Thursday, February 26, 2015

Snow Days

The DC area does not know how to handle snow days. When it snows - everything shuts down. We didn't have school at all last week and we don't have it today, either. We have been having fun indoors and outdoors. 

I felt like baking, so I made a blueberry coffee cake.

Somewhere along the way, I developed pink eye a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully, it is gone now.

We have several doctor appointments and visits to the pharmacy for the kids. This particular picture was taken during a 2 hour wait at the pharmacy. Thankfully, Silas was well behaved!

It's a beautiful thing. #drpepper #myvice


I taught the kids to play skip-bo!

Grandma Russell sent a fun care package for the kids. They were thrilled!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year!

Tyler served his mission in Taiwan and we have made a family tradition of celebrating Chinese New Year. This year we invited our friends, Andy & Krista and their six kids, to join us.

I took the twins to shop for some ingredients, like the fish, shrimp, and buns.

The dumplings after I wrapped them up.

Steamed taro buns.

This is a new recipe that I will be making again. 

Tilapia with gingery soy sauce and whole shrimp

Steamed rice and fried rice

The spread

Honeydew smoothies

Lychee, pineapple, and cantaloupe

Anna and Carly

Andy, Krista, Jill, Tyler

It is fun to celebrate the Chinese culture and we hope one day to visit Taiwan and China, maybe as a family!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Calvin's baptism

Calvin was baptized yesterday! We are so proud of his decision to follow Jesus' example and be baptized. Calvin is growing into a wonderful young man and we love him so much. Tyler gave the talk on the Holy Ghost and I accompanied Parker and Calvin singing JESUS ONCE WAS A LITTLE CHILD.

Calvin was baptized with his best friend, Parker! It was wonderful to share the day with Parker's family.

I made matching quilts for both boys. 

Calvin's favorite colors are green and black. I love how it turned out.

Krista outdid herself in making the refreshments. There was chicken salad sandwiches, vegetable trays, cupcakes, and water. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day

Some people don't like Valentine's Day, but I do. In fact, I love it! It all stems from my mom making it special for me and my siblings when we were growing up. Now I carry on the tradition! I like to help the kids make their own valentines to pass out at school. I love a holiday that focuses on LOVING other people. What's not to love?!

Heart-shaped sugar cookies for FHE about love.

I made strawberry doughnut holes for breakfast on Valentine's Day.

My chocolate treat!

I made this for our family dessert on February 14th. I used gluten free flour to make it GF.

I printed these out and gave the Mountain Dew one to Tyler and the Root Beer one for Keith.

We went on a triple date with Rob & Melissa and James & Mary to a fancy Italian restaurant. So fun!

It was a fun day and I look forward to it every year. I am so grateful for all of the love in my life. God has blessed me with a beautiful life. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Musical opportunities

Sometimes I know that I need to write a blogpost, but I'm not even sure where I should start...I have been so caught up in getting things done for my children, that I can be last on my to-do list. If you're nodding your head, then I know I'm not alone on this.

How am I doing? So glad you asked. Okay. Not splendid. Not horrible. The last week or so, I find myself close to tears by the time the evening sets in. Iryna and Silas' behaviors may be playing a big part in this. Iryna has been doing this thing where she picks and picks at her pointer finger, in the fingernail area and it bleeds like crazy. You would think this would hurt her, and she is pretty freaked out when it does start bleeding, but this doesn't stop her from picking. Ugh! Anyhow, this post is *supposed* to be about how I'm doing. See how easy it is to get off track?!

Anyhow, I have been feeling like I suffer from either OCD or anxiety...or maybe even both. I don't have a diagnosis, but I do know that my mind is going all the time and it can be hard to slow it down. It didn't bother me as much before I went gluten-free. My mind was pretty foggy then. But now that my mind is crystal clear, I find myself overwhelmed with worrying and things that need to be done, followed by guilt and more worrying.

Some of the worrying is normal, but I don't think all of it is. I have an appointment with my doctor soon to discuss this very topic. I also think I have some carpal tunnel going on. My right hand tends to go numb. I wear a wrist brace at night, which helps me when sleeping, but now my hand will go numb doing other things. I am thinking I will need to have some sort of surgery to fix it, like my good friend, Amie. One more thing, right?

I recently was called to play the piano in primary. I play during the second hour and then I teach my wonderful 7-8 years olds in the third hour. I absolutely LOVE playing the piano and teaching my class has also become a joy for me. My good friend, Karen, plays the organ in sacrament meeting and she recently asked me if I could fill in for her one Sunday a month. Terrified to make a mistake, or seven, I accepted and have been practicing the piano in the past month more than any other time in the past 10 years. It feels good to be playing again and I am reminded of how much I enjoy playing on the piano. I also had the thought to ask Karen to supply me with a violin/piano duet that I can work on, so I can accompany her in sacrament meeting. This is truly stretching me, but I am excited to improve myself.

Last September, a friend of mine asked me if I want to audition for the Mormon Choir of Washington DC. When she mentioned it to me, I felt the Holy Ghost confirm to me that I should try out with my friend. During the audition, the woman accompanying me asked me to make some changes to the way I was singing. She said I wasn't singing forward enough and that I was wearing out my voice very quickly by singing in the back of my throat. I tried to comply but I wasn't really sure what she was asking me to do. I felt frustrated in the way she spoke and it made me want to leave. I stuck around for the practice and enjoyed the music we sang. Later that week I learned that Tyler was leaving for military training and would be gone for several weeks. I emailed the choir secretary and asked if I could begin attending the choir practices in January, and they approved.

As December rolled around, I kept thinking of better ways I could spend the weekly choir practices. One evening a week was precious to me as it is my time with Tyler after the children go to bed. I started praying, asking if Heavenly Father really wanted me to sing in the choir. I knew that He had wanted me to audition, but did I have to really follow through with it? I prayed, hoping I could just opt out now. I was also embarrassed to see the accompanist again. Plus, my voice truly does wear out easily and a long choir practice is hard on my voice. Well, the answer was clear: God wanted me to not only audition for the choir but be IN the choir.

So three weeks ago, I joined my friend and went to the choir practice. Once again, I enjoyed the music we sang - both religious and classical music. I felt better about being in the choir. My friend, Lynne, said that the accompanist, Linda, offered free voice lessons to anyone who wanted to show up early to choir practice. I told Lynne I was interested in learning how to not have my voice tire out so quickly. Before I knew it, Lynne set things up with Linda and the second week of choir practice began with me taking a lesson from Linda. It was a wonderful lesson and I learned so much from her in those 20 minutes. I now plan to show up early every week and learn from this wonderful teacher. I know that if I had just ignored those promptings, that I would continue having the voice abilities that I currently have. But God wants for me to become better, and He has provided a teacher to show me how. I am so grateful.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Happy Birthday Calvin!

Calvin is now 8 years old. This means he gets to begin taking piano lessons, he starts cub scouts, and he is going to be baptized! This post is dedicated to his birthday party! Woo-hoo!

A quick picture of Calvin in his cub scout uniform. Isn't he adorable?! I need to figure out how to put on the patches he needs. I think I am supposed to iron them on? Not sure.

I found this recipe here. The cream filling and the caramel ganache were fabulous. The cake, however, was just...kind I have thought to add the cream filling layer to THIS recipe. I think that would be a match made in heaven. ::drool::

Calvin requested the baked french toast casserole for breakfast. 

We had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle themed party. And since it was all things TMNT, we had pizza for lunch.

Time to light the candles!

Let's talk about Calvin! I was very worried about his attachment, as he was the oldest child we have adopted at the age of 5 years old. I think he is very happy in our family and has learned how to not have everything be about him - something we struggled with in the beginning. Calvin is a go-getter. If he sees something that needs to be done - letting the dog outside, picking up something that fell on the floor, changing the bedsheets on Saturdays - he just does it! Amazing concept, right?!

Calvin is very creative. He loves art projects and he takes his time to make his creations just perfect. Calvin likes affection, but I wouldn't say he seeks it out. For a while I took that to mean he wasn't very attached, but I think now that he simply isn't the most affectionate person - which is fine. However, I still give him kissing attacks and hug him as often as I think about it. And he smiles when I do. Calvin likes to look nice. He often lays out his clothes the night before, so he can be ready to look good for school or church. He now has inherited Keith's black Sunday suit and LOVES to wear a tie with it.

Calvin is enthusiastic about life. He wants to learn and is excited when he can piece things together in his mind. He frequently relays parts of movies to me - just after they have happened - so he can share that moment with me. (He doesn't really get that I have seen the movie several times and I already KNOW what is happening...)

I do worry some for Calvin's mental processing abilities. He doesn't have a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but the older he gets...the more I suspect some at play. He also has the most smooth philtrum of all of my adopted kids. Plus he was taken away from his mother at the age of 12 months, due to her incessant drinking of alcohol and not caring for him. Calvin only had one other family visit him prior to our adoption. The couple were told that Calvin would likely not survive his first heart surgery in Moscow, so the family changes their plans and looked elsewhere. I am so glad Calvin was waiting for us in Vyksa. I can clearly remember the first time I saw his happy face. Unlike the other 3 children we adopted, he KNEW why we were there. And he knew that if we liked him, that we would adopt him. Every other child in that orphanage was 4 years old or younger and he had probably seen other children be adopted and wanted to be one of them. I thought that this was a lot of pressure for a young man to have to take upon himself, but thankfully Heavenly Father knew he was meant to be our son and made everything happen to bring him home. In the last 3 years, Calvin has had his third heart surgery, moved twice, and has become such a wonderful boy. He has my heart! Happy Birthday, son! You are loved.