Virginia Road Trip- Days One and Two

Yesterday we left Kansas City to see my sister and her family in Virginia!

My kids have never seen the beach (except for Wiggles when he was 11 mos old) so everyone was pumped up…but it started with an 18 hour drive.  18 hours with 4 kids!  I knew I needed to prep.

I’m not a pro at all on traveling with kids, but I know that any good road trip has lots of snacks and games.  So we went to Costo to load up on food.  I contemplated bringing a cooler but decided that would be too much trouble, so we ended up with a variety of prepackaged snacks like fig bars, animal crackers, granola bars, pretzels, cheez its, etc.


Next I went to Five Below and Amazon to find travel games.  I spent a fair amount of money here, but my kids range in age from 3-11 so I needed a variety of things to keep each of them busy.  The biggest hits for the little kids ended up being the Water Wow books and scratch art (and a kindergarten work book for Wiggles, he loved that thing), while the big kids liked magnetic checkers and travel Bop It.  We also went to the library and checked out about a dozen movies and even a few audio books, which the kids ended up liking for short periods of time in between other activities.  We put both the snacks and the games in big plastic bins and let the kids access them pretty much at will, though we did have to cut Miss Diva off from the fig bars or she would have eaten every last one in the first hour!

(Sorry for the low picture quality- I took these on my cell phone at 11:30 PM in my car parked in the hotel parking lot…)

Finally I went all Pinterest mom and put together a travel journal for each kid.  They each included notebooks and a pencil pouch stuffed with pencils and pens, crayons, dry erase markers, tape, glue sticks, and scissors.  The Husband thought I had gone off my rocker for packing glue sticks, but they kept 3-year-old Sassypants entertained for a solid hour, which is totally worth a few minutes of pick up as far as I’m concerned! The big kids journals also included maps, an itinerary, and various road trip games I found online…tic tac toe, license plates, would you rather, scavenger hunts, etc.  (If I were a good blogger I’d post links, but I’m just an average blogger with limited blogging time, so get Googling!).  I put all the games in sheet protectors so they could use the dry erase markers and play again and again.  The problem with that was that they erased very easily, so if they wanted to take a break and finish the game later, their previous work would be gone…so if I do journals again, I think I’ll just print multiple copies.  The biggest kids were not that into their journals so they barely looked at them, but the little kids loved them- kind of the opposite of how I thought it would work!  My little kids are very creative and spent a lot of time drawing, taping, etc.  I did most of the driving so didn’t play with them much; I think if I had engaged my big kids in the games they would have been more into them.


We left Kansas City about 2:30 PM.  We didn’t have a plan for when we would stop, we just kept driving until we got tired, which ended up being around Frankfurt KY at 1:00 AM our time, 2:00 AM local time.  I was surprised at the vast openness of our route (I-70 and I-64); we would go hours without any hotel options- so we had to be strategic about where we stopped.  We booked a Best Western and I had reservations when we pulled up; it was a motel with outside entrances.  We checked in as the kids were starting to stir, drove around back to the room, and unlocked the door only to find it locked from the inside.  We sat there, kids sleepy and Sassypants starting to cry, wondering what to do.  The Husband fiddled with the inside lock, trying to push it over so we could get in, when we heard a tired voice say “You’ve got the wrong room!”  We quickly apologized and went back to the front desk to find another room.  It really wasn’t that big of a deal, but it bothered me- I mean, what if they came to the door with a gun or something?! Luckily the second room was unoccupied and decently clean, so we settled in for a few hours sleep.  In the morning we ate and the kids swam to burn off some energy before we started off for the next 9 hours.


The drive has been very scenic, with the rolling hills of the Appalachian Mountains.  We crossed the Licking River and I licked The Husband’s hand to celebrate it.  Diva is so sweet; she gets so excited and has the most expressive face, and just loved seeing the mountains, the valleys below, and the clouds settling atop the hills.  We talked about the horses in Kentucky, the coal miners in West Virginia, saw the capitol building in Charleston, gawked at the Arch, and sang lots of songs in between.  We also made it through six movies! The husband hates to drive and I kind of like it, so I did most of the driving and didn’t take many pictures. (And by not many I mean none at all).  I thought the kids got some good ones on the tablet, but after looking through it I realized my sweet children do not have a future in photography.

I have been so proud of the kids this trip!  Wiggles and Diva are generally good car riders so I wasn’t very worried about them, but Smiles, Sassypants, and The Husband…not so much.  We generally struggle with driving just a short 2 hours, so I didn’t have very high expectations for this trip.  But they’ve been well behaved, haven’t complained much, have only fought minimally, and have just overall been rock stars.  The snacks and games really helped.  I could tell The Husband was getting annoyed at noise levels several times during the trip, but he had the good sense not to say anything.

We switched the dates of our trip after making our lodging reservations, and the place we’re staying at wasn’t available tonight, so we’re staying in a random hotel in Suffolk (where my sister and her family lives) tonight before heading to Virginia Beach tomorrow.  The Husband was ready for some quiet, so I dropped him off at the hotel and took the kids to visit with my sister and her husband for a bit.  Hopefully the kids will sleep well tonight as we have a full day tomorrow- I can’t wait to see their faces as they visit the beach for the first time!

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Like most things these days, I’m really late in posting this, but we recently celebrated Miss Diva’s 8th birthday!

Not sure where to start with this one.  Diva, people often refer to you as “striking”.  You’re beautiful and charming. The husband likes to say you’ve got all the feels.  When you are happy, you are really happy.  The world is made of rainbows and puppy dogs and we are the best parents ever.  And when you are mad, you are really mad.  You’re convinced everyone hates you and that you have the worst life ever.  I’m not a big feeler, so these crazy emotions are a little mystifying to me, but I love them.  Except when I hate them.  I’m not sure I am equipped for your teenage years.  Here’s some things to remember from this year.

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You worship your older brother.  In your hierarchy Smiles is way on top, followed by a distant Jesus, followed by everyone else.  Sometimes you get in trouble because you get in the way of us disciplining Smiles; he can do no wrong in your eyes.  You feel a deep bond to him and we will always respect this.

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You. can. eat.  Like, more than a 400 lb man.  Your stomach has no bottom.  Some kids who are adopted have binge issues due to previous food insecurity, but we don’t think that’s the case for you.  You just like to eat.  A lot.

You used to be so obedient, but recently you have started challenging the rules.  You told me that I have a passion for making up rules and that you hate my rules.

You make the very best expressions.  Photographs don’t do them justice.

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3/4 of our kids require fairly firm discipline to be effective.  You’re the exception.  Any hint of firmness sends you to your room in hysterical tears.  This is sometimes a challenge to remember and something we’re working on!

You’re working so hard to catch up in school and have made tremendous strides.  We’re so proud of the work you’ve done and the progress you’ve made.  You’re a good student and the teachers all adore you.  I recently asked you what you were the most proud of and you said “How much I have learned in school.”

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You are always writing and drawing pictures.  You can entertain yourself for hours this way.  You want to be an artist, clothes designer, and movie star when you grow up and spend most of your time drawing fancy dresses.  Also, when your 3-year-old cousin last visited your overdid her make up.  We asked about it and you told us you “decorated her.”  Oh, and the fact that I don’t let you wear lipstick makes me a very mean mommy.

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Speaking of clothing designer, today I played in a golf tournament and wore jeans and a polo instead of my typical fancy work clothes.  When I got home you gasped in disgust and said, “Mommy, WHAT are you wearing?!”

You love babies and are a great help with Sassypants.  When I have an early morning commitment I rely on you to do her hair because goodness knows Daddy can’t do pony tails.

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You recently started becoming embarrassed of me.  If I say the wrong word in public, or make a wrong move, you very clearly let me know how embarrassed you are.  Sometimes I embarrass you if I simply want to take your picture after an awards ceremony.  I try to respect this, but seriously, what’s dinner at Panda Express if I can’t dance a little?

You’re becoming quite social.  You spent the night with a friend for the first time this year and were so excited, and constantly want to have play dates.  The only problem is that when a play date is over and your friends go home, you’re so sad you start to cry and become really moody!  Your best friend is moving at the end of the school year and I’m a little concerned about how you’ll handle this, but you have a penpal plan.

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You’re a complete slob.  You love screen time.  We finally figured out that the only effective way to have you keep your room clean is to tie it to screen time.  I made up the rhyme “no screens til your rooms cleaned”.  I was very proud of my poetry skills, but you did not really appreciate it.  At all.  This is the most horrible rule I’ve ever made.

You feel a deep connection to your biological family and I LOVE this about you.  I can’t wait to travel back so we can spend more time with them.  You are always asking about them, drawing pictures for them, praying for them.  You wrote a story about your life and it won first place not only in the school PTA contest, but also at the state level PTA contest.  Now it’s at nationals.  We send pictures and letters to your birth family periodically, and get pictures and letters back from them.  This is one of the best possible investments of time and money because the joy it brings you is indescribable, and I think it helps you find peace with your story.  The most recent set of pictures contained a woman we did not know by recognition or by name.  Most little girls would move on, but you bugged me relentlessly until I dug out the adoption papers and scoured them to find a name match (it worked- she was your aunt).  A big piece of your heart is still in Ethiopia.  We are so proud of what you’re doing here, and can’t wait to see how God uses you.


Diva, you’re a little sponge.  I can almost see you soaking up things and processing them in your sweet little brain.  Sometimes your sassiness takes over and it drives me crazy, but honestly, you have one of the most pure hearts of anyone I’ve ever met.  You’re an inspiration to me, and I hope you have a great eighth year.

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Five.  A whole hand.  Guys, my little man is really growing up.

He informed me that he got to do whatever he wanted to do today since it was his birthday.  That included eating three donut holes for breakfast, wearing his pajamas to school, going out for dinner at Pizza Street and getting two desserts there, going for a walk to the neighborhood pond, and ending the day with a Nerf Gun war.

I genuinely enjoy his company.  He’s still my silly little boy, who makes up languages and does the naked dance and giggles every time he farts.  But I see that young man in him.  I see it when he shares something he really wants.  I see it when he pauses to carefully select his words.  I see it when he furrows his brow, thinking of just the right thing to make for someone he loves.  He’s the coolest kid and I love him so much!

Maclin, here are the things I want to remember about right now:

You love to create.  Sometimes you spend hours at the dining room table, painting and drawing and writing.  Then you get scissors and scotch tape and hang your masterpieces up all around the house; the other day I was surprised to not only find drawings on the inside of the cabinet but also in the bathtub.


You also like to create games.  All kinds of games.  Recently you were very excited about a board game you drew.  You insisted the entire family play, and sat us down and explained all these nonsensical rules that resulted in you winning the game.  Lord have mercy on your older siblings who mostly humor you (at least, after they receive our evil glances silently threatening punishment if they mess up your games).

Every night at bedtime you stay in your room entertaining yourself.  When you’re ready for bed you holler “FIVE MINUTES IS STARTING!”  This is our cue to check on you in five minutes; if you’re asleep we’re to leave a small snack in your closet.  You wake up in the middle of the night to eat said snack, then go back to bed.  One time we forgot and you woke us up at 3AM screaming as if you had seen the devil himself.

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You don’t usually fall asleep standing up.

Speaking of nighttime- for the past two years you’ve snuck into our bed nearly every night.  We finally decided to do something about this, so we bribed you…if you stay in your bed at night, you get a sticker.  Five stickers earns you a selection from the “Treasure Chest”, filled with goodies from the Dollar Tree and Mimi’s work.  It worked like a charm; we’ve been doing that for maybe a month now and you’ve only been in our bed twice.

A friend gave us a hand me down bike and you’ve been riding it (without training wheels) for six months now.  You just figured out how to use the brakes and you are very excited about this.  You like to walk to the neighborhood pond, where you throw rocks and watch the geese.

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You’re finally wiping your own butt.  This is fantastic.

I’m hoping you get the musical genes I always wish I had.  I have the piano keys labeled, and I’ll write the notes on sheet music.  You love to play the songs.  You also like to make up your own songs.  Sample lyrics:  “This thing in your heart, it might be true, or it might be fake, but you’ve got it in yooooooouuuuuu”.  I make up my own songs but you always remind me that “the moves matter just as much as the song, mom.”

You started swimming this summer and man, you are a fish.  And you have no fear.

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You’re extroverted and talk to people wherever we go.  For the last month, every time we run into someone (the parent at the park, the checker at the grocery store, people at the table next to us) you tell them: “My name is Wiggles. W-I-G-G-L-E-S.  I’m 4 and a half.  I’m going to be 5 on April 18.  That’s X days from now.”

You’re such a good big brother.  Sassypants is not an easy little sister to have, but you’re always willing to share with her, are so patient with her, and are the first to try to calm her when she’s upset.  Which is often.


Your best friend at school is Veda.  You had me write her name on a piece of paper, tape it to the wall, and then write “Marry her” underneath it so that you wouldn’t forget.  Then you told me that when you’re 16, you guys are going to get married, live in the woods behind the school, and get guns to kill animals for food.

You get really into games.  Earlier it was Trouble, you would play it at Supersonic speed by yourself constantly.  Then it was Go Fish.  You can play this for hours, no matter where we are.  I keep a deck of cards in my purse.

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You’re my little buddy.  You love to do things with me, and I love your company.  You love to help in the kitchen (and actually, you love to create your own concoctions in the kitchen as well, which you say are delicious but actually aren’t edible).  You are always volunteering to run errands with me.  One time I asked you if you liked to go to the store and you said “No, I just like being with you.”  Queue heart swoon.

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You’re going to kindergarten in the fall.  I’m not a super emotional person, and I always thought the fact that I would be saving thousands and thousands of dollars a year would far outweigh any sad feelings I had about you growing up.  I was wrong.  It’s really bumming me out that you’re going to elementary school, that you’ll be riding the bus with those rowdy big kids, that you’ll have lots of unhealthy lunch options to choose from, that you’ll be out of our protective little utopia of home and a montessori-esque school.  But you’re ready.  You’re so ready.  You’re going to kill it.

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You’re a little ornery and when I act sad about you growing up you giggle and tell me that you’re never going to stop growing until you’re a grown up.  But then you tell me that you’ll always be my baby, even when you have your own kids.  What else can I ask for?

I love you Wiggles.  Happy fifth birthday!





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Three Years Home!

Today’s a very special day in our family- it’s the third anniversary of the day our family was completed!

We celebrated by eating giant lemon poppyseed muffins for breakfast and going out to an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner.  The kids brought treats to school, and their teachers read books we sent about adoption (I Wished For You and Just Really Joseph– great gifts for adoptive families, btw).  We gave the kids small gifts. Smiles got a customized water bottle with pictures of his Ethiopian and American families.  Last year Diva wrote a story about her life for a PTA contest.  It won first prize at her school, and then first prize at the state level!  It has been sent on to the national contest.  We put that into a Shutterfly book with pictures.  She loved it and was so proud to read it to her class!


As I reflected on today I went back and read many old blog entries, including the first day home, the one year anniversary, and the two year anniversary.  This year’s anniversary has hit me hard, as Wiggles is now nearly the exact age that Diva was when she came home.  Not only that, but Sassypants is just a little older than Diva was when she went to live in the orphanage.

I can’t quite express how that makes me feel. When we brought Smiles and Diva home, we had not quite two years of parenting experience.  A nearly five year old felt ancient, so independent and capable.  Today when I look at Wiggles, my little man, and imagine him doing the things I expected Diva to do, I can’t even.  Wiggles is my baby.  If Wiggles was sent to a far away country, adopted into a family he couldn’t communicate with, and expected to do so many things for himself…he would struggle.  And if Sassypants had spent the last several months- those months where her brain is in a crazy development stage- toiling her days away at an orphanage with minimal stimulation- she would not be the person she is today.  As my biological kids hit the ages my adopted children were when they come home, the gravity of what my adopted children have been through hits me hard.  It gives me a new kind of respect for the bravery they had no choice but to demonstrate.


Our day to day lives are not that exciting, not any different than any family with kids this age.  We haven’t been overly busy- as a working parent, I really value down time at home over many activities, but as the kids get older we’ll see if that changes.  Our house is always chaotic.  It’s very loud, there’s usually either a kid screaming, Nerf bullets flying around, furniture being rearranged for a fort, neighborhood kids in and out, crayons all over the floor, or some combination of these things.  It’s next to impossible to have an adult conversation and by the end of the day I am spent.  But I’m guessing there’s many non-adoptive moms out there who hear me, yes?

An update on adoption-specific things….School.  Both kids have been working extra hard at school and it’s paying off!  Diva’s writing is mostly legible and she loves writing stories.  She progressed something like a zillion reading levels and is now reading on grade level- a huge milestone!  But, she does struggle with reading and doesn’t really enjoy it.  She does really love math and science.  She’s a good student and charms teachers.  Smiles has worked super hard.  As I read through those old blogs I was reminded of how overwhelming his schooling needs were, but this is not something I worry about anymore.  He’s still behind, but things are really starting to click and he’s closing that gap fast.  He’s really rocking math and is getting confident in his school work. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it- I have zero doubts about having him repeat a grade.


We started sending pictures back to their birth family.  Actually, we thought we had already been doing that, but found out last year it wasn’t really happening.  Ethiopia requires an annual adoption report.  These are supposed to be kept on file at the orphanage and be accessible to the birth families.  Long story short, we connected with the director of their old orphanage mid last year and learned he never received any of the reports we sent.  So, we contacted the searcher we had used before.  We sent her a package full of pictures, drawings, a letter, and even a necklace with the kids’ pictures on it.  The searcher delivered it and sent us back pictures of the family.  What a priceless gift!  The kids really treasured having current pictures of their birth family!  We just sent another package and are expecting more pictures any day now.

We talk about adoption a LOT.  Diva is all too happy to talk about it; last summer we found her in a hotel hot tub telling a stranger lady how she had spent two years in the orphanage.  Smiles, not so much.  He hates to talk about it, and even yells at Diva when she does.  Over the course of the last year that wall has started to come down.  He still has a ways to go, but he no longer completely shuts down when he hears the word “Ethiopia”.  He also started sharing some memories.  I won’t put them on here as they are his stories to tell, but he remembers quite a bit about his years in Ethiopia.  Some memories are good, others not so much. We have been talking about making a trip back in a few years and he has no desire to go.  He shared the other day that he is worried his birth family will want him to stay.  He’s a typical guy, getting him to talk about his feelings or anything beyond surface level is a major feat, but we’ll continue to work on this issue over the coming years.


We’re lucky in that our kids came from a loving background.  For our situation, I’m very much a believer in sharing as much information as possible and having an open and ongoing dialogue about adoption.  I was so encouraged when Smiles was willing to let his teacher read the adoption book and even have a discussion around adoption today.  This would not have happened in the past.

The latest issue we’ve been dealing with is sibling jealousy.  It’s not uncommon for adopted children to be jealous of biological children for all the reasons you’d think- biological children look like their parents, they don’t have the struggles adopted children have, etc.  Complicating our case is the fact that our biological children are younger than our adopted children, so I sometimes overlook things with my bios that I don’t with my adopteds. Complicating it further is the fact that Wiggles is super book smart but socially immature, so Diva sees him as an intellectual equal and doesn’t understand why he throws fits when his dinner isn’t served on the orange plate…and why I try to be patient with him when he throws said fits.

I go to an adoption conference every winter and walk away from it so filled (if you are any type of adoptive or foster parent, I highly recommend it).  I am reminded of what a special path adopted kids take, and how my job as their mommy stretches far beyond my biomommy responsibilities.  I’m far from perfect- like, really far- but I walk away remembering that each child is created in God’s image and what an awesome honor it is to parent them.


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Sassypants is Three!

You guys, my baby, my last baby is THREE!

The year of two is an interesting year.  When a baby turns two they are still very much a baby, but by the time they turn three they might as well be going to college.  They’re so big.

I’m having a hard time with this because as we’ve left diapers, nursing, and soon to be nap time in the past, I feel a chapter in my life coming to an end.  In some ways that’s a happy feeling.  It’s so much easier to do things these days, we’re looking forward to traveling again, I don’t feel so bad asking for babysitting help. Life’s so much more manageable now than it was a year or three ago and that’s great.  But I also know these very precious moments are limited.  It feels like we just got started and I’m not quite ready to close that chapter yet.

If you’re a new reader, I refer to my children by “blog names” because I want them to be able to Google themselves someday without being tied to all my stories about them.  I’ve always referred to my youngest as “The Baby” but since she’s not really a baby anymore I’ll call her “Sassypants”….and if you know her in real life, you’ll know why that’s her moniker.

So Sassypants, Happy Birthday!  Are you really three?!  You are such a special little girl.  When I was growing up I got a lot of flak for being bossy and I see that in you, too.  But you know what?  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a girl knowing what she wants and telling other people how to make that happen.  We just need a little polishing!  You challenge me in a way that none of my other children do, probably because we’re very similar.  But even when you’re driving me crazy, I see a special little spark in your eyes, and I promise I will do everything I can to help you develop that into something great.  Here are the things I want to remember about you right now:

When you tell a story, you cock your head to the side, twinkle your eyes, and nod in confirmation of your own story.


I’ve never met a kid who was so determined to do things on their own.  If I had a penny for every time you shouted “NO!  I DO IT!” I’d be a millionaire.  Sometimes I have to apologize to older kids on the playground; you bite their heads off when they try to help you do something.

You’re an okay eater with a major sweet tooth.  You really like to eat peas, baked beans, ketchup, fish, spaghetti, most fruits, and anything in the “treat” category.


You suck your index and middle fingers on your right hand constantly.  I’m sure you’ll have bad teeth.  I used to think it was cute but I’ve been nagging you lately to stop.  You kept telling me you’d stop when you turned three, but today you told me you’d stop when you turn four.

You love to snuggle.  You make your snuggle bed kind of like a dog makes their bed.  You force me to lie down in just the right way, move around a lot, press on my belly several times, and finally make your pillow on my stomach.

You adore your older siblings.  Gammie asked what you wanted for your birthday and I honestly couldn’t think of anything you were into, because mostly you just copy whatever they’re doing.  You do a lot of pretend play- things like putting us or your stuffed animals to bed, making us dinner, building forts, etc, that don’t require a lot of toys.


A couple months ago we switched you from your pack and play (which you’ve pretty much slept in since birth) to a big girl bed- a bunk bed in a room shared with Diva. You used to be a wonderful sleeper.  Now you are a TERRIBLE sleeper.  You climb around, get up, go potty, whine, and do anything you can do delay bedtime.  But the most entertaining thing is how you strip completely naked most nights.  The first several times this happened I tried to put a diaper on you, but this required me climbing on the top bunk and trying not to wake you up, so I just started letting you sleep butt naked.  You haven’t wet the bed yet…let’s keep that up.

You have one volume- loud.  Very loud.  All the time loud.

At preschool you get a stamp if you’ve had a good day.  You rarely get stamps.  Your most common offenses are telling your teachers no, not listening, and throwing fits….but a couple weeks ago you lost your stamp for getting naked during class.


You love to comb my hair.

You have your Daddy wrapped around your finger.  He adores you and you get away with way more things than any other child.  He also watches you way more closely than any other child.


You’re not shy.  When we pass people on walks or at stores you often yell out “Hi, what’s your name?”  When they ask your name in return, you reply with your full name- first, middle, last.

You can spell your first name and say the days of the week.

You are very brave, you love to jump off things, climb on things, and explore the world around you.  We need to get you enrolled in gymnastics soon!


Sassypants, you keep right on being you.  You’ve had a great three years and I’m so excited to see what the next year holds for you.


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What a busy spring we’ve had!  Between The Baby’s birthday, Wiggle’s birthday, our adoption anniversary, and our Tuner dying I’ve almost forgotten the blog is supposed to be on a break.  Alas, after today things should return to the normal humdrum of life.  But first can we talk about Miss Diva!  The girl is seven today!

I don’t think a sweeter girl has ever been made. But that wasn’t always the case!  Diva, after meeting you for the first time we sure were worried.  Daddy was convinced you’d need therapy for life.  We thought you were so hateful and rude, but now we know you were just scared.  In fact, now when we ask you why you were so mean back then, you just shrug and say “Because I don’t know you” as if it’s the most obvious answer in the world.  That thought both makes me smile (at your spunk) and cry (that you had to go through such a scary time).  In any case, I don’t even remember a time in your whole sixth year when you were hateful and rude.  I do remember…

  • How we watched Fuller House together every week while I did your hair.  And how I finally got good at doing your hair!
  • Your inability to feel pain.  Seriously, I think you are missing some nerves.  I know you’re not because the other day you got stung by a wasp and you were not very happy about that, but every time we go to the doctor you offer up your arm even if you’re not scheduled for shots, and every time a tooth is the slightest bit wiggly you follow Daddy around with a pair of pliers until you finally convince him to pull it out. download
  • How you always, ALWAYS share with others.  I can’t get over your generosity; it often makes me think of how selfish I am!  Even if you’ve been looking forward to getting something for a whole week, you’ll give it away to someone else.  Without hesitation.
  • When you got $15 cash for your birthday on Saturday you planned to give every last penny to the church on Sunday.  But you forgot the $5 and decided to buy an Elsa crown instead.
  • Your crazy crazy laugh.
  • You’re my best little helper.  I don’t even know how to roll enchiladas or stuff pasta shells anymore because I haven’t done it for two (5)
  • You USED to be my best baby-sitter, but the other day you were in charge of watching Wiggles and The Baby while I took a shower.  I noticed the room was suspiciously quiet so got out early and found you playing outside with the kids.  You were so upset that I was so upset that you cried hysterically (seriously, we could hear you everywhere in the house) under your bed for an hour.  No more babysitting for you.
  • Did I mention that you’re super sensitive and that I both love and hate this about you?
  • My sister and one of my best friends recently had babies.  You LOVE babies and would hold them all day if you could.  Every time we leave you tell me about how you can’t wait to be a mom.  Then later, you see me stressed out about something…you rub my back and tell me you can wait to be a mom because being a mom is such hard work. download (2)
  • Last year we went to Worlds of Fun.  You have to be 48″ to ride most of the thrill rides.  You were about 47.5″ and refused to stretch the truth to go on the rides.  I don’t know who is more excited about going this year, you or Daddy!  He’s been waiting for a roller coaster riding partner for 10 years now.
  • Smiles started play therapy recently and sometimes you go with me when I take him.  You know there are Barbies and dress up clothes back there and you get SO mad that you don’t get to go to therapy too.  You literally beg me to (4)
  • You really have very few faults, but the two major ones you can’t shake are your extreme messiness/forgetfulness and your inability to tell a short story in less than 25 minutes.
  • You really like to be thought of as a girly girl and get offended if anyone thinks you’re a tomboy, but you still come home with holes in the knees of all your (6)
  • You like all foods.  I literally can’t think of anything you don’t like.  This is such an extreme opposite of how I was at your age.  You like weird combinations too, you often make yourself things like a chicken peanut butter pasta pickle mustard sandwich.

But why should I keep talking?  Let’s see what you had to say:

What is your favorite color?
Pink sparkles.

What is your favorite thing to do?
Eat ice cream with my family and I really like to go to Oceans of Fun.

What is your favorite song?
God songs.

What are you most proud of?
I’m really proud I’m level H (in reading) because I moved up a level and I’m almost catched up with my class.

What is your favorite food?
Princess cupcakes.

What is your least favorite food?
I can’t think of anything I don’t like.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
An artist.  I love artists and I want to paint and be just like (my art teacher).

What do you want to do when you’re seven?
Get ice cream with my family.

Who is your hero?
My family because they always help me. Except The Baby because she screams at me and is rude.

What is your favorite game?
Decorating Barbies.

Who is your best friend?
Jenna and Haley and Corbin and Winston

What’s your favorite subject in school?

If you could do anything all day, what would you do?

What’s your birthday wish?
That I could spend all day with my family and also that no one is poor.  I love making clothes and being an artist and if I see a poor person being outside I want to bring them to my house and make clothes for them.

Happy birthday sweet girl.  You are such a blessing to this family, thanks for making us all nicer!

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Little Man is Four!

My first born is four years old today!

Wiggles, you were an answer to prayer.  You made us parents.  Today you are crazy and rowdy and ornery as all get out, but you’re also sweet and smart and snuggly.  Here are some things I want to remember about right now:

  • You  go to sleep every night in your bed.  But by the time I go to bed, I usually find you on the floor…and by the time I wake up, you’ve made your way into our bed.  You just crawl right on in, usually without us noticing.  You tell us you’re going to stop doing that once you turn 4, but you also told us you were going to start using the potty when you turned 3 and we all know how that (1)
  • You LOVE having older siblings.  You constantly play with and pick on them.  You and Smiles are always chasing each and wrestling, while you and Diva like to play Jake the Pirates and do art.  The other day someone said “No one is perfect” and you countered with “Diva is perfect at art.”  mac
  • You like to play mermaids in the bath with Diva.  And she likes to dress you up like a girl.  I love that you have sisters.4
  • You are fearless when it comes to physical activity, and will ride your balance bike downhill at approximately 70
  • You are not so fearless when it comes to the dark or someone using a “spooky voice.”
  • You are a perfectionist.  You get really angry when things don’t go your way and you make sure everyone knows it.  Usually you rattle off your favorite insults and call whoever crosses your path during this time “Idiot stupid meanie.”2
  • You’re also really into rules and order.  You constantly have a plan for how many turns people should have, what should happen next, and how things should be done.  You make sure everyone knows each step of your plan before you start the activity.
  • You LOVE to read and amaze us with how well you can do it.  I think you’ve really benefited from all the work we’ve put in with Smiles and Diva.  You memorized dozens of sight words right along with them and are now getting pretty good at sounding out words- and you make Diva mad when you help her with a word in a book she’s reading.3
  • Sometimes you can be super sweet, like when you stop what you’re doing just to tell me that you love me or when you rub my back or when you share with your siblings.  But sometimes you can be a straight up jerk, like when you randomly hit people or tell them you don’t like them.
  • I have a secret that I’m a little afraid to share online.  In the morning when you don’t want to get up, I tell you that I hope you don’t go potty because I don’t want your wiener germs.  This makes you instantly bounce out of bed, use the potty, then chase me down to give me wiener germs.  You tell me you’ll stop this when you’re 13 (you’re into rules and order and plans, remember?) but I sincerely hope this stops long before then.  I hope what started off as a funny way to get you around in the morning doesn’t scar you for life.


I gave you a survey on your 4th birthday.  Here’s how you answered:

What’s your favorite color?
Blue.  It used to be all the colors but blue is my very favorite now.

What do you like to do?
Play with blocks and train tracks and everything outside.

What’s your favorite song?

What are you most proud of?
You because I just like you.

What’s your favorite food?

What’s your least favorite food?
Hot sauce.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
An art teacher.

What do you want to do when you’re four?
Play and eat ice cream and cake and cinnamon rolls and sleep all day.

Who is your hero?

What’s your favorite game?

Who are your best friends?
Everyone at school except for (3 “mean” kids who shall not be named publicly) and my family and everyone who is nice except for bad guys and strangers.

What’s your favorite thing to do at school?
Play and math.

If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do all day?
Play outside and ride my bike.

Happy birthday to the little man who showed us a new type of love.  You are so special to us!


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