Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

The kids and I are back from a fun filled night! It's chilly and just downright cold when the sun goes down right now, so figuring ways to bundle but still see costumes was a challenge this year. They each had a couple or so layers, hats, gloves, and I brought coats for O and L.

The traditional "just starting out" photo on the front steps...

Our first stop two doors down, they go all out every year...

This is from the same yard, but Liam wouldn't go through the house for anything...

Liam was so cute! He had more energy than any of us and quickly got the idea of going to houses that had lights on. As soon as he spotted the next one he'd scream, "Found it mom!" and race to get there. I think he was a little in awe that strangers would hand him free candy for saying "Trick or Treat." Too cute! Course, you have to have the ever popular meltdown at some point with that much energy! :)

But it was quickly over! The kids love Halloween for all the "regular" reasons and because Halloween is the one night of the year where I let them eat candy for dinner! That's right! I figure why not, it's ONE night and I don't give them much candy otherwise. When Halloween is on a school night we barely have time to get costumes on to go out, let alone eat dinner, so I started this candy-for-dinner tradition a few years ago because of that. I just let them eat as we go and they think I'm cool, it's a win-win! :)

Our last house of the night was across the street from our house...

There were fake and real people on the front steps and it was hard to tell which was which, plus lots going on in the yard as well. Liam wanted NOTHING to do with it and clung to me. :) But Braeden and Olivia went up, I give them credit!

Then we went home and sorted the candy. I dump it all out on our dining table and they take turns picking one item to go back into their Halloween bags. That way they all get things they love. After their buckets were almost full we put the rest in a community bucket up in a cabinet, still full from summer parade candy, and save it to use from time to time.

Liam swore he wanted a Warhead, I told him it was sour! This was after he puckered and then spit it out... see the purple candy on the table??? :)

Of course not to be outdone, Braeden had to eat a Warhead, keep a smiley face with no pucker, and claim it's so sweet and he loves it! Stinker!

They had a great night!!!
Saturday, October 30, 2010

Shopping With a Purpose

So many right now are trying desperately to raise the money needed to bring their children home. Sounds so silly writing it in such a way, but that's the truth, raising money to bring their children home. And we are no exception.

Linny from A Place Called Simplicity is doing a post compiling LOADS of fundraising families and their fundraisers. This will be an amazing place to shop for your Christmas gifts this year. What better way to get something special for loved ones while helping an adoptive family bring their children home!!!

We are currently in process to adopt a special needs child from Hong Kong. For those of you from A Place Called Simplicity, I am a single parent of three children adopted through foster care. I felt God calling us to adopt internationally and after much prayer and searching found the Hong Kong program to be where He has led. I am excited to find what more He has in store!!! Money has come along well so far as I knew He would provide, but we've been in a stand still recently with fundraising. I'm hoping Christmas will help boost us up to that next fee which will be due soon when our homestudy is approved.

Please take a minute to glance at our beautifully handmade necklaces! Only $15 each, which INCLUDES shipping! And if you buy 3, you can get a fourth for just $5 more! You can click the link in this paragraph, or go to the "necklaces available" link below the header of the blog.

Here are a couple examples of ones still available. I will be adding more in the next week!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Gotcha Again!

Today is Braeden's "Gotcha Day"! FOUR years ago Braeden became a part of our family forever! Amazing!

The kids each got pictures taken the day of their adoptions, and this is Braeden's set...

It hangs in the boys room next to Liam's...

And every morning on their gotcha days, we have donuts! :)

He keeps saying over and over today, "This is my best day ever!" So cute!

We're so happy to have you as part of our family buddy! Love you!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Need Christmas Ideas?

How about some beautiful, chic, homemade necklaces where all profits go directly to our adoption fund??? Just click the green link above under the header or HERE.

Or how about some coffee or coffee merchandise? $5 from each purchase - directly to our adoption fund! Just click the link on the left side bar of the blog or HERE.

Definitely both a win-win situation and you knock out a couple gifts on that list as well! :)

Then your Christmas morning can be as happy as...

Then and Now

So my friends J and A whom I was able to see and spend some time with this past Saturday are friends of mine going back to high school. Can you believe it's been 22 YEARS since I graduated!? Where oh where does the time go???

The two of them were one year behind me in school and we met in PE class. We shared a lot of fun together and were in Young*Life together as well as attending YL camp. We also must have had a penchant for parks as I found quite a few pictures taken at some from "then" to compare and share with our recent "now" photo.

PS... You gotta love the hair!? Really? What were we thinking! LOL

Love you guys!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

More PIctures...

Got some great ones from J...

Her two are in the orange and the last one in white. The one in white, yep he's two weeks YOUNGER than LIAM and the one in orange is almost 3 where Liam's almost five! Mine are such peanuts. Notice how her oldest in white likes to copy my Braeden, so sorry J! :) Also notice how he's sitting by Olivia. That's because he's planning on marrying her! Everything is about Olivia to him! :) So cute!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


A long 12 hour day.

Some ups and downs with behavior.

But mostly LOADS of fun!

Shopping away...

Braeden waited so long to be cashier...

In the doghouse, or should I say vet crate...

Getting splashed in the water area...

Love how his tongue sticks out when he's concentrating...

Bug eyes...

Busy at work at Pot*belly's...

Braeden was adorably sweet with the (anatomically correct) babies...

Liam's face and hands...

I'm a STAR...

Once Olivia got the concept, she spent LOTS of time here...

My friend J is a cupcake DIVA! (I had two and a half... I HAD to taste sample!)...

Liam was too cute pushing my friend A's son...

Not the best picture, hoping J got a great one for me...

Two of my "knew me when" friends from high school
(girls, are you SURE it's been 25 YEARS?!)
A and J (J is Braeden's godmother)

We had a wonderful time! Hopefully we can do it again!
Hard when we don't live all that close any longer! :(
Friday, October 22, 2010


I know most of you have probably already seen this, but I JUST watched it for the first time. And Braeden was singing right along by the end! :) Olivia hasn't seen it yet, she's asleep as she hasn't been feeling real well, but I definitely want her to see it soon!

Can You Keep A Secret???

Tomorrow should be a fun day for us... course the kids have no idea! LOL!

I learned a while back to not tell the kids when we have plans like this, you just never know what's going to happen and I'd rather have a fun surprise for them than have to say our fun plans were cancelled due to weather, or friends not able to come, or sickness, etc.

First, we're heading to Darien, IL where I picked up a LIKE NEW bike for Liam for $10!!! Nobody bid on it and I knew we'd be nearby so I bid! I was in the market for a 16inch bike for his bday, this will be a wonderful surprise (even though his bday is in JANUARY LOL!). After that we're off to The Child*ren's Pla*ce to HOPEFULLY find some pants! That boy came downstairs in his size sixes the other day, and they were SHORT! And for someone who ALWAYS buys ahead, I just knew I didn't have much if anything in sevens. Sure enough, one pair of dress pants, NOT for school, and two outfits with running type pants I picked up VERY cheaply last year. That's it. Won't make it far! :) Then finally, we're off to Ko*hl Children's Muse*um to spend some great time with Braeden's godmother, her two boys, another "old" friend of mine, and her son. I am so looking forward to seeing them!

I'm really excited and can't wait to tell them! I'm sure tonight since our plans are pretty set I'll at least share some of what is planned. :)
Thursday, October 21, 2010

CAKE! :)

Last night Braeden and I made a cake. He's been dying to do so ever since his neighbor friend's mom told him they would make one sometime and that he could help. He's asked me every day since if he could go there to make the cake, but each time she hasn't done so. For Braeden, saying it's going to happen isn't a "going to happen sometime in the future" thing, it doesn't bode well for him. So, I decided we might as well do it since there were some time I was wanting to try anyway. (I'll give you the site at the end since their's are MUCH better! LOL)

Here's Chef Braeden ready to start. My parents gave the kids these hats and aprons on their recent visit...

Braeden's friend was able to come over and help with the mixing...

As I was getting ready to frost the cakes (Braeden was playing outside and too busy to help, he did his egg cracking which is his favorite part aside from licking the batter off the mixer), Liam came over and stuck his smiley face next to the cake for a picture. The SECOND I took the picture, he turned his head and did this...

What a STINKER! LOL (It's a good thing his tongue didn't touch that cake! LOL)

And, our finished product...

Even the small pieces I cut for each of us were too much! SO rich!!!

Here's the site where we got the inspiration...


I LOVE the kit kat one with M&Ms and the peppermint one for Christmas! We may have to make more! I just can't figure out why their's look so much boxier I guess than mine? Unless they made the sides taller and filled in a lot of candy on top. Hmmm.... Still like ours though!

Attachment Part 2

As I started sharing in my last post, I have been learning more and more on attachment issues in children who have been adopted. Although Olivia does NOT have RAD, she has always had some issues emanating from the realm of attachment. As a 3 1/2 year old first coming to live with us, Olivia had already lived in two other homes, both of which were highly unstable. I had to TEACH her how to hug, she had no idea. She would be a robot mechanically putting her arms around you to mimic what you are doing in a hug, but would not really hold you, squeeze a bit as you do in a hug. If I picked her up, she held her body away from me, her legs remained straight, and I had to teach her to wrap her legs around the side of my body, something infants just "do" and grow up knowing to do. We worked on these with Olivia for over a year, and she still needs help remembering how to really hug.

After watching some great You*Tube videos on attachment issues such as Nonsense questions and Acting Dumb, I began rethinking some of these behaviors I've seen in Olivia more and more over the past couple years. Tuesday night after the boys were in bed I sat with Olivia and we talked a bit. I began by explaining that many times when little children/infants aren't properly cared for, they basically are taught and thus learn that adults can't be trusted to care for them. When a baby cries, caregivers are supposed to answer that by picking up the child, seeing if they're hungry or wet or just needing attention. When that doesn't happen, the child is taught that it can only count on itself. At infancy... so sad. The same goes for the first couple years especially in a young child's life. If there isn't food, love, clothing, cleanliness, etc the child learns to count only on itself and finds ways to control their environment however they can to SURVIVE.

I explained to her that I don't know much of her background, but that it was "bad" enough to have her removed not once but twice from the homes she was living in. I explained that she was unfortunately taught to not trust the one or ones caring for her to meet all of her needs, and that in a small way this has been transferred onto me. I talked in length about how it's not her fault that these deep-seated needs weren't met, that it's not her fault that these "feelings" (I guess you'd call them) are in there somewhere, but that I wanted her to start becoming aware and that I would also help her in times of struggle to identify where those things are coming from so that we can work together to check what is really going on inside her at these times of control and battle.

While I was talking to Olivia about all of this, she had a few tears struggle their way down her cheeks. I wiped them away as I spoke, but knew that she was beginning to "get" what I was saying. We weren't in the middle of a battle, we were in a calm safe place, and she was listening.

Yesterday in the car on the way to school, after the boys had been dropped off, she said, "Mom, why is it you I don't trust, why isn't it my birth mom? You've always cared for me."

Wow. I told her that it's not something she thinks about, that it's there in her so deep from things that happened when she was a baby and couldn't "think" about what was going on and that as I'm now her caregiver, I'm the adult that she feels somewhere inside that she can't trust. She said, "I'm sorry mom." And while this doesn't sound major, this is a great step for Olivia. My mom and I both have talked to her over and over again about how she says "Sorry" for every LITTLE thing, and therefore doesn't mean a whole lot. And the times when she "should" say and feel sorry for something are the times she usually doesn't say it. So for her to say it in this context, appropriately, and mean it, was HUGE for me to hear. I thanked her, reminded her that that is exactly the kind of time when she should use that term and then reaffirmed that I know that it's not completely her fault (I also don't want this to become an "excuse" to act out either so am walking a fine line at how I explain things.).

My Olivia is growing up. And with that she is understanding more of her past, more of what makes her tick, and more of who she wants to become as she grows up. And I love each and every part.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Attachment Part 1

I haven’t spoken all that much about attachment here on the blog. Partly because we are blessed in that we really don’t have many attachment issues and partly because when I began this blog Braeden and Olivia had already been living in my home for a while. The real heavy part of attachment, when you don’t have a child who tests that attachment constantly (think RAD), tends to come in the first month or so of a child living with you from what I’ve seen. I’ve talked a lot about attachment regarding a little one who lived with us for a year and on occasion regarding Olivia.

Olivia does NOT have RAD, so please don’t misunderstand that. But, as she came to live with me at age 3 ½ and as I was her third home in such a short amount of her young life, she DOES have SOME attachment ISSUES. I’ve seen these and spoke on some of them over the years as I’ve learned more and have processed more.

Foster care and adoption forces you as a parent to walk such a fine line regarding children’s behavior. When something out of the “norm” arises, you begin to question or wonder, “Is that from past trauma?” “Is that from being in foster care?” “Is that a normal, age-appropriate behavior?” “Is that something I’ve created by my horrible parenting?” (LOL, not really but you get the idea.) At times it’s worthwhile to “know” where these behaviors could be coming from, or what they’re rooted in, so that you can work on those past traumas or hurts and help the child move on. And at other times, does it really matter how they got to this point, to this behavior? It’s here and we need to work on how to change it to good.

All of that said, there are a few things with Olivia that we’ve seen over the past year or two that have seemed to become worse as time goes on. One is that she is constantly, and I do mean constantly, “forgetting” everyday things. Things from routine, to where something goes, to how we “do” things in our home. Constantly. She acts as though I’ve never told her to do XYZ and looks at me and often acts as though I’m saying it now and trying to basically get her into trouble. I’ve never told her to…. Brush her teeth before school (for example)… so how dare I then correct her for not doing it one day. It doesn’t sound like much, but when this goes on repeatedly not just over the course of a week, but over the course of a day, it is aggravating at best.

Another thing we’ve seen a lot of is “nonsense” questions. Asking something that I know for a fact she already knows the answer to. I’ve seen many kids do this, but they’ve been young kids, not nine year olds. Sometimes I see that she is asking a question about the “right” way to do something because one of her brothers just did the opposite and she is basically getting them into trouble through her question. Other times she is asking me about something she just overheard me talking about on the phone or with a friend and she now wants me to orally acknowledge to her what she already heard. And then sometimes she is just asking, even though she KNOWS the answer. She could be asking what color so and so’s car is, when she can see perfectly well as it’s right in front of us.

And the third thing we’ve worked on over the years is lying. I know lying is common to many children, and have been repeatedly told this when I’ve brought it up to others. But Olivia will outright lie about things that aren’t based in consequences if she told the truth; though of course she’ll lie about those too. She will even lie when she HAS to know she’s caught. When I adamantly tell her, not asking, what it was she did. She will lie when her teacher comes to tell me something, I literally turn around and walk ten feet to Olivia and ask her about it. And when I repeatedly tell her that Mrs. *** just told me XYZ, she will still lie until I walk her down to her class and repeat what Olivia said to her teacher.

I’ve been dealing with each of these, just as part of parenting Olivia, and working on not getting into battles over them, especially the first two. They just really get under my skin and I find myself so upset over them multiple times. I get “pulled in” and emotional and then we’ve both “lost.” It’s something I’ve worked on, believe me. ☺ And I’m sure it’s a never-ending process for me.

But the other day I happened upon this one you*tube video creator. She’s a mom of both bio and adopted kids and has learned much about RAD over the years. She does some great videos about parenting kids with attachment issues and I loved watching them! While some don’t apply in our case, and some may be at a different level, a couple of them really surprised me. She had a video on Acting Dumb, and a video on Nonsense Questions. Wow! You could have bowled me over with a feather! And when I watched them it was like getting a glimpse into a parallel universe! If these issues in Olivia were coming from a place of attachment, that would make SO much SENSE!

There are many times when "little" things become HUGE and have turned into a battle for her control over the situation. But I, as a mom and a teacher, just can't let her "win", right, yea that's the trap I fall into. It's really NOT about winning. It's about her heart and helping it to heal the best way possible, while still being the parent.

So the other night when she had a time out during dinner and went in to sit on her bed and then proceeded to rock the bed so that it made LOTS of noise just for our benefit (it can be extremely squeaky). I took a deep breath and thought about what I had watched. And then proceeded to do the following. I went quickly into Olivia’s room and said, “Oh, honey, I hear that noise your bed is making. I am so afraid it’s going to break and I do not want you to get hurt. I need you to sit here on the floor instead. I’m so sorry it’s making so much noise, I just don’t know what the problem is, I hope you’re ok.” And she just stared at me like I was from another planet. She said quietly, “No, it’s just me.” But I said, “Oh no, I hear that noise, that bed is so loud. I don’t want you hurt, here, I need you to sit on the floor.” And it all happened so quickly that she sat on the floor for the rest of her time. I was calm. And something that could have become a huge control battle for her was diffused incredibly quickly!

Last night and this morning Olivia and I had some great conversations about attachment and hurt. More soon…

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About Me

I am a single mom to four amazing kids; each of whom just happen to have been adopted. The first three were adopted through foster care, and we just completed an international adoption from Haiti. Our family has grown through adoption and I am all the more blessed to know each of my children. I worship a mighty God, teach Special Ed, love bargains, and am inspired by Pinterest... come along with us for the ride!

Olivia - 14

Olivia - 14

Braeden - 11

Braeden - 11

Liam - 9

Liam - 9

Macy - 5

Macy - 5

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What you should know about HIV

-HIV can NOT be spread through casual/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other casual way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles). - HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives. - People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do. Additional information on transmission of HIV can be found on the Center for Disease Control website:

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Orphan Crisis

• 147 million orphans in the world
• 50 million orphans in Africa 
• Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS
• 16,000,000 have been orphaned by AIDS
• Every week, AIDS claims as many lives as American fatalities in the Vietnam War
• 854 million people do not have enough to eat
• Malnutrition is associated with the deaths of 5 million children under the age of five
• Every 2 seconds an orphan dies from malnutrition

Hence the title of my blog

Little Did I Know

Little did I know that the road would be so rocky
Little did I know that the trip would take so long
Little did I know that my heart could hurt so much
Little did I know that God is never wrong

Little did I know that love could be so powerful
Little did I know that a dream so far could go
Little did I know that God would place the right ones
Little did I know that my heart, so large, could grow

Little did I know that a dream has it’s own timing
Little did I know that this day would finally come
Little did I know that four souls would be sent to guide me
Little did I know that they would choose to call me mom

But God knew all along and He had a plan to follow
God knew all along that my dream would soon come true
God knew all along that we five should be together
God knew all along that I’d share it all with you