Wednesday, November 16, 2011

4 years ago...

4 years ago, I was still one or two prescriptions shy of legally blind...hence the glasses. Thank God for LASIK, which eventually fixed my eyes.

4 years ago, I was nearly as blind about motherhood as I was in real life...hence the terror in my heart as I held my newborn son. Thank God for JACK, who eventually fixed my heart.

4 years ago, Jack inadvertently introduced me to this girl:
And my life is untold amounts richer because of these two. So different; Jack is a 4-year-old American boy, all rough and tumble, all privileged and pampered, all boy, while Barbie is a 10-year-old Filipina, all sweet and sassy, all striving to get ANYWHERE in this life, all girl.

Yet Jack and Barbie are the same. They are fearfully and wonderfully made. They desperately want my approval. They have dreams. They mess up. They grow and change and learn and love.

And thankfully, they are both mine.

4 years ago, my life changed permanently. When did yours change? 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shoebox Time!

 It's mid-November, which means gorgeous fall scenery, football, holiday planning and dropping temperatures. It also signals the time for one of my favorite end-of-the-year traditions.....Operation Christmas Child time!

I can never say enough about how much I love this super-easy and meaningful activity. It's one of the best ways I have found to teach preschoolers about giving.

Here's what you do:
1) Obtain an ordinary shoebox and choose it to be for either a boy or girl. Pick an age category: 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14.
2) Stuff the box with things your chosen child would supplies, candy, toys, coloring books, hygiene items, art supplies, a personal letter & family photo, small articles of clothing, etc.
3) Tape a downloaded label ( to the box. On that website, you'll pay $7 for shipping. Trust me, these puppies go to the ends of the earth and get delivered in all sorts of crazy ways (even by elephant & camel!), so that's a smokin' deal.

Thanks to the barcode system, you can know to which country your box goes! Such an easy way to teach Jack geography. How cool is that?
4) Put a rubber band around your labeled box and drop it off at your local distribution center (find it at sometime THIS WEEK, November 14-21. Wait a few weeks/months and see where your box has gone! Voila! You have blessed a child's life beyond measure who most likely would never have gotten a Christmas present.

Every year, I watch videos of Samaritan's Purse staff handing out these boxes to children in over 100 countries, and I never get tired of seeing the joy on their little faces. Some kids rip into the shoebox right away, yelling, screaming and showing off their gifts. Others just clutch the unopened boxes to their chests, savoring every moment and hoping it's not a dream. It's my dream to one day accompany my box and hand it to a little someone in person.

It might just be a shoebox, but here's what we managed to stuff into just one of our boxes (we did 2; one for a 2- to 4-year-old boy and one for a 5- to 9-year-old boy).

  • Toothpaste, toothbrush & floss
  • Modeling clay
  • 1 tub of Playdough
  • 24-pack of crayons
  • 12-pack of pencils & pencil sharpener
  • 2 pens
  • 12 chalk sticks
  • Memo book
  • Glue stick
  • Flashlight with 4 batteries
  • Ruler
  • Marbles set
  • 1 pack of gum & 12 pieces of candy
  • Scissors
  • Squishie ball
  • Washcloth
  • Toy dinosaur
  • Hot Wheels car
  • 1 bar of soap
  • Fork & spoon
  • Solar-powered calculator
  • 2 pouches of powered milk
  • Travel box of Kleenex
  • Personal letter from Jack
Jack loved picking out every single item for his little boy this year. Of course, we've been doing this all year long to save money (thank you, cereal box toys and free stuff from our dentist!). I shop after-holiday sales and bargain racks religiously, setting aside a shoe box in my closet from January on.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011


 Sorry for my absence, folks. I don't know how Kelle Hampton (my favorite mother-of-two blogger and photographer extraordinaire) does it. But in my defense, I have written at least 2 dozen blogs in my head over the last month and a half!

Jack is constantly learning. Every day his little sponge-like brain amazes me. But lately, a lot of his new "Hey Mommy, listen to what I learned today!" material has come courtesy of this girl. Yes, the one he's chasing in his John Deere

I was definitely more than a little hesitant about getting a foreign exchange student. I mean, c'mon, don't I have enough on my plate?

But after more than 2 months of living with Spanish Celia (as her name was in my head before we met), I can say she has been a blessing!

She makes her bed first thing in the morning, empties the dishwasher without being asked, sets the table, watches the kids for me here and there and does pretty much whatever I ask without blinking.

One of Celia's perks is....drumroll......she speaks Spanish. Well, duh, but she speaks Spanish to Jack. Between Celia and Dora (whom she so wanted to be for Halloween but never got the costume together, darn), Jack is picking up Espanol like he's moving to Spain tomorrow.

Except it often comes out a little garbled, and in the process, makes us laugh hysterically. Such as: we'll say, "Thank you, Jack." And he'll wink at us and say, "Binada."

Denada, binada.....whatever!

Yesterday, he responded in Spanish to the lady cutting his hair. She said excitedly, "Oh, you speak Spanish?" and took off in her native tongue. Jack looked at me like, What the heck is this lady saying and should I be worried about the scissors in her hand?
But back to Celia.

She only has one older brother and has absolutely NO experience around little kids. So I was a little worried about what she'd think about living with us.

No worries now!

She is definitely getting a taste of what life with babies is like. Great practice for those 5 kids she says she wants some day.

This city girl is down for anything. Since she's been here, she has

  • Gone blueberry and blackberry picking and made jam with me
  • Spent a weekend backpacking in the woods with no running water
  • Hiked behind 2 waterfalls
  • Learned to bake brownies (although she doesn't want her family to know, for fear they will require proof when she returns home)
  • Figured out that food comes from a garden
  • Taste-tested about 20 different zucchini recipes
  • Jumped off a 25-foot platform at night
  • Attended her first major sporting event
  • Learned to use a saw and drill
And she's afraid of nothing. I'm not sure if I'd have that kind of courage at 15 to do what she does every day!

So grathias, Celia!