Audra, age 3 1/2

Audra: "Remember one day when I was at the park, and Check gave me his doggie and a kitty?"

me: "Check?" (thinking she meant Chuck or Chet or some other such name)

Audra, louder, and slowly: "CHECK."

me: "Okaaaay..."

Audra:  "His name was not Check but he was wearing a checkered shirt."

 * * *

Alrighty then.  :)

I love this girl.  And I totally remember that boy at the park who shared his animals and I think it's hilarious that since she doesn't know his name she's decided to call him Check.   
{Oh, thank you, God,  for children.  They're so delightful!}


This post encouraged me today.

(Maybe it will you, too?)

Blessings to you and yours,

Thoughts on a Saturday

I'm in the bathroom supervising as the little girls take a bath.  I had the great idea to fill up some water balloons and let them have them in the tub.  Thankfully they don't know about *throwing* water balloons, so they just squished them back and forth and they thought it was great fun, until the balloons popped, one by one, after about 5 minutes.  But they were good sports and picked up their rubber duckies and resumed bath-time play. 

Saturdays are room-clean-up days, and the older three are busily cleaning their rooms.  I plan to go help the boys as soon as the girls are out of the tub.  (Adelia has her quiet times in the boys' room, and most of the mess is due to her, so I feel sorry for them.)

* * *

[later]  Okay, the boys' room is now cleaned and vacuumed.  Ella dutifully (and quickly) tidies up the girls' room each Saturday and I am grateful for her willingness to clean up not just her mess, but the girls' messes, too.

We had a late breakfast this morning- because Ella slept until 10 (!).  Breakfast burritos--- with eggs, sausage, onions, sweet potatoes and monterey jack cheese.  YUM.  Also some little satsuma oranges on the side, which are a staple in our home these days.  (Those and pomegranates.  I cannot get enough of pomegranates this time of year.  I had one for the first time a few years ago and cannot believe I lived so many years without tasting them!

After breakfast we drove out to Mark's route to bring him an eggnog latte.  (I happily got myself an iced vanilla latte, too!)  This is Mark's last day of work before he gets time off for Christmas-- all next week and through Christmas Day!-- so that's cause for a mini-celebration, right?  He's been working so hard and so many long hours and I'm so happy for him that he gets so much time off.

* * *

I keep thinking of all the families suffering in Connecticut, and I am praying for them-- that God would comfort them in this time of grief and that they would draw near to Him through this tragedy.  I think of those dear children and the staff at the school who worked so hard to protect the children in their care.  I think of those in law enforcement and others who came to the scene to help and I am thankful for those who serve in this way.  I think, too- of the young man who did this, and how broken he must have been to commit this act.  I think of how many others in our own communities are hopeless and alone.  May God open our eyes to those around us so that we can reach them with the hope of Christ.

{And- a completely unrelated photo to this post, but I took this picture from my perch on the bed last week: a little knitting project for Christmas.  I'm doing a lot of knitting these days and loving it.}

Now... how are YOU doing?

Blessings to you on your day...

Transracial adoption

I remember it well.  It was two summers ago, and we were at the park.  My kids were playing- running around the play equipment, climbing and sliding and hollering.   There were other kids playing, too, and two of them I noticed in particular.  They were two little girls with beautiful black skin- darker than Adelia's-- and curls all woven into braids and colorful beads.  Their mama sidled up to me and asked me if Adelia was adopted from Ethiopia.  No, she was adopted through the foster care system here in the states.  Her daughters were also adopted, she said- and so we chatted about that and then- the ever-popular topic of conversation with adoptive mothers of black girls with curls: HAIR.

She shared that her girls didn't like their curly black hair, that they were teased at school for their hair being different, and that they wished they had swingy, swishy hair.  I looked at my Adelia-girl, all sassy with her braids and beads and thought: "Thank goodness she doesn't go to school and get teased about her hair.  How awful."  I told the mom that so far we had avoided that.  Adelia happened to love her hair and thought she was pretty smart with all the clickiness of her beads snapping together as she moved. 


I intentionally and frequently tell Adelia how much I love her hair and skin; that God gave them to her and how blessed she is to have such pretty tiny black curls and beautiful black skin.  She shrugs it off in her "Oh, stop" sort of way (she'd roll her eyes if she knew about that yet) but I keep at it.  I know she's listening and I hope she's taking it all in and that she will grow up feeling secure in her skin and see beauty in herself because she is created in the image of God.  I'm praying so, too. 

I see it in her, though, as she grows- the desire to have hair like mine.  I suppose it's natural.  She wants to use the same hairbrush we do but she has braids or twists in and you can't really brush those with a hairbrush.  She wants her hair in pigtails, like Audra's- but they don't really look the same, her pigtails. 

Today that four-year-old girl stepped out of the bathtub and I wrapped a towel around her and got out the oil to put on her.  She wanted to sit in my lap first. So I pulled her wet self into my lap and hugged her and then after a minute, began putting oil on her legs.  I said something about how beautiful her skin is and she harrumphed and had a grumpy look on her face.  So I asked her, "Don't you like your black skin?"  [And.  Maybe I shouldn't have put those words out there so plainly.  But it was written on her face and that's kind of how I roll- to call it out and talk it through.]  She said no, she wanted "grey" skin, like me, and then pointed to my arm which was stretched out in front of her.

I pulled her around to face me, then, and asked her: "Who made you?"  She said right away: "God."
"Right.  And He made you beautiful.  He chose to give you black skin like this because it's so beautiful.  He thinks it looks *good* on you.  He does all things good."  And I rubbed oil on that precious black skin.  It makes me want to clap and celebrate this creative God who made all colors and all shapes and sizes and all types of hair, whether it's frizzy or straight or wavy; He makes us all unique and wonderful.  Can you imagine how boring it would be if we were all the same?  Sheesh.  Let's celebrate our differences already-- it makes life so much more interesting! 

For Adelia it's simply about wanting to be the same as us.  (Or- when I told Mark the story later, he said "That's just Adelia being obstinate."  Maybe so.)  But I know that she sees her daddy and mommy and sisters with white skin and that's what she wants to have, too.  Since that's impossible, I'm trusting that God will help us navigate these conversations as they crop up throughout the years.  I know that God placed her here in our family- with white parents- for a reason.  I'm trusting that even when I feel inadequate and uncertain about how to handle these issues, He is faithful and He will guide us.

I told Mark just last night that I often forget that some of our kids are adopted.  We went to get donuts the other morning, just me and the kids, and I noticed a couple doing a double-take as we walked through the door.  It took me a minute to figure out just why they were staring at us.  Then I remembered Isaias' dark brown skin and Adelia's black skin and realized that the couple was trying to figure our family out.  I truly forget that we're a transracial family.  They're just my kids and I love them and I don't even notice the differences that others immediately see.

I've gotten all off track, here.  I was just going to say that things have changed since that conversation I had in the park with that other mom.  Adelia doesn't go to school and she's never (to my knowledge) been teased about her hair-- in fact, she's praised for it-- but she has those feelings just the same.   Somehow I feel like I should record these types of conversations.  I want to learn from them and I want to listen to her and be thoughtful and prayerful of where she's at.

That's all.  Mark wants the computer now and my knitting project is calling my name.

Love to you all,


There have been some nativity productions going on around our house, lately- with Ella in charge.  (I've overheard Ella giving out directions and I can tell that she just wishes they would all just do what she says, and when she says it, please.  I can relate.  I have to remind her to just relax and enjoy it, which is what I remind myself every day.)

In another scene, with Adelia as a donkey and Isaias, in the background, as a shepherd.

Also, Ella turned 11!  I made a note on the dry erase board with spaces for people to fill in adjectives about Ella.  All finished, it read: "We love you, beautiful, sweet, caring, cute, thoughtful, kind, loving, helpful, funny, smart, caring, responsible, hard-working, prayerful, gentle, nice, not bad (those 'n's' were Isaac's), generous, and cheerful Ella Kate!"  She is all those things and more. 

For her birthday dinner, she requested Caesar Salad, sweet potatoes, and homemade bread.  And for dessert:  ice cream pie. 

This morning I asked the kids what they'd like to do over our winter break.  Their responses were: 

-go for a walk
-Costco (that would be Adelia, wanting to go there)
-make Christmas cards
-make thank you cards (Ella, for her birthday gifts)

I think we can manage that.  Aren't they easy to please?  (Well, Isaac did mention an amusement park, but he was kidding.  ;))  We plan to tuck in all sorts of other fun (click here for two of our traditions) so it should be a great month. 

Blessings to you and yours,

Our thrift store venture

I mentioned in my last post that we scored at the thrift store last week.  We found some more books to add to our ever-growing library.

Some of our favorite biographies for the kids are the Landmark books, and this is what we found on our last trip to Goodwill:

That's eleven Landmark books from L to R!  (Also pictured: two biographies for younger readers)

Each book was only 79¢.

Here's a close up of those other biographies.
...and a two-page spread of the book on Washington

Some of the Landmark covers.

As we perused the shelves that night, there was a dear elderly woman who sought us out and began talking with us.  She visited first with the kids, then turned and talked to me for awhile, then made like she was going to be on her way but then turned around and told us another story or asked the kids another question.  Miss Sarah- as she introduced herself- was probably in her late seventies or early eighties, with gray-white curls and vibrant eyes tucked behind her smudged glasses.  I was at the end of the aisle with Mark when she first started conversing with the kids, and when I walked over she asked me, "Do you know which of your children is the most social?"  (Yes!  I do.)  But she knew, too, from her little chat.  (Adelia.)  Miss Sarah told me she had asked our kids which of them was the most responsible, and they had all pointed to Ella.  (Smart kids.)  I noticed Adelia showing Miss Sarah a book she'd found, announcing that she didn't like skeletons, and Miss Sarah declared, "Well I don't much like them, either!"

She told us about being the youngest of eleven children and spoke of her childhood with such fondness.  She'd lost her father when she was just six years old in a railroad accident, and her mother raised all eleven children on her own.  She described her mother as feisty and God-fearing and spoke of her with such warmth and love.  I bet we spent more than half an hour listening to Miss Sarah's stories in the aisles of Goodwill.  I couldn't help but think that she was lonely- and then later she confided in me that she was.  She said she gets so lonely, and at her age- she has no shame and will just talk to anyone and everyone for the pure joy of conversation.   What a sweet lady.  I'm kicking myself now for not getting her last name.  I would love to send her a card in the mail or pictures drawn by the kids- or even make a trip out to visit her.  (I'll just trust that if we're meant to do that, God will connect us again. :)

After awhile I had to slip off to another store with the girls, so I said goodbye and left Mark with the boys.  (Mark told me later that she chatted with him the entire time we were gone-- so at least for another twenty minutes!)  When I came back, Mark was getting ready to check out and I saw Miss Sarah waving me over to her cart.  I thought she must need help with something so I walked over and she promptly handed me two ten-dollar bills and asked, "Will you please let me purchase those books for your sweet family tonight?  I would just love to do that.

So the books that I thought were just 79¢ apiece were actually... free, compliments of sweet Miss Sarah.