Merry Christmas!

We have a relatively calm day here in the midst of all of our Christmas functions so I thought I'd pop in to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

God has blessed us this December with lots of snow and we are sure enjoying it. Our only complaint is that the snow is too dry to make a snowman with, but we keep trying anyway.

Mark has this whole week off so we are loving having him around.

Here are a few pictures taken lately:

{Adelia, topping our Christmas tree this year}

{Ella watching the snow fall before bed one night}

{the girls, all bundled up to go outside}

{my favorite people in the whole wide world, pausing during play for a picture}

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas season!

Letter to my seven-year old girl

My beautiful girl,

Happy seventh birthday to you! What a treasure you are to your daddy and I, Ella Kate.

You have had a full year- one of many firsts.

This year you learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. It was something you wanted to do, and you basically taught yourself. You practiced by riding around and around the patio, in circles, and when daddy took you out one day to a larger spot to “learn”, he came home saying you had just taken off and he didn’t need to do a thing!

This was your first year to take swimming lessons, and what a joy it was for me to see you learning how to swim! At the beginning of the week you were a little fearful of water in your face and eyes, but you were so determined to learn, so attentive to your teacher Alex, so eager to practice and get better, and by the end of lessons you were really swimming on your own! You loved it so much you were sad to be done with lessons.

You have learned to read this year, and mama has learned to have a stack of books at the ready for you to delve into! Your favorites this year? The Little House books (Mama read them aloud to you, but you’ve read them on your own twice since then, too.), The Wheel on the School, Prairie Winter, All-of-a-Kind Family, and Understood Betsy. Favorite read-alouds: Heidi, Charlotte’s Web, Toliver’s Secret, and Huguenot Garden.

For most of this year, Adelia was still napping in mama’s room, and you spent your quiet times in your room, on your bed, lying on your tummy, reading away the hours of nap/quiet time. Even when I’d tell you that quiet time was over, you’d want to read “just one more chapter”, “just this one page”.... Rarely can you be found, now- without a book close by. (Usually in your hands, with your head bent over your book.) And how fun it is for me to find you with the boys cuddled around you on the couch, while you read aloud to them, or to Adelia (for as long as she’ll sit still for you!)

One of my favorite things about read-alouds is how often you act out, with the boys, what we’ve read. You’ve been Laura Ingalls nearly as much as you’ve been Ella this year, along with Heidi and a plethora of other characters you’ve read about. You want to dress the part, too. This year for your birthday we got you a bonnet and a nightgown (just like Laura), and grandma got you a little apron to wear over your dresses. You were delighted.

You prayed for a baby sister, and God gave you one in Adelia this year. It has been a delight for me to see you nurturing and caring for her. I remember the first time you asked me if you could carry her, all by yourself, and I hesitantly agreed. You were true to your responsible, careful self, and have done an excellent job ever since. Even now, with Adelia a big ten-month girl, you will pick her up, swing her up over your hip, and carry her around. I love that. I wanted so much for you to have that experience as a little girl, that opportunity to nurture and learn how to care for a baby, and am so thankful you’ve been able to have that.

You moved from your shared room with the boys this year into the “girls’ room”, which you now happily share with Adelia. Pale pink walls, pretty valances, your bed with mama’s old Holly Hobbie bedspread on it, two dressers, Addie’s changing table, and a little bookshelf near your bed, full of your books and other treasures. A couple of thoughts about your room: You take such pride in your little space. You keep your area so neat and tidy: your bed made, your books organized, your few things so neatly organized. On Saturdays, when it’s time to clean your rooms, the boys scurry downstairs, and you happily order everything in your room. Those days, too, I am pleased to see that you take care to order Adelia’s bed and changing table area, too. The other thing I love, Ella, is that you have very few things that are yours- really, just your collection of books, treasures, the armful of dolls and stuffed animals on your bed and the dollhouse you rarely play with anymore. When we are in other little girls’ homes, I sometimes wonder if you notice how full their rooms are of things, and how little you actually have to claim as yours. But you have the most grateful spirit, and never ask for things. And the few things you do have you take such care for. I am so thankful to see that quality in you, my sweet girl.

You are my best helper, Ella. Not only with your little sister- holding her for a few minutes, sitting to feed her a bottle, getting her dressed, watching her while mama takes a shower, etc... but with chores, too. Your after-meal chore is to empty the dishwasher, and never has my silverware drawer been so neat! Several times this last year you have completely taken everything out of a drawer or cupboard and re-organized it, all of your own accord. You take such care in the things you do, Ella. What a wonderful way to be.

You have a sweet and tender spirit, Ella. I remember how you cried when you read your Helen Keller book and discovered that her teacher had died. You were devastated for Helen’s loss. This year your pet chicken Missy died, too, and that was difficult for you. You are also sorrowful when you realize that you’ve hurt anyone- and most often that hurt was unintentional on your part. You feel and love so deeply, my girl.

You told me recently, “I know what I’m going to be now when I grow up. And I’m not changing it this time.” You would like to be a nurse. When you told me that, I told you I thought that’d about be the perfect job for you. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you did become a nurse, travel to some third-world country, and nurse the poor. Your heart of compassion and your natural ability to give care- even at such a young age- are so dear, Ella. I am so pleased to see how often you put others above yourself.

There are so many other things I could write, Ella girl. You are a joy to your daddy and I. We are so incredibly thankful for the gift God gave us in you!

May you grow to love Him even more deeply in the year to come.

With lots of hugs and kisses,


We got our Christmas tree today, and spent the day decorating the tree and the house- outside and in!

So. Now that the house is fully decorated, I'm going to take a full month to enjoy it. Thus, a little blogging break.

Not that I'll simply be sitting around enjoying the tree, mind you. There is plenty to do aside from that, but blogging isn't high on my list this month.

Have a *wonderful* December, all!



there will be no crazy shopping for this family.

We are taking down our harvest decorations and putting up the Christmas. Oh, I love this time of year! The kids came out to the living room this morning and right away noticed the big Christmas bins- full of Christmas decor- sitting by our fireplace. They've been digging through the bins and boxes, pulling out their favorite things, and exclaiming over everything.

The highlights for them, so far? Our nativity sets and our stack of Christmas picture books-- the ones that only come out once a year.. We snuggled up on the couch already and read through 5 or 6 of them.

Off to decorate!

Have a wonderful day, all!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am in the process of making this. Caramel Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake, for those of you who didn't click over. And if that does not look like THE MOST delicious dessert EVER, I'm not sure what would qualify. Can't wait to eat that. That's all for us, too. We don't even have to share. Mark is going to be so delighted when he sees this.

Tomorrow all I have to make is sweet potatoes for our big family function, so that's easy.

What are you making?

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Random thoughts at 5:00 am

I see now that it's actually 5:22 am. I've been awake since 4:30. Don't ask me why. I'm tired and would like very much to go back to sleep, and have spent the better part of an hour trying to do just that, but sleep eludes me. My brain is too full. So, here's what I've been thinking about for the past hour:

-Adelia's nap schedule: She's been faithfully (and happily) taking a morning and an afternoon nap every day, until about a week and a half ago, when I'd lay her down for her morning nap and she didn't seem tired. Eventually she'd sleep, but then not for very long. Then for her afternoon nap, she would sleep much less (which means that I wasn't getting my afternoon nap; and that's really hard to swallow at this stage in my life.)

It never even dawned on me that she might be transitioning to one nap a day until Amy mentioned it to me last week. [Um...isn't she too young for that?] So I've tried that tactic for the past several days: holding her off until her afternoon nap. And that's not working either. Ugh. I asked Mark last night what he thought about Adelia's new nap schedule, and he said something to the effect of her being tired and cranky most of the day (he's been home for the past two days) because of it; so today we're going back to a two-nap schedule.

So tell me: When did your children make the transition? I forget when it happened with our other children.

-Family Christmas photo: Every year at this time I get severely stressed about getting a picture taken for our family Christmas card. We are later this year than I'd like: due to Adelia's chicken pox that we were waiting to clear up and the fact that, unfortunately- we don't have any friends or family members that are budding photographers and want to take our family picture.

Maybe this year we'll just go with a children-only shot. But I'd really rather have the whole family- especially since one of our children is currently in my belly. But the thing about the kids-only photo is that it's easier. There are plenty of opportunities we have to take pictures of the kids together, AND Mark and I can engage our children to smile for the camera while others can't. And then we don't have to find someone to tag along with us to take our photo. Ugh. See? It's stressful. Maybe we should skip the picture altogether this year.

-Christmas gifts: Aack! I have way too many gifts yet to buy. I wish we had smaller extended families; quite honestly, this time of year. I felt like I was doing really good until I sat down the other day and realized that most of the gifts I've bought over the last several months are for the birthdays of friends/family that crop up around this time of year, not for Christmas.

And I have no idea what to get Mark for Christmas this year, either.

And then there are the stumpers on my list, like: What on earth does a 13-year old boy want for Christmas? That age is just completely out of my range. I have NO idea. [If you have ideas, leave them in the comments, please!]

-Freezer meals: It's my goal for this pregnancy to make-ahead a bunch of meals to stock our freezer with. Then when the baby comes, I can be a little less stressed when it comes to meal-times at our house. [And yes, our church family is amazing about bringing meals when babies are born, but I'd like to have some of our own, too.]

Oh, but first: we need a freezer. Our chest freezer is older than the hills, and I want an upright freezer so that things won't get lost in the bottom of our freezer (out of sight, out of mind). Who has time to go shopping for a new freezer, pray tell me? Not us.

And I really should put off this whole making-meals thought until after the holidays, because it's not like I'm going to be able to make any meals within the next month or so. But then, if I don't? Am I really going to feel like doing it when the holidays pass and I'm a [large] 8 months pregnant?

That might be all I was anxious about. Maybe I can fall asleep now that I've dumped it all out, here? I'm going to try. I will not check Bloglines, email or Facebook. I will go crawl into bed. It's not quite six, so technically, I could still squeeze in another half-hour of sleep if I fall asleep FAST.

Verses to live by: for little ones

I'm so thankful for God's Word when it comes to instructing my children.

Here are some of the verses we've memorized that come up over and over again throughout our days:
Do not say, "I'll do to him as he has done to me; I'll pay that man back for what he did."
~Proverbs 24:29
That one I use frequently with the boys- when one of them has hit or pushed or done something to the other, generally they want to do it right back. This has been a good reminder that God instructs us otherwise.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
~Matthew 5:9
Several times throughout the day, one of the kids will run up to me and say something like, "So-and-so was playing with this and I was still playing with that. I was just going to pick it up." [Or- whatever the scenario may be at that moment.] And then so-and-so will come running up to tell his/her side of the story, and the squabble begins. My regular response is this: "Who is going to be the peacemaker?" It completely flips the focus on selfishness and turns it to "Who is going to be the first to choose to make peace?" That is what's important
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.
~Psalm 34:13
One of our boys lies regularly and easily, and this is one of the verses he knows the best. It's also one we discuss when unkind things are said, along with the phrase I've recently began saying that I picked up from my own mother: "If you don't have something kind to say, don't say it at all."
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
~Colossians 3:20
Honor your father and your mother.
~Exodus 20:12
I don't usually use those as commands or anything, but I do try to praise the kids when they have been obedient and honoring.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
~John 13:34-35
Another good stand-by. Sometimes it's unnerving to me how a certain toy or activity can create such conflict, and all of a sudden the "one another" gets so easily lost [usually a good indication that it's time to shelve the toy!] I wonder how many times I've said, "It is far more important to God that you love one another than that you get to play with that right now."?!
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
~Matthew 5:42
This is another one we use with the whole sharing issue. He asked you for that toy? Great! Give it to him. He wants to play with that right now? Great! Let him borrow it.
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in action and in truth.
~1 John 3:18
This is one that certainly has it's place with the kids, but it also continually challenges ME. I don't want to be a mama who just says "I love you". I want to be a mama whose love is evident in my actions towards them- especially when they're disobedient.
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.
~1 Peter 5:8-9
We all struggle with self-control around here. Some of us more than others. (Me probably being the worst.) I want to be alert to Satan's schemes, and I want our children to recognize that he is eager to see them fall. Plus- this is just one of our favorite verses to say together- we all growl like lions and let our voices drop to a hush when we talk about him prowling around.
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.
~Proverbs 29:11
Ugh. This verse convicts me every time I read it. I can be such a fool. But oh! I want my children to be wise, so it's something we all work on together.
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
~Proverbs 15:3
This comes in handy when I haven't seen what has gone on, and there are differing accounts of what happened. Then I'll say, "God saw. Tell me what God saw happen."
A soft answer turns away wrath.
~Proverbs 15:1
Another good verse to live by. When your brother or sister has said something unkind, give a soft answer in reply.
Do all things without complaining or disputing.
~Philippians 2:14
One of my favorites for the kids, and one that I should also take to heart more often.

For dinner tonight...

This Cranberry-Walnut Chicken Salad recipe from

Really good. I used pecans instead of walnuts and served it over green-leaf lettuce.

It's definitely worth making!


I asked the kids this morning what they were thankful for today. Here are their lists:

our car
our house
my bed
my family
the baby
my chickens
the couch to snuggle up on
my food
my lamb


my blankie
my two teddies and my lamb
our food
my daddy


my bed
my train blankie
my balloon
my sheep
my friends, Titus and Maddie

And I am thankful...
...for Mark, who works so hard to provide for our growing family- even when he's not feeling well. He loves us so well through his service to us. And he's handsome, funny, fun and wise. And my best friend. I am so, so blessed. I love being married to this guy.
...for Ella, who is my new laundry helper~ and I can't tell you how much I love this! I can now ask her to go throw in a load of laundry and she does it
I'm also thankful for her compassionate, tender spirit. Last night she told Mark and I, "I can't bear it anymore! I want to GO to Africa and help those children! I want to go there and feed them and then take one home with us. God is telling me to." [She was actually quite adamant that we go. To the point that she had me check my pockets to see if God had placed tickets there so that we could go.] I love this girl.
...that I'm feeling a little better today.
...for our wonderful church family and especially- our small group.
...for this sweet baby growing inside of me, for my growing belly. I love being pregnant.
...for a week ahead with very few scheduled events.
...for laughing children who play so well together.
...for the fact that it is nearly time to put up Christmas decorations! Woo hoo!
...for Adelia's little pigtails and now-toothy grin.
...for morning productivity: dinner in the crockpot, the dishwasher running, and laundry being washed!

What are you thankful for today?

November Adoption Update: FINALIZATION!!!

This morning we all loaded up to drive to the courthouse for the finalization of Adelia's adoption [insert cheers and "woo-hoo's" here].

We were hoping Adelia would take her morning nap on the drive down, but she did not. [Maybe it was Ella hollering out from the back seat the letters she was finding for the alphabet game? Or maybe it was the fact that Isaac was singing at the top of his lungs the entire way there?]

Not sure, but nap or no nap, we arrived.

We met up with our lawyer and waited in the courthouse for our appointment, along with several other families.

November is National Adoption Month, and tomorrow (the 15th) is National Adoption Day. So today is a big day for the courthouse we were at; it's their celebration of National Adoption Day and they processed several adoptions today.

Here we are, waiting in the hallway.

Finally we were called into the courtroom, where we stood in front of the judge with our lawyer. We were asked some questions, which we answered in the affirmative, and then the judge pronounced the adoption final and her name change completed (note to you: for the past seven months, although she has been "Adelia" to us (and thus, to you), she has legally been her given name- and all social workers, doctors, and anyone within this adoption process calls her by her originally-given name.) No longer.

After the formal words were spoken, the judge invited us back to where he sits; our children were able to sit in his seat and shake his hand (note to self: work on the kids' hand-shaking skills!) and then we got a picture with the judge.

Because of all the adoptions being processed, the court had quite the festivities planned for the day, so we waited a bit more for those to begin.

[In the following set of pictures, I was trying to get a smile from our sleepy girl.]

She finally (barely) obliged.

And finally... the long-awaited nap!

The festivities included a few speakers-- our favorite: a father of fifteen (eleven of which are adopted through the foster-care system!), a formal introduction of each newly-adopted child, during which they handed out teddy bears for each child. Oh- and our kids' favorite part: the cookies and balloons also handed out! Our adoption agency also gave each of our children a stuffed lamb, so they were all quite tickled.

Then we walked for a bit to let the kids stretch their legs before the drive home, and had lunch together.

Here's Adelia, expressing her frequent, "Praise the Lord!"

And then- the drive home. Much quieter, that. Isaac, Isaias, and Adelia all slept. Ella was quiet in the back seat, though not sleeping.

Mark and I reminisced about the past several months-- that first phone call and our acceptance of this little girl we'd never laid eyes on, our first visit, my hesitations and fears (and really very clear to me after-the-fact: a serious spiritual attack) leading up to and even following that first visit, God's faithfulness in calming my heart and reassuring us of His plan, the come-and-get-her phone call, bringing her home with us for the first time, and all the joys since. We didn't have time to cover the entire adoption process- beginning at the paperwork stage!

What a wonderful journey God has led us on, and what a beautiful gift He has given us in Adelia. His plans are so very right.

When we pulled up to our house, this is what we were met with:

[What you don't see here (er, other than our last name!) are the flowers, the homemade goodies, the cards, and the gifts given to us by our amazing friends!] Here's one of those gifts (again, I've blurred out our last name on this one, but you get the point!)

And so, today it was made official what we've felt in our hearts all along: this precious girl is our daughter. Oh, how that makes my heart glad!

Thank you, so many of you- for your encouragement, friendship and prayers for us during this process. You've truly walked through it with us. We love you and appreciate you.

Baby: 26 weeks

We had another ultrasound today- to check on baby's heart. [At 20 weeks, baby wasn't being super cooperative for a good heart shot, so we got to check in again today.] All is well. And here are a couple of ultrasound pictures. This is the best I could do without a scanner:

Tomorrow I'll be 26 weeks. I can't believe how fast this pregnancy has gone so far. The days seemed to drag with the other two, but what with the busy-ness of four little ones, the days seem to fly. I imagine these next couple of months will scoot by even more quickly, since it's a busy time of birthdays and holidays.

I asked the nurse today how much weight I'd gained so far (whereupon Mark asked immediately, "Do you really want to know?" ~smile~ I did, in fact!) and she said 15-16 lbs. I feel it.

Our tiny one is moving and kicking so much these days. I'm at the stage now where you can look at my belly and see that baby move. I think all of the kids have been able to feel a good strong kick or two, with maybe the exception of Isaias. And I tell Adelia that it's too bad she doesn't appreciate the baby moving because it kicks for her most often: she's the one bouncing on my tummy and crawling up my lap on a regular basis, and the baby definitely knows when she's near.

I am so very thankful that God has given us this precious gift of another child, and one growing in me this time around. Words cannot do it justice. My heart is full. When I think of the years of prayers and longing and wanting and wondering and waiting and disappointments and finally- surrender, and acceptance that I wouldn't be pregnant again. And then this delightful (and very-much wanted) surprise! He is good.

A little sewing...

.. of some pencil rolls for upcoming birthday and Christmas gifts.

Inspiration from Amanda Soule's book, The Creative Family. Hers were done with felt, and were much bigger. I stared at her pictures and instructions, experimented a bit, and created my own pattern, choosing fabric instead of the felt. I'm really happy with how they turned out, and I'm glad to have some gifts checked off my list.

Next up: I'm going to make some of these for our children to carry to church, for their "notetaking" during the sermons. [Thank you, Hilary, for the link and inspiration with your own zoo wraps!].

Oh! The other thing we made today at our Keepers Meeting were napkin rings. Ella's are shown here on our windowsill, all lined up for their next use. I found the idea here, and they were really easy for the girls to make, and turned out cute, too.

In other news, we just buried Missy in our yard, beneath the lilac tree. We're amazed she survived these past two months, but she died last night. Ella has been emotional- on and off- but is doing okay. Isaac spent last night planning out the funeral, and listing off all the people we should invite. [The last funeral we went to was Great-Grandma's, and I think Isaac was envisioning flowers, a pastor, and hundreds of people crammed into our back yard to say goodbye to Missy.] We explained that it would just be our family, and thankfully he was only momentarily crushed.

I've just-today caught the cold everyone seems to have right now... my throat hurts and my voice is about gone (good for my goal of not raising my voice at the kids; I can't possibly do that today! Maybe that's God's way of helping me; He figures I'm a helpless cause without some severe intervention. ~smile~) I'm looking forward to some hot water with lemon and honey, a hot bubble bath and a restful evening; which will include a rematch of a game of Settler's with my husband. He's won the last four (?) times we've played, and I'm not happy about it.

Hope you all have a wonderful evening!


..for a Bible for Ella (almost 7). We'd like to get her one for her birthday or Christmas. Mark and I have been to the bookstore and came home empty-handed. Many of the Bibles in her age-range are catered to "tweens" in their little pull-out comments (discussing things like boys and jealousy of other girls and such) and we do not want that.

I don't want another Children's Story Bible. We have those and she has outgrown them. We would sort of like some pictures or little pull-out explanations of words or places- something to make it a little kid-friendly- but if we can't find anything similar to that (that isn't tween-oriented), than we will just purchase a basic Bible.

Oh, and I'd prefer the NIV, just because that's primarily what we use around our home and church.

But no matter your version, I'd like to hear from you:

So, moms-
1. What Bible does your child have?
2. What do you (and your child) like about it? ~or~ What don't you like about it?

I'm hoping there will be an overwhelming consensus on one Bible that you all like. If not, at least you can provide me with some good options to check out! :)

Thank you!

Reading list

Since we're on the topic of books...

I've kept a running list- at least for about the last year and a half- of the books we've read aloud to the kids as well as the books that Ella has read on her own. I decided to post it here since some of you have asked what we've read. [Note: This is a rough list: there are no links, and several of these don't have authors listed with them, but here it is!] Feel free to ask me if you have any questions (or comments).

We're really choosy about the books we read and I feel relatively safe saying that none of these should be offensive to anyone.

2007 Read-alouds
The Big Milly Molly Mandy Storybook
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew; I wish we would have waited another year; Ella was only 5 when we began this book. And I think this was "older" than the Little House books.
Mr. Popper's Penguins
The Family Pilgrim's Progress (Jean Watson)
Stuart Little (E.B. White); I did not care for this book.

2008 Read-alouds
The Courage of Sarah Noble (short)
Wagon Wheels (Brenner); (short)
The Josephina Story Quilt (short)
Little House in the Big Woods
Little House on the Prairie
Farmer Boy
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shores of Silver Lake
The Long Winter
Little Town on the Prairie
These Happy Golden Years
The First Four Years
Strawberry Girl (not my fave because of the fact that the word "hate" was used frequently and there were parts that SG was so angry that she said she wanted to "kill" the neighbor boy.)
The Pilgrim's Progress (Young Reader's Christian Library); with daddy
Daniel Boone (with daddy)
Charlotte's Web (with daddy)
Winnie the Pooh (with daddy)
Toliver's Secret (with daddy)
currently reading, with mommy: The Incredible Journey, Huguenot Garden
currently reading, with daddy: The Matchlock Gun

Ella, chapter books on her own (2008)
Days Go By
More Days Go By
First Steps
Busy Times
More Busy Times
Climbing Higher (the above 6 are all Pathway Readers)
In Grandma's Attic
More Stories from Grandma's Attic
Prairie Winter (Field)
The Cabin Faced West (Fritz)
Helen Keller (Stewart and Polly Anne Graff)
Helen Keller: Courage in the Dark (Hurwitz) (short)
Bess's Log Cabin Quilt (D. Anne Love)
Betsy & Tacy Go Over The Big Hill (Lovelace)
The Hundred Dresses (Estes)
Owls in the Family
All-of-a-Kind Family
Five Bushel Farm
Understood Betsy
The Wheel on the School
*Ella has also read, for a second time, several of the books from the read-aloud list above. (Most notably the Little House books. I think she's read each book at least two times.)


I just finished reading the book Heidi to the kids, and we adored it. [Ella actually told me she liked it better than the Little House books. Now that I find hard to believe. I think it's just because Heidi is so fresh in her mind right now. But that's how popular this book was.] If you have not read the book in its unabridged form, you are missing out.

I happen to be kind of a snob about unabridged books versus abridged books. It's a rare exception that we'll read anything abridged, and I'll give you a great example of why that is the case.

Here is a portion from the [unabridged] book we just finished:
"Oh, grandfather!" she said, "everything is lovelier than it ever was before in our lives!" Heidi jumped up and down. Then suddenly she became very serious. Taking her grandfather's hand, she said, "If the dear Lord had done right away what I prayed for so hard, everything would not be as it is now. I would only have come home again and brought the grandmother just a few rolls, and I couldn't have read to her. But the dear Lord had thought it all out so much better than I knew. I am glad that he did not grant what I asked and longed for! Now I will always pray as the grandmamma told me, and if the dear Lord does not do as I ask, I will remember it is because He is planning something much better, just the way He did when I was in Frankfurt. We will pray every day, won't we? We will never forget Him."

"And if one should do so?" murmured the grandfather.

"Oh, it would not be well for him, for then the dear Lord would forget him, too."

"That is true, Heidi. How did you know it?"

"From the grandmamma. She told me all about it."

The grandfather was silent for a while. Then he said, "And if it is so, then it is so. No one can go back, for whomever God had forgotten, He has forgotten."

"Oh, no, grandfather, one can go back. That I know, too, from the grandmamma. And then it says so in the beautiful story in my book. When we get home, you shall see how beautiful the story is."

As soon as they reached the hut, Heidi ran inside to get her book. With one bound she was at her grandfather's side and had found her story, for she had read it so often that the book opened of itself at the place. Heidi read with great feeling about the prodigal son.

"Isn't that a beautiful story, grandfather?" she asked.

"Yes, Heidi, the story is beautiful," he said, but his face was so serious that Heidi became quite still and looked at her pictures. She quietly pushed the book in front of her grandfather.

"See how happy he is!" she said, pointing to the picture of the prodigal son's return home, in which he stands in fresh garments beside his father, and once more is his son.

A few hours later, when Heidi was asleep, her grandfather climbed the little ladder. He put his lamp beside her bed so that the light fell upon the sleeping child. She lay there with folded hands, for she had not forgotten to pray. He stood looking at her for a long time. Then he, too, folded his hands and bowed his head.

"Father," he prayed, "I have sinned against Heaven and before Thee and am no more worthy to be called Thy son!" And great tears rolled down his cheeks.

And here is the same part of the story, rephrased for a popular adaptation of the book:
On the way back up the mountain, Heidi had so much to tell her grandfather that she talked until they reached the hut. She told Grandfather about her idea for using the money Mr. Seseman had given her. Grandfather smiled when he saw how generous and kind-hearted Heidi was.

That evening at dinner, as Heidi chatted about her life in the city and how kind everyone had been to her, a change came over Grandfather. For the first time in a very long while, he saw the goodness in other people. And he saw this goodness through Heidi's eyes. He realized what a gift this child was, and that his life of bitterness was not good for him and certainly not good for Heidi.

That night Uncle Alp made an important decision. He decided to return to a life that included other people.

Aack! Do you see what I mean? The original is so much richer than the adaptation. Okay, I'm stepping off my soapbox. But recommending the book nonetheless.

And now I'm trying to research which Heidi movie is most faithful to the original book.

October Adoption Update, 2008

We have a court date for the finalization of Adelia's adoption!

November 14th is the big day, and we are rejoicing!

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.
~Psalm 68:5-6a


My dearest Isaac,

I’m sitting on the couch, typing away while Adelia plays at my feet. Isaias is taking a nap, and Ella is still having a quiet time in her room. You, my new five-year-old, have barricaded yourself into a corner of the living room~ behind three folding chairs left out from our party yesterday~ so that you can play Legos without Adelia trying to play with you. You’re wearing your Bettis jersey- your shirt of choice, even though you outgrew it over a year ago. Also those black shorts which mama would love to lose. :)

You are doing a variation of humming and singing- a few songs I’ve recognized [Rise & Shine, The British Isles (from our Geography Songs CD), and Get Rhythm], along with a whole bunch of made up songs and lyrics. You always have a song on your lips.

You’re in the process of building your Lego City set for the second time since you opened that gift yesterday afternoon. When I first walked into the living room after my nap with Adelia, you were in tears because you thought you’d lost a piece. “It was right here in this pile. But now it’s not here, and I can't find it anywhere.” I picked up your little Lego instruction booklet and there it was, the little orange piece you were missing. You promptly told me, “I think that was a miracle! Because I had already picked up that booklet and it wasn’t there. It wasn’t. Don’t you think that was a miracle? I’ll bet it was in some spot that God knew I wasn’t going to ever find it and so he just slipped it right under there for me.

How I love you, my son. You are such a delight. You bring such joy and laughter into our family! [God sure knew what He was doing when He put the name Isaac onto our hearts when I was pregnant with you!]

You are an affectionate boy, budders, and this mama loves that quality in you. You love to be in my lap, or snuggled up right beside me. You are quick to give hugs and kisses, to reach for my hand when we're walking, and to say “I love you.” You are also tender and comforting when I’m sad- or when anyone else is hurt or sad. Thank you, my sweet boy. I am so grateful for your sweet spirit.

This was the year of your “What if...?” questions. Goodness, son! You want to know every possible outcome of everything on earth. Your daddy and I have to laugh at the amount of times you will ask it. And then, when we respond, you tackle another angle: “But what if...?

You love Legos, football, puzzles, books, mazes, and constructing just about anything. You love to be outside, riding your bike or digging in the dirt. You love it when we go to the beach so you can play in the water. You love to catch bugs or worms in the yard, which then you want me to find a container for, to house your new little friend in. I remember once this summer you came in, asking for a tupperware for your newest find- a big black beetle- and I pulled out one of our cheap plastic cups with lids, and on top of the lid I had previously written “Lemon Glaze”, to label it’s contents for the fridge. I gave it to you, offering you an explanation for the writing on top, and assuming you’d ask for another lid. Instead, your eyes lit up, and you happily said, “Yeah! Because his name is Lemon Glaze! That’s his name!” [I’m still not sure if you thought I’d named your beetle for you and had already written the name on the lid, or if you just happened to think Lemon Glaze was the perfect name for your pet beetle, but you were beyond thrilled, and for the rest of that beetle’s life, his name was Lemon Glaze.] You make me laugh, sweet boy.

You love being daddy’s helper. Last week daddy asked you to take out the garbage for him while he was at work. You grew a full three inches at that request, and you happily went to every garbage in the house, emptying them. I offered my help, as did Ella- we thought you might need help upending the garbages into the big trash bag. But you wanted to do it all by yourself. [Nevermind that I discovered you leaning over the garbage, picking out each item by hand in order to get the job done.] You happily hauled that huge (and heavy!) trash bag all throughout the house, standing so tall and proud when you told me you’d emptied every garbage. I asked you to set it on the back porch like daddy had asked, so that he could take it out right when he got home. But you wanted to carry it all the way out, all by yourself (which took a full twenty minutes with a rest needed every two to three shuffling steps, and a little help from mama and Ella in heaving it into the big garbage can) but you did it. And oh, was daddy proud when he got home!

You love to play. Your play follows you wherever you go- at the table, in the van- wherever you happen to be- because you have such an imagination! It’s why it takes you so long to do things, because you make up a story or a scene while you go and play it out or talk it through, burying yourself in your own little world. This past year you have been a Knight, a Cowboy, a Viking, a Pirate, a football player, a basketball player, a Revolutionary War soldier. You’ve also been Jack (Laura’s dog), Almanzo, and Pa. I love to listen to you play, Isaac. You have so much fun.

You have sure grown in knowledge this year. You take in so much of what we read and incorporate that into your play. We hear a lot of talk about the colonists and the British and Abraham Lincoln, and specific battles fought. You have your facts absolutely straight, and I am often amazed at what you’ve retained through our library reads.

You are a talker, my boy. There is always a story to tell, a memory to relate, a question to ask, a hypothesis to share.

You are a fine gentleman, Isaac- remembering to let “ladies go first”, running to pick something up that Ella dropped or that mommy dropped (usually in the kitchen), even being the first at the scene to clean up if something has been spilled.

You are the first one to compliment me or your sisters on looks or clothes. “Mommy! That is the prettiest shirt I ever saw!”, or “Adelia looks so adorable today!” You are also ready with a compliment every single time a meal is in front of you. “Mommy! This is my favorite meal EVER!” Or, “This is just scrumptious! And gorgeous!” You will make your wife feel very loved and appreciated some day, my little man.

And so, another year has passed. It’s been five whole years since God gave us our second miracle in the gift of you, our son. And it has truly been five years of joy. I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring.

I love you, my sweetest budders.

~Your mommy

Maybe I spoke too soon

About the dishwasher detergent, I mean.

Because at some point over the weekend I pulled out a dish that had once been cleaned with regular detergent and compared it to the "new" clean, and um, there was quite a difference. Not in cleanliness as much as the feel and shine of the dish.

I showed them to Mark and he agreed.

And it seems that the chalky feel I referred to in my last post isn't going away, but is in fact, building up over time. Ugh.

So~ back to the store for some regular dishwasher detergent.

But maybe I'll try Tonia's method. [See comments on the original post].

Open House: Thursday, October 23

In the kitchen... some chocolate-chip cookies I made last night (YUMMY!) that are calling my name. I usually don't even like cookies. Um, also in the kitchen: this.

I am thankful for...
-Mark, my best friend and favorite person on earth.
-Wednesday-morning phone calls with Michelle.
-God's faithfulness.
-Baby #5, steadily growing and happily reminding mama he/she is there.
-Our home, warm and comfortable.
-Folded laundry that the kids are putting away.

I am wearing... jeans, black 3/4-length-sleeved shirt, bare feet. Hair in a ponytail.

I am sewing... some baby gifts.

I am hearing... Isaac and Isaias playing football. Steelers and Rams, currently. "Mommy, which one do you want to win? The Steelers or the Rams?" The Steelers, always the Steelers. Also hearing Seeds Family Worship in the background.

I am reading...
several books. I'll post more on that when I've got more time. Thanks for all your recommendations!

I just saw... the movie The Secret Life of Bees. I liked it, and thought it was a good adaptation of the book, which I also enjoyed. Oh! Mark and I also recently saw Fireproof, based on this guys recommendation. We both enjoyed that, too.

I am looking forward to... a coffee date with the girls from our small group tonight. (Talia, please come! I'll miss you if you're not there!)

I am thinking... about Isaac's birthday in a few days. And how he'll be 5. FIVE. And I'd like to just stop time, thankyouverymuch, because it hurts my heart that he's getting so big.

I am remembering... how Isaac said to me this morning, "Mommy? In the movie last night? [It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown] There was a boy in there named Peppermint Patty that was really grumpy." I laughed, and then tried to tell him that Peppermint Patty is actually a girl, but he was adamant. PP apparently talks like and looks like a boy, and he is certain PP is a boy. Alright, then.

Homemade dishwashing detergent: the results

Recently I was getting low on dishwashing detergent, which I thought was a great opportunity for me to try the homemade variety. I found two recipes online.
Recipe #1
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
20 Mule Team Borax

Pretty simple:
Equal parts of each (I think I initially mixed up about 1 cup).
Add 2 Tablespoons to the dishwasher dispenser. (I used 1 1/2 Tablespoons).

*This recipe also suggested using Distilled White Vinegar in the rinse compartment.

Recipe #2
1 cup Borax
1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup salt.

Even simpler:
Use one Tablespoon per load.

*This recipe also suggested the vinegar, so apparently that's an important step.

The results:
I tried Recipe #1 first, and was pretty impressed. The dishes were definitely clean, but had a slightly different feel to them (which bothers me), so I ended up doing the vinegar thing. I think that helped matters. I used it for about a week and then decided to try Recipe #2 in case I liked that one better. I made more of that one and have used it longer but like it less (my dishes aren't getting quite as clean as they were with Recipe #1, and they feel a little chalky or something, coming out of the dishwasher.)

So back to Recipe #1 for me. And isn't it handy that it calls for some of the same ingredients that I already have on hand for the Homemade Laundry Detergent?

And if it cleans just as well, and I can save a bit of money? I'm sold.


...with my friend Kimmie, who recently accepted a referral for their new daughter from Ethiopia!

...with Mrs. M, who recently welcomed sweet Eli into their family!

...with dear Beverly, who just welcomed daughter #2: a beautiful little girl they named Shana.

Congratulations, sweet friends! And for the rest of you? Stop by and congratulate them, would ya? :)

God is so, so good.

Vegetable stock

When Autumn hits, we have soup and bread a few times a week at our house. I love a good soup. While there are times I resort to store-bought chicken or vegetable stock, I much prefer to have some homemade stock on hand.

I use the recipe for Golden Vegetable Stock from the Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread cookbook.

There are a few things I love about this recipe:
*I love homemade stock but I don't particularly love messing with whole chickens to get chicken stock. Vegetable stock works just as well for me.
*This recipe requires no peeling and very little chopping. If you have all the ingredients on hand, it really only takes about five minutes to dump everything in and get this stock cooking.
*It makes my whole house smell good!
*It tastes delicious.

Here's the recipe if you want to give it a try:
Golden Vegetable Stock~ A Primary Stock

1 large onion, unpeeled, quartered
1 large carrot, scrubbed and quartered
1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and quartered
1 large white potato, scrubbed and quartered
1 whole head of garlic, papery skin left on, halved
3 ribs celery, with leaves, each broken in half
6 cups spring* water
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
small pinches of dried oregano, basil, sage, and rosemary to taste (optional)
1/2 cup Good Tasting or Red Star nutritional yeast (NOT baking yeast or brewer's yeast)
1 tablespoon light (white or golden) miso

*I use regular water.

1. In a soup pot, combine all the ingredients except the nutritional yeast and the miso. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low and let simmer gently until all the vegetables are quite soft, about 1 hour. Let cool, then strain, discarding the solids.

2. Whisk the nutritional yeast and miso into the lukewarm stock. Taste for seasoning; you may need a touch more miso. Use in any recipe where chicken broth is called for. Use immediately, or cool to room temperature, then refrigerate or freeze.

Makes about 5 cups. [But why make only 5 cups when you could double it and make 10 cups? That's what I generally do.]

Day 6

... of the [visible] chickenpox [recognizing that she probably had the virus a few days prior to us seeing any spots] is the worst yet.

She's had a fever since yesterday, and is fussy and tired.

She's been up during the night for the past three nights for hour-long increments, and Mark and I are exhausted. (I know, I know... everyone keeps saying it's good preparation for baby #5.)

But we'll be glad when this is over and we have our sweet pox-less girl back.

Our friends Jake and Talia brought dinner over last night: yummy comfort food: soup, biscuits, and (best of all!) roasted garlic. Thank you, sweet friends.

Justin and Cutzi brought their cute two over a couple nights ago, for some chickenpox exposure. Cutzi came bearing treats: homemade apple crisp and ice cream to share. It was so funny-- as Steele and Adia came in, chattering about the chickenpox (or- as Adia called it: chickenpops or something equally cute), they were talking eagerly about it as if it was a treat we had for them, and as they left, Cutzi and Justin had them say, "Thank you for the chickenpox!"

I'm thinking they won't be so thankful when it hits. If it hits.

Judging by these pictures, though, we think Steele has a pretty good shot at getting them.

Keepers field trip

On Friday morning we headed out on a field trip to the apple farm with our Keepers group (plus siblings and parents). And let me just take a minute to say that I love these families and they are some of our favorite people to spend time with.

We loaded up into golf carts to drive out into the orchard

where we learned all about growing apples.

Then we took a tour of the farm, where they wash all of the apples,

sort them by variety and size, and box them up.

They also make apple cider with them. (Yum!)

Finally, we were able to taste each variety.

It was a fun day with a fun group of friends!

Church at home

We skipped church this morning due to the chickenpox. That's a huge bummer since we love our church, but Mark suggested to the kids that they lead us in our own church service.

Ella immediately volunteered to read from the Bible (which is handy since she's the only one who reads). She read Psalm 3. The boys were eager to do worship. They ran and gathered up their instruments~ Isaac, a bass guitar and an enormous microphone; Isaias, a little wooden guitar. And then they proceeded to lead us in a few worship songs. [Rather, they stood there and strummed, and Isaac dutifully held the microphone but did not actually sing aloud much, while Ella called out songs and we sang.]

They even took the offering, which Ella carefully gathered up beforehand in little money pouches and handed out to each of us so that we would have something to give.

My favorite part was at the end, when Ella asked if anyone had any prayer needs. A few of us did, and she asked each of us to come forward while the rest of us laid hands upon the person and prayed for them.

We especially prayed for this little girl, who (in my opinion), has a really bad case of chickenpox. She has them all over, and more and more are cropping up each day (hour?). She was up during the night last night and is much more fussy today. You can tell they are really bothering her and she keeps trying to itch them but isn't getting far. Poor little sweetie.

Other perks about having church at home, in addition to our cute pastoral staff?
*We were all dressed in comfy jammies or "everyday clothes".
*The seating was much more cozy.
*We each had a mug of hot cocoa with real whipping cream.

Happy Sabbath!


This morning for breakfast I made these scones and they were delicious!

I have tried countless scone recipes over the years, and I am always disappointed because they're so dry. These were not.

The only change I made to the recipe was that I used 1/2 cup of homemade yogurt instead of the "whipping cream or milk" the recipe called for.

Oh, and I baked them for 12 minutes rather than the suggested 15-18 minutes.

Served with a dollup of homemade strawberry jam and whipping cream.

So good.


As of this morning, we're pretty sure Adelia has chickenpox. The chickenpox? I'm not even sure how to refer to it/them.

What began as two blister-looking things yesterday morning (one on her forehead, one behind her ear) has become um, several by this afternoon. Each time I look at her she seems to have three more spots on her cute little self.

When I made the call to the doctor's office this morning I thought she may have had an allergic reaction to something. But when I spoke with the nurse, she immediately said they sounded like chickenpox.

I was shocked. [Really, because how is that possible that she would get them but not my other three children?] Then the nurse explained that they don't see children for chickenpox (news to me), so while I was relieved that we didn't have to fit in a doctor's visit to our day, I was still unconvinced that she had them.

But we're getting more certain as she gets more spots.

What I'm thankful for:

*That it's October and not... December! [Especially if the other three do end up getting them! I'll be glad to get them done with before December hits.]
*Thankfully, Mark has had them (twice), and I've also had them.
*Adelia is so young that she can't itch them.
*So far she's been happy, not fussy.

Here's a picture from earlier today, when she was trying out her bear crawl.

[And speaking of crawling, twice today she has officially crawled forward on her hands and knees.]

School and tigers

A few mornings ago, I walked into the living room to this scene:

Ella was busy playing schoolteacher, [being Laura, from Little House on the Prairie]. She was in the middle of handing Isaias a book, a piece of paper, and a pencil.

Isaac was already all set up, given the name Clarence, and instructed to write his name ten times. [It was explained to me that he'd been naughty and this was his punishment.]

Isaias' new name? Almanzo.

Ella (I mean, Laura) was writing A's and B's on a piece of paper and asking Isaias to circle all the A's. He was patiently obliging.

When I walked through a couple of minutes later she had begun to read aloud a chapter from a nearby book. The boys, apparently, had been instructed to sit still and listen quietly.

And then I overheard "Almanzo" ask,

"Excuse me. Ella? Is it okay if I be a tiger first?"

Afterall, for a three-year old? Playing tiger rates much, much higher than playing school.


Oh, and here's a picture of our not-so-fierce tiger earlier this summer:

A little Sabbath sewing. And a request.

It's been awhile since I sat down long enough to sew something, but today Mark was playing with our three oldest in the yard and I had Adelia with me. She was content to sit on the floor in my sewing area and play happily, so I was able to get some sewing done.

*a little red skirt that I'll be giving away as a gift, and
*some yellow flannel pajama bottoms for Ella for Christmas. [Woo hoo! One handmade Christmas gift completed, and it's still October.]

I'm going to make a matching pair for Adelia, too, out of the same yellow fabric. And the boys will get some matching pajama bottoms, too. In their stockings. It's going to be a new tradition around here. [Imagine with me, if you will, the cute photos that will result!]

I'm a little nervous about the pj bottoms for Ella, because I was using a size 4T pattern and she's a size 6x. Unfortunately, because it's a gift for her, I couldn't let her try them on for size. I simply lengthened the pattern a few inches, and I'm hoping that's all I needed to do. Guess we'll see come December. If they're too small, we'll give them away, and if they're not long enough, I can either add a ruffle or make them into capris. :) So at least I have a few options.

And now I would really love it if all of you could please help a girl out. I am aching for a good book to read. It's been months since I've read a good book, and I really do love to crawl into bed each night and read for a few minutes before I go to sleep. And- in the bathtub. I need a book in there with me, too. It has gotten so bad that last night when I took my bubble bath I brought a Reader's Digest in with me. And that was after I'd already perused Mark's side-of-the-bed-stack (and passed up some sports books.) As you can see, I'm desperate.

So, leave a comment and tell me the best book you've read in the past 6 months.

This morning

Adelia with our pumpkin/gourd harvest.

Off to get my window box and pots all ready for fall! :)

Oh. And I must mention that I had my first eggnog latte of the season this morning. Mmm!

Okay, so I was a little attached. For a little too long.

To my White Goose Down pillow, that is. [That's it there, on the bottom.] I'm sure it was a little puffier when I bought it, years ago, and I know I paid a pretty penny for it.

But it's sort of lost it's oomph. I think it's down to about 14 goose feathers.

So I splurged and bought a new pillow tonight. A down alternative pillow.

I laughed when I saw them side by side. Although this new one is so poofy I'm afraid I might wake up with a kink in my neck.

But it was definitely time, dontcha' think?


I've added a new little section in my sidebar. I'm actually not really sure how it all works, just that I have noticed that a few people were "following" my blog (which I think, in plain language, just means that they read it!), and so I added them to my blog page.

If you want to officially "follow" my blog, feel free to click on the little "Follow this blog" link in the sidebar and your name/profile photo will appear. Note: by doing so, your photo can be clicked on and will link straight to your profile page.

I think this would eventually replace a Blogroll type of list. And I do like the idea of seeing all your faces right there on my sidebar! :)

Something new

Yesterday we had a great visit with Rebeca and her three children~ they were in the area and joined us for most of the day. It was so nice to sit down and talk face-to-face, and our children played so well together.

This morning we're making a paper chain for Isaac to assist him in counting down the days until his fifth birthday. Only 26 more days... I might cry if I dwell on that much longer so I won't say any more about that.

Then we'll do some school, have lunch, quiet times/naps, and then we get to play with our best buddies this afternoon, and we're all looking forward to that, as it's been several weeks since we've seen them.

Okay, on to the topic of this post. I wanted to share about one of the new things we're beginning this year as a part of our daily routine. More than anything in life, we want our children to love God with their whole hearts. I can see that Ella is figuring out how this faith of ours is more personally a faith of hers. We have had some wonderful conversations lately where I've been able to guide her to "pray about that sin" or "spend some time talking to God about that; ask Him to help you", etc., and she has told me that she's spent time doing that. I've seen the fruit, too, and have been able to commend her for those things.

One of the things we wanted to start with Ella this year is to begin her on a life-long road (Lord willing) of spending individual time with God. I love the idea of starting this early with our children; of making it a habit in their lives from a young age.

I so appreciated Lindafay's recent posts on this subject at her blog Higher Up and Further In. You can read her thoughts on Practical Ways to Cultivate Spirituality in a Child by clicking on the links below:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I know how desperately I need that time (which I do before any of the kids wake up) before the day begins to right my heart before the Lord, to surrender my authority to Him for the day, to pray specifically about the current areas of struggle I'm having, and to read the Word. Surely we can guide her, even at her six years of age, to begin this practice, too.

I wasn't sure how to begin this with just Ella; what would the boys do while she went off for her morning quiet time? So I decided to gather them together and make it a habit for all of us.

I reminded the kids that in the Bible, it often tells of Jesus going out, in the morning, to a quiet place, to meet with his Father. I shared that mommy needs that time, too; and I thought we should all begin learning to spend that time with God.

So I laid out the ground rules:
*I would set the timer for 20 minutes (not ideal for me but I didn't want to push it with the little ones. The idea is to help them form a habit.)
*I wanted each of them to go find a quiet place, away from each other.
*I encouraged them to do one or more of the following things during their time away:
-Sing a song to God
-Read (or, for the boys, look at) their Bible
-Color a picture of something from the Bible or make a picture for God
-Pray. I specifically encouraged them to ask God to help them with one of the sins they struggle with. And I gave them an example of something I might say to God during that time.

They were thrilled with the idea, and happily set out to have their time with God.

I set the timer and sat with my own Bible and journal, and Adelia beside me.

What I heard the first day:
Ella, reading a Bible story aloud from her Bible. Then singing loudly these songs: Jesus Loves Me, Blessed Be The Name, O, Happy Day. She told me later that she also prayed. And that she made up her own song about "I adore You."

Isaac, singing at the top of his lungs from downstairs in the tent. I couldn't make out what song he was singing but found out later it was "Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum" (aka: The Little Drummer Boy). I also heard him take a potty break and then he appeared at my door, after about 9 minutes, saying he was done. I gently reminded him that the timer would go off when he could be done, and that he should choose something else to do until the timer beeped. He went to find some coloring stuff. He later told me he had also prayed.

Isaias, who colored a picture of God and Satan, and a sword. He had done that and then moved on to playing quietly with some toys beside him. I asked him if he had prayed, and he said no, so I asked him to do so before he began his day.

We have done it several days since then, and if I've forgotten, one of the kids has eagerly reminded me. They look forward to that time. Yesterday morning I sent them each off with an encouragement to pray about one area of sin (that I've witnessed of late) in their lives.

So far, so good. I do think the 20 minutes is a bit long for the boys at this age, so we may tinker with the time (or activities during that time), but it seems perfect for Ella. Plus, it gives me an additional 20 minutes of quiet time at the start of my day! :)

Ten random things...

I feel like this is such a cheater post, but I haven't had the time lately to sit down and type an entire post on any one topic, but I have lots of thoughts swirling around so here you go:

1. Today I had my 20-week ultrasound. Baby (and belly) are growing, and every evening now I hold Mark's hand over my belly to see if he can feel the baby moving from the outside yet. (Not quite yet, although I'm sure it will be any day.)

2. Adelia is about ready to crawl. I regularly tell her, "Mama is not ready for you to start crawling, sweet girl. So don't even think about it." And then there's Mark, who- every opportunity he gets- gets on the floor on his hands and knees, and tries to teach her how to get that one leg out of the way that keeps holding her back. ~smile~ I know very well why she wants to crawl: she must keep up with those busy brothers and sister of hers.

3. The Steelers play tonight in Monday Night Football, which makes this one of the happiest days of my husbands' year. :)

4. I'm making a Sweet Potato Pie later. I've never before in my life made one of those, but I'm guessing Mark will LOVE it since Sweet Potatoes and Pies are right up there on the top of his favorites list.

5. Isaac is sitting at the floor by my feet, the tub of crayons beside him; peeling the outside papers off the crayons and humming a tune. [He's got a long way to go, but seems to be really enjoying himself.]

6. Adelia is in my arms, here in the rocking chair, fussy; because she woke too early from her nap.

7. We're almost finished reading These Happy Golden Years. I love reading about how Almanzo courted Laura. I told Mark last night that I might literally cry when we finish this series. I mean, I GET that there are other great read-alouds out there, but there's this sentimental part of me that feels it's all downhill from here. :) I'm glad Adelia is so little; that means we'll get to read the series all over again in a few years.

8. The days of hanging our laundry out on the clothesline are over. This past Spring/Summer was the first time I did this consistently, and I loved it.

9. I just ran the dishwasher using homemade dishwasher detergent. I'll let you know how it goes.

10. Oh! I keep forgetting to tell you that Michelle posted on her blog about our recent road trip. Bonus: two of the pictures in that post are of my children. :)

And now I must really get dinner together. And that pie.

Love to you!