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Showing posts from 2016

Christmas Week

This has been the first year in a few that we have been home "alone" for Christmas. I have to admit, I was not at all dreading it! I cancelled everything routine on the schedule for the whole week and planned a week-long staycation. It's been fabulous so far (except for a few sick kids... but what can you do.)

The big kids had a half-day Friday so we kicked off Christmas break that afternoon. Saturday night we drove to Philly to have dinner with a bunch of my extended family on my dad's side. It was so nice to catch up with relatives I haven't seen in months! And they have the best old family traditions-- a big family feast, reading the Christmas story, lighting real candles on the tree while listening to Silent Night sung in German by an Austrian opera singer, and of course, caroling. My uncle Fred plays the organ amazingly well and he leads us in singing all our favorites. For someone like me, who adores family & traditions & holiday magic, it is a nigh…

Saturday 7 (x2)

1. We had the best trip to Honduras and Guatemala last week! We got home Monday night around 12:30am and the week since then has basically been been me trying to get back on top of laundry, homeschooling, groceries, christmas prep, etc. etc. Crazy-ville... but totally worth it!

2. Thursday Dec. 8: (My sister Emily turns 28!) On the other side of the world, we drove to Philly the night before and stayed in a airport hotel before our 6am flight out to Atlanta that morning. We arrived in San Pedro Sula around 2pm, got through customs and rented a little truck and drove 1.5 hours to Tela, a town on the northern (Caribbean) coast of Honduras.

3. Friday: We spent all day at Telamar, a resort on the ocean. I think the kids loved the lack of restrictions on the waterslides the best of all! :) We did human trains down the slide, slid backwards, upside down and on our knees. We timed each other ...and had the best time!

4. Saturday: After packing up and heading out for SPS, we ended up getting …

Saturday 7 x2

1. Last week I didn't blog because we were traveling home from spending Thanksgiving in Kansas City. We have a family tradition of emailing around our favorite memories after a get-together, and this is what I wrote:

Running and playing games with everyone in the big field  Singing our Thanksgiving hymns Eating so. much. good. food.  Talking with Shelley {my SIL} about what we’ve been reading lately Going for several exercise walks with different family members Seeing Daryl (my brother & sister in law's foster kiddo) fit seamlessly into the cousin time Playing games with adults AND kids (4 on a couch, Egyptian, Mafia, Pictionary etc!)  Meeting Cha's family (this is Dan's youngest sister, who recently remarried into step-kids) The thoughtful and intellectually challenging conversations I shared with different people
Sitting around in the evening and laughing as the Block siblings and parents reminisced about times gone by
There's so much else that I didn't write about…

Saturday 7

1. Yesterday I was in town running errands and the car said it was 71˚. Today we have 6" of snow. Yesterday I sat in the sun sewing while I chatted with Dan while he washed the car; he was in a t-shirt and I was wearing a thin long sleeve shirt. Today I went outside in a flannel shirt and my down winter coat and I was freezing. SO sad fall is over! We have a lot of months of weather ahead. *sigh*

2. I've been meaning to find a new PCP for awhile since my much-loved doctor retired a couple years ago. I finally bit the bullet and got a recommendation from a friend and went for a physical on Weds. She was great-- so friendly and helpful and said I should feel free to email her anytime for any reason. What a relief! Finding good doctors is so hard.

3. Dan and Will went to Haiti for three days at the end of the week. Dan was asked to do some security work for his old employer and we decided to pull Will out of school and let him go too. They had a good time (although Will was up s…

adoption thoughts

A friend of mine asked me to do a write-up about our experiences with adoption since this is National Adoption Month. I procrastinated for several weeks... then finally made myself sit down and just do it. I am (am I'm sure most writers are) my own worst critic and after an hour of writing, erasing, writing, editing, shifting sentences around, etc. etc., I called it a day. Here is what I wrote.

A few things I have learned since we adopted our daughter: 
Being pro-life is more than just a political statement or a theological belief; sometimes it requires you to actually do something. 
The world of adoption is fraught with beauty and with heartache. Adoption by its very existence begins with brokenness and loss, and although adoption is beautiful and needed, it does not “fix” the brokenness. It is necessary, but make no mistake— it is hard. 
Trans-racial adoption has made me look hard at race issues in our country. It’s made me a more outspoken advocate for racial equality, justice and …

Saturday 7

1. Well we have a new president! I don't think it's any secret that I was not (am not?) a Trump fan. There are soooo many aspects to his campaign... who he is...  things he's said and done... who he surrounds himself with... that I am not a fan of. But it is what it is, and I am committed to supporting the president, whoever it is, and for praying for him. But I absolutely will stay in the game and call out problematic material if and when it arises. You're welcome. ;)

2. The kids had a half day Thursday before their day off Friday. I helped with my first-ever PTO volunteer hour (I know, I'm lame), distributing chocolate from the school's fundraiser. Before that, I had first-quarter parent-teacher conferences and (drumroll please) both kids made the honor roll! I was so happy for Hallie; Will makes it every quarter, but this was her first time and she worked hard for it... I'm just super happy for her. She also was the top seller in the whole school with th…

Sunday 7

1. Halloween is over and we still have so much candy left in bags, which, I am actually having a pretty proud parenting moment about. My mom believes in healthy eating (which isn't a bad thing necessarily! I believe in it too, generally) but growing up, my all-but-complete lack of access to candy or chocolate of any kind left me with what will be a likely lifelong struggle with WANTING ALL THE GOODIES ALL THE TIME. I cannot walk past a candy dish. I love candy way too much than is appropriate for someone my age. I struggle with self-regulation: if it's available, I want it, regardless of whether I've already have a piece (or 10). It's not out of control, obviously, but it's something that I deal with whenever I'm around the possibility of having candy or chocolate. I go right back to that kid who, if the opportunity wasn't seized, would "miss out" again for who knows how long.  I knew going into parenting that I wanted to do this differently; I wa…

Sunday 7

1. This week has flown by! I knew it would after I'd been gone most of last week, but really. Here we are at the end of October and at the end of our travels!... until next month. ;)

2. Last week was just a whole bunch of catch up for me. Schoolwork, cooking, dog to the groomer, soccer practices (though we're done now-- hooray!) and that twice-yearly evil: switching over the kids seasonal clothes. Which, really, needs its own number...

3. Switching out the kids' clothes! Gah! I always start small... I think to myself, I won't tackle it all; I'll just do this one little part, right here... and then 6 days later, after 4 kids closets have been overhauled and rooms decluttered and rearranged (and several meltdowns later... on all our parts...) we are ready to go for another new season. This year I actually sorted the outgrown stuff of the older two and boxed it up for the younger two in a couple years. I always save most of their stuff to hand down but I don't usu…

Saturday 7 x2

1. So the last few weeks have been kinda crazy around here. For the first time (I think ever) I have been gone from home for 3 long weekends in a row. I loved all of it but am happy to now be home... doing my housewife thing... getting my babies off the bus, reading on the couch by the fire, spending hours sorting through tubs of clothes for the next season (this twice yearly event nearly sinks my ship every. single. time.)... making lunches ... doing all the homey things. I realize how lucky I am to do what I do (and love what I do) so I never want to take that for granted!

2. Two weeks ago we went on a camping trip with two other families in Ohio. We have 10 kids between us and although none of them had met before, they hit it off fabulously and spent hours and hours playing the woods, making forts and being adventurous. It was all around a really really fun time. I love camping! And reconnecting with old friends was so great as well.

3.  When we got home Sunday night from camping I…

Saturday 7

Posting on a Tuesday! ahhhhh that feels right. ;)

1. Last week was a blur! Dan's parents arrived Tuesday so I spent Monday doing school and then running around trying to get all our ducks in a row. Tristan has been asking me for two weeks to get him a haircut, so clearly not totally on top of things yet.

2. We had a lovely visit with my inlaws! (The big kids were off school on Friday, and I picked them up early on Weds. so they didn't miss out too much. :)) The weather was perfect and the trees are just about at their peak color... so beautiful.

3. Dan and I left Thursday at noon for Philly... headed to Cali for the weekend! We got to MN just fine and then, in a comedy of errors, sat for 153 min. on the tarmac, before we finally got off en route to Orange County.

4. We arrived around 10:30p and just squeaked into the rental car place before they closed at 11. We rented a convertible Camaro (which was FUN!!!) We got to the Airbnb and crashed and then (thanks to the 3-hr time ch…

Sunday 7

posting on the actual weekend... progress. ;)

1. The first presidential debate happened on Monday... did anyone watch it? I've watched literally zero post-debate analysis since then but my thoughts about it are many and nuanced. Still on the #NeverTrump train and hoping that Johnson is allowed to debate next time. I don't love him/his platform either, but at this point, I think anyone besides Trump or Hillary is a win for America.

2. Dan was gone in PHL for swat team training much of the week. When that happens I am usually exhausted and in bed by 9:30. Four kids in a zillion (ok not that many) activities leaves me with my head spinning, (more mentally than physically tired.) Only one month left of soccer season and then we get three weeknights at home back and home cooked family dinners resume. Right now we're eating together at best twice a week and that also mentally tires me. Apparently I'm more of a 1960's house wife than I would have thought, haha.

3. Hallie …

Saturday 7

on a Monday. That's about right, isn't it?!

1. Rachel and I finished our hike last weekend in great spirits. I only got two small blisters, which for me, was great. Side note: I really need to get better hiking shoes ...but I'm in denial. ;) I tell myself I'm still just breaking them in (because I just got them last spring) which is SO RECENTLY but they have put in over 40 miles ...so if they're not broken in yet, I'm not sure they ever will be. I think the problem is that the boots are great, but they are lightweight and not meant for hiking over boulders and rock trails for hours and hours. Oh well. The hike itself was fabulous (although we ended up on a detour that added 3-4 miles unexpected miles to our trek) and the rain that was supposed to happen all day Sunday didn't show till Monday so we were very pleased about that. 22 more miles down and many more to go!

2. My twin nieces turned 6 last week and I took the girls down to Philly for their ballet-th…

Saturday 7

I know, I know-- I'm a day early in a trend that has had me consistently late for months. I've also been up since 5, so things are all kinds of weird around here. ;)
1. Tonight I leave for 18.6 miles on the AT. We've done all the mileage close to us so now we are driving about an hour (I know, that's still really very close!) to drop one car, then 40 minutes to drop the other and set up camp at the trailhead. Two days and relatively low mileage means more lounging by the campfire at night and lazier mornings. I like. ;)
2. Four weeks in to the school year and it's going amazingly well. Everyone's adjusted to the new routines like champs! I'm really happy with how everything is going so far. It's so nice when things just work and it's not a fight everyday!
3. I walk with my friend several mornings each week (before the kids are up!) and now when we walk, there is steam coming off the lake every day... this means the lake is losing heat and that summe…

Saturday 7 (x3)

Somehow the last three weekends have gotten away from me and I haven't even stopped to write anything down! Back to school is always a crazy stressful hectic fun exciting time... but I'm not sure I can blame it entirely on that! At any rate, here's some of what we've been up to for the last 3 weeks. (I write a lot about the stuff that takes up most of my days {homeschooling, kids sports/etc. practices, time spent at the lake...} so today I'm going to try to write about the other "invisible" things that make up daily life around here!

1. I started bullet journaling last week. I read this article: http://www.thelazygeniuscollective.com/blog/how-to-bullet-journal and just decided to jump in. So far so good. I still use google calendars though. :)

2. I made a new year's resolution last year to work out (loosely defined as breaking a sweat for 30ish minutes) 3x/week this year. I can't say I've made it 3x every week, but I'd say I've done 2-…

The Saturday 7 / End of Summer

1. Well that's it. Summer 2016 is officially in the books. Tomorrow morning I walk with my friend from 6:30-7:30, come home to family devotions, packing lunches, making breakfasts ands scooting out the door by 8:15 with my big 7th and 6th graders. Home a few minutes later to clean up from breakfast, (hopefully) start a load of laundry and straight up a bit, and start homeschool with my 1st and 4th graders by 9:00! I give myself (and the kids) a lot of grace the first week... routines are hard to get back into, so I don't expect perfection... but at least we will be heading in the right direction! 
2. This week has been a weeks of "lasts". Blueberry picking, night swimming, sand-pile climbing and jumping, rope-swinging-in-the-rain, etc. Whatever fun thing the kids wanted to do, I tried hard to say "yes!" Summer is short and the kids are only this age once... plus Selina and the kids' cousins were in town, adding to the chaos and making everything just th…

Another Couple of Weeks Recap

1. We got home early Friday morning from a week spent in Kansas City, helping Pop & Mima move into/ unpack/ decorate their new house in Kansas City. It was a great week spent working hard and filled with lot of laughs, time with family, and good food. (All my favorite things.) :)

2. We had a bit of a fiasco getting home from MO. Long story short, we ended up driving 9 hours  home from Charlotte NC and yesterday, on one of the most beautiful weekends of the summer, we had to drive to NYC to get my van back. Ugh. The upside is that we were able to pick up Selina to spend another week with us! Downside is that Laguardia's parking is a complete & total nightmare.

3. I'm not ready for school to start. One week from Monday?! Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. This means we have one week left to finish our summer bucket list items, including bike riding to a local deli for lunch and having a family water fight!

4. The Olympics are in full swing but since we don't have cable (insert annoye…

Couple of Weeks Recap

1. 21 days left of summer break. I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING. Make it stop.

2. We've had a really busy/fun couple of weeks. I took the kids to the beach for a few days last week. We stayed in Cape May and it was busy and hot and fun. We got to see friends we hadn't seen all year (who happened to be at the shore as well!) which was so fun.

3. Did anyone else watch the RNC and DNC? Man. I can't even believe this year in politics. Dumb and dumber. Although I did like both Obama's speeches (especially Michelle's "when they go low, we go high." yes!). For as many policy differences as I have with the Obama's, I have so appreciated their focus on good parenting, keeping their marriage strong, and maintaining 8 years of a scandal-free White House.

4. My two closest-age sisters Emily & Anna have returned/moved to their homes in Rwanda and Central America. It's always sooooo fun for me when they are home and just crushing when they leave. I have low-grade de…

The Sunday 7

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1. Last week the Olympic women's gymnastics team was picked. When I showed Olivia the picture of the team she grinned. When I said "what?" She said "two of them are brown like me!" When I told her the girl in front (Simone Biles) is actually the best gymnast in the entire world, her eyes got huge... and she grinned even bigger. White parents of brown kiddos, it's important that your kids know that people who look like them can and do succeed in every area of life. (#representationmatters :))

 Go Team USA! We're on the Olympic games countdown around here.



2. The recent events with police shootings have been hard on all of us. One of the hardest things about having a spouse in law enforcement is the ever-present awareness that my kids could grow up without a dad... that random police shooting are a real thing. Dan is an amazing dad and it's hard to live in the tension that, one day, unexpectedly, our kids could lose that, forever.

I know there are bad…

The Saturday 7

1. Week 1 with our fresh air fund girl Selina is done! We spent most days at the lake for hours... kayaking, rope-swinging, swimming... you know the routine. ;) Tomorrow all 5 kids head to our local nature day camp for a week of fun! (And my to-do list is getting longer...) Our local paper did a write-up about our experiences hosting Selina; you can see it here: http://citizensvoice.com/news/brooklyn-girl-enjoys-some-fresh-air-in-bear-creek-twp-1.2065169

2. My sister Emily (but more importantly her baby Ethan) have been here for the past week. It's been fabulous.
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3. I literally spent 8 hours at the lake on Weds. I showed up at 10:30 for bible study, ran home at 12:30 to grab lunch stuff to bring back since the kids were having such a great time with their friends... had a friend from church join me with her kiddos, so we spent the afternoon there... we ordered pizza delivery at 6... and I went home around 6:30. What even is my life. haha

4. Found out on Fr…

Saturday 7

posting on a Tuesday, because #longweekends and #thatlakelife

1. Last week we dropped Will at scout camp on Sunday morning. We saw him Weds night for parents' dinner, then not again till we picked him up Saturday morning. He had a blast! He earned 4 merit badges (swimming, riflery, basketweaving & leatherwork) and says he can't wait to go back again next year.

2. Tristan attended Upwards basketball camp M-F last week and he LOVED every minute of it. I heart that kid and his big heart so much... he would come home at the end of the day literally hoarse from cheering/yelling so loud all day long.

3. Tuesday night Tristan & Olivia tested for their yellow & orange belts in karate, a 90 min exhausting process, (which, after 6 hours of basketball for Tristan, almost pushed him over the edge.)

4. Thursday we picked up Selina, the kiddo who stays with us every year for a couple weeks through the Fresh Air Fund. It's been so fun having her back! This is her 4th year wit…

Saturday 7 {aka vacation recap}

1. We're freshly home from 10 days in Missouri... I know I say this frequently after these get-togethers, but I am so incredibly grateful for the family I married into. There is so much grace and love and hard and good all rolled together, and I feel so privileged to have a front row seat to seeing how this family makes it work so beautifully. Not perfectly, but truly, beautifully.

2. We arrived in STL on Friday and spent the weekend on the farm with Pop & Mima and various aunts, uncles & cousins. The weekend was perfect: full of pond swimming, creek walking, and bonfires; the front porch was home to early morning devotions, many family meals, coffee & adult conversations while the kids caught fireflies and played catch or bounced on the trampoline. The MO heat stayed pleasant and the humidity cooperated and the breezes blew... and all this loveliness was made even more poignant and memorable by the fact that it was our family's last time at the farm-- Dan's pa…

The Saturday 7 (x2)

I know everyone missed me so much last week... so here I am with a double edition of TSS. ;)

1. We have a baby!!!!! Emily's due date came and went last Sunday and then Friday night around 2:30pm I got a text from my sister Anna that Emily had been having steady contractions all day and to pray that they kicked in and didn't quit... well they did kick in, and Ethan Nelson Mugisha was born at 11:57 Friday night! I got to the birthing center about 20 min. before birth so I got be with Emily for all the painful postpartum stuff... so hard, but I'm so glad I was able to be with her. Ethan is perfection! All babies are precious (of course) but this is my first nephew/niece that my own sister has had... and it's pretty special!

2. So Friday night, after pulling an all-nighter at the hospital with Emily, I headed home around 5:30am. I made it about an hour before I had to stop at a rest stop. When I awoke an hour later, extremely groggy, I grabbed a double-shot latte, and arri…

The "Saturday" 7

1. Happy Memorial Day weekend! It's been an absolutely fantastic weekend here in northeast PA. 90˙ all the way and sunny skies... I got in two lakes swims and a kayak voyage; the kids all went off the rope swing, and we had two cookout dinners by the lake. Yay summer!

2. We took the kids camping last night. It's so much work to pack for one night away, but it's so worth it-- you can't buy memories like these! Dan and I told the kids stories about when they were little and we all belted out campfire songs. Yay summer nights.

3. 3.5 days of school left! Yay end of school and yay start of summer! Only 11 weeks of summer vacation though, and I know they will fly by like nothing. LE SIGH.

4. Last Monday was the kids' spring concert and band recital at school. Will plays trumpet and Hal plays the flute. They did great and I'm so proud of them. :)

5. Yesterday was Emily's due date (!!!) but alas, no sign of le bebe. Dan and I and the kids drove halfway to Philly t…

"Saturday" 7

1. It's Tuesday... and I thought about writing this up all weekend (and yesterday) but somehow didn't find the time. The kids have 6.5 days of school left. This school year has truly flown by... I rarely think that, but for whatever reason, this year seems to have gone by in a blink! I can't wait for summer. I know i stay that every week but it's true. I love summer!

2. Last Sunday was Emily's baby shower, which my sister-in-law Jen did an amazing job planning and decorating for. The theme was "Baby Abroad" and it was US- and Rwandan- themed ...and so cute! I'm good at many things, but themed parties is NOT one of them. I'm absolutely a last-minute, paper plates and order pizza kinda party planner. Anyway, it was fun to catch up with everyone who came out for her shower! Afterward, several of us had an Office-watching marathon. It had been a long time coming... sometimes you just need a good awkward Michael Scott scene to make you feel better. lol

The Saturday 7

I should probably just rename this little feature "The Weekly 7" because I am clearly not any good at consistently posting on a Saturday! -___-

1. Mother's Day was last Sunday and Dan and the kids surprised me with a day at the beach. We drove the hour and a half to Ocean City, NJ and stayed in a hotel (after spending the afternoon/evening at my sister's graduation party in Philly.) I got to wake up early and sneak out for a solo early morning beach walk which was, as most moms can imagine, pretty darn fabulous. We got breakfast in a great little place overlooking the beach / boardwalk, rented bikes for an hour, got dole whips and walked on the boardwalk, and generally enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and blue sky beauty day. Of course at least one kids had to fall in the water while climbing on the pilings, but that's entirely expectable.

2. My Aunt Lyn comes up from NJ every couple months to visit her sister Anne and the rest of the extended family in our area, a…

The Saturday 7

1. Jen Hatmaker. Oh my goodness. I want to say I love that lady SO much but I feel like that's weird since I've never actually met or spoken to her. She was amazing-- totally worth the long drive.

I met up with an adoption friend from Baltimore (they've adopted 3 kids from Ethiopia and 1 from Korea) ... and I'd actually never her met in real life. We met for chinese before the event and hit it off immediately. (It's amazing how adoption makes instant friendships!)

Anyway, Jen. I'd read her book For the Love earlier this year (last year?) and just fell in love with her love for Jesus and her funny, easy style of writing. She was no less amazing in person.

At the Q&A session at the end of the night, one lady last asked Jen for her advice on teenagers. She started laughing and was like... why do people think I'm an expert on raising teenagers, I know nothing. But then she talked about how she has distilled her rules for raising teens down to three things: …

The Saturday 7

...4 hours early! That's how I deal with being late two weeks in a row! Bam. ;)

1. It's been a long week. A long two weeks actually, but this week seemed longer. Dan was gone in Atlanta last week and Pittsburgh this week. Yesterday afternoon/evening I spent the better part of 4 hours running kids to their various activities, and when I pulled up in front of Hallie's flute teacher's house, she came out and asked if I'd forgotten the kids didn't have lessons that week. WHY YES, THANKS. Yes I did. *sigh* Dan got home earlier today and there was great celebration all around, especially by Tristan. That 9yo boy has such a tender heart and missed his daddy fiercely this week.

2. FIVE MORE WEEKS OF SCHOOL! Can you tell I'm excited?! I've got all my curriculum squared away for next year and I've cleaned out everything "extra" I don't need for next year. I'm currently reading Gretchen Rubin's book Better Than Before (about mastering the…

The Saturday 7

...twodayslate. Whatevs.

1. Over last Sunday and Monday my friend Rachel and I hiked 23 miles of the AT. It was our most ambitious hike yet ...and we don't plan to repeat it. ;) We put in a solid 9 hours of hiking both days (yes we are old and slow!) and came to realize that, while we do truly enjoy the hiking, we also equally enjoy sitting around our campfire in the evenings, and being lazy in the mornings. We have to do enough "get up and get 'er done" in our real lives that we would rather hike a little less and enjoy the sitting around a little more. We're going to aim for either 12.7 or 18.6 in the fall, depending on how clearly the memories of the blisters are still hanging around. ;) It was overall a fantastic weekend-- perfect weather and besides the mental torture I put myself through with unexpected water rationing on day 2, a perfectly enjoyable time.

2. Dan was gone in Atlanta for training all last week. He is now gone again this week in Pittsburgh fo…