Saturday, January 30, 2010

Baby update...

Our foster baby is growing, and blossoming before our eyes. We have had her for over 6 months now, and she is almost 8 months old! She weighs 18 lbs, and has all the little baby rolls that are so cute! She is smiling, laughing, clapping, and waving. This is such a fun age! She is beginning to talk, and just got her first two baby teeth! She is thriving, and seems so happy. This week she has had a bad cold, so she didn't go out much, and missed visits with her bio mom. The visits have been sporadic, as her mom doesn't always show even after she has called the person that transports to confirm. I can see how heartbreaking this would be for older children in foster care, as they would understand what is going on, and I have been told this happens a lot, no matter the age of the child.

The next court hearing isn't until March, and we will know more about her case at that time. If the plan changes to adoption at that time, the hunt for relatives will begin. At the same time, we were asked if we would be willing to adopt her if no appropriate relatives are found. We are definately open to adoption, and even a possible open adoption. But, only time will tell what the outcome will be. It is a long process, and thankfully, I know that there is a God who is in control of it all, so I don't have to worry or get impatient. We just continue to love and cuddle, and hug and snuggle this precious little baby for as long as we can praying that God's will for her will be clear soon. We continue to pray for her birth mother as well, as her life must be very hard.

My next update on her will probably be after court. Please keep us all in your prayers. God bless!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cute, sweet, adorable artwork!!!

I love ETSY, and shop there often. I don't buy often, but I love to window shop, and save all the items that I love and am so inspired by. I am not an artist, but love a few certain styles of art. Mostly folk art, but others too, like this artist, and her fun, whimsical, and cute, cute, cute little pieces of artwork.

M and I have decided to start decorating the walls of our craft room with things we love. I am going to frame some of the girls artwork to hang in there, along with photos of them that I love all over the walls, and I hope to also add some of this artists work to the walls sometime, Duda Daze...silly little works of art. I can't resist!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An observation...

Last month, I had the rare opportunity to go on a dinner date with my husband. At the table next to us, I noticed something that is probably all too common these days, and it was in fact...sad. This family had a few kids, one being a teenage daughter. This girl had a cell phone glued to her palm. I really don't think it ever left her hand during the entire dinner. She appeared to be texting, reading, texting, and texting some more. She almost never looked up at her family, and never did engage in conversation with anyone at the table. Near the end of the dinner I noticed one parent asked her to put it away. She finally did after looking at it for a few more minutes. Then the family was standing up, putting on jackets, helping the younger one, and I noticed this girl got up, took a few steps, and reached in her pocket and again brought out this phone and was texting. It wasn't put away for more than a minute. After they left I thought, how very sad that a little screen has taken over and crowded out all social interaction she could have had with her family.

Did you know that small screens are addicting? Large screens are not, but there is something about eye movement and small screens that is very addicting. I don't remember all the details on this, and would have to do some research on how and why this is, but it was another fact discussed in the conference I attended on the age of media and healthy brain development. This conference was 10 years ago, it's so much worse now! I had a discussion with a dad the other day that has a young child that is having some attentional difficulties. Being on this recent kick I am on to educate all people on the harmful effects of too much screen time, I ask if he plays a lot of video games and watches a lot of t.v. This parent is pretty aware, and does set limits, however he did feel that video games are great for improving eye hand coordination and the quick thumb movements was something he was impressed with. I agreed that, yes, you may see some mighty fine eye/hand coordination skills, however, too much is still not good for any child's brain development, and self esteem.

We do watch TV in our home. We have never had a game system until last month, when we were given a Wii for Christmas. I agreed to this one, only because it is an active game system where you can use much of your body during many of the games. TV viewing is limited here. After all chores and school work is complete, my 8 yr. old is usually allowed to watch 1 hr. of TV per day, in the evenings (this is something we approve of, is educational or just a fun kids program that she likes) or she may choose a computer activity. She has a virtual dog she is taking care of on some site she enjoys, but I don't allow her more than 10 min. for this, then I encourage her to go play with her REAL dog. She doesn't mind, and her and her REAL dog have much more fun together than the fake computer dog. She also might choose a Wii game. She can only choose one of these per day, not computer AND Wii, or Wii, and a TV show. Her screen time is limited to one hour per day. My 3 year old is not at all interested in TV, or computer of any kind. She is happiest sitting in my lap with books or playing.

I do hope to always encourage good social interaction, and enjoyable converation with my children. I want them to look back at their childhood with warm memories around the family dinner table. I want them to remember laughter and great times shared together. The family meal table is a great place to make memories and get to know what is on the minds of your children. Nancy Campbell from the Above Rubies ministry has a book written all about the family meal table. It is very good. I think I'll read through it, and start using more of the ideas and biblical principles from it, and share some thoughts on how it is working for us in the near future.

I'm not done yet! Come back later for more great information, and hear ways to nurture and protect your young child's brain. Can you tell this is a passion of mine?? I so want to see kids living up to their full potential, being encouraged to be creative, and living passionately and energetically themselves, not just slumped in front of the TV or computer. Which reminds me, I need to sign off, as I have been sitting at my computer too long...more soon. Bye!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Consider this...

By age 5, most children have watched 5,000-6,000 hours of TV

A child is born with over 100 billion brain cells, most of which are just waiting to connect. To connect, children need lots of healthy, positive human interaction.

The brain needs plenty of nutrition, water and oxygen. When children are fed nutriciously, encouraged to drink water and not sweet drinks like soda pop, and many of the juices that are out there filled with high fructose corn syrup, their brains benefit. They will have higher levels of mental/cognitive functioning, and higher levels of attention.

When children begin learning a sedentary lifestyle in the early years such as sitting around watching TV for 3-5 hrs. a day or playing video games on a daily basis there can be major consequences in brain development.

I will never forget one of the most compelling things I saw when I first attended this conference on healthy brain development in a media/technology age. We were shown two photos of brain scans of two small children of the same age-around 2 yrs of age I believe. Brain scan A was a child who lived in a very deprived environment-an orphanage in eastern europe. The scan showed all the areas of the brain that were underdeveloped due to the deprivation-lack of stimulation and appropriate interaction this child was living with. Brain scan B was the other child, a child living here in the United States, who had spent hours upon hours in front of a TV screen since infancy. The result? The same underdevelopment of the brain in the exact same areas as the orphan child living in an institution. Too much screen time for young children is a deprived environment. It is harmful to young developing brains with connections just waiting to be developed. This brain development occurs through interaction with people, facial expressions, being talked to, sung to, rocked, music playing. Continuous interaction with people is what young brains crave, and need to grow in a healthy manner.

In my line of work outside the home, (Occupational Therapy, early intervention), I visit families in their homes a lot. It is striking to see the amount of TV, computer and video that is free range for children as young as 12 mos. Many times when I ask parents what their children's favorite activities are, they will only list their favorite TV shows, videos, or computer games. It is challenging for them to come up with other interests their children might have. I see children being placed in front of screens and encouraged to watch when the child is giving their parent or grandparent cues and clues that this is not what they want to do-they want to interact with them.

There is so much more, but as I close tonight, consider this...

Tune your TV to a cartoon. Watch closely at how quickly the images change. Now, think about a baby or toddler being placed in front of that cartoon to watch because the parent feels this is somehow good for their child. Now as the baby is watching they might see something that is of interest to them..they begin to formulate a thought about it...but/uh.oh.that image was gone 10 seconds ago, and they are now trying to think about the next image they liked, but, once again it was gone in a flash. This is the danger to young brains. The quick, fast paced images on children's cartoons and other shows today do not allow for the young brain to develop in healthy manner, they don't allow them to have to think and formulate a thought or an understanding of what they just saw. (I'm thinking attention deficit in later years, how bout you?)

And lastly I will leave you with the American Academy of pediatrics guidelines on how much screen time (TV, movies, video games, computer, hand help devices with screens) to allow your child.

Birth-age 2: NO screen time of any kind

Age 2 and up: No more than 1-2 hrs. per day.

There is much, much more great information I am putting together for these posts, and I will also be sharing a long list of things you can do with your child instead of screen time.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A post I've been dying to write!

Years ago I attended a conference on something that ended up being so valuable and important, I ended up teaching a conference on it myself! So, it has been a few years, but I continuously run into people that don't know the importance about what I am going to start talking about, so I really wanted to start sharing it here. To begin, I have a few questions...

Did you know that the violence on t.v. is training your children?

Did you know that too much screen time (t.v., computer, hand held video screens) can be damaging to your child's developing brain?

Did you know that too much t.v. can be considered a deprived environment for your child??

Many parents allow their t.v. to be on all day long, and they often don't screen what their children watch. If you were interviewing someone to babysit your child, would you hire someone that is saying and doing the things you are seeing on t.v?

These are some questions and thoughts to ponder, I will be back soon to share the information I learned, and have not forgotten from this conference I attended at least 10 years ago. There is information you will not want to miss, and some will shock you. More very soon!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

So blessed!

Today I got to kiss the biggest, most squishable cheeks you can imagine, as the cutest little baby ever smiled back at me.

I got to hug my 3 yr. old as she cried and ran off the stage at talent night at church.

I got to listen to my 8 yr. old as she recited 3 sweet poems that she wrote herself during talent night.

I got to sit down at lunch time with my entire family, as wednesdays are a day we are all home, no work!

I got to eat another vegetarian torta! Yum. Yes, I am addicted.

I got to work on my quilt that is almost finished!

I got to watch the coverage on Haiti and see a 5 yr. old boy that was just rescued after 8 days. He's alive!!!

I got to talk to my Dad who is out of town on a long vacation.

I got to watch my daughters as they enthusiastically learned something new today, and were so excited! Thanking the Lord again for the gift of homeschooling!!!

I blessed!

Wow. Read this, especially if you live in Indiana.

I just came across this ministry, and they stated that 300 Haitian orphans with nowhere to go are landing in Indianapolis in the next day or two. They need families willing to take them in. I have no idea if this is only open to people in Indiana, or other states as well. Could you help??

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Michelle's Vegetarian Torta

I promised to post some of the recipes for the foods we are eating here as we focus on whole, raw, and getting in as many fresh fruits and veggies as possible.
I made my own rendition of a torta this week, and it turned out great! This is one of those foods you eat, and then you eat again, and again, and again, because it is so good! I have literally had one (or two!) of these a day for the last four days! I love mexican food, and there is no shortage of it around here, and I have been lucky to find some very authentic mexican food places nearby. One of my favorites is the Torta, or mexican sandwich. Although most people eat these with meat, I always order mine with no meat, just all the veggies! The waitress always looks at me funny, but I assure her that I just want the veggies. Yum! And so much healthier! Torta's usually come on a big oval shaped white mexican bread bun, like the one pictured above. This is the only downside, as I really don't need all the extra carbs and calories. So, I got to thinkin', I wonder if I could make my own Torta at home? I did, and like I said above, have not stopped eating them yet. Here is my recipe:
Michelle's Vegetarian Torta
sliced avocado
sliced onion
sliced tomato
jalapeno, roasted, or sliced out of a jar
shredded cabbage
fat free refried beans
light mayo
Orowheat Sandwhich thins-multi grain or whole wheat (these are buns you can get in the hamburger and hot dog bun section of the grocery store). They are thin=less carbs! I love these!
I spray a frying pan, and brown my buns on the inside first. Then spread a layer of light mayo on each side, along with a layer of fat free refried beans on each side. Next, fill up your Torta with as many raw veggies as you can! If you love mexican food, I promise you will want to eat one of these every day for a long time! And don't feel guilty, they are very low in calorie, and packed full of nutrients! Enjoy!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

For Haiti-my prayers, a song dedication, and a donation...

When my husband and I first got married over 16 years ago, we decided to sponsor a child in another country. The organization we chose was World Vision. We got a little 3 yr. old girl from Sri Lanka. We have sponsored her ever since. She sends us letters and drawings, and also updated pictures of herself. This week, as I watched in disbelief at the pain and devastation that the people of Haiti are enduring, we were compelled to give. How could we not do our part? If you are looking for a responsible and effective organization to give to Haiti through, World Vision is a great one. We sent them our donation this week. As I was watching some of the coverage on t.v. the other day, I even saw some of the World Vision staff tending to some of the survivors. Here is the link

The other thing I began doing from day one was to pray. There is much power in prayer, and our prayers are heard. The song that is playing on this blog is one we sing in church all the time, as we pray over our city. I put this on my blog today to dedicate it to Haiti, and to give them hope. Please pray for the people of Haiti and give if you can.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Veggie Wraps & Green Smoothies!

Here's what we're eating around here this week! Veggie wraps, with green smoothies. Here's the great thing-you don't need a recipe for either! Just do something like this:

Open up a tortilla and throw in whatever fresh veggies you might have on hand, and if you don't have tortillas, use a cabbage or lettuce leaf as a wrap. Today for lunch we had cabbage leaf wraps filled with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, sprouts, green onions, lettuce, and some homemade Gyro sauce. In a blender, just throw in some chopped cucumber, fat free plain yogurt, and garlic. Yum!
And green smoothies? Easy! Just toss in any fruit you have around. Today we had fresh pineapple, banana, and some blueberries. Blend that up with some water, and once that's blended throw in your greens! I added baby spinach. I also added some stevia to make it a bit sweeter. The girls love this too!
So, veggie wraps and green smoothies are on the menu for most of the week. Dinners a bit more complicated, and I will post some new recipes we tried at the end of the week!
Now, go eat your fruits and veggies!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Reflections...

Thank you Lord, for this beautiful Sunday! As I reflect on all my blessings, today I think of family....and I see sundays as being a day to sit back, relax, be thankful, and spend quality time with family. That is just what I did today. After church, we did not go anywhere. I spent time with the girls, played with the baby, cooked two healthy meals, and took care of my family. This is how it should be. It is so nice to slow down, and even through the temptation of thinking we need to run to the store to get something we need, we were able to say, "It can wait". And it can.

This last week was full as M started up piano lessons again, we spent time with some friends, and homeschool was back in full swing. Looking forward to another week full of homekeeping, schooling the girls, snuggling the baby, and taking the girls to their activities-basketball, gymnastics, ballet, piano, co-op. It's going to be a full week!

My DH has jumped on the healthy eating bandwagon with me, and I am so pleased! He even wrote out a food menu for each meal each day this week! We are resisting eating out as much as possible, and filling up on fresh fruits and vegetables, and even hearty dinners filled with all kinds of nutrients (but no meat or cheese!) I plan to post more about what we ate near the end of the week! I am so happy he has finally caught on! And, another celebration is that my 3 yr old, L, took a bite of her salad tonight and declared, "Yummy!!! I love salad now!" Good thing for her, because we will be having lots of green salad this week! The other day when I went to pick up some food at the grocery store, M begged to go with me. So, off we went. We spent most of our time in the produce dept., and as I watched my 8 yr. old daughter running around the isles picking up oranges, and cucumbers, and apples, and potatoes, and squealing with excitement as she skipped and jumped up with happiness, I thought, I must be doing something right! I have always made it a priority to feed my family nutritious foods, and to see how happy these foods make her, it really hit me that she gets it! These are the foods God provided for us to eat that are closest to nature and the way He created them, and they are what feed and nourish each cell of our body, and what keep us healthy. To think that she loves these healthy, natural, simple foods, and gets excited when I tell her yes, she can have an apple at home makes me smile!

Here's to a healthy, happy week ahead. Blessings!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Gotta see this!

I love the blog Preserving a Generation-and right now there is a video that you have to see. I have known for awhile now about the agenda, but have just recently started hearing about the African American aspect to it. This is something we should all be aware of! Go watch here

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A new friend for Lily!

Some people in our neighborhood just got their referral from China! Oh my goodness, she is cute!!

They waited a long time! When I look at how slow the China program has gotten, I am so thankful that we went with the waiting child/special needs program from the beginning. With a Dec. 06 log in date in China, we would still be waiting many years for our referral, and I have now seen on two different websites, including rainbow kids, that China has now stated that they are pretty much exclusively a waiting child program. They are slowly telling the world this, but if you look at the agencies, there are so many kids waiting! I looked at the website of the agency we used today, and there were over 40 little ones waiting!!! This is huge compared to how many used to be on their site in the past. There is also a large list of shared children that many agencies get. There are so many waiting children, and I am overwhelmed just being aware of it all! I signed up years ago on rainbow kids, so if there is a waiting child that matches what we were open to, they email it to me. For months I have been getting tons of these emails, and I look at every one of their little faces and pray their families find them soon! Please, if you have ever thought of adopting, or adopting again, now is the time to consider it, there are so many!!!

Oh, and you might want to take a peek at this precious angel, Lilyann's new little friend, here .

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday Reflections...

I've been wanting to write a post like this on a Sunday for a few months now. Each Sunday brings me so much inspiration, and a time for me to reflect on the past week, and all that God is doing in my life and the lives of those around me. I want to use this post, and the upcoming posts on Sundays to reflect on what I have learned that week, that Sunday at church, or to just journal my thoughts about what I am seeing around me.

  • Today as I was worshipping at church I looked around and saw something that I saw for the first time a few weeks ago. At that moment, I was overcome with tears, and my heart was full. There is a young man who goes to my church now with his parents. He is around 18 yrs. old. I have known him and his family since he was very young, but they just started attending our church a few months ago. So, as I was worshipping, I looked over, and noticed this boy, as he was worshipping God. His hands were raised as the music played, and we were all singing our hearts out. The worship at our church is amazing, and the music is so good. As I watched this young man during worship, my heart was so touched, and the tears in my eyes began welling up. You see, this young man cannot talk, in fact, he is basically mute, so singing is not something he can just do. But, at that moment, I swear, it didn't matter. I could tell that he was singing with his heart, and he looked just like the rest of us. I used to have him on my caseload at work years ago for Occupational therapy. He has a genetic condition that is so rare, there is no name for it, as there is no one else in the world that has the exact condition he and his sister both have. At that time, communication was an issue, but it was something he was working on. I remember one night I had a dream, and in this dream, he was speaking! I didn't know if I should, but I ended up sharing this with his mom, and she was in tears. Oh, Lord, forgive me for taking for granted this voice you have given me. Most of my life I have complained about this voice, covering my ears if I hear myself recorded, but Lord, I take this moment to thank you now for the voice I was given, and the ability I have to sing, and praise you! This child I am talking about taught me an amazing thing just by who he is. I need to share this with his parents, as this boy has truly touched my heart in more ways than one! I hope his parents know that even though he cannot speak, he is speaking volumes to those around him as he is seen worshipping the Lord and singing praises to Him with his Whole heart!
  • Another thing that amazed me in church today was that the girl leading worship has been married only a few years and in the last year as her and her husband have been trying to start a family, she has lost all 3 of her babies. They were either born way too early, or stillborn. She has been through so much, so much loss and so much pain, but continues to trust and praise God through it all. So many people would lose thier faith through trials like that, but she has remained strong in her faith. Incredible.
  • The last thing that impressed me was something I heard early this morning as I was working out on the eliptical before church. I was watching a preacher on t.v., and one thing he said was that God talks to all of us, it's just that most people aren't listening. He was saying that when you pray, you do a lot of talking to God, but how much listening do you do when you are done? He reminded me to sit and listen for the answers we are waiting for, and also to make sure that we are daily in His word, because he will speak to us through His word.

Best wishes for a week of many blessings as you begin 2010!!!