A very different birthday…

It was different from any birthday that I have ever had…

My parents had very generously volunteered to watch the kids so Tyler & I could go to the movie & grab a bite to eat.  We got good reviews & picked out a movie to see but then at the last minute decided that we would rather talk then sit in the dark for 2hrs, probably because we would both fall asleep.  So we headed to Half Price books, because on Wednesday at the kid’s school it is “dress like a story book character” day & we will not be spending more money on costumes so we went looking for a book that will work with what we already have.  It was a nice time, we sat on the floor at the store pouring through children’s books, talking about ones we remembered from our childhood & telling funny stories about our own kids.  After we located one princess book & 2 cowboy books we went to Red Robin to eat, because we can split a sandwich & enjoy bottomless fries =’s it fits in our budget.

Afterward we headed back home & played with our kids.  We played house, cars, with chalk, & I got some fabulous homemade birthday cards.  After playing we dressed the kids up to head to their first YMCA Kid’s Fest,  it’s a big fall festival that the local YMCA puts on every October around Halloween.  My folks treated us to a great birthday dinner at Chickfila (can you believe that we got to eat out twice in one day!?!) & our good friends Isaac & Lisa joined us; then we headed off to the fiesta!  Now you should know I worked at this YMCA from the age of 17-26 & I LOVED the fall carnival, it was my favorite event that we did the entire year!  So it was really wonderful to be able to bring my family to it, see my old coworkers & the new staff excited about serving their community.  It was a great night & the kids loved it.

As we drove home Tyler told me, “I am sorry I didn’t do more for your birthday.”  Crazy man!  I reminded him that he got me 5 kids, I am set on presents for quite a while.  Finishing up a casserole for Sunday School tomorrow & then I am off to bed, I think 29 & I are going to get along just fine this next year.

Cold weather can’t stop us from heading to the park!

A little craft time for Mami, a perfect present

Blow out your candles Mami

A delicious birthday meal at Chickfila

So little brother got a little upset when he found out his brothers were cowboys & he was a giraffe (even though that is what he picked out at the store)…so we ended up with a jirafa con botas!

Lisa with one of our vaqueros (didn’t their Grandma do a great job on making those vests!)

Papi Grande & our perrita

Isaac hanging out with our jirafe

Abuelita & the princesa

Sweet girl tuckered out from too much fun

A sweet birthday song for Mami.  Big brother has been practicing the song “Happy Birthday Jesus” for the Christmas musical at church, so we listed to it in the car everyday, multiple times a day.  So the kids are all getting to be really great at singing Happy Birthday but please listen at the end because one of my children says, “I love you Jesus” at the end of singing, just like on the cd.  Precious!



At the dinnermesa,




29…blessed, happily married, mom of 5, good self esteem, secure & confident in my salvation, active in my church, supportive family, loyal friends, happy.

Sometimes we see the current picture & forget where it came from…

10yrs ago I was about to enter into a very sin-filled & self-filled lifestyle.  I would enter into a destructive relationship.  I would find my worth in the eyes of others.  I would put my family on the back-burner.  I would destroy life-long friendships.  I would attempt to hide from God.  I would put my needs before others.  I would stop going to church.  I would live for myself.  I would become ashamed of the person that I was.  At 19 my life was headed in a different direction and very easily could have been where I ended up.

A year later I would hear a testimony that would remind me that God was not done with me yet.  I would go home & prostrate myself on the floor & pray for forgiveness & for God to take me out of my sin any way possible.  A day later God would give me an out & I took it.  Two days after Satan would come back knocking on my door.  For another year I would wake up every morning drowning in my past sins, sick with myself & my past actions & ask for forgiveness all over again.  God had already forgiven me but I had the earthly consequences to deal with & the human memories & emotions to remind me of all my failings.  I remember telling God, “please just get this feeling of unclean off of me, don’t waste your time with my life, I don’t deserve restoration, I have salvation & that is enough, I don’t deserve blessings too.”

Thankfully, one of my old teachers made me memorize this in high school…

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,  I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil;my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell  in the house of the Lord forever.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23:1-6

God is still in the service of performing miracles.  A few weeks ago I watched a dear friend be baptized & share her testimony, confess her sins & declare that the only way to defeat the sins of this world is to fill yourself with Jesus, so much so that there is no room for anything else.  It is a miracle that God has blessed me with a good, loving & faithful husband.  It is a miracle that we have 5 children.  It is a miracle that God took this disgrace of a woman & allowed her to become a wife, mother & friend for His glory.

Thankful for 29yrs, preparing to serve for a lifetime.  It’s not too late, it never is.

At the dinnermesa,


The Incredible Hulk…

So do you remember that sweet 2yr old that we brought home from Colombia…most call her Darth.  Well sweet pea has morphed into the Incredible Hulk.  You see the beautiful little girl, precious as she can be but as soon as she does not get her way look out a tantrum is sure to follow.  A good old-fashioned throw myself on the floor & thrash around tantrum.  Darth has decided that it is okay to say “no” to Mami & Papi when she doesn’t want to sit in the silla azul (aka time out).  She has decided that it’s okay to hit her brothers & sisters if they tell her no or have a toy that she wants….

Oh Darth…

…whoops, wrong picture, just so hard to tell the two apart sometimes!

Girlfriend is giving her Mami gray hair!  She was starting to win daily battles, I found myself giving in, appeasing her constantly, giving her brother’s toys to avoid a silla azul fight.  I wasn’t doing her any favors, this lazy behavior will hurt her in the end.  So I went back & reread The Connected Child & began praying for her during the midst of these daily outbursts.  Today’s prayer:

Dear God,

Help me be a good mom to this baby girl.  Give me patience & kindness while I am disciplining her.  Give her a heart of obedience & a spirit of cooperation.  Allow me to be an example of kindness for her.  Please give me the words (in Spanish) to explain why we need to be kind & respectful to others.  Thank you for blessing me with this baby.

It’s not much, it’s not eloquent but praying during any discipline has become a constant reminder to Tyler & I that we are the first “example of  Christ’s love” that our kids are going to see.  God gives us peace, reminds of us of our blessings, & causes us to pause & make sure that our reaction to the behavior is done out of love & not revenge.  Prayer gives us strength to keep consistency & avoid anger.

There are still so many times that we fail, that we just pray for the easy way out, that we forget to praise & just wait for the kids to “mess-up”.  There are so many times that I have set my kids up to fail by setting expectations to high or by just being impatient over insignificant things.  But there are very few times that we have not rebuilt the relationship after a time-out, & remind our kids that we love them & that they will always be our family.

Still learning & thankful that everyday is a new day.

Ugh she is so stinking cute! Her new favorite/most-precious-thing-in-the-world action is to say in a very sweet sing-songy voice “poquito mas”…I immediately melt & fall in love all over again!

At the dinnermesa,


People are still being nice…

People are still being so kind to us!   Tyler & I were talking that the “nice train” is going to run out on us soon, we have been so overly and abundantly blessed!  Meals brought to the house, help at church, clothes & shoes for the kids, toys (new & new-to-us), play dates, family has been great at stepping in as babysitters.

We are working on paying it forward.  A friend just made it back from Ethiopia with her son!  Another friend & her husband are in Uganda trying to bring their sweet boy home. Another friend is in Bogota with her husband & daughter picking up their 2 kids.  Our days are flooded with prayers for these families, for these waiting children.  We pray for patience, peace & family bonding.  We will never forget our time in Bogota, the helplessness that you feel while you wait for the official “OK”, until you are on a plane home with your children there was always that small sense that it may not happen, that you may have to leave these children that you love so very much in their country.

Praying specifically today for our friends’ little boy in Uganda.  Praying that the judge sees the pure love in his parent’s heart for him & the blessings that will flow on him being part of his new family.  Praying that this family’s faithfulness & kind hearts are evident in the court room.  Praying that this sweet boy comes home soon.

They help feed our crazy kids at church…

They send our kids presents…

Presents specific to them…

A new pencil box, to keep his things safe.

Wrapping paper, a new concept for little brother. He also kept the wrapping paper as part of his gift.

Girl loves some jewelry

They bring their kids over to play with ours…

How many helpings he had of a dinner brought to us by friends…

And they send us boxtops so I can get my “mom card” finally!

At the dinnermesa,


School lately…

Sorry for the lack in blogging…we are becoming a boring family.  The kids go to school, we hang out with friends & family, we eat dinner together…it’s great!

Last week I went with our kindergartners on their first field trip.  We went to a pumpkin patch & petting zoo.  I was thankful for the time to meet more parents in our kid’s class.  The hardest part was once again the language barrier.  Our kids are in a Spanish speaking class, we are the only all English speaking parents in the class.  So I arrive to the school & head to the classroom…I am the only parent there.  When I asked the teacher she told me that her parents are shy & will wait in the car until the last minute & then meet at the bus.  I tried to put myself in their shoes & I think that I would do the same thing.  In fact I have done that same thing.  Uncomfortable situations where I don’t know a lot of people, the language, expectations…I would be sitting in my car too.  Luckily one mama ventured in & I asked if she wanted to ride with me to the field-trip.  Bless her heart, I got her into the car & then told her that I don’t speak a lot of Spanish, I definitely saw a look of dread pass over her face.  Luckily she was very kind & patient & we spoke Spanish the entire 45min while we were in the car.  Please know that I had to rephrase several things before they made sense but we did it, we communicated & for the majority of the time we were able to understand each other.

At the petting farm the kids did great, big sister chickened out & touched a rabbit & a cow.  After that she was only interested in watching from behind a fence.  Middle brother was pretty fearless & approached every animal.  They both had their first TX hayride & middle brother got stung by his first bee.

After the petting zoo we headed to the park for a quick lunch, once again I took my non-English speaking captive & she rode with me again very patiently.  At the park I got to meet more of the moms, once they found out our story & why I speak English & my kids speak Spanish they were ready to let me into their circle.  I am so thankful for a school that has made their setting as comfortable as possible for non-English speakers, I am thankful for a community of mothers who love their kids & want the best for them & encourage their children to learn English.  I am thankful for the perspective, the difficulty to fit in & feel safe and secure in a new setting.

Petting a conejo

The last animal that big girl would touch…

Standing safely at arms length the rest of the day

My group at the field trip

Middle brother petting a calf with his friends

Feeding the goats

Our first hayride

We also had our first teacher conferences & the kids are doing pretty well.  Our big guy is still trying to catch up but he is making strides.  We are working on the alphabet right now, recognizing letters, & simple math problems.  We were drowning in homework at the beginning because he had to read 4 books a night, 3 times each & that alone would take us 2.5 hrs.  After talking to his teacher & his teacher telling me that “he can’t read” I asked how are we supposed to do these books, teach said. “just describe the picture.” Done!  We can do that!  Please know that he still gets very discouraged & homework time is still hard but he is having success & that keeps him going.  We do a lot more celebrating than crying!!  Morning drop-offs have become a little difficult, he has taken to picking on his little brother & thinks that since he is at the back of the van that he is safe from the mommy eyes.  Several mornings 2 of the children are dropped off & then we pull into the parking lot & Mommy & Big brother have a talk about being kind & a good big brother.  Luckily I haven’t worn my pjs to drop off the kids yet so the make-up free walks into school with the oldest haven’t been completely humiliating.

Big girl has found her stride in Kindergarten, she loves to learn, help the teacher & complete her homework.  Her biggest problem is that she has a little brother in her class.  She was spending her whole day at school helping him with everything.  Turns out if middle brother can get help with something he will take it & happily watch others do his work for him.  Needless to say he has been having trouble being independent & following instructions.  He wants to do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it.  Thankful for a teacher that holds him accountable & reminds his sister that she is not his Mami or his teacher, & that her only job is to learn & be a student.  Their teacher moved them as far as possible from each other in the classroom & we have seen some improvement.  It feels weird dropping them off at school every morning & reminding the kids to be, “kind, respectful & big sister, do not help your brother at school today.”

Homework is always better when you have a little brother to teach!

At the dinnermesa,