Welcome, November

I loved October.

The maple trees in our yard were spectacular, football and swimming were great for my athletes, lots of good things happened. October also ended with Kalkidan’s birthday, which is a hard day for our family.

Welcome, November.

Last week Russ traveled to Colorado for the first ever adoptive/foster dad’s retreat, Road Trip: Colorado. He didn’t have time to go, and we hadn’t planned for it in our budget, but we made time and God provided the finances.

Kalkidan remembering

Adoption and foster care put unique stresses on dads most people can’t understand. Being with guys who “get it” is very rare. Russ had time alone in the mountains and conversations with guys he appreciates. It was worth every minute away and every dollar. Friends, encourage your husbands to go next year!

Kalkidan’s birthday was last Saturday. I was afraid to face the day without Russ; his flight got in that evening. I was also worried about managing two football games, a swim meet, and life without him. In the end, the day was packed, but good, and while I had some tearful moments, including a bit of crying in the bathroom of the football stadium, there wasn’t time to dwell on sadness.

qualls family oct 2016
missing many of our kids in this picture, but happy maria joined us at church sunday (Zoe is cropped out of the right side of the pic due to foster care rules – thought you might wonder whose hand claire is holding)

That night, when Russ was home, he wrapped his arms around me while we talked about Kalkidan. Sunday we wore orange to church in memory of our girl, which was good for my heart. I also wore a necklace that says, “earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal,” and my favorite “courage, dear heart” bracelet.

It helps to wear things on my body to remember Kalkidan. The bracelet especially reminds me that Jesus is with me, giving me the courage to press on. I find myself touching it throughout the day, thinking, “I’m okay. I’m loved. I am not alone.”

It’s Wednesday morning now, but feels like Monday. The kids didn’t have school Monday or Tuesday due to conferences. Honestly, it felt like a very long weekend around here. Yesterday one of my boys complained that since I wouldn’t let them watch tv or play on the computer, I needed to find something fun for them to do.

Sorry, buddy, it’s not my job to make sure you have fun. Seriously. We have eight acres, plenty of toys, bikes, a basketball hoop, tons of books, games, puzzles – you’re going to have to find your own fun.

I could write a dozen posts on the way technology is ruining my children’s ability to entertain themselves. Having a twenty-year age span from my oldest to youngest child gives me a unique perspective.

In blog news, I’m working on a brand new Top Ten Toys post, which is packed with great ideas for holiday gifts. Some of you super organized types are done shopping, but for the rest of us, there is plenty of work left to do.

I have a phone meeting today with Cate, my amazing friend who creates each piece of jewelry by hand for my Etsy store, including the beautiful “courage, dear heart” bracelet I wear each day. Her new designs will be in the Etsy store very soon.

Samuel is moving to Portland today in preparation for his new job. He’ll be back to defend his master’s thesis, but for the most part, he’s done. It’s been an amazing blessing having him nearby all these years. Samuel has been a rock for his younger siblings and a huge help to me through many difficult times. We’re going to miss him more than I can say.

Tears are just below the surface as I write those words – moving right along before I start crying and can’t finish writing this.

You know what’s really beautiful about November? At the end of the month, Advent begins, Christ with us, and you know how much I love Advent. I’ll be writing about that soon.

The sun is coming up as I write, the kids are waking, and it’s time to start packing lunches. Have a great day, friends.

For those of you who posted #rememberingkalkidan pictures on social media with us, thank you from the bottom of our fragile hearts. We felt your love.


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Lori
    November 2, 2016

    Beautiful post, Lisa; makes me wish we were neighbors and could walk and talk together. I, too, have an age span of twenty years between my oldest and youngest and I can so relate to your comment about technology ruining your children’s ability to entertain themselves. Our two youngest, boys ages 7 and 8, have taken in more screen time in their short lives than, I think, my four bio kids did in all their growing up years. Granted, they were just coming of age when we got our first home computer and we didn’t even have TV for many of those years. Somehow, they survived and thrived! But with my two youngest, who have some challenging diagnoses and the behaviors to go with them, I find myself resorting to screen time to minimize the dysregulation and the ramifications for me if we have too much unstructured time. Bored used to mean an opportunity to do something creative; now it usually equates with dysregulation and destructive or hurtful behavior. Still trying, though, to encourage some creative play!

  2. Emily
    November 2, 2016

    Love you friend so much!

    We are eagerly anticipating Samuel’s arrival tonight (and I believe Maria’s this weekend!!), even as we are mindful of the huge transition this is for him and all of you.

    I, for one, would LOVE to read your thoughts on technology and the differences you observe in kids’ abilities to entertain themselves. Ben and I (admittedly in our childless innocence) are more and more convinced we want to be really intentional in how we let that stuff be a part of our family…


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