Parenting for the WIN, Friday edition

She 100% did this on her own, even moving the potty in from the other room.



Parenting by Grace

I don’t have parenting down. I make more mistakes than I make right decisions. Heck, my oldest child is 6, I have YEARS ahead of me of more bad decisions, but I’ve found a game changer.

Recently I was having a conversation with a group of adoptive moms about the challenge of parenting children who have never had parents. I was reminded of a time when Sweet Girl had just been home 3 or 4 months and we were having our first post placement visit with our social worker. The conversation turned into how well Sweet Girl was apparently adjusting. I said that my challenge was determining when to enforce boundaries and when to give in. When to be hard and when to be soft. Basically, she was having meltdowns. It could be over small or large things. For example, if I told her no more chocolate, she would turn into a heap of crying red curls on the floor. Since I didn’t have the benefit of history with this child, I was unsure which parenting choice to go with.

1. Do I ignore the crying and say that it’s for manipulation for more chocolate?

Or, 2, do I get down on her level and comfort the crying and offer support in her sadness, even though she still wasn’t getting more chocolate.

The immediate result is the same in either case, she gets no more chocolate. But, I was so afraid to make her into a spoiled child who could manipulate me with her emotions. I was afraid that by giving in to the emotion, I was creating a child who would take a mile if I gave an inch.

The social worker, an adoptive mother herself, changed my life with her words. She said, “I wish, when the presented the chance, I would have always given grace. Give grace.”


For our simple scenario with sweet girl that meant picking her up and taking her to our favorite chair and rocking and rubbing her hair and whispering to her that I was sorry she was sad. Sometimes she would be angry and resist the comfort. I would give her grace to be upset. Sometimes she’d yell “more chocolate” at me. I would give her grace to not like my answer all over again. Sometimes she would steal more chocolate the next minute. I would give her grace when she was caught. Two hours later, when she would come up and ask nicely for chocolate, I would give grace AND chocolate. When she would apologize for her anger I would give grace. If she never apologized, I would give grace.

Sometimes the scenario is more challenging and someone has hit or kicked or broken a toy on purpose. Sometimes it’s in the car when the logistics make dealing with it properly impossible.


This concept of giving grace has taken on many forms with Sweet Girl, but it’s also going into the rest of my life. When my whole being is screaming at me to throw up the walls. To stand my ground. To be strong. Don’t give in. I’m learning instead, that by giving grace, I am released. You see, giving grace isn’t about the other person, it’s about allowing me to be free. I’m allowing my children to mess up. I’m allowing myself to comfort them. I’m allowing them, and myself to be weak. And through my weakness, I am free.

I no longer have to be perfect, I just get to give grace.
I no longer have to feel guilty for yelling, I just get to give grace.
I no longer have to wonder if my children know how much I love them, I just get to give grace.

grace copy

So, since God has a sense of humor, I’m expecting my three tiny loves to lose it tonight and me to be tested on this giving grace business. Since I fail 98% of the time, I’m sure I will fail. I’m encouraged that the amount of grace I will be given is limitless. I am free.

Disney or Dirty?

The baby daddy/love of my life got a new phone recently and he has discovered Google Now (which annoyed the crap out of me and I turned off quickly). It has analyzed his info and has recommended some shows for him to watch:

Doc McStuffins
Naked and Afraid

If you aren’t aware, the first three are Disney shows/movies. The last is a Discovery channel show that’s probably PG-13 about surviving naked in the wilderness. So basically, Google thinks he wants shows about cartoons and survival which considering he likes to be outside and has three girls is about accurate.

Seriously. It’s funny right? I mean “Tangled” is 100% innocent until you add Naked to the list and then it reminds me of Christian Grey. Am I alone that this is hilarious?

I considered though, that if you weren’t already aware of these shows, the combination of the 4 of them sounds suspiciously pay per view adult-program oriented.

SIX Long Days

Sorry for the absence to my legion of 5 devoted readers, but last week me and my trio of cuteness were in survival mode. Daddy was out of town. He left Sunday morning before I usually am even out of bed and didn’t come back until bedtime on Friday night. Throw into the mix that the twins go to school at Daddy’s work which is 45 minutes from our house and Mommy had a long week. There are so many people who volunteered to help, but when they are already cranky because Daddy’s gone, throwing help into the mix just turns out to be more work because it messes up their schedule.
I realized at the end of the week when Daddy got back and wanted to know how things went, that the week can be summed up in pictures.
Day 1: Happy is not doing well. Imagine her saying, “I miss my Daddy.”

Day 2: Picture my delight when not only do I get to drive for 90 minutes before I even get to work, but then have to drive 90 minutes after I’ve put in a full day. Imagine the utter delight added to it when the forecast was 100% rain. All Day.

Day 3: My bright idea to help the girls cope was to let them take turns staying in Mommy’s bed. While they loved it, it meant that Mommy couldn’t really do much until the little one of the night was asleep. On Day 3, it was Cranky and she didn’t kick it until 9:30pm, 2.5 hours past her bedtime. Mommy did not get up after this!

Day 4: It’s going downhill. Sweet Girl was on repeat on our drive to get the little ones, “But Mama, I’m so thirsty I’m going to die!” So I did what any parent in survival mode would do and sacrificed my Dr. Pepper.

Day 5: I don’t know where this milk came from or how long it’s been here, but on Day 5, it smells like death. Since I’m in survival mode, it doesn’t make the cut of things to get taken care of on Day 5 (or 6) and instead I just pop a new air freshener in the car.

Day 6: Someone snuck grape juice upstairs and then didn’t get the cap on tight before swinging the bottle around in a circle. Cleaning this while it was fresh did make the Day 6 cut.


Since the airlines knew what was good for them, they allowed Daddy’s flight to be on time and he made it just in time for bedtime on Friday. Did I mention we had 25 people coming over for Sweet Girl’s 6th birthday party on Saturday at 11am?

Parenting for the WIN!

What happens when your child wants to pee in the grass? You say, “Sure sweetheart!”. When her sister tries to copy her and you aren’t looking, you get pee pee pants. When it’s 70* and you are outside playing and your replacement pants are 2 flights of stairs away, we just take off the pee pee pants and carry on about our business. Her business last night was pushing her baby doll stroller around the house in her rainboots.


We won’t talk about what happened when we weren’t right there and they both decided they had to poop.

Happy 1st Russia Party Sweet Girl!

When we were in Russia, we collected several gifts to give to Sweet Girl every year on the anniversary of when she became ours forever. In November, we were sick around this anniversary, but we talked with her that soon we’d have a party with Russia things to celebrate her being in our family for a year. She started calling it her “Russia Party.” Time slipped away and she kept asking when her Russia Party was going to happen. I had all these grand plans and because I wanted to do it right, more weeks slipped by. Finally, I told her we’d have her Russia Party before her birthday. The day I had her birthday invitations printed I knew I better get on it!

We already had dinner with friends scheduled last week so I decided to bite the bullet and just combo our little get together with her Russia Party. A few cupcakes and a sign later and it was not the extravagant celebration in my mind, but she loved every second of it!



The gift we chose to give her this year is a book that teaches kids numbers. There are lots of number games and puzzles in this book and even those it’s a book, the puzzle pieces come out and can be put together separately or in the spot in the book. So it’s Russian, but because she doesn’t speak or read Russian, she can still use it since numbers are universal.

20140328-100443.jpgSweet Girl, we are so over the moon in love with you! I can’t imagine my life without you. Your papa and I are so proud of all you have done in 16 months in our family. Your sisters adore you and you are so patient and so kind to them. You are the perfect fit for us.

You are almost done with your kindergarten year and everyone at your school loves you and protects you. You’ve had a few bumps learning how to be a good friend and learning that it’s okay to mess up. We remind you a lot that being kid means that it’s your job to mess up and try again and it’s our job to help you learn how to make good choices.

This morning I was telling you how super cute you looked in your pigtails and you were getting annoyed with me gushing on you. You finally said, “Is your brain on top?”  I asked if you meant, “Is your brain on today?” and you said, “Yeah, that’s it!”.

I am looking forward to being your mama for as many days as God blesses me with the honor!







Do you want to build a garden? (Part 2)

My predictions have come true. I’m spending so much time on garden stuff, I can’t even find time to blog about garden stuff!

In good news though, my little seeds have mostly all sprouted so I’m spending my time watering and monitoring temperature!

When I last left you in Part 1, I was just getting ready to make a couple hundred little newspaper pots. I successfully made my little pots and this time used a brick of seed starting material and added water to that. It was SO MUCH easier and I got about half of a 5 gallon bucket of material with about 2 minutes of work. Once again, I used a play kitchen measuring cup to put about 1/4 cup of soil in each little newspaper pot. I then grouped all the pots of each variety into 1/2 steam trays. I got a pack of like 50 at Costco for about $4.50 and we use them for so many things when I need a disposable pan! I use them for BBQ’s and taking burgers and dogs off the grill. I use them to collect glitter and mess in kids crafts. I even helped Sweet Girl learn to tie dye in one recently!

If you recall, I started with all of my little seeds in my craft room.


Eventually, he made me a shelf in the garage and outfitted me with a 8′ florescent light. We put the strongest florescent bulbs in it to simulate sunlight. The bulbs put off very little heat compared to an incandescent bulb, so I took some batting scraps from a recent quilt project and wrapped the shelf to provide some insulation. I was still a little worried about the heat, but if you put your hand into the box, it’s about 10-15 degrees warmer than the ambient air. Since it’s our downstairs garage and it’s closed in on 3 sides by the ground, it was maintaining about 50-55 degrees so keeping the seedlings at 60-70 degrees is a little cool, but should be fine. If you didn’t know and just walked into the garage, you might be a little confused as to what the heck the glowing shelf is!


I had some sheets of 12×12 thin steel so I lined them up across the back of the shelf. I think this helps reflect the light and also the heat.



I was super worried about heat loss so for access I cut these slits into my batting. I then covered the whole slitted section with another square piece of batting. So, to access, you fold up the “door” and then fold back the slitted access.





CORN! These guys have shot up about an inch a day and are now at 4″!  The other benefit of using the newspaper pots is there is no transplanting involved and I can just plant the pot as is. I still didn’t risk planting seeds like carrots who are super picky about getting their roots disturbed. I’ll direct sow those. And I’ll direct sow the herbs since I want them to fill up some areas and I don’t care as much about them. I might plant some herbs in newspaper pots too so if anyone local wants mint or oregeno or cilantro or whatever else I might have bought let me know and I’ll put your name on a pot!





In the meantime, we got a nice afternoon and he worked on the picket fence. We still need to repair one whole section that is missing and then add in the rodent netting. But this is our garden. The pallets are being stored for one brother and both brothers helped me till. It’s on the SE side of the house and gets spring sun about 10 hours a day. I figure in summer, it’ll get 11-12 with some morning and late afternoon shadowing because of the fence.


Water access in the garden!



Electrical access in the garden!


The only thing in the ground right now is the strawberries. I made sure not to bury the root head part, but I still need to mulch. Google tells me I can use straw, but I am thinking I might try to find some rubber mulch. Not sure if I will have things leaking into the soil with the rubber? Do I have any other options for keeping the berries off the ground? I know strawberry farms use plastic, but since these little guys aren’t established, I want to leave some room for some little runners to come up.


Next on the schedule: Get the blueberries and raspberries in the ground! I’ve had them for about 11 days and I know they are getting to the end of having their roots wrapped in paper towels and misted. But, since they will be planted along the fence, I need the rodent protection up first so we don’t disturb the plants while we attach it.

I’m also watering my little seedlings every day. They are taking up much more water than I expected. I’m not sure if it’s just the warm box I put them in, or if it’s normal, but the one time I skipped a watering night, the next night, the soil was almost completely dry on top. In both my systems I have an excellent way of making sure they aren’t over watered. In the little trays, the top tray lifts off and there is a water reservoir on the bottom. It’s been dry every night in all trays. In the newspaper trays, clearly, the water that isn’t needed will leave through the bottom of the pot. Since I have no pooling water and the newspaper is drying out up top, the watering nightly is a necessity as well.

Community advice – when and how do I thin these seedlings? i.e. I planted the broccoli seeds in a little row and some cells have 4-5 little shoots. I would assume I should remove 3-4 of them and go for one healthy plant per cell? Do I try to pull them or do I clip them? Do I need to wait until they get bigger? Do I need to worry about thinning the dahlia’s? I want them to grow big and bushy – will thinning them now mean they get bigger later or should I let them all have at it? I don’t know if they are stealing resources from each other right now or not!

I think our last frost just passed, but I’m likely to wait until mid-april to plant my seedlings and herbs just in case!

Do you want to build a garden? (Part 1)

One of the things we loved about our house when we bought it last April is that it has a fantastic garden. It’s about 30×30 and fenced in with a little picket fence. There is an arbor over the entrance that has vines with pretty flowers that welcome you in almost like a secret garden. In the middle of the big square is a fountain. There are paths made of stamped concrete that make an X into the four corners. It’s amazing. In theory.

When we moved in, the weeds were just starting to overtake it. Since we had so many other pressing issues with the house, we just let it go. So this year, after the poor garden suffered the last 3 years in neglect, we decided to bring it back to glory.

He started planning to repair the fence. I started shopping at Burpee. He started planning how to keep the bunnies out. I started googling “basement green house”. He borrowed a tiller. I bought cute gardening gloves. You see how it goes.

I determined there are 7 steps to preparing a garden.

1. Allocate your space

2. Decide what to plant

3. Prepare your space

4. Decide on seeds or plants

5. Sow seeds or acquire plants

6. Tend the garden

7. Harvest the garden

Since my attention span is usually only about 4 steps, I was already in trouble.

STEP ONE: Yippee! Thanks previous homeowners who built this garden! And because my blogging skills are awesome I have no before and after pics of the space right now. But I do have a cute picture of Happy watering the daffodils last weekend! The garden is off to the right of the picture. Then it iced here 3 days later. Not sure if those flowers are still alive. Let’s just use our imagination that I do have a designated garden space. 20140319-105616.jpg

STEP TWO: There are some great apps that will help you plan a garden and layout your space. I fiddled with those, but ultimately, I spent about an hour one night writing down everything that didn’t require acres to grow and that my family would eat. Then I added in some more things for fun. I briefly plotted out where I thought everything could go. Then I lost that paper. I worried for a second about if I had enough space for everything or if I had enough time to complete step six, but ordered the seeds anyway.

So, for 2014, we are planting:

HERBS: Basil, Cilantro, Mint, Oregano

FRUITS: Blueberry, Raspberry, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Strawberry

VEGGIES: Broccoli, Carrots, Jalapenos, Corn, Cucumber, Lettuce, Spinach, Tomato, Zucchini, Bush Beans,

FOR FUN: Pumpkins, Dahlia, Sunflower

It didn’t seem so overwhelming at the time. Eek!

STEP THREE: While, this is a very important part of the process, it’s been cold up in these parts recently and this was not a fun step so I skipped it for now.

STEP FOUR: When I determined how many plants I would need and added it up, the cost was a little high for this hobby garden so we went with seeds. I’ve never grown anything from seed. Well, wait, we planted grass seed at a couple houses. And by we, I mean, he. I don’t think it went that well. We don’t have pets because it’s all we can do to keep three kids alive, but I somehow thought that planting 19 different varieties of seeds (the blueberries, raspberries and strawberries don’t come in seed form or are hard to grow in seed form or something like that. I ended up spending an arm and a leg and getting plants for these) would be a piece of cake.

I bought some of these planting cells and also this potmaker. The seeds and supplies all got here the other week and I started planting. I started with the planting cells first thinking, just add water right?! Well, in the end, all 4 that I puchased got planted nice and pretty, but it wasn’t so easy.


The premise is that they have these little seed starting dirt pellets and you add warm water and the pellet expands and it’s a no mess, no fuss system. I employed my trust helper to add the water.20140319-105554.jpg

While she did a great job, some of the pellet’s didn’t expand and the ones that did had some issues too. We had to take them out of the tiny cells and manually break them up. I was too lazy to find real tools and since we were in the basement with the playroom, I just snagged some tools from the kids play kitchen.


I FINALLY got all 4 trays planted over 4 nights and then realized that I still had 10 varieties of seed to plant. I couldn’t get to those because I had to now keep the seeds that I just planted alive!

Handy google told me that seeds need 2 things, warmth and water. So, I set up a little corner of my craft room with the trays and put christmas lights on top to provide the heat source. Apparently the christmas lights give off heat without being too much of a fire hazard or energy consumer. It really just confused my brain and I couldn’t figure out if it was almost Christmas or almost Spring.



I checked and misted them every day in between planting the next tray and on day 3, we got our first little sign of germination! Yay! I have a green thumb!


Except I still have 10 varieties to plant and I’m out of the ‘time saving’ cells. Now, my other bright idea of using recycled newspaper to make pots with the above mentioned pot maker is all I have left.

It looks so easy in the picture:


I made 10 pots with it. It took 20 minutes. I need like 100 pots.

And my garden isn’t ready yet either and our weather is not cooperating to be outside to fix the garden. Did I mention that the pickets on the fence aren’t sourceable? That means that we’re going to have to hand cut 50 pickets out of lumber to match what’s already there. And then put up the rabbit fencing. And then till the soil.

Part two coming if I don’t bury myself in garden first.

Cam Newton Needs Ankle Surgery

In proving that I am all over the place with my interests, this article was as much interest to me today as the local weather (we are under a Winter Storm Advisory in NC)!


I love the Panthers and NFL football in general. I’m trying to get my 3 girls into it because their daddy is most definitely not interested. Sweet Girl will attempt to watch games with me. I can get her to say “Go Carolina!” and “Touchdown!” but watching full game is a little much for her. When I get tired of watching Doc McStuffins or Frozen though and ask if mommy can watch something she likes, she always says, “Let’s watch some fooseball mama!”. I had to explain to her that right now there is no fooseball and she wanted to know if it made me sad. Yes it makes me sad, but right now NASCAR is in season so at least there is that. Go Junior!