"So promise me you'll never forget...that you aren't an accident or an incident...you are a gift to the world, a divine work of art, signed by God. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on this earth...Flooded by emotion, overcome by pride, the Starmaker turns to us, one by one, and says, 'You are my child. I love you dearly.'" Max Lucado, God Thinks You're Wonderful







Saturday, December 10, 2011

So proud of our Cooper


video


Some of you may have already seen this, but I had to post it here so that our first families could see it too.


Cooper worked so hard to memorize these verses, and I cried just about every time he's said it.


There is just something about a child knowing the Bible and the real reason that we celebrate Christmas. May this always be our focus, not just during this time of year!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

We HEART Curls!!!


I have been wanting to do a hair post...so here goes. As much as I would like to say I am 6 years into my hair care education, I am probably more like one year. I am such a beginner.








When the guys were born their hair didn't stay curly (except when wet) until they were 9+ months. And even though there was lots for me to learn about curls, I had no idea how easy their hair was!

Our routine for their biracial short hair is: wash weekly, but I mostly still just co-wash (conditioner wash, no shampoo) even for them. They sleep on satin pillowcases, but no sleep cap or durag. In the mornings while they brush their teeth I dampen their hair with my spray bottle with water and 2 tsp conditioner mix and add some type of curl activator or light hair lotion. Most ethnic products are too heavy and weigh their curls down or make them appear greasy. Then I comb through to separate the curls. If their hair is less than 4 inches I don't even need the Tangle Teezer, but sometimes they prefer it over a plastic comb.


For the girls...I have been blessed enough with some great friends that have shown me some wonderful blogs (right side column)! What I had learned about the boys hair (don't wash daily and certainly don't use shampoo daily) helped me a ton with the girls. And since Sadie's hair was so short and hardly grew for the first 2 years, it's been a slow go. We've found some great sleep caps both online and at Walmart. And I added satin scarfs to their carseats. I think all of these things have helped. Last winter I started twisting their hair for the first time...this was then!I am still twisting now...but it's neat to see how much their hair has grown and filled in. This is our set up for now. See my hair bag or as Blake called it my "traveling salon"? I found it at Walmart and it works great because of all of the pockets. It has rubber bands, beads, products, combs, brushes, scissors, barretts, bows, and our spray bottle. I LOVE my bag!!! The girls usually watch cartoons or a movie and Sadie painted and did crafts last time. We have snacks and drinks close. Before style time I have already washed, detangled and sectioned their hair in the tub the night before. The guys are usually at school when we do hair. This pic above is the first time I tried stretching on Emery. This is where you band the hair when it's damp and let it dry with the bands on so that their is not as much shrinking. It works pretty well! Look close at this pic and you can see how long her hair actually is when its stretched out!


I have had Sadie's hair braided a couple of times. Meaning I took her or had someone else braid it. I like this for a couple of reasons. 1.) Their braids stay in for WEEKS (3+), mine stay in for a week tops. The less you manipulate their hair, the less breakage and more growth you have. 2.) I learn new stuff by watching and going and asking questions. 3.) It's a great opportunity to form new relationships with people. Healthy, intimate relationships with other African Americans. But we can't do it all the time, or I don't want to. I think it's great bonding for me and the girls when I do their hair. I want them to know how much I love taking care of them and their hair. And it costs money to take them, so we can't do it all of the time.


This place I took her costs $55 for a whole head of cornrows. Luckily they didn't want to do her whole head because the hair in her "kitchen" is still very short and tender. Am I the only one that had to look up "kitchen"? Ha!! See how much you can learn!?!?For the girls, you really have to keep some type of moisture on it constantly. We love coconut oil at night or on braids...well pretty much anytime! It's amazing how soft their hair can be. And we found a new product at Target that I am in love with!!! It's great for a teeny weeny afro or for puffs. It's called Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie and YUMMO does it smell good. I didn't think it was too costly ($10 for 12 oz) and it's a Fair Trade product!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Do You Love Jesus?

This is my absolute favorite time of year. I get teary hearing certain Christmas songs about the birth of our Savior...how He became human for us.

This song is my new all time favorite because it keeps reminding me of such truth of the season...



And something I hardly ever do is steer you to another site. But there is something that has been stirring in my heart for years. My first youth pastor and his wife have have had the same stirring. Jen has written about it and I pray you will take a minute to read what she says about Christmas. She writes so much better than I ever could. She is so bold and honest. If you love Jesus, please please read what she writes.

My prayer is that our children always know that Jesus is what Christmas is about, not Santa, not gifts.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I Hope I Never Forget...

I hope I never forget how much I sweat during this photo session! What was I thinking? Taking pictures after school is not a good idea...even with backup. But these do make me laugh!


















There are so many things that happen in a day that make me giggle. Funny things that the kids say or that happen to us...I want to take a minute to jot down a few so that I will never forget this stage in our life.

Sadie loves her brothers and wants to be just like them. As sweet as that is, it can lead to some really funny or awkward moments. Like her playing until she had a pee pee emergency, so she just dropped trou and squatted IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PARK!!! Wha? No baby baby. Girls don't tee tee outside.


On the days when it's hot, the guys start stripping off their shirts. Sister follows and is so sad to hear that she has to cover up her "pumps". She calls her bumps "pumps". I wear my insulin pump in my bra. Whoops. Guess we need to have a "parts" talk.

She is also convinced she has a penis. Her belly button was an outie forever. For the longest time she would pretend to potty with the boys. She'd stand facing the potty, tuck her shirt under her chin and yank on her belly button just waiting for something to come out. Bless.her.heart! Luckily her belly button has gone in, and she just thinks it's funny to say the word.


Right now we are working on being ladylike and keeping your privates to yourself. Lately she keeps whispering, "Mom. They can't see my pirates!" Its just too cute and I can't correct her.

____________________________________

I was lucky enough to join Owen for lunch at school last week and it was a blast. All the kids were SO excited about the "holidays" and the conversation started:


Joshua: "If you celebrate Hanukkah you get more presents than if you celebrate Christmas."


I giggle and he continues, "That's what my dad says." (bwahahaha)

They boys got to talking about who celebrated what, some both, some Hanukkah and most Christmas. So I asked, "Do you know why some people celebrate one and some the other?"

The boy next to me pipes up, "Yes! If you believe in Santa you celebrate Christmas!"

Oh man. Are we off or what?!?! I looked bug-eyed at Owen hoping he might think that was odd since we really don't do Santa. Nope. He just chimed in, "I believe in Santa!" Dang.

__________________________________________




Blake went in to practice the other day and a player told him he looked hung over. If you know Blake you'll know why that's so funny. Blake replied, "Listen man. I have 4 kids. It's always a party at my house."

_________________________________________



Sadie speak:

Her favorite bedtime delay, "Will you skwaatch my back?" Even after you HAVE skwaatched and skwaatched!

scabetti= spaghetti

wogurt=oatmeal or yogurt

my baby= Emery Faith

pena putta= peanut butter

When she gets in trouble, "Mama, eww bein wude to me!" ____________________________________


Sadie was jumping on our bed and we asked her to stop. She continued. Blake said something about her being sassypants. She stopped bouncing and said, "Daddy. I not fassypants. Ina hurt eww."

_______________________________________

I picked up Coop from school one day and he told me that his teacher didn't know the words to Jesus Loves the Little Children. I immediately knew what he was going to say. He explained she left out the color brown in her version of the song. It's so hard for kids to understand that song and what red and yellow mean and why brown is not included. So I just told him he needed to teach her how we sing it:


Jesus loves the little children,

All the children of the world,

Red and yellow, black, brown, white

They are precious in his sight.

Jesus loves the little children of the world!

________________________________________


Blake and I have held off and not put the kids in organized sports as of yet. We got so excited because we found a church basketball league that is starting soon. Blake's schedule should be slowing down. The weather is getting cold and we need an outlet for our wiggles. Perfect timing for both boys. We excitedly tell them and ask if they want to do it. Cooper said no, and got mad as I questioned why. His response? I will sweat. I will get thirsty. I just like to shoot and don't like "real" basketball. Are you serious? Kid, you have awesome talent!! Crack.me.up! Owen quickly followed. They both were out and the more we tried to persuade them, we realized who their parents were. Holy bananas they are stubborn and so are we! ;o) We asked them to sleep on it and let us know this morning. Shocker, they are not at all on board. But they did both say, "We want to play football!"
________________________________________


I pride myself in dying my own hair. It goes just fine about 90% of the time. But there might be a few times I've had to wear slightly purple or grey hair around. Yikes. Well this last go round I got caught up in a murder investigation show and before I knew it I was platinum blonde. Oops. The following night I was bathing the kids and Cooper said, "Mom. Your hair is kinda black. I mean. Up there it looks burnt. " Oh lands. He was talking about my roots people. _________________________________________


Funny things in Atlanta:

They use needles from pine trees as mulch. It's everywhere in the streets like tumbleweed.


There are endless numbers of Lowe's bags filled with leaves sitting on everyone's curb. Not sure what this is except perhaps a biodegradable bag?


Things are "spensive" around here! Do you know I have to pay to park to go see the doctor? And it's $4 for the first 30-1.5hrs! I looked like a fool when I gasped at the toll guy telling me I owed $5 for going to the doctor. No bueno people. And I could hardly squeeze out of my car after I parked. For reals. To see Christmas lights, in your car no less, it's $40 on a weekday and $60 on the weekend.

The malls here are SWANKY. I had avoided them for multiple reasons, but had to get some StarWars cookie cutters from Williams Sonoma. So with 3 babes in tow, we headed to the one that was not as ritzy. The second we walked in, my eyes hit the floor. I couldn't make eye contact with anyone. I was wearing my normal SAHM clothing= jeans, tennies and a Tshirt. Mkay. Everyone else was in business/church attire. And then there is me, with 3 kids...and my 3 kids happen to be brown. And gorgeous. And we kinda already stick out. I pitted out my shirt in 5 seconds flat.

I have a new addiction to the Goodwill. There. I said it. We love shopping there. The girls get to play with the toys while I look for odds and ends I left behind in storage. We've found rain boots for the kids, books, toys, furniture. And you know it's bad when the workers know us now :/

______________________________


Okay. That's enough for now. I will try and keep better track of the sweet things my kiddos say so that I can tell them one day. Hope they made you giggle!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thankful Thursday!!!






Hope these make you smile! We have a LOT to be thankful for right now!!!




My bestest friend in the whole wide world!


And my forever babycakes. Please don't tell me she's not a baby anymore. I know. But she will always be my baby!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How is he 5?

I swear this was yesterday. Oh how I miss her. When people ask if we are liking Atlanta and if we think we will stay, I have a hard time not laughing. We love it here, don't get me wrong. But we have so much more in Oklahoma. We not only have our friends and family, we have our birth families that we miss so so much. And as every birthday creeps up, my heart can't help but cling to those sweet moments we shared with each of them surrounding the birth of these miracles. I can't live without them in my life.

And now he's 5. He is an incredible young man. Blake and I are so proud of him for the decisions he makes to love others and serve others. He is sensitive. He is patient. He is passionate. He now wants to be a sword fighter when he grows up. "Well play football and practice sword fighting". Huh? It makes sense to him! He is curious about God and Jesus and wants to know so badly what it feels like to have Jesus in your heart. Oh how I love those talks...


So last night for his special day we let him choose the plans for the day and or dinner. Despite my awesome skills in the kitchen, he chose the local burger joint. Blake surprised us all with ice cream afterwards! Yummo! Do you see it running down her hand? It's possible I picked the ice cream flavor for her. One day I will have to get my own cone!


Isn't he a pumpkin? Sharing with the slobbery baby. He doesn't care. This guy loves his baby slobber and all.


Cooper picked going to park over every other option I gave him for his birthday. Isn't that funny? The park we go to daily. My kids are easily pleased. This is Sadie's first time to climb a real tree. She has mastered the large Crape Myrtles here. In Georgia, the Crape Myrtles are massive and climbable.


The boys had so much fun wrestling in the leaves. I love it because there are quite a few boys the same age that come to the park...they know each other from school. They all joined in!





Opening presents first thing in the morning! HE COULD NOT WAIT!!!

Pushing his sissy. Too bad she hated it. She was screaming!!!


Birthday party pics!!! We had some friends come to play at the park for Cooper's costume party. It was so much fun! Sadie rocking her dress up wedding shoes. It's scary how good she is in heels!



Cooper looks thrilled. These are two of his friends from PreK! He has met such sweet friends at school.


Getting ready to sing! Can you see those cute Star Wars cupcakes?


The kids got to decorate their own Star Wars sugar cookies. Well, that is until Sadie started licking the sprinkles dispenser and the knives. Lil stinker.



We took all of our dress up clothes and costumes. The kids had fun traded costumes and trying on new stuff. We just might have to do this again one year!



I even found a cool Darth Vader pinata.
We have so many things to be thankful for this year. This day I was thankful for new friends in our life that could help us make Cooper feel loved and special since we didn't have our family. I have never felt so indebted to people showing up for this...but I was scared to death no one would come. You know how things get busy and you forget a party? Thank you Jesus for these precious people! And thank you for the sunshine so that we could play at the park!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I am adopted




I love the adoption community. I feel like I've been rather plucked out of it here in the ATL. But, thank you Jesus for using facebook...I can keep my heart intertwined to those I have grown to love that share this passion.

I have "met" people that I never would have through adoption/orphan care ministries, adoption support groups, waiting mom's coffee groups, and yes...even facebook. It's amazing the support and encouragement there is out there if you just search for it.

I saw something a week ago that captured my heart and hasn't left my mind. It's a bold prayer that verbalizes THE reason more of us don't step forward into foster care and adoption. We forget who we are. Read this that was posted by a friend who is a mother in the beginning stages of foster care...

"Today I am thankful for God's adoption of me into his family. He looked at my life's file and saw all the selfishness, and anger and ugliness of my past and present, and he still chose to pursue spending eternity unconditionally loving me as his child. I pray he will give me the strength, grace and mercy to do the same."

If I had a nickle for every time someone told me they would LOVE to foster care/adopt, BUT...

This mom understands that SHE cannot do any of this without HER FATHER. None of us can, but we often forget that. She is no more equipped or ready than the rest of us. But she fully grasps that God can and will use her right where she is. Our lives are about HIM and not us.

Lord, please help us to understand that you died on the cross and forgave us of our sins so that we may live in FREEDOM!!! Not fear. Open our eyes Lord to the many excuses we give you for not obeying you...help us to see that for what it is. Fear. We aren't fully trusting you with every part of us; be it finances, our family, our entertainment, or our hearts. Remind us daily that you adopted us, fully aware of how messed up and needy we are. You took us and called us YOURS knowing we had special needs and that we would hurt your other children. And you did nothing but receive us time and time again with open arms. May we do the same.

Please join me in praying for Joe and Carrie pictured above. They currently have 3children and they are hoping to meet their 4 foster children this week.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Children of God



I am sorry I keep posting videos. But I just can't say it anymore powerful than these people do. I am not good getting out what's on my heart.

I so badly want to be able to do something...and I think that there is an opportunity with our church. I am so excited to see what happens. They have a program called Fostering Together. Their goal is to not only provide more homes for foster children, but allow the church to better support these foster families so that they not only survive the process, but want to continue to foster. We are not going to foster, but we can be a support family to a family already fostering. We can help with daytime care for them!

We still have to be approved and go through fingerprints and background checks and all, but it's just so exciting! After all is good to go they will match us up with a family. We'll keep you posted!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We Have No Choice



Bold statements here. God calls us to this. We have been made aware. And we have no choice but to do something.

"We should be leading the change on this, it's what Jesus calls us to do."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

24,000

24,000 young adults age out of the foster care system every year...with no one to call their family.





If not you, then who will?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Perfect Morning





This morning all munchkins slept in until 6:30! Then one by one, the bigs all piled into our bed. Blake and I smiled at each other, turned on cartoons and enjoyed the cuddles. And then we heard squeals from Emery's room. We all giggled it was like she knew something was happening without her. Off Owen ran and plucked her from her crib. She rules the roost when it comes to mama. She wants to be the one closest to me. So she climbed right on my chest, fanny in my face and watched cartoons with her big brothers and sister. I can't help but just love it. Oh how full my heart is.


Thursday was a fun day because I surprised the kids with slushes at Quiktrip. When I asked to take a pic, this is what I got. Look at those expressions! Oh my word!! They crack me up!




Look at Lil Bit. She is 16 months people! Yes. Her mama gave her HER OWN smoothie. I know. Tisk tisk. But look at the excitement on her face. Priceless.I think Sadie's smile says "thank you", don't you? I wouldn't let them get in the car until all pink slushy drinks were consumed or in the trash....so they climbed on it. Here she is a bit earlier as we were picking up Owen after school. She found the bag of popcorn for snack and started running with it. I was laughing so hard I could hardly snap the picture. Wrestle mania is one of our favorites...so is Tickle Monster. Emery has learned how to jump on daddy too. In fact, this night she saw Blake roughing Cooper and she walked up to him and slapped his face...hard and gave him the stink-eye. I love it!


With all of these sweet moments with the kids, the smells and sounds of fall, and the beautiful things happening in nature to remind us of God's power...I just can't help but think of foster kids. These videos I've found just linger in my mind and heart. I can't begin to imagine what it must feel like to be that alone. I am a strong, independent, deeply loved woman and I have felt alone here in this new city. And I am a well-adjusted 32 year old lover of Jesus. So being 4 and ripped from my home then shuffled from one home to the next is more than I can wrap my head around. Please pray for our system...pray for loving people to step forward.