Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday!

The other children usually meander into the kitchen for breakfast on their birthday acting somewhat tired, just waiting for me to squeal, "Happy Birthday" or break out in the birthday song.  
But, not Claire.  
No, she cheerfully waltzed into the kitchen with a huge smile and both arms outstretched and announced "today is my birthday!" in a grand fashion.  Then she ran into the living room, or blue room, we affectionately call it so I can feel like we have a house big enough for a maid.  Oh wait, any house is big enough for one of those!
Anyway, she ran into the blue room and said "I'm going to see how many presents there is for me birthday" (and I tactfully refrained from correcting her grammar because, hello, today is her birthday).  Then I realized she was thinking a birthday fairy delivers overnight like Santa so I gently told her birthday fairies don't exist. OK, so maybe I was laughing but admit it, it is pretty funny.

J is gone this week so we are celebrating her birthday on the weekend.  She's asked for a Minnie Mouse theme and asked me 3 days ago if I had her cake done.  I must really have her fooled that I can do it all; where is that magic birthday fairy?

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gems from Jacob

While cleaning out the car recently I found this; a drawing Jacob drew during church a few weeks ago.  The pastor was explaining during Jesus' days they would annoint a guest's head with oil to welcome them into their home, and how we would think someone is bizzare if they met us at the front door with a bottle of olive oil.


Sunday, November 27, 2011


The number of pumpkin pies my family has consumed this weekend.  6 people, 3 pies.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

The finishing touches were put on the gladiator boots today and the pattern pieces were finally folded and tucked back into their proper envelopes; another costume sewing season has come to a close.

And, I am thrilled.

This year's costumes were fairly time consuming and I decided to take a 2 week break in October to take the kids to Virginia so I really felt under the gun to get the last costume finished on time.

And then, after all that, the most commented costume of the night?  Jacob and his banana.  The one that we spent 10 minutes of online searching, typed in a few numbers and then waited for it to show up.  Every year I say, "next year I'm just going to buy them" and then somehow I decide to make them.  But, next year....

Strawberry Shortcake & Raspberry Tart

Roman Gladiator

Banana (who felt like he should spend his pre-candy time on the computer and I thought it was too hilarious looking to pass on a picture)

And all my costumed creatures together.

And now I need to go inspect their candy to check for the poison laced apples.  You know, the ones our parents had to check for too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sentences of stuff

I think about blogging almost every day, but the day to day grind is what fills my time and when I think about blogging, I put it off; and obviously, put it off for quite a long time.  It quickly entered that weird "it's been so long since _________ that know I don't exactly know how get it back."  Such as the distance between friends or family that you know is there but can't seem to figure out the best way to call them up.  Yea, that is me and this blog.

So, maybe I'll just start trying to get back into things by journaling what we've been up to and hope the writing flows and becomes a more regular thing for me again.  I also use Facebook a lot so sometimes I feel like blogging things here is a repeat.

Morsels of life from September and October:
Over Labor Day we submitted to the kids' desire to go camping.  They all positively loved it and I know we'll be back there again when the temperatures climb above 50 at night.

To make the occasion even more memorable I picked up a package of Jiffy pop.  I didn't realize I captured Jacob making this face when I took the picture.  It gives me a good laugh every time I look at it.

Halloween started early here.  I was able to get the kids to decide on costumes in September and then drug out the sewing machine and turned my formal dining room back into the designated craft room.   Emily is going to be Strawberry Shortcake with Claire as her Raspberry Tart and Matthew is going to be a roman gladiator.  Jacob never decided so I'm pretty sure his will be purchased last minute, as it usually is.  He's entered into that weird stage of not knowing if he should dress up but still wanting to so he doesn't make any decisions until a few days before Halloween.  I'm cool with that, as long as he doesn't hold it against me that I don't sew his costumes like I do for his siblings.

J is gone for awhile for training so I decided to load up the van and drive 14 hours with the kids to visit him for a week during their fall break from school.  We met J in Washington D.C. for a quick weekend trip of sight seeing and also got to watch him run in a 10 mile race with 30 thousand other people.  We then went back to his temporary home in Norfolk for the week and enjoyed some easy going family time.    I have tons of pictures from this trip so I'll try to do a post of them soon.

I'm pretty sure we could squeeze a couple more little ones in the frame, don't you?

And this is where I sign off because I probably just made my mother have a heart attack.  :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Make your own: Instant Oatmeal Packets

I read that it was possible to make your own instant oatmeal packets several years ago.  I filed that away in my bookmarks for the day that I decided spending $2.50 on a box of conveniently packaged oatmeal was far too hard for me to accomplish.
OK, so maybe I had inclinations of being frugal and healthy way back then but let me tell you, with 3 kids under 5 years of age I was far too busy to care about the sugar content in instant oatmeal.  I needed that sugar just to survive the multiple diaper changes in one day.

Making your own instant oatmeal packets will save you money and best of all put you in control of what you and your family are eating.  You might not know this so I'll let you in on a secret- I'm a control freak, so this is right up my alley.

What you'll need:

3 cups Oatmeal
Pinch to 1/8 tsp. salt for each baggie
Blender (or food processor)

You can use either quick-cooking oats or rolled oats; your choice.  If you use rolled oats you will need to chop them up in the food processor or blender to make them into quick-cooking oats.

Take 1 cup of the oatmeal and process it in the blender or food processor until it is oat powder; you may need to process 1/2 cup at a time if using a blender.

Make your packets
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
2 Tbsp. oat powder
pinch of salt

To prepare:
Dump your oatmeal in a bowl and add 3/4 cup boiling water.  Mix and let rest for 1-2 minutes to thicken.  I have also had success with mixing 3/4 cup water in the bowl with the oatmeal and microwaving for about 90 seconds, stopping once to stir.

Flavor Combinations
We all know oatmeal usually tastes better with yummy flavors mixed in; here are a few flavor combinations you can add directly to your packets.

Sweetened Oatmeal: 1 Tbsp. sugar or other dry sweetener of your choice.
Brown Sugar & Cinnamon: 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Apple Cinnamon: 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. chopped dried apples, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Banana Bread: 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. chopped dried bananas, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, dash of nutmeg
Fruit & Cream: 1 Tbsp. non-dairy coffee creamer (I used vanilla because that is what I had) and 2 Tbsp. dried fruit (you could use peaches, apricots, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.)
Raisin: 1 Tbsp. brown sugar and 1 T. raisins (you can also add raisins to the apple cinnamon oatmeal)
Health Packed: Add 2 Tbsp wheat germ and/or 1/2-1 Tbsp. ground flax meal

I added 1/2 Tbsp. of ground flax meal to each of my packets; it's an easy way to sneak in some beneficial ingredients without my kids knowing.

When testing these packets I first made all brown sugar and cinnamon packets.  The three kids who eat oatmeal tried it and proclaimed it was the best they'd ever eaten, so I take that as success.  This time I made 3 different flavors for some variety, banana bread, apple cinnamon, and strawberries and cream.

Good luck and have fun taking control of your oatmeal!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Weird obsession

My kids have this weird obsession with cemeteries; they would walk around cemeteries for hours if we let them. I suppose maybe I created this obsession several years ago.  If I would have known how excited they get when I say something like "I was looking on google maps and found a cemetery right in the middle of a neighborhood" I may not have encouraged the stop over.

A few years ago while trekking to the beach, we saw many signs in the South Carolina country that marked historic sites.  I kept saying "we need to stop at one of these and see what is there."  So, one time we did.  It was a very, very old church that had a cemetery behind it.  It was completely abandoned but we had a good time looking a piece of history and the kids became obsessed with running around the headstones looking for the oldest one.
"Dad, this guy was a general in the confederate army!"
"Mom, this one is from the 1800's!"

An obsession was born.  Now our trips include phrases like "come on, we need to stop at that cemetery."  "Please mom, it'll only take a few minutes."

Emily has learned how to look up cemetery records online and can tell you the oldest grave and then like a scavenger hunt she needs to find that grave.

While I admit that finding the resting place of people who helped shape the city you're from is kind of cool, it is still a bit weird and I try to keep a button on their lips while out in public.
"Mom, let's go that cemetery we saw on the way here" tends to raise a few eyebrows.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A day with a friend and Burg Lichtenberg

Today I had the pleasure of meeting an online friend, in person.  Our husbands were both creeped out by it but we were both so excited to actually meet each other.  I had the best time hanging out with her for a day in the real Germany.  First we went to a farmer's market nearby that was simply awesome; I saw the best produce I've ever seen today.  Then I tagged along with her for the rest of day and got to see her kids' schools, their music lessons, her house and real German villages.  It was a normal day for her but I had the best time.  We may have to have discussions with the kids soon because it might be really cool living here.

J came and picked me up from her house and then we spent the evening at Lichtenberg Castle which is right up the street from her house.  Seriously, right up the street.

This castle was built in 1200, making it over 800 years old.  That is just hard to fathom.  The castle caught fire twice so the ruins have been turned into grounds for a church, restaurant and youth hostel.

We climbed up into this lookout tower to enjoy the view of the countryside.

We had dinner on the patio of the castle restaurant before driving back to the hotel for the evening.

It was a very fun day and I love that it got us away from the touristy areas and the Americanized Germany.

Burg Nanstein

I learned yesterday that burg means castle so this would be the Nanstein Castle.  This castle has been turned into a summer theatre and it also has a small restuarant/bar (mostly bar) at the top.  We saw lots of beer but no food so we sought out food from a different location.

There is also a 10K hiking trail that goes all over the mountain that Nanstein is located on.  J has been to the castle twice before and hiked the trail once so he wanted to take me up there.

It was a very uphill journey but after a few minutes we came to this.

More pictures from the castle grounds.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rothenburg, Germany

The historic district of town is surrounded by the old town wall.  Cars aren't allowed within the historic district unless you live there or you are a hotel guest.

You can walk up the towers to the top of the wall and then walk around the entire city.  A bit dark and creepy in some spots but really cool.

I just loved all the German houses and shops all lined up.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Castles on the Rhine

I meant to add more details to the airplane photo post but here is how it went:
10 minutes before boarding I decided to post a picture for the kids.  I try to log into blogger and forget my password.  Try again: Fail.  Try again, finally right.  7 minutes to go, the people are standing in line all around me.
Start a post.  Try to upload a picture: Fail.  Can't do it that way on a phone.
Quickly set up my blog to accept emailed posts like I did when we were in China.
Type email with details, try to attach a picture: Fail.
Board the plane.
Realize I must open the picture and email it that way.  Type up a post with details and hit send: Fail.
Watch the flight attendant yell at people for not getting seated quick enough and say "we must go, just sit down and we'll fix it once we're in the air."  Listen to the pilot come over the speakers and say "we must depart, sit down, turn off cell phones."
Try furiously one last time to send the picture, type as few words as possible and hit send.
13 hours later when I finally had internet again I checked to see it really did post and only once: Success!

So, for the details.  J has a conference for work in Germany this week so I decided to come along as his +1.  We left a few days early to enjoy some sites together and our children are with wonderful Meme back home.

We flew overnight and arrived in Frankfurt around 7:30 am but jet lag seriously kicked our butts so that first day was spent walking around like zombies and crying over lunch because the only choices available were all fried food.  Seriously, it was that bad.  I made it 25 hours before falling asleep but it has proven to be worth it because today I was up at 4 am and still haven't fall asleep and it's now 11 pm.

Today we took a tour with a local company to visit a castle on the Rhine river along with a couple wine tastings, boat ride, lunch and a gondola ride.  It was all so very cool and awe inspiring except the gondola ride; that nearly made me wet my pants.  And then when we got to the top and I found the bathroom I had to pay to use it and I didn't have the right kind of coins.  ACK!

This is the castle we toured; it is privately owned now by a family and is open for tours and also has a cafe.
After the tour we enjoyed a piece of plum cake on the patio and this was our view.

Pictures from around the castle:

The basket was used in ancient times as a punishment for criminals; they'd hoist them into the basket and leave them there for awhile.

These are two that we saw on our boat tour.  I lost count after awhile but I think we saw 8 castles today.

One more interesting stories from today is that this castle sitting up above this small town on the Rhine river is currently owned by a Japanese businessman; he has his helicopter fly him from the Frankfurt airport to his castle when he comes.

I only took pictures of the gondola ride with my cell phone because I was too scared to bend over and get the camera out of the backpack.  That might rock the cable car and well, I was already breathing shallow.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Make your own: Brownie Mix

This makes a lot.  I only made half the amount the first time to make sure I liked them well enough to mix 15 cups of stuff at once; I did.

It's hard to find a good recipe for homemade brownies when boxed brownie mixes are easy, fairly inexpensive and just... well, good.  But, they are also made with enriched, bleached flour and partially hydrogenated soybean oil; no thanks.
These brownies are a really close substitute for the boxed brownies.  They are moist and fudgey with a crunchy top.  I make our brownie mix with whole wheat pastry flour and raw sugar so I feel somewhat better about eating the entire pan myself,  feeding them to my family.

In your largest bowl, mix:

  • 6 cups flour (you can use any kind you'd like, I used freshly milled soft white wheat)
  • 8 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 1 8 oz. container unsweetened cocoa powder

Mix it well to really incorporate the baking powder and cocoa powder evenly.  If you use all purpose flour you could store this in your cabinet or pantry in a ziploc bag or plastic storage container; just attach a piece of paper to it with the baking instructions.  I store ours in the freezer because the freshly milled flour will turn rancid at room temperature.  This time I divided up the mix into individual bags because I was avoiding the house cleaning before my mom arrives to save time later.  This large recipe made 7 batches of brownie mix.

To make the brownies, mix:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup oil or melted butter
  • 2 cups brownie mix
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional
Preheat oven to 350, grease an 8" pan.  Your mix will probably be quite thick, spread it into pan and bake 30-35 minutes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Movie Series

Alternately titled:
Where I listen to toddlers shriek, get kicked in the back and smell poopy diapers to save a few bucks.

It always starts the same each summer.  I get excited about the FREE movie series shown each week during the summer and convince the kids that it will be fun.  They turn up their noses at most of the movies because they've already seen them or those are "too baby" but I can get them to commit to a few we skipped during the regular showings.

We pack a backpack with juice boxes and snacks because a free movie means free; none of this $5 kids pack from the concession stands for us.  We are simply here to watch your DVD on the big screen, thankyouverymuch.

First, you must arrive at least 30 minutes before the movie if you want your party of 5 to sit together.  Don't try to save seats because every mother coming in for the next 30 minutes is going to give you the look of death for robbing her and her children the opportunity to sit together for the free DVD showing.  If you do arrive after most of the seats are taken, be warned that now every mother sitting in the seats with an empty one near them will give you the look of "don't you even think about parading yourself and your 4 kids down this row, this seat is saved."

Very important- Look who you'll be sitting in front of.  This is the free movie full of 2-legged chair kickers and boy do they put on their practice shoes each week.  Try to sit in front of the parent accompanying the 2-legged chair kickers.  If the accompanying parent needs to make a bathroom run, be sure to use that opportunity to tell the 2-legged chair kicker to cut it out.  Nicely, of course.

Hopefully the movie will start on time because entertaining children for 30 minutes gets a bit difficult, even for the best mothers and daycare providers.  Finally, the lights go down and the movie starts...after the operator figures out how to switch over to the computer playing the DVD.  It can become quite comical to watch someone else navigate a computer while 200 people watch in anticipation.

Thirty minutes into the movie the toddler behind you starts asking about his shoe that fell off his foot.
"mommy, my shoe"
"my shoe, mommy"
"my shoe"
"my shoe?  mommy?"
"where's my shoe?"
"mommy, my shoe"
"my shoe, mommy"
Repeat this for the remainder of the movie.  I was about to offer up my own shoe for the kid.

Just as your thinking that the end of the movie needs to come soon or your chiropractor will be getting rich tomorrow, you smell it.  The smell of 100 toddlers and babies that all ate breakfast about two hours ago in one windowless room.
First kid: "mom, what is that smell?"
Second kid: "dude, who stinks?"  (This is a boy, of course)
Third kid: "mom, I think it's that kid right..."
Mom: "stop it, they are babies.  you pooped too, ya know."
Mom:  "dude, that stinks.  that's awful, what'd you feed that kid?"

And then you make a bee line out of the theatre as soon as the credits roll.

I'm going to suck as an old person; or senior citizen as I make my children say.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Make your own: Powdered Sugar

I thought powdered sugar was this special stuff made from something that was sugar like at one time but transformed into poofy powder by some highly complicated process.

That is until I was lazy one day and needed to make some frosting and realized I didn't have any powdered sugar.
Punch up Mr. Google.  

I'm telling you, Google automatically fills in the first three words of each of my searches now with "make your own fill in the blank."  Just today it was "make your own rice krispies" and guess what?!  You CAN make your own rice krispies!  Matthew was actually the one who wondered if it was possible so I'm thinking about making a video with him explaining that.

So anyway, back to the powdered sugar.  It's very simple, involving only 2 things.

Sugar and a blender. 

Oh, and maybe some dish cloths because your countertop might look like you poofed a bag of powdered sugar all over the place.

I made the powdered sugar today with two different sugars, one is the traditional, refined white sugar and the other is unrefined sugar, or evaporated cane juice.  This is sometimes called raw sugar, turbinado sugar, sucanat or rapadura.  They are essentially all the same but rapadura is refined the least amount.  Cane juice actually has minerals in it and the process of refining it takes those nutrients out, so we try to use raw sugar for most everything in our house.  I buy our evaporated cane juice either at a nutrition store, Whole Foods or through Azure Standard, a co-op that delivers once a month. If I run out before placing an order with the co-op I will pick up a box or two of Sugar in the Raw at the grocery store.

The process:

Dump your sugar into the blender and turn it on.  You may need to stop occasionally and knock the sugar back into the center of the blender.

To really freak your kids out you can remove the center piece of the lid and yell that the blender is on fire; they will usually come running for that.  But be warned, they will then start licking the air because it tastes like powdered sugar.

After blending for just a minute or so you will start to see powdered sugar forming.  Blend until you like the consistency.  The raw sugar ended up being only slightly darker than the white sugar once powdered.
Matthew did a taste test of the two different powdered sugars and concluded that the raw sugar had more flavor and after testing myself, I conclude he is correct; the raw sugar definitely made a more flavorful powdered sugar.  I combined the two and it is now safely stored in a Ziploc with the baking products in my pantry.

So, now when you think "I really need powdered sugar" for your fancy french toast but you're still cozy in pajamas, you can make your own and save a trip to the grocery store.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Make Your Own Series

I make many of things we use in our home myself.  This is partly due to frugality, partly to cut down on the amount of chemicals and unhealthy ingredients found in processed foods and largely out of laziness.  Yep, as backwards as that sounds, it's days that I don't want to get ready and run to the grocery store for that one missing ingredient in my recipe that leads me to figure out how to make something on my own.  Once I find that I can make something easily I have a hard time buying it at the store the next time I run out.  I flip to the ingredient list and see a lot of mumbo jumbo that I can't pronounce, or even worse is once I've learned what the mumbo jumbo actually is, and I put it back.  I now have many ziploc bags labeled with things like powdered sugar, white cake mix, pancake mix, brownie mix, etc. lining my pantry shelves instead of boxes.

So I thought I would share these things with all of you so if you find yourself one ingredient short and too lazy to go to the store, you too can make it yourself.

I'll start with a reminder of my post about making your own laundry soap, found here.
I now make my own laundry bar soap that I grind up instead of buying the Fels Naptha and Kirks Hardwater Castile soap.  I'm giddy about my next batch of laundry soap because I scented the bar soap this time with the same mountain fresh smell that I miss from Tide.  Giddy about laundry soap, oh my.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Common Objections to Adoption

Almost every time we have someone ask us about adopting Claire we hear the statement, "Oh, I'd love to adopt but insert reason here."  Many times that reason is money.

Is it expensive to adopt?  Yes.
But, it doesn't come all at once.  We were able to cash flow a lot of our early adoption expenses because the big expenses were spaced a couple months apart.  The biggest expense was travel and we did use credit to finance a lot of it.
But, did you know there is a tax credit for adopting?  Yes, to the tune of ~$12,000!  Does that make it sound a little more doable?  You do have to front the expenses and you can file for the credit (which is now a lump sum refund) the year following your finalized adoption.  Even the government sees that it is a good thing to get orphans into families!

I challenge you to really look at your list of reasons you can't adopt and see if maybe pushing beyond your comfort zone is something you'd consider.  There are approximately 149 million orphans.... that's right, million!  Can you change the life of just 1?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My faith in humanity...

has been restored.

Friday, May 6th we ate at Subway and then took the kids to Home Depot to gather supplies for that weekend's worth of work on our master bathroom.  When checking out at Home Depot I realized my wallet was gone.  At first I didn't panic; it must have fallen out in the car, I thought.   But it didn't.

Over the course of that weekend I called Subway 3 times, visited twice more and visited Home Depot twice to check and see if someone had found my wallet.  They didn't.

We canceled the cards that were in my wallet immediately Friday night and on Monday I started the arduous process of replacing my IDs, insurance cards and the like.  My driver's license had a different address on it so I contacted the residents of that address to let them know they might be receiving a package with my wallet in it.  I wanted to believe people are good and the contents of my wallet weren't being used for deviant purposes, but he longer we moved away from May 6th, the more I thought I'd never see the wallet again and my faith in humanity dwindled.

Until yesterday.  We ran some errands and returned home to find a post-it note on the front door; it read "I have your wallet" and it included his name and phone number.  Could it be?!

I called him and learned the story of my wallet's last three weeks.  His son had found my wallet and brought it home for his dad to find me.  He mailed it to my old address and it was then returned to him so he resorted to the internet to see if I lived locally.  All that information we have floating around the internet actually served some good!  

He lives only a couple of blocks from us and handed me my completely intact wallet yesterday, 24 days after I mistakenly left it on a table at Subway.  I held my hand out to shake his but truthfully, I wanted to hug him.  He restored my faith in humanity.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I have a secret

Well, not so much a secret in the sense that I don't want anyone to know, but a secret that only those within my circle know.  I've not found the way to blog about it without sounding negative or inviting a pity party over for the evening so I've just avoided it.  But, in avoiding it I feel like I'm hiding it, like I'm ashamed but that isn't the case either.  So, I've just avoided it.  

I am the mom to a child on the Autism spectrum... and it's hard.  
There are few days that pass by that I don't think "this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, God, please don't let me screw this up."  We didn't get an Asperger's/Autism diagnosis until Jacob was nearly 11 years old.  For years we chugged along with speech therapy, doctor's appointments, medication and living in a semi-constant state of frustration on both his part and ours.  One blessed teacher raised the concern that she thought something else was the root of our issues and another full evaluation ensued.  She was right.  Once we researched Asperger's, we realized we were reading our child on paper.

So, from then on we had the "why" to many of our frustrations; things that were once cloudy suddenly became crystal clear.  The lack of physical contact, the tactile issues, the loud noises that bothered him, all of it; it all made sense now.  But, having the "why" didn't give a clear answer on the new question of "now how do I deal with it?"  I felt bad, and still do, about getting so upset with him over things in the past that I now realize were most likely beyond his control.  Now I try to remember those behaviors, but there are still days, many of them in fact, that I have a hard time remembering the why of our situation and pass straight through to "I can't deal with this today."  The why gives no magic fix, no miracle jar of patience, no magic pill can fix it; it is just simply a reason why some things happen.

But, along with the issues of Asperger's that are hard to manage at times comes the silver lining that makes Jacob, Jacob.  
He is brilliant.   
We've always suspected Jacob was a bright child but this year it was confirmed to us when colleges started pursuing him to take resident courses over the summer.  Living in the dorm and taking college classes for a month as a 13 year old; that certainly wasn't something I remember being offered in my youth!  This past week we took Jacob to a statewide recognition ceremony for the Duke TIP program.  He was nominated for the program due to scores on his annual standardized tests and then took the ACT in December.  This was the regular ACT and he scored the same as an average senior in high school.  Duke TIP invited all the 7th graders from the state who scored high enough to a recognition ceremony and Jacob was very excited to attend.  In the auditorium I felt at home; a peace that comes from watching my son feel like he belongs with the peers around him.  I saw him acting comfortable and even striking up a conversation with a boy behind him; something he has been working towards for two years.  Jacob is usually a child of few words and that day he was chatty and told me several times that he was excited to be there.   
It was my slice of Italy when I usually try to accept the fact that we arrived in Holland many years ago.

Did you know that Bill Gates, Alfred Hitchcock, Isaac Newton, Jim Henson, Thomas Jefferson, Michaelangelo, Mozart, and even Albert Einstein were all diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome?  
This gives me hope.Hope that Jacob will not be limited by the challenges of Asperger's in his lifetime.  And as we chug along deciphering teenage behaviors from Asperger's behaviors we cling to that hope that his intelligence will carry him above Asperger's and he will accomplish all he sets out to in life.God gave us this child, our oldest boy, for a reason.  It wasn't an accident, it wasn't a mistake, and though sometimes I want to get bitter and mad at the doctor who messed up the end of my pregnancy and find someone to blame, I can't.  Jacob being born to two young 20 somethings was a very deliberate act of God.  We have him, and he us, for a reason.

Monday, May 2, 2011

i LOVE gay people

*gasp*  Did she just say that, or title a blog post with that?

I did.

You want to know why?  Because, despite the two verses in the Bible that some people believe refer to homsexuality there are countless others that tell us to love all people.  It doesn't say love heterosexual people, it doesn't say love people of our own race, it doesn't say love those people who think like us, it says love all people.

It says "love your neighbor as yourself"  Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19. Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galations 5:14, James 2:8

It says "God is love"  1 John 4:8

It has a a passage of verses just about love, "4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."  1 Corinthians 4-7

It boggles my mind that all the verses about loving each other get thrown out the window when the topic of homosexuality comes up.  "Oh, that's wrong; God says so."  Really, because I think God says judging people is wrong too.

So yes, I truly do love gay people.  I'm not threatened by them, I'm not scared of them, I'm not scared to have them around my children, and I'm not ashamed to be friends or family with them.  In fact, just saying them makes me feel bad; like they are something different than myself.  In fact, they are not.  They  are human beings who deserve happiness, love and acceptance just like any and all of us.

What would happen if *gasp* one of my children told me later in life that they are gay?  I can tell you- absolutely nothing would happen any different than before they told me.  The would still be the same child I kissed good night, walked the floor with and stood up for when bullied.  My ultimate goal as a mother is to raise my children to love the Lord and all people, regardless of race, sexual preference, special needs, etc.  The best and only way to do this is to lead by example.

So, here I am publicly telling my children and the world that I love all people and will raise them to do the same.  The circle of hate needs to end.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I ♥ Faces Photo Challenge | Pet Faces

This week's challenge over at I ♥ Faces is all about pets.  I've taken a couple photos of our dog, Toby, since I started the 365 challenge and it was hard picking which one I wanted to enter in this week's contest.  I decided on this one because this is how Toby spends most of his day while the kids are at school.  He'll usually raise his eyes up to look at me but never really raise his head off the floor.

Go over to I ♥ Faces by clicking the logo above to see all the other adorable pet entries this week!