Friday, December 24, 2010

5 reasons you should love soup...

... and also a (super easy!) recipe for black bean soup today over at somaticos.  this soup will literally take you less than ten minutes of hands on time and will serve a lot of people.  especially great if you are having guests over for the holidays!

click here to read on...

Friday, December 17, 2010

new recipes

in the past couple weeks i have been experimenting with some new recipes, and i have posted some of them over at somaticos!

click here if you want to learn how to make:

lamb gyros (with more about why we chose grass-fed meats)

avocado tuna salad (and read about our avocado problem)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

where is your mind during prayer?

"how easily we convince ourselves that we are praying to the Lord when in reality we are locked in our own thoughts.  we need to ask: if i'm happy, am i really rejoicing in Him or am i rejoicing in my own self-satisfaction?  if i'm worried or afraid, am i truly and humbly asking Him for help or is my mind busy trying to work our some plan (however spiritual it may seem) for getting myself out of trouble"

-mike mason, as quoted in prayers of an excellent wife

Prayers Of An Excellent Wife: Intercession For Him

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

encouragement for young moms

have i posted this one before? oh well, even if i did, it is worth repeating.

DA Carson:

"Martyn Lloyd-Jones once spoke with a group of medical students who complained that in the midst of their training and the ferocious work hours they really didn’t even have time to read the Bible and have their devotions and so on. He bristled and said, “I am a doctor. I have been where you are. You have time for what you want to do.” After a long pause he said, “I make only one exception: the mother of preschool-aged children does not have time and emotional resources.”

It is important to recognize, too, that there are stages of life where you really don’t have time to do much, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Children will sap you. If you have three children under the age of six, forget serious reading unless you have the money for a nanny. When our youngest finally went off to kindergarten, we celebrated that day—I took my wife out for lunch. Only then could she get back into reading again. It’s the way life is. You have to be realistic."

HT: Take your Vitamin Z

a conundrum

if john the baptizer was filled with the holy spirit from the womb (luke 1:15), does that mean his physical birth was re-birth?

or does it mean he was reborn before he was born?

Monday, December 6, 2010

the whole grain myth

"Many of you have been intrigued and surprised by Alex's series on the long distance cardio myth (you can read the series here, here, here and here).  Sometimes we think that living in America we always have the best and most up to date information, but that is not always the case.

As I have done more of my own research into nutrition recently, I have found another myth that I have fallen into: the importance of carbohydrates in our diet, and especially whole grains.  My previous mentality was that whole grains should be the majority of my meal at every meal, but not so any more..."

read on here

Friday, December 3, 2010

one food to AVOID to boost your immunity

i just finished up a series at somaticos about various foods to eat to boost your immunity.  today, i am writing about one food to stay away from, as it will weaken your immunity.

wonder what it is?  i will give you a hint: i can almost guarantee that you ate some of it today.

read more here.

did you miss part of the series? click to read more about boosting your immunity with:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

praying for the grace to be a joyful melancholy

last night at our community group we talked about thankfulness, God's sovereignty and how he designs hard things for our good and His glory.

of course that got me thinking about our kids and how God has designed this situation for me and for us.

things are often hard these days.  i am experiencing a lot of vacillation.  one minute i love being with the kids and thankful for God's work in their lives.  but the next minute i am overwhelmed and thinking about everything i wish i could be doing as a mother that i cant with so many kiddos running around.  i often feel like i am running on empty, leading me to be negative and joyless.

but here is the thing.  i know myself and even if i had lots of time and an easy job i think that i would still find ways to feel stressed and overwhelmed.  the reason i think so is when i think back over the past 4 or 5 years, i would say that i have felt overwhelmed and drained most of the time... during college, during my STINT year in germany, during my internship year at ohio state and also our first year in california as i worked as a behavior therapist.

i know that part of it is my personality.  i am an introvert, and it seems like God is constantly putting me in positions where i am pouring myself out in the lives of other people.  furthermore, i am an overachiever so i am constantly buried under the weight of my expectations on myself.  and being a melancholy-phlegmatic, by nature i look for what is hard, and i wallow.  it is very easy for me to be down and hard for me to be up.

but i dont want to be that way.

and if that was the end of the story, i would have reason to mourn.  BUT...

for while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. for one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— BUT God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:6-11 ESV)
but i say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. for the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. but if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. i warn you, as i warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. BUT the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. and those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(Galatians 5:16-24 ESV)
my soul is bereft of peace;

i have forgotten what happiness is;
so i say, “my endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the LORD.”

remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
my soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.

BUT this i call to mind,
and therefore i have hope:
the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

“the LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore i will hope in him.”
the LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.

it is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

(Lamentations 3:17-26 ESV)
that last verse especially strikes me.  how un-american to wait for something, let alone wait quietly!  though it is un-american, it can and will happen by his grace (free gift).
and ALL of this is by his grace.  i need it.
that is why i am praying for it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

two great reasons NOT to include santa in your celebration this year

Santa Jesusphoto © 2009 Andrew Kitzmiller | more info (via: Wylio)
"celebrating santa and a manger will postpone a child's clear understanding of what the real truth of God is.  it's very difficult for a young child to pick through a marble cake of part truth and part imagination to find the crumbs of reality.  we want our children to understand God as fully as they are able, at whatever age they are.  so we try to avoid anything that would inhibit or distort their understanding.

[also] think how confusing it must be to a literal thinking, uncritical pre-schooler.  santa is so much like what we're trying all year to teach our children about God.  look at all the "attributes" of santa:
  • he's omniscient- he sees everything you do
  • he rewards you if you are good
  • he's omnipresent- at least he can be everywhere in one night
  • he gives you good gifts
  • he's the most famous "old man in the sky" figure
but at a deeper level that children cannot comprehend yet, he is not like santa at all.  for example, does santa really care if we're good or bad?  think of the most awful kid you can remember.  did he or she ever not get gifts from santa?  what about santa's spying and then rewarding you if you're good enough?  that's not the way God operates.  he gave us his gift- his Son- even though we weren't good at all. "God shows his love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (romans 5:8).  he gave his gift to make us good, not because we had proved ourselves good enough."

-noel piper, treasuring God in our traditions, p. 80-81

Treasuring God in Our Traditions

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the magician's nephew

recently, i have been needing some light reading to help my brain relax (i was trying to get through desiring God, but that just wasn't working after a long day with kiddos).

remembering how much i loved the chronicles of narnia as a kid (even before i was a christian), i decided to pick up the series and read it again.  i am almost done with the magicians nephew after just a few days of reading.

i am loving it!

not only do i love the fantasy/epic genre, but i especially love the spiritual parallels of the book which i was blind to as a child.  here are a few quotes that have really stuck out to me (they are probably more meaningful in the context of the book, but hopefully you will get something out of them as well).

aslan the lion speaking, speaking to the talking beasts after he created narnia: 
"before the new clean world that i gave you is seven hours old, a force of evil has already entered it; waked and brought forth by this son of adam... but do not be cast down... evil will come of that evil, but it is still a long way off, and i will see to it that the worst falls upon myself."

[just like how the gospel is preached even in the first few chapters of genesis.  beautiful!]

after the main character, digory, completed an important task given to him by aslan:
" 'well done' said aslan in a voice that made the earth shake.  then digory knew that all the narnians had heard those words and that the story of them would be handed down from father to son in that new world for hundreds of years and perhaps forever.  but he was in no danger of feeling conceited for he didn't think about it at all now that he was face to face with aslan."

[that makes me think about heaven and what our good works will feel like there as we are commended.  we will be in no danger at all of being proud, standing in front of jesus!]

i cant wait until we have kiddos old enough that we can read these stories to! :D

Friday, November 26, 2010

boost your immunity with thanksgiving leftovers!

today i am over at somaticos, with the last of a four part series on boosting your immunity naturally.

today's post is especially timely as it includes a recipe for your thanksgiving leftovers!

dont miss out!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

my best motherhood practice

inspired by girl talk (a blog by carolyn mahaney and her daughters), proverbs 31 and several older women i respect, i make an effort to rise each morning 1-2 hours before the kids do.  this, by far, has been my single best practice in motherhood.

rising early allows me to pray, read scripture, think through the day for a bit and get a head start on housework before anyone else is awake.  i usually try to have breakfast and lunch made before everyone else gets up, and i usually start laundry and get other various housework done.

i usually try to spend about 15 or 20 minutes praying and reading God's Word (this is much less time than i would prefer, but a reality at this current life stage).  after that, to keep my heart focused on God, I will listen to a sermon as I get things done around the house.  often times, i will go to desiring God and look up a sermon on the passage of the bible that i just read.  if not that, then i usually listen to a mark driscoll sermon.

as a side note: i most definitely do not do this every morning!  i am a realist and i know that its not always possible.  when i am too tired, i sleep in.  i know that God made me to need sleep and I humbly submit to that.  but i pray for His grace to wake me up early, and he often answers that prayer.  I give him the praise and glory for making that possible.

Friday, November 19, 2010

our foster care experience by the numbers

17   ...number of weeks we have had the kiddos so far (wow... it feels like it has been forever.  did i ever not have kids once?)

18  ...number of doctors/dentist appointments since we have had the kids (and 5 more in the next two weeks)

10  ...number of appointments for developmental assessments and psychological counseling

360  ...minutes per week driving the kids to and from parent visits, which is

200  ...miles per week driven to and from parent visits

2  ...average number of hours each week we spend filling out paperwork for matters relating to the kids

assignments we have been given for the kids from our agency and the preschool oldest brother attends (i'm pretty sure that there has never been a day since we got the kids that we have completed all of these things):
30  ...minutes per day reading to oldest brother
15  ...minutes per day doing homework assignments with oldest brother
20  ...minutes per day helping oldest brother learn to cut with scissors
20  ...minutes per day helping middle brother learn how to draw
20  ...minutes per day playing catch with youngest brother

just wanted to share that little slice of our life with you.  seeing this all written down makes me realize why it feels like there aren't enough hours in the day!

boost your immunity with friendly bacteria

did you know that eating bacteria will help protect you from bacteria?

catch me over at somaticos for this week's real food friday where I share about how food with friendly bacteria helps to protects us from unfriendly bacteria and viruses.  and a recipe for a pumpkin parfait!

read it all here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

the mental shift from adoption to foster care

the past few weeks it has become more and more clear that we are most likely in a foster care situation with the kids, and not adoption (ie they are only going to be with us short term, and then be reunited with their mom.)  this could change, but that is how it is looking.

this realization has brought a range of emotions and thoughts.

some days, i wonder why we are putting up with all of the grief from our social workers when this isn't getting us any closer to our "goal" of adoption.

on the other hand, it has instilled a (good) sense of urgency in me to not waste any time with them, especially relating to spiritual matters.  i am trying to incorporate the gospel throughout the day: teaching them about jesus, the bible, sin and salvation.  they are so young and we (probably) don't have much time with them!

sometimes i daydream about life without 4 kids.  if they are reunited with their mom, i think i will sleep for four days straight afterward... that is how behind on sleep i am (despite the fact that i average 8 hours of sleep at night... but 8 hours is nowhere near enough for how much these guys wear me out!).  if we didn't have kiddos, i probably wouldn't be battling my acid reflux so hard... something that i HATE because it is forcing me to be on OTC meds daily.

sometimes i daydream about life with maybe just  two kids.  maybe a girl just like lovely girl and a boy like little man.  i would have plenty of time to spend with them... lots of tickles, lots of hugs, no stress... (i know, this is unrealistic... but i am allowed to daydream).

and then there are times that i just keep thinking over and over about how these guys really fit so many of the hopes that we had about the type of kids that would be placed with us.  and i also think about how much work we have put into training and teaching them, and the big improvements we have seen in their behavior.   and these thoughts make me sad to think that we might not have them with us long term.

but then i think about things i would like to do as a homemaker that i do not have time/energy/mental capacity for ever since being blindsided (in a good way) with four kids. and i think about how i would spend my days differently if our family situation was different.

and i think about the guilt i feel for not spending enough time with them, not having as much direct impact on them as i would like, and then i feel like it would be better for them if they weren't with us (and they would probably agree... they ask for their "number one mommy" every single day, multiple times a day).

there is really no point to this post, just some rambling thoughts.  but ultimately i do have to say, i am so thankful that God has instilled in me a deep belief in and trust in His sovereignty (though its still an area i need growth in).  otherwise, i would be going nuts right now.  He already knows the future of these kids, and already knows what we need in serving them.

thank you Jesus for being the same yesterday, today and forever, in the midst of my ever-changing life.

Friday, November 12, 2010

boost your immunity with raw garlic

catch me today over at somaticos where i am continuing my series on boosting your immunity with real food. 

this week's food: garlic (yum!) with a recipe for guacamole.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

this has been encouraging to me this week

but recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

(Hebrews 10:32-36 ESV)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

how to do a push up

click here to see a really hot guy teach you the right way to do push-ups. :)

[ok, i admit, i am biased]

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

foster care: proof that legalism doesn't work

"for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but faith working through love"  -galatians 5:6

this has been a trying time.  not only has parenting the four kiddos been especially hard recently, but to top it off is the added pressure of the social workers breathing down our throats daily. 

we have been battling our social workers the past few weeks.  we cant live up to the standards that they have for us... it is basically impossible.  first, we were told that we need to be much more careful with the kids as a result of a series of injuries. (just to clarify: by injury this includes a dot on lovely girl's face the size of the tip if a ball point pen, among other very minor things).  nearly every conversation with our social worker she reminds me that i need to take the kids for another doctor visit (visits which are already scheduled... yet she feels the need to remind me again.)  and the latest was yesterday when the social workers decided that they don't like the fact that we use cloth diapers and are asking us to switch to sposies (the answer, for the record, is no.  i told her that i believe that organic cotton is much better next to babies' skin than chlorine, plastic and other chemicals.  i have yet to hear a response to that one).

when they say these things, i want to scream.  i want to yell and make them see how much we are serving these kids above and beyond the rules, because we care.  i want to tell them about how patient i am with them when they are acting crazy after parent visits.  i want to tell them how we almost exclusively give them homemade meals made with nutrient dense, mostly organic food.  i want to tell them how we have cleared our schedules so that every single night of the week since the kids came to us, we give all four kids a bath, brush three sets of teeth, put them all in clean jammies and read them all several stories before bed.  i want to tell them about how i basically quit my job to stay at home with them and provide the most quality care possible, rather than shipping them out to a daycare. i want to tell them about every time i have given them a hug when they look sad.  i want to tell them about how we pray with them and comfort them when they wake up screaming in the middle of the night.

but these things dont matter to the social workers.  they are all about following rules and regulations.  the problem is that many families do foster care just for the money (though I cant understand this... the money really isn't that great at all), and the social workers believe that if they make you follow all of the rules, that you are caring for the kids.  but that is not true, which is proven by the number of families who do foster care and follow all of the rules, but fail to nurture or love on the kids at all.

in our case, they dont care about all the things we do right.  i could write pages and pages about what we do because we love the kids.  they care about the couple of things that they view are not going so well, and their utmost concern is to fix these minor things rather than be happy that we love the kids.  and our love is getting "results" (even though we are not all about results): i have reported to the social workers the dramatic decrease in tantrums, the big increase in sharing toys, their use of "please" and "thank you", even the fact that their psychologist terminated services after just 4 weeks because (as she put it) she cant do anything to add to or improve upon what we are doing with the kids.

as these things stewed around in my mind today, it dawned on me that this is a great illustration of loving God vs legalistically serving Him.  when we love God, we want to go above and beyond the letter of the law.  the bible helps us understand what God desires from our lives, but it is only a starting point to begin learning how to love and serve Him.  on the other hand, legalism is a set of rules.  if any of these rules is even slightly broken, the result is guilt and fear.  in legalism, love is not the motivation, results are.  but with love, the "results" come naturally as the love flows out. 

seeing up close the vast difference between legalistic care and loving care in the foster care system, God has really taken it deeper into my heart of why he wants our love, not our legalistic service.  Lord, give me true love for you and not a heart of legalistic service!

[as a side note, prayer would be greatly appreciated.  i am having trouble discerning if all of this headache is merely God bringing us through trials and persecution, or if he is gently closing the door on these kids being in our lives.  pray that He would give us wisdom and that we would walk by faith.]

Friday, November 5, 2010

boost your immunity... naturally

Today you can catch me blogging over at Somaticos

This November, my Real Food Friday posts are going to focus on foods that naturally boost your immunity.  I am kicking off the series with coconut oil, and a recipe for No Bake Chocolate Coconut Bars.

Lets just say that when I make these, they dont last long in our house. :)

Happy immune boosting!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

a call for suggestions

It has been great to get such good feedback from people about our new God-centered health and fitness blog Somaticos!

We really want to serve our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, so I want to open it up for you to send us your suggestions on topics relating to health, nutrition and fitness.  What do you want to improve in?  What do you want to know more about?  What kinds of recipes would you like to see me post?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

[if you dont want to post your suggestion as a comment, feel free to email it to me at: sarah(dot)hope(dot)costa(at)]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

two exciting announcements

my first announcement is a new blog that alex and i have started together.  the focus is on God-centered health and wellness, and you can find it here at  we both firmly believe that striving for wellness is a component of a God-honoring life. unfortunately, our society often times idolizes health and fitness.  on the other hand, many people in america (including many christians, sadly) have given away to laziness and gluttony, to the damage of their health.  our hope is to educate people and assist them in a God-centered, healthy lifestyle.

(alex has written about a biblical perspective for being in shape, which you can read here.)

i will be writing a weekly post called "real food friday" in which i will share the joys and health benefits of real food along with a weekly recipe.  I have already written posts on green smoothies and homemade salad dressings which i encourage you to check out.

my second exciting announcement is probably more exciting to me than to you, but i have begun to venture out into the exciting world of sourdough!

sourdough utilizes wild yeasts from the air to bring rise to baked goods.  this is truly a provision from God and people have been using it for thousands of years.  the advantage of sourdough over modern forms of leavening is that it is cheaper and the souring process makes nutrients in the dough much more available than using store-bought yeast or baking soda.  furthermore, the souring process in a sense "pre-digests" the flour, making it easier for the body to digest (some people with gluten intolerance can eat sourdough baked goods with no ill side effects).  in other words, sourdough is traditional, healthy and cheap.  just my kind of thing! :)

a week and a half ago, i began culturing my starter.  it took about a week to get my starter in an active state.  and since it has become usable, i have made sourdough pancakes and crackers.  my boys have already asked numerous times for the crackers, even though i just made them last night!  i look forward to also trying pizza crust, crepes, muffins, pie crust, cookies and eventually (when i feel bold enough) bread!

i am very excited about this because i feel like i finally have a healthy way to serve wheat to my family without feeling a compromise or paying for expensive sprouted-wheat bread.

unfortunately, i am not able to enjoy any of the sourdough right now :/ but that is a topic for another post.

Monday, October 25, 2010

product review: Little Beetle cloth diapers

about three months ago, i embarked on the overwhelming journey of deciding which brand of cloth diapers to purchase.  if i was a patient person, i may have ordered several different brands of diapers and tested each one out before making an informed decision.

however, i was eager to start cloth diapering after we got the kids and decided to do all of my research on the internet and jump in with two feet.  my initial research (before we got the kids) helped me to land on a fitted diaper with a separate cover diapering system (the other two types are an all-in-one or a pre-fold).  if you are in the midst of this decision is a great resource, and simple mom also has a good series about cloth diapering going on right now.

Little Beetle Organic Wool Cover - Natural Size 1 with Snap Closurelong story short, i ended up ordering little beetle diapers.  i want to share the positives and negatives.  i dont share this claiming to be an expert, i have only been a mom for three months and a CD'ing mom for about two, and this is the only system i have used (besides a couple of gerber prefolds that i have around to use in a pinch).  but i want to give you my initial impressions here.

the good part of the reason that i chose these diapers is because they are environmentally-friendly.  the diapers are made of an organic cotton/hemp blend, and the covers are made of wool.  the wool covers are surprisingly water resistant (though not 100% waterproof) and i like the idea of wool in order to avoid plastic as much as possible, and to have something natural against my babies' skin.

the diapers themselves have a removable insert, which makes them easier to dry and allows me to adjust the absorbency depending on my need (for example, we use double inserts at night).  i chose the snap closure kind, which sometimes is a bit of a hassle when i am in a hurry, but i prefer overall to pulling out diaper chains from the wash (which can happen with aplix closures).

Little Beetle Little-to-Big (One Size) Organic Wool Diaper Cover with Snap Closure (Natural)i have found these diapers to be very absorbent as well as easy to use (alex has never complained once about them).  The few times we have had leaks were always because either the diaper cover was not on correctly or because we waited way too long before changing them (that sometimes happens when you are running around after four kiddos).  We have only had a blowout once or twice (when lovely girl was teething and having constant diarrhea for about a week).

the bad wool covers are a bit more complicated than plastic.  they have to be lanolized (ie re-waterproofed) every month or so, and have to be hand washed in the sink.  when we first got them, lovely girl's messy diapers often spilled out onto the covers, which was a hassle to almost daily clean a diaper cover. since then i have realized i should just only spot clean when that happens (duh! cant believe i didn't realize that earlier).  plus we must be getting better at putting the diapers on correctly because this rarely happens now.  despite these drawbacks, i still think i prefer the wool covers to plastic ones.

we have also had some issues with ammonia burn, but i dont think that this is the fault of the diapers, its either our hard water or the detergent we are using.  we are in the process of trying to solve the ammonia problem, but for now we are just using sposies at night, which has temporarily resolved the issue.

the bottom line: would i buy it again? when i ordered the diapers, both lovely girl and little man were in size two diapers, which means that if we ever get/have an infant at some point, we are going to need buy more diapers in size one.  i have been thinking about whether or not i would buy these diapers again and frankly i am not sure yet.  i am very satisfied with the performance of these diapers, but part of me would like to try something else just to get a better idea of what is out there.  in short, i would lean toward probably buying them again, but i'm not for certain.

my review of these diapers cannot be separated from a review of the company i purchased them from, eden cloth diapering i cannot give a high enough recommendation for this company, mostly because of the stellar customer service.  part of the reason i purchased these diapers was because of all the help the owner of the company gave me.  before i even made a purchase, she answered all of my questions in several different lengthy emails.  when i explained our family situation to her, she was willing to put together a package for us at a discounted price to fit our diapering needs.  since my purchase, i have been able to email her at any time with more questions.  furthermore, her thorough responses are also always timely: i have always gotten a response to my emails within a day or two.

i am under the impression that it is a small company and their product line isn't super-extensive, but it focuses on eco-friendly CD'ing options and various other baby products.  i appreciate that it is owned by a mom who has lots of experience and thinks through the products that she offers.

if you are looking for a cloth diapering store, i highly recommend hers.  and if you happen to email her with a question, tell her you heard about her from the crazy mom in california with four foster kids ages four and under.

in summary: if you know me, you know that i am frugal and will do almost anything to save a couple dollars (that is part of the reason we cloth-diaper over disposables).  there are less-expensive cloth diapering systems out there.  and even for this specific system/brand, i could have gotten it a little cheaper at another online store.  but i decided to go with a brand that i felt is high-quality and worth paying more for, from a company that is also high-quality because of their personal service.  and i am satisfied with my investment.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

missional mothering

"Young mother, it seems like everyone wants something from you. And you’re probably already giving way more than you ever thought you could give. But even with all your giving, you might struggle with guilt—lingering, joy-drenching, energy-sapping guilt—that you should be doing more, giving more, accomplishing more.

Don’t waste that guilt. Pay attention to it. Use it. Take it out of the shadows and examine it in light of Scripture. Is this a godly grief that leads to repentance or a worldly grief that produces death (2 Cor. 7:10)? Is it life-giving or life-depleting? Ask yourself, does this bring fresh joy and peace to those nearest me, or does it add unnecessary stress and strain to my home?"

read the rest of the article by jani ortland at the resurgence

Saturday, October 23, 2010

hoping to win this week...

here are some great giveaways from some blogs that i follow.  i hope i win!

a pizza making kit from passionate homemaking

high quality fermented cod liver oil from kitchen stewardship  (CLO is the only supplement that i give my family... NO multivitamins for us!!)

a book on herbal nutruting from keeper of the home

all three of these blogs are high quality and i recommend them to you for more than just their giveaways :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

its gonna be two babies

tonight before bed, the boys and i were praying for "number one mommy's" [ie their birthmom] unborn baby.

as he was bouncing up and down while doing circles [a typical activity during prayer for these guys], oldest brother announced "its gonna be two babies".

my ears perked up.  "by two babies do you mean two babies in number one mommy's tummy or one baby in number one mommy's tummy and one [insert lovely girl's name]?"

*blank stare*

"are there two babies or one baby in number one mommy's tummy?"

"two babies"

now, oldest brother is four and often gets things mixed up.  so i'm not putting stock into birthmom being pregnant with twins.  but its a slight possibility at this point.

that would be crazy!!!!

one of the most encouraging passages about ministry in the NT

"The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter his seed on the ground.  He sleeps and rises night and day and the sees sprouts and grows; he knows not how.  The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

mark 4:26-29

[if i didn't believe that God is sovereign, i would probably have already gone nuts by now]

Sunday, October 17, 2010

sneaky liver

recently, i have been getting into using organ meats, particularly liver, in my cooking.  these days, organ meats are overlooked because of their taste and because of their high fat and cholesterol content (but i am not afraid of fat or cholesterol).  however, traditionally organ meats were not only used but prized.  people spent hours preparing them and they were given as a first food when weaning (chicken
liver was lovely girl's first real food!).

we now know that organ meats are very high in nutrients.  "Organ meats are the most nutrient-dense part of the animal—from ten to 100 times richer in vitamins and minerals than muscle meats" (source).

here are some ways that i sneak organ meats into our meals on a regular basis:

soup broth i find that i can get away with about a cup of pureed liver in a large pot of soup, and more in a pot of chili.

taco mix after finely chopping them, i add all of the organ meats that come with a whole chicken into our taco filling.  this will work with many dishes that call for shredded chicken.

meatloaf meatloaf is great!  you can also sneak lots of veggies in there too.

my next adventure is to try to make pate and other dishes specifically for organ meats.  i cant wait! :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

sneaky vegetables

if you know me, you know that i like vegetables.

i like them for their taste, but especially for their nutritional value.  vegetables (especially leafy greens) really pack a punch nutritionally, so i try to include them with every meal.

"every meal?  even breakfast?"  you may be wondering.  yes, its true.  i would say that the majority of breakfasts that i serve have vegetables.  here are three ways that i make sure my family starts off the day with veggies.

green smoothies

though i call them green smoothies, these smoothies are rarely actually green.  to our morning smoothies i will add all types of vegetables (depending on what we have at the house): carrots, cucumber, summer or winter squash, kale, spinach, bok choy, or mustard greens.  if you have a right balance of fruit and veggies and blend it for long enough, the veggies aren't even noticeable.

egg fritatta

i love eggs!  if they weren't so expensive i would probably serve them more than i do (we usually eat them about once a week).  veggies go pretty naturally with eggs, so its not too much of a stretch here.  i put an emphasis on the veggies, and use about a half to whole cup of chopped veggies per egg.  i always use chopped onion in my eggs, and in addition to that 2-3 other veggies, such as cabbage, leafy greens, peppers and tomatoes.  to simplify my life since we got the kids, i usually make this in a baking dish, and bake it at 350 degrees until it is done.

anything squash/pumpkin

i LOVE squash season!  there are so many delicious ways to serve this amazing food.  you can put squash or pumpkin into pancakes, waffles, muffins or bread.  you can even put them in eggs (trust me... i have done it on more than one occasion).

this week, i baked butternut squash sprinkled with sucanat, cinnamon and butter.  when it was done i mashed it with a fork and served it topped with some lightly sweetened homemade frozen yogurt.  it was delish!

Farmer's Market Foods Organic Canned Pumpkin, 15-Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)another breakfast i have in mind for a day soon is pumpkin parfait: mixing mashed pumpkin and plain yogurt together, topped with pumpkin seeds and chopped toasted pecans.

sneaky vegetables in other meals:

*finely chopped veggies in meatloaf.  this is an especially great way to get in more leafy greens!  make the meatloaf with a chopped onion, a chopped bunch of leafy greens (i usually use kale or mustard greens), a pound of grass-fed ground beef and a couple of pastured eggs and you will be having a nutritional heyday.

*mashed cauliflower.  it is similar to mashed potatoes, but it is less starchy, and helps pack in more vitamins.  Here is one suggestion on how to make it.

*on many recipes that call for rice, i will replace about 1/4 of the rice with grated summer squash.

happy vegging! :)

i would love to hear your suggestions on how you include more veggies in your meals.  leave a comment to share your tips!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

twice the loveliness?

the first time that alex saw birth mom, he suspected that she was pregnant again [baby girl was 5 months at the time, by the way].

recently we found out that this is true.  there has been lots of speculation and discussion between alex and i about the gender of the baby and her possible due date. [to be clear, if the child was taken from mom, we would be first to get the call, but she would probably only be taken if she tests positive for drugs.  which might not happen, because it seems as though mom is clean right now, as far as we can tell]

on thursday, after the parent visit, the social worker told me that the baby is a girl.  a girl!  my heart soared.  i felt almost as happy as i would be if i found out i was having a girl.  that moment reaffirmed my love for these kids and my desire to be in their lives.  i prayed [i think for the first time?] that God would definitely allow us to adopt them [all 5... or more?], though i know that his plan is perfect, no matter what it is.

i think i would have been just as excited to find out that she is having a boy.  just getting more of an idea of who might be a part of our lives soon is exciting.  but when i found out it is a girl, all i could think about was all the loveliness of lovely girl, and how that soon may be doubled.  that would be, in a word, awesome.

we are suspecting a due date in january, plus or minus.  but this is a total guesstimate.

in other news, oldest will start pre-school this week!  i have mixed emotions but i am mostly excited.  more on that in a future post [if i get around to it!]

in still other news, i have ventured out into a new realm of the culinary world... fermenting vegetables!  so far i have made garlic and dill carrots, jalapenos, and sauerkraut.  and right now a batch of ketchup is fermenting.  yum!  more on that as well in a future post [if i get around to it!] but until then, i recommend this recent blog series from nourishing gourmet if you want to know some of the many benefits to lacto-fermentation.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

more older brother quotes

"Where is grandma?" [refering to my mom]
"She's at Hio"

"i'm gonna wet you!"
[when he splashes in the bathtub]

more quotes here

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

more good stuff from revelation

in addition to some great descriptions of jesus, revelation 2 and 3 is also full of some great promises.  jesus promises that "[to] the one who conquers..."

"...I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God." (2:7)

"...will not be hurt by the second death." (2:11)

"...I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it" (2:17)

"...I will give authority over the nations and he will rule them with a rod of iron... and I will give him the morning star." (2:26-28)

"...will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels." (3:5)

"...I will make him a pillar in the temple of God.  Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of Heaven, and my own new name." (3:12)

"...I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne."  (3:21)

this gets me excited for the new earth!

good stuff from revelation

the other day i was studying revelation 2 and 3.

i love how jesus is described in these chapters:

"him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands" (2:1)

"the first and the last, who died and came to life" (2:8)

"him who has the sharp two-edged sword" (2:12)

"the Son of God who has eyes like a flame of fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze" (2:18)

"him who has the seven spirits and the seven stars" (3:1)

"the holy one, the true one, who has the key of david, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens" (3:7)

"the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation" (3:14)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

oldest brother quotes

"yeah and jesus killed the sheep"

-oldest brother, in front of the doctor who was examining him.  he was a little fuzzy on the story we had read the day before from our big picture storybook bible

"be strong, and courageous,
go go God!"

-oldest brother, when he is trying to sing "be strong and courageous, God is never going away"

"him is weak and him is strong"

-oldest brother, trying to sing "they are weak but he is strong" from "jesus loves me"


-how oldest brother starts out pretty much every sentence from his mouth [he has a stutter]

Monday, October 4, 2010

update on the kiddos

here is an expert from an email to my cousin (i am too busy to write something new but this will have some stuff most of you dont know)

so a summary on the kiddos... overall, i think we are seeing lots of improvements in them, but the day to day is still pretty hard usually, so sometimes i wonder if there is any progress... but i am pretty sure that we are seeing progress.   the oldest ( he just turned four last sunday) has been having tantrums a lot in the past few weeks, but they seem to be decreasing.  they almost always start when he doesn't get his way. we are assuming that if he cried enough that he would get his way with his birth parents.  i think (hope) that they are decreasing because he realizes that that doesn't work with us.  but he is stubborn... i have seen him tantrum for over an hour when he doesn't get his way.

but on the upside, though the tantrums are hard, since he is the oldest, he is much more teachable and able to help out with his siblings.  he always loves to hear stories about "jesus with the nails on his hands".  every time we turn a page in our big picture storybook bible, he points to any random guy in the picture and says "HEY MOM!! LOOK ITS GOD!!!"  hilarious and cute.  and he is ready and willing to help with whatever i ask him to, even things like folding laundry and sweeping the floor (not that he does either of those things particularly well... but the boys dont do well playing together for long periods of time, so i give him tasks like that to keep him busy.)  we have also started working on shapes, colors and letters with him.  colors he got in about a week, shapes are getting there but he is still a bit fuzzy.  letters are a lot harder (he knows letter "a" now... and even "b" on good days.  he gets really excited and points out every single letter "a" he sees).
The Big Picture Story Bible

the next oldest brother (2 1/2) is definitely in his terrible twos, and sometimes mimicks some of oldest brother's tantrum behaviors, but overall his behaviors are much more manageable.  he has the cutest dimples and loves getting hugs and cuddles all day.  his speech is literally indecipherable... i dont know if he has a speech delay or if that is normal or what.  sometimes anthony can help translate but its hard.

i wish that i had more one on one time with the middle brother because his older brother totally overshadows him and is always trying to steal my attention.  its hard to do anything with the older two boys because they are often fighting or doing other things to get the attention of whatever adult they are with.

both older boys are totally in the stage of "what's that?" "why?" and "where is ___?"  sometimes its a good teaching tool, but i dont even think they listen to my answers because they usually interrupt my answer with another question.  in my tired moments i resort to "because" or "why not?".  its almost like they are afraid of silence because they are constantly talking and asking questions.  talking constantly is a huge drain on me, since i am an introvert.

the youngest brother gets even more overshadowed because of his two older brothers.  when he came to us he had two words, and now he has tons, easily over 20!  its been cool to see him blossom in that way.  he did have what was considered a speech delay when we got him, but now he is typical.  sometimes i forget that he is just one year old and expect him to behave like his brothers but i love that he is still in the stage where peekaboo is just about the coolest thing on earth.  he likes to be held a lot, which is endearing but also hard because there is so much to do for each of them all the time that i cant hold him as much as he wants.  he is a classic "insecure attachment" case (which is very sad), hence the constant desire to be held.

lovely girl (who just turned 8 months!) is just a darling.  she is just too cute to forget about, so for the most part i would say that her brothers dont overshadow her.  that is because her temperament and personality is so silly and adorable... definitely a contrast to her brothers who are constantly hitting and whining.  she just got her first two teeth last week and she loves to stand with a support.  she puts everything in her mouth... last week, i looked over and green foam was pouring out of her mouth.  i had a heart attack until i realized that it was just caused a small piece of chalk she was gnawing on (my first thought was that it was some kind of a chemical).

those are some quick updates.  i hope to post some quotes from the oldest brother.  he is just too funny sometimes without knowing it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

brown and lovely

Dark and Lovely No-Lye Conditioning Relaxer System, Superthere is a hair product for black people called dark and lovely.

thinking about that this week gave me a new nickname for our foster baby girl: brown and lovely.

if you have met her, then you know that lovely is a great word to describe her.  and i just love her brown skin and brown hair, which contribute to her loveliness (even tho birth dad cut her lovely hair last week, grrrr.... but that is another story).

there are so many lovely things about her.  her smiles, her laughs, her faces, her hair (when she had it), her giggles, the way she wrinkles her nose when she laughs, her dimples, her cute chubby legs, her consistently pleasant mood, the way she does the cutest push-ups ever right now while she is trying to learn how to stand up, her cute pitiful sounding cry during the rare occasion that she is crying...  even if we only had her and not the boys, i am sure i would call her lovely, but i think a big part of the reason that i think of her as being so lovely is because of the sharp contrast between her and her brothers.

i mean, really she has an unfair advantage over the boys for many reasons.  first of all, she is cute and little.  they are bigger and therefore are just not as cute.

secondly, she is a girl.  i love being mama to three three boys.  from the moment we first heard about the kids and i knew that the oldest three were boys, i was excited.  but for all the advantages that come with boys, there are the disadvantages... and those disadvantages shine out all the more clear in comparison with my brown and lovely. :)  and baby girl clothes are waaaaay cuter than toddler boy clothes.  they just are.

additionally, when she does cry, it is way more understandable than when her brothers cry and whine (which is a lot!) since they can communicate their needs in other ways.  so, for her its excusable, but for them, less so. (besides, she is so lovely that even her crying is almost endearing!)

Moby Wrap Original 100% Cotton Solid Baby Carrier, Chocolatei am so excited because lovely girl and i are going to get to bond even more now that i finally ordered a moby wrap.  i will get to carry her much more throughout the day... yay!  the occasions that she does cry are usually when her brothers are taking my attention away from her needs, and i think she will be much more comforted to be "worn" with me throughout the day.  the numerous benefits of baby wearing can be read here.

as a side note, i might also use it with our youngest little man, who is still displaying big signs of insecure attachment, which makes me sad.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

compromise... some rambling thoughts

one of the harder aspects of loving four foster children under the age of four full time is the fact that i have to compromise my values multiple times a day, every day.

our kids want our constant attention.  and what young child doesn't?  but how much more so kids coming from their kind of situation.  sometimes they are literally clambering on top of one another to get our attention.  being that i am just one person and they all want so much (not to mention what they actually need) i have been forced to do a lot of things that i never thought i would as a mother.

for example, saying "because".  our oldest little man is in the question stage.  example:

"what is this?"
"its a shovel."


"what are you going?"
"do you mean where am i going?"
"where are you going?"
"to the store"
"to get food for your dinner"
"because otherwise you wont have something to eat"

how do you answer that??  it doesn't even make sense.  to top it off, i hear every question in double, because second oldest little man copies everything the oldest says... most of the time its kind of funny, and i enjoy teaching them about the world.  but it can be very mentally draining and especially hard if i am trying to get something done.  so i compromise and say a flat "because" hoping that the question period will end.

another compromise is in the area of nutrition.  feeding my children high nutrition foods is a priority for me.  the other morning i really needed some time off, so alex stayed with the kids.  i gave him boxed cereal to feed them because i wasn't around to make anything better (i usually make smoothies, eggs or soaked oatmeal for breakfast).  it killed me.  but i needed some time off, so i had to.  and then i did it again a few days later.  it was a kick in the stomach to read this in a book this week:

"[breakfast cereals] are supposed to be healthy, aren't they?  that is what numerous TV advertisements tell us.  unfortunately the truth is just the opposite... being a source of processed carbohydrates, breakfast cereals feed abnormal bacteria and fungi in the gut, allowing them to produce a new portion of their toxins...but what about fibre?  the manufacturers claim that with a bowl of their product you will get all the fibre you need.  unfortunately it is the wrong kind of fibre, [it] is full of phytates- substances that bind essential minerals and take them out of the system.  there has been an interesting experiment performed in one of the food laboratories.  they analyzed the nutritional value of some brands of breakfast cereals and the paper boxes in which these cereals were packaged.  the analysis showed that the box, made of wood pulp, had more useful nutrients in it than the cereal inside" [gut and psychology syndrome, p 85-87]
things like this make  me wish that i didn't do research into areas like this.

another compromise has been using disposable diapers.  yuck!  but we have no other option when sending them off to 6 hour unsupervised visits.  if parents "accidentally" lost some of our cloth diapers, it could be $100 down the drain in no time.  so we send them in sposies, and i feel like a bummer mother.

and i wont even mention that sometimes lovely girl sits in her pack and play and cries for 15+ minutes when the boys need my attention for other things... because the social workers would probably freak out if they read this.

anyways, i am not even sure what the point of this post is.  maybe God is teaching me something through this, but i cant say what.  maybe to give up control to him, even to do things that i feel are wrong?  i don't know.  but that is why i titled this post "some rambling thoughts".  it is my ticket to feel free to ramble :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

outpouring of hatred from the "childfree" and an update on our kiddos

today i read this article that alex shared about a recent battle in a washington DC neighborhood of dog owners versus parents.  the rage of the "childfree" adults was almost scary to read.  here was one comment quoted in the article:

"keep your nasty little snotty kid away from me, PLEASE!!!! Do not let your stickly offspring rush up to me in Whole Foods and grab my $250 Ralph Lauren silk skirt with it’s grubby, crusty hands. One of the benefits of not having children is not having to wear the Mommy Wardrobe. Do not make those of us who are not forced into wash and wear to pay extra for the dry cleaner to remove child goo. Do not allow your offspring to lean over the seat of a restaurant and try to initiate “conversation” with me when I am enjoying a meal with friends."

it reminded me of the story in the bible of when jesus embraced the young children and invited them to come to Him.  though children were practically ignored in that society, he sought them out.

it also reminded me of the fact that when sin abounds, the weak are always trampled.  right now it is cool to care about social justice, so in general our society sees it as a good thing to care for the hungry and the needy.  but it seems like it is becoming more acceptable to look down on children and treat them as less than human (and most especially unborn children).   this is an area that the church should be sure to have a strong biblical conviction on: that children ARE a blessing, so that our society's lies do not take us off track.

this article also made me sad because it showed me how i, too, fall for the lies of our society.  though i love our four little ones (despite the chaos they bring at times!) i almost feel apologetic about them sometimes.  when we are out and people ask about the children, i always rush to point out that they are foster kids that we hope to adopt, implying that that we were not the ones "irresponsible" enough to have so many kids back to back like that (all four of them are under age four).

on the subject of our kiddos, please keep them in your prayers.  they get really scared at night and have been reporting more frequently of recent seeing monsters.  when we pray with them when they are scared, it seems to help a lot.  this could just be an attention seeking behavior, but we really suspect that there is a lot of spiritual warfare in their life right now, and the "monsters" could be something real.  they are starting to understand some spiritual concepts, which is pretty encouraging, but this could be the reason that the spiritual warfare seems to be increasing.  please pray that each one would be seized by the power of the great affection.

another update is that there is a court hearing on monday, which could result in some or all of the kids being placed somewhere else (like maybe with another family member).  we love these kids.  i love getting to disciple them and teach them about jesus every day.  we so desperately want them to know God, which doesn't seem like it will happen with their birth family.  but God is sovereign.  please pray that he would draw the kids to Himself and that he would help alex and i to trust what he is doing right now.

Friday, September 3, 2010

kids CD recommendation

To Be Like Jesusa few months ago, sovergeign grace ministries had a big sale on their materials.  knowing that we would be getting kids soon, i decided to buy "to be like jesus", which i had heard highly recommended on several blogs. 

i can easily say that this was one of the best $5 investments i have ever made.

the CD is about the fruit of the spirit mentioned in galatians 5:22-23.  each song focuses on one of the character qualities that the Holy Spirit brings, as mentioned in this passage.

what i love about this CD is that it is gospel focused.  in other words, they do not sing about trying hard to be loving, peaceful, patient, etc.  the songs all point out that jesus has all of these things and that he gives them to His followers.

i am almost positive that God has used this CD more in my life than he has in the lives of our kids.  he always seems to bring a song that I need to hear at the right moment.  like the song about peace when all four of the kids are crying or whining.  or the song about joy when i am tempted to feel sad about how hard this life stage is.  or the song about love when the kids are being unlovely.

i definitely recommend this CD to anyone with children (especially anyone with four foster children under the age of four!).  i cant wait until our kids are old enough to understand the lyrics.  but until then, i am definitely being impacted by it in a big way.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


happy two year anniversary, Alex. in just two short years we have already had many adventures, including climbing a mountain, moving cross-country, traveling to south america, standing together to endure persecution for our beliefs, and taking in four children. i can truly say that i have loved every moment with you. i hope that this is only the beginning of many more adventures to come!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

overcome by exhaustion

i have been tired since we got the first two kiddos, but absolute exhaustion has characterized my past few days.  i dont even remember my day at work today.  i was literally delirious.

fortunately, my mom is with us now to help for the next two weeks.

by God's grace i have been pretty ok with a lack of time for myself, but i do miss getting to read the bible and to a lesser extent getting to go running.

remembering this quote has been a bit of an encouragement to me (thanks to my friend joe for sharing it with me)

Martyn Lloyd-Jones once spoke with a group of medical students who complained that in the midst of their training and the ferocious work hours they really didn’t even have time to read the Bible and have their devotions and so on. He bristled and said, “I am a doctor. I have been where you are. You have time for what you want to do.” After a long pause he said, “I make only one exception: the mother of preschool-aged children does not have time and emotional resources.”
It is important to recognize, too, that there are stages of life where you really don’t have time to do much, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Children will sap you. If you have three children under the age of six, forget serious reading unless you have the money for a nanny. When our youngest finally went off to kindergarten, we celebrated that day—I took my wife out for lunch. Only then could she get back into reading again. It’s the way life is. You have to be realistic.

i really miss reading.  but i am trusting God to bring me through until it can be a reality in my life again.

please pray that i could get some solid sleep.   the lack thereof is really really catching up to me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

random life updates

i am giving myself 5 minutes to write an update, and then i need to feed lovely girl, take the boys to the potty and head to bed!

*we have secured a house!!!!!!!!!!! PRAISE GOD!  i was starting to get a teeny bit nervous.  it is 3 bedrooms and a bathroom with a garage that we can convert into a little apartment for my mom when she moves here.  it has a lemon tree in the backyard!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (i have always wanted a house with a fruit tree).  also i will be allowed to plant a vegetable/herb garden (UPDATE: God is good!  it actually came with an herb garden!  they forgot to show it to us when they showed us the house).  i am hoping because of the good weather here that i can start at least some small things soon, and i wont have to wait until next spring.  i am so excited to have a washer and dryer, a yard for the kiddos and a larger place to have people over.  i am also VERY excited to not have a baby in our bedroom any more!!!  and to separate the brothers so that the littlest man can get back on a better sleep schedule (his brothers keep him up at night).

*the past few days have been much better with the kiddos.  the past two afternoons we have spent at an awesome little park by us, and they were laughing almost the whole time.  it warms my heart just to even think about it :)

*have started some informal preschooling with the oldest boy.  even since we have gotten him, i have noticed big improvements in his ability to identify colors and count!  my next goal is to work on letters.

*we have been SUPER blessed to have people coming over frequently to help out.  i am grateful beyond words. it is also super humbling.  more on that in a future post?

5 minutes is up.  more another night!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

i'm being watched

last night i had a very scary dream.  i dreamed that our social worker came over to our house and discovered that i accidentally left a knife out on one of our kitchen counters!!

as a foster mom, i cant shake this feeling of constantly being watched.  during our home study, every bit of my life was examined and scrutinized to determine if i would a worthy mother.  now that we have kids in the home,  i feel as though my every parenting action is scrutinized.

and this isn't too far from the truth.  we get feedback about every interaction we have with the kids in front of the social workers.  last week, we were criticized for letting the door almost close on one of the kids after leaving our agency's building.  i was questioned for letting our kids walk down our apartment hallway steps by themselves, without monitoring them closely enough.  they have suggested multiple times that we get kid leashes for them and often ask how well we are doing at handling all of them when we are out in public.  and yes, it was also pointed out to us the other day when we left a knife and a pair of scissors out on the counter.

furthermore, i have to report every bruise, cut and scrape that appears on their bodies (i have 3 boys under age 4... they get a LOT of minor injuries like this).  each time i feel guilty like i am doing something wrong... but it is because i take them to the park almost every day and i don't let them sit and watch movies all day like they used to!

i do understand why the social workers have to do all this.  but it still doesn't help me shake the feeling of being watched all day and all night.

one particular thing you can pray for is an observation that the county social worker (aka the one that doesn't like us) will be doing possibly sometime this week.  she is going to come over and literally determine whether or not she thinks i can handle 4 children at once.  if the answer is no, then they will take the older two boys away from us.

[don't get me started on the fact that doing this observation makes it seem as if alex is a non-existent parent.]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

update: life with 4 kiddos

today was awful.

literally one of the hardest, most stressful and wearing days i have ever had.

i was going to write a long blog about how awful it has been, but then i read one of alex's recent posts and decided not to be so negative (i have a sinful tendency toward negativity).  but upon thinking about it more, i do want to be honest about where i am at with things.

things have been rough since getting the other two boys.  it feels like i barely have any time to enjoy them (let alone get housework done!) amidst their fighting and bickering.  today i said that it feels like 75% of my time when they are awake is spent preventing them from hitting one another, mediating fights, teaching them to share or sitting with them in time out after they fight/hit.

maybe this will change, because alex told me tonight that i need to loosen up on my discipline.  but i'm not sure if it actually will change because i dont even correct them every time i see them fighting, because that i would probably require me to spend nearly 100% of my awake time correcting, teaching to share and not fight/hit.

today was especially hard because our social worker visited. she observed at least 10 minutes of me (unsuccessfully) trying to get them not to jump on the bed (they were particularly rowdy right then, i think because they knew that she was there to take my attention away from them).  that was really hard but then the oldest boy thought it would be funny to pick up his baby sister by the feet and drag her across the room.

i could share some more stories, but its getting late and i really want to get some sleep.  i will leave you with a request to pray for us.  or maybe just for me, because alex seems to be fine.  i feel completely overwhelmed, even though one of my best friends has been here for the past week and constantly helping.

i need wisdom in parenting.  i need sleep.  i need joy, patience and love.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

a peak at God's provision

God is sovereign.

this means that he rules above all, and every single thing that happens is according to his will.

today i was reflecting a little on God's purpose for my job (i work as a behavioral interventionist for children with autism) and how it prepared me in a big way for our current foster/adoption situation.

when we came to california, i needed a job.  any job.  unfortunately, my major (psychology) did not really lend itself to any job in particular.  i applied to receptionist positions, coffee shop jobs and hospital jobs.  there was one job that i applied to that would actually use my degree.  turns out, that was also the only place that wanted to hire me.  so less than two weeks after we moved here, i was a behavioral interventionist.

like i said, they were the only company who offered me a job, which is the main reason that i took it.  however, God has used my job to teach and influence me in numerous ways that have been a blessing and helpful to foster-parenthood.

1) my job has helped me become comfortable with kids  if you have known me for a while, you know the irony in me having four kids right now:  a year and a half ago, i would have nothing to do with kids.  last spring (as in 2009), God changed that in me and made me open to being a mother.  but i still didn't know how to relate to kids.  that is why God gave me the job he did.

2) my job has made me more understanding of and less afraid of children with special needs  two of our foster children are suspected to possibly have fetal alcohol syndrome.  if so, this will significantly impact their emotional, academic and social capabilities.  a year ago, this would have freaked me out.  today, i know it will be a challenge if that is truly the case, but it is not something foreign and scary.

3) my job has given me an understanding of developmental steps for kids i have a fairly good idea of the developmental stages for kids in regards to speech, fine and gross motor skills and independence.  when i interact with our kids, i can see where they are at with these things, and what their next step for development should be.

4) my job taught me about the importance of positive reinforcement  positive reinforcement is the idea that children will learn a behavior when they are positively reinforced (ie rewarded) for doing the right behavior.  some studies suggest that a behavior is learned better by positively reinforcing a positive behavior than by punishing a negative behavior (though i will say that i most definitely think that there is a time and place for punishment).  my job is 100% positive reinforcement all day, all the time.  we are told to pretty much never be negative, only be positive about all the good things a child is doing.  this has been hard for me to learn, because i tend to just focus on what is wrong.  however, God has used this to help me try to focus on what someone is doing right.

with our kiddos, i give them hugs, high-5's, kisses and verbal praise all day for everything i notice that they do right.  i really believe they need this way more than typical kiddos, because of the fact that they probably rarely got this in the home they grew up in.

5) my job taught me how to have fun with kids kids are sooooo easy to entertain.  the key is to make everything into either a game or a song.  i didn't know this before i started my job, but now i try to make every moment of interaction fun and silly.  when we wash our hands i sing a song.  when i change a diaper i give their feet and tummies raspberries.  i give lots of tickles. 

[the best part about singing songs to kids is that they don't know or care that you are totally making up the song on the spot, they still love it!!]

6) my job taught me to tolerate crying i have one girl that i have worked with since i started with my company.  when i started with her, it would not be unusual for her to tantrum for 20-30 minutes of our 1 1/2 session.  this was so stressful!  i would be sweating and shaking and doing anything i could to make her stop.

eventually i learned that crying is a natual thing, and children have to learn to calm themselves, and our role is to assist in that.  but sometimes when we place challanging demands on children, they will cry and we just have to be ok with that.

our kiddos cry a lot. and why not?  first they were neglected, and then they were torn from the only familiar thing that they had (and the older boys have been torn twice).  fortunately, my job has prepared me for lots of crying (although, it still sets me on edge when the crying is very loud or prolonged).

[sidenote: i have found it helps me to stay calm if i sing to them when they cry, though it doesn't necessarily seem to help them much]

5) my job has taught me how to use every moment to teach and train a child in effect, my job is to do things the parents really should be doing in the lives of these children with autism (i am not saying that the parents are bad and i have to take over for them, merely that my role is very similar to what the parent should be or is alreadying doing in the life of that child)

one of those things is to use everyday moments to teach and develop.  for example, today we went on a walk.  during the walk, we named the colors of all the flowers we saw.  at the beginning i had to give them almost all of the answers.  but by the end (we were walking for almost an hour, so plenty of time to practice!) they were able to name a few all on their own!

another example is taking them to the park frequently.  this is helping to make them healthy and to develop their gross motor skills.

6) my job has taught me the importance of teaching incremental independence to children there is no way that i could expect our kids to cook their own meals or do their own laundry right now.  but there are a few small things they can learn how to do right now, like put on their velcro shoes, wash their hands, and put their bibs in the right place after dinner.  it is taking me much longer each day to teach them how to do these things than if i just did it all myself, but it is like an investment.  not only is this giving them confidence to be able to do things by themselves, it will also save me time in the long run when they are learning how to take care of themselves in small (and increasingly larger) ways.

all i can say is praise God for how he has used my job to help me parent.

[the only other thing i can say is Lord have mercy on me, because i have no idea how to be a parent.]

Friday, August 13, 2010

an emotional day and whole chickens

i should be writing about how today was one of the most stressful and emotional days that i have had in a long, long time (i will even admit that i cried a little today... and i cant remember the last time i cried. it was probably soon after we moved to cali).  but alex already wrote about that, and i don't know if i could add much to what he said.

for some reason i feel inspired to write a blog about why i have chosen to switch to start using whole chickens.  maybe it because of despite everything that happened today, at the end of the day i am a mom, and being a mom i have to think about things like preparing chicken for my family.

"she rises while it is yet night
   and provides food for her household" proverbs 31:15

after everyone went to bed, i was up late de-boning a chicken, and thinking about how happy i have been with the decision that i made several months ago to only buy whole chickens from now on (rather than individual cuts).

i want to share with you my reasons here, and i hope that you too might make this decision that i see as very wise.

1) because its frugal.  after doing a lot of research recently, i am firmly convinced that the best decision i can make as the household manager for my family is to buy organic meat.  in my view, it is much more important to get organic meat than to get organic produce.

unfortunately, organic meat is very expensive.  especially the cuts that are in higher demand, such as the boneless skinless breast meat, which goes for about $6.99/lb here.  i pay just $2.50/lb for a whole chicken.  fortunately, i am now convinced that the whole chicken is actually more nutritious than just the breast meat, which works out to our favor financially as well.

2) because it is more nutritious. i used to be a 100% boneless skinless chicken breast gal.  but we definitely cant afford that now that we are eating organic.  however, after doing more research i am not as afraid of animal fat as i once was, and i even view it as a healthy part of our diet.  so, fortunately for me, since most americans are still scared of animal fat, i benefit because i get the fattier cuts (ie everything that is included with a whole chicken besides the breasts) for much cheaper.  furthermore, i get the added nutrition of the whole chicken.

i make bone broth with my leftover bones (which is cooking right now, after i de-boned the chicken earlier), which is very, very nutritious.  in fact, i am sad for all of those years that i avoided the bones, because i was missing out on a lot of good stuff.  bone broth is very high in calcium.  it also has nutrients that are good for joints.  in addition, it contains essential amino acids that help the body use the protein in the chicken more effectively.

furthermore, whole chickens come with the organ meat, which contains much higher levels of nutrients than the other parts of the chicken.  i just mix this in with the other meat when i make soups and stir fries and it is not even noticeable. 

3) because it is greener. (and as i have posted before, i believe that doing things that are good for the environment honors God).  chickens have been bred to have abnormally large amounts of breast meat, to the point that many adult chickens on a non-organic chicken farm cannot even walk because their breasts are so big. this is unnatural and not right to make chickens live this way (and yes, i believe that it is biblical to care about the well-being of animals: proverbs 12:10 "whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast")

furthermore, the best thing for the environment is to use all of the products we take from it.  formerly, when i would only eat chicken breasts, i was requiring that many chickens be killed in order to satisfy my need.  this meant that lots of other parts of the chicken went to waste, so to say, since i only wanted one part (ok, i know that the other parts were sold for cheaper prices to encourage people to buy them in our market economy, and that people would end up buying and eating the other parts.  but still the point remains that overall, more chickens have to be produced to satisfy the demand for that once specific cut).  i am glad to now be using most of the chicken that i require to be killed for my need.

update: i forgot to include in my original post  that whole chickens also require less packaging, which is also greener.

4.) because it is delicious.  since we have switched to organic, i have had to buy conventional chicken here and there when the budget is tight.  i definitely notice a difference in taste, which surprised me!  i really didn't think i would notice a difference.  in fact, conventional chicken makes my stomach turn a little, but i manage to eat it.

furthermore, i have discovered that using meat from all parts of a chicken makes the flavor of the dish more complex and tasty.  our meals taste so much better now that i use whole chickens!

next time you are at the store, i challenge you to buy a whole organic chicken!  i bet you will be instantly hooked, as i was.  :)

[ N.B.: its late and i am tired, so i didn't bother to link to all the websites that i could about why organic meat is more important than organic produce, and the nutrition in whole chickens, etc.  but if you are interested to read the things that i did in my research, send me a message and i am more than happy to point you there. ]