Monday, January 21, 2013

I Have A Dream

We read this book today,

and listened to the entire speech over dinner.  I would love to say my children appreciate my attempts to educate them, but in truth they kept asking how much longer the speech was (for younger kids the youtube video is a better choice).

They did love the I Have a Dream book, with the beautiful illustrations by Kadir Nelson.  And they did have a lot to say about Martin Luther King Jr. and the change he dreamed of.

We've come a long way.  We have a long way to go.  My favorite line:

"I have a dream that my four little children will 
one day live in a nation 
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin 
but by the content of their character."  

Amen.  Let freedom ring.  Thank you Dr. King.    

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hiring Household Help?

This week was crazy!  Cuuuu-rrraa-zzzzzzy!!!

My house is generally clean at the beginning of the week, but by Friday it is most definitely worse for the wear.  Weekdays with school and work and activities takes its toll.

But this week?  It's like a tornado hit!  Life was so busy with Vu's birthday, several appointments, four kids on four different basketball teams, and an out-of-town husband--the kids weren't even doing their chores.  ATOMIC BOMB!

We're only two weeks into the school term, but I already need a break!

I'm seriously thinking about hiring someone to help me clean.  Years ago I had a most wonderful angel who came for a few hours every-other-week.  It was fantastic.  I loved the feeling of walking in the door where everything was clean!  And it gave us more time to do the yardwork, projects and extras. 

It's just the pain of writing that check.  THAT CHECK.  And now we live in a bigger house, so I would need to write a bigger check. 

Please, talk me into it.  Tell me I will never regret spending money for stress relief!  Tell me a housecleaner is cheaper than a therapist, which I might need if my house looks like this every week.  Tell me I am helping the economy by providing employment.  Tell me it will make me prettier and smarter and funnier and skinnier!  Tell me I will be saving money.  Whatever it takes to convince!

In the meantime, I'm dreaming of a vacation.  I'm remembering our trip last summer and wishing I was back at the Candy Factory.  They had a machine where the kids could fill tubes with powdered cavity yum! 

And of course they had chocolate.  Lots and lots of chocolate.  Which I could really use right now.   Along with some household help.  Yes?  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Lan Lan would love to be taller than everyone else in the family!

I didn't think it would happen since she currently stands less than five feet tall.

BUT, she appears to have found a solution . . . .

Monday, January 14, 2013

Radical Simplicity--Finding Balance

In my quest for simplicity I find myself with this huge desire to clean and organize.  Over the weekend I spent many hours cleaning every kitchen cupboard and then starting on the walk-in closet.  If the item was not useful, or beautiful, or (hopefully) both, it is being sent off to a new life!  I have too much STUFF!

This morning, I felt a sense of accomplishment in all I had completed!

But that feeling was quickly replaced by the conviction that I had not spent enough of the weekend with the truly important--my family!

I don't want to get so tied up in FINDING simplicity 

that I forget WHY I'm SEEKING it. 

Lesson #1:  FIND BALANCE

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday Night Fun--The Apple Dance

My dad gave us a GIANT box of apples and in the chaos of Christmas they were accidentally forgotten in the garage. 

Once we discovered them they were still good--but a wee bit soft (and we live in Apple Country where we like our apples crisp!)

So, since Christmas I have been pushing apples like crazy! 

But it was slow going.  I didn't want to see apples go to waste.

So . . . a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do.  I promised the kids that once the apples were gone I would perform THE APPLE DANCE!

The kids were intrigued and couldn't wait to see just what the Apple Dance was.  I honestly wasn't sure myself.  But the intake of apples upped immediately!

The excitement grew!

And tonight, with the final two apples, I performed my impromptu Apple Dance!  Lan Lan just happened to catch it with her i-touch, and it was immediately put onto facebook.  So, since the rest of the world now knows I am truly crazy, why not share!!!

(Did I ever mention things get a little crazy around here sometimes!?)  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Radical Simplicity--Books and Thoughts

Lately, I've been on a reading quest!  I've always been intrigued with the topic of simplicity and organization, because both of these topics DO NOT come naturally to me.  I have to work at them.  I also have to constantly remind myself to keep my eyes on Christ and focus on what I am called to do.  I so often fail. 

Here are a list of some newfound favorites and some oldies, in no particular order (some may be out of print). 

Simplicity Parenting--Kim John Payne
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess--Hatmaker
The Purpose Driven Life--Warren
In My Wildest Dreams--Gail Blanke
Shelter for the Spirit--Victoria Moran
The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide--Francine Jay
Plain and Simple--Sue Bender
From Deadlines to Diapers--Tamara Allred
Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives--Muller
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People--Covey
What Happens When Women Say Yes to God--Terkeurst
The Overload Syndrome--Swenson
The Hole in Our Gospel--Stearns 
Your Money or Your Life--Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin
Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth--Merkel (didn't agree with some of his thoughts, especially those regarding large families, but lots to think about)

As I read, I jotted down random thoughts:

Focus around Sabbath, reorganize, simplify, clean out, streamline, say no, use less, make do/do without, reuse, recycle, repair, buy local, work less/share employment, give gift of time, enjoy nature, garden, bike, walk, shop only when necessary, wait to purchase, spend time with God, WWJD?, make possessions last, buy in bulk, use paper plates, PRIORITIZE, stock up, cook double, use pantry method in kitchen, convenience rocks my world, fresh air, fresh food, love homemade, remember joy of sewing, be creative, live simply so others may simply live, laugh!

The quest continues. 

I'll end with a picture of what my new chickens just laid.

That's a lie.  I bought those eggs.

Actually my sister bought those eggs and cooked them for the invasion of our family over Christmas break.

Anyone want to invite us over to their house for breakfast?  My kids don't eat much.  Honest.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Secrets To Successful Older Child Adoption

Adopting an older child from Asia?

You simply must learn the secret of school lunchtime success.

A good thermos!

A good thermos will run about $15 and will have metal inside (not plastic). 

First, fill the empty thermos with boiling water.  Then, heat up the food--soup/rice/dumplings/pasta-- nice and hot.  Dump out the hot water and put in the hot food.  It will still be toasty warm at lunchtime!  Yum! 

And for the record, I do not think parents should force their older adoptees to just eat American food and deal.  I will eat almost anything.  Except for fish and seafood.  And seaweed and turtles and eel.  SO, I have great compassion for my kids because I know that if I had to suddenly move to Asia and eat all the foods that are common there, I would STARVE TO DEATH!

Allowing my kids to eat familiar foods (while still encouraging them to try new foods), is one less change they have to make and one less thing to disagree on.  I also allow open access to healthy food all day, especially the first few months they are home.  This is HUGE is overcoming hoarding of food--something all our kids stopped doing within days of coming home--once they realized they can always eat.

Food = security.  Food = nutrition.

Our kids need both.  Lan Lan has gained THIRTY(!) pounds since coming home (and she still wears a size slim!).  
And for your viewing entertainment, some photos that Lizzy took awhile back that I never posted.  Love to see how Mei Mei is coming alive with the love of good nutrition and a family!

Monday, January 7, 2013

When God Speaks In The Night--Radical Simplicity

I guess now that vacation is over I can't just keep throwing out a bunch of pictures and calling it a blog post! 

So, I'll share something that's been simmering in my thoughts.

A few weeks ago, I woke up in the night with words burning in my mind. I felt absolutely compelled to get up and write them down. I never write down things in the night, because I always think I can remember them (and of course, then I wake up the next morning and try to remember, but can't!).

This time, it was so powerful I absolutely had to.

 The words were

I had no idea what that meant.   I still don't.  But I feel like God is trying to convey something very important and life changing. 

I feel a sense of urgency to clean, cull, organize, simplify.  I know, WEIRD.  And even weirder, Hubby feels the same way!!! I don't feel God is telling me to live off the grid and grow all my own food (tho I do think having a couple chickens would be fun--which is the polar opposite of what Hubby thinks would be fun!).  I don't think God is telling me to stay home all the time, drop all the kids activities, or go on a spending fast (tho I do want to spend money more wisely).  I do think God wants me to carefully reconsider how I'm spending my time and to focus on relationships, including my relationship with Him.

I like the idea that came in my mailbox today--an ad from Mary Jane's Farm magazine that says,

"Enter a world where life is simpler, healthier,
and much more playful . . ."

Have I ever mentioned my obsession with soup?

I am still turning toward Christ to discover what RADICAL SIMPLICITY means for my life. I have been reading everything I can regarding the topic of simplicity.  I've also been spending time in prayer and reflection trying to discern God's will for my life.

Stay tuned . . . and please feel free to add your own thoughts on what radical simplicity means.


Sunday, January 6, 2013


Today is the last day of Christmas Vacation.




We did fit in one last hurrah with a trip to my sister's cabin.  Can you spell winter blast?  What can be better than time with cousins in the snow!  They played from morning 'til night!

Goodbye staying up late, sleeping in, watching movies, lounging, playing, reading, eating and eating and eating.

Goodbye vacation.  I'll miss you.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Love, Food, and Vietnam

Another budding chef received a gift of delight.  It is a cookbook containing beautiful photos and stories from Vietnam.  It definitely fits into my category of gifts that will last a lifetime. 
Vu's first cooking adventure was surrounded by providence.  He really, really, wanted to make the Crab Soup, but we didn't have any crab (and when you occasionally get crab for free, it isn't something you want to go out and buy.)  So, filled with understanding disappointment, he chose a different recipe.  BUT, just as we were headed to the Vietnamese market for some purple yams, our fisherman friend stopped by with the gift of some FRESH CRAB!!!! 
Thuong thuc!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bringing In The New Year With Food!

I love New Year's Eve!  A chance to stay up late with the whole family!  A feeling of hope, combined with love and laughter. 

And hot chocolate and candy canes of course!

We watched the movie Julia & Julia (the quintessential movie for foodies and bloggers), which combined perfectly with Lan Lan's desire to cook Chinese food. 

"Long Life Noodles" from a book we found at our local library, The Young Chef's Chinese Cookbook.  The family review gave it a 5-star rating.  Yum!

Happy New Year!  May 2013 be filled with family, friends, faith, and FOOD!