Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas 2016 (photo overload)

We are back home to our Gravelly Road after all our Christmas travels.  Christmas as a family of 5, plus 3 out of town Christmas celebrations and a few too short visits with great grandparents.  The kiddos are spending a few days with Grandpa and Grandma so today I am home in a quiet house trying to treasure the silence and wade through all the Christmas memories captured on my camera.  

Besides the never ending wish list of things to do when I have kid-free time, my wonderful husband and I are going out to eat and watch a movie -- a little date night to celebrate our anniversary in a few days.  I'm thinking we might celebrate again the day of, but likely with carry-out by candlelight after the kids are in bed.

Here are a few favorite photos from Christmas, though there are so many I can barely pick.  

After all the Christmas fun I'm looking to a few days of family fun, just the five of us before our break is over here at the gravelly road.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Dance recital smiles

Saturday was her first dance recital.  She was so excited and did so well.  Here's her big smile to share.

Just another first in our Life on the Gravelly Road.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Program

Today was our church's children's Christmas program titled "Get Ready" perfect for a Sunday still early in advent.  There were plenty of songs, including some with the adult choir and others just one or two grades at a time.  Each grade also had a few memorized parts sharing the story of Christmas with the oldest grades narrating and acting out parts of the story.  It is always fun to watch after all the hard work the kids put in practicing and it all came together well.

Of course there were a few moments where there was some exuberant dancing or extra hand motions, plus a few bored moments thrown in amongst the sweet heartfelt singing.  Middle child was recruited to be an advent candle last minute (after this momma made sure he wasn't lighting or holding a real candle).  He proudly stood almost the entire service as the JOY candle -- it was hard for him but did it well.

I only took a handful of pics as I spent most of the time videoing their grades' songs etc.  It warms my heart to hear them sing out songs about getting ready for Jesus.

Of course I required a nice pic in front of the tree before we headed in to the fellowship area for cookies and cocoa, a much deserved treat.

Here are our well-dressed singers.

Just a slice of life on the gravelly road.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Fingerprint Light Ornament

Every year I help the kids make ornaments for grandparents but I usually don't get a chance to share them as I want to keep them secret until they are given and then I forget to post.

So as we unpacked ornaments to decorate the tree, I saw last years cute fingerprint Christmas lights ornament we made and thought I'd share.

I found these cute mini canvases at a local big box store.  Each member of our family added a fingerprint.  Then after it was dry I used a sharpie to draw the wire and tops of each light, as well as the year on the canvas.  I used a glue gun to attach the ribbon for hanging.  And Done.

Cute keepsake ornaments without a lot of steps or elapsed time.

A fun project from our home on the gravelly road.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Five Minute Friday: ENJOY

This week I'm again participating in Five Minute Fridays at Kate Motaung's blog, (after another long hiatus) encouraging bloggers to write on a prompt unedited for five minutes.  This week's prompt: Enjoy


They woke up to news that brought cheers.

First snow day of the year.  A day wide open to enjoy, no school, no where to be with sleet and snow blowing loudly outside, with possible blizzard conditions.

Before 9 am they already had breakfast, made beds, got dressed, read books and now watching a tv show.  Next up snack, legos, drawing time, and games they say.  Plus hoping this afternoon includes time outside and hot cocoa.  Maybe some baking too.  Or a movie and popcorn.  Its hard not to have a long list when an unexpected "free" day like today comes around.

And while I'd like to make progress on my to-do list, I want to enjoy this day too.  Errands cancelled, no school drop offs and pick ups.  Just home with my three.  Comfy clothes, extra cup of coffee, a little extra time to read.

I want to slow down to make memories WITH them.  Be present in their day. Extra snuggles, books, silly play and projects.  Enjoy them.

Most of all, I don't want their list or my own to overshadow the fun, laughter, and living in the moment.  Enjoying this gift of a day together.

Maybe even enjoy this gift of November snow.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Fall Smiles

Since snow is in the forecast for later this week, I went through some of my many fall pics and edited a few of my favorites of the kids during our beautifully long fall.  We've had amazing weather and completely spoiled by how much time we've been able to spend outside without heavy coats and hats.

Just some smiles and fall leaves here on the gravelly road before snow covers it all.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween 2016!

From Super Girl, Darth Vader (Ike) and a fearless Storm Trooper (Zman).  

Ready for some Halloween fun near our Gravelly Road!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Disney Trip (photo overload)

We just got back from a week long trip to warmer local and a visit to Disney.  The kids had so much fun and so many wonderful memories were made.  We were blessed that my parents could travel with us, which made a world of difference in being able to manage the trip and parks while still enjoying the day.

4 airplane rides. 5 suitcases. 2 hotel rooms.  2 disney parks (with so many rides, lines, and characters to meet). 1 day at the beach. 3 excited and sometimes overtired children. A week of precious memories we will never forget.

Now we are home sweet home on the gravelly road, unpacking and finding our routine back, treasuring the memories made.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Five

This week I'm again participating in Five Minute Fridays at Kate Motaung's blog, (after another long hiatus) encouraging bloggers to write on a prompt unedited for five minutes.  This week's prompt: FIVE


Five years ago this week was my last day at a job I enjoyed for more than seven years.  Final edits to documentation, cleaning out my desk and good-byes to coworkers.  Then my husband and I finished packing and made our way with the last load to our home on our gravelly road.

Five years ago next week I walked into a local church on a Tuesday to a room full of women I didn't know and began my journey with MOPS.  Prayed, learned and celebrated with ladies that have become friends I treasure, my community and a ministry where we serve together.

A bit more than Five years ago we began our adoption journey.  A journey God had planned though we had no idea of the path He had before us, of the waiting in front of us, and the tears, joy and blessing along the way.

And now there are Five.  Five plates at the table.  Five piles of laundry waiting to be put away. Five lives knit together in a way only God could have planned.  Our family of five here on the gravelly road.

Amazing how much meaning a single number can have in a single Five Minute Friday post!



A bit of other news, the FMF community has created a book of FMF posts from a whole host of contributors.  I'm honored that one of my posts was included in the book!  The book goes on sale next week and all profits go are divided equally between two ministries in South Africa: The Vine School in Cape Town, and The Ten Dollar Tribe.  Its exciting stuff and I can't wait for a copy to make to my hands on our gravelly road.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book Review: Discipline that Connects with Your Child's Heart

Its been a while since I had the chance to post a book review on the blog.  I'm very excited about this book as it has the potential to impact so many families.

Discipline that Connects with Your Child's Heart by Jim and Lynne Jackson is a book that contains grace-filled parenting wisdom focused on discipline with connection.  It culminates from the author's experience as parents, careers as professionals helping children of all types and the work of their ministry Connect Families that has touched so many families. 

Connected Families is a parenting ministry that has been impacting our family for a while now.  I first became aware of Connected Families a year or two ago when they had a table at a large MOPS training event.  I ended up bringing home a magnet with the ministry's framework of core parenting messages (that are explained in the book) similar to the graphic below.  I was drawn to how well the messages tied to what I hoped for my children and that it so succinctly addressed some of the parenting challenges of parenting children by birth and adoption at the same time.

source: ConnectedFamilies.org
The magnet lived on my fridge where I could see it while I cooked and helped with homework during the crazy hour or two before supper (maybe its just here on the gravelly road, but so much parenting, conflict and crazy happens while I'm trying to cook supper).  I found myself taking a deep breath and glancing at the magnet before I "ventured into the fray" of whatever conflict was suddenly becoming so loud.

I soon began following Connected Families on Facebook and by email, regularly being encouraged by their articles and blog posts.  So when I heard Jim and Lynne's book was being released, I quickly signed up to be part of release team and was so honored to be sent an advance copy to review,

When it came in the mail, I immediately noticed the subtitle of this book: "Building Faith, Wisdom & Character in the Messes of Daily Life".  Isn't that what all parents want?  Its just hard to know how to get there.  This book makes a big difference by providing a framework based on Biblical principles to planfully approach conflict and teaching moments from a perspective inline with faith-based and grace-based parenting goals, while also helping you connect to your child's heart instead of just quickly resolving the surface issue of the behavior or conflict.

As I mentioned the book dives in the core parenting messages of "You are Safe with me", "You are LOVED no matter what", "You are Called and Capable", and "You are Responsible for your actions".  There is a section covering each message with biblical wisdom, common parenting actions that can undermine the message, practical advice to put the message into action, and real life examples. Sections end with introspective questions to help you identify wisdom and advice you can begin to apply to your parenting.

The book also includes a section at the end with wisdom for more specific challenges including sibling conflict, lying, daily routines, defiance, encouraging responsibility in kids and many more topics.  I love the idea of the "kid connection" prompts with scripture, discussion and activities that were included throughout the book which could be used during a family meeting or after supper devotions to provide additional consistent teaching opportunities.

I greatly appreciated the transparency and honesty the authors used by discussing the parenting challenges and issues that occurred in their own home.  I found that their advice and wisdom came from a place of humility acknowledging that parenting is a journey with no quick fixes, helping the reader give themselves grace for past mistakes and encouraging them to try a different approach to make positive and lasting changes in their family.

This is a book impacting our family here on the gravelly road that I hope can help many others as well.

** I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased feedback. All opinions are my own. **

Right now this book is on sale at Amazon for a great price if you'd like to check it out!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

One year

One year ago today was our adoption finalization.  It is an anniversary worth celebrating.

We're spending the Labor Day weekend camping with family but want to be intentional to mark the day.  We bought our family a new board came, brought temporary tattoos, glow bracelets and ice cream cones to share with the cousins (like we had at our family celebration a year ago).

We brought out the picture book we made last year after finalization with the story of how Zman and Peaches joined our family and looked through pictures from adoption day.

And we spent the day as a family.  It was a good day.

Monday, August 29, 2016

First Day of School 2016

Today marks another beginning of another year of school for our three kiddos - 2nd Grade, Kindergarten and Preschool.

Backpacks, clothes and shoes were laid out ahead of time.  Breakfast of "flat" eggs and toast was requested by all three.  And of course first day pics were taken.  Magically even though there was a bit more on our list this morning for a first day, we were all in the car earlier than I expected.  No "hurry up" calls up the stairs necessary for today -- likely the only time all year I suspect.

Ike starts second grade today.  While he wished summer break was longer, he was full of smiles today and looks forward to seeing his friends.  He excited to have his brother in the school and they stayed up later than I liked whispering about school stuff.

Z-man is starting kindergarten today.  He was excited more than nervous which was a blessing for this momma's heart.  He is glad he has the same teacher his big brother had and that his best friend is in his class.  He is also excited to ride the school bus home with his big brother several days a week. He has a big year ahead of him and we can't wait to see how God uses it.

Peaches is in preschool again this year but still big changes for this girl -- a new preschool and 5 mornings a week (compared to last year's 2 mornings).  She was nervous as many of her friends from last year are going to kindergarten and she will be making new friends this year at preschool, though we talked about how much she can help her new friends since she already knows how preschool works.  When I dropped her off, she was all smiles as she showed her teacher how she could write her whole name (first middle last).

I can't wait to hear all about their first days when they return home to the gravelly road.

Dear Lord -

I ask for an extra special blessing on the school year adventure ahead of each of our three children.  Each adventure is unique and will be used for your purposes in their life, though all three start a new phase today.

Guide their teachers as they give instruction, encouragement, and build the tone of their classrooms. Grant them your wisdom for those moments when a child's tears or frustrated words are coming from a deeper hard place than just a tough morning.  May their classrooms be places of learning and inclusion, a safe place to try, fail and try again.

Watch over our three as they start and strengthen friendships, face challenges, try new things, handle squabbles with classmates, and discover more about the world and this thing we call education.  Guide their words and actions so that they are kind and compassionate to those around them.  Surround them with friends that bring out their best so that they can build each other up.

Thank you again and again for allowing me to be the mom of these precious kiddos.  I am so honored and challenged daily.  They each are growing and changing so fast it often takes my breath away.  Continue to grow them into the people you called them to be and help me to help them see how you are working in their lives.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Family camp

We spent a long weekend away up north, near some of our favorite places, at a family camp with several other families from our church and another local church.  It was a great blend of relaxing family time, time in nature, time with friends and camp fun.  It was so nice that our meals were provided by the camp (no cooking or restaurants!) and fun to eat as a large group. The kids loved a playground plus the swim area and paddle boats. There were also fishing boats, a few hiking trails plus camp fires and worship times in the evenings.  The group included a lot of kids and everyone got along so great -- a camp full of playmates!  Its was a memorable time and something I think we likely will do again.

And now that we are unpacking at home on the gravelly road... here are some of my favorite pics from the weekend.

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