Friday, August 24, 2012

Thank You, Corrie!

One of my all-time favorite books is The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. My mom read it to me when I was in 7th grade, and was studying the Holocaust in school. It is a favorite because not only does it make history real, but it paints a portrait of one of my heroes. Corrie Ten Boom is one of my heroes because she experienced some of the worst things life can throw at a person, but she remained true to God through it all. She used her horrific experiences to proclaim Him and make Him known, and He was glorified in those dark, ugly, evil concentration camps. I often wonder what I would do if I were put in Corrie's situation. Would I respond in the same way? Would my faith be as unwavering? Would I be as bold in sharing Christ? I have read The Hiding Place  and In My Father's House (one of her other books) numerous times, and have been encouraged and strengthened each time.

Last night one of Corrie's stories returned to my mind as I was in a difficult situation with my little Piper. I was able to adapt it to meet Piper's needs in that moment, and it made a big impact.

As I was helping Piper finish her bath last night, she asked me, "Mommy, why didn't my first mommy and daddy love me enough to get me back?"

How does an adoptive mother answer that question? As I have done so many times in the weeks since Piper and her sisters came to live with me I inwardly prayed, "More of You, God, and less of me." Here is what God gave me to tell Piper. Thank you, Corrie Ten Boom, for sharing your amazing father's story!

Piper, it had nothing to do with love, and everything to do with big problems in your first mommy and daddy's lives. Imagine that you and I are going on an airplane trip. We are going to be gone for a while, so we have packed a big, heavy suitcase. It is as tall as you and weighs over 100 pounds. Should I give it to you and make you carry that big, heavy suitcase? (Of course, she answered no!) It would be Mommy's job to handle that suitcase, wouldn't it? Mommy is big enough and strong enough to carry that weight. You are not big enough or strong enough. 
I know the details of why your first parents didn't get you back. But like our pretend suitcase, the details I know are very big, and very heavy. They are much too big and too heavy for a little girl to carry in her heart and mind. It would be unkind, even cruel, for me to ask you to carry those things now. Will you trust me to carry that suitcase until you are old enough, and your heart and mind are strong enough to handle the weight? 

Piper gave me permission to carry that load for her. I assured her again that love had nothing to do with it. I hope it helps her rest a little easier for a while. In the meantime, I carry the load for her. And it's a heavy one. And I'm glad to carry it, because I'm her Mommy.

Once again, thank you, Corrie Ten Boom.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Chicken in a Pot: Crock Pot Recipe

I have no idea where I got this recipe, but I found it in my folder and decided to give it a try. Matt and I loved it...couldn't get enough of it. The flavors reminded us of my grandmother's chicken & dumplings, but without the actual dumplings. Mashed potatoes took the place of the dumplings, in a gluten free form. Snapper, Pepper & Sunny devoured it. Bubbles didn't like it at all, but she's not fond of chicken, period. Piper ended up eating her three bites of it for breakfast the next day because she refused at dinner. But that had nothing to do with the chicken. She was testing our mealtime boundaries to make sure they are firmly in place. She is driven to do this out of a need to feel safe and secure. She learned that the mealtime "fence" is most definitely intact, and she is safe.

Chicken in a Pot

Slice and place in the bottom of your crock pot:

  • 2 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 2 stalks celery
Sprinkle liberally with salt, fresh ground pepper, and 2 Tbsp. dried oregano.
Pour 1 cup chicken broth over the veggies.

Place a whole roasting chicken on the veggies, breast down.
Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.

Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes and the veggies from the crock pot. 

I made gravy from the juices left in the crock pot.

Remove the juices from the crock pot to a saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk in 1/4 cup flour. (Because I am gluten intolerant, I use rice flour). As the gravy begins to thicken, add milk a few tablespoons at a time until the gravy reaches your desired consistency. Add salt to taste. Serve over the chicken and potatoes. 


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Five School Kids: Reducing the Stress

Last year I had two kids in school, and keeping their stuff in order and getting out the door on time every day was a huge challenge. We didn't get any tardies, but we definitely cut it close on several occasions. I knew that with five kids in school this year, things had to be different in order to make it work. Here are the tricks we've put into place to help


1. When the kids come home from school at 3:15, Daddy stops working and joins us at the table for snack and debrief about the school day. It is a real gift to be able to have him working from home. He suspends his work day from 3:15 until after the kids are in bed. Then he works a couple of hours at night. He also gets up early to work if he needs to.

2. Homework comes before playtime. Snapper and Pepper are independent with their homework. That frees me up to help Piper and Bubbles with theirs.

3. I do crock pot meals as often as possible so I don't have to give up a chunk of my afternoon to cooking.

4. Snapper has swim team every evening and the rest of the crew are starting gymnastics in two weeks. Fortunately, that's only one evening per week, and it is at the same time as Snapper's swim practice. We keep sports bags on hooks by the front door.


1. Take individual lunch orders in the evening. I made a lunch order form template. They choose one item from each of four categories: Main course (pb&j, turkey sandwich, cold quesadilla, salad, cheese and crackers, tuna sandwich), Side (Pringles, Cheez-its, Goldfish, Carrots with Ranch dressing), Protein (hard boiled egg, yogurt, cheese cubes, string cheese), and Fruit (applesauce, apple, banana, grapes).

2. While the kids do their after dinner chores (load/unload dishwasher, wipe counter and table, sweep kitchen, tidy bedrooms and bathrooms, pick up their trails, etc.), I pack lunches and run the vacuum. We always go to bed with a tidy house and an empty sink.

3. On the back of the lunch order form, they mark what color uniform shirt and what uniform bottom they want for the next day.

4. While they're getting their pajamas on and brushing teeth, I lay out their clothes on the table in their room.

5. Each child is responsible for having their backpack loaded and by the door before they go to bed. If it is not ready in the morning, they pay a fine or do an extra chore.

6. The girls pre-select their hairstyle and lay out hair accessories with their clothes before bed.


1. Matt gets up early to cook breakfast. Snapper takes ADHD medication that affects her appetite during the day, so she needs a substantial breakfast to carry her through the day when she doesn't feel hungry. Also, there are 5 hours between breakfast and lunch for Snapper and Bubbles, so they both need to eat more than cereal.

2. I get up 15 minutes ahead of the kids, put ice packs in lunch boxes, and put lunch boxes in backpacks by the front door. I also set the table.

3. When the kids' alarm goes off, they get up, use the bathroom, and come straight to the breakfast table in their pajamas. While they eat, Daddy does devotions with them. They are quiet and calm in the morning, having just rolled out of bed. They enjoy the peaceful breakfast and Bible time--it puts them in a good frame of mind for the day. Another perk--if they spill on their jammies, I can just throw them in the laundry. One less opportunity to get food on the uniforms is good!

4. After they clear their places, everyone goes back to get dressed and brush teeth. I cycle through the girls, doing their hair. Bubbles chews her hair, so she needs a hairstyle that keeps her long bangs well out of her face. That almost always involves French braiding. Piper needs her hair back too, because it is so thick and heavy and it makes her hot.

5. Everyone does a once-over of their bedroom before Sunny goes to bed at 7:30.

6. 30 minutes prior to each child's bedtime, the child goes and takes a shower. Then they can relax and snuggle with us before they go to bed.

I've found that having a set routine, and being orderly about how we do everything makes a big difference in the kids' stress level. They know what to expect. The routine is clear and consistent. There are no surprises, and Bubbles, Piper & Sunny don't have any food stress. All these efforts--though they cut into my "personal" time (what's personal time when you have 5 kids?)--are like oil to an engine. Absolutely necessary, and well worth the effort.

I hope this will help someone!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A New School Year

Yesterday was Meet the Teacher at our school. We are delighted that all four of our elementary school kids got teachers who have excellent reputations!

Snapper is in 5th grade. *CHOKE* How did she get so old? And so grown up? There was a teacher she really, really wanted. This teacher was her student council advisor last year. You can imagine the shrieks of joy when she found her name on Mrs. M's class list!

She has a second teacher, Ms. R, for math and science. She'll spend 2 hours in Ms. R's classroom each day.

And then there's Dr. E. She's the teacher of the Gifted and Talented program. Snapper loved being in her class for a day each week last year, and she's looking forward to it again this year. 

Pepper is a very tall 1st grader, and he didn't have a preference for which teacher he wanted. He got Mrs. B, one of the teachers I wanted for him! I have heard great things about her.

Bubbles is skipping 1st grade. Due to having an October birthday and having been retained in kindergarten because of poor attendance when she lived with her first family, she was very behind. We decided, with full support from our principal and guidance counselor, that we would bump Bubbles up to her proper grade. She is super smart and very determined. We'll give her the support she needs to conquer this challenge. She is in Ms. E's class. Ms. E is looking forward to working with her and getting her caught up.

Piper is in 1st grade along with Pepper. She will be in Mrs. T's class, just two doors down the hall from Pepper's class. She's smart too and will definitely do great. I wish I could post photos of Piper and Bubbles with their teachers.

Sunny doesn't start school for another week. She'll be in Pre-K. Her two teachers made a visit to our house on Thursday. Sunny will be in very good hands with them!

It's going to be a great year, and I can hardly wait for it to start!