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Eby has always preferred sleeping in small, confined spaces. When he was young, he often chose to sleep in a sleeping bag tucked between a chair and a cabinet rather than on his bed.

One day Russ dug out the kids’ old play tent and asked Ebenezer if he wanted to put his sleeping bag inside. Eby loved it and seemed to relax in the cozy enclosure where he also put his favorite fleece blanket, teddy bear, and favorite puppy.

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“I love you Mom. love Kalkidan”

These words were a gift to me last Friday.

A friend was returning some books she’d borrowed; she handed them to me saying, “I found this in the book.” She held out a yellow post-it note with a few words hastily written on it. I glanced, and then looked closely.

It was a note from Kalkidan, complete with a little heart with the words, “I love you.”

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I’m kicking off February Tuesday Topics with an easy one for all of us.

What is your favorite Valentine tradition or memory?

I’ll start.

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Valentine’s Day is a fun day to show our families a little love. I asked Jennifer to write a post with me sharing our ideas and traditions. As you’ll see, we’re all for keeping it simple!

We don’t know about you, but in our homes, December through March is a blur.  It seems that Christmas is barely put away before we are smack in the middle of birthdays, anniversaries, new commitments, old commitments, and the added challenge of cold temperatures and deep snows – not to mention the sniffly noses and sick days those often bring.

We’re not ashamed to admit that neither of us have plans to make dozens of Pinterest-worthy valentines for our children’s many different classrooms this year!

But as mothers, we also realize how important family traditions are – that even the smallest memories will be held in our children’s hearts for many years ahead.  So we’ve gathered a few of our very easiest family Valentine traditions (for time-crunched moms)!

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MLC - offering choices to children

Making choices is a challenge for many children, and offering choices is often inconvenient for parents. That being said, we also know that being offered choices gives children voice, which they often need. Here is a tip I use for helping children make choices.

When I present my kids with two options, I touch first one palm and say the first option…

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…and then the other as I say the second option.

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Let me introduce you to my friend, Jennifer. She is going to share her thoughts and experiences here at One Thankful Mom from time to time. You will be so blessed to know her! If only we could all have coffee together in my kitchen, or maybe go snowshoeing in her Rocky Mountains.

What an honor to be invited to contribute here at One Thankful Mom!  I have known Lisa for about eight years now, having adopted our son from AHOPE just a few months after Kalkidan came home.  Not long after that, I had the honor of serving alongside her in a small non-profit, resourcing and educating families for medical needs adoptions. And over the years, I’ve been grateful for each bit of time I’ve been able to spend with her.

Those of you who know Lisa in real life and here through her blog know that she exudes welcome, warmth, and real.  I have met very few people who are able to share so deeply and honestly about the hard things and yet still carry in their words and their actions true hope and gratitude. Lisa does this.

I have told my husband many, many times that I would move to Idaho just to be able to learn more from her.  Because this is what I want too. I want to learn to live out the hard things with hope and gratitude.

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In the wake of our accident and losing Kalkidan, my sweet friend, Sarah, wanted to do something as a gift for me. She is very talented and loves to decorate, paint, and build. She even makes excellent kombucha, which I find impressive.

Sarah asked if there was a project in my house that she could tackle for me. The first thing I thought of was the horrid wallpaper in the upstairs, kids bathroom. Could it be stripped and could the walls be painted?

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Last Friday, Beza had her wisdom teeth removed. For two weeks we talked about the soft foods she wanted and the movies we were going to rent.

As the day approached, I found myself looking forward to the opportunity to nurture Beza in a way I hadn’t before. Overall, Beza is a very healthy kid, so the closest I’ve come is making tea for a sore throat or heating up a rice sack for a stomach ache.

This was a whole new level of caring for her.

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As I turned on my computer this morning, I asked myself, “Does this feel like work, or does this feel like joy?” If it’s work, then I need to turn my computer off and walk away. This is a day of rest, a gift from our Father.

If it feels like joy, then it’s just the right thing to write this post. Today it feels like joy, so here it is, just a few things I’m thankful for on this cool, and still dark, morning.

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Beza’s wisdom teeth gone, and with very little difficulty

sunshine, rain, hail, and even a little snow, all watched through my windows this week

good report cards for the kids – and one of my sons being just “a little less chatty”

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In 2009, I launched My Learning Curve, a series of posts with practical tips for parenting children from “hard places.” I’m reaching back into my archives to share some of these updated posts with you. We are nine years into our adoption journey, while many of you are at the beginning; I remember how desperate we were for help. I hope these posts are useful to you.

Here is my quick tip of the day. As I watched the therapist work with Kalkidan, I noticed that when she gave an instruction, she looked in Kalkidan’s eyes and said, “Got it?”