to Garage Sale for Orphans and half will go to our adoption. Oh God why am I so selfish, why didn’t I trust, why can’t I give wholly without worring about consequent, why haven’t I learned that you have a plan that you are the one in charge, that you will help us through. God took me through these couple of months giving me times when I wanted to be obedient to His call, but then also being there for me when I was concentrating on our own issues. I cried, I cried because He is God, He is good, and He really does have a plan. But I also cried in realization of my sinful nature. I cried knowing that in these 14 years of knowing Jesus intimately that I have not come as far as I thought, I am still sliding back putting my hopes and dreams on the throne of my heart, not God, not His will, not his plans for my future. But then I cried a little more knowing that He still loves me, He still gave us this amazing blessing through these amazing woman even though my heart was not fully giving even though I was holding back, I cried because of His Grace.

Today is almost a week later and I just read this post by Walking by the Way – on how God always has a plan and how they are going to pay for their adoption debt free.  God you are so good – all the time.

Sunday School Teacher

Frequent Bible Carrier Card
One of the hats I wear is Sunday School teacher. I would always help out with my kids’ classes which were the younger Sunday School classes.  It was easy and very rarely did I have to prepare too much. It was a lot of play and story telling and on the floor games and dancing – really my forte. I thought that I should try to help in an older class – I mean I was a middle school teacher that should really be my jam. So now I teach 3rd grade Sunday school. Third graders are a hard sell. They are kinda too cool but kinda still silly and fun. It has been trial and error but I’ve really been learning what seems to float their boats. One thing I started off with was a Frequent Bible Carrier card. The 4th grade class at our church is no joke – its the real deal Bible Study and I wanted to at least get the kids prepared in some way so I made these cards. I keep them with me a tthe church and every week we hole punch the car for each individual kid if they bring their bible.
Here is the pdf it comes in purple and aqua (frequentbiblecardsaqua) and (frequentbiblecardspurple). The design idea came from these adorable Good deed punch cards from eighteeen 25 – the whole blog is amazing – you can spend hours… I did. I made the cards this way so there isn’t really any extra paper just cut down the middle and then 3 cuts and done. You can cut each one across and then each in half but that is a lot more cuts and the engineer in me says its not as efficient – but to each their own.. I’m sure my grammatical friends always cringe at my ridiculously poor grammar.

Ethiopian Christmas

Tomorrow, January 7th the wonderful people of Ethiopia are celebrating Christmas. Our child if he is born yet might be celebrating too. Maybe he is wearing white, maybe he is playing ganna the field hockey type game (probably not though because he would be too little). Our dossier is finished we are just waiting to send it to get state sealed, so that we can have our agency make sure we didn’t mess anything up. Tonight we are all thinking of our other family member a 13 hour plane ride away and wondering if he is safe and healthy and celebrating today. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrates Ganna (Christ’s Birth) on January 7th. The people fast the day before and wake up at dawn, dress in white and celebrate at church. There is usually a meal with meat (most likely in stew form)  that breaks the fast and they serve it on injera (There is a great tutorial on how to make this on Owlhaven). Twelve days after this on January 19 they celebrate Timkat (which means baptism in Amharic), this is a three day event celebrating Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan River and is huge in Ethiopia – please read witheyeslikemine to get the full story about Timkat.

We would like to celebrate today to be in unity with our child even if he isn’t born yet. I really want my daughters to continue to learn about Ethiopia and all the culture that we can absorb. So we had pizza tonight (the 6th) a vegetarian fast having no meat until tomorrow night and we’ll have a roast. This sounds easy but I don’t eat red meat and I’ve only made about 3 roasts in my life, but here goes nothing. We will serve it on pita bread and see if the kids will want to eat it with just the bread and no utensils. I think we’ll pray for Ethiopia and maybe hold candles and walk around the house once. According to in modern day Ethiopia every person at the church receives a candle and they walk around the church.

Hopefully each year forward we will learn more and celebrate together with other Ethiopians to let our child know that with the joy of having him in our lives we are also thankful that we can share in his native culture too.

Ornament Making Success

This was our second year to hold our Ornament Making for a Cause. This year we were raising money for an orphanage in India. To get the word out we made a facebook page event, handed out flyers and asked our friends to tell their friends. It relaly helped that we had a positive experience last year so there were a lot of repeat guests. I made this flyer and cut it up and handed it out to all our friends early in December and many moms I know made it part of their advent calendar. Here is the flyer I used ( ornmakingflyer) email me if you would like me to send you the word version. I also printed out these ornament sheets (ornamentpictures)  to give everyone an idea of the ornaments we were making. I also printed out and laminated the instructions for the harder ornaments… I won’t post that, but I will have email links to all the ornaments we made and how each worked.
All I did to prepare is :

  • have the whole day available. The flyer said 10-4 but the last fmaily left at 6pm.
  • get all the supplies for the ornaments. I have a huge crafting supply. Some from homeschooling some from my joy of crafting. I only probably spent about $10 on supplies. There were a couple of ornaments that required some ahead prep, but I did that over a month time with my daughters so it didn’t seem like too much.
  • prepare some easy food. Luckily I have awesome friends and they brought munchkins, cookies, popcorn and some other finger foods. I made hot chocolate, white chocolate trees (the easiest treat ever to make and it was a huge hit), and I bought some fruit at costco. I probably spent another $20 in food.whitechocolatetrees
  • prepare the stations. I have a hot glue station, a table in the basement with paint and the salt dough ornaments and some ribbon, and a table upstairs for the other ornaments. I then put out all the supplies in groups with a sample ornament.
  • put out a jar with the informaiton about the donation on it.
  • put on some holiday music.

Then people come. We had over 60 people come to our house but since it is an open house even the house didn’t get too too crowded at any one particular time. This year I had the salt dough painting down stairs which was different then the previous year and I think that helped make room.

Here are the links to the ornaments we make:
Felt ornaments – I just got the idea from this site. I cut out the ornament shape from felt and the kids glued sequins, beands and buttons on.
Sled Ornament – This was the big hit this year, but it requires hot glue so there needs to be parental guidance. We did have one hot glue burn – ouch. To prepare for this ornament I spray painted the small and large popsicle sticks red, cut some to the size for the underneath piece, cut up twine, and provided sandpaper.
sledornamentsetupSnowman Ornament – These are always a hit. Last year we did them on tongue depressers this year I changed it up and used this idea. I cut out the hats and my friend Kerin cut out scarves while our kids played and then I provided googly eyes and minibuttons. These are easy and can be done with hot glue or regular glue.
Snowflake Ballerinas – These were also a huge hit and easier to make then the sleds. My awesome friend Amy of the amazing ACPPA art center gave us the print outs to use. I just used coffee filters for the skirts instead of cutting card stock, it worked out well and you could layer 2 or three of the snowflake coffee filters to make a poofy tutu.
Reindeer Ornaments – These are adorable. They need hot glue to put together but then you can regular glue the nose and eyes. I even made a little holder with tiny red pompoms that says noses… it was cute. We made these in the big and small clothespin size… my friend kelly made one for everyone in her family.
reindeerornamentSnowflake Ornaments (felt) – I prepared everything to make these, they are really easy with the fabric cutter. But they require sewing so only Amy was brave enough to try one – and it was gorgeous! But definitely not for kids This would be great at a moms get together or something.
Snowflake (pipe cleaner) – These are easy for everyone, they all look different, and they don’t use glue! I just cut the pipe cleaners to size and premade the snowflakes and then left them with a whole bunch of beads for the kids to make them
Snowflakes (origami like) – These are actually my favorite Just cut up a whole bunch of 6in x 6 in scrap paper, glue and scissors. It is too hard for a kid under 7, but the older kids loved them. You can make them in all different sizes if you use different size squares and if you use hot glue they are done instantly.
Snowflake foam – These I just got at JoAnns a couple of days before the ornament making. They were on super sale so I got 30 for $1. The kids used them all – mostly with gems glued on.
snowflakefoamFelt Wreath – These adorable ornaments are not for the faint of heart. These ornaments take about 100 felt squares to make. We used florist wire to put through each of the squares. I had 4 brave souls attempt to make the wreaths and they came out terrific even if it did take them each about 20 minutes to make them.
Salt Dough Ornaments – This year I made 6 batches of salt dough there were over 100 ornaments to be painted. We only had 15 left so they were definitely a big hit. I cut out the dough into all sorts of different holiday shapes but I made a lot of the snowman faces like the link and lots of trees. The kids love to paint the trees because then they can paint on decorations. I also took special orders for letters. We have large letter cookie cutters so it is a great way for people to make specific ornaments for their friends and family.

We also put out little red tags that I cut on the cricut and also put out little strips of paper that said “This ornament helped build an orphanage in India.” I love this part because it helps the kids understand that gifts that give to others are even more special then just regular gifts that you buy. I also think that family members enjoy getting this kind of alternative gift.

Here are some more pictures from the day.
ornamentmakingMy kids love this day. They totally don’t mind all the cleaning and preparing it takes. They love crafts and they love that at any point in the day they can go apint some ornaments or play with their friends…. so many of their friends come in and out all day long that it is just such a fun different kind of experience.

I love that this is a way for us to host somethig during the holiday time. I’m not a great cook and often hosting makes me nervous, but somethign like this for a cause centering around crafts… it’s my jam.

We love the way the donation works. We just leave the jar out and people put in whenever they want. My favorite are the kids that have been saving up and bring in all their change. That is an awesome lesson.

I didn’t realize how much my kids would be into counting the money. Sassy Pants (my younger one) organized the bills into piles while Miss Thing counted all the change and then we counted the checks and bills together. We raised $274.15. I was in awe of the generosity of those that came that often paid $20 for 10 salt dough ornaments.

The whole event was a blessing and a fun time. If you are looking for a way to volunteer with your kids during the holiday season and you like crafts this maybe the event for you. If you do something like this I’d love to hear about it and hear what ornaments work well.

Rock Star – Bible Study

In 2009/2010 we started doing the Rock Star Bible study time as a family on Friday nights. We got all the ideas from Carissa at 1+1+1=1. Check out her website to see the list of ideas, but it’s kind of like Sunday school but together as a family at home with fun activities. We made the binder and everything but we moved in 2010 and stopped doing it. This Christmas break the girls decided they wanted to start doing Rock Stars again so they got out the binder that was just laying around in the homeschool room and we ooked through it. It was awesome to see the old prayer requests and how they were answered. So we brainstormed as a family how we wanted to do it now that the girls were older. We decided to do the New Testement since it was Christmas and we want to do it chronologically and make a time line. Miss thing had the idea to write the topics on strips of paper and we’ll make a chain that would represent the timeline. I had ideas of strips of paper and cutouts of the characters that spanned the top of our homeschool room with our number line but her idea was great and much more manageable.
rockstars1We decided to start with the Angel visiting Mary (except now I think we should go back and talk about the annuciation of John the Baptist going to be born. ) We got out three of our Bibles and read the story in each of them in Luke. Then we did a word search together and filled out this simple worksheet ( rockstar1) that I made quickly on word. The worksheets are really to get the girls to be able to picture the event and they always enjoy drawing.
This is Miss Thing’s (she is 7) at first I couldn’t figure out why there was a cat in the picture but she told me that it was because it was in the one Bible story that she read out loud.
rockstarworksheet1We really enjoyed the time together and doing a wordsearch together proved to be fun and easy. I had found this interesting video on the internet about the adventures of Mary and Joseph and watched the one about the Angel Gabriel and Mary. It was very short and a little bit of a different interpretation, but a fun thing to watch.chain
The girls and I decided that we should make our own video. I just found out about Lego Movie. It is by far the coolest free app ever and I definitely would have paid money for it. It is a stop action app – so pretty much you can use legos (or any small figures really) to make a mini movie. It has a comicbook theme with cool word bubbles you can write in and even music. It is beyond amazing and seriously something a 5 year old and a 15 year old would both want to use. My very girly daughters now want to get the batman lego man because of it. Oh yeah, back to Mary and the angel. So we made our own movie. . We hope you like it… I have a feeling it maybe the first of many.