Friday, March 30, 2012

A Date & Lessons Learned (hopefully)

I love our kids' school. In February they hosted a Daddy Daughter Dance, which Matt and Snapper attended. Tonight they hosted a Mom & Son Night. I took Pepper. He was so excited to go on a date with me! We went to dinner at McDonald's--his choice--and then headed over for a night of fun, outdoor games.

While we were eating dinner, we talked a lot about school, friends, and the sports he wants to try when he turns 6. Kindergarten has been a little bit rocky. Pepper is very intelligent, and nothing at school has been a challenge for him. He has been bored all school year. His teacher is wonderful, and has tried her best to keep him challenged. However, Pepper resists any activities that are repetitive in any manner, so it has been a battle to get him to complete the necessary worksheets. All year it has been a battle when it comes to completing classwork. There was even a time when Pepper told Mrs. I that she could not make him do anything that he already knew how to do. Oops...

We finally got that situation under control. We put a dime in a jar for every day Pepper completed his classwork. On the days when he did not complete his work, he had to pay us two dimes. Pepper loves his money, and no way was he going to part with a precious dime! It worked on the first try. We are now at six weeks of completed classwork, and Pepper has earned $3.00 worth of dimes! How many of those dimes has he had to return to me? Not a one!

Tonight he said this to me:
Mrs. I is such a good teacher. I just figured out that she gives us work to help us learn and get ready for 1st grade. And you know that part where I didn't finish my work in class? I am SO OVER that phase of my life. Actually, I am kind of mad at myself about it. Just think how more smarter I would be if I had did my work all year!"
Glad he finally figured it out. I hope that lessons sticks!

The Mom & Son night at school tonight was lots of fun! The PTA had set up action games all over the campus. We received a game tracker card and collected a hole punch at every game. When all the games on the card were punched, we got to go get a piece of candy. All the games were competitive--mom against son.  My son is over-the-top competitive. He hates to lose, and makes everything in life a competition...even simple things like finishing dinner. He loves to win, and he H-A-T-E-S to lose. I don't believe that letting him win all the time is productive parenting. He needs not only to learn how to lose with grace, but also that it is okay not to win every time. I want him to be able to play for the pure fun of it, regardless of the outcome. Before we went and played any games, we sat down and had a talk about sportsmanship. I told him that I was going to play the games to win, and that he should do the same. We role played about how to respond to both winning and losing. We discussed consequences for unsportsmanlike conduct. And we agreed that win or lose, we would have fun playing the games together.

Pepper beat me soundly at skeeball and the ring toss. I smoked him at golf putting. I would have beat him in the sack race, but I kept having to stop to pull up my pants...LOL! I thought I deserved a prize just for finishing that game with my pants still on! He whipped me at the roller board race, and we tied on the obstacle course. And then came tether ball. We laughed a lot while we played. I went pretty easy on him to compensate for my strength and height. But then a line started to form, and I told Pepper we needed to finish quickly and let someone else have a turn. So I smacked the heck out of the ball, and it wound right up around the pole, making me the winner.

How dare you beat me, MOTHER! Don't you know I was supposed to win this game? YOU CHEATED!
Profusion of tears and wailing.
And then he punched my leg. 

Timeout! Time for a reminder about being a good sport and losing with grace...and controlling one's temper. He managed to shut the tears off pretty quickly. And he apologized to being a bad sport. And we agreed to move on to the next game. I also told him that another outburst of unsportsmanlike conduct would receive the penalty of ending our evening and heading home. 

We tied at corn hole, and he beat me at the ball drop. And then came bowling. He went first and knocked down 9 pins in his two turns. He did a victory dance and chanted, I beat you, I beat you! Neener, neener, neener! I am a winner and YOU ARE NOT!
Oh no you did not, you little stinker you! And I took my turn. And I knocked down 9 pins on my first turn. I took my second turn and knocked down the last pin. I wish I could have captured the look on that boy's face. He was incredulous. I reached over to give him a high five. It was like reading a cartoon, watching his face. You could see the decision-making process grinding out over his head. Clearly conflicted, he lifted his hand to high five me, and I inwardly breathed a sigh of relief. But at the last second, he dropped his hand, snarled, burst into tears, and kicked me in the shin.

And just like that our fun evening ended. I took him firmly and silently by the hand and headed out. About halfway across the parking lot, he stopped crying and started trying to turn the blame on me.
It's your fault that we have to leave, Mom! I wanted to win bowling so bad. you shouldn't have tried to beat me! You should have got a gutter ball! If you hadn't have beat me, I wouldn't have gotten mad, and I wouldn't have had to kick you. Then we wouldn't have to go home. It's all your fault, Mom. You ruined my night!
I stayed silent until we reached the car. I calmly put him into his booster seat and looked him right in the eyes. I put my hands on his hands and spoke.
Pepper, when we got here tonight, we talked about sportsmanship. I also told you there would be a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. You lost your temper after we played tether ball. I gave you a warning then. You lost your temper again after bowling. You hurt me by kicking me and punching me. I am disappointed that you chose not to control your temper, and sad that you hurt me. Leaving now is the penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. This was your choice.

And just like that his countenance changed. His eyes dropped and the defiance melted. He sorrowfully whispered a heartfelt apology. I accepted, and we headed home. He was quiet the whole way. I hated having to leave early, cutting our date short. But what else could I do? He needs to learn now to control his temper and to display proper sportsmanship so that he doesn't have to learn when he is older and his habits are more set. And he definitely needs to learn that it is never okay to hurt others.
Sometimes it is hard to be a mom.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dinner Theater at My House

I know...another double post day. But this one had to be documented right away. And I know someone needs a good laugh tonight.

On St. Patrick's Day we had the fun of going to a potluck at a neighbor's house. I didn't cook corned beef and cabbage because I assumed it would be part of the party fare. Wrong! There was a lot of really awesome food, but no corned beef. I was very disappointed because I love corned beef and cabbage, and I only cook it once a year.

Tonight we made up for the disappointment and had corned beef and cabbage for dinner. Cabbage that has been cooked in the pot with the corned beef all day is one of my favorite things. Happily for me, I am the only member of my family who likes cooked cabbage. The rest of the family enjoyed slabs of raw cabbage, which I detest. It was the cabbage that started the debate.

Here is what Pepper--age 5 1/2--said, as best as I can remember it. His words are in red, mine are in blue.

We must be eating cabbage because Easter is almost here!

I wondered what kind of connection his little mind was making, so I questioned him.
What does cabbage have to do with Easter?

We must be eating cabbage so we are prepared for the bunny.

Our family has never followed the Easter Bunny tradition, so it didn't occur to me that he was talking about the Easter Bunny. I know...I'm a little thick.

You know, the Easter Bunny. We are preparing for the Easter Bunny because cabbage is his favorite food.

I never knew that the Easter Bunny liked cabbage! 

In Pepper's mind, it is a well-known fact. I decided it would be fun to throw him off a bit.

I never understood the idea of the Easter Bunny. Bunnies can't lay eggs! Shouldn't it be the Easter Chicken instead of the Easter Bunny that hides Easter Eggs?

No, it's definitely a bunny, but the bunny doesn't hide the Easter eggs.

Well I still don't understand. Please explain this to me. 

You see, the Easter Bunny is really a human in a bunny suit. It's a fuzzy, gray, bunny suit with a hidden zipper. He lays plastic eggs and then paints them beautiful colors.

So the Easter Bunny isn't a real bunny? He's just a human in a costume?

Yup. He makes the eggs and puts them in the store for parents to buy for their children. When he is finished laying the Easter eggs, he takes off his bunny suit and sneaks back out to live with the other humans again. If you catch him, you can tell because he has very red cheeks and he is sneaking. 

What happens if you catch him?

He gives you an Easter egg, of course! Actually, he'll give you a giant, golden Easter egg.

I love that kid! He cracks me up!

Also overheard tonight while the kids were cleaning the kitchen...
Pepper's words are in red, Snapper's are in green. Snapper is 9 1/2, by the way.

When I'm an adult, I will eat whatever I want.

He had clearly not enjoyed the corned beef and cabbage.

Enjoy being young, Buddy, while you have the chance. You only get to be young once. Before you know it you'll be almost an adult, like me! 

You are NOT an adult, Sissy.

I know, but I almost am. 

I almost am, too! 

No you're not, you're still very young. 

I am NOT very young! I am growing way more faster than you. 

That's beside the point. Just make sure you treasure your childhood, because before you know it you'll be an adult and you will wish you were a little kid again, all carefree and without responsibility. Trust me...I know. 

Here I sit at the computer stuffing my fist in my mouth to keep from laughing my guts out!

Ad gummit, Sissy! You're just a kid just like me!

I love my kids!

Things That Make Me Smile

Today, March 29, 2012, is a basic, ordinary day. However, my eyes are wide open to things that make me smile today. I think I will share!

  • A fluffy, gray and white, Pixie kitty jumping onto my bed and purring in my face when I am waking up in the morning. She loves me into wakefulness every morning, and I adore her.
  • The pair of very vocal cardinals that are nesting in our yard, and fill my day with their glorious songs.
  • My thriving vegetable garden that, if it continues on the growth curve it is on, is going to feed my family all summer!
  • Morning Glories and Sweet Peas sprouting all along my back fence. I planted them last week, and eagerly anticipate their brightness and sweet fragrance.
  • An avocado tree, grapefruit tree, lime tree, tangelo tree, and banana plant that are loaded with baby fruit. I can't wait for them all to be ripe!
  • My polka dot flip flops. Cute and comfy!
  • After 6 months of being broken down in my driveway, our van is finally fixed! Granted, the $236 we spent on it yesterday is only buying us a little more time. The van is 15 years old. We've had it for 10 years, and it has 191,000 miles on it. Praying it holds out until we raise the funds to replace it.
  • The new catch phrase in our house, coined by my 5-year-old son: "Ad gummit!" His own version of "doggone it" and "dad gum!" Cracks me up!
  • Corned beef and cabbage simmering in the crock pot.
  • The privilege of working with Snapper's amazing teachers every Tuesday and Thursday.
  • The sweet relationships I am forming with some of the struggling kids in that class as I help them with math and reading.
  • My husband's new haircut. SO much better than the bush he was growing...
  • New Mint and Dark Chocolate M&Ms. YUM!
  • The photo of three, beautiful little girls smiling at me from my screen. Even if they end up going to another family, I get the privilege of praying for them and enjoying their precious faces.
  • New friends that we get to work at children's conferences with. I love you Michelle, Nita, Stephen, Chris, Mandy, Nikki, Abby, Tessa, and Anna!
  • Watching my daughter rehearse her role as Demeter in the Greek mythology play her gifted class is putting on in May. She is so cute and animated, and she takes her part so seriously!
  • Having a job that allows Matt and me to use our creative gifts to glorify God.
  • Guacamole for lunch!
  • Dear friends who love me and add so much richness to my life.
  • The anticipation of spending Saturday with one of my sweet blog friends!
  • Gluten-free husband has mastered them.
  • Living in Florida. I used to hate it. Now I never want to live anywhere else.
  • The End!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


To make a long story short...

  • God brought a special woman in Arkansas to my mind on Monday night. She is very involved in the adoption community in Arkansas. I met her two years ago and she gave me her email address in case I ever had adoption questions.
  • I had some questions about whether or not Arkansas is favorable to placing their kids for adoption with families outside of Arkansas.
  • I emailed this wonderful woman, and she remembered me!
  • She replied to my email and asked some questions about our family. She asked for our home study.
  • Late yesterday morning, she emailed and asked if we would be open to adopting three little girls. She was sitting with a case manager, and they both thought our family would be a good fit for these three little sisters, ages 4, 6 & 7.
  • After thought, prayer, and a quick run of measuring our bedrooms, we replied that we were open to considering these three girls.
  • A flurry of emails flew back and forth. 
  • I received one priceless photo of three beautiful girls.
  • Their case manager called me to ask some clarifying questions and to answer some questions I had.
  • She emailed me the girls' adoption profile, which Matt and I spent an hour studying.
  • We emailed the case manager asking to be considered for these girls.
  • This morning she got back to me again. We are firmly in the running! The girls' case team will be reading a few other families' home studies, and will be making their decision in the next few weeks. 
  • The CM asked us to start thinking about making a trip to Arkansas. Though we haven't been chosen yet, she wants us to be prepared.
  • If we do get selected, we will very likely be bringing the girls home in just a couple of months.
  • That would take us from a family of 4 to a family of 7 overnight...
I am super excited, but also super scared. My heart tells me to fall in love with the girls, but I am afraid to get too attached. 
We are still waiting on the placement hearing for the two kids I mentioned in my last post. Because no doors have closed yet, we're continuing to walk through whatever doors the Lord holds open for us. As my mom used to say, pursue all leads simultaneously. So we are.
Matt and I would greatly appreciate your prayers for peace and wisdom. I know I've said this before and I don't want to sound like a broken record. But really, we do need wisdom, and we really need peace. This is some hard waiting!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hope Grows

Last week we inquired on a sibling pair that is available for adoption. For privacy purposes, I will just call them David & Alaina. I heard back from their CM (case manager) within about an hour. She said we weren't a match, so I removed them from my list.

But something about our family profile made her look twice.

The next day, I received an email from our adoption specialist. David & Alaina's CM had emailed her with a few questions about us. She wanted to clarify a few things we said we would not be willing to work with because those things were pretty broad. We were able to be more specific, and she gave us more information about the  kiddos. We were delighted to learn that none of our deal breakers were on the list! So we agreed to move forward.

On April 4 the case team will have a placement staffing in which they review the home studies of our family and a few others who were pre-screened. They will decide which family is best suited for David and Alaina. If we are selected, Matt and I will head to their state for a disclosure staffing. That's when we go through their case history with a fine tooth comb and ask every question the book. We learn everything we can about them. Then we make a final decision. If we decide to move forward with the adoption, we get to meet the kids.

We would greatly appreciate your prayers.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


This week has been a very busy one. This post is for me, another snapshot of what our everyday life is like right now. Read if you want, but there's nothing exciting here.

  • Monday: Finished printing, stuffed, and sealed our March prayer letter, wrote thank-you notes to supporters, updated our ministry website, worked with Matt on writing his next Danny blog script, researched car repair stuff for our ridiculous minivan that refuses to be fixed, did 5 loads of laundry, finished our new Danny puppet, picked kids up from school, helped with homework, took Snapper to swim team, made dinner, crashed.
  • Tuesday: Staff meeting at Brad and Kathy's house, tutored four 4th graders at the kids' school, posted on my adoption blog, posted on this blog, went to the library to check out the new adoption books they just received, checked out a few I have already read because it is time for a refresher, helped with homework, took Snapper to swim team, ate dinner, replied to an adoption case manager's questions about our family. Went to bed early due to an upset stomach.
  • Wednesday: Took the kids to school, came home and made some adjustments on our new Danny puppet, took Snapper for a new patient appointment with her new pediatrician, took Snapper to the library to get a stack of books to read over spring break, picked up Pepper, helped with homework, made my weekly rounds of the adoption photo listings, sent out a new inquiry on another child who is available for adoption, made dinner, went to Awana, took the kids out for ice cream, came home and crashed.
  • Thursday: Field Day at the kids' school! I volunteered with both the kids' classes. Enjoyed our school family picnic after Field Day. Came home and posted all the Field Day photos on my photography Facebook Page. Replied to several emails, including another one from our case manager. We're   about thigh-deep in the adoption process with two particular kids right now. Still asking questions and waiting to see where it goes. Took Snapper to swim team. Came home. Ate dinner, watched American Idol, went to bed.
  • Friday: First day of Spring Break! Took the kids to SeaWorld so Matt could have a quiet house to work in. He has been working on a new Danny blog all week, experimenting with some new techniques and trying to get the lighting just right for what he's doing. He's supposed to be posting one each week, but this one is going to take a bit longer to get up and running. It's going to be very cool when it's done, but it is definitely not a quick process this time! I had a blast with the kids at SeaWorld, though. We sat in the splash zone at the whale and dolphin show and got soaked! We rode Journey to Atlantis and got--as Pepper said--"soakder" We touched sting rays and watched a dolphin feeding, Snapper talked to the flamingos (and yes, they got all excited and talked back to her), went to three shows, and enjoyed each other thoroughly. We got home at 4:45. I gathered my craft stuff, took Snapper to swim team, and went to a ladies' craft night at church. Came home, packed Snapper's swim bag, and went to bed.
  • Saturday (today): Got up, at breakfast, and drove 30 minutes to Snapper's swim meet. This one is a big, regional championship. Cheered for Snapper while she swam 5 events. Went out to a late lunch with swim friends. Came home. Matt and I planted almost all my little seedlings in the actual garden. Started more plants in the seed trays. This time I'm starting a whole bunch of flowers and herbs! Went to our neighbor's St. Patrick's Day party. Helped Matt finish preparing for kids' church tomorrow. Prepared the books Pepper has written to be mailed to his cousins. Tidied the house. Washed a load of towels and swim team gear for tomorrow's meet. 
  • Sunday (tomorrow): Get up, eat breakfast, pack Snapper's bag, have Matt drop Snapper and me at the meet. Cheer for Snapper while she swims in 5 events. Wait for Matt to pick us up after he finishes at church. Lunch with swim friends. Life group at church. Dinner with friends who are in town from Little Rock. Debrief and plan out our week. Start laundry. 
Just another chapter in our busy, wonderful life. Maybe on Monday I'll have time to post a few Field Day photos!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Garden Happy!

I am blessed to have an overflowing bank of rich memories from my childhood. Among my favorites are the countless days I spent with Matt's family. Two of Matt's sisters, Diana and Crystal, were my sister's and my best friends throughout our childhood.

It was always fun having Diana and Crystal over to play at our house, but it was even more fun to go to their house, especially when we got to sleep over. Because their family had 8 kids, there were always enough players for any game we wanted to play, indoors or out. Our very favorite game was something we called Lost Kids. We were always orphans, lost in the woods, starving to death, and being pursued by the evil orphan keeper. We had forts in the woods, secret hiding places, and elaborate escape plans. The game was best when Matt would join in and play the role of the orphan keeper. That brought a new element of angst and reality to the game. To solve our starvation problem, Diana's mom, Auntie Kathie (who is now my wonderful MIL) let us help ourselves to produce from her big, beautiful garden. We were allowed to pick and eat anything but the carrots and artichokes. This poor, starving orphan ate many a bean, pea, cucumber, and tomato out of that heavenly garden. Eating that kind of produce spoils you to supermarket produce. My husband was lucky enough to grow up eating homegrown fruits and veggies. I clearly remember how delicious it was. 

In the nearly 11 years that Matt and I have been married, we have always talked about planting a garden. We lived in 5 different houses in California. In those homes, we couldn't have a garden. Two of the homes had too many deer around. One was an upstairs apartment with no direct sun on the patio. The other two we didn't live in long enough. In Little Rock, our yard was full of oak trees and full of rocks. We talked about trying box gardening there, but never were willing to part with the money it would have required to build and fill the boxes. Now we live in a wonderful home on the edge of the country. When our landlord lived here, he had a flourishing vegetable garden in the back yard. When he saw the work Matt has done to make the yard here beautiful, he encouraged us to plant a garden, too. He showed us where he put in special soil, and gave us permission to rip out the sod there for our garden! Finally, we get to have the garden we have always wanted!

Snapper and I made a few trips to Lowe's and the local garden shop to purchase seeds and starter trays. Pepper helped match the seed packets with the label stakes while I planted the seeds in the starter trays. He was so excited to help!

First thing every morning the kids run outside to the patio to check the progress of the seeds. On the third day after planting, this is what Pepper found. He was only halfway dressed when he remembered the garden and bolted for the patio. Ha ha!

By last Saturday, most of the seeds had sprouted. Since this coming weekend is filled up with a major swim meet, Matt rented a rototiller on Saturday morning. It was a family effort, getting our 400 square foot garden plot ready! Matt did the tilling, with some "help" from Pepper. I raked out the chunks of sod. Snapper and Pepper came behind me and picked up the piles of sod and weeds and put them in our garden waste bin. Then I raked again to level the ground. 

It was a major job, let me tell you! By the time we were finished, Matt and I were both aching all over and had several blisters on our hands. Pepper and Snapper were worn out, too. But the end result is very exciting, and full of promise. I can hardly wait to get our seedlings into the ground so they can start growing and producing!

Pepper and I planted the seeds in their trays one week ago. Here's how they look today!

Our garden list is nice and deep. We planted: sweet corn, Rocky Top lettuce, green leaf lettuce, collards, spinach, bell peppers, green onions, cucumbers, pickle cucumbers, Rutgers tomatoes, Yellow Bell tomatoes, Topaz tomatoes, winter squash, butter squash, zucchini, green beans, pole beans, sugar snap peas, pumpkins, honeydew melon, watermelon, okra, basil, oregano, mint, chives, catnip, and a fun variety of flowers. 

What in the world are we going to do with all that produce? That's easy...we're going to eat it! I plan on trying my hand at making dill pickles this summer, as well as canning tomatoes and beans. I'm sure there is still going to be a surplus. That's easy, too. I know of 3 single moms  and a young family who are struggling in this economy. I have already offered to share our produce with them. If it will grow easily in our garden, then I am happy to share it. I am thrilled we can be a blessing to others in this way.

Friday, March 9, 2012

She Gets It!

Our church is in the middle of Rick Warren's 40 Days in the Word study. Our family has been thoroughly enjoying it. I had gotten out of my routine of intentional daily time with God, but now I am back in it. Like I said in yesterday's post, I'm also working on memorizing the book of James. When I wake up in the morning, I find myself excited to get the kids off to school so I can get my cup of coffee, snuggle up in my favorite chair, and have a sweet, wonderful time with my Jesus. The memorizing isn't a chore for me this time. I'm not putting on any pressure to finish it by a certain date. I am slowly working on it to make sure that every precious verse rolls off my tongue without thought  before I move on to the next one. I want it so deep in my heart that I will never forget it. I want it to be like breathing. I have never memorized quite like this before, and I am just loving it!

I am not the only one who is affected by the daily influence of God. Snapper has grabbed on, too! The children's portion of 40 Days in the Word is based on a cheesy, yet fun, video series called Rebels of the Book. It is full of excitement and adventure, which caters to Snapper's taste in literature. On Sunday during Life Group, all the elementary kids--20+ of them--were playing Rebels of the Book out on the church lawn. In their game, all of them were seeking to find the truth of God's Word. Snapper has translated this into her own life. She told me she is "craving God's direction and will for her life." Every night for the last two weeks she has gotten herself ready for bed early, in order to spend 30 minutes reading her Bible and journaling before she goes to sleep. She has also said that falling asleep with God's Word in her mind is giving her more peaceful sleep. I see a difference in her attitude during the day. She is more humble, more patient with her brother, more willing to help around the house, more responsible with her things, more diligent than ever with her homework, and more determined to work hard at swim practice. Even her coach commented last night on the difference! The best part of all is that Matt and I never once suggested that Snapper read her Bible at night. It was something she decided to do on her own. She is tasting and seeing that the Lord is GOOD, and that His Word is powerful in her daily life.

In Kids' Church, Matt and I have taught the kids (from the curriculum) that:

God's Word is true.
God's Word is powerful.
God's Word will change me.
God's Word protects me.

Snapper is testing it, and she has found, as I have, that all of this is true. I am thrilled!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


There's nothing exciting or particularly interesting to post about right now. But there is still a lot going on. So I will remember what life was like with just two children, here's a list of some of our everyday, ordinary happenings.

  • My house is clean. Really clean! And guess what? It has stayed really clean for several days in a row! There are no dishes in the sink. There is only one basket of dirty laundry needing to be washed. The floors are swept and vacuumed. The living room is dusted. My desk is organized. The kids' rooms are {almost} clean. Toilets are scrubbed. There's a place for everything, and everything is in its place. My craft table is happily untidy, but that is how it is supposed to be when I have a project in process. Even the garage is nice and clean after we had a big garage sale last weekend. Everything that was left went to our local thrift store. Clean feels so good!
  • I open all the doors and windows first thing every morning because we live across the street from an orange grove, and there are 3 citrus trees in my back yard. They are all blooming right now, and my house smells like Heaven!
  • After much diligent work, both Snapper and Pepper brought home straight A's for the second trimester of school. Both made Prinicipal's Honor Roll. Snapper won a special writing award and got to present her Unexpected Surprise story at an honors assembly!
  • Pepper started in the K/1 talent development program this week. It is for kids who are excelling and need extra challenge.
  • I just finished Beth Moore's Bible study on the book of James. Awesome study, of course. I am working on memorizing the book of James. It is a big challenge, because even though I have a decent memory and memorize shorter verses here and there, I haven't tackled a whole book--albeit a short one--of the Bible before. I started memorizing James when I was in high school, but I only got about 15 verses in. Today I finished memorizing chapter 1! It is more convicting than ever when you memorize it...
  • Snapper is working on reading Florida's Sunshine State books. There are 15 books on the Sunshine State list, all varied in content, genre, and reading level. They are selected to introduce young readers to newer books and to motivate them to read. She has read 6 of the 15 so far, and is shooting for 12 by the end of school. I have been reading the books too, to see what she is putting in her head. I have thoroughly enjoyed the books so far, and I'm glad she is broadening her reading horizons.
  • Matt got a ginormous splinter--the size of a toothpick--in his finger on Saturday. It was a plywood splinter. It went in almost to the bone and did a lot of damage. A Monday visit to Urgent Care resulted in Tuesday surgery to remove a piece of wood that remained in his finger. Surgery revealed that the splinter came out cleanly, but left a deep puncture which had become infected. Matt is going to have a big scar on his finger, and he is on antibiotics to treat MRSA. No bueno.
  • Our avocado tree is loaded with itty bitty baby avocados!!! I don't want to wait until October for them to mature! But come October, it will be guacamole central around here!
  • Pepper and I planted a garden on Monday afternoon. I purchased about $50 worth of seeds. Some are heirloom seeds which means I will be able to collect and save the seeds to plant next year! We started our seeds in seed trays which are on a table in our covered patio. As soon as the seeds sprout and get a good start, we'll plant them in a section of our back yard, which Matt is going to prepare on Saturday. If everything grows well, it will eliminate my veggie and melon shopping all summer! I plan on doing some canning, too.
  • I am very happy that the NASCAR season is back in full swing again. I never quite know what to do with my Sunday afternoons From December-February. I just wish my poor driver, Jimmie Johnson, hadn't had such a rocky start to his season. But I know he'll come back strong. He always does. I thoroughly enjoyed the part of the Daytona 500 I was able to see. It got rained out on the first day, and started at night on the next day. We ended up leaving early (as in 11 p.m.) after a massive fire on track delayed the race for over 2 hours.
  • I am thankful for our DVR. I record The Voice, American Idol, A Gifted Man, and Unforgettable. Matt and I enjoy watching a show together each evening after the kids are in bed. We usually make popcorn and cuddle while we watch our show.
  • Pepper needs art classes. He is an amazing artist! He is drawing with perspective at age 5! His drawings tell the stories that he constantly has running through his head. I just love it!
  • I'm building two more puppets. I'm making a larger version of Danny with a glove hand that will allow Matt to use his own hand as Danny's hand! I'm also making Danny's sister, Amy. This is a learning process for me, and has ended up being both challenging and fun. 
  • We've mastered gluten-free pancakes, waffles, spaghetti, and fried chicken. Three cheers for quinoa pasta, and a lovely blend of quinoa flour, millet flour, and rice flour.
  • Our swim club pool is getting a new liner...a big ordeal. We have to share an 8-lane pool with another team, city swim lessons, and two high school water polo teams. That's somewhere around 500 kids using a very small pool. It makes for strange practice times and crowded lanes. I'll be glad when we can get back to our wonderful, huge pool.
  • Our adoption paperwork has been submitted for review on 4 sibling groups and 2 individual little girls. I stalk my email while we hurry up and wait.
  • We are very excited about the kids' spring break in a week! The break will kick off with Snapper's Area 2 Championship meet, one of the largest meets we do. She is swimming 50-yard races in all four strokes, plus 100 IM, 100 backstroke, 100 freestyle, and her first ever 200 freestyle. It is at one of our favorite pools, so it should be a blast!
  • During spring break week we are going to South Carolina to work with Children's Conferences International. We get to work with some of our favorite peeps, plus about 800 very awesome kids. Our kids are super excited about going, too!
  • I am having a root canal next week. Oh joy. And then there are 3 more fillings to do. Oh joy again.
  • Laser hair removal totally works! I scored a ridiculous bargain on Groupon and I am in the middle of laser hair removal treatments on my chin. See, it's like body joined Pepper's in a testosterone bath during my pregnancy with him. My chin now thinks it is a man. I honestly think my goatee could rival my husband's if I let it grow. So when a too-good-to-be-true deal came along, I grabbed it. And my chin is regaining its femininity again. Thank you Jesus for laser hair removal!
  • Our 15-year-old Caravan has electrical issues somewhere in the wiring under the dashboard. We've replaced several parts and blown a lot of hundreds trying to fix it. Alas, it will not be fixed. We've come to the sad conclusion that with 200,000+ miles on it, it is no longer worth trying to fix. We thank you, silver van, for 10 years and 170,000 miles. You have been good to us. Now we have the challenging task of raising the support to purchase a new(er) van for our growing family. We will need it in the next 3 months.
  • Our kids have amazing friends. So do Matt and I. I am so thankful and so blessed.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meet Danny!

Last summer I built Danny for the puppet video blog that is one of our main projects in our ministry with Discover God 4Kids. We experimented with video and editing throughout the fall. We built a set in our garage. We have finally figured it out, and Danny's video blog has launched and is in full swing. This is SO COOL because it takes my gifting and Matt's gifting and combines them in a way that is really exciting and has the potential to impact thousands of kids! Danny's puppet blog is a fun, innovative way to teach kids who God is, and how He matters in everyday life. We are posting one new video blog each week. This week's post is my favorite because Matt has mastered the use of sound effects, and it includes some of my silly artwork. So grab your kids (or your hubby, or just you) and enjoy a laugh.

Click HERE to check out Danny' video blog from this week: It's Just Not Fair!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Project 365: Final Video

Well, I finally got caught up on my photo edits. Rather than posting 5 months' worth of photos, I'll just let you watch the video I did of all the photos. It's about 10 minutes long. I hope you enjoy it!

Em's Project 365 Video

P.S. It wasn't as much work as you might think to put the video together.