Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Reads

Well I was surprised by how much reading I annihilated off of the book list I made at the beginning of the year.  I am a list kind of gal and I loved having a roster to choose from so that I was never without something to read. I also never had to wait for motivation to search out a new publication, my list was at my fingertips.
This year I also ventured into the fields of the electronic book.  Convenient? Yes (if your device is charged and you are in a wi-fi location to buy/download your new book). Cheaper than buying a bound book? Not really. I enjoyed a mixture of paper in hand and an electronic picture of paper in hand this year. 

Here is what I read and some of my thoughts:

  • The Simple Living Guide--Janet Luhrs Some good ideas but pretty outdated.
  • Am I Messing Up My Kids--Lysa Terkeurst  A light hearted easy read, but I did do some highlighting. This would be a good book for a mom's coffee group to go through.
  • Shepherding A Child's Heart--Tedd Tripp  One of the best reads all year. I still look over my notes.
  • Voyage of Dr. Doolittle--Hugh Lofting  Childhood favorite, free on Nook.
  • A Kingdom of Desire--Rick McKinley  Great read about how we respond and live after we are "confronted by the love of a Risen King."
  • Midnight in the City   Written by the founder of Convoy of Hope. Loved it.
  • Crazy Love--Frances Chan  I was probably the last one to read this book. Faith spurring and I would like to read it again.
  • Ashes to Africa-- A  book about a couples' journey to adoption in Ethiopia. Nice read.
  • The Well-Trained Mind--Susan Bauer and Jessie Wise   Must read for homeschooling parents.
  • The Dawn Treader--C.S. Lewis  Read it again so I was ready to watch the movie, always good.
  • Sacred Influence--Garry Thomas   Would really recommend this book to wives married to unbelievers or men who are uninvolved.
  • Bringing Up Boys --James Dobson  I think this was good but I don't remember much about it.
  • It's Not Ok With Me--Janine Maxwell  Poverty in Africa, some stirring images that still lead me to prayer.
  • The Endurance   One of my favorites! True story of Shackleton's Antartic Expedition. Was able to share the last half of it with Micah as we listened to an audio e-book traveling to Colorado.
  • The Connected Child--Dr. Karyn Purvis   All marked up and on my shelf to be re-read again before PJ comes home.
  • Orphanology--Tony Merida  Read this with a dear friend living the adoption lifestyle. A stirring book about God's heart and our duty.
I recommend a book list! I found that I read so much more by making a plan.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Good Reminder

I read this on a fellow blogger's page and thought it was worth reading twice. As a mom who often has high expectations for her children this is a good way for me to be pulled back into a healthy perspective.  I certainly want to be a parent who guides my children into growth and maturity--not into some standard of perfection. This might need to be read daily before schooling!

A Child’s Ten Commandments to Parents – Dr. Kevin Leman

1. My hands are small; please don’t expect perfection whenever I make a bed, draw a picture, or throw a ball. My legs are short; please slow down so that I can keep up with you.

2. My eyes have not seen the world as yours have; please let me explore safely: don’t restrict me unnecessarily.

3. Housework will always be there. I’m only little such a short time—please take time to explain things to me about this wonderful world, and do so willingly.

4. My feelings are tender; please be sensitive to my needs; don’t nag me all day long. (You wouldn’t want to be nagged for your inquisitiveness.) Treat me as you would like to be treated.

5. I am a special gift from God; please treasure me as God intended you to do, holding me accountable for my actions, giving me guidelines to live by, and disciplining me in a loving manner.

6. I need your encouragement, but not your praise, to grow. Please go easy on the criticism; remember you can criticize the things I do without criticizing me.

7. Please give me the freedom to make decisions concerning myself. Permit me to fail, so that I can learn from my mistakes. Then someday I’ll be prepared to make the kind of decisions life requires of me.

8. Please don’t do things over for me. Somehow that makes me feel that my efforts didn’t quite measure up to your expectations. I know it’s hard, but please don’t try to compare me with my brother or my sister.

9. Please don’t be afraid to leave for a weekend together. Kids need vacations from parents, just as parents need vacations from kids. Besides, it’s a great way to show us kids that your marriage is very special.

10. Please take me to Sunday school and church regularly, setting a good example for me to follow. I enjoy learning more about God.

Monday, October 24, 2011

First Steps

  Initial steps before our home study begins for our next adoption include background checks because we've been able to rack up a real record in the last two years since we did this last.  Just kidding, social worker! Oh well, we have to know children are going into safe homes. 
  Micah and I had to get fingerprinted at our local police department for our FBI criminal history.  Last time we did this, we had it done at the Law Enforcement Center where we pay to get inked by a jailer and all around feel like real criminals. We use it as a teaching tool for our children... about what the future holds for those who break the rules.
   We showed up there today expecting the same. I went to the front desk and said, "We're here to get fingerprinted."   The kind receptionist stated that the LEC only does that on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I told her that the lady I talked to on the phone said it was Mondays and Wednesdays.  She informed me that I must have been talking to the Police Department down the block. So we high-tailed it down to the PD. 
  Once there, a nice man in a nice tie came down in a nice elevator to get us and escorted us up to a nice office area where a nice machine took our fingerprints with no ink and no hand gun strapped to his waist. This was such a change from getting our fingers inked and rolled inside of the jail!  It also turned out as we chatted, that the fingerprint technician had been adopted! Added perk: it was cheaper at the PD $$$.  So happy that worked out like it did.

  In other news, things happening in our Gitlin Academy:
Floating Magnets

Growing grass from seed, just like God did on Day 3.

Surprise visit from Daddy at Home-School Co-op.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Next Stop...Thailand

Is that adoption paperwork?

Yes it is!

  It has officially begun again.  We are expanding our family through adoption once more! Our new little sweet heart is a two year old precious girl living in Thailand. 
  Our journey with her began in May of this year. We felt the tug from God after reading her profile and receiving her file from our agency's Waiting Child Program.  We both felt God telling us to "step out on the water." 
 Because of some significant health/developmental issues that are going on in her body  (will share more later) it took us awhile in order for our faith to increase and for us to actually take the next step--
-OUT of the boat. we are, walking in faith and believing that our God prepares and strengthens us for whatever he calls us to do.   As we trudge through the next few months of paperwork and time that just doesn't pass quick enough,  we are encouraged that our prayers are being taken to the throne of God. Jesus is interceding on our behalf for this process, for restored health of His beautiful daughter, and for the preparation that must take place in our hearts as we welcome a child with some special needs into our fold. Our prayers are more powerful when joined with yours.
Will you unify your heart with ours as we are out on the water? We want to keep our eyes on Jesus. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Have You Heard?

At least three times a day we stop to feed our bodies. We feel hunger so we open the fridge or stop by a convenience store and are immediately satisfied.  Many of us scrape left-over food into a garbage can night after night.

Did you know women with children desperate for nutrition in the horn of Africa, are walking for a couple of weeks to reach refugee camps only to find that they are already overflowing? hundreds of thousands overflowing.

We are thirsty so we turn on a faucet inside of our house and fill up a glass with clean drinking water...anytime we want.

Did you know that there are people who take plastic jugs to fill with muddy water from ditches and take it back to their thirsty children?

When our children are young we are able to get them vaccines with sanitary needles at little to no cost.  When they become sick or injured medical care and competent doctors are are only a car or ambulance ride away.

Did you know a mother is walking her starving children to a refugee camp right now?  When she arrives, she may unwrap the baby on her back to find that it has died without her knowing it.  Beautiful African people are dying today from measles, malaria, cholera....diseases we don't even worry about. 

What will you do? Will you pray? Will you pray with sincere anguish for the plight of these people?  Will you give generously?

$50 to Convoy of Hope ships 265lbs. of food and supplies. $50 half fills my grocery cart.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Curriculum Post

August is here...I am ready. I am anxious to roll into the school season and into a little cooler weather. I do realize that August can be just as hot as July but at least I can see September from here. 
 Don't get me wrong, I do love summer but summer has come hard this year and I am eager for the crisp air of fall to breeze in through my open windows... can't wait to open my windows. Summer has been stifling!
It has been great to just spend our days how we please and to work outside until bedtime. And although breaks are WONDERFUL, I know my children thrive better when our lives hold a speck more structure. Not to mention that I am so thrilled to be trying a new set of curriculum for my 1st grader, mainly from the Sonlight Core 1 B.
  Here is what she will be studying this year:
  • Bible:  Leading Little Ones to God, Bible reading and memorization
  • History/Geography:  Sonlight, starting in Mesopotamia and ending up with the Pharaohs in Egypt. Studying many missionaries along the way--very excited to read about George Mueller and his work with orphans!
  • Reading:  Sonlight readers, read-alouds, and the Beginners Bible. Excited to read things like Heidi, Homer Price, Understood Betsy, Mr. Popper's Penguins, and Balto.
  • Language Arts: Sonlight, Language and Thinking, maybe Explode the Code book 3.
  • Math: Horizons 1
  • Science: Sonlight: studying things like the earth surface and underground, weather, animals, space, electricity, our bodies. Using books like Starting Point Science and Science Activities Vol. 1.
If I am correct, I believe Sonlight was originally created to be curriculum for children of missionaries. I am excited because of the global perspective it presents, not so America focused.  It is also very comprehensive, something that just makes my stress level go way down. I don't have to make SO MANY decisions about curriculum for each subject!  It is highly structured, which many home-schooling parents and all un-schooling parents don't like...but I certainly do. Of course, my first paragraph was all about how I am ready to get back into a structured day! The schedules and lesson plans are all laid out like this:

 It has lesson plans to accomodate 4-day weeks or 5-day weeks, I haven't yet decided what route we will take. Anyway, totally stoked to dive in! Sonlight is one of the more expensive curriculums to buy, so much so in fact that I was pretty sure we would not be getting it this fall. However (PTL!), through getting the basics for it 3rd hand and scouring other used venues, piecing things together, I got it for just a little over 1/4 of the price of buying it new! God gives us the desires of our hearts, does He not?

 Josiah will be starting to do the Horizons Pre-School curriculum this fall which encompasses Bible, Math, Science, Reading/Phonics and life skills all in one book! I was very pleased with this when I used it with Jules 2 years ago, she learned SO much. We tried to do it with Jo last fall but, having only 2 months of English under his belt, we needed to put it away for this year. I think he is ready for it now!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Free Project

So, I bought the owl shower curtain I had my friends vote on (I do LOVE it  btw). I have just been dying to go to Hobby Lobby and look for some new digs to hang on my bathroom wall to compliment the new look. Well, I had enough self-control to NOT go there on my weekly shopping trip to the big city. I am so happy that I waited because in the waiting I remembered this great link that I found on , a great blog/website created by a friend of mine from camp in NC. Here is the project for a piece of wall decor:

 Do toilet paper rolls collect at your house like they do at mine? I happened to have the collection below on hand from what I was saving for kids' projects, allowing me to do this endeavor on a whim. Here I have marked them each with dashes at 1" intervals. You will want to decide how "3-D" you want your wall hanging to be. Mine is going in a small space and so I chose to make only a 1" protusion from the wall.
Cut strips where you have markings, it is actually perfect if the roll bends and creases as your scissors squeeze it together.  Hot glue the rings together in whatever fashion you dream up. 

Take it into the open air and spray paint that baby. I used a black gloss because that's what I had.

I think it goes swell with the new curtain.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Kind of Project

  I am a party planner, routine planner, and a meal planner BUT I am NOT a project planner. So, if you are a perfectionist please go ahead and X this tab before you read my following entry and before I hear you sigh loudly while you roll your eyes.  This is a tale of trial and error DIY work.
   When inspiration hits, accompanied by an idea, there is not much that can stop me from trying to get it done...right now.  I don't make a list of materials to buy on my next trip to Menards, I don't always measure things accurately if at all, and I certainly don't wait around for the conditions to be favorable.  I am more of the lets throw together what we have and it might just work.  My projects may not pass quality control but they are resourceful, inexpensive, and do get done.
  Tuesday, about 4 o'clock I decided that maybe I would put the second coat of paint on my dining room while supper was cooking on the stove. After all, it has been 3 years since the first coat was put on and how involved is painting over what is already painted? I went to the basement and grabbed the gallon of Rabelais Song that had been so patient all of these years, a hand brush, and a roller brush. I didn't have a pan liner but that is just luxury anyway. My hand brush was pretty stiff but I can't remember the last time I used a paint brush that was really flexible. 
   Most people may have tested the paint on an inconspicuous part of the wall to make sure that years of shelf life had not compromised the color but, who are we kidding, you read my first paragraph--the one about being reckless and haphazard spontaneous and get-it-done.  Thankfully, and for your information, 3 years is not too long to store paint, it matched perfectly.
  That night I envisioned a scrolling, pattern across the top of the ceiling. I knew that the next morning I would do my best to make that happen. I didn't have a nice plastic stencil but I did have clipart, a cereal box, and a utility knife.  I picked this pattern out and spent the next hour or so with my utility knife creating my stencil:

I really liked it and felt good about how it was going to look. But after putting a few up on the wall...ICK.

It was too small, too intricate making it too sloppy, and my cereal box was not going to hold up across the wall anyway. The texture on the wall is on the deeper side making it prone to jagged edges and paint runs. BOO.

I went back to the drawing board looking for something more simple that I could make a lot larger.

This time I used a much finer brush that I had in the homeschool supplies. I also painted on the slick side of the cereal box so it didn't soak up as much of the paint. It turned out better.

As you can tell by the lighting in the picture it was now into the night hours.
I don't know that I am in love with the look, it actually turned out much more country than I had been envisioning. That doesn't excite me. But it isn't bad and I think it does make the room a little more comfortable and finished looking.

I decided that I would not do the entire room but maybe just a complimentary, simple one swatch across the opposite doorway.  After I had it up, Micah said, "I really liked the dots you had on the other pattern. Maybe you could add some to this." So, I dipped a pencil eraser in the paint and added these.

 I think I like them. Now to add them to the other wall...   Is that all just a little redneck home+something ?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

First Meeting

One year ago today we anxiously watched as a timid little boy was led out of a back room....

With his head cocked to the side and tongue limply sitting on his lip, he shuffled over and reluctantly leaned in to let his new daddy and mommy hug him.

Time flies and God is so good.
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
      it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
Psalm 84:6

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our Neighbors

Any guesses as to why we have been eating lunch like we are on a tv set?

Well, we are not in a show but we are watching one.

These are the best seats in the house to keep our eyes on this little cottage:

This cute little abode is, again this year, the home to a family of House Wrens.
There is non-stop action from the mom and dad Wren coming to-and-fro ALL DAY bringing food to little hatchlings that greedily stick their heads out of the nest with their mouths open wide.

The door says Welcome but the face sticking out says something totally different.

These faithful little bird parents remind me that if we are truly working in the love of Christ no amount of ingratitude will discourage us.  Press on little mama.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ethiopian Night

We love Ethiopia! We show it by celebrating some of the culture most Tuesday nights at our house....
 Meals in Ethiopia are very ceremonious and always revolve around INJERA!
There is something about the smell of the spices and the sound of Ethiopian music that unlocks memories in Josiah surrounding his time in that beautiful country.
Here is a short video of one special memory we have from Addis as we became family.  This is the cake cutting ceremony at the care center when Josiah left the title of orphan and his place in the orphanage good-bye!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week of EEK

I am a lover of all things slimy, slithery, jumpy, and all together creepy. 

Anyone who has been acquainted with me knows that to be a lie, BUT, you wouldn't know it by being at our house this past week. For starters, we have 4 caterpillars in our school room that we have captured and are watching transform into beauty.  Three Swallowtails and one Monarch.  Three out of four are in their sleeping bags right now undergoing a major makeover.
Secondly, while outside this week, I saw a new tenant in our doll tree house.  A neighborly tree frog. I showed the kids, knelt down to look at it a few times during the day, and took this picture.

 The frog did not get held until the man of the house came home--you know, the parent that can hold a frog without squealing.

Thirdly, yesterday the kids came in yelling, "We saw a snake! We saw a real snake!"  My reply of course was, "Where?" and "Micah!" Thankful that it was Saturday and that my brave husband was home so that if the despised creature was close to the house, I would not have to muster up any courage to go get the spade (something I am very proud of doing last summer but would not choose to do again). 

Micah went outside with the kids and found this little guy in our egress window.

 Not nearly as freakish as a slithering snake.  A rare find of a Barred Tiger Salamander (something we now know after some quick Google research).  Micah, of course, hopped down, scooped him up, and made sure both of the kids got a chance to experience him closely.  I have to admit, it was cute in a beady eye, crawly sort of way.  He was just so innocent, harmless, and NOT slithery, which is a big bonus point in my book of pleasantness...not that I would ever invite one into the foot of my bed!

 The kids both held him, one with a little more fear and trembling...and dropping than other. Julianna felt compelled to shout, "I can't believe I'm braver than a BOY!"
 It's OK Josiah, last summer you were terror stricken by this creature who has marshmallow paws:
We've made big progress.

I do NOT like creepy creatures but I DO love my kids and I DO love seeing them grow, be challenged, and learn about the incredible creations of God...which they are among.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

If You Can, You Should

Last fall I saw this idea on B. Organic with Michelle Beschen on PBS. 

It's called a mud bar, and in our case it is the JJ Mud Bar.

Well, the one on PBS might have been a little more swanky and well done but this simple structure is equipped with hours of  independent creation and fun for our children.  The kids used it through the winter as a place to to make snow cupcakes and have spent countless hours there this spring concocting mud delicacies.

 I decided to do it on a whim.  After I saw the show, I went to the shed in the back to rummage.  Now, I realize not everyone has as much usable junk lying around as we may have BUT I found just what I needed amongst our rubble. I took the old slatted table that I had kept our pet and chicken food tubs on and hauled it to our side yard.  

Like the one on the show, one of the bars greatest qualities is that it's parts are all attached or set in so that they will not blow away. I had my more handy half, Micah, saw a hole to fit an old pot I had in the barn.   The kids can take it out to go get water from the hose and then set it back in place. 

This side has a cheap plastic ice basket from our cooler and a sand strainer screwed down over the spaces in the slats. 
 I hung the kids' sand toy on the back to funnel water and dirt through.
Here is the lid from our old Scene It game screwed down for a working space.

Utensils are hung by nails on the side (when put away :). If you don't have unneeded or worn out items in your kitchen at home, they are a dime a dozen at the Goodwill or the Salvation Army.
 If you can, you definitely should. This was an easy, dirt cheap, re-use project that has been used endlessly!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Some Pictures

I was going through some pictures today and found these two snapshots of when Andinet came into care in Ethiopia.  Now, being his mother for 9 months, I have a good idea what he was feeling in these moments.  His mouth limp and tongue part way out are my signal that Josiah has left the building. He is uncomfortable and unengaged.

 If the tongue comes out these days, I know I have lectured too long.... :)  So thankful for smiles like this:

While looking at photos I also found these pictures of a precious time not too long ago:

I love this girl!!  Is it any wonder that maybe her middle name should have been Joy?