Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sacrificial Love at its Best

Kyle and I have been doing the master cleanse for the last week. Kyle did this last year and I was so impressed with the results. He lost more than 10 lbs, his complexion was brighter, and overall he got a lot sexier.
I've been waiting for a time when we could do the cleanse together. (I don't have the self-discipline to do it alone.) I have been very pleasantly surprised by the experience. I have a lot of energy and I don't feel hungry. It is nothing like a fast.
I started getting cold symptoms on Day 8 and on Day 9 I felt like I had a cold and flu. (None of this happened to Kyle, I should mention!) Through all my reading, I discovered that this sometimes happens when the lungs are cleansing. The body is ridding itself of toxins and they are temporarily stirred up as the body works to flush them out. I'm hoping for a big improvement in my allergies and asthma! A complete healing would be optimal.
Yesterday was Day 10 and I was feeling much better. All the symptoms disappeared. So with my renewed energy, I decided to do something fun with the kids. This is something I rarely do. To be perfectly honest, it is a very special day when this Mommy bakes something. I like to cook, but I usually leave the baking to my sister.

Apple Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1/2 C. unrefined coconut oil (or 1 stick of butter)

3/4 C. applesauce

1/2 C. sugar

3/4 C. brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1.5 C. whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

3 C. Old fashioned oats

2 C. raisins

Beat oil, applesauce & sugars together. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients (except oats and raisins); add to sugar mixture. Stir in oats and raisins. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

To All My Adoptive Mommy Friends

In talking to several other moms who adopted from Africa, I became convinced that I needed to go ahead and treat my little Liberians for parasites, regardless of their symptoms. I figured I would start with the littlest Liberian, as he seems to need it the most. I had read a lot about natural remedies for parasites and it seemed that Black Walnut Hull was the strongest. (Actually Wormwood herb is stronger, but it also can cause hallucinations, so no thanks. (Trivia tidbit: Hemingway and Van Gogh attribute part of their creativity to the visions they had while on wormwood.))
I recently bought Black Walnut Hull (powder) from Mountain Rose Herbs. It looks like soot, so I was really worried about how I was going to get it down him.
I mixed a spoonful with an equal amount of raw honey and told Daniel I had some new medicine for him. "Medicine" is something special around here, as it is something you get all to yourself. It looked like hot tar to me, but all the kids later told me it looked like melted chocolate (that certainly is a more positive way to look at it.) I did my best to keep my face neutral while waiting for Daniel's response. To my surprise, he gulped it down and asked if there was any more. He LOVED it! I have given him a spoonful everyday for 2 weeks now. He looks so much healthier! My mom said his face looks brighter, not dull like it did when he came home. Malnourishment can definitely cause one to have a dull countenance. You can see it in his face and especially his eyes. I have now started Isaac and Maya on it as well.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Elena the Biker

Elena taught herself to ride a bike tonight! She was riding up and down the sidewalk with the training wheels on, but not using them. Kyle noticed right away that the training wheels were never touching the ground. He had a big smile on his face as he ran inside, annoucing: "I'm taking the training wheels off!"
I'm so proud of my little firstborn! Look at her racing my other, bigger firstborn. What a pro!

(Elena and Maya)

Monday, October 29, 2007


I'm having a contest! The winner will receive a copy of "For the Children's Sake" by Frances Shaeffer Macaulay. This was one of the foundational books influencing our homeschool. I highly recommend it!

If you would like to be entered in the contest, click on the link on the right side panel. The link will allow you to send me an email. Make sure you put "Contest" in the subject line. This email will enter you in the drawing. The contest will end December 1, 2007.

Rules and Regulations: One entry per person.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Lydia in the Limelight

We gave this doll to Maya when she first came home from Liberia, but Liddy has adopted it as her own. Regarding the head wrap, you can take the girl out of Africa, but you can't take Africa out of the girl. (Maya does carry a lot of things on her head still. She balances the laundry basket on her head and carries it downstairs that way.)

In other toddler news, Lydia had a grand time with a piece of chocolate the other day. In the first picture, she thinks she's in trouble because of the mess. In the second picture, she figured out that we thought it was funny.
One more. I got these swimsuits in the mail a few days ago. I bought two for Lydia: one in her current size and one in the next size up. (They were a great price! Tip: the best place and time to buy swimsuits is eBay in the fall.) I was so excited when the package arrived, I had Lydia and her cousin, Ainsley try them on right then. They were only too happy to oblige. I discovered the key to finding attractive modest suits is to look for "uv swimwear". Two of my faves are Gruvywear and Fishskins. Lots of cute options. The obvious bonus is great sun protection.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Books, Books, Books

Phonics is the bane of my current existence. Elena is reading, Maya and Chloe are learning to read, and Isaac - well, poor Isaac - I just don't have time to teach one more child to read right now. (He'll have his turn next year.) I spend at least an hour a day on just phonics. Even though I love seeing their reading improve, I must be honest, this is my least favorite part of our day. Phonics lessons are one of the main vehicles God is using to teach me patience. However, it has gotten much easier since we received our Braum's Book Buddy packet. The kids can earn an ice cream cone for every 6 books they read. I won't let them earn more than one sticker a day (because I don't want to eat a year supply of ice cream cones in one month!), but they now ask if they can read a book. It's been a lot of fun! Patience is a learned skill, one I am now being rewarded for developing.

World On Fire

"To whom much is given, much is required."
Much is given to all of us.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Are Housewives Really Desperate?

What's the difference between a passionate housewife and a desperate housewife? The authors of the new book, "Passionate Housewives Desperate for God" answer these questions in this short encouraging video.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Crock-Pot Your Way to Happiness

Most people are surprised to find out that I use my crock-pot 5+ days/week. "How many times a week can you eat brisket??"

Confession: I've never cooked a brisket. I don't even like brisket. I've converted lots of great recipes into crock-pot recipes to make my life easier.

What I love about crock-pot cooking:
  1. I never have to stop what I'm doing at 4:30 in order to start cooking dinner.

  2. Dinner is ALWAYS ready when hubby gets home.

  3. The house smells delicious all day.

  4. The meat is always perfectly tender.

  5. The crock-pot has made me a good cook! (Secret: After 10 years of marriage, Kyle told me, "You've become a really good cook!")

Here are some of our favorite recipes.

New Revelation

"When [our children] are very young we encourage them to walk and talk. Sadly, when school begins, they are told to sit down and be quiet."
~Karen Andreola, A Charlotte Mason Companion pg. 113

This quote really resonated with me. I help teach children's church and recently the other teacher and I were brainstorming about the discipline issues we seem to have with the boys. Suddenly, I had a revelation - the real problem is with them sitting still and being quiet (a really difficult skill for a young boy). I realized that we were asking them to do something I almost never require of my children while schooling them. I read to them while they eat. I read to them while they fold laundry. I play audio books while they are stuck in their seat belts in the car. I read to them while they color, draw, do copywork.
They are taught how to sit quietly for the occasional times that require it, but I certainly don't expect it of them everyday. Is it any wonder that kids brought up on fast-paced "educational" tv shows/computer and video games are labeled hyperactive because they can't sit still in class?
This revelation gave me a lot of sympathy for all the schooled kids who, on Sunday, are being asked once more to sit and be quiet.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Miracles Do Happen!

My blondes have grown up eating lots of raw veggies. The triplets, however, had eaten very few vegetables before arriving in America. They would pick out every single vegetable from whatever we were eating. I started getting creative. I would chop up the broccoli so small, they couldn't pick it out. I grated carrots and hid it in their favorite meals. I told them that bell peppers would make their hair grow. It is always in the back of my mind: If they pick at their food at home, they'll do it when they're a guest in someone else's home. This thought has kept me from being a short order cook for my kids, although I sometimes think that might be easier.
Chloe LOVES carrots and has been asking for them to snack on almost every afternoon. Last week I packed a bunch of carrot sticks in our lunch for karate. (Isaac and Maya go to karate every T/Th 12:00-1:30). They were hungry so they ate it. Hunger can make you change your mind about a lot of foods, I've discovered. They decided carrots weren't too bad afterall! Since then they've been requesting carrots at snacktime.
I am honestly and truly amazed!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Family Planning

This morning I learned that Chloe has her own "family plan" in mind for us. She was introducing me to her baby doll, Samuel (previously known as Timothy and before that Bobby). I said, "You really like baby boys don't you?" She said, "Yea, I really do. We need to have a baby boy!" Then she got a bright idea and said, "Some day you should take the other 5 kids somewhere and I can babysit a boy baby."
I said, "Chloe, we don't have a boy baby." No problem for Chloe, she has this all worked out: "Then give birth to one," she said.
Chloe doesn't understand that I can't control the sex of the baby I would hypothetically deliver, so I attempt to educate her. "But what if the baby I have is a girl?" Again, no problem: "Then you can give birth again. See, Mom, it's no problem to have lots of babies, because us big kids can help take care of them. Maya can take care of Daniel. Elena can take care of Lydia. Isaac will take care of the baby girl and I can take care of the baby boy."
I raised my eyebrows and said "Hmmm."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's Done!

Kyle's first flip house is done! It took 6 weeks to finish and it looks amazing by comparison. Kyle and his good friend and now business partner, Ed, put in new landscaping, painted the exterior, added new cedar columns, and that's just the outside! The new hardwoods, granite countertops and all the new fixtures add so much appeal.
This house was so bad when they bought it (remember the old subfloors that Pedro fell through??) I got anxious just walking through it. Luckily, Kyle's a visionary. I could not have envisioned the beauty that came from the "ashes" of this place. I am so impressed with my handy man! He had some real male bonding with Isaac and Pedro as they helped him with the weekend work. They both look up to their hardworking daddy. They felt so masculine helping him with the demolition. Kyle has thoroughly enjoyed this new hobby and is eager to start on another.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Are You a Desperate Housewife?

The much anticipated book, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God, has hit the press! This book by former feminists, Jennie Chancey and Stacy MacDonald, is an offer of hope to those housewives who desire a passionate life.

As new episodes of "Desperate Housewives" launch this fall, two real-life housewives—raising 18 children between them—release a controversial new book nationwide in bookstores, October 30, 2007. As the subtitle states, this book will give a 'fresh vision for the Hopeful Homemaker.' I can't wait!

Before and After

Six months ago today, Maya, Isaac, and Daniel - our triplets - joined our family. I've been thinking back to how overwhelmed we felt those first few weeks. We flew to Chicago early on a Thursday morning to meet them for the first time. They were to arrive at 1:00 pm, but when we turned our cell phones back on upon arrival in Chicago we had 6 missed calls, all informing us that the kids' plane didn't make it out of Africa and they were still stuck in Senegal. We felt so deflated and disappointed.
24 hours later when they did arrive in Chicago, our overwhelming feelings of excitement and fear turned to feelings of sudden responsibility. Maya was very excited to see us, but very shy (not at all normal for her!) Isaac was quiet, but very physically affectionate. He hugged me immediately and stayed right by my side, frequently looking up at me as we walked through the airport together. Daniel was confused and terrified. He did not want me to hold him and threw a big, thrashing fit, which ended abrubtly 5 minutes after it started. He sang a Liberian song to soothe himself as we made our trip to the next plane to go home. He fell prompty asleep on the plane and slept the whole car ride home as well.

In six months, we have learned a lot about these three and are falling in love with them.
Maya is an outgoing leader and a loving little mommy to her siblings. She is a pleaser and an angel.
Isaac is my comedian with a sensitive heart. He does not run out of energy and doesn't get full! He wants nothing more than to be just like his Daddy. He's a very hard worker, just like Kyle.
Daniel is laid back, quiet and peaceful. He is also my passive aggressive child, quiety defiant when he doesn't want to do something. He is Mama's boy; he holds my hand everywhere we go and always wants to know if I will be there when we go somewhere as a family.

Adopting three children at once was not easy. It was very hard and emotionally overwhelming at times. I have no regrets. We are truly blessed to have these three in our family. Elena, Chloe, Pedro, and Lydia are also so blessed to be able to grow up in a big family. They are never bored or lonely. We all went out to eat last night and I was looking around the table at everyone laughing and having a good time. I wouldn't have it any other way!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Goodbye, Sweet Carmen

My mom's good friend, Carmen, is moving back to Honduras. My mom took her in when the pain of her cancer prevented her from climbing the stairs to her apartment. Carmen and her son, Jonathan, have been living with my mom and stepdad since May.

Carmen is a precious soul, one of the most loving and generous people I've met. Most patients in her stage of cancer are dependent on morphine drips to manage the pain, but Carmen refuses to let the cancer hold her hostage. Her liver is failing and she is dying. She is moving back home to be with family in her last days. We will miss her tenacious joy and sweet spirit. I'm so thankful that she will soon have a new body and live a new life pain-free. Lord, give her a big hug for all of us. We will miss her so much!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

For the Glory of God!

Nick Vujicic is a giant of a man, living his life to the glory of God. He is an inspiration to all of us who have no excuse.

I Can See You!

To all you friends, family, and e-stalkers who come, read, and never leave a comment - you know who you are - it couldn't be easier to sign up with Google so this blog can be a two way street. You with your lame excuses and irrational fears that Google may hunt you down now that they know your username of choice, quit stalking me! Leave a comment, lest you join the throngs of other stalkers out there in cyberspace.

Organization Tip

I just had to share this new website I discovered through a friend (Thanks, Karen!). MeckMom is an organizational website for moms. I LOVE it! So many easy, creative ideas for simplifying life with kiddos. Just thought I'd pass it on.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dancing Clark Kids

While we were in Colorado, the kids found some upbeat music on DirecTv and started a pajama jam. Not sure if Isaac's hips are actually attached - the boy has real rhythm! (Notice Lydia's attempts at dancing in the bottom right corner.)

He Won! He Won!

For the umpteenth time, Pedro won a sales contest at Starbucks. He is one heck of a salesman and very competitive to boot, so when the managers mention a sales contest, Pedro doesn't ask what the reward is, he just starts selling like mad. In the Spring, they split the baristas into sales teams for another contest. Pedro's sales alone beat the totals of all the teams! I'm telling you, he's good!
This was a big one. He won a $400 Espresso machine, along with some hazelnut syrup (he called to ask me what my fave was - so sweet!), some Tazo Chai Tea, and espresso. Wow!
He came home giddy, bragging about all the drinks he can make for Kyle and me now.
To those of you who've been the grateful recipients of the bags of coffee he earns, this is your time to pay him back in congratulations!
Way to go, Pedro!!!

Just Another Day at School

I've recently started doing rotations with the big kids, in order to get school work done more efficiently. I'm all about productivity, you know!

I was working with Maya on phonics, while Chloe played phonics games on Starfall. Isaac and Elena were doing copywork with the scriptures in their AWANAs books. The babies were watching a Noodlebug video.

Lydia and Daniel are sitting on the giant bean bag chair Kyle brought home. I tho't he was crazy, but the kids absolutely LOVE it. So cute when they all pile on it!

Yesterday, I was fighting a cold, so I had the big kids watch a "Rocking Addition" video and called it math for the day. It was so 80s and very dorky, but they don't know how embarassing the 80s really were, and I didn't tell them.