Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lord help us!!!

See this little cutie pictured above?? She does not nap! She also prefers to go to bed around 10pm many nights. And, no it's not because I am filling her up on caffeine here at Starbucks, (that's an organic vanilla milk she's drinking), she just goes, and goes! We have not been blessed with children that nap! Miranda barely napped either, gave them up very early on. Lilyann has not really napped much since coming home with her from China! When we used to try to force the issue, she would scream so loud, that we decided it wasn't worth it-for her brain or ours! And, she didn't get tired throughout the day. Her bedtime is 8pm. We start getting ready a little earlier. She will usually fall asleep pretty quickly after a long, active day. Now, if for some reason she falls asleep in the car (which is the only time she does occasionally nap) and gets in a 20 min. nap, and we still put her to bed at her usual 8pm bed time, we are in for it! A nap of 15-20 min., will put her back at least 2 hrs! So, she squirms around, talks, cries, yells, plays around, or whatever for the next 2 hrs., sometimes more. There is no talking her into settling down. She just can't. So, if she is in the car during the day, running to appointment, and errands, and we happen to notice her nodding off in her carseat, we can be seen doing all kinds of crazy things to keep her awake! For awhile hispanic music playing really loud worked! All I had to do is crank that up, and she would perk right up and start clapping to the beat, trying very hard to open those heavy eyelids that just didn't want to open. Miranda and I would get a good laugh watching this. Lately, I have resorted to rolling down all the windows, singing loudly, and reaching back to tickle her toes. Not working. Jeff said his new tactic is that each time he sees her nodding off, he says, "Lilyann, do you want to go home and take a nap??" She immediately woke up, stating an adamant, "NO!". So, I will try this next time. Today was a busy day playing outside, on the trampoline, and in the pool, digging in the flowerbeds with mommy, helping daddy in the garden, and she was then in bed at 8pm, with of course, no nap today. It is now 9:45pm, and she is still awake! I am not sure why, and this should not be so. We just don't know what to do to get this little one to fall asleep at a decent hour that a little 2 yr. old should!
I'm exhausted! I really love taking a sunday afternoon nap, although rare! I didn't get one, and I really could have used one today, so I think I'm off to bed. Good night!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I always wanted to be Amish...

Yes, this is something I have fantasized about since I was young. I still wish I was Amish some days, as I yearn for a more simplistic lifestyle, that is sometimes hard to attain in todays culture no matter how hard you try. Although I am not Amish, I do strive for similar things here on this little homestead we've created. Yes, life might have been harder through the eyes of some for the Amish, but maybe sweeter in some areas too. As I spent my morning cleaning the barn stalls, and taking loads of muck to the compost and shoveling in the heat today, I realized that farm life isn't always easy. It takes hard work at times. Still I love getting back to the basics, picking berries around the farm, canning, collecting farm fresh eggs, and watching my children run and play, climb trees and enjoy the animals. It all takes some work, but I love the natural simplicty of it all.

A new blog I am really enjoying right now is called A Joyful Chaos . She is a wife and mother who is formerly Amish. Her stories of growing up Amish are so interesting to read. The memories she has are priceless. I hope I am creating memories that my children will enjoy recounting when they are grown too. Blessings!

Ponies, ponies, ponies!!!

We have been having so much fun since Miranda enrolled in Pony lessons!! This is another thing I love about homeschooling! I gathered a group of homeschoolers together and one morning a week we show up for Pony class. Each week they learn something new. The first class was all about Pony safety, and how to handle them. The second class went into how to groom a Pony, and they began to learn the proper terms of all the parts of a horse. I love the instructor! She always sends them home with homework, and she is full of enthusiasm for kids and ponies!

She has so many horses and ponies on her property. Here a momma horse had a newborn baby! This was so fun to see!

Well, not quite a pony, but a cute guy, nonetheless! She also has miniature horses, which are Miranda's favorite, and she has been able to ride them too!

Not a great photo, but this little one is a horse lover!!! She always gets her turn for a pony ride before we leave, and she is in heaven! She loves riding as much or more than Miranda!

Here's Miranda riding Dusty, one of the miniature horses. This week they learned to trot with their ponies and they were set free with them, what fun it was to watch as all the kids became more and more independent in their riding skills!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Greens & Beans-a girls best friends!

I haven't done a weight loss or healthy eating post lately, so I think it's about time! I can officially say I am now 20 lbs. lighter than I was ONE year ago! It's been a long road, and a lot of work, but I have gotten to this point, with about 20-30 lbs. to go to get to where I was a few years ago!
I will advise that weighing yourself on a regular basis is always a good way to stay on top of your weight. About 6 months ago, I developed a scale phobia. I was just sure I had been gaining weight, and one day decided I couldn't face it and refused to weigh myself. Still, I was working out almost daily on my elliptical, eating my greens and beans daily, and limiting sugar, and white flour items. But, I just felt like there was nothing changing. I started a christian sharing program when I cut back my hours at work since I no longer qualify for insurance benefits working so little. I needed some way to cover myself if I do have any medical needs, and this seemed like a great way to do it. The organization required all my stats when I signed up, weight, height, blood work of all kinds. The results were in, and they were not good. My blood sugar was up again, cholesterol levels were not good either. So, they placed me in their program to restore my health as a stipulation to being part of their program. They assigned a health coach. The first person I had just didn't seem to be a good fit, so they switched me to a new coach. I immediately realized that this lady was tough! She was loving, and motivating, but she knew how to push me, challenge me, and get me thinking in more health consciense ways when I needed that boost. She's the one who finally talked me into finally getting on the scale again. I was amazed to find that I had lost weight! I really thought I would see the scale at 20 lbs. more than it was! I remember her saying "Michelle, greens and beans are your best friends!" This was hard to hear at first, I mean, who wants them as best friends?? I had to learn to love these friends. I had to learn to cook with them in new and delicious ways, and you know what? I did! I needed them to restore what was going on inside my body, and I need to keep them as close friends for the rest of my life. The trick was always searching and finding new ways to enjoy these friends. There really are amazing and easy ways to prepare and enjoy beans and greens! I don't miss the meat that was clogging my arteries with the bad cholesterol, I get all the protein I need from these best friends of mine. I actually crave these friends now. There are so many different types of beans. I love black beans, but there are also pinto, kidney, and all sorts of white beans. I have a new cook book coming that I hope to blog about soon, and I also hope to share some of the recipes I have been using in the upcoming months.
I also recently inherited my grandmothers recipe box. The other day my mom was over, and she was talking about some of the things her mom (grandma) used to make. I looked through the box, and found some of these written on recipe cards. I have to say most are not healthy. But, I will try some occasionally and that is okay, moderation is the key, and I won't feel too guilty if I have been consistent with my greens and beans. I hope to share some of these recipes too, from grandmas old recipe box.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My ladybug story

I have a story that involves a ladybug. Way back when I had my adoption blog, "Fortunately, Family", I journaled my daily struggles, and celebrations of our adoption journey to China. I told this story on that blog, but a certain little bug just reminded me of it again.

We completed our China adoption paperwork during the summer and fall of 2006. In Nov. all of our paperwork went to China, and we ended up with a LID (log in date) in China of Dec. 26, 2006. We chose an agency with a large waiting child program (special needs) because that meant we could potentially be matched with a one of these children much before they got to our LID. This was our goal. I work with special needs kids, and have for years, and I hoped to be matched with one from China. If we would have chosen to stay in the traditional China adoption program, it appears that we would still be waiting quite a few more years, as this program has slowed down a lot.

The adoption journey can be stressful. We were sent our first referral, a 7 month old baby from the waiting child program. We were so excited, she was so young, adorable, and her needs, upon first glance, appeared minimal. As we talked to Dr's about the issues we saw, a much more difficult health need appeared to emerge. For 3 agonizing months we researched, spoke to Dr's and specialists, and waited for an update from her orphanage. Unfortunately, her orphanage ignored all the requests of our agency. In the end there was the most heartwrenching decision to turn down her referral and many miscommunication issues with our agency. We were treated very poorly by one of the main people that would be potentially matching us with a future waiting child referral. So poorly, that we felt our hands were tied, and at the mercy of this woman we lost all trust in.

I began seeking God more and more in this adoption. Jeff and I had numerous discussions about switching countries, as many others were starting to do at this point. We came very close to making a decision to do this, when one evening at the dinner table we were discussing our options one last time. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something. We both looked over, and when it landed, we noticed it was a baby ladybug! From what I understand, ladybugs are meant to be a sign of good luck, and good things to come in China. In the China adoption world, the ladybug has become a sort of symbol for the hope we have in adopting from China. So, when I realized that a baby ladybug landed right in the middle of us, in the middle of our conversation about whether to stay with China, or move on...I knew. We were to stay. It was just too blatant of a sign. For one thing, we had lived in this house for about 12 years at that point and had NEVER once seen a ladybug in the house. We stayed the course with China...and put our trust in God, knowing that it was Him, not some lady from our agency that would send our daughter to us. A few months later, we had our referral of Lilyann, and Nov. of 2007, a year after our paperwork was sent to China, we brought her home.

Why am I sharing this story again? Well, two days ago, as I sat down at my computer desk that evening...I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye...I looked down, and once again, now three years later, the baby ladybug came back to visit.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Blessing!

Meet DeeDee, my sister in law. She is my little brother's wife. Yesterday she threw a late Mother's Day tea for all the special people in her life, who are mothers. This lady has class, and style. I couldn't believe how beautiful everything was.
All the tables were decorated like this, and we had a three course meal. She planned all of it herself. We were in a room with big windows, overlooking a lake, on a beautiful, sunny day.

Here's the first course, fresh brie and fresh fruit. There were also teas, wines, and other crackers and breadsticks available. She also had a gift bag at each seat, with a scarf in it for each person. Mine was just perfect!

Here she is preparing all the main dish salads, shrimp Louie. She is so cheerful. She loves to do special things like this for others. The amazing thing is she is not even a mom herself, she just loves to celebrate the other people who are mom's in her life!

Here's my salad up close. Mmmmm. This was delicious. And for dessert, she served creme brule in a chilled chocolate dish. What a special day we had, just had to share with you all!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I never knew...

that having a baby lamb as a pet could be so much fun! She is just precious! We have been bottle feeding her and she is very attached to us.

When we bring her out of the barn to play, she never leaves mine or Miranda's side! She knows who we are-the girls with the milk! She skips and plays, leaps and runs after the girls. She looks so happy.

Frolicing in the yard with Molly! What a fun way to spend a spring afternoon!

Time for another feeding. Mmmmm...good stuff!

Molly even follows Miranda and Lilyann into the playhouse. She never leaves their side. Her wool is so soft, but she will shed it at some point, and become a "hair" sheep. So, this will mean much less maintenance than your typical "wool" sheep. This type of sheep is also so easy going, and friendly. We just love her. This is one Mother's day gift I will never forget and I hope Molly stays around for a long time!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Wings and a Prayer

Somewhere I read that the greatest gift we can give our children is faith in God, and wings to soar. As does the bird eventually fly from its nest, so too will our little ones leave home when it is time to explore the world on their own. No longer will they be tiny sparrows, but with the right upbringing, hopefully they will exit the nest with the wings of an eagle; strong and able. It is necessary to prepare children how to fully deal with all the responsibilities of the outside world, but it is more important that this foundation stems from a righteous source; God. Faith in God offers us hope when times seem bleak, and inner strength when we feel like succumbing to weakness. Faith in God provides us the knowledge that we are here on this planet not just to eat, sleep, work, and play, but for a much deeper reason; to share love, and worship God in everything we do and say. Faith in God is a responsiblity in itself for we are then stewards and ambassadors of the most precious knowledge. Our children may not always grow up to be award winning novelists, and famous actors, but to be called a child of Christ is more honorable than any earthly title. Parents hold a significant part in the raising of their children, and while both mothers and fathers are important aspects to every family, on Mother's Day it is a time to honor women who have given of their heart for the sake of their child. Happy Mother's Day!!!
The following is a short Mother's day prayer:
"Heavenly Father, sometimes the role of mother goes unappreciated and unnoticed, yet, thank you God, for showing us how valuable these women are in society, and in your precious sight. Thank you, God, for your continued guidance so that we may teach our children to grow in ways that will make you proud, and thank you for helping us to be honorable vessels which teach by example, rather than mere word. Our thanks, God, may not always be immediate, but when our children have their own children, and we will see that the good ways we have taught them are again passed on to another generation, may our hearts be filled with gladness! This we ask in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Come see my NEW baby!

What a great day! The whole family was home today, homeschooling, running errands, etc, when I was met by my sweet 7 yr. old with a very special early Mother's day present...a 3 day old lamb!!!!! I was so surprised. I had no idea that this is what she has been wanting to give me for Mother's day this year, but she kept a good secret! While I love my goats, Miranda knows that sheep are what have always melted my heart, and I have always LOVED them! I have always wanted my very own baby lamb, and now, at the age of 38, I have my very first one! What a sweet gift from my sweet girl!

We named her Molly, and she is a bottle baby. Her momma had tripletts, and couldn't feed all of them. In our little community, we have one of those country feed stores that doubles as a post office. You really can't move around much in there because of all the feed bags. The man who runs it also raises these sheep, Dorpers. He always tells us about them, but I never imagined I would actually have one of my own! Molly is SO soft and cuddly. I will be feeding her every 3-4 hrs. for awhile. It will be a lot of hard work...but she is worth it. Here are some more pictures...

Stay tuned for more adventures with Molly, our bottle baby!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Toe paint!

I believe I can no longer call my girl a toddler. She is acquiring much more mature interests, and one of them is...

Toe paint! This is a term she came up with. She is always wanting her toenails polished, "like mommy" she states. So, last night I gave in to her request, and we painted her little toenails. She was in love! The smile on her face was priceless! When I finished, she looked down at her feet, and began waving at her toes, saying, "Hi, toe paint!". I laughed! I then saw her walking around the house staring at her toes, almost bumping into the walls, saying, again, over and over, "hi, toe paint". Oh, my goodness, it was too cute! Later, when I tucked her into bed, she was very sad to have to tuck her little toes in under the covers. Later, when I came in the room to check on her, she had them out and she was talking to her toes! Toe paint...who would have thought???