Wednesday, February 28, 2007


He's almost 10, an artist, a melancholy by temperament, tender-hearted, prone to be self-critical, and a middle child. Often he feels misunderstood.

He'd had a hard evening. In the morning, he wasn't feeling much better. We talked about it and resolved some things but still he wasn't himself. Later as I was walking through the living room I spied a small note on the piano bench placed where I would see it. It had one word written in his handwriting - a simple "Sorry!" A heart draw as the dot on the exclamation point. He had said this early but apparently he felt like he hadn't said it quite right.

I had an idea.

I took a clean sheet of paper, wrote him a message, and put it silently on his dresser where I knew he would see it. Then when I walked by after a while, I noticed that he had written me a message back. Our note writing went on like this in small bursts over the next few days until the paper was full.

So today I bought a notebook for us. I placed it on his dresser with this first simple message inside,

This notebook is for us. If you have messages for me, write them here,
and if I have a message for you, I'll do the same.

Later I'll check for a reply. Just another way to make a connection with him. I figure - the more ways we have, the better.

Being creative about keeping the communication channels open - works for me.

Don't forget to drop by Rocks in My Dryer today for more helpful ideas. Next week is WFMW: The Kitchen Edition! As Shannon describes it: "Have a clever way you organize your recipes? Plan your meals? Stock your pantry? Clean your appliances?" Get your ideas ready and share them at Rocks in My Dryer next week.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Chocolate Beach

At tne recommendation of Holy Mama, I ordered a copy of Chocolate Beach.

Julie Carobini is a fellow blogger and a gifted writer and this is her first novel.

I picked up the book last week and I just couldn't put it down until I finished it. It was a fun, light, easy read, but definitely NOT devoid of some deep truths.

I haven't done a book report since Junior High and I have no intention of starting now. You can read a couple of reviews here and here. (There's a little spoiler in this one so be aware.)

All in all, a very good book.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Photo Hunters - Soft

The Photo Hunters are searching for something "soft." this week. There are a lot of different ways that the theme can be interpreted so it should be a fun week.

I thought about taking a picture of a little bunny because that definitely came to mind when I thought about a picture of "soft." Or maybe a cashmere sweater but how boring is that - a picture of a sweater?!

I decided on this picture instead.

The Hunt - Soft

For me, there's nothing softer than

brand new baby skin.

Update: This cute little guy is my now 7 year old Joe Cool. Soft skin? Not so much. Still a softy? Yes, most definitely!

Make sure you stop by TNChick. She has a great picture of "soft."

Grab the Scavenger Hunt code.

Join the blogroll. Visit participants.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


My daughters are getting older. They're 14 and nearly 12. Last fall, my oldest brought herself a cell phone! They have social lives, bank accounts and even jobs now. Older kids present different parenting challenges. Here's my new method for getting them to do their chores. If I ask them and the task doesn't get done in a timely manner - I do it, and then...
I bill them - Oh yes I do!

Call it reality discipline. As adults, we either do the things we need done or we hire others to do them. I'm just teaching that truth to my girls now. They come home to find the chore done and a my bill on their beds. (I only accept cash.) How do I keep them from taking of advantage of me and letting me do all their chores? I charge a lot and I've told them that each time they "hire" me, my price goes up. They'd really rather keep their hard-earned cash than have to pay me with it. Works for me.

Tons of great ideas over at Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Come to The Party

Ultimate Blog Party
Mark your calendars! 5 Minutes for Mom is hosting The Ultimate Blog Party during the week of March 2.

Prizes! Guests! Fun! You can find out all the details here. Just in time to brighten up the end-of-winter blues. I don't know about you, but I could really do with some brightening. Go check out the details and don't forget to invite your friends.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Photo Hunters - Antique

"Antique" is this week's Photo Hunters theme. I love antique things and all the history that comes with them. This week's pictures should be so much fun.

When my aunt passed away last fall, I inherited quite a few antiques. My aunt actually owed an antiques store for many years and so she collected all sorts of amazing things. I decided on this for my picture this week, because as you can see from the signature on the back, it is over one hundred years old.

The Hunt - Antique

I love this beautiful old plate. It's amazing that it has survived more than a hundred years with barely a chip. What I've learned about this plate is that Emily Hiestund isn't a well-known artist. I can't find record of anything else she painted. In fact, she was likely just a woman with a passion for learning to paint and this was one of her projects. It's something she painted as she taught herself the art, an old fashioned paint-by-numbers, if you will. I think that she had some real talent. Don't you?

Should be a fun Photo Hunters week. TNChick is adding new hunters every week.

And if by some chance, you happen know anything about Emily Hiestund, who lived and painted in 1905, please email me. I'd love to hear from you.

Grab the Scavenger Hunt code.

Join the blogroll. Visit participants.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Call

Since we sent in our dossier, we've certainly been more motivated to answer the phone. When it rings, we think, "It could be The Call, our referral call." Yesterday though, we missed a call. Wouldn't you know it, that the call would be from our caseworker? And by the time we checked the messages it was too late to call back.

So, we got a call this morning from our CWA caseworker. But it turned out that it wasn't The Call for us. It turned out to be a referral call but after much thought and family discussion and prayer, we decided that it wasn't our referral. We know. We are convinced that our referral will come. It will come, in the perfect time.

It was a quiet sober day for us. But we know that for another waiting family, it was an amazing wonderful beautiful day. Our amazing wonderful beautiful day is coming.

Michelle asked some really great questions in her comment. Once our dossier was authenicated, approved and sent to Ethiopia, we were finally eligible to be matched with children that are available for adoption through our agency. Sometimes, families feel lead to adopt children who are already on a waiting list and so they already have children in mind. However, we are not one of those families. For us, a referral call is when our adoption caseworker calls us to say that she has children that have come into their care that might be "the ones" for us. We are approved to adopt two children under age 2, and we've requested that they be a boy and a girl and hopefully (but not necessarily siblings.) We are not required to accept a referral, so there is room for God to make it clear that these may or may not be the children for us.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Love Thursday #24

Love is...

Part of my Valentine's Day present. Yum!
Don't worry, I've been sharing - a little!

My two daughters and oldest son are part of a drama troupe and are preparing for a production this Spring. They have rehearsals twice a week. Tuesday night, during practice, as part of an exercise, the director asked the students to name one thing that they wanted and the reason why. When my son's turn came, he answered that he wanted our adoption referral to come so we could bring our babies home from Ethiopia. A discussion then ensued amongst the other students AND the drama director about how crazy it is to have a big family, during which time my son sat in stunned silent disbelief. The director himself said several times how he just didn't understand why people want large families, having to spread their resources thin, blah, blah, blah. My daughter said, "I'd rather have more kids than more stuff." (Yay for her!) But she didn't feel like anyone actually heard her. Then the question moved on to the next person and rehearsal proceeded as usual.

After rehearsal, we talked about it. We attributed the attitudes of the students to (mostly)youthful ignorance. To be honest, I was stunned that the director, the adult in charge, had been at the center of the discussion. Now, I believe that family size is a very personal, private choice for each family. And I undestand that there are some that don't agree with our choice to have a large family and no doubt our choice to adopt from Ethiopia. But his lack of discretion and boldness to speak his mind, IN FRONT OF MY KIDS (who are 9, 11, &14), surprised me. I know he wasn't directing his opinion at my children and there was no malice involved. Frankly, I'm OK that he feels this way. I'm still just shocked that he thought "out loud" in the presence of my children and their friends. And I felt badly that my son had shared his heart and had received such a cold reception. We explained to my son, that Mr. N. just doesn''t understand the joy of having a large family and that as an adult, he should have kept his feelings to himself in this situation.

This isn't the first time that I have been confronted with disapproval for having a big family but it was a first for my children to have their family criticized in such a direct way. While it was hard, it was a good chance to talk about the types of questions, albeit rude and nosy, that we will be faced with when our babies come home from Ethiopia. We need to have a plan and some appropriate answers because we will be faced with tough questions.

Whatever the questions and how we choose to answer them, we've found this to be true:

Ultimately, we've discovered that as our family grows, the love doesn't divide - it multiplies!

Love Thursday & Love Is All Around.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Happy Valentine's Day to everyone.
Hope you're feeling loved today.

Here's an inexpensive last-minute Valentine's Day gift you can give your husband, wife, kids, etc. Take a few minutes, grab a piece of paper (If it can be a nice piece of paper, all the better but not necessary.) and a pen, pencil or crayon (whatever is handy) and write your sweetheart a love letter. You might be thinking, "Cheesy," or "Cheap!" but don't underestimate or over-look the value of the written word. We all need to hear that we're loved and appreciated, especially from those closest to us who we might feel, at times, take us for granted.

So grab that paper and tell your husband how much you love him. Tell him what you appreciate about being married to him, how he makes you laugh, that he's good at his job, that he's good looking. You know the kinds of things that he needs to hear but sometimes you don't make the time to tell him. Write about tiny things that matter to you and monumental things that mean so much. Write love letters to your kids. Tell your daughter how special being her mom is to you, how she's beautiful even when she's having a bad hair day, how you love how she sticks her tongue to one side when she's really concentrating. Tell your son that you notice what an amazing person he is, how helpful it is that he takes care of his younger brother, how you see that he tries so hard at school when you know it's a struggle for him, that you appreciate how the two of you are so different or are the same.

You get the idea. The possibilities are nearly endless. And all you need today is a little bit of time. The letter doesn't have to be long. This is something you can do today. Right now! I have notes like this from my husband and my kids and they are sweet treasures to me. And they're calorie-free! BONUS!

Love letters on Valentine's Day. Who'd have thought?!

Works for me!

Don't forget to go by Rocks in My Dryer for more great Works-for-Me Wednesday ideas.

And by the way, if you don't get you letter finished until tomorrow. Go ahead and give it. Love letters are the kind of gift that are good year-round!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The winner gets CHOCOLATE!

I heard about this contest over at Shalee's Diner. Shalee's entry is just an amazing post! You definitely have to read it. Scribbit is having a February writing contest; the topic: of course is love. Here's the thing that really got me though. The winner is going to get CHOCOLATE!! How could I not play along? So I'm entering this post. It's not likely to win but I like it.

Update: I didn't win, although it was fun trying. Go here for the full list of entries (with links) - there are some really amazing posts about love.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Photo Hunters - Broken

This week's Photo Hunters theme is "broken." Back in November, I wrote this post about a not-so-simple fender-bender. I even used Pastormac's very festive cast as my Photo Hunters picture for the "red" theme back in December.

So while I was thinking about what to do for "broken" this picture jumped to mind.

The Hunt - Broken


Not just broken and askew,
there were also spiral fractures through each of the pieces.
Actually it wasn't as painful as it looks. It was a surprise that it was broken this badly. The thing that tipped us off that something was really broken was the fact that he couldn't touch his thumb and pinky to each other.

Hence the need for surgery to fix it. Steel plate, six screws & six weeks later, it looked like this....

Works just fine now.

I'm interested to see what other broken things are posted this week. TNChick has a pretty amazing picture of a crunched car. Lucky for her, she didn't end up as broken as her car!

Grab the Scavenger Hunt code.

Join the blogroll. Visit participants.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Favorite Ingredients Friday
Valentine's Day Chocolate Edition

Overwhelmed with Joy hosts a Favorite Ingredients Friday Recipe Exchange each week. In honor of Valentine's Day, FIF is going to be a Chocolate Edition. Yes, you read that correctly! Chocolate Edition! Yum. Too yummy, not to play along.

Here's my recipe. We've made this many times and it's wonderful and easy. It makes it's own fudgy chocolatey sauce. It's definitely rich and we like it best served with ice cream, whipped cream or even a splash of milk.

Hot Fudge Cake

3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 chopped walnuts (optional)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 1/4 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan.

In a medium bowl, beat sugar, butter & milk. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Add walnuts (if using). Pour into pan. (It will be thick.) For topping, combine sugars and cocoa; sprinkle over batter. Pour water over all. Do NOT stir. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Spoon some of the fudge sauce over each serving; top with ice cream, if desired. Makes about 8 servings.

Wow, I'm getting hungry, just writing about it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Love Thursday #23

Last December, I blogged about what a success our Adoption Benefit Concert was. On the Wednesday following that concert something else amazing happened. Before I tell you what it was, I need to give a little background.

Our adoption homestudy was completed late last June, only then were we able to apply for adoption grants. We applied to The Gift of Adoption and heard back rather quickly that we were refused, "not needy enough." We applied to Shaohannah’s Hope. We sent off our application and learned the wait would be three months. After three months, we were notified that, due to the overwhelming interest in adoption grants, the process was taking longer and further that we needed to submit more information. It seemed positive. At least we weren't being contacted with a negative response. We sent off the information and waited, through the month of October and through November.

As December began, everyday we approached the mailbox with excitement, and trepidation and after five months, a little impatience. Would today be the day? As each day passed, the anticipation mounted.

On the Wednesday following our concert, I was home with two of the kids. (Amazing how staying home with just two kids can seem like being alone!) I was in the kitchen finishing the dishes and suddenly I just had the sense that today would be the day. Right now, I was going to walk out to the mailbox and our letter would be inside. I wasn't sure if the answer whould be "yes" or "no" but at least we'd have an answer. So I went out to check the mail and sure enough, there it was.

I brought the letter inside and set it on the counter. I would wait until we were all together to open it. A couple of hours later, we were all home and Pastormac opened and read,

"On behalf of Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, we are pleased to notify you that you have been approved for an adoption assistance grant in the amont of $3,000."

There was much rejoicing!

And so just like that, in one week's time we had all the rest of the money that we needed to be able to send our dossier to our agency. Amazing.

Our dossier was in Washington DC early this week (Interesting story about that here) and yesterday it began the journey to Ethiopia!

Love Thursday & Love Is All Around.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

WFMW - Love Sweet Love Edition

Today is a special Works-for-Me Wednesday Love Sweet Love Edition. It sounded like fun and so I thought I'd play along. Here are a couple of ideas for you and your sweetheart.
  • Build-a-Bear Workshops have the cutest Valentine's Day selection. If you have a local store, why not go and stuff a bear together? But you don't even have to live near a Build-a-Bear store. You can order them online. Pastormac ordered this little cutie for me a few years ago.

  • What better way to get to your sweetie's heart than with ice cream? Around here, it's a one way ticket! (Okay, there are other ways too.) Did you know if you sign up for Dairy Queen's Blizzard Fan Club that each month you'll get an email with a printable coupon for a BOGO (Buy One Get One) Blizzard?! Few husbands won't appreciate ice cream AND frugality! In honor of Valentine's Day, the blizzard of the month is Chocolate Dipped Strawberry. Yum!

Finally, as far as my relationship tips, I'll be brief and pick two things that I think are very important. Take this Bible passage in Philippians 2:3&4, personalize it and then apply it to your life minute by minute. It's a tall order I agree, but you have a life-time to practice. :-)
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard (insert husband's name here) as more important than yourself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of (husband's name).

Also, memorize this phrase: "I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?" and say it. Even when you don't feel like it, (especially then) say it.

Bloggers are already filling up the Mr. Linky over at Shannon's with bunches of great Love Sweet Love ideas. Go check them out.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Are you wondering what to do for Valentine's Day?

Today, Shalee over at Shalee's Diner is hosting a Fifty Cheap Dates party. She's asking all of Blogland for inexpensive date ideas that don't involve wandering around a bookstore for a few hours. (Rats! There went my first idea!) If you have any ideas for us her, post on your blog and then go back to Shalee's. She has a Mr. Linky all set up.

Here are my other ideas, since Shalee nixed my first thought right off the bat.

  • We like to go to a dollar movie. Since there isn't a lot of talking to each other at a movie, we try to go out for dessert after the show for some "face-to-face" time. Knowing that we're eating something afterwards, usually keeps us from having to mortgage the house for popcorn and drinks at the movie.

  • A great date can be grabbing one of the those books that we bought during our last bookstore date, going out to a coffee or snack shop, ordering a drink or a small dessert/snack and then reading to each other.

  • This date costs nothing - we took along a worship book full of all sorts of songs, drove to a wonderful nearby park, found a picnic table in an empty corner and then spent the afternoon paging through and singing every song we could remember. It was a fantastic time, very encouraging. Don't worry if you're not a terrific singer. Remember Psalms 98:4, "Make a joyful NOISE unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud NOISE, and rejoice, and sing praise." (emphasis mine)

  • Try going to the airport or the mall, find a comfortable place to sit and then people-watch. People are so interesting!

  • Finally, if you don't have money for a sitter or you don't feel comfortable leaving your baby, wait until the kids are in bed and then have an at-home date. Just plan ahead, rent a movie and get a yummy dessert (put it someplace safe so it doesn't get eaten before your date), then once the kids are in bed, enjoy the rest of your evening together. You don't have to watch a movie either, you could read to each other or play cards or a game or just stare lovingly into each other's eyes. Sometimes while I put the kids in bed, Pastormac will drive down to Dairy Queen and bring back blizzrds for us to eat during our "at-home" date. MMmmmm.

There are tons of great cheap date ideas over at Shalee's Diner. Go over there to be inspired! I really liked Amberly's idea of getting a sitter to watch your kids at HER house so you can stay home and relax at home sans kids.

Don't forget Shannon's Works-for-Me Wednesday Valentine's Day Edition tomorrow. And on Friday, Overwhelmed is hosting her Favorite Ingredients Friday Valentine's Day Chocolate Edition. Yum! Don't miss that one!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Photo Hunters - Gross

The Photo Hunters theme for this week is "gross." This should make for some very interesting pictures!

Here's my contribution.

The Hunt - Gross

Nothing says, "gross!" like a hunk of raw chicken.

Fortunately for us, through the magic of intense heat and curry spices, coupled with crisp veggies and smooth coconut milk, what was once gross turned into something gloriously delicious. Betcha can't say that about many of this week's photo picks!

Head for to TNChick's for a huge mound of "gross." This week's theme is not for the weak of stomach.

Grab the Scavenger Hunt code.

Join the blogroll. Visit participants.

Friday, February 02, 2007

And so it begins...

And so it begins...

I haven’t blogged much about our adoptiion. I can’t bring myself to do it and I don’t know why. For a long time I didn’t blog about it because I just felt discouraged. It just didn’t seem like anything was going forward. The task ahead of us seemed insurmountable. And then a one week’s time we had what we needed. (A post for another time.) Now, I have so much to tell but when I sit down to write I just draw a blank.

Today though. I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it because things are happening and I need to get them written down before this time passes.

Here’s the email that we recieved from our adoption agency early this week.

I received all of the documents to complete your dossier.  I need to pick up a notarized CWA document this evening, that needs to accompany your dossier, and then it will be ready to ship to D.C.  I will confirm with you that it has been shipped.

One week ago last Monday, we over-nighted our dossier to our agency. For international adoptions, a dossier, for those of you wondering about adoption, is a huge stack of papers, and I mean A STACK of papers, that esssential says that you are who you say you are and that you’re fit to adopt. We spent that morning getting the last few pages notarized, then we copied the whole thing and off to the DHL store. The DHL guy did realize what he was holding as he stuffed the document into the yellow and red envelope. I asked him if I could hold it for a minute more before he sent it off. “Sure.” he said. I held it one last time. I prayed a quick and silent prayer. And then I couldn’t help but cry, as the other 4 people in line looked on in confusion. “What a girl.” Pastormac said later. But he knew. He knew why I was crying. So much of us had gone into those papers. That collection of papers was going to change our lives, our family, our future. And it had been a long twisty road, full of quagmires of paperwork and speed bumps of financial challenges, that had finally brought us to the place where we could send our dossier on it’s way. God had forged a way and had brought us to this place. And so I cried with relief and I cried in anticipation and I cried with gratitude.

Today I know that our dossier is in Washington DC. It will visit the State Department and then the Ethiopian Embassy, as part of it’s final authenication. Next week it will head off to Ethiopia. Pastormac has chronicled it’s journey this week, please visit his blog and read his reflections.

And come back here. I promise in upcoming days that I will be blogging more about the adoption. I promise, I will!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Love Thursday #22

Love is...

My mom's birthday was this Monday. Almost 4 years ago she fought a valiant battle against cancer and lost. On Monday, she would have been 69 years old. I would have sent her a little something. I would have called her. I can imagine the conversation. We would have talked and laughed and teased a bit. Our family would have sung "Happy Birthday" to her over the phone.

My mom was a good mom, a good person, a good friend. She was kind and compassionate, generous and melancholy. She was just the right size to hug. There was no one in my life that cared about me the way she did, about the mudane things and the essential things and everything in between. She loved my kids and she was both tickled and comforted by the way that Pastormac loves me.

She would have enjoyed Love Thursday & Love Is All Around.