Category Archives: family

California Dreaming


Do we get to ride on the skyline at the airport?
Do we get candy?
I love the escalator!
This is so fun.
Can we get pizza?
I love airplane rides!
Look at the clouds.
Will we take another bus to the rental car?
Are we there yet?
There are the red mountains!
Are you going to put this on your blog?

trip to California 2009


Steffi’s First Joke


    Steffi continues to be a delight.  I’ve had at least four of her teachers at church and school pull me aside to say, “I just love her.  She is just so wonderful. She is so sweet.”  That is true.  Yet she has also become rather stubborn at times and she will deliberately slow down when we are trying to get somewhere or get something done.  Although it can be annoying, I know it is good for an “always obedient” child (especially an adopted one) to feel safe enough to disobey sometimes. 

   Another joke, this one from Mollie (I’ll have to make a page about it).  I was praying for the girls and thanking God for each one being special, and playing on a book I read the kids all the time which talks about all kids being the favorites of the parents, I said, “and we thank you God for our Steffi, who is always everyone’s favorite.” 

Mollie burst out, “She’s not MY favorite!”

Sophie and I looked up and laughed.

“Well,” stammered Mollie, “She’s NOT!”

I guess we need to work on the “love others” part of the Great Commandment.

Ode to Der Wienerschnizel


After taking Violet for her haircut, we decided to go out to lunch at Der Wienerschnitzel.  I remembered going to an A-frame one after library trips in my hometown, Riverside.  Chris and I once went there on a date before a Baylor concert, eating polish sandwiches outside and watching the busy intersection of Franklin and New Road.  On this trip, we thought it was odd they were out of corn dogs.  When you only have four menu items, you shouldn’t run out of one of them.  However, the kids were consoled by these really marvelous chocolate covered cones.  Plus, we enjoyed watching the grackle antics.  The next week, we drove by to find the Hot dogs gone, replaced by a sleezy “Loans on your Car Title” joint.  Goodbye Der Wienerschnizel.  Thanks for the memories.

Note:  I’m still remodeling–working on painting the outside and finishing painting and plastering the inside.  However, I’m also going to try to get back to blogging at least a few days a week.   I didn’t write down what I used for this layout, but I think everything comes from Scrapgirls–my favorite!



Big Brother copy

Being the only boy in a family with four girls isn’t always easy.  When we went to China the second time, Brendan asked if we would bring home a brother.  Frankly, he was such a difficult toddler, I wasn’t exactly sure I’d be able to survive a second boy.  Instead, we brought home the next best thing: Steffi.  Steffi loves boy stuff and would be happy to throw a ball back and forth with me all day.  She wore her 12 inch bike completely out this week.  There was a hole in the tire and a broken chain guard.  How many kids need TWO 12 inch bikes? 

 When we are parking, she wants to park next to “that Suburban car.  I wish we had one of those!” or “park next to that big truck.  I’m getting one of those when I grow up.”  At five years old, she is just thirty pounds and 41 inches.  I’m not sure she’ll be out of a booster seat when she grows up. 

Memorial day weekend, she and Brendan played cars, Legos (always Legos), sword fights (with nerf swords), marbles, water balloons and water gun fights.  It is great having a “brother.”

(layout:  I originally made this layout on a quickpage and when it was all done, I didn’t like it!  So much for making a quick layout.  Instead, I started over with a Ditthersdoodle template, Retrodiva walk in the park paper, Carrie Stevens shabby stripe, dc designs springfresh paper 2, Green with swirls embrace life SandeKrieger Memory makers, springfresh alpha, AGE friendship rikrack)

Teaching kids about God


I spoke today at MOPS about the books I’ve used to teach my kids about God and the Bible.  As a mom, it is sometimes hard to find the time to do a devotional.  So reading Scripture, Bible stories or other devotional materials with my kids has often been a way to help my own spiritual growth too. What has worked for me is to have a “three book” rule.  Before my kids went down to sleep for either a nap or night time, we would read 3 books (when we went into chapter books, we would read about 15-30 minutes).  Once the kids get into that routine, they won’t let you get out of it (believe me–there are lots of days I’d be ready to skip reading!).  That kept me accountable and has set up a pattern of regular reading.  Then into this schedule, I would put some of the books below.  It made it easy for me.   With my 5 kids, I have two reading times–one for the three littlest, and one for the 11 and 13 year old.  Now my older kids could ready anything I can read to them, but these read-aloud times are different because they are a shared experience which we can talk about.  In addition to that, my kids always know there will be one time during the day that I will sit down and be focused on them.  That is when they often come to ask me questions or tell me problems.  After reading, we pray and then they go to sleep.

There are some wonderful books available, but they are not generally available in bookstores. 

You can find many of them on, but I often use CBD (Christian book distributors)–here’s the link:

Here are some of my books (I’ll look around and post others later).  I’d love to have other people post favorites in the comments section!)

For preschoolers, just about any of the toddler Bibles can be good and we have several.  I would just pick one and then read 1-2 stories a night until we’d finished the book.  I’m always careful to tell the kids that children’s Bibles don’t tell everything in the “Big Bible.”  Here are some I like (with publisher in parenthesis):

The Children’s Discovery Bible (Chariot Publishing)

The Beginner’s Bible(Zondervan)

The Young Reader’s Bible (Standard Publishing)

After I’d read the children’s Bibles through a few times.  I read through a theology for kids (my Catholic friends do this much better than we do in Protestent churches).  Here is the one I found, but I would LOVE to hear of other books like this one:

Leading Little Ones to Godby Marian Schoolland (Eerdmans)

One type of Bible I have appreciated a lot is the comic book Bibles.  I read these to the kids but they actually read them on their own a lot more.  Here are some I’ve liked:

The Comic Book Bible(Barbor)

The Picture Bible(Cook Commnications Ministry)

The Manga Bible (Doubleday–edgier for older kids)

When I was ready to read the “Big Bible” to my kids I started with a good regular NIV translation, but then I found this one which is a chronological Bible written in very kid-friendly language by Karen Henley.  Some of the language was too imprecise for me and so I’d substitute the real Bible language, but this is set up so you can get through the Bible in a year.  I’d often read along in my Bible as my devotion too.

Day by Day Kid’s Bibleby Kareyn Henley (Tyndale)

I’ve also enjoyed the Bible stories by Arch Books–they are usually on a topic and are inexpensive paperbacks.  I found many of mine at garage sales.  They are also usually available at Christian bookstores.

As I’ve read to the kids as they’ve gotten older, I ‘ve tried to get books and book series that enabled us to talk about spiritual things.  Here are some we’ve liked:

Fifty Seven Saintsby Eileen Heffernan (Pauline Books and Media) Maggie loved this one and read it over and over.  Maybe too much since one day she asked, “Do all Christians die for their faith?”  It is a great book to give perspective and a sense of church history.

American Adventure  Series(Barbour publishing).  This wonderful series is out of print but can be found for local friends at the Hoover Library.  They can be found online and on Ebay. There are 50 books that cover American history from the Mayflower until the 1950s.  I learned a lot!  The stories follow Christian families and faith is woven into their lives in a natural way.  I’m looking forward to reading this series again with my little ones.  Because many of the books do deal with historical situations like war and slavery, I’d recommend reading them at about 3rd grade or later.

Heroes of the Faith (Barbour) This is a series of biographies of missionaries and other Christians.  They are written by various authors and not all of them are equally good.  However, I’ve really appreciated getting the chance to introduce my kids to people who sacrificed their own ambitions for God.  Gladys Aylward and Corrie Ten Boom are particularly good ones.


One of the best investments I’ve ever made is when I bought the Seeds Family Worship CD tapes at my mom’s church in California (Seeds of Faith, Seeds of Courage, Seeds of Worship, Seeds of Encouragement).  I just saw that they’ve published another one.  I’ve found a few at Christian bookstores but bought most online.  These tapes were written to encourage families to listen together and memorize Scripture.  The songs are very well written and produced.  They are great worship songs and after you’ve listened a few times the Scriptures are in your head for life.  Great, great tapes (and a huge improvement over most kid’s worship CD tapes).  Here is the website (with samples):

Here is the link for ordering at CBD

Finally–my kids have enjoyed getting their own Christian magazines to read.  We keep these and the next group of kids gets to read them too.  I’ve also found some of these at garage sales.  Here are a couple of suggestions:

Clubhouse  and Clubhouse Jr. from Focus on the Family:

Pockets from The Upper Room:

Goldfish Heaven


goldfish-heaven-copyWhy is it that five year olds have spiritual questions that none of my previous Bible readingevolution in the Bible, or even the problem of evil and suffering.  Instead, while riding in the car listening to Larry singing, “Oh, Where is my Hairbrush?” I get this question from the far left carseat at the back of the van, “Mom, did Jesus come down and take the goldfish up to heaven?”

We have a problem with the goldfish.  I admit it was my idea to try and see if feeder goldfish (feeder, as in, they are sold for 10 cents to feed to your snake) could survive in the pretty blue birdbath by our front door.  They didn’t.  Or at least the first batch didn’t when I changed the water. All nine of them went bottoms up the next day.  So I’ve been more careful with the second batch, but as of yesterday, we only have four out of nine left. 

I always tell my kids I will not lie to them about anything.  I will always tell the truth (hence no tooth fairy or Santa Claus).  Moreover, I try to be as theologically accurate as I can.  I’m just not sure where to go on this question.  I answer anyway,  “I don’t think Jesus is taking them to heaven.  They died.”  Steffi replied,  “Then Jesus took them to heaven?” I try again: “Actually, I just sort of scooped them up and put them in the flower bed.” 

Steffi:  “You buried them?”

Me:  “uh…Yeah.”

Steffi:  “Then Jesus took them to heaven!  He’s a good guy.”

I guess I’ll just have to go with that.

(layout: ASharrow Friendship paper 1 and 2, JHD playtime words paper, joyful heart designs orange paper, AGE friendship flower, joyful heart designs fiber)

Pet revelations



This year is a time for re-evaluation for me.  For instance: for the last thirteen years, I’ve said I was not a pet person.  I would tell people I had far too much work to do in raising my five blessings.  Yet lately, I’ve been the one actually suggesting we get new pets.  Christopher said to me, “I think you actually like animals.” 

Do I?  As a kid, we always had a cat or a dog.  I also had a guinea pig, a hamster, goldfish and a lot of tropical fish.  When I was a single teacher, I still had cats, and I aquired a couple of snakes (I enjoyed them a lot), a rat (great classroom pet), hermit crabs and finches.  From about five until about fourteen, I really, really wanted a horse.  As we’ve visited the pet stores recently, I’ve found myself telling the kids about all these pets and how much I enjoyed learning about them.  Looking at the cute miniature dogs also sold by Ramona the parrot lady, I even found myself thinking about getting a second dog.  Am I crazy?

Revelation: reluctantly or not, I guess I’m a pet lover after all.  Furthermore, when everyone heads off to school next year, I think I will be very glad to have the noise of the parakeet, the nuisance of the dog, and the attitude of the cat to keep me company.

(layout: The journaling on this layout came from my previous post on Budgies.  I liked what I had written and wanted a layout to match. Template 137, paper: retrodiva tweet-tweet, embellishments marialafrance-friendship birdies)