...because we all have our motley moments!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Here are the pumpkins we carved this year.

Last year we were focused on a different little pumpkin! Our Little King! Last year on October 31st we met our son for the first time. We had arrived in Korea the night before. We were very nervous and excited!
Our meeting with our son included me, Jason, our Korean social worker, our son and his foster mom. The 5 of us met in one of the agency's observation rooms. We asked questions of the foster mom about our little kings schedule, what he ate, how he went to sleep... etc. She told us as much information as she could and tried to show off all the things our son could do. We then got 20 minutes alone with our baby. It was the first time our family was alone, together. The total meeting lasted about an hour. We left with another meeting scheduled, a bunch of pictures, and anticipation. (we actually did not get custody of our son until a few days later, this was just a meeting time)

Here are some pictures of that day: It is interesting looking back at these pictures and remembering this day. I remember when we took these pictures, I was thinking, "This is going to be my baby!" Now when I look at the pictures I think "That is MY baby!" (We are all dressed up because it is Korean Culture to dress your best)

Last year for Halloween, Jason and I got a whole new identity, not just a costume. We became parents! We will be celebrating Halloween today with our Little King in some traditional ways (dressing up, getting candy) and some nontraditional ways (looking at pictures and telling the story of how we met for the first time). It is going to be great!
And here is our little giraffe today! Does he look ready for treat-or-treating or what!?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Giving with a Global Impact

With Halloween just days away, my thoughts are beginning to jump beyond it to the upcoming holiday season. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite holidays...they beg us to consider them thoughtfully, as a family, and appreciate what we have and how we can make a difference in someone else's life. Whether it's the local canned food drive, the giving tree opportunities to make Christmas a little brighter for another family, or baking something special and delivering it to an elderly neighbor, we can always find ways to share holiday cheer.

This year, we are considering sending a gift through Heifer International. I received their catalogue the other day and thought that would be a neat way to get the kids involved in giving with a global view. Flocks of ducks, chicks, and geese are around $20, or you can buy shares of the larger, more expensive animals. Goats cost $120, but one share is $10. They give lots of options and lots of different levels of giving in their online catalogue.

Another neat thing that Heifer does is educate people about sustainable living, both here and around the world. They have five education centers in the US now where you can visit a Global Village and experience the sustainable farming life of another country, including the homes, animals, and crops of the areas where Heifer helps. There are two of these centers in the east, Overlook Farm in Rutland, MA, and Shepherd's Springs in Sharpsburg, Maryland. I would love to tour one of these learning centers with my family next summer as we travel the east coast.

So that's what's on my mind today, three days before Halloween. It's really a continuation of the conversation Rachel began with her post Be the Blessing.  How do you plan to spread holiday cheer this year?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fall Fun

Liz and I are on a Motley vacation this week, so I thought I would share some pictures of our fall adventure. Pam came to visit, so it's been quite the Motley reunion! Hope you're having a great week!

The boys enjoying the fall weather.

Grinding corn for the animals at the pumpkin patch.

Playing in the hay.

The view at a local state park.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Still Thankful

"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you,

will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

~Philippians 1:6

Tomorrow and Wednesday will be the fourth anniversary of Alex's adoption!! For seven long years, I was angry, depressed and confused. I didn't understand why God would give me such a strong desire for children when I couldn't get pregnant. I wanted to be graceful and a witness for God, but it was difficult. Since I spent those seven years begging God for a child, I think it is only fair that I spend seven more praising Him for our wonderful gift. God did have a plan for all of us even when we couldn't see it. His timing is impeccable. If we had been in any other order on that referral list, we might have been sent home with someone else's child!

If you are facing stress, sorrow or hardship, don't give up. If you find yourself in despair today, hang on and wait. God is still there even if you can't see him. I hope your storm is over soon. Just remember, you will some day see the completion of the good work God has started in your life.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

They're smarter than we think they are!

Lately, my son is smarter than I give him credit for. He is 21 months old, going on 14! Here are a couple of things he has done that has impressed me.

He wants my attention on him all the time. So if I sit down at the computer he comes over and grabs my hand to run around the house with him. He knows that I can not resists it when he holds my hand... so cute! So we just run in circles around the house. He knows it totally works every time!

My son LOVES to be held. This is fine most of the time since he is an only child (for now) and I love to cuddle with him. But, when I put on my coat (or take it off) I cannot hold him, and he throws a FIT! One day I said to him "Mama has to put on her coat and than I will pick you back up." He stopped his fit and waited for me to put on my coat. He was fine with it as long as he knew I was going to pick him up after.
A similar thing happens when I get him up in the morning and have to change his diaper. He will be saying "Eat! Eat! Eat! Eat!" or "Elmo! Elmo! Elmo!" (His new love in life... but that is another post) and throws a fit when I change his diaper. So, I said "I have to change your diaper and than we will go eat." and he was totally fine! So now I try to let him in on what and why I am doing something and he seems to like to know.

The other day he was saying "elma. elma. elma." It sounded much like Ahma (The korean word for Mama, He called me this for the first several months after he came home). I thought it was so sweet he was calling me this little nick-name he used to have for me and said "Do you want your Ahma?"
He grabbed my face with both hands, looked me in the eyes, put his face closer to mine and said "EL-MO!" Like he was saying "DUH! Mom I want ELMO not you!" He wanted to make sure that he had my FULL attention so that I would not be confused to think he may want me instead of his beloved Elmo.... What does that furry, little, red monster got that I don't anyway?! Oh well it could be worse - he could love Barney!

What kinds of things do your kids do that have shown how smart they are?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We Need Your Ideas!

Hey Moms!

We'd really love to hear the ways you celebrate the holidays in your family. Send us your favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions (and perhaps a picture if you have one) and we'll feature them here on Motley Moms each week through November and December!

Do you do a special Advent calendar to count down to Christmas? Is there a special way you show your thanks as a family for Thanksgiving? We want to hear about those special things you make and do with your kiddos around the holidays!

Send your great ideas and pics to GrowingGreatKids@gmail.com

Thanks! We look forward to hearing from you!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Real Help for Kids in Trouble

Have you ever gotten an email about a missing child or seen a Facebook update that someone has posted that says, "Repost this as your status and we can find this missing child?" Unfortunately, if you check the Snopes site most of these seemingly good-intentioned messages are either a complete hoax to play on our sensitivities or simply too outdated to do any good. So, is there a way to actually help kids in danger? Why, yes, there is...:)

A few months ago I registered my mobile number with the Wireless AMBER Alerts System, and now when there is an AMBER Alert in my area I receive a free text message that tells me the details of the alert. I receive updates throughout the alert period, and when the child is safely returned I receive a message that the alert has been cancelled. All of these messages, again, are absolutely free, and if you are familiar with the AMBER Alert system, they are vital to helping children who have been taken.

If you are unfamiliar with the AMBER Alert system, then I highly suggest visiting the website. Also, there is a great movie from Lifetime called Amber's Story--it's very sad, as you can imagine, but it was so interesting to see how this horrible tragedy brought about an amazing system that is still helping children today.

Take care, and "Be the Blessing" today!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Motley Savings...for my Coupon Loving Friends!!

Over on The Consumerist they are discussing the book called Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets. It's cracking me up, seriously. Some of you girls (you shall remain nameless) really like doing the coupon thing. I like it, and use coupons, but certainly not on your level.

Here is a little excerpt about price matching:

Nearly every supermarket nowadays runs a price-matching program meant to satisfy customers' nagging suspicion that they're charging more than the competition for a lot of their stuff. The policy is present more as a security blanket than anything else, set in place by corporate bigwigs who figure not enough customers will actually go through the labor-intensive process to save a few cents off their pinto beans and slash into their stores' profit margins.

This way of thinking makes a lot of sense. To make sure you're saving the maximum amount, you need to jot down an ironclad shopping list, obsessively scan every newspaper ad, and then set up a spreadsheet that helps you annotate the ads with the pertinent low prices at each store. Do all that, and you're rewarded with the opportunity to make everyone standing in line behind you want to shoot you in the back of the head because you're holding things up by making the cashier verify each price.

But, there is another way: a way that skips several of the steps and saves you more money than even the most anal-retentive, price-match maven.

Here's what you'll need: a stack of sticky notes, a pen, and an armful of glossy grocery store ads. Lug all that into the shopping cart and you're in business. Affix one of your Post-its to every non-store-brand item you come across, then name your own price, making sure to deduct a substantial but not-quite-insane amount from the price tag. You use the pen to jot down the "price-matched" figure you're willing to pay for each item, and you can even go the extra mile for feigned authenticity by adding in a random competing store name to each sticky note.

As you approach the front of the checkout line, the checkout lady will immediately attempt to head out on break. But she'll warm to you once she sees how organized you are, and will happily tap your savings into the register. In most cases, the checkout clerk will be so confounded with the hassle she'll approve of all your prices just to keep the line moving.

Only the most bored or crazy checkout folk will sort through that unwieldy stack of ads to verify your sales notations are accurate, or compare your prices with their online database of competitors' sales, but it's still wise to avoid shopping during off-hours in order to avoid empty lines. The busier the store is, the better.

I don't think I would have the nerve to do it, but I do think it's funny! Go ahead and laugh.

Do you do anything really embarrassingly cheap?

My husband would probably say most everything I do is embarrassingly cheap. Me, I don't necessarily think so. My grandma re-gives us greeting cards that we have given her. Yes, they are signed and all. But, I give her a pass because she is old. Or maybe too sentimental to throw them out. Yes, that sounds better. At least she doesn't worry about her dishes having hurt feelings. Of course, maybe she does and that's where I got it from!

Food Snob & a Great Pumpkin Recipe (not to be Confused with THE Great Pumpkin)

As a SAHM, one of my most important jobs is preparing delicious, healthy, home cooked meals for my family on shoestring budget. As a girl who stess-eats and loves carbs, I also know that if you look hard enough, you can find a diet that justifies almost any food. Well, I have found THE exception.

On Saturday, we ate lunch out at a fast food place (Gasp!). This is a rare treat for us for lots of reasons. First, all three of us usually do not agree on where to go. Strangely enough, Alex loves McDonald's. It seems like kids are innately born with few instincts, but one of them seems to be a love of Happy Meals. Ironically, I just noticed a few weeks ago that McDonald's is a proud sponsor of Sesame Street. You bet they are.

Second, we try to avoid artificial preservatives, flavors and food colors in Alex's diet. I have also declared war on high fructose corn syrup. Yes, I know it is all natural, and I do live in the heartland of corn production. At the risk of offending corn farmers, many of whom are our good friends, I hate corn syrup. Our bodies are not made to metabolize it, and I blame corn syrup for my extra pounds around my waistline, the decline in our economy and poor test scores among elementary students in Sheboygan. OK, I actually only blame corn syrup for my five extra pounds.

Third, my husband is at high risk for cancer, and I have a 75% of dying of a heart attack, so I try to fix meals that are low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables. I have recently declared war on white flour too, so I am paying an arm and a leg for whole grain wheat bread with no added high fructose corn syrup or artificial anythings. The extra money I spend could be used to send a ton of white flour to hungry children in another country. Although I really like eating like this, my husband has come to accept it as his lot in life. He loves cheeseburgers and french fries, buffalo chicken wings and egg rolls. If it is fried, it is his favorite.

So on Saturday, we all agreed to eat at a Long John Silver's/A&W combo restaurant. Long John Silvers is one of my guilty pleasures, and Charlie loves his cheeseburgers. Alex was super happy to see a statue in the checkout line, so we had a winner! I tried to fight the temptation as I ordered, but I was weak. I asked for a side order of crispies. I sat down at the table and looked at my small order of crispies staring back at me, and I smiled in delight. I wondered how many calories could be in that small cardboard square. I thought about although they were fried, which is OK for Atkins, they were essentially fried flour, probably my nemesis - white flour! I have to say they were delicious, and I am really proud of myself for not eating the whole serving! I actually threw away almost a whole teaspoonful.

Today, I am back on the wagon again - taking my vitamins, drinking 64 ounces of water, and eating my 5-11 servings of fruits and vegetables. We have been trying to add some fall favorites to our menus this season, and here is a great soup recipe you might like too. It calls for cubed, peeled pie pumpkin, so the canned pumpkin will not due. I don't know if it is jut my knives, but I have the worst time cutting up pumpkin, so I usually take the top off, scoop out the seeds and then bake it in the oven at 350 for 30-40 minutes. This will let you cut, chop or puree it with ease. I found this recipe at a Kathy's Pumpkin Patch in eastern Iowa, and it is really good.

Autumn Soup
4 bacon strips, diced
1/4 c cup chopped onion
2 cups cubed peeled pie pumpkin
2 cups chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 cup cubed cooked chicken
1/3 cup frozen corn
1/3 cup cooked small pasta shells

In a large saucepan, cook the bacon and onion over medium heat until the bacon is crisp; drain. Add the pumpkin, broth, tomatoes, and curry; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender (if using raw pumpkin). Stir in the chicken, corn, and pasta; heat through.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sesame Street is Cool!

I have been watching some Sesame Street You Tube videos with my son. They have some really cool celebs that guest star on that show! Here are some of my favorite ones:


Thursday, October 15, 2009


I just want to thank you all again for your great advice last week on getting Micah to sleep later. Since last Thursday the earliest he has gotten up has been 5:30, which is early, but tolerable. We've cut back on the nighttime milk considerably and put him in Ethan's Pull-Ups. I also woke him up from his afternoon nap after 2 hours for several days in a row and the last two days he's woken up after 2 hours on his own. He hasn't been overly wet any morning and he's woken up cheerful. I think Rachel said that before she gets upset or disciplines, she likes to figure out why her child is doing something. What a great philosophy. I'm now sure that Micah was waking up early because he was so wet. I mean, if I were soaked to my sleeves, I'd wake up upset, too. Now that we've solved that problem, he's sleeping better. It was so simple. I'm amazed. Sometimes that happens to me with this parenting stuff. I struggle and worry and fuss and fight and the solution is so simple it blows my mind. I feel like an idiot because it's just common sense. Oh, well. Live and learn!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chaos. You know...Normal Family Life, Right?

If I were a working mom, I'd lose my job. Mostly because I would never actually be able to show up for work. The days I actually made it to work, it would feel like vacation days from the family chaos.

The reason: My family is singlehandedly keeping the pediatrician's family very well fed. First KID 1 had a fever for six days. SIX DAYS!!! Missed three days of school. Pinkeye kept us all home over the weekend and KID 1 home from school for two more days. He went back to school today, which allowed me to get KID 1 to the doctor for her arm, which we thought might be broken. It took from 8:30am til about 1:00pm today to find out: it is. Broken. But not all the way through. It's apparently a "greenstick fracture," which is just a fancy way of saying it didn't break all the way through.

My challenge now is to keep KID 2 from constantly pulling off her temporary cast. If she can keep it on for the next two weeks, she should be fine. We can take it off for baths every few days or so, change the wrap to a clean one, and then go back to the doctor's office (joy) to have it looked at in two weeks. As I write this, she is keeping up a steady, sobbing refrain of "I DON'T WANT THIS ON! I DON'T WANT THIS ON! Moooooommmmmmmmmyyyyyyyy, I don't WANT this on!" Poor baby.

In the meantime, the kids I normally watch throughout the week could not come here, so their poor moms had to keep finding alternate plans so they could make it to work. Hats off to all you working moms who not only enjoy the chaos, frustration, and whines at home, but then actually make it to work to endure chaos, frustration, and whiny co-workers. Hopefully your home is a sanctuary when you need it to be. God bless you!

In the meantime, I am keeping up my own steady refrain, "This, too, shall pass. This, too, shall pass. This, too...." I'm not wishing away their childhoods...only this very recent development of utter chaos. That can march right out the back door and keep goin'!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I apologize for the late post today, but we were experiencing a milestone this afternoon--our little guy's first dentist appointment! His dentist is a good distance from here, too, so the drive took a while, and once we were finished there it was too easy to hop across the street to the awesome shopping area, so we meandered a bit before coming home.

But back to this dentist thing...have you been lately? To a dentist for children, that is. My, how times have changed. I don't remember much about my dentist other than yucky flavors, pain, and not much compassion. I now have an incredibly valuable mouth if you take into account the amount of money I've had to spend fixing things. I don't know if there is a correlation, but I wonder how differently I would have done things if my experience had been like our son's today.

We arrived, signed in, and he played on the climbing structure in the waiting room until we were called into the conference room. The hygienist greeted us there and explained that they preferred to do the exam with our three year old flying solo unless my presence was absolutely necessary. I confirmed that nothing would happen without my consent (I've seen those Dateline episodes about kids' dentists abusing the system), and our big boy walked back to the exam room hand-in-hand with his new friend.

Then, I waited. I waited for nearly an hour. I read an entire magazine. Next time, I will bring a project. It was an amazing time of nothing to do but "be." I actually read an article on that, which is what made me think of it. Finally, I was called over the intercom to return to the conference room.

It was then that I was allowed into the inner sanctum. Bright colors, TV screens, balloons, and toys everywhere. Our son didn't even notice I was there because he was watching a movie. When he finally did see me, he rushed to me adorned with stickers and carrying a caterpillar-shaped toothbrush. His dentist shook my hand and told me how helpful our son was during the exam, and then he showed me the x-rays of his mouth with all of the permanent teeth waiting in the wings. He told me that, to my utter relief, our candy-eating little boy has no cavities and that with proper care he COULD lead a cavity-free life. The dentist then presented me with a photo of the two of them and a keepsake letter from this first visit. Compared to my experiences as a child, it was surreal.

So, our son had an amazing first time at the dentist's office and I had an hour-long break. And we received great news about his little teeth. And I found a really cute sweater later. It was a great afternoon!

Do you have a story from the dentist's chair?

Monday, October 12, 2009


Somewhere along the way, I have lost myself. I used to love fun and having fun. I used to love laughing. I used to have dreams and goals. Now, I have dark circles, gray hair, and a small but growing number of unwanted pounds. I don't work outside of our home, but I am very much all about business. My day is filled with getting work done, which is a giant mystery to me. What am I working on? What do I have that engulfs so much of my time? I do not volunteer. I am not on committees. I am not at playgroups. What on earth is taking up so much of my time that I do not have time to take care of myself?

I think it happened two summers ago when I went in for my hysterectomy. I think my doctor secretly did a lobotomy too and took out the fun part of my personality! Shortly after my surgery, I gained 10 pounds in four weeks, and none of my clothes fit. To fix that problem, I tried the Atkins diet and had a lot of success by not eating most of my favorite foods. Now, I feel guilty for eating fruit, and it feels like I gain weight by just thinking about eating a brownie.

Today, I am going out to look for myself. I am going to start by looking at Wal-Mart in the fruits and vegetables section. If I am not there, maybe I can find myself in the whole grains section of the bread department. I will also be looking in the appliance department by the blenders. Or perhaps, I will find my self at the bottom of a bottle of (wait for it) Clairol's Natural Instincts in golden cappuccino. Maybe I will be hiding somewhere in the cosmetics aisle looking for eye cream. If I am not there, I will check at Starbucks. Maybe I left myself there a couple of hundred mochas ago. Sadly, there is a good chance I might find myself at Target buying a pair of fat pants or maybe dumb bells.

This should be the best time of my life. I finally have the child I have waited my whole life for, and I am raising him with a wonderful man. My husband is a sweet, loving man who really does want to help me and wants me to be happy. This is Halloween when fun should be easy - dipping apples in caramel and carving jack-o-lanterns. Even as I write this, my life is getting easier. Plumber and electrician are here putting a shower into our bathtub.

Last week, one of my facebook friends asked if 40 was the new 30. My reply was, "Forty will be the new 30 until people our age getting closer to 50. Then 50 will be the new 30." Of course I was teasing, but I am sick of missing out on fun in my life. I am tired of looking forward to the fun. This is the time to enjoy life even if our lives are filled with hard work, blood from skinned knees, sweat from chasing small children, and tears, some of our own and some from the aforementioned small children.

Is anyone else lost, or is it just me? And, if you find me here before I get back, please let me know :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Halloween Costume

This is technically my son's 1st Halloween. Last Halloween we were meeting our son for the VERY FIRST time in Korea. Our first meeting with our son, his foster mom and our Korean social worker was on Oct 31st. Our son was about 9 months and we had been waiting for that day for a LONG time! They do not celebrate Halloween in Korea so he did not have a costume. Halloween will always have a new special meaning for our family now!
So, I have had a year to prepare for this. To think and plan and get his Halloween costume.
It is harder than it looks, ya know- picking the RIGHT costume. I want it to be something cute (obviously!) but also something that has some sort of meaning for my son. He is 20 months old so, it is hard to discern what is really meaningful to him right now (besides food and mommy- not much else matters to him). I also don't want to repeat what my nieces and nephews have already done. I have 9 of them so it can get a bit tricky!
I finally decided that he is going to be a giraffe. When we read "Goodnight Gorilla" he loves the giraffe and when I ask my son "what sound does a giraffe make" he roars like a a lion. It is hilarious! I thought it would be so cute to dress him up as a giraffe and have him roar away all night! (what sound does a giraffe make anyway?!)
cute- check!

meaningful- check!

Now, I just have to find the costume... I think I saw a giraffe costume out there somewhere, right! I went to Target, Old Navy, the Party Shop, and Once Upon A Child... no giraffe! They have monkeys, lions, tigers, horses, chickens, turkeys...pretty much everything but a giraffe! I found one at Babies R Us but only in a size 12 months... too small. this really should not be this hard!

Thank goodness for the Internet! I ordered one from Babies R Us online! It will be shipped to my door is 5-7 business days! Here is a picture of the costume! I can't wait to see it on my son!

Now I just have to think of a costume for me!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Okay, ladies, this is a straight-up cry for help. HOW do you get a baby to sleep later? HOW? HOW? HOW? Micah, who is 20 months old, has always been an early riser. Lately it's gotten worse. Instead of waking up at 5 (his usual), he's waking up at 4. He's clearly not ready to be awake, judging by his attitude. Then I have a hard time keeping him awake until 11:30, when we pick Ethan up from preschool. My husband and I have tried lots of things - changing him, giving him a cup of milk, then putting him back to bed (he cries when the milk is gone), letting him just fuss (he wakes his brother, who is really not ready to get up), putting him in bed with us (he thrashes around for a while, then sits up and starts talking and playing), etc. I really don't want to split the boys up, for sentimental as well as practical reasons. But this is getting tough, especially for my husband, who gets up with Micah 90% of the time. In a few weeks the boys and I are going on a trip to the central time zone and I'm terrified I'm going to be up at 3 every day while we're there. So, Motley Moms, and whomever else is reading, HELP!!!
Oh, and to add to the morning problems, Micah is usually soaked when he wakes up. He has literally gotten too big for his britches. He's in #6 diapers and they're too small, especially at night. I've gotten overnight diapers but they only came in size 5 so they didn't really help.
This is not a good morning, as you can tell from my whining. Micah was awake at 4 and I went in and told him, "No. It's too early. Be quiet. Ethan's asleep," and he did lay back down for an hour. I didn't go back to sleep, though, because I was waiting to see if he would. He was awake again at 5, soaked, so I changed him and brought him to bed with Todd and me. He just played, so Todd got up with him. I did go back to sleep for about an hour then, but Todd's been awake since 4 and Ethan woke up too early because Micah was screaming.
I think I'll feel better once I shotgun this cup of coffee. Thanks in advance for all the great tips you're going to give me!
Edited: By the way, we have also tried keeping him awake later and putting him to bed really early, but he still wakes up at the same time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In Honor of October 7th...

...I've decided it's officially time to panic a little about how quickly October seems to fly by. We have a birthday to celebrate this month AND halloween details to attend to. I'm not sure why I always wait til the last minute to put halloween costumes together, but I'd really rather not stress myself out this year. I love to make the kids' costumes, or at least assemble them from things I've found to create a character they are familiar with. I try not to sew the entire thing...that's way too time and energy consuming!

Isn't this picture hilarious? I told them to look sad because they are lost and hungry...pretty good, huh? I have much better pics of them in costume, but this one was too funny!

Last year, they were Hansel and Gretel. I ordered real leather liederhosen (used) from eBay for KID 1 (that's how I bribed him to be Hansel). All he needed were suspenders and knee socks to finish the look of a little German ragamuffin. KID 2 wore a handmade gown I found at a consignment sale for a few dollars. All I had to make for her costume was an apron and a kerchief for her head. The apron was actually a ruffled pillow sham that I cut in half and sewed onto a long  fabric band (to tie it in back). I sew a mean straight line. Anything more complicated than that requires supervision.

Anyway, I'm thinking Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf will be making an appearance this year. Daddy can be the Woodcutter and Mommy can be the Grandmother. I will definitely be hitting the thrift shop for my granny dress and any extras we may need to finish the look, but we've got everything here except for the red hooded cape. If you've got one I can use, let me know. Otherwise, I'm going to have to get sewing...yikes! Pretty sure I can stick to straight lines for this one...right?

And the birthday...how badly does a three year old need a birthday party? I mean, seriously! Maybe I'm a horrible mother for saying so, but I really don't think they need big parties with friends every single year. Are you tying the noose right now?

What halloween awesomeness do you have planned? I know Rachel's son will be beaming his Buzz Lightyear laser at his friends for halloween. Does anyone else dress up with their kids?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Let the baking begin!

It's October, and that means we have officially entered the holiday season! For me, that means it's time to break out the sprinkles and work on honing my baking skills. I am a pumpkin fanatic, so when I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies on the Martha Stewart website, I had to try them.

A couple notes before you get to the actual recipe:

1. I swear that when I read this recipe I thought it called for nutmeg, so before I realized it didn't, I had added a whole tablespoon of it to the batter. Guess what? It was great--I highly recommend adding nutmeg to the recipe along with the full amounts of the other spices.

2. I used canned pumpkin and it was fine. I also forgot to chill it, but that didn't seem to be a problem.

3. I baked the pies as directed, but at 15 minutes they were still pretty doughy in the middle. I ended up baking them for 20 minutes instead of 15, and they were perfectly done.

4. We let the kids fill these, and they had fun doing it. They looked really pretty rolled in sprinkles, too.


Makes 12 large sandwich cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cloves
2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
  3. Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.
  4. Make the filling: Sift confectioner' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)
  5. Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.
From The Martha Stewart Show October 2008

Monday, October 5, 2009


Before we had kids, my husband and I LOVED to watch TV, and one of our many favorites was Everyone Loves Raymond. I keep thinking about the episode where Marie found Ray's junior high diary. She was upset because one of the entries read, "I EHAT my mom." Ray had written in a code that he thought his mom would never be able to crack. Moms are pretty smart though, and sure enough, Marie cracked the code.

I have been thinking about this post for a few weeks now. I need to share part of our story, but I just don't want to. I wish I could sugar-coat the story or write it in code, but that would not count as coming out with the truth. My son Alex has FAS, and I would rather write it in code - SFA. If you didn't know, FAS stands for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. He was diagnosed with this in May of 2008, and the diagnosis greatly influenced our move to Florida.

Basically, his birthmom drank while she was pregnant. Of course, we don't know how often or how much, but we do know that damage was done. FAS is a spectrum disorder as the affects can range from minor to severe. Whatever is developing in the baby when the mom is drinking is what is impaired. In our case, the FAS has caused permanent brain damage. Alex's left and right side of his brain cannot communicate, so although he may know rules like "We don't hit our friends" his brain cannot stop him from hitting before it is too late. It causes many problems in preschool because he can tell you the rules and the results for breaking those rules. As a result, he is disciplined as if he can control these impulses. In many ways, we are very lucky. Alex has a lot of strengths. He is very bright and loving. His speech is great, and he loves to read. I am hoping this will help him be successful in school.

I honestly don't know why I am having such a hard time accepting this. When we decided to adopt from Russia, we knew this would be a possibility. I even asked several of his doctors along the way if he had been affected by this. It is very surreal. I wasn't really surprised to hear this diagnosis, but at the same time, I was not expecting it at all.

In the five steps of grief, Step One is denial. I have mastered that. I have been denying this for almost a year and a half. In fact, I tried to blog about this a few months ago, but I was only able to tell you about some of his related conditions.

Step Two is anger, and I am doing great with that one too! I am mad at God - largely because I keep asking him to help me be more patient and graceful with Alex. I feel like he is failing me. I am mad that this happened to my child. I wonder what his life without this would be like. I am mad at Russia. I am most mad that this was preventable. I do not want to speak out for this. Why not autism? Aspergers or OCD? Sadly, I can no longer sit by and just be angry anymore. I need to protect my child and be an advocate for him. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Esther 4:14, "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to a royal position for such a time as this?" Ignoring this for the last 18 months has only caused me stress and heartache. I give up. I will acknowledge this.

I have probably sinned in my anger with God, but I do still know that only He holds the answers for us. I believe He is not rushing in to save us so that we will find a long-term solution instead of a quick but temporary fix. I do believe God pieced us together to be a family, and I do hope to move on to the next step soon. It will just take time and chocolate. Until then, I ehat FAS, but I deeply, fiercely love my child.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Treasure Hunting

Paul and I are heading off to a mega yard sale today, hoping to snag some good deals on furniture and toys. I love treasure hunting at yard sales, but hate driving around hunting for sales. The community sale we're going to today is huge and every other house or so usually participates. It's in a wealthy neighborhood (Disney's Celebration) so the stuff is usually pretty nice...I'm so excited! Nothing says "Fall" here in Central Florida like the Celebration Yard Sale!

I will try to get back here and post our "finds" this evening! Last year I got $400 Pottery Barn curtains, brand-new in the bag, for $30, a beautiful large gilt frame (antique) for $2 which I still intend to turn into a felt storyboard for the kids, and a bag full of designer, brand name clothes for our son for $1.

Some of you are planning to go yard saling this weekend, too. Stop by and share your treasure finds with us and tell us how you will use or repurpose what you find!

Good luck!

Edited at 5:30pm - We were a bit disappointed with our haul this time around, but still found some interesting treasures:

Throw pillow covers, The Company Store (new in package): $1 ea.

Harvest placemats, set of 4, The Co. Store (new): $5/set

Magnetix Kit: $2 (included some, but this will also accomodate our existing collection of Magnetix)

This set is made by a New Zealand company called Humdinger. Wood pieces, string and primary colored spheres make this an intriguing, long-lasting learning toy. They can design their own pull-along toys, plus lots of other fun stuff...whatever their imaginations can invent!: $8
Found any treasures lately?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Motley Logos

Hi Motley Moms! Over the summer, I said I would make us some Motley Logos. Well, I just finally got around to it. I have had some interest in old paper ephemera...all of these logos were made with them......any thoughts?

Do we need something more modern? Vintage? Colorful? Give me any ideas you have, and I'll see what I can do!

Edited to add this last logo. I could do all of the Motley Mom's actual silhouettes on this last one.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fireproof, Revisted

Several weeks ago I wrote a scathing review of the movie Fireproof. I'm not here to write a retraction because I still think it's a lousy movie; however, my husband and I have started attending a small group at church based on the materials from Fireproof and I have to admit that it's great. Our small group is reading the book The Love Dare, which is featured in the movie. Basically the book takes you through 40 days of small "dares" that you do with your spouse. For instance, buying your spouse a small gift, doing some selfless act of service, calling your spouse during the day to see if they need anything, etc. It probably sounds rather simplistic and it definitely seems that way in the movie, but there's more to this book than just the dares. It's based on 1 Corinthians 13, which gets read at weddings a lot, but I'm not sure many of us spend a lot of time reading it after we get married. I know I don't. The main point of the book, though, is, "Don't follow your heart. Lead your heart." When I first read that statement, I thought, "Oh my gosh. That's genius." It's totally against what our culture tells us to do, but it's the truth. It's what's right. It's not at all what I usually do, but it's now what I'm trying to do.
What's interesting about this marriage group is that the principles of love I'm learning about with my husband are also spilling over into my relationships with my children. One week we talked about our love languages and now I find myself wondering what my kids' love languages are. Ethan's seems to maybe be quality time, so instead of saying, "No, honey, Mommy's reading," when he wants me to help him set up his train track in the den, I say, "Okay." I'm also trying to lead my heart instead of follow it. Because honestly, sometimes my heart tells me to run screaming out of the house and into my car, never to return. And that wouldn't be such a good mommy thing, huh?
So I'm giving credit where credit is due. When I wrote that bad review of Fireproof, people told me that they've seen God use it to transform people's marriages. Well, it's true. Only with me it's transforming all of my important relationships.