Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Day of 2011...Day 365

I believe we had the best weather day of the year today...a perfect 70 degrees. And it didn't hurt we are still on vacation :o)

We LOVE being able to take our time getting ready and not being rushed! My three little burritos after their bath this morning!
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LOVE days like this.

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I cannot bear to think about getting back into our normal schedule in a few days :o(

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We have SO enjoyed the last week and a half...just hanging out together all day!
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I just cannot get enough of these sweet kiddos!

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And my sweet hubby :o)

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I am also SO excited Baby Boy has decided...after two years...that he LIKES to have his picture made! Whew! I was trying to take a quick picture of the three girls all lined up ready to race and Baby Boy saw me with the camera and ran over to the line-up...he refused to move until I took his picture :o) Makes a mama proud :o) Ha!

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And they're off!
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We are now all cuddled up on the couch, watching The Bee Movie...waiting to ring in the new year!
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Happy New Year's Eve!!! 2012 is going to be an awesome year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Shopping & Charitable Donations...Day 364

Whoa...somehow I lost six days this year. Apparently in my world, yesterday was Day 357...and I know tomorrow is New Year's Eve...that makes today Day 364. Whoops! That's what I get for not blogging everyday! Ha!

Yesterday, I received the following comment from AndeMski...

"Are those North Face jackets? They make great jackets and backpacks... I have one of each. Also, I was wondering where you got your girls' bows. I LOVE big bows and the only place I can find them is at Dillard's."

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First of all, I am always so surprised when I get a comment from someone I have never met. In my head, there are about 10 people who read this blog...and there are times I cannot imagine why those 10 would even want to read about our life :o)

But, I am glad there are readers out there :o)

Anyways, back to the comment...Yes, they are North Face jackets :o) All of the girls...and Mommy and Daddy got North Face jackets for Christmas. Baby Boy got another Columbia jacket...he was cool with that :o) North Face jackets are awesome. Sunshine got a purple one, Little Pumpkin got a blue one, Sweet Pea got a pink one, hubby got a black one and I got a brown one. I exchanged the little girls for the next size up and they are on order from the company. They should be here next week! Yay!

The bows...yes, I LOVE BIG bows. In my opinion, the bigger the better. I also believe there is no such things as having too many bows. There is a motto around our house, "Mommy's girls wear bows."

I get most of my bows from a local shoe store...Shoe Connection. I don't think I have ever bought a pair of shoes there, but they have an awesome bow selection. I also get a lot of bows from a local store in downtown Paragould when we are in town...Room to Grow. It is a second hand store, but they carry a few new items...such as bows :o) The bows are a little less expensive there. I also really like bows from The Toggery, a local children's boutique. The place where the girls get their haircut, Pigtails and Crewcuts, also has great bows. Occasionally, I get bows from Dillards...but not very often. However, one of my favorite bows came from there...the blue one Sunshine is wearing in the above picture.

Sorry AndeMski, since you aren't from around here, I know that was not much help, but maybe you have similar stores in your town?

As you can tell, I like bows and I like to talk about bows. Bows make this world a better place :o)

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Since tomorrow is the last day of 2011, I thought I would share a few of our favorite "charities" we like to donate too. You know, just in case you are looking for some ideas of where to make your last minute end of the year contributions or maybe for some new ideas for 2012 :o) Btw, all of the following places have online donation buttons...so easy!

**Of course, your church is an obvious choice.
“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD." Leviticus 27:29-31

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Then with extra money we want to donate, here is our top picks :o)

**Dillon International. That is the AWESOME adoption agency we used to adopt Little Pumpkin. Dillon allows you to specify where your donation will be used...we choose Vietnam...duh! Ha! There are tons of children living in Vietnam right now that are in desperate need of food, shelter and an education. Since adoptions are shut down in Vietnam right now, there isn't a lot of humanitarian aid going to the orphanages :o( We are praying adoptions open back up this spring!!

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**Giving it back to Kids. Y'all this organization is amazing. Visit their site and look around...they do some pretty great things for kids in Vietnam. They provide bicycles to kids to help them get to school, support for pregnant women, orphanage support, surgeries, wheelchairs and the list goes on and on and on. Great stuff!

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**Gladney Center for Adoptions. This is the adoption agency we used to adopt Sweet Pea. One of the main reasons we chose this agency is because of their commitment to humanitarian aid. They do SO MUCH for the kids "left behind" in the countries where they facilitate adoptions.

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**Kisses from Katie. If you haven't heard about this girl, GO TO HER BLOG NOW. She is unbelievable. God calls us all to care for orphans...that girl understands that and lives it. Seriously unbelievable.

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**The CALL....aka Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime. I can safely say, I do not think we would have ever become foster parents if it wasn't for The CALL. Our minds and hearts were open to orphans. When I first heard of The CALL, we had adopted internationally once and were in process to adopt a second time. We were shocked to learn of the HUGE need for good, Christian foster homes right here in our city. I believe the presentation lasted for about 10 minutes one night at church, we were hooked at minute two. Ha! If it weren't for The CALL, we probably would have missed the incredible blessing of Baby Boy, as well as the other foster kids that have passed through our home.

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**The Dorcas House. This is a new one for me. I wasn't very familiar of this great ministry until Sunshine's second grade class went to visit a couple weeks ago. The work they do there changes lives...for this generation and the next. The women getting help at The Dorcas House give me hope...hope that one day a mother of one of our foster children will be able to turn their life around.

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What are your favorite charities?

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wrap Up & Decluttering...Day 357

So, I left off with saying goodbye to Sparkles Christmas morning. After breakfast, we began preparing lunch for my side of the family. They came up from Southwest Arkansas for a few hours :o) The kids LOVE having family over to our house!

Getting ready for Christmas lunch...
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Cutie pie...
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Another cutie pie...
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This little cutie pie is finally smiling for me when I bring out the camera! Yay! And yes, we strip him down before most meals :o)
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Happy Birthday to Jesus!
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After lunch, we headed to Northeast Arkansas to celebrate Christmas with Mimi & Papa Paragould.
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Sunshine reading the story of Jesus' birth from the bible.
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Sweet Pea and Mimi
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Sunshine and cousin Ally, excited about their new, soft jackets :o)
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Little Pumpkin is surprised about something...
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Her new ipod :o) So sweet!
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Sunshine is ready to go swimming with her new waterproof camera!
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Baby boy was so worn out from all of the Christmas excitement that he didn't get to open very many of his presents Christmas night...but he made up for it the next day :o)
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Sweet sisters!
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After breakfast and Baby Boy's presents, we decided to drive to a nearby town and check out the after Christmas sales...
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I was excited to find some great Christmas decorations on clearance!

Today, I spent the entire day doing one of my very favorite things...decluttering and getting rid of stuff!

Five bags of clothes to donate...hopefully that will be more after hubby signs off on some stuff of his tomorrow :o)
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Five bags of trash which equates to clean closets, clean drawers, clean cabinets, clean toy boxes and clean shelves. I am one happy mama!
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And one pile of fun toys to take to Baby Boy's dhs office!
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Goodbye to Sparkles, our Elf on the Shelf...Day 356

I have a lot of catching up to do!

Christmas morning...

As you know (smile), Elves on the Shelf must leave on Christmas Eve night to go help Santa deliver the presents. This can be a very sad time for kids...especially my kiddos :o( This was our first year to have an elf visit and at first, I was skeptical. However over the course of the month, the kids had SO much fun finding Sparkles each morning, writing letters for her to take to Santa and whispering to her throughout the day :o) They knew our time with Sparkles was coming to an end and the girls all expressed sadness over Sparkles leaving. I have to admit...I knew I was going to miss Sparkles too!

They all sad their "goodbyes" to Sparkles the night of Christmas Eve and went to bed. They were SHOCKED to wake up Christmas morning and find Sparkles sitting by the fireplace!

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Baby Boy is saying, "Sneaky elf" in the picture :o) LOVE that baby!

Sunshine excitedly grabbed the letter from Sparkles and read it to her brother and sisters...
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The goodbye letter...
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The kids didn't know what to think when Sunshine read the part about being able to touch the elf for a few minutes after reading the letter! It was so funny! If you aren't familiar with the Elf on the Shelf, if a human touches the elf, the elf will lose her magical powers and will not be able to fly to the North Pole anymore. It also makes the elf very sick. When Sunshine finished reading the letter, Sweet Pea and Little Pumpkin REFUSED to touch the elf even though the letter said it would be okay. Ha!

Sunshine was elated to be able to touch the elf!
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Look at the PRECIOUS face!
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She {hearts} Sparkles!
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One happy little girl!
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After seeing nothing crazy happened when big sister touched Sparkles, Little Pumpkin took her turn saying goodbye.
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Next up...Sweet Pea!
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Baby Boy...
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"Bye bye Sneaky Elf."
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Sparkles was a very good elf...we are looking forward to seeing her next December!!!
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Putting her back just as they found her. Safe travels Sparkles!
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