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Not all of us are called to adopt, but you can always help a family who is.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Watch Me Learn

A random thought while driving and listening to my kids...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Redbox Instant By Verizon

My family loves standing in front of the big red box at the grocery store and choosing a movie to take home for the night.  I love the convenience they offer - not having to go in the store or wait in line for my rental or return.  When I heard that Redbox was now available to stream right to my television, I was thrilled! 

My happiness was short-lived.  It was simple to set up my account, but I was never able to log on to my account using my laptop.  When I'd try to log in, the site didn't recognize that I had created an account.  I could log on and watch movies using my phone, but that also proved to be frustrating.  I expected to be able to watch a plethora of free movies (since I would be paying a monthly fee for the service), but the availability of free movies was very limited.  I do like that Redbox has seamlessly integrated their catalog of movies so that if you found a movie you wanted, you could easily see if it was available to stream instantly or reserve for pickup at the kiosk.  I also like that the low $8 monthly fee also includes 4 rentals at the kiosk each month.  If you used those rentals, you've already made good use of more than half of the fee you paid.

The bottom line is this - there are some definite kinks to work out with this new service.  I hope they get the problems worked out quickly while they have a great reputation.

If you'd like an opportunity to try the service for yourself, head over to Redbox Instant by Verizon's beta page and sign up.

I tried this service free of charge in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion.  If you'd like to try products for free, become a BzzAgent.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Writing for Real Life

I can't say that any of my kids truly love to write.  My oldest has recently found a passion for writing plays, but it isn't because she loves to write.  It's because she loves to tell stories.  Because good grammar, spelling and communication are important to me, I have learned to sneak writing into my kids' daily life as often as possible without being completely obvious.  Here are just a few opportunities for writing:

Thankful Journal: We have a thankful journal that sits on our mantle.  Sometimes we sit together as a family and one person does the writing as each family says what they are thankful for.  This is a good opportunity to practice listening as well as writing.  Other days we just write our own entry in the journal as the desire strikes.  One of our daughters enjoys reading the journals as she settles down each night.  This is also a great keepsake for our family.

Shopping List:  We always have a shopping list posted on the fridge.  As someone notices that an item is needed, he or she is responsible for recording the item on the list. 

Cards/Letters:  My crafty kids love to make cards for people.  They are also expected to write a note inside of each card.  Each week we send cards or letters to two or three peeople for birthdays, anniversaries, get well, thinking of you or just because.

I'd love to hear how you incorporate writing into the daily life of your family.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Welcoming 2013

2012 was a crazy year for our family. How could a year not be crazy when you kick off New Year's Day by taking your newly adopted son from his orphanage. Did I mention that we couldn't communicate with him because he spoke no English? But that was just the beginning. Our tree-climbing girl found herself in the emergency room after falling off of a curb and the doctor wasn't sure how to stitch such a strangely-shaped cut. We moved from a tiny apartment to a big house (definitely a welcomed change for a family of six). My husband left his job to start his own business and I started another part-time job. Definitely crazy.

I am welcoming 2013 as a calmer, quieter year in the life of our family (shh, let me pretend for a while longer). Since I will be able to focus a little better this year, I (we) have some goals that represent this lifestyle.

  • My husband and I have started using Manna360 as part of our healthier eating plan.  I am already impressed at how much better I feel when I add it to my morning drink.  I also plan to prepare meals for my family using more whole foods and less pre-packaged items. 
  • I am reading through the Bible this year.  I also have a Bible study plan for each of our kids.
  • Our family is returning to our "thankful journal" with a few tweaks.  Each person will write one item in the journal each day.  At the end of the day, we will read that day's entries aloud.  Previously, we missed many days because we always wanted to do it together and it didn't work out for one reason or another.
  • Keep the kids' scrapbooks current using the Studio J digital scrapbooking program.

There you have it.  My 2013 goals.  What are yours?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter S'Mores

Who doesn't love s'mores?  I recently came across this great idea to make s'mores for our Christmas cookie platters.  I love them for two reasons: they're easy to make and they are so cute!

Here's what you need:
graham crackers
mini marshmallows
chocolate (for melting)

Break each graham crackers into four pieces.  Place 1/2 of your pieces on a cookie sheet lined with foil.  The other 1/2 of the crackers will be used later.  Place three mini marshmallows on each piece.  You can add mini chocolate chips if you'd like, but we didn't.  Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.  While they are baking, melt the chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute.  Stir it up to get the chunks out.  If needed, microwave for another 30 seconds, but be careful not to burn the chocolate.  As soon as the crackers are done, top each cracker with another cracker that was set aside earlier.  Dip each s'more into the melted chocolate and top with sprinkles.  We placed ours on plastic plates, but you can also put them on parchment paper.  As you finish a plate, put it in the freezer for 5 minutes so everything will set quicker.  Voila!  Winter s'mores!

Friday, December 14, 2012

This Christmas

Our family has loved this song from the first time we heard it, but we never imagined how personal it would become.  This Christmas will be our first with our son.  I remember a particular day last year, the Sunday before Christmas, when we were shopping with our girls.  They kept picking items they wanted to get for their new brother.  My husband and I would remind them that we didn't yet know when we would be going to Taiwan to get Alex, so we wanted to hold off on buying anything.   The very next day we got the email telling us we could come and get him!  It was a frantic mess around our house over the next week, wrapping gifts, packing, getting the final documents together, and preparing our home for a new family member.   We had two Christmas celebrations, one on Christmas Day with our girls and another in January when we brought Alex home.  It was a joyous occassion, but not a real Christmas.

This Christmas will be different for our little boy.  Last week, Alex was able to help decorate the tree and our house.  He is enjoying to choose gifts for his sisters.  He is looking forward to our traditional family celebration with church on Christmas Eve, stockings, pajamas, games and a big family meal. Most importantly, he knows the love of Jesus and the real meaning behind Christmas.

This Christmas is also different for my husband, our girls and me.  We didn't stop at enjoying a song.  When God put a little boy in our path and left a door standing wide open, we walked through in obedience.  Something that seemed impossible has become a reality for our family, simply because we said yes.  Often our family want to do something and we're told no, because the kids are too young or the timing isn't right or a multitude of other reasons.  Often the no comes from within our family because we are scared or lack the energy or another multitude of reasons.  Occassionally, we take a small step, like saying yes, and God rocks our world with the giant leap he can make out of our small step.  Through this experience, we witnessed a body of believers pull together in a way many people don't get close enough to see.  These people are willing to go to amazing lengths to build families and we felt that first hand.  God showed Himself in a big way to our family and our faith exploded because of the evidence of His love and faithfulness. 

This Christmas can also be different for your family.  With over a week until Christmas, there is time to purchase a gift for a needy child, adopt a local family, serve dinner at a shelter, send Christmas cards and share a little bit of love.  God will multiply your gift, so do not be afraid that it isn't enough.  Share your joy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christ-Centered Christmas Book Review

While we love the music, gifts, and decorations, my husband and I have always felt that it is most important to keep our family focused on Christ throughout the Christmas season.  Some years have been easier than others, but we have definitely been more successful this year with help from the eBook Christ-Centered Christmas by Hal and Melanie Young. 
Full of recipes, carols, stories and activities, this book has given us more ideas than we could possibly incorporate into our celebrations this year.  It has been the jumping off point for several conversations in our family this week and I'm sure this will continue to be true as our kids grow.  I expect that we will return to this resource year after year for great ideas.  Who can go wrong with a book that includes a shopping list for your Christmas baking?
If I had to choose one thing I really love about the Youngs' latest release, it would be the style in which it is written.  I feel as if I'm sitting down with an old friend, talking about how we celebrate the season.  As she sips her tea, she tells me all about her family traditions and activities.  Hmmm, I think it's time to brew some tea for myself before I get back to reading.  I would recommend that you get your own copy and join the conversation soon while this 80-page eBook is still available to download for only $6, 60% off the regular price of $15.
** I received a complimentary copy of Christ-Centered Christmas in exchange for my honest opinions.