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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Year's Celebration

As much as I love tradition, our family doesn't really have any traditions for New Year's Eve. For a few years while we were dating, my husband and I went to Pasadena for the Rose Parade.  For a few years, we went to a friend's house for a huge dinner with several families.  For Y2K, we planned to be at my mom's house in Missouri and ended up at my brother-in-law's house in California due to a family emergency.  Last year, we started what we expected to be an annual tradition - a big dinner at our house with family and friends.  On December 31, 2010, we had no idea that God would turn our world upside down like He is so good at doing and exactly one year later we would find ourselves in Taipei, Taiwan picking up our newly-adopted son on New Year's Eve.

Our adoption would not be possible without our friends and family, but especially our church family.  Our church has a heart for orphans like I have never experienced.  Several families in our church have adopted, locally and internationally.  Through this desire to help the orphans, our church created Project Nic.  This is more than just a fund for families to use for adoption expenses, though it definitely does serve that purpose.  It is also a network of people who have adopted or just want to help walk families through this oh-so-confusing process.  Because of Project Nic and the people behind it, this little boy was put into our lives in July and we will be bringing him home in a matter of days. 

As you consider your New Year's celebrations, would you consider helping Project Nic give another orphan a home and family to call his own?  So many families like ours would love to bring a child into their home and call him their own, but the cost of the adoption itself is standing in their way.  If we work together, we can bridge that gap.

You can click here to donate or get more information to mail in your donation.  Make sure to designate your donation for Project Nic.  Your donations to Project Nic are tax deductible and greatly appreciated.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Up To Date

We first heard about National Adoption Day two years ago as we sat in church and watched a short video about adoption and our responsibility to care for orphans. What happened next took my breath away. Our pastor invited everyone to stand who had adopted, been adopted, or was in the process of adopting. He also included foster parents in this call. More than half of the 250 or more people in the room stood!

My husband and I began attending this church only three months prior to this event. In the winter of 2009, DH experienced cutbacks at his job in California and we faced some big decisions. Unable to find a comparable job, he accepted a job in Iraq as a contractor using the skills he learned in the army. We felt that God was leading us to take some bold steps. We rented out our house in California and, while DH was in Iraq, I moved our household to the Kansas City, Missouri area where my mom lived and where we felt God calling us to go. After six months in Iraq, DH came to Missouri and quickly found a job. We knew we were where God put us, but it wasn’t clear yet why He put us here.
That Sunday when so many people stood left an impression on us. Here was a body of people that did not hesitate to make a difference in their world. We were also impressed that their world didn't stop at the edges of the small farming community where this church was located. Adoption wasn’t on our hearts, but we knew from that moment that this was where we wanted to be. Little did we know how much this church lived their faith, but we learned quickly. A few months later, our church put on “Love Out Loud” where we went into the community over the course of a weekend and loved hundreds of people by visiting nursing homes, babysitting children so single moms could have a day off, and performing all sorts of home improvement projects. Our family had the pleasure of going to a senior apartment complex to repaint the recreation room and remove some debris from their basement. It was a great day and again we were blown away by this church body and how they lived their faith.

As we got more involved in the church, we became friends with many of the families who were involved in adoptions in various ways. Our two older daughters began to feel a desire to adopt, but DH and I did not. We encouraged the girls to pray about it and we began to do the same because we always want to be open to where God is leading us. Two major factors that held us back were DH’s crazy work schedule and the small duplex that we called home.
In March of this year, our church announced the dates for the annual mission trip to Taiwan. DH eager to use his passport again and travel, signed up for the trip. We also decided to sign up our 11-year-old daughter. This trip was for the purpose of helping two churches put on an evangelistic play that our church does every year.  Our daughter has been integral in this play for the two years we have been in Missouri and we felt that it would be beneficial for her to participate. So the planning began, or so we thought.
On June 30th, I received an email from one of the ladies at church saying that there was a little boy at Harmony Home, Taiwan that needed to be adopted. Her husband is on the Board of Directors for this children’s home and they had adopted from there earlier this year. When they heard of this 6-year-old boy, they thought of our family and how well he would fit in.  DH and I discussed it at length and talked to other friends who would add valuable insight. We decided to wait until the end of July when my husband went to Taiwan to make a decision.

As time progressed, one of the churches in Taiwan chose not to follow through with the program and that left a week of unscheduled time in Taiwan. Our church chose to fill that time with a camp for the children at Harmony Home.  DH was asked to be one of the leaders and so he and Annie spent an entire week with this boy whom we had been asked about. Within a day of meeting each other, the boy called my husband Papa and melted his heart. While in Taiwan, DH felt the concerns of his heart lifted as he continued to pray over the decision. By day three, my husband texted me and said he wanted to start the paperwork.
We knew that there were still obstacles to overcome, but if this was God's will, it would all work according to His plan. My husband was offered a new job at his company which allowed him to be home every evening. Somehow, we passed the home study even though we thought our home was too small. Also, God has provided the necessary funds at just the right time for each step in the process.
All the way through this we have prayed for God’s will and things have moved at an incredible pace. Our home study took only two weeks, my passport came in less than three weeks, our son’s Visa was approved in a few short weeks, and our judge has chosen to cut in half the wait time after the judgment is issued. It is progressing so fast that we are speechless at times, but we can clearly see God’s hands in all of this.

At this point, we are excited to put together a bedroom and toys for our little boy and prepare for the addition to our family. We expect to hear from our attorney in Taiwan any day telling us that we can come and get our son. We aren’t always sure how we will make this all work, but we know that we look forward to celebrating National Adoption Day in 2012 with a whole different perspective than we could have imagined when we first celebrated in 2009 with our newly-adopted church family.

If you'd like to find out what's going on with our adoption, you can go to Thank you for taking a few minutes to read our story. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma

When I count my blessings, my grandma always makes my top ten list. When I was born, my mother was ill and unable to care for me.  My grandparents stepped in and helped raise me. My grandmother was patience, love, kindness and everything good wrapped into one person. She was always available for anyone who needed her or when a person just needed someone to listen.  After I left home, we would sometimes spend hours talking on the phone, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying and sometimes just saying nothing important at all.  No matter who was talking to her, she made them feel like they were the most important person to her.  She made me feel that way until I had kids.  It was at that point that I realized they stole my place in her heart.  I know that's not true, really her heart just got bigger whenever she added another person to it.  Most importantly, she loved the Lord and lived for Him daily. 
Grandma's High School Senior Picture
In 2009, she was diagnosed with cancer and succombed very quickly despite her excellent health.  This Wednesday is our second year to celebrate her birthday and the blessing that she was to us without being able to hug her. We miss her so much but keep her alive in our hearts and the way my husband and I raise our children.
Grandma and my middle daughter the year before Grandma died
The card below is inspired by my grandma's 18th birthday picture. I used the Sonoma papers and Sweet Moments stamp set from Close to my Heart - I also used the Art Philosophy cricut cartridge from Close to my Heart to cut the shapes before stamping.

Thank you for allowing me to share!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Preparing my Heart at Women of Faith

As I prepare for the coming Women of Faith conference in Kansas City, I have been thinking about some of my prior experiences with the ladies on the porch.

My first Women of Faith experience was in 2001.  Several ladies from my church were going to Women of Faith in Anaheim, CA and they invited me to go with them.  We didn’t really have the money to attend, but my husband and I saved for the expense.  We were new in the area and felt would be good for me to make some friends at our new church home.  Besides that, it sounded like a fun break from my day-to-day life of mom, wife and church secretary.  On a sunny Friday afternoon, I left our 1-year-old daughter with my grandma and headed out in the van full of laughter and soon-to-be memories.  Little did I know that these women planned to bless me with my ticket and hotel expenses or that these would become true sisters in Christ.  The weekend started with a fabulous dinner in an Anaheim restaurant packed with women and more laughter.

From there we went to the conference. It was unlike anything I had ever attended. The music lifted my spirits and the speakers inspired me.  We laughed and cried ever more than in the van on the way there!  Each woman spoke from her heart and touched me in an unexpected way.  The sincerity filled the enormous room and reached me all the way in the top row.  Like Thelma, I grew up with my Grandma.  I dreamt of traveling the world with Luci.  Sheila’s stories of motherhood seemed so much like what I anticipated with my daughter.  My heart went out to Barbara who was unable to attend due to her illness.  Marilyn let me know that it was ok to be a Christian with a slightly sarcastic sense of humor.  Nicole knew my deepest thoughts, from standing alongside my mother-in-law during her fight with breast cancer several years earlier to wearing multiple hats every day.  I went home with new friends and a renewed energy unlike anything I had felt in a long time. This was something I planned to attend over and over again.

What happened that weekend prepared my faith for a sudden change that would forever change the world.  The following Tuesday was September 11, 2001.  I turned on the television as my husband prepared for work and watched the World Trade Center crumble to the ground.  I stood in disbelief as my husband entered the room and hugged me.  Together we stood dumbfounded at the horror taking place.  I quickly dressed, gathered my things and headed to work with my Bible in hand.  Throughout the day, many people visited and called the church.  No one knew quite what to say or do, except to pray.  My weekend at the Women of Faith conference seemed like it had taken place a lifetime ago, but the results were still there.  My faith did not waver in the following days.  In fact, it continued to grow as I searched the scriptures and sang hymns. 

Attending the Women of Faith conference that year wasn’t a life-changing experience in itself.  It did, however, prepare my heart for many life-changing experiences.  I am so thankful for the people and events that God puts in our paths to prepare us for our future.  While I haven’t attended every Women of Faith conference since then, it has a dear place in my heart and I would encourage any women to attend.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Visas, Court Dates and Christmas...Oh My!

There is so much to say about our adoption much that I can barely wrap my head around everything!  I decided it would be best to simply update our status and get to the rest another time.  On the American side, we are waiting for the I600A to come back.  This is the preliminary application for the visa.  As part of this application, we must be fingerprinted again and all of our documentation up to now will be reviewed.  I'm not so sure how long this takes, but we have friends who are about a week ahead of us in this process so we watch them closely to know what's coming next.  On the Taiwan side, we just received a court date.  It isn't until December 2nd, which is later than we hoped.  Apparently a home study must be done on our son and his birth mother, which takes 45 days.  Our attorney is working to get this portion of the process hurried, but we don't know know if this will happen.  If the court date is December 2nd, we can loosely plan to bring home our son in early January, a month sooner than we had been told at the beginning of the process.

As much as we would like to have our son home for Christmas, January is good too.  Our calendar is packed through 2011 and there would be some serious logistical issues if we go to Taiwan before January (though we would joyfully make it work).  January will be a calmer time when we can devote more attention to a new family member and help him to adjust to our way of life.  From what I am told by several people (including my husband and daughter), our son is shy and slow to warm to new things.  Christmas in our home would quite possibly overwhelm him, though we have already made plans for a simpler celebration this year.  Chinese New Year is in January and that would be fun for all of us to celebrate together every year as a remembrance of our new son coming to our home.  As with the rest of the process, it will all happen in God's perfect timing.  Until then, we will be preparing our home for the arrival of a little boy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pricey Paper

The number of documents requested when doing an international adoption is amazing!  For our home study, we had to submit local background checks, birth certificates for all of our children, our marriage license, employer references, personal references, medical statements from our doctor, and financial statements.

Now the Taiwan court wants everything above, plus the adoption agreement, a copy of the Missouri adoption law, and copies of our passports.  To submit these documents, we have to jump through a series of hoops.

1. Collect all forms/documents (obviously).
2. Have the signature notarized.  If there is no signature to notarize, the notary must sign an affidavit verifying that the document is an original or exact copy of the original.  If there is a signature on the document, the person who signed the original document must also sign the affidavit. If the document is an official document from the county or state, you can skip this step.
3. Take all documents and affidavits to the Secretary of State.  They will authenticate the notary and attach a document with the state seal on the document.  Some states offer a discounted price for multiple documents authenticated at once.  We have moved a few times, so we had to mail one birth certificate to Kansas ($7.50 plus the cost of postage) and our marriage license and two other birth certificates to California ($20 per document plus postage).  Everything else can be done in Missouri ($10 per document with a maximum of $100).
4. Take all documents to the Taiwan Embassy (TECO) to be TECO stamped.  They charge per $15 per document, per translation.
5. Mail documents to attorney in Taiwan to be submitted to court.

That's some pricey paper!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Home Study

So much changes through the adoption process that it makes my head spin!  One day I think I have it all figured out and then the next day everything is different than what I thought.  One almost-constant aspect was the home study.  The big change was that we do not need to complete it for Taiwan as originally expected.  I'm not exactly sure why we don't need it, but I'm told it has something to do with our little boy's age.  In any case, I wasn't really sure what to expect and I would like to share our experience to help those behind us in the process.

We chose a social worker based on the recommendation of friends.  She has done several home studies for other church members and they went well, so we decided that she would meet our needs.  After contacting her, she emailed the following forms to complete:
  • Employment References
  • Educational References (which we didn't need because our kids are homeschooled)
  • Medical Evaluations (for every member of the home)
  • Income/Expense/Financial Worksheets
  • An autobiography written by each of us addressing our upbringing, hobbies, lifestyle, etc.

In addition, we had to provide the following documents:
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Birth Certificates for every child currently in the home
  • Criminal Record (fingerprinting by local law enforcement)
  • Last 3 pay stubs from each of us

During the interview, she asked many questions.  She asked about our parenting styles, our marriage and relationship, how we handle disagreements, and how we would handle any special needs our child may have.  She then asked each of the girls about themselves and what they thought of us adopting.  After that, the social worker took a quick walk around the house and asked how we will accommodate our new family member.  She spent about 1 1/2 hours at the house and then asked us to complete a form for a child abuse background check.  With that complete, she left and let me know that we would hear back from her in a couple of weeks.

I was very relieved to have that part out of the way.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Moving Forward Inch By Inch

Well, our autobiographies weren't written as fast as we would have liked, but they are now complete.  Also, two of the five references are in the mail.  Today, two more items were added to our checklist.  We need to get a Power of Attorney for our lawyer in Taiwan and physicals for everyone in our family.  The good news is that two of our five family members already had appointments for annual check ups, one of which is tomorrow.  I am so grateful for our friends who are about five steps ahead of us in this process.  They have helped greatly in guiding and encouraging us along. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Welcome Home Daddy

Our daddy and biggest sister arrived home at 1 am this morning from Taiwan.  They brought small gifts home for the rest of us which they gave us before we all went to bed.  They weren't tired as it was 2 m in Taiwan, but the rest of us needed sleep so we all went to bed.  This morning we looked at some of their pictures before heading to an office to be fingerprinted.  This is the first of two times we will be fingerprinted.  We also looked through some pictures of our little boy as a baby which his mother sent home with my husband.  Tonight we will be working on requesting references from a few friends and writing our autobiographies, all for the home study.  No time for jet lag, there's a boy to bring home!

Friday, August 5, 2011

What's in a Name?

Because of some events in our lives, we had a girl's name chosen before we were even married. During my first pregnancy, we never had an ultrasound, so knowing the baby's gender wasn't an option. We struggled with coming up with a boy's name and ended up deciding that the baby would be a junior if it was a boy.  Well, it was a girl.  With my second pregnancy, we had ultrasounds but chose not to know the baby's gender.  Again, we easily came up with a girl's name but no boy's name.  Our daughter is as lovely as her name.  With my third pregnancy, we were told throughout the pregnancy that it was a boy but we never settled on a name that we loved.  That was OK because it was another girl (the doctor admitted he may have been incorrect about a month before she was born). 

When we contemplated adopting our little boy, we went back and forth about changing his name.  We learned that what we thought was his name is, in fact, only a nickname.  His Chinese name sort of translates into a very common American name, but he doesn't go by either name.  He is only known by his nickname.  Although his American name isn't a top choice for my husband or myself, we decided to use his American name as his first name and his nickname as his middle name.  We chose this for a couple of reasons.  We wanted him to have an American name to represent his new home, but a Chinese name to retain his culture.  We also wanted him to feel connected to his old life but have an option when he is older.  By giving him the American derivative of his real name and the nickname he has always known, we are addressing all of these desires.  Of course, now we are second-guessing that choice. long do we have to decide? I'm afraid it won't be long enough!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Unexpected Blessings

I always wanted to be a wife and mommy.  Not long after my husband and I were married, we were told that we would have difficulties getting pregnant.  For that reason, I stopped taking oral contraceptives (which had been prescribed for medical reasons) and expected to wait for a baby.  The wait didn't last long because we were surprised with a pregnancy the same month.  I went back on the medication after our daughter was born, but stopped a year later hoping for another pregnancy.  This one didn't happen as quickly.  It took long enough in fact that we looked into foster parenting and adoption.  Before we got far enough to do paperwork, we found out that I was again pregnant with another girl.  This pregnancy was difficult but we were thrilled to be blessed with another girl.  By the time she was just over a year old, we decided that I would talk to the doctor about making some changes so I could stop taking the medication.  At my appointment, the doctor found that I was again blessed with a pregnancy!  We were speechless!  Honestly, I figured that two children would be good for us and it took me some time to get used to having another.  Over the past six years, we have enjoyed watching our three girls grow into lovely young ladies.  Although we have occassionally pondered the "what if's" of another child, it has not been a burning desire of ours.  Several of our fellow church members have recently adopted and we have been very happy for them, but my husband and I have also enjoyed our family as it is.  Our daughters, on the other hand, have been praying for months about adopting a brother or sister.  In June, a church member contacted us about a little boy needing a home.  He lives at a children's home in Taiwan and must either be adopted or moved into foster care due to his age (six years old).  Coincidentally, my husband and oldest daughter (now 11) were planning a trip to Taiwan with our church to help out two other churches there.  After much prayer, we decided to hold off on a decision until my husband made a side trip to meet the little boy.  We were leaning towards a yes by this time, but wanted to know how the boy felt about being adopted.  By the time the group left for Taiwan, plans changed with one of the churches and they had a week to fill.  Of all things, the leaders chose to put on a summer camp at the home where this little boy lives.  The day my husband met him, he sent me a text message saying, "start the paperwork."  I know of many families who have a surprise baby, but not many have four.  I am so thankful for each of my blessings!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Flowers for a Family

For those of you who heard the rumors, they are true.  Somewhat.  Yes, we are expecting a boy.  No, I am not pregnant.  We are adopting a not-so-little (6-year-old) boy from Taiwan.  I plan to tell the story on my blog over the next few months because we are only a month into this process and it has already been an amazing journey.  This post is not to tell the story, but to ask for your prayers and love.  This little boy needs a home and family and we would love to welcome him into ours.  To raise funds to cover the many costs associated with his adoption, my daughters and I are making paper flowers like the one below.  We can make these 3" beauties into lapel pins or hair clips and the colors are limitless.  If you can bless us by praying, ordering flowers, or sending this along to your friends, we would be so grateful!  You can place your order at Thanks so much!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Women of Faith Over the Top

I just found out that I have the priviledge of attending Women of Faith's Over the Top event in Kansas City!  Here's a little preview of what we will experience November 4th and 5th:

Wouldn't you love to join me at the Sprint Center for an amazing weekend full of laughter, tears and everything in between?  We will be seeing Patsy Clairmont, Sandi Patty and Marilyn Meberg, three of my favorite regulars from prior Women of Faith conferences, Lisa Whelchel, one of my favorite TV personalities from my childhood, and Amy Grant, the artist of the first cassette tape I ever owned.  I look forward to hearing from Deborah Joy Winans, Andy Andrews Brenda Warner and Mandisa also.  With a lineup like that, a great time is guaranteed!  Click on the banner below for more information!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Final Summit by Andy Andrews

The Final Summit was my first encounter with David Ponder and Andy Andrews.  The first few pages caught my interest and I was eager to find out more about David Ponder and the lessons he has learned in his travels. Let me interject here that I was expecting a book from a Christian perspective.  It didn’t take long for my first of many letdowns to occur.  David is taken up to heaven (or somewhere between earth and heaven) to meet with his fellow travelers from a prior novel to solve a great mystery. Although they are in a heaven-type atmosphere and every character at this summit resides in heaven except one, they never refer to God except indirectly or irreverently.  They are also more consumed with earthly things than heavenly.  On the positive side, the travelers are an interesting group of people from history whom I enjoyed learning a little more about through their conversations in this narration. As for the plot, this final summit is mankind’s last chance to save themselves according to Gabriel, the archangel.  Their task is to come up with the two words that would remedy this dire situation.  Throughout the story I found myself trying to figure out what the two words would be, again expecting a Christian perspective – have faith, trust Jesus…  The summit continues through several guesses and the final guess of “do something” is mankind’s answer.  Really?! This answer could be construed into many things, but I was ultimately left disappointed.  I agree that we all need to do something, but reading this book was not it.  I would have enjoyed this book so much more if it were sold as historical fiction and simply introduced us to some great personalities rather than how to save mankind.  Jesus already did that for us.

I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogging Program through This opinion is my own.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's {Not} a Man Thing

I should know the routine by now.  My husband, in the middle of working on our 1970 Chevy Pickup, asks me to go to the parts store.  I strongly dislike making trips to the parts store for a multitude of reasons. I like working on projects with my family and I want to keep working.  I also like fixing and building things.  As a matter of fact, our girls are often there helping or observing too. Oh, and I DO NOT like the blatant disrespect shown towards women at parts stores and home improvement stores.  Here's how it often goes: I walk in, ask for the needed part, and some dumb comment comes out of the mouth of the store employee.  The other day it went something like this:

I walked into a home improvement store looking for an overflow hose for the radiator.  I went there because the part store didn't have it and suggested this home improvement store.  I pulled the hose out of the bag and showed it to the guy at the store and explained that I needed the same length hose for the truck. 

Him: We have a latex hose. (as he pulls out a hose that looked as sturdy as latex gloves)
Me: Will that hold up under the heat?
Him: Don't you have a latex oven mitt? {offense number 1}
Me: No, I don't have an oven mitt.
Him: You should go to the parts store.
Me: I did. They sent me here.
Him: This hose will work, but why don't you call your husband and ask him if what he thinks? {offense number 2}
Me: Because I pulled the hose off and I need to know that I can trust what I put in it's place. {not exactly the truth, but close enough for this guy} 

In a funny coincidence, my husband gave me this power screwdriver and bit set yesterday. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Affection for Twitter

When I first opened a Twitter account, I didn't really know what to do with it and I did very little with it for quite some time... until I realized what a wealth of information was available to me.  Now I use Twitter to my advantage for several purposes.

News - I want to know what's going on in the world and I don't want to sit through a newscast to get my information.  Instead, I subscribe to local and national news feeds such as Fox News.  Then I simply click on the headlines I'm interested in and read the story.  Short and sweet. I also get traffic information which is VERY helpful!

Business - Of course I promote my blogs and business on Twitter, but I also follow others related to my business.  What better way to get ideas and see what's going on? 

Family - I have connected to many blogs and websites to help me in homeschooling and being a parent of a special needs child.  I also stay up to date about what's happening in our neighborhood for families.

Bonuses - My favorite part about Twitter is everything else.  In the past year, I won event tickets, books, and DVDs from contests on Twitter.  I find all sorts of great deals and information from the tweets I receive and Bible verses are delivered to my phone on a regular basis.  What more could I want out of a social networking site?

I'd love to meet you there too!  Follow me at!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Goals

Forget New Year's Resolutions!  Our family sets summer goals.  These are usually short-term goals that we can easily accomplish in 3 months or less.  They are sometimes things that we don't work into our schedule throughout the year but work into our summer activities.  My husband's goal is to get our 1970 Chevy Pickup running again.  It's not a huge goal because of the truck - only the radiator needs to be replaced.  It's a big goal because of my husband's limited time. It's also a goal that my husband will enjoy accomplishing (with the help of his many apprentice mechanics).  Our oldest daughter's goal is to memorize the books of the Bible.  She is also planning to work with our middle daughter to switch bedrooms until Christmas (saving that story for an upcoming post).  Our middle and youngest daughters have chosen a couple of workbooks they want to complete to improve their academic skills.  As for my goal, it's not so small.  I've tried once to read the Bible in 90 days and did not succeed.  This time, I know I can get it done.  I have a trick up my sleeve with two six hour flights in my near future, as well as a week without my children.  These blocks of time will give me an amazing head start!  Here's to some big check marks on our lists of goals at the end of summer!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cars 2 :The Video Game

Your kids' (and your) favorite characters from Radiator Springs are back in action and ready to save the world in Cars 2: The Video Game. Join the team at C.H.R.O.M.E. and jump into a whole new world of fast-paced intrigue, exotic locations and fun for the whole family without leaving the house!  This game is available in Wii, Xbox360, and PS3 format.  Find out more here or go get it today at your favorite retailer!


I am a BzzAgent.  I did not receive any compensation for this post.  Find out more at

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Father's Day Blessing

Our life has been crazy lately.  I say that as if there has been a time when it hasn't been crazy.  Recently, my husband has been putting in long hours at work, the kids have been going stir crazy trying to get their school work complete, and we are gearing up for a busy summer.  We stepped out in faith a few months back and committed my husband and our oldest daughter to going on a mission trip to Taiwan, feeling led to do so but uncertain about having the funds.  In an attempt to grow my home-based business, I also registered for a convention that I have always wanted to attend but never been able to squeeze in.  As with most of what we do (we can always do better), we have been prayerful and sought to do God's will in these two matters specifically.  

This past week was especially busy, adding Vacation Bible School to our schedule.  We may have had all of about five hours together as a family in the entire week.  Yesterday, the kids and I made a special breakfast for my husband and we got ready for church as usual.  As we were getting ready to leave, I pulled my husband aside and told him we could stay home and do Bible study.  He looked so worn down and this was a rare Sunday when we had no obligations at church.  We each took our shoes off and went into the living room to talk to the kids.  When the girls saw us, they immediately asked what was going on and pleaded to go to church.  We looked at each other, put our shoes back on and headed out the door.  How could we say no?  Because my husband was on call, he drove his truck to church and the kids and I went in our car.

The sermon was inspiring as always.  Teaching from Acts 5, it was a somber message about the apostles who were so bold in their faith that they preached constantly in spite of being threatened, imprisoned, and beaten.  My husband and I pray for that boldness in our daily lives.  Something that our pastor said during the sermon was that we should not feel guilty when we are blessed.  We should feel responsible, just as the apostles did.  I liked that enough to jot it in my sermon notes.  There are so many areas of our lives where we are blessed, but one delicate area is our finances.  While we are feeling the strain of my husband's long work hours, we are also feeling the blessing of a couple of slightly larger pay checks and want to be responsible with that little extra.  It is helpful because he works on commission and we have some large bills to pay at the moment in addition to some smaller paychecks in our near future when my husband goes on the mission trip.

We left service and met up again at a restaurant to have a Father's Day lunch with my parents.  When my husband arrived, he handed me an envelope that someone had placed on his truck during church. Our names were written on the outside and inside was a letter with 2 gift cards.  The letter said:

Your Heavenly Father listens and hears your prayers.  HE has given you these Visa gift cards to be used.  HE will continue to hear your prayers and HE wants you to know HE passionately loves you beyond your comprehension.  Continue to listen to HIM for guidance in how HE wants to work through you both to further HIS kingdom.

I just about fell over.  The amount in the envelope was an odd amount - exactly enough to pay some specific bills that we had been discussing a few days earlier!  For a moment, my mind wandered to the others in our church who needed money for various reasons.  Then I remembered the note I had written during service: When you are blessed, don't feel guilty.  Feel responsible.  We are currently praying through how to spend this money responsibly.  Although it matches the amount we needed, we want to verify that we are acting according to God's will. 

We are thankful for our daily blessings from God, and we are especially thankful for this amazing Father's Day blessing.  We give all of the glory to God and pray that our testimony will grow the faith of others.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. Jeremiah 17:7

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all of the dads and father figures!  I am blessed to have an amazing Grandpa who took me under his wing when I needed a dad and a wonderful husband who is the best daddy to our daughters!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fabulous Hair from TRESemmé®

Who doesn't want great hair?  Even if your hair isn't the first thing you think of in the morning, it would be nice to have great hair.  If you spend the time and money to color your hair, you want to get the most out of your investment.  This is where TRESemmé® Color Revitalize Shampoo & Conditioner comes in.  TRESemmé® calls it Advanced Color Lock Technology, I call it my salon in a bottle!  After using this duo for four weeks, I am in love.  My hair is softer and more manageable.  My hair color is lasting longer than it ever did before, even though I switched to non-permanent hair color!  Even better, the price is easy on my budget.  To find out more about  TRESemmé®, check them out at and

I am a Bzz Agent.  I received free products in exchange for my unbiased review.  If you'd like a coupon for $1 off your next bottle of TRESemmé®, post a comment and become a follower of this blog.  I have coupons for the first five people. Don't forget to include your email address.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Tornado Drill

My husband and I grew up in California and remember several big earthquakes.  Two years ago we moved to Missouri, smack dab in the middle of Tornado Alley.  In all of our years (even for the Y2K scare) we have never assembled a disaster survival kit.  That changed a few weeks back when Joplin was hit with a tornado.  I helped our oldest daughter pull up FEMA's website where we found a list of supplies to get us started.  She read the list to my husband.  He then told our other girls where to find the items and they got everything for our box.  If we didn't have something, I wrote it on a shopping list.  After putting our box together, we chose to place it at the back of our daughters' closet under the stairs.  As we placed it there, we prayed that we would never need it.

A week later, my girls and I were sitting at the table doing school work like any other day as the tornado siren began to sound.  I knew we would be fine because we just went over this with the kids AND we had all of our supplies in the closet.  The older girls and I quickly gathered school work, cell phones, chargers, my purse, food, shoes and jackets as we ran downstairs.  We scrambled to get the pets and my youngest daughter down with us.  On the way down, I called my husband and mom to tell them where we were.  Once we got down there and took a few moments to calm everyone, I called our property manager.  She urged us to come to the community storm shelter where our neighbors were gathering.  Once again, we gathered our belongings, put the pets in the basement bathroom, and left our house on foot.  On the short walk, I called my husband and told him we were going elsewhere.  My youngest daughter began panicking and I carried her the rest of the way with my other two running ahead of us.

We spent about an hour in the shelter with twenty other people and dogs before heading back home.  In that hour my daughter was able to calm down and I was able to think though all that happened.  Fortunately, the only thing that ever came our way that day was a good practice run.  Here are SOME lessons we learned (or were reminded of):
  • No matter how you feel underneath, stay calm so you can help the kids stay calm.
  • Do a family drill, even if it feels cheesy.  This is the only way to work the bugs out.
  • Pack some plastic bags in case someone's stomach isn't calm.
  • Put your emergency kit somewhere that you can take it with you if needed.  We repacked ours into three backpacks rather than one container.  This way three family members could each grab a bag.  Our kit did nothing for us when we were in the shelter and not one person there had any supplies.  It had the potential to get ugly in there.
  • Pack some fun stuff in the kit to help distract the kids.
  • If possible, have a small supply of prescriptions in the kit.
  • Call someone and tell them your plan as soon as you know something is going on.  We lost cell phone service during the storm and didn't get service back until eight hours after it was over.
  • As soon as you return to normal (or as soon as possible) call that person back and tell them you are OK.  For good measure, call anyone else who may be concerned.  I called my grandpa who would have panicked when he saw the news that evening because several tornadoes did touch down near our town.

These are a few things that come to mind.  Please share any other suggestions with me!

Monday, June 13, 2011

My American Dream

Mansions.  Exotic cars.  Jetting around the world.  That isn’t my American Dream.  If I had a million dollars, none of these things would be on my list.  First, I would move my family out of the small duplex that we currently call home and purchase a modest four-bedroom home where each of my kids could have their own room.   It would also have a garage and driveway where we could park our cars.  Not new cars, but our current rides that would be paid off.  In addition to paying off our cars, we would have the overdue maintenance performed.  Speaking of maintenance, I would purchase health insurance and get medical and dental checkups.  My kids are current on their checkups because they have insurance and my husband goes to the veteran’s hospital, but I am beyond overdue and my body feels it.  The last place where I would put a large chunk of money is my church.  Our food pantry is running low and the shelter we support needs lots of work.  Of course there would be a couple of splurges. I would purchase some homeschool materials that are on my dream shopping list. My selfish item would be a room in the house just for my card-making business that is starting to take off.  I would also love to have my husband’s motorcycle repaired from when a driver pulled out in front of him and the bike was totaled.  Lastly, I would take my family to California for a visit with my grandpa.  He is so lonely since my grandma suddenly died of cancer last June.  The kids and I were able to spend last summer with him and sort through all that needs to be done when someone passes.  Now I would like to make some new, happy memories with him.  The fortune wouldn’t last long, but it would be put to good use in my hands.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Daddy Dates by Greg Wright

Daddy Dates is written to give dads tools to build relationships with their daughters, mainly in the form of dates (thus the title).  Wright outlines the intentions behind the dates, how to implement the dates, and the impact of the dates with his four daughters.  Included at the back of the book are a personality test and a list of suggested dates for the dads who need the extra help in the creativity department.
Having a house full of daughters, I was eager to read Wright’s thoughts on raising girls.  This book offers some insight on parenting from a dad’s point of view and gives dads plenty of advice on how exactly to carry out a “daddy date.” For many, this may be a new idea and Wright starts those dads on the right path.  The inclusion of the personality test and date ideas is a great bonus to the book.  This is an easy read, like a light-hearted conversation with a friend.  From a book that calls itself a “road map for any day to raise a strong and confident daughter,” I would have preferred more depth.  From a Christian publisher, I would have appreciated more emphasis on Godly values.  All in all, it is good material for dads looking to be more involved in their daughters’ life.  Just don’t stop here.

This book was given to me by Booksneeze in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

FRESCHETTA® Pizza for Lunch

As a homeschooling mother, I am always looking for a tasty, affordable lunch to feed my children.  We usually work through lunch and need something that is quick and simple to make.  We recently tried the FRESCHETTA® Simply Inspired Hawaiian Style Pizza and LOVED it!  The toppings tasted fresh thanks to the FRESCH-TASTE SEAL™ Packing and were generously spread across the top of the pizza.  My girls especially liked the thin, crunchy crust.  This pizza will definitely be a frequent repeat on our menu.
I was pleasantly surprised to read that the packing uses 30% less packaging material.
Make sure to follow @FreschettaSI on Twitter and “Like” on Facebook for your chance to win prizes and download coupons for FRESCHETTA® Simply Inspired pizza.

My Giveaway!!
Leave a comment telling me which Freschetta Simply Inspired pizza you would love to sample.  One lucky reader will win their own cutting board and coupon for a FREE Freschetta pizza!  Contest ends May 15th, so check back to see if you are the winner!

Why wait, visit Freschetta's site right now: FRESCHETTA® Simply…Inspired™

The opinions expressed are mine.  I received a free pizza to review and a cutting board from Freschetta.  I also received a coupon for a pizza and a cutting board to give away.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Max on Life by Max Lucado

Have you ever wanted to sit down with Max Lucado and ask some of those tough questions about life?  Apparently you aren’t the only one because Max compiled a book of 172 questions he has been asked and the answers to those questions in his newest book, Max on Life.  They range from hope and hurt to home and the hereafter (and everything in between that begins with the letter “h”).  Lucado also includes a topical index and scripture index to make it even easier to find the answer to a specific question you may have.
I initially sat down with this book to quickly peruse the topics and expected to only read a few pages in that sitting.  It was such an easy read that I finished half of the book without even realizing it.  As I read, I marked several pages that I wanted to share with family members or friends who were asking the same questions. This book was everything I expected from one of my favorite authors and then some.  In traditional Max Lucado style, he backs up every answer with scripture and love.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the reading guide at the back which offers a concise list of Lucado’s books with the main scripture for each book and a list of his books according to subject matter.
BookSneeze® has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jolt! by Phil Cooke

Our lives are filled with change.  For every change that presents itself, we have a choice.  Do we avoid it at all costs or do we look at change as an opportunity to jolt our behavior?  In Jolt!, Phil Cooke offers five areas of your life where you can make the sudden jolts of life work for you.
As a person going through a great deal of change, this book inspired me to look at my circumstances in a whole new way.  Phil’s writing style is conversational, almost as if we are talking over lunch.  The points are made in a concise way and everything is woven together in a way that keeps the reader engaged from cover to cover.  Phil motivates the reader to use change to work for his benefit by providing simple exercises along the way and offering examples of others who have succeeded in a world of constant change.  This book has jolted my thinking and lifestyle in ways I never expected!

BookSneeze® has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Sugar Wars

Our 7-year-old daughter has complained of headaches for as long as she could say the word headache.  It's no surprise really, because every woman in my family suffers from them also.  I remember that in third grade we kept a bottle of children's tylenol in the school nurse's office for me.  By junior high, my mom had taught me some relaxation techniques, something that was still developing.  My heart breaks for my daughter because she says that she has a headache almost every day.  After several visits to our family doctor and no progress, we began seeing a neurologist.  One of the first recommendations: cut out the sugar as much as possible.  I was absolutely willing to do that, we had already greatly limited sugar in our household. My daughter and I agreed that it would be better to have less sugar and less headaches. Treats don't have to be sugary because they could also be stickers, extra play time, etc.  As we left the doctor's office determined to make this work, the receptionist offered my daughter a snack to eat on the way home.  My daughter eagerly viewed the selection, but the smile quickly turned to a frown.  The choices: fruit gummies, granola bars, and other sugar-loaded yummies.  Ugghhh!  Fast forward two weeks and we are back at the hospital working with the nurse who teaches children biofeedback techniques to deal with their headaches.  At the end of the hour-long session, the nurse praised my little girl for working hard and pointed her to the prize cabinet.  Upon opening the cabinet, my daughter smiled a huge smile.  The cabinet was filled with an assortment of toys, coloring books, and candy.  Weeks one and two were uneventful because she chose a coloring book and a bracelet.  Week three was a little more difficult. My daughter whispered, "Mom...there's nothing I want in here except a piece of candy.  Can I get it?"  Double ugghhh!    Mind you, this nurse also told my daughter that sugar was not good for kids with headaches.  All in all, we are doing better with the sugar wars.  We keep snacks with us so that when we are at sporting events, church, and other activities we can whip out the better snacks and turn down the junk snacks.  I just didn't expect to fight the battle at the doctor's office too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sweet Shoppe Birthday

We give our oldest daughter a $100 budget for her birthday party each year.  Wanting to stretch her budget, she decided to have a theme that would allow her to shop the clearance sales after Valentine's Day.  The theme she landed on was a sugar-loaded Sweet Shoppe.  She knew that she would save money on the candy that would serve as decorations as well as goody-bag fillers.  The day after Valentine's Day, we hit Wal*Mart and bought lots of candy.  Then we struck gold at Target.  Their Valentine's partyware was pink, red, teal, green, orange and yellow striped.  We got a table cloth, napkins, and plates.  We filled in the gaps with plain cups, balloons, and less-expensive candy.  This is what we did:Activities: Pin the Lolly on the Pop (the girls decorated their lollies before the game), Make Your Own Candy Necklace (Valentine's deal), Decorate a Cupcake (the cupcakes were placed on a stand for later), Guess How Many Gumdrops in the Jar, Sweet Shoppe Bingo (with gummy bear markers)
Goody Bags: Prefilled with bracelets, candy flavored lip balm, toothbrushes, and bouncy balls.  As they left, girls (and moms) could fill their bags with candy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Relay for Life Family Competition

Last April my grandmother found out she had cancer.  My girls and I packed up and headed to California at the end of May, intending to help my grandpa take care of my grandma and household tasks until she recovered.  Eight days after we arrived, she quietly passed away in the hospital.  This was not our first encounter with cancer, my husband's mother died of breast cancer when we were teens.  In honor of both of these wonderful ladies, our family is walking in the Relay for Life in June.  To make it fun, our family is having a contest amongst ourselves to see who can raise the most money.  The winner gets to choose dinners for a whole week AND not have to do chores for a whole week!  Please help us out by donating here.  This is our team page and the competition is among the Nourse sisters (and mom).  Better yet, join our team and walk with us!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Instant Information

When I woke up, I stared at my phone.  Do I check my e-mail, Facebook, etc. like every other morning or do I give it a day off.  What if it turns out like yesterday that I find out about something going on at work or with a friend that needs my immediate attention?  Then I reminded myself that if someone needs me, they will call or message me, not post it on their Facebook status.  After thoroughly thinking through every possible angle of this quandry for all of 30 seconds, I picked up my phone and started through the routine.  It didn't take long for me to realize that I was needed and I wasn't going to get that call or message.  As I read message after message, I realized that my prayers were needed immediately.  Near the top of the page, a friend in Japan posted that he and his family were all safe.  Another friend posted that her son who had just left for his duty station in Japan was accounted for, as well as all other U.S. military personnel.  Then I read about the largest earthquake Japan had ever experienced.  It reminded me of the morning I turned on the morning news like any other morning but what I saw took me to my knees.  9/11.  The biggest difference between the two experiences is the delivery.  Instead of watching the news footage, videos and photos taken by everyday people rolled across the computer.  Isn't technology amazing? I'm so thankful for the ability to choose whether to know at a moment's notice what is going on.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

First thing every morning I grab my phone from the nightstand and check to see what's going on in the world.  E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, I check them all to see what happened while I was getting my beauty sleep.  Sometimes I see that someone commented on a post, but usually I just browse through my group updates and delete lots of e-mail.  Today there was a post on my employer's Facebook page, which is a rarity.  I work on Thursdays at a local municipality, mostly doing their water billing, but performing other tasks as needed (like creating their Facebook page).  The post, entered by a council member at 4:30 this morning, was short and sweet: City water is shut down due to a leak.  Ugghhh...really?  On the one day that I work.  Actually, I worked last Monday to cover for another worker and the water was shut down due to a leak.  It was chaos.  I was the only person in the office and people went crazy.  "I paid my bill, why is my water off?"  "I know I'm late, can you turn my water on? I will pay the bill on Friday." "Why didn't you call and tell me my water was being shut off?  I was getting ready tot ake a shower. By the way, my water bill is high, can someone take a look at my meter today?" "I just moved into town and need my water turned on.  Today." The good thing last week was that I didn't know it was happening until I got to work.  I had a relaxing morning with my family like any other day.  Today, I got to think about it all morning as I rush to get ready and on my way to work.  As a matter of fact, I started my work day at home, calling the media to alert them of the situation and fielding phone calls from the office.  Tomorrow, I'm going to start my day with the Good Book rather than Facebook.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Where Did She Get Those Curls?

My youngest daughter has curls.  We're talking Shirley Temple curls.  Ladies stop us on a regular basis to comment about her beautiful hair.  My other two daughters, one who was blessed with wavy and the other straight hair, just smile as they are passed by without a word.  Then the inevitable is always asked,  "where did she get such darling curls?"  We all just smile because the question is expected.  My hair is straighter than straight, but not because I was born that way.  I once had uncontrollable curls springing from my head also.  Curls that drove me nuts because they never stayed in place.  My sanity came in the form of a flat iron.  I liked straight hair and so did my husband.  (He liked long hair too, but I chopped it short when we were just friends, before he was allowed to have an opinion.)  Only when I was running short on time did I allow my hair to go au natural.  Recently, I was blessed with a new cousin (by marriage) who is a stylist.  Her gift to me was a Brazilian Blowout. Here I am, seven months later, and I am beginning to embrace my inner curl for the first time.  The Blowout is now more out than in and I'm OK with that.  My name is Mama Curls and it's a pleasure to meet you.
Me at the age of 4, but it may as well be my baby because she is a carbon copy.