Friday, December 31, 2010


It is with a little sadness and even more excitement that I am able to announce Jacob will be playing basketball for the first time starting Monday. Why sadness? Because I kept hoping that I would have a new job that would prevent me from being off work at 4 PM. The reality is that I haven't gotten a new job offer yet and while I still might, it won't be before the season begins on Monday. So I faced reality today and signed Jacob up for the winter session.

The basketball program is on Monday afternoons at the YMCA. I wish it was at 5:00 or later so those of us who have to work could participate but it's not. They lower the hoop to 8 feet for the 5 and 6 year olds so hopefully Jacob will be able to score some points. Either way I just want him to have fun.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Whew! What A Week!

Life has been absolutely crazy and fun the past week or so. We arrived back from vacation last Tuesday around 2:30 in the afternoon. Our first stop was the dog kennel to pick up our two dogs. The dogs were happy but obviously very tired and ready to just go home and sleep. I never dreamed a kennel could be so exhausting but it must have been. I guess having all kinds of new people, dogs to "talk" to and new play areas tired them out.

We took the dogs home and then I took M to my parents house while Jacob and I went to do a very fast run through the grocery store. We needed just enough food to get us through Christmas which really wasn't much. The grocery store was busy as I expected that close to Christmas.

We left the grocery store and headed to a day care in the neighboring community to pick up a five-year-old friend. Grace's mom needed someone to watch Grace overnight while she took care of some family things. Grace was a delight. She is a little girl who is full of energy and can out last either of my two boys (which really takes a lot). She kept asking if she was being an angel which in her own way she was.

Grace, Jacob and I picked M up and we all went to McDonald's for dinner. Grace hadn't had a chance to see Santa Clause so we headed to the mall after eating and paid Santa a visit. I reminded Jacob and M that Santa had already started their gifts so make sure you don't ask for something different this time. They didn't disappoint and Jacob asked for a garbage truck with yellow garbage can and M asked for a parking garage.

Wednesday Jacob, Grace and I all got up early and played in the house. Jacob and M needed to go to day care for about an hour to finish up their holiday activities and give me a chance to finish up mine. Grace and I worked together to wrap Jacob and M's presents and move all of the gifts from my parents' house to my car. We returned home, made lunch and laid down for an hour. After naps, we finished the day by making Christmas cookies before Grace went home.

M and I spent Wednesday evening shopping for a gift for M to give Jacob. We quickly found a doctor kit that Jacob had been asking for as well as a present for our friend P. I was very tired by this point so we picked Jacob up and all went home for a fairly early bedtime.

Thursday was another busy day but not as bad as Tuesday and Wednesday. Jacob, P, M and I all went to the holiday train and garden show at the local gardens. P really enjoyed looking at the different flowers, Jacob and M really enjoyed the trains and everyone enjoyed some cookies afterwards. We had a holiday lunch of macaroni and cheese at Noodles and Company and gave P her doll. Jacob, M and I were still tired from our vacation and the past two days so we spent time in the afternoon just picking up the house, doing laundry and taking some much needed naps.

Christmas Eve and Day were fun and I will write about them later. For the most part, they were uneventful and just enjoyable.

Sunday the boys and I spent time putting their new toys together and playing. Well, they did most of the playing. I spent most of my time trying to unpack the suitcases and get at least a little closer to finishing the laundry. It is amazing how fast time flies when there are three suitcases to launder, Christmas toys to put together and play with and of course, we all wanted to take a nap. I spent some time relaxing and watching the Packer game while the kids slept so the day wasn't completely lost to work.

Monday Jacob's friend Lana came over while her mom worked. Her mom was kind enough to give up some money to spend so we decided to go to Chuck E Cheese for lunch. Lana is 4 years old and just a delight to be around. She played with the boys while I made breakfast and cleaned up the kitchen. I did a couple chores around the house and then took the kids downtown to get my uniform for work that night. We went to Chuck E Cheese after leaving my office and spent about two hours eating pizza and playing games. All of the kids had a great time and were exhausted by the time we left.

I got home with Lana and the boys and had just started putting laundry away when Lana's mom arrived to take her home. I had to hurry and get ready for a special work assignment that night. I picked up the babysitter and hurried off to work until about 10.

Yesterday was almost as busy as Monday. I took M to day care so he will have enough hours in to meet his funding requirements. I took the opportunity to take Jacob and P bowling. Neither had ever been bowling before and both had a great time. We bowled two games which took us about an hour and a half to finish. Bowling is a much slower game with young children especially when the ball seems to barely be moving as it inches down the lane. Everyone had fun though and we all survived the trip.

Jacob had been waiting since Christmas to go to Toys R Us and get a remote control crane so we stopped there before bowling. As soon as we took P to her house, Jacob and I got to work putting the crane together. It was actually a lot easier to assemble than I anticipated and Jacob had fun playing with it until it was time to get M from day care.

I decided it was time for some adult time and went to dinner and a movie with a friend last night. We saw Little Fockers which was funny and a great way to just relax. I got home around 9:30 and picked up the house for the house cleaner today (still the best money I spend each week). I got to bed around 10:30 and was awakened at 4:40 this morning by an eager M. He wanted to watch cartoons before going back to day care.

Now I am back to work and ready for our normal routine to start. Tonight will be much quieter with me doing laundry and the kids enjoying their new toys. Christmas vacation is over and we are all ready for some normalcy to return.

Friday, December 24, 2010

5 Years Ago Today

It was 5 years ago tonight that I began thinking about adopting my first child. I was sitting in church watching the kids fidget in their seats and the parents trying to keep them quiet. I was quietly wishing that I had children and hoping that I would someday be a mother. Then that little voice in the back of my head started chanting adoption. One thing I have learned over the years is to never ignore that little voice.

I got home from church still thinking about adoption. I really wanted a baby or young child but believed the stereotype that the only child I could adopt as a single woman would be an older child from the US foster care system. Now, I'm not against adopting older kids or from foster care. Quite the opposite. I encourage anyone to consider these children if it is right for you but it wasn't my dream. My dream was my own young child.
I got home and sat down at the computer. I remembered looking at waiting foster children in the past but it had been a couple of years and I didn't remember where I had found them. I began a web search and immediately came across an adoption agency stating they accepted single women. What???? I was shocked and felt a surge of adrenaline. Maybe this really would be possible. Maybe I could be a mother.

I picked up my phone and immediately called a friend. I was expecting her to tell me I was crazy and that I was not ready to be a mom. After all, I was only 28 and still young. That's not what she said though. She said that she had secretly been thinking about the same thing but didn't know where to start or if it was possible.

The rest is history. We agreed to go to an orientation meeting a few weeks later. As is typical for me, I started researching agencies and programs on line and praying for guidance. In January, 2006, I started the process to bring an infant home from Ethiopia. In March, 2007, I finished that journey with a baby boy (17 months at home coming).

Five years ago today I listened to that little voice in the back of my head. I believe it was God calling me to my son. God works in mysterious ways. I urge everyone to be open to hearing His call. We sometimes lack faith and God has to keep nagging us but if you are willing to listen He will show you great things. He showed me my son.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Cookies

Jacob and M had a friend spend the night last night. Actually, we arrived home from vacation and picked her up about two hours later. We went to McDonald's for supper then visited Santa one last time at the mall. We spent this morning playing and wrapping Christmas gifts and then made cookies this afternoon. Grace left tonight right before dinner and the house already seems earily quiet. She was a lot of fun to have over. I forsee more sleepovers in the future.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Vacation Pictures

Children Are A Reminder Of How Fast Time Flies

The boys and I are on day 4 of a 5 day vacation. It has been a nice vacation so far. We have been visiting with cousins we haven't seen in a few years and playing with cousins who we have only met once or twice before. It's great to be so near our family. If I could make the ideal life, I would live closer to my extended family but also live near my parents and brother. That isn't going to happen so I have to settle for just visiting them when I can. Which isn't nearly often enough.

We arrived in Searcy, Arkansas on Friday night and saw my grandmother. She is 91 years old and suffering from the beginning stages of alzhiemers but seemed to really enjoy seeing everyone. She didn't remember my children or recognize me or my brother on site but she did know our names and seemed to remember us when we returned to her apartment on Saturday. It was comforting to walk in and see her in the middle of doing her laundry and seeing how independent she still is. It is never easy watching relatives grow old but I am grateful for this chance to see her. M seemed to enjoy looking at her puzzle and was even close to putting a couple of pieces in. That kid is really gifted at puzzles and spacial things.

We attended my cousin's wedding Saturday night and saw cousins that we only see every few years. We really didn't have much time with them since the reception was very crowded and short but we did have fun seeing them for a little while. I sat looking at their children and was amazed at how old and grown up some of them looked.

Our next stop was in Bentonville, Arkansas to see cousin's from the other side of the family. We were blessed to be able to spend more time with them and really enjoyed just hanging out. We went to a pizza place called Fun City that was very similar to a Chuck E Cheese. We spent almost 2 hours there while the kids ran and played. It was great to give them that opportunity after almost 3 days of being forced to be quiet and not allowed to just run. The kids needed that break. We finished the day by swimming with our cousins at the hotel and then having a nice dinner together at Applebees. The kids were so tired that they fell asleep within 5 minutes of returning to the hotel.

We are now sitting in the hotel room watching TV and waiting for my other cousin to call. We are hoping to spend some time with her this morning before we leave for St. Louis late this afternoon. We will spend one more night swimming and then head home tomorrow. It has been a great vacation but one that was way to short. We will have to come back for another visit soon.

I gaze at my cousin's children and am amazed at how beautiful they are. I am saddened at how fast they grow up and how much of their lives we miss. I really wish we could live closer together and see each other more often but it is not possible. For now, I am just enjoying the time we can spend together.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Play Cancelled

Jacob was disappointed. The Christmas play at church was cancelled today due to a large snowfall. I'm not sure how much we got but it was enough to make driving difficult and cancelled most of the church services for today. We actually skipped church last night for the same reason. I didn't want to get stuck 20 minutes from home if the storm hit during the service. It ended up being the right decision because it started snowing pretty heavily about the time church would have been ending.

I did get to watch Jacob practice for the performance yesterday morning. I was so proud of my little man. He is one of the bigger kids in his Sunday school class and will actually be moving up to the kindergarten class after the holidays (another story but I want to separate him from M). He stood tall on the stage, rocked to the music and sang along with the other kids. Last year he hated performing and I didn't usually force the issue. This year he has more self-confidence and really seems to enjoy it. He works hard and pays close attention to the teachers and directors. I just wish my work schedule didn't get in the way of so many of the children's concerts and performances. Maybe he can perform in the next concert.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Books For Christmas

First it was any book with Thomas The Train or Lightning McQueen. Those were quickly followed by any book that had anything to do with trucks. Now they are fire fighter books, Stinky the Garbage Truck or fun rhyming books. These are the books my kids love to read. They read them to themselves and I read them to them. Their teachers read to them daily and their grandparents read to them when we vist.

My boys have discovered the joy of reading and I am grateful. They often ask me to buy new books in the bookstore and we occassionally go to the library where we sit and read together before taking some books home. That is where we were two nights ago. We read three books at the library, put on a puppet show and picked out two DVDs to take home and watch later. I buy books monthly from the Scholastic order at their day care. Santa and the Easter Bunny bring books when they visit. My kids can already tell you that hard cover books are expensive so if you hope to get me to buy a book make sure it is paperback.

Yet I saw an editorial in the paper about the number of children who are read to on a regular basis in this country. It was shocking and incredibly sad. Over half of all American children are not read to on a regular basis and many children do not even own a book. Reading is the key to a child's educational success. Without reading, all other subjects become even more difficult. Books open up worlds for children and adults to explore together. Full of new words that expand vocabulary and new sounds to hear are stories that inspire the imagination. Not to mention a great way to bond with your children.

The writer was asking everyone with children to wrap a book and leave it on the end of their child's bed Christmas morning. I won't be doing that but my children will be receiving two new books. Santa brings them every year. I hope Santa or another adult brings the children in your lives books this Christmas as well.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Results Are In

Jacob and M picked out their holiday ornaments last night. M got a blue Nascar and Jacob picked out an American flag. Jacob stated he wanted the flag, "so I can honor America this Chirstmas." M got the car because, well, he loves cars and blue is his favorite color.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Family Traditions

Family traditions are a great way to help everyone feel connected and an important member of the family. It gives a chance to spend time together doing something fun and enjoyable that will hopefully last for years to come. While our family doesn't have a lot of traditions we follow during the year due to our ever changing schedules (I work a rotating shift with different days off every week and am attending graduate school). We do have several that are associated with Christmas. Here is a list of our family's traditions. Please feel free to leave a comment with things your family enjoys doing. I am still looking for more holiday activities with my kids.

1) Chocolate advent calendar. Every day (usually in the morning) the kids get to open one door on their advent calendar and find a piece of chocolate. We are counting down the days until Christmas. In case you are curious, we are at 20 days now.

2) Sending holiday cards. Okay. I try really hard to get them out early but it rarely happens. I even sometimes send them after Christmas but I do always send them.

3) A new Christmas ornament. Every year the kids each get to pick out one special Christmas ornament. We haven't bought ours for this year but will this week. I really like this tradition because it gives me a rememberance of what the kids were like and interested in at this time every year. For instance, 2 years ago Jacob discovered the wonder of Santa Claus and picked out a Santa ornament. Last year he was all about Disney Pixar's Cars movie and got a Cars ornament. I will try to remember to tell everyone what the kids pick out this year.

4) Christmas cookies. We are going to alter this one a little this year (I think). We will bake a few extra cookies and take them to neighbors who have been extra kind to us in the past year. This year they will probably go to our neighbors Kris and Sylvia.

5) Christmas lights. We drive through the city Christmas light display every year. I usually take our friend, P, with us. She lives near the light display and it's a fun way to end our evening together.

This year I am also hoping to make popcorn balls with the kids. I'm not sure how well it will turn out. If it turns out well, this may also become a holiday tradition.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Activity Ideas

Anyone got some great ideas to do with young children during the holidays? I have a few ideas but want to think of some others. The kids are both old enough to really enjoy the activities and I would love to do some with P also. Here is the list of possiblities so far:

-Christmas cookies
-Making Grandpa's christmas present (since Grandma reads this blog I'm keeping it a secret for now).
-Train show at the local gardens.
-Setting up the Christmas tree (already done but was fun so I'm including it in the list anyway).

Anyone else got some great ideas? They can be things I can do with just one of the boys or together. Just a reminder in case you aren't a regular follower. The boys are 3 and 5 years old.

Christmas Programs and Santa

It seems really early to me but maybe that is just because life has been beyond crazy the past couple of weeks. The Christmas season is here and the programs have started already. Jacob and M both sang in their preschool program yesterday and were very cute. M sang about the Christmas star and walked around with a flashlight. Jacob was an angel and say An Angel We Have Heard On High. I couldn't fine my camera and didn't want to be late so I snapped a couple of photos with my cellphone. They didn't turn out well so I won't post them here but I figure fuzzy pictures are better than no pictures. It was fun to watch them and compare them to the younger kids. They have grown a lot in the past year.

After the Christmas program, I took the kids and our friend P to the mall to visit Santa. Of course, both boys asked for expensive and large toys and Santa agreed to give them to him (thanks a lot Santa). We went to a Toys R Us outlet store in the mall and the boys decided they would rather have different toys (and less expensive) so we trudged back down to see Santa again. There wasn't a line so I let the boys tell Santa they had changed their minds and now wanted the cheaper toys. I guess we will have to wait and see what Santa is able to bring them. I heard his helper will be working on their gifts next week.

I also went to Kohl's before the school program while the kids were still at day care. The school program didn't start until an hour and a half after I got off work so it was the perfect time to sneak out and do a little shopping. Kohls department store had a great sale yesterday. I had received a $10 off any $10 purchase and a card for an extra 15% off plus they had a great sale in general so I decided to do a little shopping. I have been told that on Genna (Ethiopian Christmas) children whose parents can afford it will get one new outfit that day. I like to try to keep a little Ethioipian culture in our home and this is one easy way to do it. Kohl's sale was a great way to get that outfit out of the way as well as a finding a great deal on a present for Uncle Chuck (which I will keep secret in case he reads this).

So Christmas is finally coming. We put up the Christmas tree on Wednesday, have begun shopping, had the school performance, visited Santa and started our chocolate Advent calendars. It snowed for the first time this year last night and the ground is now a beautiful white. The boys are ready for Christmas and want it to come today. I am not even near ready and believe another three weeks is just fine with me.