Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Blessings

What a great Christmas! I suppose I say that nearly every year but it was an especially good one. Our boys had a wonderful time opening gifts but were in no hurry as they enjoyed each gift as they opened it. They were each so excited to give the gifts they had selected for their brothers which was incredibly sweet! I saw a mature and giving spirit in the older two that blessed me - they truly enjoyed the giving almost as much as the receiving. It was a beautiful day and I so enjoyed just being with my family. There was no rush and no commitments just a day to spend together - talking, laughing, eating and playing.

I was suprised by the depth of emotion I felt and perhaps I often feel at the holidays. Not just the feeling of being blessed but the feeling of having already received the greatest gifts ever in the form of three little boys. Boys who do not share our DNA and who would not have "naturally" crossed our paths and yet are so definitely ours in every way...our own children...our blessings. It is not only overwhelming to see God's hand and work in our family but it is also overwhelming to know how many children don't have families. And that is something constantly on my heart. Rarely does a day go by that I do not feel burdened for them. So, intermixed with my amazing and awesome day, I couldn't help but feel sad for those children and wonder what more I can do, what more our family can do.

Anyway, it was truly a great day. The depth of love I feel for my husband and sons is unrivaled...they are incredible.

All right, enough sap. :) Pictures will be posted when I get them off the other words...soon. :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The plan for tonight as told to us by our boys is this, "We will tiptoe quietly down the stairs (Titus, we will help you get out of your crib). We will hide under the table and watch for Santa to come and eat the cookies and then go back up the chimney. Mom & Dad, would you like to hide with us?"

It has to be one of the sweetest invitations ever. The irony of it all is that we have never really "done Santa" and have always told them he is pretend. :) Nevertheless, they believe and we have decided to let them. So, we will put out the cookies, milk, and carrots, and we will write a little note from Santa to leave out for them. Who knows, you may even find us crouching underneath the table come midnight tonight. :) Oh to be young again.

Hard to believe we actually got not one but two pictures with all three smiling. :) And even Pippi got in on the action - she loves being held!

From our family to yours, We wish you a very blessed and Merry Christmas! You have blessed us in so many ways as we have gone through transition and challenge and joy this year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Christmas Eve Tradition

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Hard to believe this year is so quickly coming to an end! The boys are beyond thrilled that Christmas is almost here. Each time Santa appears in a book, picture, commercial, movie etc.,Titus has been exclaiming with great excitement, "Ho, ho!!!"

We open our first gift on Christmas Eve - it's always a new pair of pajamas. It heightens the excitement for the other things stowed under the tree, ensures an excellent night's sleep (seriously, who doesn't love new jammies?), and makes for cute pictures. It's a tradition we started when the boys first came home and I love it. We cuddle up in our pajamas, read a few stories, and drink egg nog or hot chocolate by the Christmas tree. It's cozy and sweet. I love these years of innocence and magic and wonder.

Anyway, the gifts are almost all wrapped and the house is (mostly :)) clean. Tomorrow night, after our fun traditions, we will stuff the stockings, finish putting the gifts out and then sleep as long as three very excited little boys will let us. I'm betting we will be up by 6:15 on Christmas Morning. :) 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Boy & His Dog

These two share a special bond. A mutual admiration. Calvin is an animal lover in general and Pippi is always glad for the extra attention he gives her. He calmly and soothingly talks to her, scratches her neck, pets her, and holds her. It's sweet to see.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Does It Get Any Cuter?

I don't think so. He brings us the camera and says, "Cheese, Cheese," which means, "Please take my picture." :) He is talking up a storm lately which is adorable..I love it! Hard to believe our youngest is 28 months!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Open House!

We enjoyed having our open house last Saturday! It is always a joy to welcome people in to our home. I think we had about 60 or so family and friends stop by during the evening. Here are some pictures of the table and food - I was too busy visiting and re-stocking the food to take pictures of anything else.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Various Things

I have so much to blog about and yet am running out of hours in the day! So here are some quick updates:

- I've had the pleasure of taking each of my boys on a "date" night for their Christmas shopping and a meal out. Delightful. I love spending time with them individually and watching their thought process as they carefully selected gifts for their brothers.

- We had a wonderful open house and enjoyed welcoming family and friends into our home. It was a surprisingly stress-free day and we even got a few home projects done (like touching up paint on the walls :)).

- I went back into the cookie business for the holidays and so have made and shipped several dozen. I decided to do it because someone asked me if I would and I couldn't resist. :) I love to bake cookies! Simply Sweets is the name I settled on and $1/dozen is donated to one of my very favorite charities - Two Hearts for Hope.

- Christmas shopping is nearly done. Gifts is one of my main love languages - I love giving them and I enjoy receiving them, too. :) I like to think about the individuals I'm shopping for and so I carefully plan (starting in September or October) and then shop. Andrew was pretty much the hardest but I think he will like what I got him. :) It's actually been one of the hardest years - not sure why. I'm happy to be almost done so I can get things wrapped - I do not enjoy last minute shopping and preparation. I'm a planner. :)

- Calvin had an appointment for his ears this week in Chicago. We just love the staff at the Shriner's Hospital. The audiologist and ENT were the only ones we were scheduled to see this week but we said 'hi' to lots of others, too. :) We took them a cookie tray to say thanks for all they do - they have blessed our family tremendously and I know they bless many others also! Anyway, Calvin has fluid on his right ear again and has a hole in his left eardrum which actually prevents the fluid build-up and is okay. Thankfully, he passed his hearing test and is doing pretty well in that arena. So, we are waiting. We will go back in May for a full team evaluation.

- Tomorrow is my work Christmas party which will be fun! We are going to a local tea house.

- This weekend we are hoping to get some things done around the house and finish Christmas preparations. We thought about heading to a local creamery for their Christmas on the Farm but I think we will probably pass this year. We've had colds and it's been a very long and busy week. 

We are all looking forward to Christmas! The boys can hardly contain their excitement and honestly, I just love giving gifts, so I'm pretty excited, too! :)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Totally Gross

My son, P, is seriously concerned about whomever lives in the sewers. How did this come up you ask? Well, he is feeling a little puny today and so I told him that if he needed to vomit, he could use the bowl or the toilet. He exclained that it was quite disgusting to use the toilet - to which I shared the information that we dump the bowl there. He was rather shocked and explained that he is thinks those who live down there will think the yucky water is gross. I agree. But then again, let's hope it's just sewer rats and the like. :) 

Thursday, December 02, 2010


Calvin woke up this morning and told me about a dream last night. It was precious and I simply must record it.

"Mom, I dreamed that someone took Pippi (our dog). And I called 911 and the police came. I got Pippi back and the policeman gave me the handcuffs so I could put them on the bad man. And Pippi came back.

Are you so proud of me, Mom, for saving the day?"

He then spent some quality time with Pippi - petting her and loving on her. I think it was a little too real for him - he loves our dog.

This is the first time that he has told us a dream in such detail. It was so sweet.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I have another confession...perhaps I should re-title my blog: True Confessions of a 30-Something. :)

Here it is: I just don't really like leftovers. They rarely sound good (except maybe soup) and sometimes they downright gross me out. Lest you think all my leftovers go to waste (they do not), I try to make the amount we will eat with maybe one extra serving and I do give leftovers to the kids sometimes (they don't seem to mind). And thankfully, my husband does like leftovers and so he takes them for lunch. Here's the thing, I don't mind at all eating leftovers at my mom's house or at a friend's house - it's just mine. :) Perhaps it has something to do with this strange phenomenon that seems to run in my family - food is sometimes less tasty after you've prepared it...the family will love it and I have no appetite :)

And while we are on this topic, I totally admire people that do freezer cooking. I've tried and it doesn't work well for us. I think it feels kind of like leftovers to me. Maybe part of it is that I generally like to cook and so freezer cooking for me has become chicken breasts, browned ground beef, chunked ham, and vegetables in the freezer to be used in various soups, pastas, and more - instead of already made dishes. My pantry is stocked with canned beans, chicken stock, and canned tomatoes and sauce. It works most of the time and there's always breakfast food for the nights it doesn't work. :)

Anyway, I think it's awesome that my husband loves leftovers and I think it's great that everyone has their own kitchen style. As for me, I'll pass on the leftovers from last night's dinner.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


This is a week typically marked by expressing thankfulness for our many blessings. It's a good week, a remembering week, and a thankful week. But this week has been a tough one for me - I am rarely pain free (due to a car accident and other issues several years ago) and struggle with back and neck issues which cause regular headaches and other pain for me. It's been a particularly rough one with sleepless nights, unmanaged pain, and constant headaches. I struggled through work and came home exhausted. It's just something I deal with - it's not something I focus on or choose to talk about but it is my reality. Thankfully most weeks are not like this week. :)

My point of this post (yes, there really is one and it's definitely not "poor me" :)), is to express so much gratitude for my chiropractor. He has been instrumental in helping me to manage discomfort and pain. He will see me at the last minute, is always cheerful, knows my family (and I mean my siblings, parents, kids and all!) listens to my concerns, tells me what's going on, and helps relieve the stress and pressure on my back and neck that is exacerbated with caring for kids and home, working, and just living life. He also gives me techniques to help at home. And he always says, "Just give me a call when you need to come back!" Without him, I have no doubt I would be living with a tremendous amount of constant pain and likely having to take regular pain medication, so a week like this might be my daily life. I'm SO thankful to lead a normal, active life with only a few limitations. He has been such a blessing to me!

I'm incredibly grateful to be feeling some better today after seeing him yesterday. There is too much to do to be flat on my back. :) So if I were giving a toast today, it would be for Dr. F...and my husband would concur - we are thankful.

Monday, November 22, 2010

'Tis the Week of Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving menu is mostly set. After work this afternoon, I hope to finish the shopping (not to mention we are out of bread and milk - the staples). I wish my house would magically clean and maintain itself but seeing as how that isn't happening, I have some work to do. :) Thankfully, the boys will spend tomorrow at  my mom's - lessening the opportunity for it to be made into a zone again. I'm working on my placecards and planning out the centerpiece and seating. We will use the china and a tablecloth and I will pretend it doesn't bother me when the boys use the tablecloth as a napkin. I'm creating a blessing jar for everyone to write down blessings from this year - for us to read and then save for next year. I think it will be a good reminder. 

Black Friday will find my sister and me heading out for one or two stores to score some deals. I hope to find a great deal on an electric griddle - an unfortunate mishap has rendered mine unuseable and I miss it - A LOT. And between you and me, the boys are getting a wii for Christmas (I've been saving up my Swagbucks!) and so I'll be looking for some accessories to go along with that. We are also considering looking for a new washer and dryer. It's time and perhaps there will be a good deal.

It will be a different year. We have half the number of events in a three-day period that we normally do and while I welcome the calm, it is also comes with some sadness. I will miss seeing my amazing extended family and miss seeing all of siblings and their spouses all together - though I think most will make Sunday dinner at my parent's house.

We are looking forward to decorating our home and tree on Saturday - the boys can hardly wait. We've NEVER done it so early. But with a bridal shower on the 4th and our open house on the 11th, it will be wonderful to have it done. And you are all invited to our open house on the 11th - feel free to stop in between 4 and 7 p.m. for food and holiday cheer. We so enjoy visiting with our family friends and sharing the holiday season. I'm looking forward to all the baking in preparation!

Happy Thanksgiving week!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I've already admitted to coloring and highlighting my hair on a regular basis - something I was certain I would never do when I was younger. (That was before the gray hair. :)) And I look forward to those hair appointments every 10 weeks or so.

I've recently decided to be done plucking my eyebrows - I HATE doing it. It hurts and it's hard to get the right shape and not miss any of the strays. I never did it often enough. My solution is having them threaded. It's inexpensive (though still painful), it's done in about 5 minutes, and I love the results! The bonus for me is that they have a little shop in the grocery store so I periodically get it done after I shop.

That's my true confession today - I pay someone else to take care of my eyebrows.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I don't consider myself a crafty person at all. Sure, I love to cook and bake and experiment in the kitchen but it pretty much ends there. But one thing I really enjoy is making invitations, placecards and other related paper items. Cutting paper and making something beautiful is so fun for me!

Tonight, I put together invitations for a bridal shower I'm hosting in a few weeks. I rummaged through my scrapbook goodies (which are rarely put to use these days :)) and found some excellent embellishments - I already had cardstock in a lovely color. I'm so happy with how the invitations came together. My mom helped and it took less time than I thought it might. It was just the creative outlet I needed this week! (On a side note: I wanted to take a picture and post it but there is a little too much identifying info. :))

I'm excited to make some paper crafts for Thanksgiving next week. Although it may necessitate a quick trip to the craft store for some fall colored cardstock - I used all that I had for the labels and cards I made for my office open house a few weeks ago.

Music used to be my main creative outlet but we don't currently have a piano (which is sad...someday we will!). And I've turned to cooking and baking but I'm starting to think that I should do more with paper. Do you have a favorite creative or crafy hobby?

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Goodness

I completely miss blogging! Thanks to Kim, I figured out the picture issue. I was looking back a couple of years ago and enjoyed how busy the blog once was. Ah well, seasons of life. Perhaps I'll get back in the habit soon!

Our first semester of homeschool classes are nearly complete. It's been a good semester overall and somewhere along the way, I think we've decided to homeschool for another year. There are certainly frustrating days and days that I think I can't possibly do this but I'm so thankful for the time with my kids. I know I'll miss these years someday! Homeschooling is most definitely not for everyone and I have no idea how long we will do it but I'm focusing on enjoying it.

My favorite parts of school has been our country studies (which we have not done nearly enough!), our history, and reading. The last one surprises me the most - I told a friend recently that I realized that I was so worried about teaching my kids to read that I completely overbought materials. I think my recent tally was 4 different types of programs/approaches. :) I didn't even realize. Thankfully, it has not been quite as daunting as I thought it might be. The boys love the program that I settled on and are making great progress!

I'm so impressed with all the materials and resources available for homeschool. And I think that in some ways, homeschooling has brought out some creativity that I didn't realize I had in me. :) It's usually just simple projects and new ways to present material but still...

We are looking forward to our winter break. We will keep up with reading and math and some review but it will be a welcome break from our more intense study and memorization. I'm planning lots of field trips and holiday activities!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Way Overdue

Here are some photos of the kids from a couple of weeks ago. I'm not biased at all :) but I think they are pretty cute! We had such a great time at the zoo - seeing the animals, trick-or-treating, and hanging out with friends!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Celebrating 2 Years!

This past Saturday marked Titus' second Adoption Day! We took our sweet little 2 3/4 month old baby to court and after a few questions, our motion was granted. A VERY happy day and for all of you adoptive friends - always a big relief. :)

Our Court Day - November 6, 2008
It still amazes me that in 5 months we wents from considering beginning the process for #3 to finalizing the adoption of our wonderful baby boy. It seemed like a seamless process on the surface - though much of it was far from it - a very emotional journey.
Our first picture as a family of five!
We remain indebted to Titus' beautiful birthmom. I had an unexpected chance to speak with her recently for the first time since Ty's birth and it was a wonderful conversation that I will carry forever in my heart - needless to day, I ended up in tears. She and I will always be his two moms - we share a unique bond, an unusual bond, a bond that transcends background, culture, and expectation.

I like this poignant poem which expresses many of my thoughts.


Once there were two women who never knew each other.
One you do not remember, the other you call Mother.

Two different lives shaped to make you one.
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.

The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love. The second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality. The other gave you a name.
One gave you a talent. The other gave you aim.

One gave you emotions. The other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile. The other dried your tears.

One sought for you a home that she could not provide.
The other prayed for a child and her hope was not denied.

And now you ask me, through your tears,
the age-old question unanswered through the years.
Heredity or environment, which are you a product of?
Neither, my darling. Neither. Just two different kinds of Love.

© Author Unknown
Just a few weeks ago - a very sweet, happy, active 2 - year old! A wonderful son - such a blessing!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

No Pictures

I have tried to post pictures this week (from the weekend) and blogger has been quite uncooperative! I'll try again but don't have time right now. :)

We had a great fall break in South Bend. And we are going to visit friends in TN soon - I can't wait!

Work is going well and I feel like I'm getting into more of a groove at work and with the boys' school.

Big changes have been happening over at The Cooks Next Door - my sister, Stephanie, is a new contributor. I'm thrilled to have her!

Other than that, we are looking towards the holidays! I think we will have our open house and I'm looking forward to it!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just for a Minute

Okay, I'm going to whine and complain for just a minute. We considered getting a swing set for the boys for a couple of years and this year, we decided it was time and so we carefully chose a playset to build in the backyard. We put it up in June and the boys have loved it.

Today, the horrible wind picked up the playset (anything short of cement would not have kept it down), carried it 15 feet and and turned it upside down - it is in awful shape. Our homeowners insurance has a deductible that would be about the amount to replace it, so I think we will try to salvage it. But I'm disappointed and sad. It was something we budgeted for and wanted to do for the kids and seeing it in pieces in the backyard is so upsetting to me tonight.

All right, I'm done with the pity party - there are so many worse things to have happen and I have friends going through really tough things and I recognize this is rather trivial. I have a handy husband and I think he will be able to fix it but it will take time. We are all okay and the house is okay - I'm so thankful for that!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Other Things

I've been really wanting to write a substantive post of late. And yet I keep coming back to a couple of topics that I'm not ready to write about just yet. So...I won't write about them. :) Instead, here is a mish-mash of other things.

We are currently working on re-doing the boys' rooms. Painting, rearranging furniture, cleaning, donating, and working with them on taking personal responsibility for making their beds and putting their clothes in the laundry. We've taken a minimalist approach on their rooms so it's easier to maintain...for all of us.

Titus has really taken off on the language front. I talked to his pediatrician because I was thinking of having him evaluated but she is not concerned at all. He has more words than we can keep track of, he is trying to say everything, and he has several two word phrases. It's so exciting to hear him talk! He's often hard to understand and shy about talking around others but he's getting there!

The boys all had great check-ups last week. Calvin's chart is one of our doctor's favorites - she has shared that with me a couple of times. She told me that she always shows new nurses his growth chart and tells them that it show what love and family can do. He went from nowhere near the growth chart to a solid 20%+. It's been a delight for us to see, too! Patrick remains the highest on the chart of our three. Although the boys are a little closer in height than they have been in past years.

We are enjoying school for the most part. I'm amazed at how much Titus is picking up - he brought me our reading program to do with him and is already wanting to identify letters and sounds. Patrick LOVES reading and always wants to be first to work on his pages. Calvin would spend the whole day drawing if I would let him. He is very artistic and imaginative. Overall, they like what we are working on.

Calvin lost his first tooth. I wasn't home which made me a little sad. He was happy that the tooth fairy brought him a small lego set (after the first it's $1/tooth :)). Hard to believe we are headed into the years of losing teeth.

We are debating whether we will have our Christmas Open House this year. Last year I hosted a ladies' brunch instead of our open house and this year I just can't decide. I do love making the food and decorating the house... I think I would probably be disappointed to not host something! :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall Pictures

The boys were due for some new photos so we headed to my parents' backyard to take some. I wanted them in time to frame for Andrew's birthday - he needed some photos for his office! Photo taking can be a little frustrating - we are at that cheesy smile stage with a couple of them. However, I think we got some good ones, too. And some silly ones which are fun. I bribed them with the promise of candy when we were done. We still need to do a family picture between now and of these days! :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Birthday to My Love!

On this day, a few years ago, my husband was born. What a sweet, amazing guy he is! He is a wonderful provider, a beyond awesome dad, a supportive husband, and an all round nice person. During this challenging year, he has been my rock, my encourager, and my best friend. He's all those things other times, too - I have just really come to appreciate it in new ways this year.

It's been such a joy to see him transition into his new job and realize what a great fit it is for him and for our family. I am just so grateful to be married to Andrew!

Happy Birthday, Honey!
Wishing you the greatest birthday ever and many more to come!

Friday, October 15, 2010


I think deciding what is most important and what needs to be a priority is one of the most challenging aspects of life. There are so many good things to be involved in and so many great opportunities. And saying 'no' can be so hard! How quickly our lives (and by that, I mean, my family) become over committed. We struggle to keep things balanced and I feel like more often than not, Andrew look at each other and wonder how it has happened...again. :)

So, it's Friday. We have a busy weekend full of things that we want to do - soccer and church fall picnic (in case you are interested). But somewhere in this weekend, I must fit in the cleaning, menu planning, and school plans. We continue to learn to balance, to prioritize, to say 'no,' to choose carefully, and to love and teach our boys about serving others, about hospitality, and about the importance of family.

It's a work in progress. I write this post not so much for advice on how to prioritize :) but rather to share what I've been thinking on lately.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mom Life

Sometimes I find myself frustrated with the messy house, the noise level, the bickering, the constant questions and demands but the truth is, I don't wish these years away. I adore being a mom. My kids make me smile and laugh every single day. Even in the midst of stress, challenge, and well, let's face, I wouldn't trade this stage in life. And when one of my sons says, "I love you all around the world lots of times and up to the moon," and another son says, "Mom, come see what I made," and another son flashes his smile and smothers me with kisses, I can't help but wish this time to last forever. Sure, my house feels like a disaster zone, I'm constantly tired, life is busy beyond belief, and we had take-out pizza for dinner one night this week, but it's a good life.

I never want to forget these moments. I treasure them. I want to make more memories. And I want my children to remember these years with joy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I made vegetable beef soup tonight and it made me think of the many wonderful pots of soup I've enjoyed at my Grandpa & Grandma C.'s house. Seriously, my grandma makes amazing vegetable soup! The bubbly, delicious, fragrant soup fills the house with wonderful smells. Good memories...good soup...AWESOME grandparents. :) Oh and in case you were wondering, my soup was tasty but it was not my grandma's.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Emotions? What?

It's hard to put into words.
The emotions I feel.
I feel tremendously blessed.
And happy.
How could I not?
Three amazing boys.
One awesome husband.
And a lot of family.
And friends.
Yet something is stirring within me.
I can't quite put my finger on it.
Perhaps it will become clear.

Emotions are a funny thing.
Personal and at times, confusing.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

My Boys Thoughts On Family

There is pretty much nothing sweeter to me than the words that our boys came up with when we talked about what family means to them. Knowing that they did not have the love and nurture of a family for a little over the first year of their life and seeing how far they have come in four years is inspiring. I am truly humbled and challenged by their list.

Sitting by each other

I love my family!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Happy Family Day!

Four years ago today marks the day that a judge in Uralsk, Kazakhstan declared Calvin Amirkhan Joseph and Patrick Murat Rudolph to be forever our sons. It was a rainy, cold, dreary day as I recall but the weather couldn't squelch our amazing joy. You see, up until that day, we really weren't sure if we would be allowed to adopt both of our boys. We had been told 'no' and then we had been told that they would see what they could do but we could never get a for sure 'yes'. So, we celebrate October 4 as our family day - it was our 'for sure forever' day.

This is the first year that the boys more fully understand the significance of this time. It's really the birthday of our family. Since I was in Kazakhstan this year, I was able to pick up a few gifts for the boys which I know they will love.

What wonderful sons we have been blessed with. I love being a mom...their mom. I never would have guessed that God would gift us with three boys - none share our DNA but all are ours forever and we could not possibly love them more.

Happy Family Day, Calvin & Patrick. We love you forever. We are SO happy God brought you into our lives and made you a part of our family. You are amazing, resilient, smart, and sweet boys and I'm so proud of you both for your courage, trust, and big hearts.

Saturday, October 02, 2010


Blogging has continued to fall by the wayside - between the school schedule, work, soccer, and various other activities, I find myself exhausted at the end of each day. So, here is a short list of the happenings of late:

- Calvin has his first loose tooth and I am rather emotional about it - just doesn't seem he can be old enough for that. We've discussed losing teeth and the tooth fairy a lot this week (don't judge - yes, the tooth fairy visits. What can I say, I'm a hygienist! :)). We are still deciding what the tooth fairy will bring for the very first tooth lost.

- Patrick has a favorite stuffed animal - a cat. He named her Kati and we currently have to tell Kati "goodnight" and we have to regularly acknowledge her presence. He has been singing all day, every day lately which is kind of cute - I like that he's singing his scripture memory song which is Ephesians 6.

- Titus is rapidly gaining words. He will now try to say almost anything for us - not so much for others. He likes colors - especially blue and yellow and proudly says those words. He really enjoys being included in school and asks me to write "ttttt" on his papers.

- We had a field trip to the apple orchard which prompted the boys to request that we make an apple pie. Today, we did just that and we tried a new recipe. It was delicious! I'll probably share it on the cooking blog.

- Speaking of The Cooks Next Door, we celebrate one year of having the blog up and running this next week! So exciting - it's been a great year! We continue to have lots of ideas, though time has been a challenge. :)

- We continue to plug away at home organization and de-junking. I'm encouraged by the progress and I'm finding that each step is very freeing. I'm looking forward to having more of it behind us!

- I was challenged by Katie @Heart Gone Walking to go through our clothes and find more to give to refugee families in our area. And along those lines, a huge thank-you for the donations from many of you! There is still plenty of need - there are many refugees in our city. You can check out Katie's blog to find out more of what is needed, how to get involved etc.

- It was kind of a tough week overall but I'm learning to seize the teachable moments. And I continue to remind myself that the boys are in kindergarten. :) We have a pretty intense curriculum but they are doing very well.

- After being ready to give up in the first two weeks of homeschooling, I can honestly say that I'm enjoying it. It's been challenging and rewarding. Finding books and resources to re-inforce lessons, coming up with crafts and fun projects, and being involved in every aspect of their education has actually been really awesome. We are all enjoying one another and I'm learning a lot about my kids. All in all, it's been a good first month of school.

And that's about it. :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Walk for Kaz 2010

Wow, I simply cannot put it into words how absolutely amazed I am by the first annual Walk for Kaz. It surpassed our expectations and I know I spent Saturday with happy, overwhelmed tears threatening to spill over - okay, a few may have even snuck out but don't tell anyone.

The total raised was $10,123.28!!! Thank you so much to everyone who supported this event in so many different ways! The money raised will go to provide new beds and mattresses for 100 children in the Ulan orphanage in Taraz. We hoped to contribute to the new bed project and instead, we ended the day with the project fully funded! What incredible support and love - we are so blessed!

I'm so thankful to have been a part of planning this event with three wonderful friends. We travelled together back to Kazakhstan in May and were once again reminded of the great need. Having the opportunity to raise money, to raise awareness, and to provide for the basic needs of orphans is a great privilege. My heart overflows with thankfulness. 

Andrew and the boys walked - I'm so proud of the boys for making it the whole 3.1 miles! They had a wonderful day. Our family raised $250 - thank you to those who sponsored my guys to walk! 

And finally, how about some more pictures of our fantastic, blessed day?

Lunch was delicious! We had a playground, bounce house, face painting, and toys for the kids! I can't say it enough - it was a FANTASTIC day!

*Photos - almost all of the photos were taken by my Dad (our photographer for the event!).