Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Birthday, Andrew!!!

Andrew turns seven years old today :)!

Andrew is reading very well now, and was very excited after our move to get a real "boys" room, shared with Peter, something he has looked forward to since Peter was born :). He learned how to do many odd jobs while Daddy was in VA and we were in SC that he made good use of :), that were a great help :).

We love you so much, Andrew, and are so thankful you are a part of our family :). I am excited to see all that the Lord will do in your life :)! 

Happy 7th Birthday, Andrew :)!!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Thankful Thursday, Week 73, Post that was Written but Never Posted...

During that time I was thankful for...
~That we are D.O.N.E. unpacking! Yay! (See? I told you this was old ;)!)
~Daddy and Mommy :).
~Free paint sitting in our garage ;).
~And no more teal blue walls :).
~Abbi-girl! (I still can't believe she is 5!)
~Monkeys. Abbi's party was monkey themed ;). 
~Helium balloons... Peter absolutely loves them, it is so sweet :).
~That Bethi, Mommy, Tori, and I are all "caught up" with our current bible reading plans, heeheehee :). Between us we're working on three different plans, but we all had to take some time off last week and get caught up, haha :). I heard a lot of "Hosea! I reached Hosea!" "I'm in Joel!" I'm almost done with Genesis!!!" And "I am Caught Up!!!" the last week of August ;). I was probably the quietest of all of us... my current bible-reading-buddy lives in NE, so it doesn't do much good to state where I'm at, heeheehee ;). Unless you count the one year bible reading plan I was doing with Bethi, but she decided to start over and just do an eight month one, instead, so it doesn't count to say I'm ahead until she's caught up, haha.
~New, creative oatmeal recipes :). Mommy found me a whole list after I found out how fun it was to make different kinds other than our standard "fall" oatmeal (we eat it all year round, but it tastes like a fall dish to me -warm and sweetly-spicy :).)
~A chat with a friend from SC :). It was great to talk with her again :).
~Peter's "fake" laugh when we are laughing. He's so cute! Haha :).
~Our new history study.
~The freedom we have in America to be homeschooled.
~Watching clouds through the Skylight with Abbi and Emmi.
~Extra sheets.
~Reminders to cherish every moment.
~Freshly washed sheets.
~Fun telling Abbi about some of her "quirks" (such as the bottle launching morning ritual... heeheeheehee!) as a toddler. She thought she was funny, haha!
~Green onions. Which Mommy said she would never grow again. Which are sprouting on our counter. Heeheehee :). I love green onions, I'm glad she didn't stick to her threat ;).
~Mommy's creativity in making Chinese food :). That is something that Mommy and Daddy have missed, and it was very interesting to watch it come together, haha :).
"Sing to the Lord;
praise the Lord!
For he has delivered the life of the needy
from the hand of evildoers"
                               ~Jeremiah 20:13

Thankful Thursday, Week 77

This week I am especially thankful for...
~Bethi's generous offer to make Cinnamon muffins Friday :). Thank you, Bethi :).
~The changing colors of the trees.
~Peter's love for swings... and how relaxed he gets in them... I'll have to find the picture of Peter sleeping in the swing... it looked highly uncomfortable, but he was cute, haha :).
~Abbi's love for animals.
~Daddy's beautiful photography.
~Pumpkin muffins with hot coffee.
~Emmi's wonderful job making the bed as a blessing for me, several times, the past week :)...
~Help in the kitchen, and banana bread for breakfast :).
~The Lord's hand over these little ones. Brenton especially needs a family to commit to him before October 7th, or he ages out of adoption.
~And Chad, the little guy receiving help to come home from October's auction :)! There's plenty of time to help out :)!
~Peter's love for sweeping ;)... he is so cute with a broom twice his size, heeheehee :).
~Pencils and paper.
~Andrew's hard work on reading.
~That we are done grocery shopping for the week... haha.
~.Soup and biscuits... fall is here, ya know :).
~Being able to watch Peter as he goes about his every day life... it always amazes me what these little people can do. I mean, really, the boy might not be suppose to be climbing chairs, but really, think of the accomplishment he has being able to climb onto something that is higher than his waist! He's so funny... he was just trying to tuck a toy potato to bed :).
~The sun shining down on our yard today :).
~Amigurami projects and lots of yarn.
~Time and the ability to complete items on my to-do list... which I very much need to go make the most of, haha :)!

"Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!"
                           ~Psalm 103

Monday, September 23, 2013

It is Officially Autumn,

No matter what calender you go by ;)!

Fall is one of my favorite times of year! Cooler days call for soup and pumpkin muffins, pie, and bread. It brings on the changing colors of the leaves, swirling down to make a blanket of color on the ground (as long as you have something more than pines in your yard ;).). The breezes call for the comfort of sweaters, and a hot cup of something is a welcome addition to the day. Fall calls for the smell of baking spices, and the welcoming of winter.

It often involves apples, and nuts (oh, some edible ones, too... ;)...), cameras and colors, and lots and lots of yarn :)... Between fall birthdays and the upcoming Christmas season, I can be found now more than any other time of the year with a pattern, some yarn, and a cup of coffee ;).

The very sound of autumn sounds cozy! It involves some special family times. The weather isn't cold enough to need to bundle, but it is cool enough to go outside ;)! We always take more walks as a family around this time of year :).

But for some little ones, fall means nothing. It's no different than any other time of the year. They are still just as neglected, just as unloved.

For some other little ones, it means a whole lot more.

With the coming of fall, this little boy's birthday also comes, and in two weeks he will be past the point of adoption. He needs a family to step forward for him now! Brenton is worth it! Any little bit would help... prayers, donations, and sharing his file are all little ways you can help this little boy be noticed! He has two weeks. Two weeks, and his life will be changed forever. He will either be put in an institution... or be placed in a family!

Friday, September 20, 2013

An Epic Tale of the History of the Evolving of the Muffins

(A light, long, true, yummy and humorous post about this family's association between muffins and aspiring cooks...)

Our family has this thing for muffins. We love muffins. They are a yummy, memory filled breakfast. They are the first "involved" breakfast that young cooks make by themselves in our family. And they are down right humorous.

My memories of muffins go back to before Bethi was born. Mommy would make a batch of Muffins every Monday for "Muffin Morning Monday". Tori and I always begged for a spoonful of the batter. Which Mommy thought was absolutely disgusting, but let us have some anyway ;).

When Mommy was expecting Bethi, I took over the muffins when Mommy started having morning sickness. This was great fun for me, and I traded in eating batter for snitching some of the dried blueberries in the mix. Heehee :). Daddy taught me how to cook, what can I say? I fondly remember a Christmas in Indiana when Daddy and I made the peanut butter balls while Tori helped Mommy with some of the other treats, and Daddy gave me some of the filling, telling me, as he did so, "That's what makes cooking with Daddy fun, isn't it ;)?". Mommy didn't find out about that philosophy until just recently, haha :). 

After I had mastered those simple mixes, Mommy got a great idea. She bought a mix with canned blueberries instead of dried! It also involved adding more than eggs and water to the mix. And that became known as one of the worst muffin making experiences I ever had ;).  After the egg rolling off the counter and cracking on the floor (and Tori promptly running to the bathroom when she saw it, heeheehee ;) ), the jar lids all jumping out of the cupboard at me when I opened it ("No worries Mom! This time it was just a lid!"), and the juice stains that were left on the counter from the canned blueberry juice (which were finally taken off with a magic eraser), we finally had muffins. But we never bought that particular kind of mix again ;).

Once we started making more foods from scratch, muffins also changed. I now made them from scratch every week, and Daddy spent a good bit of time helping me convert all our recipes to be used with whole wheat flour. He worked through our chocolate chip muffins with me, and we spent an evening making blueberry muffins from scratch, using all the tips Daddy had collected to make delicious muffins :). Don't over beat, only grease the pans halfway up the sides, do not over fill, don't open the door until at least 3/4s of the way into the baking time, get them in the oven as soon as you are done putting them in the pan so that they don't fall. Most of which I had not known before ;).

And then I made these. I changed the recipe slightly, and they became a favorite! (One thing you must remember, though. After we found out that Andrew was sensitive to cinnamon, I cut that down, so they now have a stronger ginger flavor. So, although they are, officially called Cinnamon muffins, Daddy asks for Ginger muffins when he wants them. And Tori calls them Cinnamon Sugar, due to the topping. And Abbi and Emmi call them Brown Sugar, due to the color of the topping. But Mommy continues to call them Cinnamon. By the way, I make muffins that are called Brown Sugar muffins. And they are not these. Can you remember all that without reading through it a second time? Heeheeheehee :).)

I can't think of too many mistakes Tori has made while making muffins (to which, if she was reading over my shoulder- where is she, come to think of it?!- she would say "That's because... I'm perfect. *evil laughter*." She did stir some blueberry muffins she was helping me with one time so hard that they turned green... but I go on...

Bethi is our newest little muffin maker :). When she woke up early today, I asked her if she wanted to make the muffins today :). She eagerly said yes, and the next thing I knew, she had called Andrew in to help her. And Abbi. And Emmi. Yes, four people under the age of nine made breakfast together. She's much braver than I am.

Amid navigating between multiple stools, and eating quite a few apples, they worked on making the muffins. 

All was going well.

Until all of the sudden I heard "Ummm... Bri?"


"Were we suppose to grind the wheat?"

"Ummm... are you telling me you didn't?!"


"How do you forget to grind the wheat?!!!"

"Well, the recipe doesn't say to grind it..."

(Neither does it say to pour the wheat in the bowl, my darling. It says flour...)

"What else have you put in the bowl?"

"Umm.... the baking soda. And the rest of the flour. And the last of our baking powder."

And she wasn't joking in any way, shape or form.

After much debate, we settled on using a mesh strainer to sift the wheat out of the rest of the ingredients. And put it through the grinder ;).

All fixed, they went back to work. Happily, they stirred all the ingredients together. And remembered they had forgotten to stir the ground wheat into it. So they stirred it again. And started putting the muffin batter in the pans (after eating some of said batter). And found a mound of flour in the corner of the bowl. So they stirred it again. And broke the spoon.

A spoon that we have been using for as long as I can remember making muffins. That they then had to dig the bottom out of the batter. And find another spoon. Fare thee well ye ancient spoon. Hahahaha!

By this time I was starving (I don't eat apples in the morning unless there in a fruit salad... Tori doesn't either, but leaves the complaining to me, anyway), so I plopped on the couch next to Tori and started my most professional "humorous dramatic starvation jokes". You can just imagine that part. But Tori was laughing pretty hard. Hahaha :).

The muffins got put in the oven, and Mommy came downstairs, and got to hear the whole story. Daddy came down in the middle, and was very confused, so we had to back the story up.

By that time, the muffins were ready to come out of the oven. We pulled them out, mixed up the cinnamon sugar... and Bethi sprinkled it on as I looked for a pastry brush to brush on the butter. When she saw the brush in my hand, she couldn't believe herself. Heeheehee :)! I brushed the butter on, and she put more cinnamon sugar on the top, so that it would stick ;). We called Tori down for breakfast, and she asked "Did you put the butter on them before the sugar?" To which Bethi answered "Not at first..."

We were laughing so hard! And they were yummy, despite it all :)! We'll make a wonderful muffin baker out of her yet... with plenty of memories of her own ;)!!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thankful Thursday, Week 76

This week, I am especially grateful for...
~Getting to hear the baby's heart beat last Tuesday :).
~The satisfaction of getting our room clean (for a night...haha).
~Our trip to the park last night.
~Sunset over the water :).
~Cooler days.
~The trees as they start to change shades :)...
~Peter's love for music.
~And his love for animals in general, and specifically kitty cats :).
~Peter's more frequent attempts to form words lately. He has been trying to say "apple" lately :).
~Tori's diligence in her bible reading... she is on Revelation chapter 22! And she isn't suppose to finish before her birthday, on October 2nd, because the plan is to finish on a memorable date. Haha :). She's done so well :)!
~That I am done with math for the day... heeheehee ;)!
~Hearing the little ones planning a surprise for Tori's upcoming birthday :). They are so excited about it, and I'm privileged to get to hear all their plans ;). Don't worry, Tori, you'll find out soon enough ;)...
~The fun of being able to sit down and write a letter.
~(On pretty note cards- thanks Tori :)!).
~Simple, yummy meals.
~And Tori's wonderful lasagna the other day!
~The book of Isaiah.
~And coffee to sip while reading it :).
~Being able to listen to conference downloads online.
~All the Godly resources we have available for homeschooling :).
~Time to work on projects that need done. Which I need to make use of, haha :).

"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,

for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;

he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress"
                                                  ~Isaiah 61:10


...since it's been almost a month since I posted a "real" family update (excluding birthday posts)...
It's probably about time for one, isn't it ; )?

There's been a lot going on lately, in a fairly quiet way ; ). School is going pretty well... math continues to pose challenges for most of us, but we are making headway ; )! Our history study is especially interesting this year : ). We are using the Answers in Genesis "What in the World?" by Diana Waring : ). Our biology is also coming in part from the Answers in Genesis site, although we are also using the Weaver curriculum and some other resources Mommy has pulled together : ). Andrew's reading is coming on wonderfully : )! Math books, paper and pencils are once again typical decor ; )!

Mommy had a midwife's appointment Tuesday, and we got to hear Seaweed's  little heart beating : )... that is always a highlight while waiting for the arrival of each baby : )!

We took a walk through our neighborhood last night, straight through to the park down by the lake that has the trails running through it : ). Everybody had so much fun, Abbi accomplished the monkey bars in a rather genius way ; )! We'll have to see if we can take the video camera next time we go. She was so funny, haha : )! She also wanted to go swimming, heeheehee! To which Mommy answered "No! Don't try! You don't know how! Like, at all!!!" To which Daddy said to Mommy, "She moves so fast, she probably wouldn't have to swim... she could just walk right across..." Haha!

When we got home, Emmi's first words were "Now can we play on our swings?!" At eight o'clock at night. Heeheehee : )!

Andrew and Tori's birthdays are coming up fast : )! Andrew has his day planned down to the minute, haha ; ). I thought only Bethi made such detailed birthday lists. Oh, wait... since she helped him with the writing part, there was probably some prompting on her part to "plan some more", haha : ). She makes more lists then I do, I believe ; ). She is almost caught up in her "new" bible challenge, though : )!

Tori's and Mommy's bible challenge will end on Tori's birthday : ). They are getting close! And they are both at least on schedule, if not ahead, so they should finish right on time ; ). As for me, I am nine months into a six month reading plan, and only in Isaiah (although I'll be out of it today) ; ). Studying Romans took several months out of our reading, haha, so the casual passer-by might assume I was a very slow reader ; ). There are still verses that pop up all the time out of Romans, and it really makes you wonder, do I notice them more now that we've done the study? Or is Romans literally quoted twice as often as any other book of the bible? Hopefully I'll come to a better conclusion after studying another book of the bible that in depth.... which I plan to do next January, with several friends : ). We're still trying to work out all the details, but I can't wait to start that :)... And Mommy, who has been great at listen to me muse about ideas on how  to coordinate everything, specially planned some of my birthday surprises to be used during that time : ). So sweet : )!

The mornings have been slightly chilly here, this week. The first day of Fall could be on the 21st, the 22nd, or the 23d, this year, depending on who's calendar you are using. The one I'm hearing most is the 22nd (at 4:44 a.m., I heard, due to the time that the earth will make the last "move" of summer and continue with it's "fall" orbiting at that time), but we're going to "celebrate it" on Saturday, the 21st, since Daddy will be home. We'll make pumpkin muffins and fresh coffee for breakfast : ). You do not know how many times over the past week I have heard somebody asking for pumpkin (or, icing, if it happened to be Abbi or Emmi ; ).) muffins ; ). I told them in spring, that we finally had run out of pumpkin after two years, and I wasn't making pumpkin muffins again until the fall ; ). So they can't wait for Saturday : )! I should go make sure that we have all the items for that, Daddy's not going to want to shop tomorrow after working a late shift... ...I might even pop in to post a little something about fall this Saturday, you never know ; )!

(And Thankful Thursday will be posted today!... I'm just not sure if it will be just this week's, or several weeks worth. We'll see : )!)

Monday, September 2, 2013

He Sets the Lonely in Families

You've heard me talk about the orphans that we help with the auctions for. I mentioned a few weeks ago, that the Lord gave us a wonderful ministry opportunity on the tenth, when Daddy's store held it's fifth year anniversary.

It was a wonderful blessing! We saw so many people give to help bring Penny and Julia, coming from that orphanage, home to their family here in VA!

I made over a hundred tatted bookmarks and zipper tags (at least eighty of them in less than a week!) for a tatting table, and we made some signs and set out a jar. For every donation made, the donor got a tatted item :). Daddy had a basket drawing going, and I was able to give people a run down about what we were raising money for as they signed up to enter for the basket, waited for their child to get their face painted, or get a balloon animal (before heading to the back to see Bob and Larry- haha ;).)

There were some people who passed by who were genuinely interested, and stayed to talk about it for several minutes, before taking a flyer with links on spots to read more about it once they got home. One lady who donated was there with her own little adopted duaghter :). One man didn't have cash with him, but took a flyer with the donation page address on it, and his little girls were adorable, haha :). One family came in with a three year old Emmi :). There were so many others, as well. It was so exciting to see the response we got! One man actually donated before the table was even set up.

My favorite story, though, was the elderly gentleman who came after the "celebration" was over. Bob and Larry had left, balloons were gone, and snacks were eaten, but Tori and I kept the table up until Daddy was ready to leave. I am so glad we did, not only because there was still a great deal of interest, but because of the older couple who walked by and signed up for the gift basket. While they did so, I mentioned the fact that we were also raising money for the adoption fund of little Miss Penny, and her future sister Julia, who are waiting to come to their family in the next several months. They both seemed really interested. The man then shared with us, as he placed a donation in the jar, his love for those with special needs. He told us that his father had had special needs, and that he felt that his training would have actually been lacking had his father not had those handicaps! Obviously, he was not saying that he thinks that those who do not are inferior, but he does believe the Lord knew that he personally needed that kind of father. Just from the way he talked about him, I could tell that he had a great respect and love for his father, and that he was truly thankful for his father's "teaching him how to be a man". He was thrilled that we had something going to help these little ones come home! He stayed and chatted about it for quite a while before telling us, before taking leave, that he prayed that "our efforts would be rewarded". 

Let it suffice to say that they were! We were blessed that day by the whole experience. We made a few friends, met some wonderful people, and raised a good bit that will help these two girls! Daddy also kept up a box in front for others to donate throughout the following week. One man, during that week, asked him to tell him more about what the money was to be used for (Daddy had the sign up, but there is only so much you can fit on a piece of paper!). After learning a bit more about the orphanage, the girls, their family, and the fundraiser he gave $100. I was completely shocked when Daddy brought that home and told me the story! 

Of course, not everybody gave that much. Most gave two or three dollars. But you know what? That is all it took! We personally can't give over two hundred dollars right now. But once the Lord brought this ministry opportunity into our life, he also brought others who weren't able to donate over two hundred dollars right now. And together, we did.

Maybe we can't adopt right now. Maybe we can't even give much to an adoption fund right now. But we can do something. God has given us our gifts to use for his glory, and he has given us a command to "care for the widows and the fatherless".  No certain one of us will be able to do it all- otherwise, God would have given this specific command to those who could, not to all of us! Our means of help might be a kind word, a day spent helping out, a prayer. There are many ways to help that don't even involve money- in fact, many times, it is the gifts that you don't even mean to give that bless the most. Many times a note or a smile is all it takes to help some one going through a hard time to feel a bit brighter! Any little bit of help could mean so much in the lives of these little ones who have nothing. Because...

There are still little ones waiting. 

Waiting for someone to come rescue them. 
Waiting for someone to feed them, change them, and brush their teeth. 
Waiting for someone to come help them reach their fullest potential.
Waiting for someone to love them even though they haven't reached that full potential yet.
Waiting for someone to smile at them.
Waiting for someone to love them.

To tell them that they have worth.
To tell them that they matter.
To tell them that Jesus loves them, no matter what.
To tell them that, when they have been looked on with disfavor, it was through blinded eyes.
To tell them that, whether we are to play a major or minor part in their story, we care how that story ends.

Some little ones, like Penny, Julia, and Chad, are just waiting to come home to their family that has already committed to do this already, families eagerly waiting for the government to release their hold and let them bring those children home.

Others, like Brandi, are waiting for the Lord to send them a family to commit to this. Still waiting for the day when someone will say, you matter to me. And I love you.

The stories of the lives of these children are sad, not only because the Lord has given us families for a reason. It is also heartbreaking, because these children aren't even being treated like they are human.

How would you feel, if the Lord himself gave you a photo of himself? Not a painting of what someone thinks Jesus looks like. No, imagine that this was a photograph of Jesus himself. From Jesus himself.

And somebody destroyed that photo. Placed it through a shredding machine, and crumbled up the pages before throwing them on the floor to be walked on. 

You would do your best to put the pieces back together, of course. But it would never be fully fixed.

Remember Tommy? Just a year ago, on Abbi's fourth birthday, I shared that he had a family coming to get him. 

For years, this little soul, made in the image of God, was being destroyed. He was neglected, broken, hurt, and badly. He suffered far too much. The only thing that Tommy had wrong with him was low muscle tone! Low muscle tone is not the cause of all the health problems he now has!!! It was neglect and starvation.

The Lord led his family to this little image. And they are doing all they can to mend the past. To show him what love is, to help him to heal.

But he will never be fully healed on this earth.

Tommy is the size of a five year old, who acts much like a two month old, because until the Lord showed him to his family, nobody else had ever taken the time to love, nurture, and teach him.

Many others in his former orphanage are suffering the same neglect. They are in much the same state, although some have not been suffering so long. Maybe, Tommy was allowed to stay there so long, so that he could be used to show others what is happening. So that others wouldn't be left to suffer like this.

And we can help! These little ones most desperately need families. Not even just these children; all orphans. Even if we are not their family, they still need our help, as well. Prayers, donations, other help to those we may know who are working on rescuing them, sharing the importance of these little ones, anything we can do to show the world that they matter in God's kingdom, and we agree with our King!

4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;
his name is the Lord;
exult before him!
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
                                             ~Psalm 68:4-6