{Our Dossier Is In Another Country!!!!!}

Friday, December 19, 2008

How's that for vague? Anyway, we are officially waiting!!!!!

{Would the grandparents of my children kindly skip this post}

Monday, December 15, 2008

or just act really surprised when we come over next...

We had our homeschool friends over this morning and if the noise level was any indication of success, I would say we had a great day. My friend, the Other Mommy, wondered aloud if our kids were being deprived of other kids to play with by homeschooling because THEY WERE SO EXCITED and did I mention Loud?!!! But we know they are just deprived enough to be healthy, and it just makes days like today all the more special.

On todays agenda were two gifts for the grandparents. First a Christmas Card Wreath-18 mini clothespins glued onto a large 14" embroidery hoop about an inch and a half apart.

And right before lunch, which made this job a little bit tougher, we decorated these GingerBread Families with this icing by staying in the lines.

Thanks to Lisa for her inspiration for the cookies! She has tons of edible ideas and takes the best photos to make them look even more yummy!


Friday, December 12, 2008


(Huge audible exhale heard throughout Murphy's 3.26 square miles.)

Our agency, AAI, received our dossier packet last month with every document we could assemble pertaining to our life that the foreign court would care to take a gander at.

AAI sent our packet to the State Department and the E* Embassy for stamps and seals. (I'm trying not to use the country name for precautionary reasons). We just got word this afternoon that the right documents are stamped and sealed and blessed and in AAI hands to assemble and ship to previously-mentioned-Country-of-Beautiful-Babies by Fed Ex. We will be added to the waiting list at that point.

If you thought our updates were few and far between, please prepare for fewer and farther between updates.

I haven't heard from our agency their estimation on travel time yet, but I am expecting to be traveling around the holidays next year. Oh, what will we do for a year????? Oh, that's right, I still have 3 babies here who need help as I speak. Boo is hollering for help with putting his jacket on his legs and Belle just informed me that she needs something but she's not sure exactly what. I'm sure we'll stay busy while waiting in 2009.

{Christmas Came Early for Me}

Thursday, December 11, 2008

So I decided to help Mr. Smarty out this Christmas, as I suspect many wives do, by showing him exactly what I wanted. This year, I found it on craigslist. SHOCKER, I know. I asked the Mister if I could make the owner of a really cute deacons bench an offer he could refuse but I would pray he wouldn't. I said I would just offer the guy $10. Being Christmas and all, Mr. Smarty threw caution to the wind and told me if I REALLY HAD TO HAVE this bench, then I should make him a real offer. So, $20 it was. Long story short, the beauty of a bench is now here:

And since I'm posting and adding pictures, I'll give you a few glimpses of what Christmas looks like in our home.

This nativity set was my birthday present from my parents this year...yes, my birthday was in May, but it just made me look forward all the more to pulling out all my Christmas decorations a few weeks ago. And the table runner was a gift from my in-laws from their last trip to Jordan earlier this year.

This banner is the first thing I made for our first apartment years ago. Once we moved into our house, it got tucked away in a closet. I just found it recently and thought it was perfect for the space during Christmas. The sticks in the urn came from a Live Oak in our backyard. Can't beat FREE!

And here's my contribution for TipJunkie's Christmas Tree Tip Contest: this table tree solves two problems at once. First, the price of a 6 or 7 foot tree is much more affordable than a 12 foot tree. And second, Baby can't knock over, pull ornaments off of or eat a tree 4 feet off the ground. The table also make a great spot for hiding our bin of books...

{An Advent of Their Own}

Monday, December 8, 2008

I saw this idea all over blogland last week. December 8th seems too late to make an advent chain...but I loved the idea so much, that we made some this morning to count down the days until we leave for my folks'. 13 days, so we got 13 Hershey's Kisses for everyone in the family. For some reason, the only plastic wrap I have is blue, but no one in our house seems to mind.

{A Nutcracker Welcome}

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Had to post these two guys. I saw them outside my in-laws neighbors' house. They're just 5 clay pots each, painted and epoxied together. This is my note to self to lookout out for 10 pots next summer when they go on clearance.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

So I had my fact checking husband read this post before I posted it. After some discussion, we realized that we had different reflections on the evening, so we decided to post both.

Kristen's version:

Last night, the kids were playing in the front playroom, while the Mister and I were cleaning up the dinner dishes and making lunch for tomorrow, when the doorbell rang. I hadn't ordered a single Christmas gift yet, so no UPS truck would be ringing...who would be dropping by on a Monday night? Mr. Smarty answered the door to a 21 year old single mother who was in a program to help her better her life by selling magazines. Have you ever had a knock like that before? This was the second time for me, but the first time that it was a lone girl. It was dark and 30 degrees outside and she was wearing just a small hoodie (that's a sweat shirt with a hood, for those of you who don't do east coast-speak). Well, the Mister explained quickly that this was a tight year for us but if she'd like to come in and warm up for a minute, she was welcome to. I love him. Have I ever told you that? So, in comes a very sweet girl, who sits at our table and tells us her life story, from the death of both her parents to the birth of her three children, one of whom has also passed away.

HELLLOOOO! Is this a golden opportunity to share Christ with someone who has very little hope? How many times does someone come into your kitchen and ask you if you can recommend any books to help them in life?????? This was my first. And I will say I feel like I completely blew it. We have a box full of Bibles in the garage for just an occasion. Really. we bought them when were just out of grad school and made opportunities out of such small moments. We had eyes for those opportunities and were were ready. 7 years and 3 kids later, (one of whom was running around our guest completely naked at one point,) we were less than ready.

Of course, as I was drifting to sleep last night I thought of a million things I would have said.

but I was too late.

I also wondered would there be another opportunity like this? Would I be ready, if there was? How could I be sure I was ready?

And what about LaTissha? She had to have seen the crosses on our wall, or the King of Kings banner right in front of her the entire time. Yet she left our home empty handed. We gave her no hope that she would be prayed for. I barely whispered, "God bless you," as she stepped back into the cold.

Why am I telling this? It is more than embarrassing. It is shameful and regrettable. Honestly, there have been too many opportunities I have missed or not even noticed lately. And more than transparency, I want change. I want to share hope. I want to give Christ this Christmas to someone who is desperately cold.

And now today, as I look at the banner she faced in her chair at our table for 45 minutes, I have to remember that God IS the King of Kings. He is her Heavenly Father, too. Maybe today she will knock on someone's door who is ready, who can offer her more than a cup of tea.

Matt's version

Just after dinner, around 7PM I answered the door. I turned on the light in the front room as I opened the door, only to have the three kids scream and switch it back off because they were pretending to be some kind of scary monsters. It was really cold out, just under 40 degrees. (Sorry, honey. I just checked the online almanac.) I opened the door to a young woman who quickly began to tell me about the program she was involved in that encourages troubled young adults to improve their communication skills and build their confidence by selling magazines. Since we have had several people stop by selling magazines over the past few years, I was a little quick to interrupt to say that it wasn't the best time for us. Seeing the she didn't have very warm clothes on, I said something like, "You must be really cold walking outside all day. Do you want to come in? Can we get you something warm to drink?" I was happy to hear her say yes; I think the first instinct for most people is to decline hospitality. She took a cup of water, and a few minutes later accepted some hot raspberry tea and sat down with us at the dinner table. The kids continued to play wildly in the playroom with brief appearances, but always with friendly smiles on their faces.

During the next 45 minutes, we really found out an amazing amount about LaTissha. She is the oldest of six children, both of her parents passed away a few years ago, she has two children of her own, she is recently separated from her husband who lives in Abilene, some of her siblings live in North Carolina with her grandmother, her oldest son is five years old. Some points I really latched onto: she says her marriage problems that led to her leaving her husband were due to financial strain, he recently graduated from college and has found a good job, he and his family want her to come back, he is the father of her children. Now these facts were just part of her whole story, but if there was anything that I wanted to encourage her to do was to reunite her family. Mostly we just listened throughout the evening; I think that was good because that might be some of what she needed, and I think I have to be careful about giving advice especially when there are so many of her circumstances (having a baby at 16, for example) in which I lack credibility.

At the end of the evening, I did say that there was one thing I wanted to say - that I think her best option is to go back to Abilene to make her marriage work, and that years from now she would be so happy looking back that she did. She then asked if we had any book we could give her with encouraging advice. None came to mind. I know, I know - The Bible. But I knew from the evening that she grew up around the church and that both her grandmother and her husband's mother were in ministry, so I suspected that she had one. For some reason, I told her about the Maya Angelou books I am reading because there are so many similar experiences that she has had as a young woman. As she left, I too felt regret that maybe we missed an opportunity to say more. If there was anything more I would add, I would like to have told her plainly that she needs to place her situation before God and ask Him what to do. However, I immediately felt comfort for a number of reasons. I was glad that this stranger came to visit with us instead of spending those 45 minutes with the usual routine (and her spending those 45 minutes in the cold knocking on doors). I was thankful for the experience that I hope will teach us and change us. I hope that we will become better hosts and encouragers, but I think that it is a growing process that needs more experiences like these to learn from. I hope that LaTissha was encouraged in some way and I pray that she will make good decisions.

{You Like Me. You Really, Really Like Me.}

Monday, November 24, 2008

I've been given an award! Thank you, thank you, Maria from Thrifty Ways & Ideas.

In getting the Kreativ Blogger Award, you must share 6 things for which you are thankful, then pass the award on to 6 other Kreativ Bloggers. So, here are my 6 thanks:

1) My church. I truly believe the leaders in our church love God and want to see others know and love Him too.
2) My family. They are who I always want to be around.
3) My home. My bed. My warm shelter. At night, when we are winding down for the evening, I have a content feeling rush over me. I love being home. I am with my family and we are comfortable.
4) Hope. Expectancy. Forward-thinking. Sometimes this is a curse, because I have trouble being thankful for the now. But I am truly thankful for what God is going to do and what I believe He is already doing.
5) Grace. Without it, I would not have number 4.
6) Prayer. It's so simple, but it is awesome that we have a God who has made a relationship with Him so simple.

Now for the awards:

To Heather aka Mrs. Jonesfor her sidebar list of favorite tutorials and for this memorable mommyhood moment post..

To Joy at Joys of Home because she has as many projects going as I do in my head. She just manages to get them done, and post about them.

To M.L. at The House of Whimsy for her contributions to the "I Can Make That!" Party.

To Amanda at Letters to Olivia for sharing her honest experiences as a birth mom. Although, this isn't a crafting blog by any means-Amanda is using bloggyland creatively-to address some of the misconceptions about adoption and (most importantly) telling us all how we can understand and reach out better to birth parents, those who have adopted, and those who have been adopted.

To Holly at Blogging with Holly because she's had me hooked since her fabric pumpkins. And her photos are so inspiring...I want to take an ottoman out into the middle of the woods and take my kids pictures, too!

To Rachel B. at Made With Love & Glue. She also take amazing kids' photos. I'm stealing a few of her ideas for my kids, too. And she too made some great pumpkins this fall. Can't wait to see what she comes up with for Christmas.

Thanks again, Maria!!! You've made my day!

{Freezer Paper Shirts aka What to do While Waiting for a Phone Call}

Friday, November 21, 2008

We mailed in our dossier packet this week. Still haven't heard from our agency...but I'm keeping busy trying not to think about what time it is in Washington state where our agency is. Keeping busy, eating granola bars I don't need and painting stained childrens' clothing. I'll spare you the photos of the disappointing granola bar incidents. But I'll share my attempt at freezer paper stenciling.

Have you heard of this? If so, ignore my simple tutorial. If not, read on and think Christmas gift ideas and share with me what you come up with!

First, I found a black & white image I liked...I looked through Google images but also searched free clip art files. I would recommend something less detailed at first. I'm thinking about trying a superhero initial for Boo.

Next, I printed the image the size I wanted and traced it on freezer or wax paper. All the instructions I've read say to put the shiny side down. Good luck determining which side is the shiny side. I had to cut out my image three times before I got it right.

Cut out the image with an xacto knife, or a parring knife.

Place a second sheet of the wax paper under the top layer of your fabric. This will keep your stencil from moving and paint from bleeding through.

Iron your stencil on a dry setting onto your shirt, or other fabric-think denim, totes, napkins...hmmm....

I used a sponge brush and just tapped acrylic craft paint over the entire stencil like this:

And because I'm a speed demon, I waited no more than five minutes before peeling back my stencil for a big reveal:

What do you think? I'm thinking it's 11 am in Washington and I hope the phone rings soon, but this was a nice way to spend the morning.

{2008 Rock & Roll San Antonio Marathon}

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday was the San Antonio Marathon. It was perfect running weather, no wind, sunny and comfortable temps for most of the race. Although I must NOTE TO MYSELF: next time, remember to visit a thrift store before the race for clothes I don't mind shedding in the first few miles. I've said it before, but I mean it this time. I've learned my lesson. We stood in a shuttle-to-the-start line, a porta-potty line, a gear-bag drop-off line and the starting line in freezing temperatures, and only our running clothes.

Mr. Smarty is so sweet. He knows how discouraged I get when I am cold. There is a reason I moved to Texas. It was not for the Bar-B-Que. Even though he was just as freezing as we stood in our lines, over and over again he told me about how great a day it was going to be and how much I trained and prepared for this day. And it was a great day.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm a crafting junkee. There, I said it. I gotta have my fix. Sometimes I lie awake at night (or is it lay awake?) thinking about how soon I can get another can of Colonial Red to redeem a curbed piece of furniture. Okay, did I say to much? You aren't all going to come over here and throw an intervention on me, are you?

Well, don't. Cuz I'm being really good right now. REALLY good. I haven't been in a Hobby Lobby in weeks. Or a Lowes, even though there is one less than two miles from my front door. And I have three pieces of totally awesome, perfectly good but discarded furniture in Mr. Smarty's side of the garage (sorry, babe).

We are in the middle of a series on being Consumed at our church right now. The series is designed to teach us about how God wants us to deal with money so that, rather than bringing us a temporary fix, and ultimately causing us anxiety, it brings us joy. And it couldn't be at a more appropriate time. As we are approaching the Christmas season, the season of giving (and getting), I am becoming more aware of what really consumes me. Just look at my VISA bill, and you'll see where my "excess" has been going. I don't believe my fondness for spray paint (it's not an addiction. really. ) is my problem (denial? ehhhh...), but when I put it above spending, saving or giving to things that have more significance, or a more lasting effect, it has become a problem. And even though I am missing my little projects, I am really excited about choosing to use our resources for something more significant. You could say I am finding joy outside the can. Well, you could. I didn't say you would.

So, I'm taking a break from my stores. Now what's a girl to do when she needs to get a crafting fix?

Rearrage the furniture. Then rearrange it again. Swap out pillows from the couch upstairs-why didn't I do this earlier?

Finish that grout project from three months ago...now even the laundry room has pretty grout. Yup. I'm all done. Totally. Really. just don't use the hall bathroom. or look in the pantry. or under the dresser in the stairway.

Sew for a friend. This was such a God thing-I was really missing sewing, and a friend asked me to make her sister a shopping cart cover. I got my fix, my friend had a hand-made gift to bring to her sister's shower, and her sister now has something to help keep her son healthy when shopping! Win, win, win! Yay, God!

Frame some foliage from back home...Mom sent me some leaves from home, I found some old frames I wasn't using-viola! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE looking at these:

Change the sign on the front door to welcome Thanksgiving!

So what do you do when you have to be more creative when being creative? (Does that make sense? You know what I mean!)


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yesterday was Birthday Number 5 for Belle. With our adoption fees adding up and coming due, I tried to celebrate her birthday as frugally as possible, while still being special...it seemed like a complete failure to me, but thankfully, and interestingly enough, I don't think Belle interpretted our afternoon like that.

My plan was to go to the first show at the dollar theatre. We could all get in for $3. All that was playing for kids was Kung Fu Panda. Then, I thought we would go to Toys R Us, where I have a $10 gift card and $3 coupon. Mr. Smarty wanted her to pick out a new board game. Then we'd go back to Tata & Giddo's for pizza & a birthday dessert. Sounds like a good plan, no?

So ten minutes into Kung Fu, I'm sitting in the dark, with Boo cuddling on my lap, thinking...this is great! Really great! Why don't we do this more often? Then I look over at my five-year-old, my dear sweet birthday girl-with her eyes closed and her fingers in her ears and little sniffles escaping her little nose. She was so scared. I hadn't even noticed a scary scene yet, but she was terrified. Awww man! "Okay, Belle, wanna go?" "uh-huh"

So we piled back in the van and drove to the toy store. No cars in the lot. Lights off. Sign missing. The store had closed. Great. Remembering the Babies R Us on the other side of town, I drove there to see if they carried board games since they would also take my gift card. Nope. Their toy section was very limited to toddler toys. Bummer.

And what a failure of a mom, I am.

But did Belle even notice nothing was going according to plan. Even though she was well aware of the plan. She would just sweetly ask, "What's next on the plan, Mom? " Like we could just check off going to the movies, going to the toy store. By then she was ready to go back to Tata's and make her own game. Which she did, out of a cereal box from the recycling bin. LOVE HER!!!

Auntie Rowaida visting from Jordan on her birthday? Priceless!

Two Photos and Free Stuff for Voters

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

These pictures have nothing to do with Election Day (or do they?) but I took them yesterday and thought I'd post them. This little chapel is across the street from our Homeschool Coop. I can't seem to decide if it's steeple is whimsical or depressing. But I always have to take a closer look as I pass it.

So maybe I will just feel better if I know everyone else is drinking as much coffee as me...but here's some more free coffee info:

Starbucks is offering 12-ounce cups of their brewed coffee to customers who've cast their ballet. Then if you need something sweet to go with your brew, try a free red, white & blue star shaped donut from Krispy Kreme for voters. Still not convinced it's worth it to vote? Try a free scoop of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and a free cookie from McAlister's Deli. And some Chick-Fil-A's are offering a free sandwich for the occasion.

Do it Yourself Silhouettes

Monday, November 3, 2008

Last week, The Nester confessed a splurge on her children's silhouettes for $54. Because I did my kids' profiles for nothing this summer, I have to brag and post. (Mr. Smarty says it technically was not for nothing, but I did not purchase anything specifically for the silhouettes-I had all the supplies on hand.)

With my bro-bro's help, we took the kids' pictures individually facing sideways in front of a bare or plain wall. Bro-Bro is a photoshop pro, so he fiddled with them and removed the background even more, but it wasn't necessary. It just made the images contrasts easier to see. Then, on my plain ol' hp printer, I printed the profiles in b&w. I then traced the printout images on white scrapbook paper.

I used a black acrylic pen to go over the profile. This allowed me to get Belle's wisps and made it super easy to fill in with black craft paint.

There were several ways to go about this project. I debated just cutting out the kids profiles from the printer and tracing them on black scrapbook paper or cardstock and glueing them onto a white background, or whatever color I wanted for the room. But I liked the painted finished look and am happy with my quick project!