Banana Chocolate-Chip Muffins

I love cooking with my kids!

Here is one of our family’s favorite recipes. They are easy to make, and the chocolate chips make them a yummy treat.

 Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
2 ½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. canola oil
¾ cup milk
1 egg
2 or 3 over-ripe bananas (mashed)
½ cup chocolate chips (or as many as you want)
Directions: Combine all ingredients, adding the chocolate chips after stirring everything else. Batter should be fairly thick. Bake at 350 until they bounce back when touched. 
*As an alternative, try peanut butter chips.



Adoption Day Celebration

We’re celebrating our daughter’s adoption day today!

I’ve read a lot about adoptive families celebrating “gotcha” day, which I think is a wonderful idea.  But, since we got our daughter when she was a few days old, we celebrate the day that we finalized her adoption. Of course we still celebrate her birthday, but we like to do something special to celebrate her adoption, too. Adoption is a worth celebrating!

We got her a new bike (she’s 4) and we’ll get her the Chinese food that she asked for, tonight. In the past, we have celebrated with family outings,, gifts, barbeques, and trips to Build-a-Bear Workshop. Personally, I like building the bears with her on this occasion because it gives her something tangible to keep as a reminder of her special day. Besides, who doesn’t love a nice stuffed toy to cuddle?

I’d love to hear about the ways that your family celebrates adoption!

Bead Crosses for Little Kids

Simple Bead & Pipe Cleaner Crosses for Little Kids to Make

IMG_0994These little crosses are really easy for young children to make by themselves!

Materials: pipe cleaners, beads, and string      :)     Super simple, and no big messes to clean up!

It’s a great way for little ones to practice hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Directions: We used 12 inch craft pipe cleaners and cut them in half. IMG_0983

*Watch out for sharp edges!

Let the kids put beads on the first piece, then twist the bottom end of the pipe cleaner so they wont fall off. (Depending on the size of your beads and the ability of the child, it may be best to do this first.) At the top end of the pipe cleaner, twist a small loop so they can attach string to hang it with when they’re done.

Twist the empty piece onto the beaded piece, near the middle, and let them add beads to each side.

IMG_0984               IMG_0987

After they fill each side, twist the ends of the pipe cleaner so the beads wont fall of. Make sure there are no sharp edges sticking out.

If you they want to hang them, tie a piece of string (or yarn) through the loop.

They look nice hanging from windows or car mirrors. They also make sweet gifts for grandparents. IMG_0994   If you have older kids, you can make it a bit more educational by encouraging them to make patters or designs with the colors. You can also talk about what each color represents, particularly at Easter time (white: purity, purple: royalty, etc.). I’ve used similar activities for Sunday School and asked the kids to have each bead represent something they are thankful for. It’s a good way to get them thinking, and it can make the project more meaningful.




Our Adoption Story, Part Four: Delivery

Our Adoption Story, Part Four: Delivery

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Life goes on, even when we’re holding our breath, so to speak, for that greatly anticipated moment to arrive. This scripture was one that I kept going back to throughout our wait. I knew that we would get the right baby, at the right time. I also trusted that details were being divinely taken care for all of us, even though I didn’t know how.

Soon after my finger print issue was resolved, we were accepted into an African American adoption program at a Christian agency. It wasn’t a “match”, but at least we new which state we would be traveling to, and that we would be adopting an African American newborn. I planned and prepared while I waited for the phone to ring. I felt a tremendous sense of urgency, and packed our suitcases. Christmas was coming, and I wanted so deeply to have our baby home with us.  But, still, we waited.

Then, one day, like a pregnant momma before she goes into labor, I began “nesting”. Instinct took over, and I cleaned my house from top to bottom. I got my errands done, my business I order, and I was ready to have my baby! I’m not sure what my husband thought, but he said he didn’t remember the house ever being as clean as was then! Well, when it’s time, it’s time!

“The call” finally came one evening and time seemed to stand still as I listened to the adoption agency tell me about my daughter. She was already four days old, and she was waiting for us to come take her home. We made a quick, surreal trip, and arrived at our destination. I walked through the door and saw my baby across the room. In that moment, everything else was nothing. She was placed in my arms and I wanted to never let go.

I will always remember our first night together. It was like a dream. I held her close, in that hotel bed, all night long. She melted into my arms like she new she was were she belonged. We gazed deep into each other’s as though we already new each other, but were meeting for the first time.  I slipped my fingers through her silky, soft curls, and kissed her warm checks. My dream had come true. My miracle had arrived.


Our Adoption Story, Part Three: (Heart) Pregnancy

Our Adoption Story, Part Three

(Heart) pregnancy

The commitment had been made. We knew we were going to have a baby. But there were many ways in which we didn’t know how it would happen. For starters, this commitment was a huge leap of faith because just two months earlier, my husband suffered permanent injuries at work and  lost his job. I was a full time homemaker, homeschooling two kids and running a small home business. We had financial concerns, to say the least.

Logic said “You must be out of your mind!” but faith said “It will all work out.” And, miraculously, every need was met. I can’t even explain how, but everything fell into place. We got through the applications, trainings and meetings. Our homestudy was approved, I organized our family profile into an attractive booklet, and we were ready to be “shown” to prospective birthparents. Filled with excitement and anticipation, “the wait” began.

Anyone who has adopted probably understands that it’s never that simple. There are always bumps in the road. Our first problem arose when the FBI couldn’t read my fingerprints. Sounds crazy, right? I had to have my prints taken ten times before we got a set that they could read. It took several weeks in between each set of prints to hear back from the FBI. Since you can’t adopt until this is cleared, our profiles were sent to adoption agencies but not shown to birthparents. We were stalled for 3-4 months because of this.

Vivid dreams kept my faith strong, but the wait seemed like an eternity. At night I could see my sweet baby’s face while I slept. During the day, I gazed longingly into an empty crib. It was a constant balancing act on multiple levels. I had everything prepared if “the call” came suddenly, but I also had to be prepared to wait as long as it took. Each new baby item I got brought more excitement. But as I watched it go unused for months, my heart fainted. Every time the phone rang, I jumped with anticipation but was left disappointed. The emotional highs and lows became exhausting. Seasons passed. A new school year began. Still no baby, but lots of dreams, hope and faith.

Our Adoption Story, Part Two: (Heart) Conception

Our Adoption Story, Part Two

(Heart) Conception

When the time is right, things fall into place. And they did. I began dreaming that I was pregnant. I dreamed about giving birth and breastfeeding. I dreamed of holding a baby. Not just a dream, but dreams. Almost every night, for about two weeks, I had baby dreams.

Believing that God was speaking to me through those dreams, I talked to my husband and friends.  As though a switch had been flipped in my husband’s heart, he began to share my hope and excitement. We were cautiously optimistic as we sought information from adoption agencies across the country, and in our local community. My dreams continued and our faith increased. I began to feel that this was something that I had to do. I couldn’t avoid it. I couldn’t not do it; I  knew in my heart that we had a baby out there somewhere, and I was determined to find her.

After weeks of research, phone calls and late night discussions, God began to unveil his plan through a series of opened and closed doors. Although I had been thinking about a China adoption for many years, we learned that international adoption wasn’t an option for us, at least not at that time. Foster adoption felt too risky, even though I felt a burden for those precious children. Plus, I really wanted a newborn, and that’s what I had been dreaming about. We decided on a domestic networking program through a local adoption agency. And so it was; our daughter had been conceived in our hearts.

Our Adoption Story, Part One: Preparing My Heart

Our Adoption Story

Part One: Preparing My Heart

It’s hard to pinpoint the beginning of our adoption story because it feels like a life-long journey that I was destined to take.

I think, in some ways, I always new I would adopt. Although I didn’t understand it at the time, my heart was being prepared to adopt even when I was still a child. A concern for those in need, and a desire to help, were part of my being.

I remember a Christmas when I asked my parents for an African American doll. This was an unusual request, especially since there was no racial diversity in our community. My Mom actually managed to find one for me. It had a bald head, a white nightgown, and it  played music when I hugged it. I’ve kept it all these years.

Before I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to have a big family of my own one day. I also pursued a career where I could help children, and earned my first undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education.

I married the love of my life, and we were eventually blessed with a daughter and a son. I loved them more than I could put into words, and I felt so blessed to be their mommy. Yet, I wanted more.

A few years went by, and we knew that we wouldn’t be able to have more biological children. My heart ached. We talked about adoption, but didn’t see any way to pay for it. More years passed. My heart ache deepened. I researched. I prayed. I cried to my husband. Still, we didn’t see any way that we could adopt a baby. Ten years passed and during certain times, like waves of grief, the desire consumed me. I couldn’t shake it. It pierced  the core of my being. I didn’t understand. Was I being selfish to  want more, when I already had so much? If it was meant to be, why wasn’t it possible? Confusion. Frustration. Hope. What was going on?

God was preparing my heart.

Stop and Watch the Snowfall

Hello Homeschooling Mommas,

We just had another blizzard here in the northeast and, as usual, my kids asked for a snow day. They wanted the day off, like the public schools.

I’m wondering what your family does. Do you follow the public school schedule? Do you stick to your lesson plans despite the storm? Do you take a snow day for your own benefit, as well as your kids?

Well, here’s what we did.

We took time to enjoy the storm. Instead of hustling around to get their work started, we relaxed and enjoyed each other, without any pressure to complete an assignment. The snowfall was really beautiful and although the kids were more anxious to play in it than appreciate its aesthetic qualities, we all saw the blessing  in the snow. We talked, laughed and played together. We even made ice cream!

Of course, if I had wanted to make the day more educational, we could have done a science experiment or art project with the snow. We could have worked on some snow-themed writing. I think those are great ways to make learning fun, which is an important aspect of creating life-long learners. But, this time, we worked on life lessons. You know, the ones not found in textbooks. We worked on our relationships, we slowed down, and we appreciated the time we had together.

Life is short, time is precious, and kids are only little for a little while.




The candy wrapper in my Bible

The candy wrapper in my Bible

“Delight thyself also in The Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto The Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
Psalm 37:4-5

I have all kinds of special little things tucked into my Bible, from dried flowers to friendship bracelets. But, this  morning, it was a scripture printed on an old candy wrapper that touched my heart.

Several years ago, my pastor was handing out  “scripture candy” after church, and my wrapper had Psalm 37:4-5 printed on it. I tucked it into my Bible (after eating the candy, off course), because it brought me so much encouragement. It was at a time in my life when I had some huge desires in my heart. Reading those words helped me be patient, and trust the Lord’s perfect timing.

As I thumbed through my Bible this morning, and came across that candy wrapper, I was reminded again of His faithfulness. Even though there are things that I desire, I now have many of those things that my heart was longing for when I first saved that wrapper, including my adopted daughter. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stresses of daily life, but when I remember that I can trust Him to fulfill the desires that he has placed in my heart, I am filled with Hope.