Saturday, July 31, 2010

Family Movie Night

J just finished reading M The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (a hardcover children's version).  M was fascinated by Aslan and loved that he was "both good and terrible at the same time."

While we were at the library this week I picked up the movie and we watched it last night for one of our first family movie nights.  The kids were SO EXCITED!

Again, it was a little intense, but so good.  Always moved by Aslan's sacrifice (M and I were both crying)and the deep analogies within the story. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Theme Week: That's a Theme Week?

Last week was "Reclaiming Summer Week."  Great name, huh?

Realized that since coming back from being away I was in a bit of a funk.  We hadn't been playing outside at all.  Now, admittedly, it has been REALLY hot.  In addition to just feeling hot, the heat has also scorched the grass and flowers making it pretty unappealing to be in the backyard.  So, I decided it was time to do something about it.

By golly, we pulled back out the kiddy pool, I mowed the existing tufts of grass and we replanted the flower pots (BEAUTIFUL flowers were on sale at the grocery store for $1.50!)

My dirty leg from mowing the grass turned to dust yard. :)

We actually started the the week by taking the kids to see How To Train Your Dragon at the $2 Theater. It was A LITTLE intense ;), but very good. After getting over the initial shock of the darkness of the theater, the kids liked it, too. Then we went to Cold Stone for some yummy ice cream. T and I had Oreo cream filling ice cream with Oreos, chocolate chips and peanut butter cups. Yum!  M and J had chocolate with just about everything mixed in.

My people at the end of the movie.

Oh, and we went to the Children's Museum. I keep forgetting that we have a membership and while it's no big-city museum, the kids really do love it.

M finding Ethiopia all by herself on the map at the Children's Museum.  (And T just saw this photo and shouted, "That's Africa, Mama!") :)

We ended the week with our first ever trip to Sonic.  I had my first corn dog--I've made it over 30 years without having one! 

I can hardly believe that it's almost August.  Definitely need to start savoring the last month of summer!  Time to catch some fireflies!

Wed. What's Up? Adoption Update (a day late)

I think we're still sitting unofficially at #20 (down 32 numbers from Feb.)  Yay!

The very first group that will be travelling twice is in Ethiopia this week meeting their children and going to court.  Looking forward to catching up on their journeys soon. :)

And wanted to share this book that we keep in the living room (it was recommended by Levi at Drawn from Water).  A Life Like Mine shows how children around the world live by sharing the lives of ~17 children from every continent in a very visual way.  You can peek inside at this Amazon link.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kisses from Katie

Just wanted to post the lastest video from Amazima Ministries.  In case you're not familiar with it, Katie Davis is a ~22-year-old who lives in Uganda and is the mother to 14 children there.  She also feeds over 400 children each week.  Incredibly amazing to watch and be inspired by her life.  Check out her blog at

Amazima Ministries International 2010 from Joseph Terranova on Vimeo.

This is a video of her vision for some land.  Beautiful!

Katie's Vision for Bukaya, Uganda from HopeMongers Cooperative on Vimeo.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Made-It: Check this out! (Kid Concoctions)

So, I've been busy "crafting" these days in the office and while I'm there, I've been listening to podcasts and watching some stuff online.  Anyway, I came across this webcast: Concoctions that Connect to Faith from Focus on the Family yesterday--and, wow--this stuff is soooo fun!

If you havent' heard of Kid Concoctions yet, it's a website/books/videos of easy craft projects to make with your kids.  Like, today, we painted with KoolAid.  You just mix a little bit of water with the drink mix and then paint away.  As you can imagine, it smells very fruity.  Scratch-n-stiff paint--seriously, how fun is that?  I guess, that if we had cut out the pictures we could have painted some plain gelatin on the back and then they would have turned into stickers!  Homemade stickers!

This one is so much fun, too.  Rocks filled with treasures.  Yeah, you can make your own rocks out of coffee grounds, sand and flour, stuff them with little treasures, and wah-lah--a hidden treasure rock!  Check it out.

Will most definitely be trying out this stuff--from sponge balls to lip gloss to making your own silly-putty-esk dough.  Can't wait!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Theme Week: Bible Story Week--Old Testament Style & Update

Yay!  Another referral went out yesterday--so by looking closely at the unofficial list we are either number 20 or 21!  So close to the teens!

Last week was "Bible Story Week".  We took extra time to read, talk about and play games related to Adam and Eve, Noah, David, Daniel and Esther. 

We have quite a few children's Bibles.  Last year, we got The Jesus Storybook Bible, but hadn't really read that particular one much.  But, I have to say, that I LOVE IT!  It so beautifully shows God's hand through all of the stories in the Bible and is written a lot like a storybook while staying true to the passages.  And it keeps M and T's attention.  HIGHLY recommend it!  (You can go here to see the inside and Chapter 1.)

Adoption Update

Yay!  There was a referral for a baby girl this week--so unofficially we are number 22! 

The courts will be closing in Ethiopia from August 6-September 27 because of the rainy season.  The Ethiopian New Year also takes place during this time.  Typically court closure in Ethiopia reduces the number of referrals during that time.

J and I have been following Ordinary Hero on their current trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  We have been moved by this blog, and particulary the entry about their trip to Korah, the dump where 130,000 plus people live.  Unfathomable, but real stuff.

Also, recently saw this video posted by another blog friend.  It is a beautifully put together snapshot of Ethiopia. Check it out below. :)

Ethiopia: The Whole Picture from Paul Hassell on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What would you do?

"What if you knew your actions could prevent even one death?  What if you knew you had the influence, resources, and ability to make a difference in what seemed like a hopeless situation?  Would you act?  Would you be like Oscar Schindler, or would you remain silent?"

From Red Letters:Living a Faith that Bleeds by Tom Davis
Talking about the choices we each make about how we will live our lives.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Made-It: Sweet Sign

Love finding creative uses for things we already have.  I used a scrap piece of wood from the deck to make a sign like one I saw at a craft store--but with a word I really like. :)

I just printed the word "sweet" on the computer using a font I liked.  Then I scribbled on the back of the paper with pencil and copied it onto the wood.  I used some ancient craft paint to fill it in.  Love free "art." :)

(Praying for baby T and his mommy and daddy today.  Love you guys!)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sweet Birthdays Booth

Today Becca and I did something we've never done before. :)  We sat at a table at our local Community Day Luau to tell people all about Sweet Birthdays.

(We were way too hot to pose in the pictures.  It was in the 90's--
BUT there was a great breeze and we did have the shade of tent.)

We got to talk a lot--a lot about Sweet Birthdays--what we are and what we are not. ;)
--We host birthday parties once a month at a local emergency homeless shelter for the children there.
--It's an awesome way to volunteer with our families--especially with young children.
--We, in fact, do NOT cater birthday parties. :)

And while we weren't there to necessarily promote adoption, it came up a lot in the course of natural conversation.  Most everyone wanted to know why we started doing the parties.  Our answer:  Because we're both in the process of adoption and along the way we've read quite a bit about world poverty.  In response to what we've learned we want to do something (more than just giving money) hands-on AND something that we can do with our children.  Sweet Birthdays is a very good fit. :)

We even met a family court judge there--one who resides over adoptions.  He was SO encouraging--definitely a high point of the day. :)

What we do.

How you can help and the flowers for the flower pens that we made with the people who stopped by.

We had a WHOLE page of people who signed up to learn more!

My two monkeys enjoying a day at the "beach" there with Daddy.

As a big-time introvert talking to lots of people is not my "thing."  But it was a REALLY good day.  Thanks, Becca, for being a part of it with me! :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Favorites: Rocking Out with Veggies

We were cranking these tunes in the car the other day and it made me remember what a lifesaver they were a few years ago.

Our dear little M passionately HATED being in the car.  Between the ages of 4 months until she was almost 2, every car ride--even just the 10 minute drive to the grocery store--was filled with a lot of screaming.  It was NOT fun.  Trying to find ways to avoid the fits of screams or ways to quickly diffuse them tested every ounce of patience I had.  Definitely a challenging time.

Anyway, one day we tried a Veggie Tales CD and she was hooked.  Out of all of the children's music that we had, listening to singing vegetables completely captivated her. :)

Consequently we have quite a few Veggie Tales CD's.  To name a few...
On the Road with Bob and Larry --where I learned the lyrics to Bicycle Made for Two
Christian Hit Music  --Kind of funny to hear Mr. Lunt singing I Was Made to Love
Bob and Larry's Toddler Songs --I must point out the version of the Wheels on the Bus on this CD is different from the version on the On the Road CD and this caused M no small amount of concern. ;)

One of our favorites is Veggie Tales Worship Songs with Matt Redman.  M was in love with Matt Redman--she always wanted to hear the "Matt" songs (maybe it's his accent).  :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Water Fun Week

Because we were away until Wednesday last week, our theme was really simple.  We just did a few fun things with water. :)

My mom gave them these grow-in-the-water shapes.  They definitely grew!

And we also did the water experiment with Queen Anne's Lace.  We sliced the stem in half and put one side in colored water and the other in clear water (hmmm...would have been fun to do two colors!). 

Just half turned blue.

M and T also spent some considerable time playing in the creek at the cabin in PA with Nana and Pop and we also joined our local lake.  We are getting in lots of water play! :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New July Number

Our new number for July is...
For a little girl 0-15 months
(from 29 in June and overall from 52 in February).

And number 15 for siblings.

But, because at least 3 referrals went out in the past week, unofficially we are number...

Check it out, we are on the first row!  Whoo-hoo! :)

Also have to share this insightful post about what it must be like to be an adopted child meeting your new parents for the first time.  You can find it here (it's really good).

Post from July 13, 2010:

You never know when you might be inspired.

J and I got away for a few days to Hershey, PA for our anniversary.  We stayed at the lovely Hotel Hershey.  For the most part we just hung out at the pool (a wonderful luxury to be able to swim and chill without the little people) and ate at the most amazing restaurants at the hotel.  On this note, I must mention the pierogies.  Not my usual fare.  Kind-of sounds like cafeteria food maybe.  Okay, these were AMAZING!  Had them two nights in a row as a matter of fact--that's how good they were.  But, I digress...

When I think of Hershey, the obvious comes to mind--Chocolate bars for s'mores and Hershey Park.  But there is much more to the story.

So Milton Hershey really wasn't very successful until he was like 40.  He actually had his first success with caramels but realized that they were a fad and that chocolate was here to stay.

He built the Hershey Chocolate Factory in practically the-middle-of-no-where PA.  During the great depression he got rid of his bulldozer and instead hired more men to do the work so that he could provide jobs. 

But this is the coolest part.  In 1909 he and his wife founded the Milton Hershey School--a school for orphan boys.  He put all of his personal wealth from his companies into this school in the form of a trust.  It's worth about 6 billion dollars today. 

So this dude who took incredible risks, aquired magnificent wealth and basically built a flourishing town from nothing, left his life savings to children who most might consider without hope.  His legacy far outlives his life.

Today, Milton Hershey School is a cost-free, private, coeducational home and school for children from families of low income, limited resources, and social need.   The students there live with 9-13 other students with a married couple.  There have been over 8,000 graduates.  In his words, "If we had helped a hundred children it would have all been worthwhile."

His story is really so much better than I can relate--you can start to find out more about his life here.  If you're a history buff, check out the Hershey Story on YouTube. 

For more about the school, watch this moving 60 second clip here.

Who knew what a cool legacy a bar of chocolate represents? 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Made-It: Easy Heirloom Tomato Recipe

LOVE this recipe from the July 2010 issue of Real Simple.  We have it almost every week and we get to use our very own basil in the recipe.  Really easy, really delicious!  (And, no, she's not related.) :)

Rebecca Miller’s Pasta With Ricotta and Heirloom Tomatoes
Serves 4

Hands-On Time: 25m
Total Time: 25m

2 pounds heirloom or other tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as chives, flat-leaf parsley, basil, and tarragon)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
12 ounces penne (3/4 box)
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce), plus more for serving

1.Heat oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, herbs, lemon juice, oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Let stand, tossing occasionally.

2.Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot.

3.Spread the pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until golden, 5 to 6 minutes.

4.Toss the pasta with the ricotta, Parmesan, and enough of the reserved pasta water to create a creamy sauce. Top with the tomato mixture and pine nuts. Serve with more Parmesan, if desired.

We also tried this recipe for Eggplant "Sandwiches."  It was really good, but a little more complicated than I usually like for a weeknight dinner. :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Funnies: Kid-ding around

I know, Baaahh-d pun.  ;)

When we visited our families over the 4th of July, we got to meet my parents 2 new kids--Sammy and Lizzy.  The goats had a very good time taking M and T on a walk (they are strong little goats!). 

M and T also had fun "driving" the tractors with Grandpa.  M went for the real deal, but while T is absolutely fascinated by big trucks and tractors, he is not so keen about being too close to the loud sounds.  The riding mower was more his style this time. :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Completed Deck

During June, J Miller expanded our deck all by himself!  Awesome job, Buddy!

The old deck didn't have any steps into the yard and was too small for a patio table.  Check it out...

He dug 4 very deep footers and then got busy on the frame.

He used the yellow strings to lay it all out.  Those strings were like spider webs to T--he kept getting tangled in them just by walking by.

It looked a lot like a boat dock. :)

The helpers.

Everything but the steps.

All done!!

We have used it almost every day--LOVE IT! 

(Although we used the same stain, because the first half of the deck had weathered for 2 years before we stained it they don't completely match yet.)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Friday Favorites: My Dad's Raspberries

My dad grows THE most amazing raspberries I have ever seen--or eaten!  They are HUGE and ABUNDANT! 

And he loves to share them.  When he knows that any one of my sisters or I am coming to visit my parents don't pick them for a few days so that there will be lots.

Really they are the most amazing red and black raspberries I have ever had and we get to eat as much as we want--no need for berry baskets.  Most definitely a summer favorite.  Thanks, Dad!

America Week

Because it was the week before the 4th of July, we decided to have America Week. 

We made a few red, white and blue snacks.  This was chocolate cake in an ice cream cone with whipped cream, red sprinkles and blueberries.  We also made our very first Jell-o Poke Cake.  A white cake with half blueberry jell-o and half strawberry jell-o.  With more whipped cream on top and a flag made out of 50 blueberries for the stars and strawberries for the stripes (forgot to take a picture). 

Oh, and we ate a lot of hotdogs and hamburgers.

After a fun fireworks display at my parents house on Friday, we ended America Week with a paddle-boat cruise to celebrate J's Grammy's 90th birthday party on Saturday night.

M and T loved the boat. 

T especially liked pretending to steer the boat through the mighty Susquehanna. ;)

New Numbers? and FDL

It's the first week of July--so it's time for our monthly number update--this month by phone call. :) 

A referral for a baby girl went out earlier this week, so we'll actually be at least one number less than our "official" number. :)

Still waiting to get our FDL.  What is an "FDL?"  On April 5 (the Monday right after Easter) we headed to the Bronx at 8am to get fingerprinted (again) by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  We sent them our homestudy and a few other documents and after viewing both our paperwork and checking our fingerprints, they will send us a Favorable Determination Letter (FDL).

And why do we need an FDL and what does it mean?  Not exactly clear on all of the details yet, but we need it to get a visa for our little girl.  I think that once we get our referral there will be more paperwork to actually obtain the visa. :)

USCIS has recently centralized their  process for reviewing intercountry adoption paperwork and so our form is somewhere in the shuffle.  While there is no imminent rush, we will need to have our FDL before we can accept a referral.  Hoping that we can get it by the end of this month (that will have given them 4 months to review it).  :)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Ten Year Anniversary!: The Beginning

Today J and I have been married for 10 YEARS!  Crazy! :)

J and I started dating during the summer between our junior and senior year of high school.  But our story began way before then.

My mom and J's mom went to nursing school together.  A few years after they graduated they were working at the same place.  And as the story goes, they both got the phone call from their doctors around the same day telling them that they were expecting.  J's birthday is at the end of November, mine at the end of December. 

Our moms did different things after we were born.  But, my mom kept all of the baby cards that I got.  In them was a sweet note on pink paper from J's mom with funny little stories about how messy babies can be. 

J and I didn't go to elementary school together.  But we did go to Junior High together.  At the end of 7th grade there was an awards ceremony.  We each won some awards and my mom said, "Hey, I think that's that boy whose mom I went to school with!"

I was insanely quiet and shy, especially around guys (I grew up with 3 younger sisters).  But after the last day of school of our junior year, J Miller called me to ask me out on a date.  I couldn't believe it!  I thought he was pretty cool.  But I had NO IDEA that he liked me.  My big fear was that I had said "yes" to a date with the wrong J Miller--there was another J Miller who was a year older than us and he was bad news.  :)

For our very first date we saw Congo and went to McDonald's.  I wasn't hungry, but I got french fries so that he wouldn't be eating alone.  Oh, so funny! 

We dated all through high school.  We both ended up going to Penn State (it really just worked out that way).  We got married 2 months after we graduated on July 1, 2000.  Our pastor read some of that pink note at our wedding.  Really, who would have known that those 2 little babies would grow to live happily ever after?  Love it!

Love you, J!  You are an awesome husband and daddy.  So glad I get to live this life with you.  Here's to a lifetime together!

Pirate Week

To kick off the summer we had Pirate Week. 
Besides playing in the pool and sprinkler, there was an obstacle course to find chalk to draw on the "secret cave."

Clues to find "buried treasure" (granola bars for snack).  And another day buried pennies--they're still finding them. :)

And a dance party on the deck.

Later in the week we also had a "Pirate Pow-Wow."  Thought that talking about and drawing out our house rules together might help them stick. :)
No pushing. No grabbing toys.
Instead, give hugs or back rubs.  Say encouraging and kind words.  Share toys. 

One new rule: Asking permission before you enter some else's room.

While I was folding laundry one day, they watched Veggie Tales: The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.  They were a little scared and so they held hands for most of the movie.  (This is a spy shot.)

And we ended the week with a mini-marshmallow treasure trail that ended with 2 new books. :)

Really liked Pirate Week. :)