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.