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In the nearly 28 years that I’ve been a mom, I’ve seen my share of toys come and go. I’m not a fan of toys that break easily or only hold a child’s interest for two days. I want toys and games that will last for years.

I hope you enjoy our family favorites and find new toys and games your children will love.

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Advent begins on Sunday, November 30th, which you know will get here far more quickly than we can imagine. If you’ve been reading my blog for long, y0u know that I love Advent. Thankfully a reader sent me a message on my One Thankful Mom facebook page (thanks Cheryl!) asking about resources and she prompted me to google “2014 first Sunday of advent.”

This year I’m using Ann VosKamp’s new book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas.

sunshine and mimi

Sunshine and Mimi

“Mom, do you need a squeeze-y hug?”

Sunshine held her arms out to me and looked into my eyes.

“Well, maybe I do,” I replied, “What makes you ask?”


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Last night began a three-day school conference extravaganza. With six kids at five schools, it requires a flow chart to figure out where and when each conference is being held. Each of the kids has more than one teacher, so there are lots of conversations to be had.

I thought I had communicated some of my children’s unique needs fairly well through the school counselors, but last night it became apparent that I should have connected more directly with the teachers.

All of the kids are doing well in school – who knew it would be such a good adjustment? But one of my  sweet ones is struggling and barely passing a math class. This child’s other grades are quite good, except for this class.

I miss these faces!

I miss these faces!

I’m on my way home to Russ and my sweet ones this morning. This time with my extended family has been very dear to me and I’m glad I came. I’m in that funny space of being sad for this to end and totally ready to be home again and jump back into life. Too bad it takes so many hours to get all the way back across the country.

With all of this vacation fun, I forget to post a reminder of my giveaway for Mary Ostyn’s new book Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting.


Hannah and Mimi

I woke up this morning in Richmond, Virginia. I won’t complain about the delayed flights (even the one that departed three hours late) because I’ve flown to Africa more than once, and those are looooooong flights and very tiring days.

My nephew is getting married tomorrow; he is my sister, Laura’s, oldest son. I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to come, but as I thought about my parents being here and both of my sisters, it seemed wise to take the opportunity to spend some special time together. Plus we get to celebrate Drew and his new wife.

As a super bonus, Mimi traveled with me and Hannah is flying in tonight. We’re even going to do a little sightseeing all together after the wedding. This is such a rare and sweet time.


We have a Sunday night tradition we all enjoy. Since we have our big dinner with the entire family in the afternoon, our evening meal is usually popcorn, cheese, and fruit. I like this for about 25 different reasons, one of which is that the kids make it themselves, and there is nearly no clean-up.

Russ was always the popcorn maker in our family. Years ago he mastered the art of popping it on the stove in our largest pot. I, however, preferred the ease of microwave popcorn…the problem was that I knew the bright yellow color and other chemicals weren’t good for us. I just didn’t want to deal with the hassle of making it in the big pot.

Enter the Wabash Valley Farms 25008 Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper- which transformed our Sunday nights.


Today marks two months since I made my last trip to Montana and brought Dimples back with me.

Since that day Dimples has moved home, transitioned to a new school, played a season of volleyball, joined the youth group, and made new friends. She has reconnected with special people who were part of her support team before she went to residential treatment. Most of all, she has settled into the family.

mary ostyn

Owlhaven is one of the very first blogs I read when we were beginning our adoption journey. Mary Ostyn, has been writing Owlhaven a few months longer than I’ve been writing One Thankful Mom. Over the years we’ve become friends and a few weekends ago we spent three days together on a retreat with a small group of other adoptive moms.

Last spring Mary asked if I would read her new book, Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting, and if I liked it,  write an endorsement. I was so honored – and so busy, with Noah and Katie’s wedding coming up. It took me a couple of weeks, but once I sat down to read, I couldn’t stop. I know my friends are amazing, so I expected to like Mary’s book, but I had no idea just how fantastic it would be.

photo credit: samuel qualls

photo credit: samuel qualls

giving thanks #1511 – 1520

a Saturday that stretched before us – no travel, meetings, or appointments

warm weather while we worked in the yard 

Russ’ happiness at a day spent outdoors

kids cheerfully (for the most part) working with us